"Our goal is to help people make stuff," says Nathan Tone—a straightforward mission for the creator of a website that connects people who need 3-D printers with those who have them.
Tone and his partner Chad Masso came up with the idea after Tone himself struggled to find an affordable, local 3-D printer in San Francisco for a design project he was working on.
"I didn’t have the 3-D printer at the time, so I sent it off to a service bureau in New York," he explains."And it was just really frustrating because it was really expensive." It also took a while to turn the task around. Tone says he was "sure there was someone in my building with a Makerbot who could’ve given it to me that same day."
Turns out, people with 3-D printers are eager to rent out their services. A month and a half ago, Tone and his partner Chad Masso launched the site Makexyz.com, which lets 3-D printer owners charge designers for a print job. Already, more than 500 printers around the country have signed up—with everything from homemade printers, to Makerbots, to $30,000 professional machines.
"We handle the payment, which makes it so that neither the customer or the printer is at risk. After you upload your file and check out, we route the order to the appropriate printer, and let the printer and customer take it from there," Tone explains. Makerxyz takes a 5% service fee.
Tone says that one of the perks of the projects is getting a "a really cool view into all the cool things that people are making, just by what people are uploading and having printed." Projects tend to fall into the buckets of art, design, and "lots of stuff that we wouldn’t know about unless we reached out."