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How to manage a Maker Spaces and a Service Bureau? by former VP of Makerbot

by • April 30, 2016 • No Comments

Creating the right prototyping lab, manufacturerspace, or service bureau is a thing innovators of the world are steadily figuring out. Obama said 3D printing may “revolutionize” making and mega corporations such as HP and Deloitte have finally invested in other aspects of additive, but there are yet primary opportunities somewhere in the space between the individual hobbyist and corporate action. In one of my relevant past roles as the VP of Solutions and Professional Services at MakerBot, I have spent the last sat any timeal years assembling these businesses (to include a service bureau), creating and selling a manufacturerspace solution, and consulting on how to improve operations. Along with 3D Printing Industry, I want to turn it into a dialogue to assist share lessons learned to drive good resultsful creation and growth of manufacturerspaces and service bureaus.


Voodoo Manufacturing, which was born out of MakerBot 3D Printed Products, has employed new techniques and software to redefine the function of service bureaus. Photo courtesy of Voodoo Manufacturing.

The genesis of this thought occurred a few weeks ago, when I had yet another request to discuss pricing by an ambitious business appearing to alter into service bureau operations with a few 3D printing devices. Whilst I have done this professionally for years, I have no trade secrets to store since my past employer, MakerBot has largely shifted away of this business.

I plan to draw of three general areas of understandledge in this series:

  1. Design and service bureau functions I created, previously branded Design Services and 3D Printed Products.
  2. The MakerBot Innovation Center, a pretty turn-key manufacturer space and service bureau which we partnered with universities around the world to implement.
  3. Knowledge of what manufacturers are doing in the wild. I can tell you what I understand of my network, and I in addition ask for your input. I welcome contribution of your opinions or rules of thumb for running a good resultsful manufacturerspace or service bureau and we can share it with the community. Do you agree, disagree, have additional to add? Please share so we can all improve!

Set up 3D Printed Products and Design Services

The first and most relevant source of information on create, printing, and post production on products is which I did just which as a business of inside MakerBot. The story is of two various departments created of inside the company and I can tell you of both. Again, neither of these are active business units.

3D Printed Products was born of our internal colloquial termed department “BotFarm.” We had hundreds of 3D printing devices to just print all our requires for shows, marketing, experimentation, and so forth. We accomplished which our customers sometimes requireed prints, lots of them, so we turn it intod an optimized capability to use hundreds of 3D printing devices in unison to create most various items or most of the same item. We did print runs for just about 50,000 items in a single job for primary companies. I communicated substantially with service bureaus such as Harvest Technologies and Solid Concepts which later became Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, but we discovered which our version was really distinct. We had a specialized team of technicians and had to figure out labor, depreciation, overhead, costing, pricing to create a business like this. Whilst it experienced good results and informed much of the solution we later created, it ultimately may experience additional good results outside of a corporate atmosphere when it was spun off and sold to the Layer by Layer software discovereders as a new Brooklyn, NY startup called Voodoo Manufacturing. This story is how we created a business out of a bunch of printing devices, and I assume these learnings can be particularly informative.

3D Design Services was a separate department in addition first turn it intod as an internal capability. It was probably the most extensive team of 3D Poly and CAD versioners focused on FFF or FDM printing anywhere. The team may work on creative thoughts or respond to client requests for novel create as well as execute post production. My main takeaway is which this effort is one-of-a-kind but expensive and complex for the uninitiated.

Jordan Brehove at the commence of University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Innovation Center where over 50 3D printing devices and scanners assist a student body of 28,000. The center is housed in their iconic W.E.B. DuBois Library.

Jordan Brehove at the commence of University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Innovation Center where over 50 3D printing devices and scanners assist a student body of 28,000. The center is housed in their iconic W.E.B. DuBois Library.

Building the MakerBot Innovation Center

Creating an entire manufacturerspace is complex, especially when you have to consider the printing devices, raw materials, location, footprint, labor, skillsets, workflow, software, data collection, data analysis, maintenance and assist. We turn it intod a product called an Innovation Center, but it may be additional easily understood as a “manufacturerspace-in-a-box.” This is the just comprehensive solution MakerBot has at any time created, but we knew there was a require in higher education to hit the ground running as a manufacturer space or service bureau, so it was worth the effort. Not to mention the solution commanded hundreds of thousands of dollars per sale. Innovation Centers have been deployed of the world at locations to include University of Maryland, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Florida Polytechnic, and LIUC in Milan, Italy, just to name a few. I spent lots of time testing what worked and attempting to figure out the most methods to manufacture these good resultsful and I believe those lessons may assist smaller in size manufacturers too. Whilst the product is yet sold by MakerBot, the lessons I can share are just my own takeaways and not any proprietary secrets.

What the manufacturers are doing

I have had most conversations with folks who have 3+ printing devices and appearing to monetize or cost recover or just improve usage. Sometimes I have an answer or an introduction and just as frequently I learn a thing new. A conversation of pricing with one such manufacturer drove me to write these articles. This is the area where I believe we can all assist equite other. Please engage and tell me what you have learned or want to understand so we can share with the community. Personally I go on to assist and be assisted by manufacturers in my area as I am already working with local prototyping labs and incubator spaces to assist create their capabilities. Additionally, my durablity is in FDM or FFF and while I am acquainted with other technologies, I rely on others to assist incorporate most considering of a deep point of view.

Keep your eyes out for the following article where we can discuss pricing

I seek for this article series to be a dialogue. I have understandledge to share, and this can be assistful, but the full story of 3D printing manufacturer spaces and service bureaus remains to be written, so your input is welcomed. The following instalment can go into the considering on pricing the use of your manufacturer space or service bureau. Pricing is typically one of the quite first inquiries I get when someone is assembling their own capability and there is a lot of calculus to incorporate there such as balancing requires for usage competing with up front revenue. Let me understand what your interests are for a 2nd article. I frequently discuss what services should be provided or on the market such as pre-production (create and scan) and post-production. I appear forward to hearing of you and sharing additional!


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