MakerBot is pioneering distributed manufacturing! Get paid to make parts for future MakerBots.

Problems are opportunities

At MakerBot, we have a problem of production. You see, our CupCake CNC is made of a variety of components: electronics, lasercut parts, machined parts, and printed parts. To be specific, there are 4 idler pulleys that are printed by the machine, for the machine. Currently, we produce all of the idler pulleys on our own bank of MakerBots in our Brooklyn factory. This worked smoothly when we were shipping 20 bots a month. Lately, demand is increasing so fast that we’re ramping up production to be able to ship 50 to 100 bots a month. Our next production bottleneck is printing enough pulleys for the kits.  We could switch back to lasercut pulleys, but we’d rather not have to.

Crowdsourced manufacturing

In the conversation about cheap, ubiquitous 3D printing, people talk a lot about distributed manufacturing  The concept is simple: instead of having a centralized factory that produces parts and then distributes them to the people that want them, individuals have the tools they need to build the things they want and distribute them without a central hub. Here at MakerBot, we fully support this vision of the future–we’re actively building tools that support this revolution. We want to take a first step toward that future by starting crowdsourced manufacturing, where production is distributed, but distribution  still uses the hub model.

That is where you, the MakerBot Operator comes in. If you have a MakerBot, then you have the means of production. We want you to take part in our grand experiment in crowdsourced manufacturing. We want you to use your MakerBot to produce the next wave of MakerBots. In essence, we want to distribute pulley manufacturing to you. Since this is just the first step, we want to make it easy and simple. You build the parts, we handle distributing them.

Be a part of it

We will pay $1.00 / pulley for 608 Idler Pulleys. Download the linked file for the 608 Idler Pulley and print it out. When you have at least 30, mail them to us and we’ll either send you a check or pay you by Paypal. When we make them, the bearing press fits into the pulley and yours should too! Don’t forget to check the pulley for bearing fit before sending them off, because we certainly will! We need 150 of these pulleys before September 3rd and if this experiment works out, we’ll ask for folks to print out 625 Idler Pulleys too!

This is a new and exciting adventure for us. As far as we know, crowdsourced manufacturing is just something people have talked about, not actually done. We’re looking forward to the results, and we hope that you will take part. If this whole thing goes well, then it means we will be able to crowdsource other parts as well, and gradually turn our MakerBot design into a 3D printable design and fulfill the RepRap dream of a 3D printable 3D printer.

Being able to collaboratively create MakerBot kits with the help of MakerBot operators is going to be an awesome future, and we want you to be a part of it.