Customer Success Stories

How MakeSafe Tools is Making Workshops Safer

"The thing I really like about Altium is that it lets me actually design a PCB. I'm not doing something in a PCB design software and then going on to [another software] to search for parts. I'm not writing a script or using Excel to pump out some dimensions. I'm just in the software and I use it, it gets it done, and I can move on with things that actually help my business."

Scott Swaaley, P.E. - Founder & CEO

A Simple Solution to a Critical Problem

Workshops are hotbeds of innovation and creativity, but they can also be dangerous, even with proper safety measures in place. Inspired by events like when a student at Yale University lost her life because her hair got caught in a lathe—a horrific accident that could have been prevented—Scott Swaaley couldn’t take news like this anymore and went into action. Scott knew there had to be a better way to address this common safety issue, and with his background as an educator, entrepreneur, and engineer, he was in a unique position to tackle this problem himself.

So, Scott set out to develop a device that could stop machines in seconds, rather than allowing them to spin unsupervised due to their inertia. This innovative solution would go on to become the foundation of MakeSafe Tools.

A Guy With an Idea

Scott was a one-man show passionately pursuing his vision to create safer workshop environments. Upon entering the market, he was surprised to discover that many devices didn't meet OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines—which requires addressing all known safety hazards—and some had fundamental safety problems that went unresolved before hitting the shop floor.

The problem was clear, the idea was solid, and the technology was there, but the challenge of being able to scale his business to meet the inevitable demand was yet to be addressed. This is where Altium stepped in.

“Altium has worked really well for us as we are transitioning from, you know, a guy to a four-person team that is making a product that is shipping all over the world. We could not have done that with other software.”

Scott Swaaley, P.E. - Founder & CEO

A Little Help from Altium

Altium Designer was initially brought on to help MakeSafe Tools create and test prototypes with precision and speed that could help them get products out faster. The intuitive interface made it easy to migrate their existing projects in just a matter of hours and after a week of tinkering, MakeSafe was back on track.

Altium Designer’s integrated supply chain and component management features allowed MakeSafe Tools to easily identify and procure the necessary components, ensuring consistency and reliability in their product assembly. But as they continued to innovate and refine their safety devices, maintaining a clear version history of their designs became increasingly important. Altium Designer version control capabilities gave them a structured approach to managing design iterations and revisions to ensure every design change is tracked, documented, and easily accessible.

“That is probably the thing we interact with the most where something as simple as, oh, I’m building a board and I need my reference schematic. Most software you're digging through file structures wondering is it on the server, it's this mess. I literally just go to a homepage and it shows my boards and I click on one and there's a list of versions and it has a completely interactive render of the schematic, the PCB and 2D, the PCB, and 3D. And if I want to do changes later I can, but it’s this thing where there’s just easy access.”

Scott Swaaley, P.E. - Founder & CEO

MakeSafe later stumbled upon Altium 365, the cloud-based platform that could elevate their capabilities further. By enabling real-time collaboration between team members, MakeSafe’s growing team could contribute effectively to the development and refinement of their life-saving devices regardless of their physical location. Even when the team is working out of the same office, MakeSafe opts to manage all documentation reviews through Altium 365 due to its intuitive version tracking. And when it comes to coordinating and managing product releases efficiently, Altium 365 enabled MakeSafe Tools to bring all stakeholders together during product development to ensure that each release met even the highest safety standards.

“Almost every single day I have Altium open on my laptop. I’m double-checking which connection I’m looking at on the board, and comparing it with the circuit, and especially the cross-talk between the schematic and the PCB pages where you can click in the schematic and it highlights it on the PCB, that’s extremely helpful.”

Alexandra Steiner - Electrical Engineer

With Altium in their toolkit, MakeSafe could collaborate and iterate on designs seamlessly to ensure every device was optimized for maximum safety and efficiency.

Looking Forward to a Safer Future 

MakeSafe Tools continues to have a significant impact in the world of workshop safety. Their devices have been adopted by numerous workshops and educational institutions, reducing the risk of accidents and saving lives. The tragic incident at Yale University serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of their mission, and thanks to MakeSafe Tools, similar accidents can now be prevented.

But the story of how MakeSafe got here today is not just about their success; it's a testament to the power of technology and innovation in safeguarding lives. Scott Swaaley's unwavering dedication to improving workshop safety paired with Altium’s tools and platform transformed a simple idea into a life-saving reality that can change the world one workshop at a time.

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