Not only is she heading up one of the most recognisable brands in the 3D printing industry but her enthusiasm for the technology and its potential is unshakable. Alice Taylor, CEO of MakieLab, is a force to be reckoned with and she will be speaking at TCT Show + Personalize this September.
This is Taylor's first time speaking at TCT Show and she revealed her presentation Taking 3D-Printed Consumer Goods to the UK Mainstream: Tales from the Frontline is going to focus on her business and passion, MAKIES, the dolls at the cutting edge of the customisation revolution in which 3D printing technology is the keystone.
"I'm going to talk about MAKIES and what we've had to do to get them toy safety certified, boxed in store, and reaching out to the more mainstream consumer. It's a journey and we're in the very early stages of it, but there's already much to tell," she said.
Taylor hopes the MakieLab story will inspire others who are interested in launching a similar venture. Even the company's early customer base had a global footprint, giving it fantastic potential and serving to demonstrate 3D printing technology in a different way. MAKIES are certainly memorable and it is their iconic look that has made them something of a cult must-have. The dolls even made the headlines this year when Prince Harry and David Cameron received their own lookalike MAKIES at the Innovation is GREAT Britain expo in New York in May.
Using the platform
"As CEO," Taylor said, "I'm very pleased that we've created a dynamic company with an ultra-talented team in such a short while - the digital-physical blend is literally three times the work and requires very specialist skills, but it's oh so worth it."
It is the hard work and business knowhow that goes into making a company such as MakieLab a success that Taylor is keen to demonstrate at TCT Show + Personalize. She explained that the technology and the expanding market need a platform, which is where TCT Show comes in.
"Without a show and a gathering like this, the aerospace folks might never discover toys, or the architects might not know about the space programme work, for instance. The variety of work, objects produced, materials being developed, machines in development and people in the industry is wonderful. They need to come together like this," the CEO remarked.
And it seems even our keynote speakers are getting excited about the line up of industry leaders due to give their insights into the 3D printing industry. Taylor said she is looking forward to seeing 3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental "who is always a delight to spend time with" and to meeting her fellow keynote speakers and perusing the stands. In fact, it was at last year's TCT Show that Taylor met two of her current employees.
Where can it go?
This year's TCT Show + Personalize will take on a slightly different format, as it will welcome the first ever RepRap Hub devoted to the growing maker market. Taylor feels that this side of the industry needs to be given more recognition, as it is not just the aerospace and automotive sectors that are driving 3D printing.
"[3D printing is] certainly not best left to the professionals," she stated, "Without the tinkerers, the hobbyists, the early adopters, the nerds and the artists, we'd not evolve so fast, I'd say. I love that the Cube is in Staples in the US, and is in front of some people who still haven't heard of the term 3D printing. Where can it go from there?"
Taylor has given the changing face of the 3D printer user community some thought, but believes there is some way to go before the 3D printer reaches its widest possible audience.
"Early adopters are usually autodidacts, so they won't be fazed by the occasional tech failures or the occasional difficulty. But I also think that we're not at 'one-button' printing quite yet, and that's ok. That kind of consumer - the iPad type if you like - will turn up once the printers costs less than an iPad and a lot of the hard work is done," she explained.
"Right now, the purchasers, even the simplest-to-use Cube, are still early adopters [who are] prepared to learn something new in order to achieve their ends. [So], yes I think the demand will continue. The next hurdle will be the one-button crew and that feels to me like it's in a few years yet."
"This changes everything"
MakieLab is continuing to grow and the business has gathered a staunch group of followers who regularly interact via the official MakieLab forums. The company still faces the same hurdles as any other business of its kind, but the foundation it has built thanks to its loyal customer base stands it in good stead for meeting its ambitions.
Taylor noted: "The materials and printing price is obviously an enormous problem for producing consumer-facing goods and needs to change radically and rapidly - and I'm positive it will work as demand continues to rise."
The captain of the MakieLab ship is certainly sailing at full steam on the 3D printing wave with complete faith in the power of the technology.
"Yes, it's early tech and yes it's early days, but I feel the same way about 3D printing as I did the 'net and web in 1995 - this changes everything."
Alice Taylor will be behind the keynote speakers' podium on the first morning of TCT Show + Personalize, September 25th, which will also be graced by the likes of 3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental, Stratasys boss David Reis and CEO of Mcor Technologies Conor MacCormack, and many more.