Pittsburgh-based startup PieceMaker, founded in 2013 by two Carnegie Mellon University graduate students and offering both retail and consumer 3D printing, first got its start in the wonderful world of toys. The company, which has a proprietary platform for AM content distribution and product customization, has partnered with several other big names, like Ford, Nickelodeon, and Toys’R’Us, to introduce really fun, innovative initiatives, like the first 3D printed products that were safe for kids, the first retail 3D printing kiosks, and the first retail lines of 3D printed toys that were officially licensed. Thanks to all of its fun retail experiences with 3D printing, PieceMaker also won the Best of Toy Fair award last year. Now, the company is moving onward and upward to new things.
Spoiler alert: if you’ve seen (and cried your way through) the movie Toy Story 3, you remember the moment when Andy gives his old toys away to the little neighbor girl when he’s getting ready to go off to college – he’s not abandoning them, just making sure that a new generation gets a chance to enjoy the same kind of imaginative fun that he did. PieceMaker’s new announcement reminds me a little of that moment – it’s moving away from the world of toys and shifting its focus a little.
The company has officially re-launched itself as a B2B solutions provider, focusing on interactive product customization experiences and complete additive manufacturing solutions – sound familiar? The B2B services that PieceMaker offers include:
- software solutions, like customization experiences and custom software applications
- 3D technology, like 3D hardware and printable product design
- supporting services, like kiosk and exhibit design and printable catalog development
Last year, PieceMaker started to notice a major change in how companies were using the opportunities that additive manufacturing provides to their advantage. R&D projects happening on the side, and building exercises, “have evolved into real corporate initiatives with serious resources behind their development.”
No longer do we see people only using AM technology to make toys – the market has drastically shifted as more people have begun to truly understand how disruptive the technology actually is. Companies and other organizations don’t just need a 3D printer on-hand for random projects, but a full ecosystem of tools, machines, applications, and support. New and improved goals are finally being met with useful resources, a lot of which have come about once manufacturers realized that the technology didn’t have to replace their workflows, but could rather be used to enhance them.
PieceMaker started to expand and mature its approach, and platform, to multiple markets and companies, using its expertise in AM solutions and customization to empower users who lacked more technical skills. The company offers its services to a wide variety of customers in various markets and has worked on innovative projects like makership curriculum educational software, industry AM content management, 3D printing promotional products on-site at events, beauty care product personalization experiences, and customer kiosks meant for designing personalized, fine jewelry.
“We have always believed that mass-customization, powered by on-demand AM supply chains, represents the next industrial revolution. One that not only empowers consumers to become co-creators in the products they buy, but also a revolution that stands to localize production, labor and profit again for the first time in a century,” explained PieceMaker CEO Arden Rosenblatt. “The challenge is that making this vision a reality requires large scale investment and leadership from major players across the market spectrum.”
“That tide is finally starting to turn. For the first time we’re seeing all kinds of companies putting substantial resources behind incorporating AM & interactive 3D technology into their supply chains and customer experiences in meaningful and exciting new ways. Importantly, they have also learned that hardware is just the first step. That’s where PieceMaker comes in. We’ve spent the last four years building the solutions, applications and networks that make AM work. Now we’re thrilled to bring this expertise to some of the best companies in the world, powering the AM revolution through end-to-end, enterprise-level solutions that are proven, profitable and scalable.”
PieceMaker took its proven enterprise platform for customizing, producing, and distributing printable products and built it into something better and more far-reaching. Now, the company will be dedicated to helping all kinds and sizes of companies introduce 3D printing experiences and interactive product customization into their own markets – just use PieceMaker’s Catalog Manager to upload and manage printable content remotely, then set up an interactive design experience for customers before using the platform’s built-in print tools to set up options like tracking and print configuration.
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