Square Helper: Designed and Mass Manufactured in a Home Office With a MakerBot


The Replicator 2 has been screaming around the 3D printing industry’s racetrack as a go-to solution for both professionals and consumer hobbyists alike. MakerBot has capitalized on profiling the MakerBot users who are using their Replicator 2’s to do something outside of the box and have found success in doing so. Here’s an inspiring story of one of those Makers.

Square Helper

I’ll start off by saying that I love designer Chris Milnes’ hierarchy of information on his product Square Helper’s website. In big red and green type he has clearly outlined ‘The Problem’ and ‘The Solution’—something that I find even the most impressive of product designs and equally slick webpages lacking. Make it obvious people–I have stuff to do!

Anyways…Chris found a problem with the Square card reader–something that is becoming an increasingly common form of business transactions (on a side note, I recently read that some big city happy hour folks carry it with them to easily split group checks at the bar—innovative). Here in Portland, it’s becoming the industry standard for the dozens of new coffee shops and food carts popping up. However there is a glaring problem with said card reader: the thing slips back and forth like nobody’s business. It’s actually gotten to the point that it’s a huge put-off for me every time I see a poor barista struggling with the dang thing.


This is the exact glaring problem that Chris saw as well. While I have seen some interesting combination iPad/Square support mounts, each has been made individually by a local craftsman and while the final execution functions well, the overall design is somewhat obstructive to the entire minimalist-experience of using the Square. It’s almost as if some businesses are recreating a cash register around the iPad’s form—which doesn’t always look pretty. While I can understand a swivel mount for the iPad is necessary for a high-traffic environment, the mount itself should be arguably as invisible as possible. Enter the Square Helper.

Perhaps the most intriguing part about the Square Helper isn’t so much it’s aesthetic charm…rather, it’s the fact that Chris runs his entire design and manufacturing facility in-house, and by in-house I mean in his home office. Chris proves that anybody with a 3D Printer can run a manufacturing business:

“I started off with one Makerbot machine. and I did my calculation and I figured I could pop out 100 a day, and even if I run it seven days a week I have 700 pieces. So I have purchase orders coming and I figured it out. and this will do me right now for this moment. What do I do when I have a purchase order for 2,000 pieces, 3,000, 10,000? I scale up. You just add another bot next to it and, as you call it, it’s a bot farm. It sounded funny when I did the computations — I’m going to be running this 24 hours! But I actually do run this 24 hours. It is always running. I even have a little D-Link video camera on the platform, so whenever I am, on my iPhone, or on a web browser, I can see if its done, and do I have to clear the platter and start it again? But the machine, since I’ve had it, is at an average of 20 hours a day, which is crazy!”

This is the future. Get used to it.

via Square Helper and the MakerBot Blog


About simon

Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.

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