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Interview with Alex Smilansky, Cofounder of the Desktop Factory – Mayku

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Peter Bailey

Freelance Wordpress Developer in London (peabay.xyz) @peabay
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What is Mayku?

We build desktop factories. Our mission: to help the world make locally again.

Our first two machines are The FormBox, which turns plastic sheets into 3D shapes, and the RotoBox, which casts hollow objects out of pourable materials. They work effectively alone, and together they form the start of a mini production line.

Tell us about Mayku’s beginnings

Ben had the idea for Mayku whilst developing Projecteo – the tiny Instagram projector. His experience of designing a product in London, manufacturing it in China and reshipping it all over the world from the US had a lasting impact on him. It struck him that these large industrial machines could be miniaturised.

At that time I was leading the strategy team at Mint Digital, a product development studio based in London and New York. We met for a drink to discuss the idea, and Mayku was formed.

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Vacuum Former Prototype

What’s your vision for Mayku as a company?

The goal of Mayku is to empower people to make their own things. Whether artistic, functional or frivolous, our aim is to nurture a culture of contemporary folk objects. We have big plans – by miniaturising mass manufacturing processes like injection moulding, vacuum forming and rotational moulding we hope to help the world make things locally again.

You held a hackathon with the aim of creating some inventions to promote. How did that go?

It was a truly enlightening experience. We learnt a lot about our users and what they wanted to make with our machines. From a modular plant pot system to a banana chandelier, some extraordinary creations came out of the weekend.

We’ve actually just finished up a short film capturing the day. If you’re curious you can watch it here.

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Rotational Mould Prototype 

Has Makerversity’s community provided a source of product testers, or has your market research been done externally?

Everyone here has been a huge inspiration for us in building the machines. Being in the centre of such a vibrant maker community has allowed us to observe the creation of so many extraordinary projects. It has helped us learn about what people actually need to be able to do and what they might want to get from a desktop factory.

It has also enabled us to try out new ideas quickly and find out what people are interested in before actually going into production.

For example when we thought about making a vacuum former, the first thing we did was laser cut a prototype and get it into people’s hands. It had such a good response that we decided to go ahead with it.

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Vacuum Former Prototype

Are there other machines you’d like to explore?

Certainly. We’re particularly interested in building an injection moulder. However we’d like to work closely with our early community to decide which machine to build next.

We’ll be launching on Kickstarter soon so sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop.

Posted 26th Jan 2016
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