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Maker–NOT: 3D printer upstart Makerbot jams, cuts extra 20% of staff

CEO reshuffles management team, outsources production

Troubled 3D printer manufacturer Makerbot has announced a second round of layoffs, cutting a further 20 per cent of its staff as part of a major restructuring.

"We have achieved a lot as a team, but we have also been impacted by the broader challenges in our industry," said CEO Jonathan Jaglom in a blog post.

"For the last few quarters, we did not meet our ambitious goals and we have to make significant changes to ensure MakerBot's future growth and success. In order to lead our dynamic industry, we need to get back to our entrepreneurial spirit and address our fractured organizational structure."

Jaglom said his firm would cut headcount by 20 per cent, even though that meant losing "exceptionally talented and hard-working colleagues." The management team will be reshuffled, and its R&D team will move from Industry City in Brooklyn, New York, to the company's headquarters in downtown Brooklyn.

The production of some of its printers will be outsourced. The upstart will continue to churn out gear from its factory in Industry City, though.

"We are working with a contract manufacturer to produce the fourth-generation MakerBot Replicator 2X – our previous generation product – to save on costs, and focus our teams at our factory in Brooklyn on our current fifth-generation of MakerBot 3D printers," Makerbot spokesman Johan Broer told The Register.

"Our factory remains in Industry City in Brooklyn. The assembly teams switch back and forth between assembling our fourth and our fifth-generation 3D printers.

"By working with a contract manufacturer to produce the MakerBot Replicator 2X, our production teams at our factory can focus on the latest generation of 3D Printers, which allows us to keep a more consistent production schedule and further optimize our production processes."

It's the second time in less than six months that the firm has culled a fifth of its workforce. Back in April, Makerbot dumped 80 staff on short notice and closed all of its retail outlets in an effort to cut costs.

Then and now, the firm blamed market conditions for its problems. But insiders point instead to the lamentable performance of the firm's last printer design, which bombed with consumers due to poor operation.

Makerbot used to be the poster child for the 3D printing industry, with plans to put a machine in every school in the US, and a string of retail outlets where consumers could either buy their own printer or pay for someone else to make their designs in resin.

While some in the 3D printing industry are doing well enough, stumbling Makerbot isn't out of the woods yet. ®

Editor's note: We've updated the article with comments from Broer, who wanted to also point out that "the MakerBot Smart Extruder’s core team (engineering, operations, and quality) has tripled in size," and that there's been a "40 per cent decline in MakerBot Smart Extruder customer support cases since February 2015."

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