MakerBot CEO: 3D Printing Going Mainstream - InformationWeek

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MakerBot CEO: 3D Printing Going Mainstream

Jonathan Jaglom is the new CEO of MakerBot. He comes to the job with strong views of how 3D printing will change the consumer and enterprise markets.

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For many consumer and engineering prototyping customers, MakerBot is 3D printing.

Stratasys, MakerBot's parent company, is the largest 3D printer vendor, with over $750 million dollars in sales during 2014, according to Statista. So when a new CEO took them helm of MakerBot in late February, it was big news in the 3D printing world.

Jonathan Jaglom was no stranger to 3D printing. Before taking the position at MakerBot he was general manager for Asian operations at Stratasys. His history is professional 3D printing, and that history informs the way he talked about MakerBot.

In an extended telephone interview with InformationWeek, Jaglom said that his history meshes well with that of the company he now leads.

"What has really happened is that MakerBot grew through the community of Makers, but relatively quickly they outgrew that community and established themselves in industries outside the consumer space," Jaglom said, explaining that MakerBot expanded into "the education and professional spaces, both."

MakerBot CEO Jonathan Jaglom

(Image: Courtesy of MakerBot)

MakerBot CEO Jonathan Jaglom

(Image: Courtesy of MakerBot)

3D Goes to School

Jaglom explains that MakerBot has targeted the education market with a combination of basic system ease-of-use, a curriculum plan developed for teachers, and flexible pricing for educational institutions.

The combination has made a difference in MakerBot's penetration into the market compared to what he saw when he visited schools as a Stratasys executive.

"I came from Stratasys and the reality of the industry was that those printers [were] more expensive. You can't deny that. With MakerBot, the cost of ownership is about 1/10 of that of the Stratasys printers. Students can print readily without as much concern for cost," Jaglom. "When I went to universities for Stratasys, the printers were seldom in use when I visited because I was told they were for grad students or end of term projects. We have MakerBots in over 5,000 schools and the printers are being used extensively throughout the year."

[Makers may be the future of your organization. Read Why The Maker Movement Matters To Your Business.]

Those installed systems are at the leading edge of a market that Jaglom feels will have significant growth potential. He compared 3D printers today with other technology that has grown with time.

"I think the relation to the computer in the 80s where you had computers in the schools and later they showed up in homes is what we'll see here," said Jaglom. "The .EDU space is huge. People are coming to us and saying not, 'We want a 3D printer,' but, 'We want a MakerBot.' We're getting traction there. It's very impactful. Over time those students will grow and graduate, and I believe that eventually people will have printers at home."

On Professional Desks

Education isn't the only area in which Jaglom sees potential.

When he talks about the engineering and technical spaces, Jaglom imagines a world in which 3D printers are as common on engineer's desks as hand-held calculators and questionable coffee. "Professionally there's a lot of use in the market. I'm very familiar with that from my time at Stratasys," he said.

When he explains why engineers have begun to embrace 3D printers, Jaglom said it's all about a rush to the functional.

"People can create real prototypes at early stages of development," Jaglom said. "At customers like GE, which has examples of all of our printers, you ask why they have all three, and they say that getting an early prototype in the hands of peers and focus groups is why they use the MakerBot. Functional testing and real-world testing are more advanced functional tests, and they use the Stratasys for those higher-end tests."

While the cost of the higher-end printers can serve as a barrier to entry for many potential customers, MakerBot has pioneered the "innovation center" at universities, and Jaglom sees the concept expanding into the professional space. "I believe, and it hasn't caught ground yet, is that we'll have innovation centers for the professional space," he said. "I ask what the ideal scenario for an engineer or designer working in a company of any size. I think they should have a MakerBot beside their computer. You could have an innovation center at a larger company where, instead of a printer at every desk, you have 30 to 50 printers that are connected to the network," Jaglom continued.

No Consumer Left Behind

While Jaglom focuses much of the conversation on educational and professional markets, (continued on next page)

Page 2: Printing the Future

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio
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User Rank: Ninja
7/30/2015 | 12:16:36 PM
My daughter asked me the other day. "what if there was a machine that we could just take some pictures and tell it what you wanted and it would spit it out? would that be great?"

My answer was "wait for it honey, eventually 3-d printing will get to a point where it'll be like the printer we have at home."

I then had to explain 3-d printing to two small kids. But 3-D printing strikes me as something that could be incredibly useful for everyone. Instead of ordering products online and waiting for them, some could be printed right off. I see the next generation embracing that sort of instantaneous purchase, nevermind the possibilities to create from a home office.
User Rank: Ninja
7/17/2015 | 8:56:14 PM
Re: 3d printers
3D printing has so much potential. I don't see the industry being full of a lot of startups because it's more hardware-centric, but there are some really cool things that are going to arrive because of the technology. 

There's a ton of potential for consumer products, medical, food and so much more. 
Kevin Runner
Kevin Runner,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/17/2015 | 8:31:16 AM
Re: 3d printers
"I keep hoping 3D printing will become useful beyond prototyping. Let's face it, most people do not need to test product designs. My bet is on 3D printing for food."

3D printing for food ? Really ? I don't really understand how it could be possible !
User Rank: Apprentice
7/16/2015 | 6:58:25 PM
Dental crown
My wife had a crown 3D printed when she went to the dentist recently. And this was an ordinary suburban dentist too -- not a fancy experimental place. That seems pretty practical and mainstream to me. 
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
7/16/2015 | 4:50:09 PM
3d printers
I keep hoping 3D printing will become useful beyond prototyping. Let's face it, most people do not need to test product designs. My bet is on 3D printing for food.
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