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The Ultra-Bot 3D Printer is a beautiful printer inspired by the original Makerbot Cupcake. Buy as an Upgrade, Full Kit, or Assembled.
The Ultra-Bot 3D Printer is a beautiful printer inspired by the original Makerbot Cupcake. Buy as an Upgrade, Full Kit, or Assembled.
90 backers pledged $45,540 to help bring this project to life.

Questions about Open Source and our Patent Application

I've received numerous questions and concerns about my comments on the PiMaker not being Open Soruce and the patent application I filed.  I can't discuss the details of the patent application at this time... but I can talk about open source.

First off... let me state that I have always been and always be an open hardware supporter.  I would be nowhere without the work of others and I will continue to honor that going forward.  The PiMaker represents a major shift in the way 3D printers are done and I know a lot of people want to utilize it's unique aspects in their own designs.

A lot of people confuse copyright with patents.  One is for the design files... the other is for the design/implemenation.  We will publish the design files of the PiMaker on Thingiverse in a non-commercial license so that hackers/hobbists will be able to use the design, modify it and adapt it to their own use... as long as no commercial interest is involved.

The patent is to protect our IP and to prevent other commercial companies from utilizing our designs in their own printers.  There is a clear seperation between commercial interests and hobbists here.  Hobbists will be able to hack, modify, understand, improve... what ever they want too with their printer or derrivative, including making their own from our published design files.  Commercial companies that produce 3D printers will need to license our technology in order to utilize our designs.

The PiMaker wouldn't exist if it wasn't for folks like Adrian Bowyer, Bre Pettis, Josef Prusa, Erik Zalm... this list goes on and on and I fully intend to give as much back as possible... but I also have to eat... and my true target market is not the home hobbist... it's the home that has kids in it... the small business that needs to prototype something... it's the person who doesn't want to put together their own machine... but just wants to buy one and not have to worry about all the details about how it was made... that's my true target audience.

I hope that clears it up a bit.  As we complete the shipment of these first PiMakers we'll get back to opening up 100% of what we can under a license model that supports this vision.



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    1. Missing avatar

      Daniel C. Mueck on December 5, 2012

      Dear Bill,
      I fully agree with you and support your approach to this issue!
      Open source is a great idea but not always an ideal solution.

    2. Mike Morrison on December 5, 2012

      Fully agree with @eric
      there is a time and place for open source - and parts of what you have are not appropriate in that space

      looking forward to getting one of the first PiMakers and excited by the potential options this design has to offer along with your ideas - dual extruder, scanning etc..


    3. William Steele Creator on December 5, 2012

      Eric, yes, we'll be publishing the Ultra-Bot later this week in fact. It'll be on Thingiverse.

    4. Missing avatar

      Eric Albert
      on December 5, 2012

      Bill: I for one think you are wise... given the nature of innovation, and that your Pi design is unique, something other than an "honor system" is probably needed. If in fact your interest is to keep your design from being commercialized without your control or input then protecting it through IP law is about the only way to do that. That said, I trust you'll follow through with "licensing" us hackers and hobbyists to participate in the improvements and future additions to the design.

      I'm excited to get the Pi design instead of the UltraBot, but wonder if you will be releasing the UltraBot design files too? I was planning on using this machine in my Additive Manufacturing class at my college during the spring semester... If not, no problem, and I'll be excited to test out the Pi in my class when it arrives! - Eric