About a decade ago [Windell Oskay] and [Lenore Edman] spun out of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories to work on CandyFab, an inexpensive 3D printer that used sugar as its medium. Wondering what happened to CandyFab? It’s been nearly that long since we last wrote about their work and Maker technology has moved on; nowadays 3D printers run the gamut from very inexpensive to production ready. The CandyFab project and nascent company are now shuttered, but there is a epilogue with some interesting lessons.
First of all, the saga of the CandyFab series of printers (above on the same page) is worth a read. Some of what these machines were capable of is still quite impressive by modern standards. Sure your Monoprice Mini Delta may be easy to use, fully assembled, functional when you take it out of the box, and quiet. But what if you need to print something up to 8.5″ x 11″ x 17″? The CandyFab 5000 can do that. Or even a humongous 24″ x 13.5″ x 9″? The CandyFab 4000 can do it, and for a measly $37 (if you printed a solid cube exactly the size of the build volume)! Sugar may have downsides but it’s still a pretty clever medium for some uses.
CandyFab credits the rise of MakerBot coupled with the complexity of iterating from a pile of “surplus junk” (their words) to something kitable. Reading their post-mortem brings to mind familiar problems from today’s hardware world. A spike of fantastic early publicity lead to the need to handle press while rapidly iterating from the aforementioned surplus parts to a reliable and manufacturable design. Then the complexity of balancing a day job and other side projects with the prospect of CandyFab as a business. Ultimately the need for the project in the first place (accessible inexpensive 3D printers) was alleviated by the market and the project came to a graceful close.
Give the post a read, we’re sure you’ll learn something!
If you’re a maker business, making the things is usually your chief concern, whether you’re 3D printing widgets or milling them. But if you don’t put enough time and energy into things like client interaction and payments, you may find that you don’t have customers. [Mike Moceri] was tired of bloated systems like Salesforce that cost entirely too much for what they are. He created makerOS to help maker businesses be more effective without wasting time, starting with his own—a Detroit-based 3D printing, design, and prototyping firm called Manulith.
When a business registers with makerOS, they get a custom subdomain. makerOS is white-label software that provides a dashboard for the business owner and opens the lines of communication between maker and client. The client sees their own dashboard, and here they can can fill out a short form to describe what they want and upload photos and files from common cloud services. The dashboard provides a simple way to quote products and services, take payments, and facilitate discussion between manufacturer and client through a sort of wall/bulletin board which supports @ mentions and push notifications.
It’s free to register a subdomain with makerOS and install it on your existing site. The minimal costs associated are transaction based and flexible as your company grows.
[Jonathan] thought he was ready. He had created a unique product and, by taking pre-orders, didn’t have to front any of his own capital. He had shown that there was demand for such a device. The big problem…supply. Selling things was the easy part. Actually making them was another story. Every step of the way had complications. Printing errors, parts suppliers backed out, an international money transfer didn’t go through, postage rates increased, suppliers sent the wrong parts, and he and his wife had a baby. His stress levels were through the roof knowing that his customers had prepaid and were waiting through all the delays.
In the end, [Jonathan] learned a lot and survived the journey. He is currently working on his next invention. If you’d like to learn more about his experiences, you can message him personally. There’s also a Pianocade features video after the break.