MatterHackers, 3D Printing, and the Road to Making Anything
Dave Gaylord, MatterHackers Sr. Director of Product, shares a look at the busy company’s take on the 3D printing industry.
MatterHackers is a familiar name for many working in 3D printing, from hobbyists looking to have some fun to industrial teams in search of the right materials for the right job. The company offers a variety of products and services to enable creation -- in fact, that’s right in their mission statement:
“Join us in our quest to give everyone the power to make anything.”
Making anything is a pretty tall order, so it was a pleasure to catch up with the team for insights into some of that broad spectrum of participation. For his part, Dave Gaylord is committed to both industry and company, as he and 3D Phil (Phil A. Ment, that is), the MatterHackers charmer of a mascot, are often together to work directly with the community. His insights into the current trends in materials, hardware, software, and what open source means to the desktop 3D printing community offer a strong insider's look at this busy segment of the market.
Can you share a look at MatterHackers' history in 3D printing and perception of the industry?
“MatterHackers was founded in 2012 and from day one we set out on a quest to give everyone the power to make anything. MatterHackers began selling filament, then machines, all while developing MatterControl, the open-source 3D printing software. Since we launched, we’ve seen the industry grow in many different directions, and it’s only going to continue to do so as more people have access to the technology. That’s where we come in with our never-ending quest to provide reliable machines and materials.”
How has business changed over the last six years of operations?
“Growth has been just crazy - keeping up with technology has been fun. I think the largest change is the verticals where desktop 3D printing has been gaining traction. There remains great interest in education, but over the past few years enterprise customers increasingly see the utility of the technology and how engineers can improve project timelines and costs by using desktop 3D printing - it is becoming a reality where every engineer has a 3D printer on their desk and are succeeding with multiple iterations of a design in one day vs waiting a few weeks for a single iteration to come back from the outsourced prototype house. With the rapid rate that advanced materials are being developed, we are only going to see more industries integrate 3D printing into not only their workflow, but into end-use products.”
What can users look forward to with the upcoming launch of MatterControl 2.0?
“We’re very excited about MatterControl 2.0 - the addition of design capabilities to a robust printer control software is a game changer. MatterControl, at its core, is also getting more dynamic with Print Recovery, Software Bed leveling, more processing power, and improved slicing engine.”
What trends do you see in terms of materials demand?
“With the demand for more industrial uses of the technology - the need for stronger, more versatile materials is increasing. 3D printed jigs and fixtures that are use on a manufacturing floor, for instance, cannot fail. Materials like MatterHackers’ NylonX remain a strong offering within our portfolio - the strength and durability of nylon combined with the stiffness of carbon fiber results in highly useful designs right off the print bed.”
“More printer capabilities right out of the box at an affordable price is the dream. It’s the reason MatterHackers continues to expand our 3D printer offering, as well as adding mills, carvers, and laser cutters into the mix. More importantly, that’s why we’ve launched the Pulse line of 3D printers, specifically the Pulse XE, which is a fully assembled desktop 3D printer designed to print advanced materials straight from the box - no hotend or nozzle upgrades and tinkering needed.”
How does MatterHackers work with the community?
“It’s pretty obvious that the technical maker community is fun. We are just a bunch of geeks here in the MatterHackers office, so we like to hang out with like-minded people. We host regular meetups at our headquarters, as well as at technical-oriented events across the country to give people that chance to gather and discuss the projects they are working on. Overall though, our goal is to help the community to succeed with 3D printing. That’s why we are constantly creating how-to articles and providing information on the industry we know and love to help others.”
How does open source impact product perception?
“The entire base of desktop 3D printing has Open Source to thank - that is something we’re grateful for every day. It's a reality that we are here today, talking about desktop 3D printing because of the Open Source movement that has gathered at the foreground of the technology. The technology advances, not because of one individual contributor, but instead marginal gains accumulated over many contributors. We make every effort we can to give back by increasing the technical capabilities of Open Source software, hardware.”
What sets MatterHackers apart in the marketplace?
“MatterHackers is the only location where you can find as many products offered at competitive prices. Beyond that, customer service and engagement with the community are something we realize brings increased value to our customers and the technology as a whole. We’re genuinely looking to be the smart place to buy if you’re looking for anything that helps you create using digital fabrication. From the outset, we’ve focus on customer satisfaction, and that remains a strong asset to MatterHackers and our customers. I’ve found myself lately saying, ‘We’ve got your back, so there is no need to worry,’ and it is truly something that is a truth.”
What else should we know about the company, the community, 3D printing in general?
“Subscribe to the MatterHackers newsletter to find out! It really is a super helpful resource when it comes to gaining a strong knowledge of 3D printing and succeeding with specific applications.”