LulzBot's 3D printer and open biz model | Opensource.com
LulzBot's 3D printer and open biz model
Not all businesses can stand behind their products, and even fewer can stand on top of them. At LulzBot, it’s not uncommon to find the multi-talented and seriously committed team mounting their 3D printers upside down or bumping along Colorado mountain roads with a functioning 3D printer in tow—all in the interest of testing the durability and strength of their product under the most extreme conditions. And that’s only part of what makes LulzBot different.
Based in Loveland, Colorado, LulzBot designs, builds, and sells desktop 3D printers, plus parts and plastics, for entrepreneurs, inventors, engineers, and experimenters.
Recognized with the coveted Respects Your Freedom certification from The Free Software Foundation (FSF), LulzBot's flagship model the AO-101 comes complete with designs, software, documentation, source code, and specifications. This allows users to continually improve their printer. Living the philosophy of "Libre Hardware," LulzBot believes people should be free to customize, learn from, and improve the machines and software they use.
Frustrated by the 3D printer business models that saturate the market, LulzBot enables its customers to improve and evolve the industry. More than that, the company empowers and encourages them to do so. Customer feedback is so important to the company that they frequently incorporate suggested revisions into their products, making innovation collaborative and therefore limitless.
This technology truly is for everyone. It paves the way for new markets and allows inventors to create products that were once thought impossible.
From Jeff Moe, President of Aleph Objects, LulzBot’s parent company:
The driving force behind our company is to do everything free and open so together we can innovate.
We are the opposite of companies who patent every little thing. In our eyes, patents are devised to lock others out. They don’t allow others to think on ideas, change, or improve them. We believe that being free and open is good for innovation, and it’s good business.
Free software has changed the game. For instance, GNU Linux operating systems provide personal computer users a free or very affordable operating system. It’s even used in one of the best selling platforms on the planet, Android. Wikipedia was also founded on the idea of sharing, and has permanently changed the way people share information, allowing people to collaborate and educate one another.
Why 3D printing?
From short-run manufacturing to rapid prototyping, LulzBot allows you to invent, create, and produce virtually anywhere. With customers ranging from innovators, prototypers, manufacturers, and engineers as well as hobbyists—plus universities, architects, and even the medical industry—LulzBot believes that together, we can change the 3D printing world as we know it.
In addition to being fully assembled and ready to print, the AO-101 printer is unmatched by competitors. It’s built for speed and accuracy so users can print more design iterations faster. The machine itself it not only quiet, but stable and robust, allowing replacement parts and customizations to be made easily and quickly.
A huge focus for us is to streamline our business and manufacturing process so that we are continually adding value. Recently, we reduced build time from 5.5 hours to 2 hours, meaning we can pass savings on to our customers. Other companies build machines after you buy, or they are on backorder for weeks. We have printers ready to ship across the globe. — Jeff Moe
The visionaries behind LulzBot are Jeff Moe, founder and president, with more than 15 years experience working to advance free and open hardware and software communities. Seth Sinemma, chief technology officer, has a background in the hydrogen fuel generator industry and also designed parts for spacecrafts and satellites. Steven Abadie, chief operations officer, has a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Georgia and started using 3D printers for media and sculpture projects before developing it into a career.
Moe and his team will also tell you that some of those who claim to be open really aren’t. Most 3D printer companies don’t offer the hardware or source code.
We actually publish everything. We even drill down to how it’s all made so our customer knows just as much as we do. For other businesses, this is a burden, and the open hardware community has already outpaced them. It’s the power of a community. It’s Libre Hardware. — Jeff Moe
New forum is live
The LulzBot forum is open for anyone to discuss LulzBot products or general 3D printing topics. Share your tips, experiences, trophy prints, or anything else you can bring to the community. Also, check out the development section for updates on upcoming LulzBot products or add your own upgrades and mods to the mix.
Signup for an account and get in on the discussion.
Tech note: the LulzBot forum is using phpBB—free, open source bulletin board software—so any current phpBB forum readers/apps you are using should work with the LulzBot forum.