Monday, July 5, 2010

MakerBot explained by Shelly Palmer of NBC

The attached video does a great job explaining the MakerBot and its potential.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Low cost custom plastic parts

If you haven't read Chris Anderson's theory about the Long Tail of markets yet, the theory is that products in low demand or that have a low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough. The Long Tail is the potential market and the manufacturing, distribution and sales channel opportunities created by the Internet often enable businesses to tap that market successfully.

What does the Long Tail theory have to do with the MakerBot? Most of the case studies with respect to the Long Tail are related to distribution channels. However, the MakerBot (or other low cost fabrication machines) enable individuals to manufacture products in extremely low volumes with decent margins. An example is a custom cylindrical bushing that I was asked to manufacture on my MakerBot. The price to machine this bushing out of ABS plastic was quoted around $225 per piece. Needless to say, the machined price for the part would be prohibitive for the everyday person. However, the price for the part off of the MakerBot will probably be a tenth of the machined version.

The low cost of the custom plastic part will enable those potential buyers at the end of the "tail" to participate in the marketplace. As the sum of all those buyers is greater than the few, large buyers currently in the market, the actual sales opportunity is tremendous.

The question now is how to tap into that market which is not currently being served and may not even know that they have options.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dewey (my MakerBot) upgraded with low cost, parts printed on Dewey (my MakerBot)!

OK, which came first? The chicken or the egg? The printable upgrade poses a similar question, which came first, Dewey (my MakerBot) or the plastic parts in the Z-axis wobble arrestor printed in 3D by Dewey (my MakerBot)?

The low cost, 3D printed parts where uploaded to Thingiverse by another MakerBot owner in the pursuit of improving the print quality. While trying to find ways to improve Dewey's print quality I happened upon his designs, downloaded the files, printed them out, and installed them. All for pennies.

Imagine the possibilities!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Micro Manufacturing with a MakerBot

First, I am the proud owner of MakerBot 997. While I thoroughly enjoy making parts for myself, I believe that the MakerBot is the beginning of a new type of democratized manufacturing. Call it whatever you want, cloud manufacturing, distributed manufacturing, or even micro manufacturing. However, this type of low cost technology has the capability to put the common person back in the drivers seat of choice by allowing the manufacturing of low cost, low volume, high mix products.

My question is this, who else out there is using their MakerBot or other type of low cost manufacturing equipment as a part of their business? What is your business model? Pricing structures, etc.?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Making your own bottle opener

OK, say you are tired and thirsty after a long hot day at the baseball park. You grab an ice cold beer from the frig but after much searching can't find your bottle opener. What do you do? Resort to using the cabinet handles, pry it off with a screw driver, get in the car and drive to the store? No, download the model from Thingiverse and print it out on your MakerBot. These are photo's of the bottle opener I printed on Dewey. The thing actually works!