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The Right Way: MakerBot Democratizes 3D Printing, Uses RightSignature to Hire Fast

By: Unknown / Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Our series “The Right Way” profiles RightSignature power users, revealing their success secrets and the technology tools they use every day.

Imagine having a device sitting on your desk that you can use to make anything. That device is a MakerBot. MakerBot has blown open the 3D printing industry with their line of affordable, desktop-friendly 3D printers, and a full ecosystem of products and services to match.

But while the present is an exciting time for MakerBot, their future is even brighter—the company has undertaken a mission to install a desktop 3D printer into every home, office, and school. And to help accomplish this mission, they’ve recently merged with 3D printing partner Stratasys. RightSignature’s Steve Stormoen caught up with MakerBot’s Jenifer Howard, director of PR, and Jaclyn Mack, director of HR, to learn how MakerBot is leading the 3D printing renaissance.

What’s the story behind MakerBot?

Jenifer Howard: MakerBot is leading the next industrial revolution through 3D printing. MakerBot is four-
and-a-half years old and was founded in 2009. MakerBot recently completed a merger with fellow 3D printing manufacturer Stratasys and we’re excited about the future.

3D printing may be new to some, but the technology has been around for about 25 years. MakerBot was the first company to bring the technology to an affordable and accessible level on the desktop. There is a lot of the buzz and excitement around 3D printing right now that stems from the fact that more people are becoming familiar with the technology and learning about its possibilities.

MakerBot’s 4th generation printer, the MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer, has been a huge success, and it really highlights the importance of our entire MakerBot 3D printing Ecosystem that includes our 3D desktop printers, the MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner, Thingiverse, MakerWare software, the MakerBot Store and strategic partnerships with top brands. We realized early on that the applications of 3D printing can apply to engineers and architects, but also to many others. The communities around them don’t just want to design and print objects, they also want to share them, download them, and iterate them.

Thingiverse is a big part of the 3D printing community. Before we even made our first 3D printer, we launched Thingiverse, a community website that today has more than 100,000 downloadable designs. With Thingiverse, you don’t have to be a designer to be part of this new frontier—if you need to make something, Thingiverse lets you download it and print it out.

What would you say is MakerBot’s biggest success, and how did you get there?

JH: MakerBot’s biggest success, really, is what our customers have been able to do with their MakerBots. It’s very gratifying to build a machine that helps other people build things. Every day we hear about incredible new products and prototypes that our MakerBot owners are making. One project we are particularly proud of is the Robohand Project.

“Robohand” is a mechanical hand that was a collaboration between two guys that live 10,000 miles apart. A South African man, Richard Van As, lost four fingers in a woodworking accident, and he began a personal quest to find inexpensive prosthetic or mechanical fingers. He quickly learned that prosthetic fingers would cost him about $10,000 per finger. His mission to create cost-effective replacement fingers led him to collaborate with prop designer Ivan Owen of Seattle, and the two, after much trial and error, decided to put their designs to the test using 3D printing. Within two weeks of each receiving their MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printers, they had a fully working prototype of a mechanical hand. Two not only made fully working replacement fingers for Van As, but also discovered that their creation could help thousands of other adults and children with amputations, injury, illness and birth defects to the hand. They uploaded their design to Thingiverse.com and obtained the assistance of one of MakerBot’s designers to create a derivative of their original design. The two designs have been downloaded more than 27,000 times in just six months.

The Robohand Project is just one amazing story about how MakerBot has been changing people’s lives for the better. Instead of a $50,000 prosthetic, you can print the Robohand for a few dollars. The Robohand user can grasp things, shake hands, catch a ball, hold a pen, draw—it’s just remarkable.

The medical possibilities of MakerBot are just beginning to be explored. Our favorite thing to do every day is look at Thingiverse and see what exciting new objects people are uploading.

Can you tell us a bit about how RightSignature contributes to these successes?

Jaclyn Mack: We started using RightSignature in the HR department a few months ago and we’ve seen an immediate impact. I use RightSignature to get signatures on all our important documents, and it’s improved the turnaround time significantly. It’s fast, it’s easy, I know when people receive it, I know when people look at it, I can start poking them more to sign when I need it signed.

I use RightSignature for HR paperwork, ranging from I-9 documents to W-4s and everything in between. The turnaround is so quick that it helps me get things done that would normally take a week or more if I had to go out to our different locations—instead, I get a document signed in 1-3 days, max. I made a Reusable Template out of our employee handbook, too, and now every new employee signs it with RightSignature.

Employee onboarding is easier, HR is easier, legal obligations are easier, life is easier. Actually, RightSignature turned out to be so effective that it’s jumped departments, and now our business development team uses it too.

3D Printing is clearly in an exciting moment right now. Where do you see MakerBot and the state of the industry in 5 years?

JH: We’re pretty excited about the future. The story of 3D printing is a story about growth, opportunity and innovation. We see the future of MakerBot as fulfilling the promise to put desktop 3D printers in every school and every office and every home. Just recently, the minister of education in the UK announced that they’re adopting 3D printing into their school’s curriculum and schools will have 3D printers. That’s pretty exciting to see the technology being adopted at the school level.

3D printing today is where personal computers were 30 years ago. Look at how our society has changed now that generations raised with a personal computer in the home are entering the workforce. If you want to create engineers, architects, industrial designers of tomorrow, you have to give them the skills today to change the world, and that includes desktop 3D printers.

Bre Pettis, MakerBot’s CEO, has always been a tinkerer, creating new projects and ideas. Pettis noted, if he had a MakerBot when he was a kid, the world would be different place.


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