Recently, when MakerBot decided to shut down their Brooklyn-based manufacturing facility and move their production overseas, it left me wondering whether the United States was a feasible place to run a manufacturing business. It’s true, there are certainly benefits to outsourcing into other countries, most of which revolve around cost effectiveness. But, still, there’s a certain charm and pride that comes alongside 3D printing companies that base themselves entirely in the US.
In fact, this has been the primary selling point for the new Verona, Kentucky-based 3D printing company, GorillaMaker. Founded by Glenn Warner, the company believes that localized production provides the best route towards high quality products, motivated employees, and close-knit community relationships. The idea for GorillaMaker came to Warner when he was working at his IT company, American Computer Solutions, and needed to replace a costly bracket. The entrepreneur realized that he could simply manufacture this bracket on a 3D printer at a much lower cost, and so he 3D printed and sold the company 600 of these brackets.
Their flagship 3D printer model, called the GM3D500, showcases its patriotism with an American flag on the front, and has found itself in schools and businesses across the country. Now working out of a relatively small workshop, GorillaMaker started out in the kitchen of the Warner home, and though it took a few months to turn a profit, the company is now making over a dozen machines per month. There are a number of reasons why GorillaMaker stands out among the pack of other desktop 3D printing companies, one of which is the pride they take in manufacturing their products in Kentucky.
“We stick these on everything we make,” he said. “We get parts from around the world, but everything that can be made by us in Kentucky, we make. I bleed red, white and blue, and we want that flag to be on every machine that goes out of here.”
Once a GorillaMaker 3D printer is sold, the customer receives comprehensive instructions about how to use their 3D printer and how to make functional designs as well. Although everything is put together in the Bluegrass state, the company has still managed to keep their 3D printers affordable and competitive. The GM3D500 costs around $5,550, but provides a generous build volume of 355 x 254 x 406 mm, anti-stick printing plates, and a three-year warranty to boot. Warner also takes pride in enabling his employees to be innovative, giving them the tools to improve their own skills while expanding the Gorilla Maker brand.
The 3D printing company has also partnered with local schools, supplying libraries with their 3D printers, and supports the Boone County MakerSpace. In the coming months, Warner plans to head to Kentucky State University to showcase how GorillaMaker designs and produces their 3D printers, and will also teach these students about basic manufacturing and business skills. Although financial gains are needed for a successful business, GorillaMaker claims to be more concerned with enhancing the local community, and bringing all of Northern Kentucky towards industrial prominence.
For instance, when Warner encountered an idea to create low-cost fans for hot environments, he decided to make an educational challenge out of it, calling on students and teachers to utilize 3D printing technology to produce small funnels with fans attached to the back, which would be connected to and powered by solar panels. The initial success of GorillaMaker has also helped create a lot of jobs in Kentucky, as it truly is one of the only locally owned and operated hi-tech manufacturers in the Bluegrass state.
GorillaMaker isn’t just stopping at their large-scale FDM 3D printers either; Warner and his company are also working towards producing more advanced 3D printers that would manufacture with resin and metal-based materials. With an abundance of experience in the tech world, Warner seems to have figured out how to make a quality product with a strong, patriotic message behind it. Regardless of where the company goes next, you can rest assured that somewhere on their next product will be a proud American flag sticker. Discuss further over in the Gorilla Maker GM3D500 3D Printer forum over at 3DPB.com.[Source: Northern Kentucky Tribune]
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