Hardware, Software & the Internet of Things
June 23–25, 2015 • San Francisco, CA

How to make an Othermill: From milk jugs to your door

Danielle Applestone (Other Machine Co.)
4:35pm–5:15pm Thursday, 06/25/2015
Building / Manufacturing
Location: Herbst Pavilion
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 2 ratings)
Slides:   1-PDF 

Prerequisite Knowledge

Just an interest in learning what manufacturing resources there are in the bay area.


When people ask me how many employees we have, I say 20. Sometimes people are surprised at how small we are, but that’s probably because they don’t realize that there are 400 people within a 200 mile radius of us that are actively involved in building the Othermill.

We make machines in small batches, we learn as we go, and quality is our top priority. That means we have to work with passionate, patient component manufacturers within driving distance. Upon starting this journey, I have to admit that I didn’t know just how many resources there were in this area. We had a vision for making manufacturing machines portable and easy to use—bringing manufacturing to you, rather than the other way around—but this vision has grown far beyond the walls of Other Machine Co. The vision is beginning to bear fruit because of 652 Kickstarter backers, 33 investors, and nearly 20 manufacturing partners with over 400 local employees. You can imagine just how much trust and faith we have in our network of partners.

So, rather than keep our partners secret, we wish to tell their story along with ours. We want them to grow as we grow and be celebrated and rewarded for the amazing work they do. For that reason, this talk is titled How to make an Othermill: From milk jugs to your door. (We literally make the frame from recycled HDPE: white milk jug plastic.)

The talk will outline everything from wiring harnesses, frames, packaging, and the process by which we went from making everything entirely in-house to using outside manufacturers. I will also talk about what our thoughts are about eventually moving to commodity-scale manufacturing techniques. But don’t worry, it’s all pictures and stories a la “how it’s made.”

Photo of Danielle  Applestone

Danielle Applestone

Other Machine Co.

Danielle is a cofounder of Other Machine Co., a San Francisco-based company bringing manufacturing tools to everyone. Danielle’s expertise integrates a strong background in science and technology, education, and entrepreneurship.

Armed with an advanced degree in chemical engineering and a software programming hobby, Danielle cofounded her first company in 2003—a profitable boutique internet software as a service (SaaS) company that she still operates. Following her PhD at the University of Texas, Danielle went on to work on a DARPA-funded education project to develop digital design and CNC (computer numerically controlled) manufacturing tools for the classroom. When the DARPA funding for the project ended, Danielle then bootstrapped financing with her team to continue their work, eventually launching Other Machine Co. and focusing on removing the barriers to desktop CNC manufacturing.

Danielle grew up in the small town of Mena, Arkansas and is the first college graduate of her family. As such, Danielle is particularly passionate about education—especially science and math for women and girls—fostering work-based apprenticeship programs, and encouraging the development of businesses that provide relevant and meaningful mentorship for the future workforce in both urban and rural areas.

Danielle has a BS in chemical engineering from MIT and holds a PhD in materials science and engineering from the University of Texas, Austin. Several of Danielle’s battery materials have been patented and subsequently licensed. She is also the proud mother of an eight-year old son who absolutely can’t wait to have an apprenticeship at Other Machine Co.