The innovative minds of this family saw a problem with 3D printers which weren’t suited to their needs. Instead of accepting it, they put their minds together to create an ingenious solution – the Makerarm.
The Husain family are constantly working away at individual projects, whether that be 13-year-old Asas working on classifying a lovingly excavated fossil, or 11-year-old Murtaza writing tech reviews. Techly spoke to parents, Zaib and Amir Husain, who were inspired by Neil Gershenfeld’s vision of a future where “personal fabricators would enable us to make whatever we want, wherever we want…that idea, straight out of Star Trek”.
Zaib explains that, after realising that 3D printers available to consumers had no unifying system, which made it hard to switch between processes (say printing to engraving), she created the Makerarm alongside her co-founder Azam Shahani and a talented team.
“Our main focus was on creating an easy-to-use, multifunctional device that is affordable,” Zaib explained. “The design aspect was also very important to me personally. I knew I would be spending a lot of time with Makerarm and wanted an elegant design with a small footprint yet large workspace. I am very proud of our team for accomplishing everything we set out to do.”
Makerarm was built for the future, and its potential to impact disadvantaged communities is clear. Zaib knows what a powerful tool she’s created, “We wanted to do away with the cost barrier and learning curve required to operate fabrication systems. One Makerarm can serve as the ‘makerspace’ for an entire community, allowing small towns and low-income neighbourhoods to access state of the art fabrication technology.
“With Makerarm, we want to enable creative minds to work on their projects and prototype their next invention without facing exorbitant expenses. For instance, an engineer in the developing world can use Makerarm’s 3D printing function to create bioresorbable splints to save a child’s life. And with the hardware development tool kit, that same engineer can create an infinite number of custom solutions for his or her town’s particular needs.”
The Makerarm currently offers 19 technologies, which range from engraving and laser cutting to icing cakes. There’s a CNC mill, a laser engraver, a soldering machine, and a pen plotter. But is an all-in-one machine superior to a number of specialised machines?
The short answer is yes – if enough attention is given to each function. Each technology is primed to be of a better quality than products already on the market, so Makerarm’s many functions are superior as well as accessible. Take the 3D capability, for example. While most 3D printers have a confined work area, Makerarm rotates 360 degrees and has one of the largest work areas of any 3D printer available.
Makerarm is (another) Kickstarter success story, 340 backers pledging $USD435,433 to get the project on its feet. Due to the collaborative and supportive environment which Kickstarter encourages, the most rewarding aspect of the process for the Makerarm founders was the enthusiasm and encouragement of their backers. In fact, they regularly receive emails from excited backers, explaining what they plan to create, or even suggesting ways in which the Makerarm could be improved.
It seems like there’s nothing the Makerarm can’t create – “there is really no limit to the great things people can imagine, and Makerarm can morph into the tool of choice to help them accomplish their dreams. Our ultimate goal is to see Makerarms in labs, factories, schools, homes and offices around the globe and we cannot wait to see the positive impact they will have on communities and economies, both local and global,” Zaib says.
In the same way that Makerarm’s possibilies are limitless, so too are creators of the future, according to Zaib. “I was very lucky to grow up with the notion that I could do anything and my parents would be there to support me.
After a successful career as a Finance executive, I started consulting with startups in the Austin area and found that a very enjoyable pursuit. There is something incredibly rewarding in finding solutions to problems and this desire led me to start Makerarm. Once I had identified the missing pieces in the fabrication market, the next logical step was to build a strong team and get started on a solution.”
She genuinely believes that, despite the hardships of a career in STEM and innovation, young people can “follow their dreams”.