Cute and personalized cookie cutters, hands-free door openers, and an “impossible floating” table are all imaginative ideas brought to life by the wonders of the 3D printing world. More specifically brought to life by the innovative mind of Richard Hayburn and his business Burn Social LLC., who have made it a mission to bring everyone’s imagination to life, whether it's the imagination of an established engineer or an artistic 8-year-old.
Graduating from the University of Delaware’s class of 2020 with a degree in mechanical engineering and integrated design and mathematics minor, Richard “Rich” Hayburn is now putting his knowledge and passion for 3D printing into his startup Burn Social and his exciting position at Tyler Perry Studios as a director in graphics, design, & manufacturing where he helps build out the in-house props/graphics manufacturing department.
Rich has always had an interest in creation and engineering but never had the space or resources to make it more than just an interest. But through Horn’s Summer Founder Program, he was able to come in with a rough idea and later meet many important people, learn entrepreneurial values, and gain confidence. The experience also led him to partner up with Amanda Zicherman to work on Printable, a startup looking to make assistive technologies more accessible to the people that need them. The venture later won them the audience choice “Most Creative Award” at the 2020 Summer Founder’s Demo Day.
Founded in March 2020 and based in Media PA, Burn Social is a product design, development, and consulting firm. They strive to be a one-stop shop for design and prototyping needs, able to take any idea someone has for an object, draft it and eventually manufacture it with the use of 3D printing. The business process begins with the client signing up for the waitlist and then presenting an idea to Burn Social no matter how fleshed out it is, then proceeds onto product design which can be done through sketches, simple ideations, or engineering drawings. After that is 3D printed manufacturing, engineering analysis, and then lastly general consulting to review the product and go over the basics of what's next to come. Though this is a thorough and detailed process, Rich and his team make an effort to walk the client through it all and ensure the client is completely satisfied with the finished product and their overall experience.
We were able to chat with Rich and learn more about his personal feelings and motivations, the ins and outs of Burn Social, and his overall story.
Horn: When did your manufacturing hobby start and how did that spark?
Hayburn: “In my freshman year as a UD Mechanical Engineering student, we had a project on design tolerancing where we made fidget spinners. We designed our parts so we could press-fit a bearing and some weights into our 3D-printed designs. The second I had my part in my hand I was enamored. I bought my first machine for my dorm less than a month later!”
Horn: How did Burn Social come to be?
Hayburn: “I'd been toying with the idea of making money with my machines for a while. When COVID hit during my last semester at UD, I was forced home and gained a lot more time to myself thanks to the lockdowns. I took the leap and started designing products to sell online. With some traction from that, I formed an LLC and started offering design/consulting services. With services being spread by word-of-mouth, I marketed my products on social media for a more consistent revenue stream. A handful of my COVID-centered products rose to the front pages of Etsy and eBay, and I was at the post office nearly every day with handfuls of packages! At the height of it, I had 10 machines (both FDM and DLP) just to keep up.”
Horn: What makes Burn Social special? No matter the type of clientele, what attracts them to this company?
Hayburn: “The 1-on-1 consultations and limitless design tweaks definitely helped Burn Social stand out. Focusing on the niche of small businesses and entrepreneurs helped, as well as the capabilities to iterate through prototyping in-house.”
Horn: What are you most proud of? Personally and professionally?
Hayburn: “Easily my work ethic and the growth of my self-confidence. Coming from being a deeply introverted child/teen to the confident entrepreneur/engineer I am today took over a decade of laser-focus on personal development. I've reaped the benefits from this in my career, personal relationships, and of course my enjoyment of life.”
Horn: Any projects you worked on that are the most memorable or impactful to you?
Hayburn: “There were a few times that I got enormous orders from schools or businesses (from 100 custom cookie cutters to 1200 hands-free door openers). The drawback to 3D printing is that it's typically a low-volume process focused on customization/iterative prototyping. I have fond memories of setting alarms at 3, 4, or 5 am to run downstairs, pop parts off of all of the printers, and start a new batch before doing it again in another 4-5 hours.”
It's clear that Rich values creativity and imagination in all facets of life. He channeled a hobby of his into a great position at Tyler Perry Studios and a successful startup where he can now prioritize turning others’ creative ideas into reality with the 3D printing process. Rich’s story shows no matter who you are and what you do, there is always an opportunity to be creative.
“I'd just like to be able to help encourage students to dig into their interests and pursue their passions. It makes life 100x more fun and interesting and grants that fulfillment that not everyone can get out of a cubicle job,” said Rich.
About Horn Entrepreneurship
Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement at the University of Delaware. Currently ranked among the best entrepreneurship programs in the US, Horn Entrepreneurship was built and is actively supported by successful entrepreneurs, empowering aspiring innovators as they pursue new ideas for a better world.