While they are not the oldest 3D printer manufacturer, MakerBot is unquestionably one of the most well-known, and thanks to being purchased by Stratasys in 2013 they are certainly the largest. A few months ago MakerBot hit a rather significant milestone for themselves as a company and for the 3D printing industry as a whole. As of April 2016, MakerBot has shipped 100,000 MakerBot 3D printers to customers all over the world. They are the very first 3D printer manufacturer to reach this huge milestone, and not only is that a pretty big deal for them, but it’s a testament to how large the 3D printing industry is becoming. In order to celebrate their achievement, MakerBot decided to launch a contest to win, what else, a MakerBot.  3dp_makermilestones_winners_banner

The goal of the #MakerMilestones Contest was to celebrate MakerBot’s success by showcasing how all of their 3D printers are being used. They invited makers all over the world to take to social media and tell a story about their own important 3D printing-related milestones. They could share their story on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #MakerMilestones, including a picture — and MakerBot’s panel of judges would pick winners from the 50 most popular posts on each platform. This week MakerBot finally announced the three contest winners, and it is obvious that 3D printing is about more than being a hobby and is actually being used to change lives in big and small ways.

3dp_makermilestones_YfT_tweetThe Youth for Technology Foundation is a global non-profit organization that partners low-income communities here in the US with rural communities in developing nations. The goal is to create opportunities for women and children to identify common problems, learn what causes them and discover ways to apply new technology towards finding solutions. Their 3D Africa program aims to close the gender gap in STEM education by teaching African young girls how to develop and market skills like software development, mobile app development, CAD software education and 3D printing technology.

The Youth for Technology Foundation's 3D Africa

The Youth for Technology Foundation’s 3D Africa

“YTF’s 3D Africa is creating prototype hubs in Africa for innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurship through ‘making’, connecting technology and engineering careers to positive impact. We are grateful to MakerBot for supporting this work. The donation will help us reach more students, especially girls, who will be inspired to pursue STEM fields through hands-on maker activities,” said Youth for Technology President and CEO Njideka Harry.

3dp_makermilestones_mr_kindergarten_tweetEureka, California educator August Deshais is a kindergarten teacher at Ridgewood School and has been incorporating STEM education into his curriculum. Deshais was recently named Humboldt County Teacher of the Year, and is a huge proponent for teaching children about 3D printing. He regularly holds 3D design and 3D printing challenges for his students, including his most recent project that had his class designing and printing tools. You can read more about his educational efforts and classroom projects here.

Tools designed and made by grade schoolers on a 3D Printer.

Tools designed and made by grade schoolers on a 3D printer.

“My goal as a kindergarten teacher is not only to introduce my students to a technology likely to be commonplace in their future, but to show them how we can use that technology today to solve real world problems. A new classroom MakerBot will allow me to expand that learning to our entire school by moving our current Replicator 2 to the school library for use by the entire staff and student body,” Deshais told MakerBot.

3dp_makermilestones_charbonneau_fbToronto-based industrial designer Erica Charbonneau created the FiGO Rear Support Pet Wheelchair when an online friend needed a wheelchair for their French bulldog. Unfortunately they needed it quickly, and the commercial pet wheelchair options were extremely expensive and out of their price range. She modeled her design in OpenSCAD and 3D printed most of the parts on her university’s MakerBot Replicator 2X; the rest can be easily sourced from any hardware store. The wheelchair is available for download on Thingiverse, and with the Customizer application the parametrically designed parts can easily be customized for any sized pet.

The FiGO Rear Support Pet Wheelchair

The FiGO Rear Support Pet Wheelchair

“Owning a Makerbot of my own means that I can not only keep working on FiGO, but I can work on it conveniently in my own workspace at any hour of the day! It also means that I can fabricate FiGO wheelchairs more quickly for local pet owners that need a low cost solution,” said Charbonneau.

The panel of judges that made the final selections were MakerBot CEO Jonathan Jaglom, Future Engineers CEO Deanne Bell,  Montclair State University entrepreneurship instructor Jason Frasca, and WTFFF?! Podcast co-hosts Tracy Hazzard and Tom Hazzard. They chose the winning entries based on creativity, design, real-world impact and how important 3D printing was to the idea. Discuss further in the MakerBot Celebrates with Contest forum over at 3DPB.com.

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