MakerOS has added a free tier to their cloud-based business management system.
The New York-based startup has been quietly developing their system for a few years, and now it’s quite mature. The concept behind the system is to automate most of the management and administrative functions associated with running a small to medium-sized design, engineering, or fabrication businesses.
Typically such businesses employ unwieldy combinations of different and disconnected tools, usually including emails, spreadsheets and the like. With that kind of system, mistakes can be made and it’s generally inefficient.
MakerOS attempts to integrate all the typical functions done by manufacturing operations, including:
- Project Management
- Project Submissions
- Automatic Job Quotations
- Custom Client Invoicing & Payments
- Client Portal (including Chat)
- Product and Inventory Management
- Site Integration (with most major systems)
- Custom Workflow Management
- 3D CAD Inspection and Analysis
The system works for different types of manufacturing, including 3D printing, but also other making processes. While MakerOS is very useful for small to medium-sized manufacturing businesses, it’s particularly useful for service bureaus, fabrication labs, and makerspaces where there are often plenty of jobs to execute and few systems to keep track of what’s happening.
Their “business platform” is the standard cloud subscription option, and it currently costs US$191 per month for the ability to handle up to 20 team members, with plenty of storage for client projects and files.
While MakerOS has been extremely successful thus far, they took a very strategic step earlier this year when they introduced a free tier to their subscription options.
The new “Free” tier allows anyone (with a US address, more countries to come soon) to sign up for a MakerOS account and begin business management.
What’s surprising is that unlike many free services that are severely constrained or time-limited, the MakerOS free tier allows for unlimited customers and an astonishing TEN team members. You don’t even need a credit card to get started.
The free tier will certainly be of massive benefit to smaller design, engineering, and fabrication operations who can immediately organize their work in a highly sophisticated manner with MakerOS’ tools. If they’re successful, they could eventually grow large enough to require movement to MakerOS’ business tier.
MakerOS can provide a design, engineering, or fabrication business similar, if not more, online capability than the largest online service bureaus such as Xometry, Fictiv, or Protolabs.
I asked MakerOS’ Carlos Lu what was behind the introduction of the free tier.
Fabbaloo: Beyond being a successful business in the 3D space, what is the goal of MakerOS?
Carlos Lu: “Our aim is to democratize modern product development. We believe every maker should have access to the software tools and infrastructure to build and operate a successful fabrication or design business.”
Fabbaloo: Is something changing that opens the door for use of services like MakerOS? I’ve heard you’ve received a great many subscribers to the free tier; what’s pushing them forward?
Carlos Lu: “We recognize that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (the Internet of Things, Additive Manufacturing and Rapid Prototyping, Cloud Computing, etc) is decentralizing fabrication and product development, even more so than it previously did in the late 20th century. The onset of Industry 4.0 itself is accelerating because of the current global pandemic. Engineers and fabricators face great challenges when it comes to managing their supply chain. We recognize that there is a great opportunity for a new solution to emerge and help design, engineering, and fabrication business owners manage those challenges, and we believe that solution is MakerOS.”
Fabbaloo: What problems do you see facing small manufacturers that need solutions?
Carlos Lu: “Fabrication is facing aggressive price-shopping from consumers. To avoid cost becoming a full-on race to the bottom, modern businesses, both new and old, need ways to become more efficient with their time and resources without spending large sums of money. For smaller and medium-sized manufacturers, enterprise business solutions from companies like Oracle, Siemens, and Salesforce are cost-prohibitive. We do not want MakerOS to be cost prohibitive.”
Fabbaloo: Why a free tier?
Carlos Lu: “We are makers with years of experience running product development and fabrication businesses. We know the problems that designers, engineers, and fabricators face when dealing with clients and managing project workflows. We believe that every maker should have access to the software tools and infrastructure to build and operate a successful fabrication or design business. We believe that access to those tools should not be complex and cost-prohibitive.
We know that 3D printing business owners have heavy expenses, low margins, and are tight on time. By giving MakerOS to those business owners for free, we aim to help alleviate those stresses.”
Fabbaloo: What services do MakerOS clients receive from the system? Do these services differ for the free tier?
Carlos Lu: “Our mission at MakerOS is to support the next generation of makers — engineers, manufacturers, designers, and fabricators — by providing them the digital infrastructure for modern product development. With the MakerOS platform, makers can immediately:
- Speed up their quoting process
- Organize their team’s work
- Provide a professional client-experience
- Expand their company’s service capabilities
The free tier provides the same functionality as the paid tiers, except that the amount of storage is smaller and the MakerOS brand is visible.”
Fabbaloo: Who should be using MakerOS? Is it just for 3D printing?
Carlos Lu: “We built the MakerOS software to be the business operating infrastructure that’s accessible for all makers and educators. MakerOS is particularly well-suited for those makers working with Additive Manufacturing, CNC Machining, Injection Molding, Post Processing, CAD Engineering, and Supply Chain Management.
Specifically for educators, the MakerOS platform can be applied as a learning management system for engineering and fabrication students.”
If you’re a manufacturer looking to improve your business processes, you definitely should check out MakerOS — it’s now free, so there’s nothing to hold you back.