Written By: Bill Griggs - Jun• 02•11

I talked with Barton Dring owner of about a unique idea he had that should make it easier and cheaper for people to make their own machines. Barton is using a new funding method to get his product out – CROWDFUNDING.

Bill Griggs: Bart after you published free plans to build your own laser cutter, you came up with another project that you wanted to tackle: linear slides..  Tell me about your project on Kickstarter.  Crowdfunding is a new trend so tell me a little bit about it.

Barton Dring: I wanted to get this aluminum extrusion made. Just making the extrusion was going to be a big hit financially. I’m talking 3-4 thousand dollars, going el-cheapo on my own.  To get that done.  I just didn’t see the pay back in time to justify it. If I couldn’t get it paid off in a year, I could go out of business.  Seeing Kickstarter, I thought it was a viable way to go ( Click to hear more about crowd funding) . But I wanted to expand upon it. Seeing the frustrations that the builders have, maybe we could solve a bunch of things at the same time. How to connect the slides to the  standard extrusions. Being able to design and start building within a week. I thought that was the model.  The Makerslide itself is an aluminum extrusion but also included are the wheels, the bearings and the plates that complete what you need to build a linear carriage. You’re not going to get the framing materials motors and electronics anything like that. But, you can go to 8020 or Misumi and finish off the build.

Bill Griggs: It is not uncommon for a few feet of linear rail to cost several hundred dollars. The Makerslide will really drop the cost of entry for innovators. You are also launching a project called the Makership?

Barton Dring: I’m pretty excited and committed to the Makership program. The Makership is like Scholarship. I think that it is a good way to give back to the people. I also think it’s a good way to develop a community of projects around Makerslide.  Some guy could come up with the greatest router, I give him a hundred bucks worth of material and suddenly I have a reason for people to buy the material. I consider the Makership a huge part of the Makerslide. If anybody comes up with an interesting use, I’ll give them the materials to make it.

There are about 4 or 5 projects that people have been telling me about. One of them is a camera dolly for taking an extreme macro photos. Seemed like an interesting idea. The guys got a web site with about a thousand dedicated camera people who are all clamoring about this. Why not give the guy a hundred dollars’ worth of materials for free and say “yah come up with a design.” All I care is that you be willing to share it. I don’t know if it will take off or not. But a year from now I could have 20 designs ready to go.

Bill Griggs: You know Barton, you have taken crowd funding to a whole other level. Because now you are letting the community fund the development of this product. And then you are turning right around and funding the development of other products, based on your product.

Barton Dring: Which then comes back to help sell the product.

Bill Griggs: Exactly. It’s amazing how the open source market can exist and be magnified by the Entrepreneurial spirit.

Barton Dring: Yeah I have 2 or 3 people  an hour just donating a dollar. I don’t know what their motivation is. They don’t get anything for it.  But they do get into be eligible for the Makership. Those are some of my favorite donations. The little one where they are really not expecting anything back. I’m hoping that they are doing it solely for the Makership program. It would be great if someone contributed a dollar, got $100 worth of materials and the community got a design out of it.

Makerslide system

Inexpensive rails and slides may motivate designers.

Bill Griggs: What’s been the most surprising thing for you so far in this whole process?

Barton Dring: Surprising? Well I think it’s been the speed at which it took off.  I mean I was hemming and hawing about a few hundred dollars here and there. Whether I would be able to hit my goal by the end of the month. For it to be funded in under 48 hours was surprising. The fact that I am still getting backers and I am at percent funded after two days. I wasn’t expecting that.

Bill Griggs: So you crushed it. You almost have gone 50% above what you expected in 3 short days. As I post this Makerslides is funded to 341% to over $20,000 and still has 9 days left.

Barton Dring: I’m where I want to be. I didn’t want it very high.(B.G. : Sorry Bart. No such Luck)   Where people question the value of it. I really don’t want the thing to get above eight thousand. But it’s pretty close to that now. I think it’s where I want it. Who knows it could keep going for a while. The problem is that I am a one man operation. If it takes me a month to fulfill the rewards, I’m cutting out all the people who just want to just dive in and start playing with the stuff.

Bill Griggs: You might want to use this as a building time.  To grab more help to promote the project. It seems to me that if you have reached this goal so fast. It might be the time to re-evaluate and say hey maybe it’s time to also make a common extrusion, a framing extrusion.

Both laugh.

Barton Dring: Well…… I still have a full time job and I work about 5 hours a day on Totally unrelated to Makerslides.

Belt drive system

Possible belt drive system using Makerslide.

Bill Griggs: What is your advice to a beginning person who wants to tackle an open source project?

Barton Dring: Don’t be intimidated, just dive right in. I think the intimidation might be high. Do it and really follow through. Finish it. It’s not that hard to knock it out. That’s the way to build credibility. Don’t just talk about it. Do it.

Bill Griggs: So you have done this whole thing from start to finish basically without advertising just on word of mouth.

Baron Dring: Well… got us halfway there all on its own. There was a waiting crowd for it. And then getting Hackaday to post about it took us to the finish. We haven’t been on Make or anything. That would have put us through the stratosphere.


Bill Griggs: Do you consider yourself a Maker?

Barton Dring: Yes. I definitely do. That is what I like to do. I mean hacking sure, but I make things just for the act of making them. I will put them away when they are done and never use them again sometimes.

Bill Griggs: Yeah. I find that to. I did that with several projects over the years and my wife has reminded me of that. Frequently.

Bill Griggs: What’s your dream for the Makerslide system that you are creating here?  Where do you see this going?

Barton Dring: I see a lot of little projects coming out of it. That what I’d like to see. I see some people trying to push it maybe beyond what it can do. Trying to make a 4’x8′ router out of it. That’s not the target audience.  But a lot of little things. I’d love to see someone hang their curtains from it. And use the slides to slide the curtains.

Bill Griggs: Or you could pass the salt and pepper up and down the dinner table.

Barton Dring: Exactly. Make a little roller coaster out in the back yard and put the kids on it.

Bill Griggs: Oh Yeah!!!  I’d pay to see that.

Rack and Pinion

Bill Griggs: Ok. Your project is currently on The name of your project is Makerslides.  If anyone goes to Kickstarter they can find it there, listed under technology or by following this link Makerslide.

Bill Griggs: I watched your video and read your stuff and I knew immediately you were on to something.   I am so glad you took the time to talk to me today about all of this. I think you are going to be very busy for the next couple of months.


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  1. […] was successfully funded on Kickstarter. The funding should help ensure a new, supply of affordable linear slides. The project  was funded in just under 48 hours and then continued to gather support. The funding […]

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  4. […] backers of the Makerslide project got their first glimpse of the sample batch of Makerslide extrusion. Makerslide extrusions […]

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  7. […] Dring the creator of Makerslide sent his Kickstarter supporters news that the first batch of Makerslides has been received and will […]

  8. […] Open Source linear bearing system have begun shipping. Barton Dring the creator of Makerslide recently posted information on his Kickstarter project announcing that he had begun some initial […]

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