Last month as we were rounding up 3D printers to test for our upcoming special Make: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printers, I had the pleasure of meeting Diego Porqueras, maker of the Bukobot. Though he lives in the Los Angeles area, he was visiting his sister in Northern California, and offered to hand-deliver a Bukobot 8 Vanilla for us to test. Diego is a super nice guy, and fit right into our maker family here at MAKE headquarters. We were excited to hear of his new project: opening a physical 3D printer store and hackerspace. He’s been hard at work, and the grand opening is this weekend, on Sunday, September 23 from noon to 8 p.m. at 290 North Hill Avenue in Pasadena, Calif. We chatted with him to find out more.
1. In this age of online shopping, what inspired you to open a brick and mortar store devoted to 3D printing? 3D printing is all about making real, tangible objects. Although ReRap/DIY 3D printing has developed and spread because of the internet and the sharing of open source programming and 3D object files, the ultimate goal is still to create solid objects you can hold in your hands. When I first discovered 3D printing through websites and forums, before having an actual printer, it felt very exciting and fun but extremely intimidating to actually dive into this new homemade technology.
After attending a few “Makerbot Monthly” meetings hosted by Crashspace (in Culver City, Calif.) and being able to see 3D printers in action, it helped discover the mystery behind this new DIY 3D printing concept. I then finally took the dive and got my first Prusa Mendel 3D printer (as a kit), which then led to the development of the Bukobot concept. So the experience of seeing these 3D printers working in person and having the ability to touch and feel the parts they create is the experience I want to share with everyone who is interested in personal 3D printing, and this can’t be done with websites or videos.
The other major feature of my store will be to have educational classes in addition to “3D Printing Monthly” meetings. We are planning to have a handful of classes for the hobbyists, from 3D printing 101 to advanced Arduino, robotics, and maybe even sewing classes to (with LEDs, of course). I think having a place where people in nearby cities can come and learn new technologies, especially in these hard economic times, will help motivate people to pursue things they’re passionate about, and hopefully lead to better jobs or even just a happier lifestyle.
2. You are the maker of the Bukobot, but you’ll be featuring other printers in your shop. Which printers and why? Carrying other printers by other people alongside the Bukobots is still in the works, but I do want to invite makers of other 3D printers a chance to showcase their printers at the Deezmaker store. I also believe that every unique 3D printer design always has some features that others may not, and giving people the choice to find the right printer for their needs gives them more value. I don’t like the idea of “one size fits all” and that’s one reason I’ve created different models of the Bukobot, but adding an even wider selection of 3D printers in the store will help people find the right one for their needs, leading to greater enjoyment of their experience with 3D printing.
3. Tell us about the hackerspace component of the store. Being a member of Crashspace, I’ve experienced an amazing community of makers that made me want to share the concept with those on the east side of Los Angeles who may not be close enough to Crashpace in Culver City. The hackerspace portion will be a comfortable place where students, hobbyist, or anyone who needs a place to work on project can be free to create things. In addition to access to 3D printers, of course, we are also going to have many tools ranging from soldering irons to lathes and CNC routers for members to use and create what their imagination dictates. We also have a great space to have meetings, classes, of just hang out to do homework or even play video games on our huge projector screen. It’s basically a place to create, learn, and have fun if you can’t do it at home.
4. What is your grand opening going to entail? Party, party, party! I know most grand openings seem to plan an event to try to sell things, but I want to do something a little different. I just want people to come visit, check out the store, see 3D printers in action, take home some printed stuff, and just have a blast. I won’t have any sales pitch, but we will have some cool music (possibly live performances), food, and drinks, and there’s even a rumor of a belly dancer performance. Many of us are makers or 3D printer gurus, so we invite everyone to come and ask questions about whatever they want. It’s going to be a great way to see what 3D printing and hackerspaces are all about.
5. What makes you so passionate about 3D printing? All my life I’ve been a maker, but I didn’t realize it until DIY 3D printing came along. I always loved to take things apart, fix them, make them better, or create new things out of old stuff. In high school I took all four years of metal shop and two years of wood shop and electronics, which I think helped give me a bit more discipline in the fundamental aspects of engineering and making things.
One thing I realized that I was lacking was the ability to create things exactly as I wanted them. I would always have to find something that was close to what I needed and then modify it to fit my needs. When RepRap/DIY 3D printing crossed my path, it felt like I found that perfect tool for my creations. To be able to design something on the computer and then just print it out right on your desk just blew my mind — and it was affordable!
3D printing is like the key that opens the door to limitless possibilities. After learning and experiencing 3D printing even more, I realized that this new technology also incorporates all the things I love to do. From programming to inventing little gadgets, I’ve been able to use all my favorite skills in this awesome 3D printing world, and now I want to share it with everyone. And of course, it’s also soooo much fun!