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Some links about me. Many of my 3D designs are free. I also post on Google+ and in another blog, oz4.us
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Friday, November 1, 2013

A rant: open or closed, you get what you pay for.

A rant: open or closed, you get what you pay for.

I got "stimulated" again by a feedback on my wooden patterns related to the Python script I posted on thingiverse.

Here is the request (which I must say is fully honest and respectful):

     Very cool thing, but does anybody know how to use this with a makerbot?
     How can I edit the x3g file? Or an other way, how can I convert a gcode to x3g?
     Thanks in advance! -- j.

I have checked Markerbot own site: "Your Replicator 2X can only read files in the .x3g format".

So bad for their customers: they just do not care about the decade-old standard gcode format that all other players support in the field !
A famous strip from Nudel and his repraprip blog regarding Makerbot

Thinking about it for a while, I must say I will not help at all in this respect. Let me say why.


My work and my services are distributed under the Creative Commons licence, i.e. they are free to use and I do not make money out of them. I usually do not want people to make money neither by re-selling them (may be I am less open-minded than some other makers).

Being paid is usually an incentive, and obviously when I like the work in the first place. I am enjoying this a lot for the last years. Reciprocally, being paid for something I do not want to do in the first place just never worked with me.

So, sure, I certainly could help and adapt the script and service for the X3G file format. May be I would make a few more people happy with their 3D printer. But I just do not feel like I would, because of the rarity of this format and the behavior of its "owner" (actually its sole user).

Now, the very open nature of my licence makes it possible for anyone to adapt the script to the X3G format. But you will have more trouble finding someone willing to do so, just because of the closed company that stands behind it, even if the format itself is not closed. In my humble opinion, it is even justice that such add-ons do not get it to the Makerbot or are delayed, at the least.


History shows how the once famous "open" Makerbot company suddenly became a completely old-school close-source company as it got millions of dollars of investors. No surprise that it now looks for money even more. It probably cares more about their big shareholders than their own customers. Beside their customers, it also spoiled its former active community of tinkerers by benefiting from their (former) free support in their now closed-source pricey printers.

To be harsh, I feel like it now sells more bullshit than printers. And I will no more do any business that is somehow related to bullshit or bad practices.

So no, and you may not like it, I will just not waste my time to help such companies. With another company I may have had added ...unless I get paid by them. But here, no way I will port my scripts to non-standard formats that were probably made in the first place to capture their own customers (well, ...unless I get paid a big pile of money by them?!). Think about it this way: I would better spend my time for the overall open community than spending it on specific implementations for each of the companies that just fragment the community because of their business practices!

Come on: only them are using this format: so once you are with them you obviously lose some freedom. Did not you get the best printer in the world, according to them? Well, Makerbot Industries just do not care about this script more than they care about their customers or the real quality of their printers as long as the marketing guys manage to sell a lot.

Think twice before you buy...

What then? Sorry MKI customers but I think you bought a wrong printer. Well, take the Ultimaker for example: it is cheaper, probably better in quality, speed and reliability at the same time, and it is much much more open (as long as it does not fall in the big money trap).

Consider how big and useful is the community for a product when you buy it. No pun intended my dear would-be-customer-if-I-was-selling-it, but you may be another victim of corporate big-buck bullshit and I will certainly not assume this for you!

Conclusion: better pay less for may-be-something, than pay much more for nothing. And consider your freedom from the start!

Update: you may like to get a more profound analysis of the difference between Makers and Businessmen in this post (and my talk at the Fabcon 2014), and why you should just flee away from their printers because they are going the same ugly business way as their buyer.

Readers, I promise, next post will be more technical ;)

Update I made it clear that the format itself is not closed. It does not change my point though ;) Thanks Joseph for the full details and history, and BenRockhold for a solution.

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