Creative dimension: PieceMaker Technologies


December 4, 2014

This holiday season, shoppers can enjoy the fun of making their own gifts in minutes, using PieceMaker Technologies' PieceMaker Factory™.

The self-service 3-D printing kiosks were created by Carnegie Mellon University alumni Arden Rosenblatt (ETIM'13) and Alejandro Sklar (ETIM'13).

"It's the perfect system for retail," Rosenblatt said. "A self-contained factory that can deliver custom made products on-demand … no guessing, no waiting, no hassle."

PieceMaker allows shoppers to use an in-store kiosk to choose and customize more than 100 designs for small toys, gifts and jewelry, priced between $5 and $15. Once designed, users can watch a 3-D printing station produce the item.

Rosenblatt and Sklar tested their concept in February at Toy Fair NYC, the largest toy industry conference in North America, where CNBC named their product a "top trending toy of the year."

Following successful in-store trials, the company is launching in two Toys"R"Us locations in Cranberry Twp., Pa., and Totowa, N.J., for the 2014 holiday season.

PieceMaker began when, as graduate students in the Engineering & Technology Innovation Management (E&TIM) program, Rosenblatt and Sklar discovered that they shared a mutual passion. E&TIM is an offering of the College of Engineering in collaboration with the Heinz College and Tepper School of Business.

"We believe that 3-D printers are the key to taking the tremendously powerful world of software and applying these tools to literally create our own world," Rosenblatt said.

He also was smitten with CMU's thriving entrepreneurial community.

"It was immediately clear that was the group of people and conversation I wanted to join," he said.

The pair connected with Project Olympus, a part of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. They credit executive-in-residence Kit Needham for her guidance.

"In addition to teaching us to network and problem solve, Project Olympus gave us space and guidance on a day-to-day level," Rosenblatt said. "Kit helped us build an advisory board of some of the brightest, kindest people we could ever ask for. Project Olympus should be step one for any CMU startup."

The company was selected as one of 16 alumni startups for the 2014 CMU Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund.

Rosenblatt and Sklar, who take on CMU interns, are grateful for the invaluable help of the CMU network.

"The knowledge and talent in the CMU network is almost peerless, and the effect is catalyzed with such an active and enthusiastic community," Rosenblatt said. "Whether it was Project Olympus, CMU's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, E&TIM or any of the many other programs geared toward building a vibrant startup scene, everyone has gone out of their way to help us be more successful, and it has helped our business grow in very tangible ways."

Collaboration Note: The Engineering Technology and Innovation Management program is a multidisciplinary program that incorporates courses from across the College of Engineering.

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