MakerBot has announced that the Fifth Generation MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer has been awarded the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2015. The Red Dot Design Award is an international design prize that is awarded to companies who produce products with a strong focus on innovative product design. The winners are chosen by several juries of experts in the areas of product design, communication design, and design concepts. The Red Dot Product Design Award being given to MakerBot adds them to an impressive list of previous winners such as Apple’s original iPhone in 2008 and BMW’s sleek hybrid sports car, the i8, in 2014.
Chosen from a staggering list of 5,000 entries from companies all over the world, Red Dot Awards are only given to products that feature the highest quality of design. Created in 1954, the organisation enlists an expert panel of judges to evaluate submitted products based on criteria and physical characteristics as diverse as durability, ease of use, ergonomics and ecological compatibility. The jury also judges abstract traits like innovation, symbolic and emotional content, product periphery, and self-explanatory quality.
“This 3D printer features an inspiring, open design. Its clean aesthetics blend perfectly into professional and educational environments, as well as the home,” said the Red Dot jury of the winning MakerBot 3D printer.
In the United States, MakerBot is currently the industry leader in desktop 3D printers, and since being acquired by Stratasys has seen that influence grow on a worldwide scale. While the company, founded by Bre Pettis back in 2009, has always placed a high priority on design and ease of use, their fifth generation of their flagship 3D printer, the Replicator, took it to an entirely new level. The sleek and user friendly design was spearheaded by MakerBot industrial designers Jackson Seidenberg and Vishnu Anantha and the company’s entire engineering and product teams.
“To date, nobody has applied real design to 3D printers. Many companies focus simply on the mechanical and electrical components, and neglect the design considerations that build an emotional connection with the printer and a seamless user experience. The MakerBot Replicator, with its design recognition, stands out from other printers as being more than just a collection of components,” gushed Mark Palmer, director of industrial design for MakerBot.
From the very beginning of the design process the company’s goal was to create a clean, consolidated product design without sacrificing user accessibility while also maintaining a high performance rate. MakerBot was very confident that the MakerBot Replicator represented the latest iteration of those design goals. The award winning design features a 3.5 inch display that monitors the printer status and is controlled with a simple rotary knob that selects the printer’s various functions.
“We wanted to create a desktop 3D printer that was friendly, accessible and invites individuals, whether a 5th grader or a professional engineer, to engage and quickly turn an idea into a physical object. The MakerBot Replicator provides direct access in the work area and empowers educators, designer and engineers to unleash their creativity,” explained MakerBot’s Chief Marketing Officer Yuri Salnikoff.
Another innovation that MakerBot says helps their 3D printer stand out from the crowd is their impressive MakerBot 3D Ecosystem. Comprised of products, materials, software, accessories, services, and content that was designed to integrate seamlessly with each other, the ecosystem in intended to help make 3D printing easier and more accessible for everyone. This ecosystem includes products as diverse as MakerBot Desktop software, a MakerBot Mobile app capable of initiating and monitoring prints remotely from the cloud, and of course Thingiverse which is the largest, free 3D design community in the world.
It was initially a bumpy year for the MakerBot Replicator 5th Generation, despite enjoying a huge debut at last years CES show where it was awarded Engadget’s Best of CES 2014. Much of that early hype died down when reports of serious problems with the new 3D printer’s Smart Extruder started to surface late last year. At one point there were reports of an almost staggering 80% failure rate, which wasn’t helped when anonymous sources within MakerBot claimed that the company was aware of the problems with the extruder previous to launch. But by all accounts MakerBot acted swiftly and comprehensively by replacing any defective extruders quickly, with little hassle and the problems with the early models seemed to have dissipated.
Additionally, MakerBot says that they are continuing to develop the extruder and the latest and most advanced iterations of it will always be included in newly purchased printers and replacements will be available for damaged, defective or worn out extruders. The easily swappable design of the Smart Extruder means that the Replicator 5th Gen can always be easily upgraded when new extruder technology such as improvements, or new material options become available, like the new MakerBot Composite PLA. Rather than needing an entire new printer to handle the new wood, metal and stone composite materials, owners of the 5th Gen simply need to purchase the upgraded extruder and easily swap them out.
Winning the Red Dot award is a huge honor for any company and product designer, however for a 3D printer to be given the award lends an entirely new legitimacy to the 3D printing industry. As the industry continues to evolve and expand, reaching entirely new consumers, receiving awards of this caliber are clear indications that it is moving in the right direction. Let us know what you think of the latest Replicator and this award on our MakerBot Replicator 5th Gen is Awarded Red Dot Award forum thread on 3DPB.com.