The moment I first came across MakerBeam at Kickstarter.com I liked it and backed the project. That was in 2009.
I am an electronics engineer and I love to make things. I could envision MakerBeam to come in quite handy when building stuff. Since there is no welding or drilling needed I saw myself working from my desk or dinner table. Living in a city with no workshop or garage available that is a big advantage. Time, or the lack of time, also always is an obstacle. MakerBeam offered me a fast method of assembly for a project of my choice. The opportunities MakerBeam offered were endless. I was hooked.
It was great to receive the first MakerBeam. I had number 65. Then the website of MakerBeam remained 'under construction' and I was disappointed like so many. It took a while but slowly I started to think about it differently. What if I could sell it myself? As an entrepeneur I like the fact that MakerBeam offers professional quality. A prototype can actually be put to work. Or the material can be reused at low cost. To be able to build something on a desk, rather than in a workshop, should also be an advantage in schools and laboratories. MakerBeam is great prototyping material: fast, easy and infinitely adjustable.
From both standpoints I love the appearance of MakerBeam: smooth, strong, small and beautiful.
So why not just do it?!
My wife provided the answer. She was going do it. That is, if I could get a batch of MakerBeam to Europe she would set up a website. And that is what happened. Marlies now runs MakerBeam.
Since 2011 MakerBeam is available in Europe. Since then I have not had much time to create my own designs. My time is spent on tweaking MakerBeam. Which is fine since my other company Gandalf and the product we sell there (Wandy) is what I consider to be my daytime job. Thinking along with MakerBeam and being the company it's technical guide is a wonderful hobby and great fun.
Version 2.0 anodised in black and clear was introduced in June 2012. Here is a blog post. By the end of the summer of 2012 we hired our first employee, Léonie. It was time to expand and start looking for more resellers. MakerBeam is now being sold in shops all over Europe. You can click here if you want to see a list of where you can buy MakerBeam.
Around that time we were also on the hunt for the best screw for our beam. We finally found it with our square headed bolt with hex hole. Here is a blog post. If you want to learn more about the whole process you can read more here. And the final choice for the square headed bolt is documented here. Meanwhile we added a few other products to our range like the bearings and NEMA brackets.
Then we went on to add OpenBeam to our product range. More robust, but still small. Less smooth but with more strength and we do not need to go on another quest for the right bolt. It felt like the right step to take. It was great Terence Tam trusted us enough to take on the production together. We are now infull swing to distribute OpenBeam accross Europe. You can click here if you want to see a list of where you can buy OpenBeam.
With MakerBeam we are looking the other way round, from Europe to the United States. In October 2013 we introduced MakerBeam on Amazon.com to accommodate US customers. The initial enthusiasm for MakerBeam faded away there. We aim to reignite this fire.
For me the fun now is to wait and see how you will appreciate the latest innovation of the makerbeam itself (threaded ends) and to create all sorts of new brackets that are, preferably, compatible with both MakerBeam and OpenBeam.
In February 2014 we welcomed Shasta as our packing employee and around the same time we had to let Léonie go. In July 2014 we welcomed Bea as a team member.
MakerBeam is growing. With the decision to sell OpenBeam as well we realised we are growing into a company that sells and produces small aluminum T-slot extrusions for professional prototyping. Not sure what that means for the future. Enjoying the ride so far.
I hope you will stay tuned to see where we are going.