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Meet the Inventables Customer Success team!

What Is Customer Success?

If you’ve contacted a company with a customer service issue in recent years you have likely been forced to deal strictly with automated, self service menus or impersonal scripted FAQ responses. While these tools can be effective and have their uses we think that helpful, personal support from real people still has a place in the world. That is why our Customer Success team is built on real people who are experts at helping people succeed and get the results they need. That's why we call it Customer Success. We're here to help you succeed. To do this, we take risks, operate differently and work on continuous improvement. We purposely don’t always follow the status quo or do what the other businesses are doing. Instead, we think of the times we’ve experienced bad customer service in our personal lives, and do the opposite for our customers. Get to know some of the real people that work on our team below.

If you ever have a question or issue that needs attention, contact us at help@inventables.com or via phone during business hours at (312) 775-7009 and we'll take care of you as fast as we can. Yes, we will answer the phone when you call, and we respond to all emails sent during business hours on the same business day.

Why it works so well

It’s not about us.  We’re focused on your success.  Everyone at Inventables is a maker and tinkerer in their own right, which is what makes the team so effective in helping our customers achieve their goals. We're all constantly working on our own projects and trying out new techniques, so we empathize very much with the frustrations involved in trying to bring a new idea into the world.

We’re part of a larger community.  We’re doing our best to help grow and nurture that community. We are fortunate enough to get to do this every day. We understand that this stuff is hard. We constantly take a beginner's mindset and realize that we must be focused on helping all our customers regardless of their experience level.

Our Process

When you send us an email, it gets queued up in Desk, an app we use to help us manage the volume of communications we receive every day. Here's an example of what the interface looks like from our side of things:


Once your email is received, it gets assigned to a member of our Customer Success team who is then responsible for the case until it's completely resolved- which only occurs when the customer is satisfied with the outcome. We take customer issues very seriously, and treat every single one with the same level of importance. Sometimes it goes as far as doing a "root cause analysis" to figure out where we screwed up, and implementing new policies and procedures to prevent those things from happening again.

For example- if two customers say they were short a few washers in their 3D Carving kit, we don't just ship them replacement washers and call it a day. We investigate the process by which washers are counted and packed, and make changes to the process to ensure it doesn't happen again. All of our teams are constantly improving our processes and we value feedback from our customers as a very important piece of that puzzle.

We track and attempt to improve a number of internal performance metrics in Desk, including how long it takes for us to respond to a new case, and how long it takes for cases to be resolved. We also track a Net Happiness score aggregated from customer feedback. You may have noticed this little "temperature gauge" at the bottom of emails from the CS team- we take this feedback seriously and review the data every day as part of our process.


Our Team

So, who are the people who answer those phones and reply to all those emails?

Phil Lomac


Phil is our operations manager and head of customer success.  He splits his time between stepping in to help answer emails and phone calls from customers and overseeing our warehouse and manufacturing activities.  Phil is also a long time musician/songwriter who enjoys tinkering with different instrument designs and is currently prototyping a small line of stringed instruments made from various reclaimed materials.

Paul Stolz

Paul is our newest member of the CS team and handles the administrative side of things- refunds, shipping adjustments, and bookkeeping matters- in addition to tending the phones and email cases that come in. Paul's an avid musician and has been playing with some 3D printed guitar capo designs. When he's not at work you can catch him playing shows with his band Pool Holograph. Fun fact: Paul's bandmate Wyatt Grant is our warehouse shipping manager!

John Hayes

John is focused on resolving 3D Carving technical issues. He came to Inventables as one of our earliest customers, from way back when we had just started selling the original Shapeoko 1. Lately John has been testing the build instructions for X-Carve, making sure all the parts match up and no steps are missed. In his off hours, John's working on building a set of foot stools using traditional woodworking techniques and has plans to engrave the seats with mathematical designs using his 3D carving machine at home. He's also working on restoring a Honda CB350 motorcycle in his apartment's living room.

Samantha Alaimo

Our own Queen of Lasers, Sam is one of Inventables' longest-tenured employees and has worn a lot of hats here. She started her career as our Resident Designer and is also our Fabrication Lab Specialist, in addition to being on the CS team. Sam studied Design Objects at the Art Institute of Chicago and runs a little shop called Logan Lasers in her off hours, providing custom laser fabrication services.

Now that you can put a face to the names, drop us a line and say hi! The CS team is standing by to help you configure an X-Carve, order a Carvey, test out Easel, expedite shipping, or figure out which milling bits to use for a new project.

Oh, and some of those topics are good for discussion over at the Inventables forum as well. Check it out: https://discuss.inventables.com/

X-Carve Shipping Update!




The transition to X-Carve has been a huge undertaking for everyone at Inventables, encompassing a multitude of projects and collaborations from every team. Engineering, software development, purchasing, customer support, warehouse operations and all the rest have been hustling to get this product designed and in our customers' hands as quickly as possible.

Now that we've finally announced it to the world, things are moving really fast! In order to get shipping as fast as possible, we're making a lot of changes to our warehouse that should help us increase our speed and efficiency, while keeping our error rates as low as humanly possible.

One of the big changes for us is that X-Carve is completely "choose your own adventure"- the machine size, motors, electronics, spindle- every module can be combined with every other one to make a machine for every individual. Customers can order more than a thousand combinations of X-Carve modules using our configurator, and the warehouse team has to be able to pick, pack, and ship those orders quickly to keep up with demand.

Our operations manager Phil is making some big organizational changes in the warehouse this week, and none too soon as our truckloads of X-Carve parts have started to arrive!

Here's Phil examining some of the 1000mm MakerSlide fresh from the anodizer-->

That's two pallets of MakerSlide on the ground next to him. Over the coming days we'll be checking each rail individually for dings, nicks, straightness, and anodizing consistency. They'll then be stacked onto shelves in the X-Carve kitting area being set up, as soon as those shelves are built.


Also arrived: Switching 24v Power Supplies!



Thousands of belt clips and drag chain mounts!

 

Cases of 24v cooling fans and Arduinos flashed with GRBL!

 

Giant spools of wire and so many oak clamps!

 

Literally a thousand pounds (450kg) of NEMA 23 stepper motors! Fun fact: the NEMA 23's that ship with X-Carve have 140lbs of holding torque. Beefy.


Stacks of 1000mm wasteboards and more drag chain than we've even see in one place!

 

And did we mention MakerSlide? Lots of MakerSlide. Not pictured: like six more pallets of MakerSlide in various lengths.


As we set up our processes, we're still working on refining parts of the customer experience. Here's Paul Kaplan from our software development team putting a little thought into the way the different X-Carve modules fit into the box. Since X-Carve is a kit that the customer puts together, it's really important to us that the process is very clear and organized from the moment you open the box.

Paul is the Inventables Tetris champion so we figured he'd be the best one to solve this problem.


And last but not least, here's a snapshot of what the process looks like on our inventory check-in workstation. Here's Lisa checking in a batch of v-wheels before they go on the shelves. We inspect every part for consistency and quality, weeding out any factory mistakes before a customer ever sees them. Last month our inventory team had a 0% error rate, which is a pretty big deal.


We'll keep you updated on our progress as the shipping date approaches. Some of the next parts to land are the awesome custom extrusions that make up the X-Z and spindle carriages, and we've got some secret new stuff coming in to the store that we're really excited about.

In the meantime, we're putting in the hours on our handful of early X-Carves in the shop, we've got beta testers out in the field checking through the build process and assembly instructions, and we're responding to all the excellent questions coming in on the new forum

Thanks for all the feedback and support so far, please keep it coming and we'll get these X-Carves shipped as fast as we can!

Say Hello to X-Carve

Today Inventables launched X-Carve, our next generation 3D Carving machine. It’s the start of a new chapter for us and we’re very excited.


Our mission at Inventables is to bring out the maker in all of us. We envision a world where the the digital fabrication revolution empowers a new generation of makers to be able to dream, design, and fabricate their ideas into products. We believe low cost digital manufacturing tools are making it easier for people to prototype and do short production runs. We believe by focusing on making the experience easier, we’re helping to ignite this change in not only what products can be made but, more importantly, who can make them.


In 2012, we collaborated with inventor Bart Dring to commercialize the MakerSlide railing system. Later that year, with MakerSlide as the foundation, we started selling a fully open source (open hardware) 3-axis 3D carving machine kit that anyone could build. The kit cost about $300 for the mechanicals and $600 for the fully functioning machine.  Most people that bought the machine were hobbyists and enthusiasts. The response was tremendous.


Over the last few years, as the technology improved, we’ve started to observe a transition by our customers. What was once predominantly a group of hobbyists building a machine for the love of the game has transitioned to a group that also includes folks making and selling products for fun and profit.  We are inspired by the amazing ways customers have brought ideas out of their heads and into the world. They make everything from circuit boards to skateboards.


In March of 2014, we launched Easel.  It was a step towards taking complexity out of the process. We wanted to simplify the software tool chain so you can “just click carve”. It was part of a realization that the world needed more than a new machine- it needed an incredibly easy system (software, hardware, and materials).


We needed a brand to represent our vision and serve the trajectory our customers were on. We needed a brand to go beyond servicing a hobby and one that could deliver on production work in the shop.  

Enter X-Carve. The letter X in the name is intended as a variable that is defined by the customer. We hear from customers that their needs are unique and they don’t want extra parts lying around. We hear from customers that they want an upgrade path. We hear from customers they want a machine that can grow with their needs.




X-Carve is capable of creating precision parts and models from plastic, wood and metal. The machine is the latest addition to Inventables’ 3D Carving ecosystem, which also includes our Easel design and machine control software, a project-sharing website, a selection of hundreds of carvable materials, and Carvey, an enclosed machine suitable for an office or home setting.


X-Carve was created for a workshop setting. It has about half the parts of other kits on the market, and is both customizable and expandable. It is also fully compatible with the previous 3D Carving kit offered by Inventables, the Shapeoko 2. We’re also selling an upgrade kit because we don’t want to leave anyone behind. We put together an introductory video walking through all the details.




The Inventables website guides users through customizing the exact machine they want. Parts will also be available a la carte. We heard over and over again that people want to build machines in different sizes, with different electronics, and motors to fit their specific needs. In response, we built a tool that will allow them to customize a machine to do exactly what they want without having to buy unnecessary parts.



Please join us in this next chapter at Inventables by making your mark on the world.

Customer Project Spotlight: Matthew White


We were tweeted this photo the other day from Indiana hackerspace The MakerHive.

This is the kind of thing that gets the Inventables team really excited. It's a custom aluminum mount for the Rostock Max 3D printer made by our neighbors to the South at SeeMeCNC on their Shapeoko 2!

We did some sleuthing and got in touch with the person who made these, a customer of ours named Matthew White.

He got back to us with some pretty awesome photos of his setup and details about their operation:

TB6600 Stepper Driver Shield

Can your grbl based CNC setup control all this equipment (at the same time!)?

  • (4) Stepper motors, each on its own driver with up to 4.5amps of current and 40V. The Y axis uses (2) synchronized stepper motors 
  • X,Y & Z homing switches on optically isolated circuits.
  • Z Touch disk on an optically isolated circuit.
  • 3 Spindles
    • DC Quiet Cut Spindle with speed control. 
    • AC Trim router with on/off control
    • 3 phase VFD controlled spindle with 0-10V speed control.
  • Vacuum controlled by gcodes M7,M8,M9
  • Feed control buttons (Hold & Resume)




Introducing the TB6600 Shield

This shield routes all of the signals on the Arduino UNO to the right places on the TB6600 Stepper Driver PCB.  It also adds an on board DC spindle control and feed control buttons.  There are 3 and 4 axis versions of the TB6600 board.  On the 4 axis version, the extra axis is slaved to the Y axis for Shapeoko 2 type machines.  The only option you need to configure with grbl is whether or not you are using a variable speed spindle.  For a fixed speed router like an AC trim router, you use one of the relays.  With a variable speed router you can use both relays for accessories.

Power Supply Interface Follow Up


Thanks for all the feedback on the DC Power Supply Interface PCB we posted last week!  

We got enough signups on the product page to justify moving forward.  We digested all the suggestions we received and finalized a design. 

Here is a quick rendering of what it will look like. 

We've added and changed a couple of features, keep reading to follow the progress:




Making stuff and rocking out with White Mystery!

We unexpectedly got to hang out with local rockers White Mystery at the Chicago Made booth at SxSW last year. They were curious about our machines and we really enjoyed their "acoustic" set in the middle of the trade show floor. Once we were all back in Chicago, they came by our workshop a few times to prototype some ideas.