Manufacturing MakerBots for the Mass Market

How an engineer re-jiggered a 3D printer and its factory to streamline production

Back in its garage days, MakerBot sold its 3D printers in kits that owners had to assemble themselves. It was ideal for engineers and experienced DIYers, but not for casual tinkerers.

As 3D printing went mainstream, MakerBots evolved into off-the-shelf desktop printers. But that left the company with a problem: the printers weren’t designed to be manufactured on a large scale.

Diana Pincus, MakerBot’s plant manager, helped engineer the 5th generation Replicator into an assembly-line friendly product. And when MakerBot moved to its new factory in Brooklyn, Pincus took the opportunity to re-engineer the production process as well. Conveniently, she had a secret weapon—a squadron of 3D printers that can produce new parts for rapid, on-site factory innovation.