a

TechShop Bankruptcy: An Open Letter to the Maker Community


We’re saddened to hear that TechShop closed its doors on November 15th. TechShop was an incredible asset to its community, providing a place where makers, crafters, and creators could get access to the tools that would unlock their creativity. Their closure leaves thousands of people without access to the tools they need to create projects and share their innovations with the world.

As makers and entrepreneurs ourselves, it’s easy for us to imagine the pain and frustration of the TechShop members who have had their tools ripped away without warning. We got together to see if we could give TechShop members easier access to some of the tools they might need to continue their craft.

At Inventables, we’re offering a $100 discount on X-Carve, a $500 discount on Carvey, and free shipping. In addition, customers can pay monthly with 0% APR available. To redeem this offer, customers need to email proof of membership current as of 11/15/17 to techshop@inventables.com This offer is good through December 31st 2017.

Glowforge, is making their desktop lasers available at an exclusive lower price for TechShop alum. They will refund $500 for the Glowforge Basic and $1,000 for the Glowforge Pro. To redeem after purchase, email proof of membership (current as of 11/15/17) to support@glowforge.com and they’ll immediately credit the account. This offer is also good retroactively to any alum who purchased a Glowforge within the past 6 months. This offer is good through December 31st, 2017.

littleBits supports makers, creators, and inventors around the globe, and wants to empower Techshop alum to continue their journeys. From now until the end of the year, use the code TECHSHOP20 to take 20% off anything in the littleBits online store here: http://littlebits.cc/5

Formlabs is offering $750 in free materials with the purchase of a Form 2. To redeem customers should contact sales@formlabs.com with proof of membership (current as of 11/15/17). This offer is good through December 31st, 2017.

We love seeing people have access to the amazing range of maker tools. The loss of Techshop makes this harder for everyone. We hope that this small effort on our part here can help keep these tools in the hands of people who can get the same joy from them that we do. The maker community we know is resilient and resourceful, and brings people together in challenging times. We can’t wait to see what you’ll make next.

Signed,
Dan Shapiro, CEO, Glowforge
Zach Kaplan, CEO, Inventables
Ayah Bdeir, CEO, littleBits Electronics
Max Lobovsky, CEO, Formlabs

Pay monthly for your X-Carve

We are working on all sorts of ways to make 3D carving more accessible.  As you all know Easel is web based and free.  We have a map showing public spaces like libraries and we'll soon be adding community maker spaces.  We donated 100 machines, 50 to schools (1 per state) and 50 to maker spaces (1 per state).  The idea is we will indicate which public places you can go for free and which you need an affiliation with like a school or certain maker spaces.  Finally we launched free shipping for X-Carve in the lower 48 states.



We are seeing growth in the number of people that are earning some sort of income from their machine.  Some people are selling their own products as a side business, some people are taking custom orders, and others have started full time businesses and are earning their living with X-Carve, Easel, and Easel Pro.  It has been very inspiring to meet these people and learn more about their journeys.  I got the opportunity to meet Steve and Debbie Lee of 8th Line Creations.  We interviewed them and made this short video to help tell their story.



Debbie had been an accountant for 32 years.  She lost her job and had to decide if she would get another accounting job or try something new.  She decided she wanted to explore starting her own woodworking business. She looked at machines ranging from the 500mm X-Carve to more industrial type machines that were as much as $20,000 or more made by other manufacturers.  A big factor for Debbie was how long it would take her to pay of the machine.  Since the cost of the 500mm X-Carve was about $999 she calculated that with her income from making products it had the lowest risk and shortest pay back period.  When I talked to Debbie she said it took her about 4 months to pay it off.

Debbie's story is inspiring however not everyone has an accounting background.  I think it's important for everyone to have an opportunity to get an X-Carve.  We found a finanical partner who is helping us to make this happen called Affirm.  I've known the founder of Affirm for about 12 years.  Prior to starting Affirm he started PayPal.

Last week we announced a way to pay for X-Carve monthly through Affirm.  I like the approach Affirm takes with customers. Affirm is a financing alternative to credit cards and other credit-payment products. Affirm offers instant financing for online purchases to be paid in fixed monthly installments over 3, 6, or 12 months.

The idea is you can buy and receive your X-Carve, and pay for it over several months. This payment option allows you to split the price of your purchase into fixed payment amounts that fit your monthly budget.  If Affirm approves your loan, you'll see your loan terms before you make your purchase. See exactly how much you owe each month, the number of payments you must make, and the total amount of interest you’ll pay over the course of the loan. There are no hidden fees.

This was one of the things that attracted us to Affirm.  The corresponding finance charge is the only fee associated with an Affirm loan - they don’t charge late fees, service fees, prepayment fees, or any other hidden fees. They strive always to be more transparent and fair than any other form of financing.  At Inventables we value transparency so we really liked that they are taking this approach.

The application process is secure and real-time. Affirm asks you for a few pieces of information. After you provide this information, Affirm notifies you of the loan amount that you’re approved for, the interest rate, and the number of months that you have to pay off your loan -- all within seconds.

Over the years we've had a lot of people explain that they can't order from Inventables because they don't have a credit card.  Until now we didn't have a good option for you.  With Affirm you don’t need a credit card to make a purchase.

You may be eligible for Affirm financing even if you don’t have an extensive credit history. Affirm bases its loan decision not only on your credit score, but also on several other data points about you.
Affirm reminds you by email and SMS before your upcoming payment is due. Enable Autopay to schedule automatic monthly payments on your loan.

Here's an example from the size machine that Debbie purchased.  The retail price of the machine is $998.98 however you can see below the price it says "Starting at $88/month with Affirm Learn more"

Clicking "Learn more" takes you to the financial disclosures:


If you register with Affirm they will ask you a few questions and calculate the amount you would need to pay for your X-Carve each month.  We hope people who are buying the machine for business purposes are able to make more money each month than the payment they owe Affirm for the machine.  Remember paying a monthly fee is not a guarantee of success.  However, we hope this approach to paying for X-Carve in smaller payments rather than up front enables more people to start their own businesses.

Currently, Affirm is available only to shoppers residing in the United States. Affirm hopes to expand its services to customers outside the U.S. in the future.  We'll make an announcement if and when that happens.  We put together a more detailed FAQ with information about this form of payment.

I understand this way to pay is not for everyone. We don't want people to get into a situation where they can't pay for their machine.  We also understand that financing is a complicated topic and could create stress for some folks.  If you feel uncomfortable with monthly payment plans or financing I don't want you to use this method of payment.

For those of you who do feel comfortable with a monthly payment plan I'd encourage you to check to see what your monthly payment would be to see if you can afford to pay for the X-Carve on a monthly basis rather than all up front.

Introducing Easel Pro

We’re so excited to introduce the newest member of the Inventables family: Easel Pro!


Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of customers starting, running, and growing businesses with our tools. We designed Easel Pro to help aspiring part-time and full-time business owners make more products and earn more money.


Easel Pro is a membership-based cloud software designed to power your business’ carving production and increase profit. With Easel Pro, you can accelerate production and decrease the amount of time required to carve detailed products. There are also more creative tools so you can expand product offerings and customize projects with ease.


In time, Easel Pro will include a large catalog of apps, features, and content not found in Easel. While many features are in the works, two features available now: full v-carving capabilities and access to over 200+ new fonts.


V-Carving
V-carving has been far and away our most requested feature. Thanks to all your forum posts, phone calls, and emails, our development team has been working on this complex feature for over a year.




Most v-carving software tends to have a pretty steep learning curve. We wanted to change that to make v-carving intuitive and dynamic. With Easel Pro, you can design v-carve projects in the app and send the file directly to your machine, just like you do in Easel.




We’ve developed some useful video tutorials and articles in our Support Center about how to optimize v-carving projects in Easel Pro.


Custom Font Library
Our new font library includes over 200 new fonts. Choose your favorites and install them into your own curated font collection.




This expansive font library allows businesses to extend customization options to clients without using 3rd party design software. You can learn more about how to use the new font feature in our Support Center.


Easel is still free!
Our regular Easel software will always be free. And we will continue to improve and update it regularly, just as we always have.


Try Easel Pro Today
Anyone can design, preview, and simulate projects in Easel Pro for free. X-Carve and Carvey owners can carve Easel Pro projects for 4 days every month without a subscription.


A paid monthly or annual memberships grants you with unlimited access to Easel Pro’s features. You’ll also gain access to a private Easel Pro forum group to share feedback, questions, project inspiration, and meet other Easel Pro makers.


Monthly memberships are $19.99 per month. Annual memberships are $12.99 per month, billed as one payment of $155.88. (Both memberships are recurring.) Full membership will eventually give you access to a private group on our forum where you can discuss and learn about the software.

If you’re not ready to commit to an Easel Pro membership after using your four access days, you'll soon be able to purchase an Easel Pro Day Pass for $2.99 per day (24 consecutive hours).

Inventables announces Bart Dring’s retirement

When Bart was considering working at Inventables we met at Starbucks and he told me he was going to retire after Inventables in about 5 years.  I remember thinking “Yea that’s fine that’s a long time from now”.  I feel like I blinked and the day arrived.  Today is that day, and is with extremely warm wishes that I announce the retirement of Bart Dring.


bart2.jpg


A living legend in the Maker Movement, Bart played a pivotal role in growing Inventables from a “Hardware Store for Designers” where we were distributing other companies materials into a manufacturer where we made our own products.


It all started when Bart invented the MakerSlide. He had the idea that a low cost open source linear bearing for CNC equipment and extremely easy to integrate into your design could be helpful in a lot of applications. After running a successful Kickstarter campaign for Makerslide, Bart was selling MakerSlide out of his garage.


maker slide.jpg


Bart and I first met up at Maker Faire Detroit and he showed me the MakerSlide.  We continued talking and eventually we ran a pre-order campaign and we sold enough that if put end to end it would be as tall as the Sears Tower.  Below are some pictures from the day we shipped out that first batch.  We had to convince our landlord to let us use a vacant office in our building because the delivery was too big for our warehouse at the time.
IMG_20120601_140250.jpgIMG_20120530_164340.jpg


As of June 8th 2017 we have sold enough to reach 106 Sears Towers!


In addition to MakerSlide Bart pioneered our flagship machines X-Carve, Carvey, X-Controller and components. It takes a village to design and manufacture a machine.  Today we want to recognize Bart’s vision, technical skill, great attitude, and commitment. He helped propel us to our present position in the industry.  This year Inventables customers will carve over 1 million times!
Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 8.44.33 AM copy.jpg
Carvey_Straight_on_0055.jpg
XController__0039.jpg

His work has impacted our team, our customers, and the entire maker community.  There is only one word to describe Bart...awesome.


Bart is irreplaceable.  However, we worked on a transition plan. Brian Rutkowski a senior member of Bart’s team has stepped up to lead the Hardware Engineering team.  Our recruiting team has already begun work to recruit some additional engineering talent to join Inventables. In addition to Bart’s retirement we are proud to announce Bart will become an advisor to Inventables.  


Please join me in congratulating Bart on this exciting next phase of his life!

Check out our new look: Inventables Brand Revamp

We’re so excited to finally share our new brand identity with you! As you can see, this is a big change for us. We want to share some insights into what lead us to pursue an overhaul of our look.



Inventables was a much different company when our CEO, Zach Kaplan, founded it in 2002. Our first venture was in selling kits filled with inspirational and quirky materials to R&D departments. These kits roused people to create in new ways and build new products. While most of the items from these kits are no longer available, products like our Light Diffuser Films still live on as mementos of this phase of our company.



Seeing the cool products and ideas generated by our materials kits inspired our next chapter. We transitioned into selling 3D carving machines, like X-Carve and Carvey, and built our brand around the maker community. We developed Easel to make designing and carving intuitive and accessible to everyone. Expanding our vision allowed us to bring our machines, materials, and resources to a vibrant group of users, ranging from student to small business owner.

Our involvement in the maker community over the past few years expanded our knowledge about what’s possible. Working with you, our community, fundamentally changed the way we view ourselves as an organization.


We believe in focusing on you, the customer, rather than focusing on our product. We're working hard to continue making that shift. Educational classes like Easel Live allow us to share tutorials for makers of all skill levels and engage with users in real time. Our forum is filled with active users who support each other with projects, hacks, and suggestions. The Projects library showcases the wide variety of intriguing, beautiful, and fascinating things users make with our machines and materials.





As we continue focusing on your customer journey, we felt a new identity would solidify our values to the world. Our role in your personal journey inspired us to pursue the brand identity you see reflected on our new site.

Let’s break down what goes into our new look:


The most distinctive element of our visual identity system is our “Cube” symbol. The form is a direct reference to a cube drawn in three dimensions, referencing the three-dimensional outputs our tools and materials yield.

The three planes of the cube refer to the three aspects of our business (tools, materials, and community). The four lines on each plane symbolize the four steps on a maker’s journey: inspire, design, carve, and share.

Our color palette is warm and energetic, referencing the spark of inspiration and the creative fire of making. This shifts away from the cooler, tech-heavy tones of our previous brand identity.



You’ll start seeing various icons used across our content. Just like our Cube symbol, these icons represent the four steps in the creative process (left to right): inspire, design, create, and share.

For the past few months, our team has worked hard to roll out the website you see today. While our site is the first place you’ll see our new colors and symbol, more changes are on their way. In the coming weeks, you’ll see these design schemes implemented elsewhere—shipping boxes, email newsletters, machine components, etc.—as we roll out our new look across all aspects of our company.

Yes, we have a new look, but some things never change. We still believe the future is the hands of people who make, create, and dream. Helping makers succeed and bring their ideas to life is at the heart of what we do; this is what drives us to work hard and challenge ourselves every day. Your experience as an Inventables customer is our most cherished value. We always welcome your feedback, both good and bad, if there is something we can do to help you on your journey.

Thank you for being a part of our community. Together, we can create something incredible.






Carvey Exhibit at ALA

Come visit us this weekend at the American Library Association conference in Chicago! We'll have a Carvey exhibit at The Playground, ALA's interactive technology showcase.

Libraries like the San Diego Public Library and the Harold Washington Memorial Library have successfully integrated Carvey into their maker labs. More and more libraries across the country are building similar creative spaces, providing their communities with a way to learn through making.




To help support the development of more maker labs, we're giving away a free Carvey to a library on Monday, June 26th. You can sign up at the ALA conference this weekend, or enter to win here:

Carvey Giveaway Entry Form

If you'll be at the conference and would like to enter there (or just come carve a fidget spinner with us!), please visit us:

McCormick Place, Chicago
ALA Conference & Exhibition
The Playground, booth 2655
Friday, June 23: 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Saturday, June 24: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sunday, June 25: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Happy carving!






X-Carve Dust Control System

Today I’m proud to announce a new product brought to market with help from our community.  It’s the X-Carve Dust Control System, a full dust collection solution for our X-Carve 3D carving machine.


The X-Carve Dust Control System is designed to collect dust as the machine carves your work piece.  It features a dust shoe that attaches to the spindle mount. A grounded hose connects to the dust shoe and routes the work dust into your vacuum or dust collector.


DSC_1400.JPG


In March 2016 we backed a Kickstarter for the Suckit. At the time, we had been working on dust collection ideas for several years, all featuring at least two design elements: independent Z and a magnetic attachment. We were inspired by the reaction to the Suckit, and actively recommended it to our customers.  Looking for a way to include dust collection as an option from Inventables, we reached out to Mark at Suckit to learn more.  


Mark sent us an early prototype unit and we put it through some testing in our lab.  We challenged ourselves to build upon Suckit’s great start by working through some potential performance and manufacturing improvements.  We’ve since teamed up with the Suckit crew on this next iteration, the Dust Control System. In addition to collaborating with Mark on its development, we’re paying him a royalty as a thank you for advancing the X-Carve in the community.


We’re excited about the product’s features. First, it assembles onto the X-Carve with no rework or disassembly.  This means you can get started right away.  If you need to remove it for any reason, you can detach it in seconds without any tools.  We’ve made it quite easy to adjust, and included a scale on the side for gauging its height from your work piece.
DSC_1372.JPG


In addition to the “shoe,” the part that sits below the spindle, it includes a grounded hose and routing system for clean hose management.  Grounding is important because it dissipates static electricity that, in certain situations, can ignite combustible materials moving in or out of vacuums.  A grounded system dramatically reduces if not eliminates this risk.  The hose Inventables provides is grounded and long enough that you don’t need an additional hose, and its universal fitting is compatible with most shop vacuums.  Ideally you should have a grounded vacuum, and we have a static strap to ensure the hose finds a good ground.


Finally, the X-Carve Dust Control System includes an alternate Z-probe connector mounting point, because the existing one will be covered as the result of installation.


At Inventables we’re dedicated to building a community of encouragement. The community has and will continue to produce amazing ideas, many that are well beyond what we do inside our own walls.  We want to thank Mark and his team for helping bring this into the X-Carve world.