MakerBot has grand ambitions, recent headlines be damned. On Wednesday morning, the 3-D printer manufacturer cut the ribbon on a huge new factory in the Industry City region of Brooklyn, a 170,000-square-foot facility that will house the company’s operations and production.
“We want to have printers in every school and eventually in every home,” CEO Jonathan Jaglom told the audience at today’s grand opening.
This emphasis on bringing 3-D printing to more schools was a major theme of the event, which featured guest speakers like Randy Asher, principal of the Brooklyn Technical High School, and Dan Freedman, dean of the School of Science and Engineering at SUNY New Paltz–both of whom had plenty of praise for MakerBot’s push into the education sphere. Even the founder of Coolest, the startup that famously broke Kickstarter records raising funds for its redesigned cooler, applauded MakerBot’s efforts when he took the stage.
The company’s new factory promises more logistical efficiency and about double the space of MakerBot’s previous digs, which were also in Brooklyn. Currently, the new factory houses 140 employees, about 80 of which are focused on piecing together its line of Replicator desktop printers and related components. Jaglom says the company is looking to fill 40 new positions in the near future, some of which will replace workers laid off earlier this year.
This expansion comes three months after the company laid off 20% of its staff and shuttered its retail stores. Evidently, Makerbot–which was purchased by 3-D printing giant Stratasys in 2013–sees a much brighter future in serving the education market than in being a brick-and-mortar retailer.
The layoffs were just one side effect of the Stratasys acquisition, since the new leadership has tried to streamline operations and tighten its focus as the 3-D printing industry evolves. (Jaglom had worked at Stratasys for over a decade before taking over as MakerBot CEO earlier this year.) It’s not all bad news though: As a subsidiary of Stratasys, MakerBot now has easy access to its parent company’s more advanced research and development apparatus, a perk that Jaglom says will pay off as research into new 3-D printing materials trickles down from the mothership.