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Lulzbot closing by end of October? Lawsuit filed by employee

Following the speculation that Aleph Objects, manufacturer of Lulzbot open-source 3D printers had met its end, the company has refused to deny claims that it is indeed shutting down. 

An email attributed to Aleph Objects states, “We regret to inform you that the owners of Aleph Objects Inc, makers of Lulzbot 3D printers, have decided to close down the business as of Wednesday, October 9th, 2019. Operations will continue through October 31st, 2019 in an effort to sell through existing inventory.”

Grant Flaharty, President, and CEO of Aleph Objects, did not deny the claims of the email, telling 3D Printing Industry:

“I have no comment at this time. As you can see we are continuing to make product and fulfill orders [and] we are actively pursuing new ownership and funding opportunities.”

Initially, Lulzbot told 3D Printing Industry, “We did have a staff reduction but are not shutting down Friday.” Since then, this statement has been clarified by Lisa Ketner VP of Global Sales & Support as, “We would not be closing last Friday and we did not close last Friday.” While the choice of language is unusually specific regarding dates, Ketner could not confirm if the email sent to suppliers was genuine nor comment on the future of the company.

Aleph Objects’ staff reduction has made 91 of its 113 employees redundant, according to Loveland Reporter-Herald. Now, the Colorado-based publication has also reported that former employee, Zachary Hergenreder, has filed a class-action lawsuit against the company due to its failure to notify its workers in advance of their termination.

The Lulzbot TAZ Workhouse 3D printer. Photo via Aleph Objects.
The Lulzbot TAZ Workhouse 3D printer. Photo via Aleph Objects.

“Streamlining operations” or closing down the business

In response to the upheaval caused by layoffs, Aleph Objects released the statement on October 11th, that LulzBot printers were “streamlining operations.” Despite its entry into the 3D bioprinting market earlier this year, this was deemed as a result of the ‘lack of innovation’ by onlookers on the company’s part. Many from the 3D printing community also took to social media, attributing the pricing of the Lulzbot 3D printers as the cause of the company’s “demise”.

A first glimpse of the LulzBot Bio 3D printer. Photo via Aleph Objects
A first glimpse of the LulzBot Bio 3D printer. Photo via Aleph Objects

Lulzbot, lay-offs and a lawsuit

Looking back on the 16 employee reviews from Glassdoor made from 2017-2019, Aleph Objects’ working environment has been described to be “restrictive, controlling, negative” and “chaotic”. While such a small sample may not reflect the experience of the majority of employees, Hergenreder has asserted such reviews on Monday when his class-action lawsuit was filed alleging that the company violated laws requiring a 60-day notification of termination.

As one of the 91 employees to be let go, Hergenreder states that the majority of staff were notified of the layoffs on Wednesday, the 9th of October at 3 p.m. According to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act in Colorado, companies with over 100 employees must provide notice to employees who will be laid off 60 days prior to termination. A WARN notice was not filed by Aleph Objects. The company also neglected to pay terminated employees their “respective wages, salary, commissions, and bonuses,” the lawsuit adds.

As stated by Moe, the company was also harmed by the recent tariffs imposed on Chinese goods, as its 3D printing hardware includes electronic motors and power supplies from China. It has been reported that Aleph Objects currently has 22 employees.

Amidst the layoffs, a private message board was established by Aleph Object employees looking for new job opportunities in additive manufacturing. Those interested can contact [email protected] as well as sign up for the 3D Printing Jobs board, for the latest industry openings. 

A close-up of the Lulzbot TAZ Workhouse 3D printer. Photo via Aleph Objects.
A close-up of the Lulzbot TAZ Workhouse 3D printer. Photo via Aleph Objects.

3D Printing Industry will update the developments from Lulzbot and Aleph Objects as they appear. Subscribe to the free 3D Printing Industry newsletter, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Featured image shows the Lulzbot Mini 3D printer and the company’s mascot Rocktopus. Photo via Lulzbot.