MakerBot Industries, creator of home 3D printers, has announced a total of $10 million in funding from a number of investors, the bulk coming from Foundry Group. Also included in the round were Bezos Expeditions, True Ventures, and RRE, along with a dozen or so angel investors.
The company started in 2009 with around $75,000 in seed money, and since then has put together and sold some 5200 of their compact fabrication machines. We saw them in action at the very first TechCrunch Disrupt NYC, and since then they’ve been a regular feature on this blog. MakerBot also just added Brad Feld to their board, and are now hiring.
The hardware space is a difficult one to bootstrap in, but founder Bre Pettis thinks we’ll be seeing plenty of hardware startups over the next few years. While services and software tend to offer quicker scaling and consequently more immediate returns, there’s still a place for devices and accessories in the world, especially if they’re unique. MakerBot’s capabilities are impressive, but with competition from fabrication-by-mail services like Shapeways, the barrier for entry to their self-powered 3D printing world is still quite high. The home fabrication business is changing as well, and competitors (not to say imitators) will see the opportunity to iterate on MakerBot’s design and offer more speed, materials, and so on.
That said, the ability to obtain a microwave-sized rapid prototyping machine for under a thousand dollars is one of these signs of the times we tend to unfairly play down. It’s absolutely amazing that this is possible in the first place, but the business realities may not allow it to grow at the rate the tech industry tends to find exciting.
More details about the funding, as well as links to the various angels involved, can be found over at MakerBot’s blog.