“We don’t see everything as finished.”
From the editors of MAKE magazine, the Maker Pro Newsletter is about the impact of makers on business and technology. Our coverage includes hardware startups, new products, incubators, and innovators, along with technology and market trends.
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Dragon Innovation to Open Crowdfunding Site for Hardware Projects
It’s just a splash page now, with an invitation to join a private beta, but Dragon Innovation, the manufacturing services firm based in Boston, USA and Shenzhen, China, is putting the final touches on a site that will soon host a crowdfunding platform exclusively for hardware companies.
To fund the venture, Dragon recently closed a $2.3 million round of financing led by Flybridge Capital Partners and Foundry Group, with additional backing from The Box Group, Lerer Ventures, andUndercurrent Ventures.
Since its founding in 2009, Dragon has helped more than 100 hardware companies navigate the journey from prototype to manufactured product, including MakerBot, Orbotix, Pebble, Romotive, and Sifteo. Now it looks like Dragon will be helping hardware companies crowdfund new ideas as well.
Details will be forthcoming when the site opens in early September.
More new business models for makers to consider:
FabAllThings, in Dublin, Ireland, invites designers to submit plans for anything from jewelry to housewares to furniture. The community votes and then FabAllthings converts the most popular designs into CNC files and manufactures the products. The company then gives a 10 percent royalty to the original designer for each item sold.
East Coasters & West Coasters, available at FabAllThings
CowFab allows people with projects to post designs, and people with printers to post bids to fulfill those projects. Buyers post parts they want 3D printed, and printers offer to fabricate the part for a price. CowFab takes a 5 percent commission of each sale. Available only in the U.S.; international access “coming soon.”
Makeshop, which is looking for beta testers, wants to provide makers with a place to display and sell their wares, and give customers a pleasant place to shop to buy their creations: the first crop of products includes vector graphics, laser prints, and 3D-printed items.
Open Designs and Kickbacks, from online hardware marketplaceTindie, is a market for open source hardware designs. Upload your designs, and allow businesses to manufacture the open design as is, or create products derived from it. Those sellers can then kickback a portion of their sales to the designer. Tindie will handle the disbursement of funds. For designers, there are no fees or hosting costs.
Arduino is Open Designs’ first partner; it has listed all of the Arduino designs. Businesses that have built on top of Arduino boards can choose to send a portion of their sales back to Arduino. Order aFemtoduino on Tindie, for example, and you’ll see that one percent of the sale price goes back to Arduino.
Maker Camp Ends with a Virtual Trip to Pixar
Friday, August 16th, was the final session of Maker Camp, the free virtual summer camp for teens.
Over the past six weeks, campers have frequently interacted with professional makers, and tomorrow’s session continues the trend: it’sa virtual field trip to the Pixar campus.
Pixar’s internal makers group builds everything from drones to Arduino-powered projects. Pixar sculptor Jerome Ranft will talk about his process of working with clay to develop characters.
If you haven’t caught up with Maker Camp, consider sitting in on this year’s last session.
NY’s Next Top Makers — Winners Announced
The six finalists for New York’s Next Top Makers contest have been announced: 5 chosen by judges, 1 chosen by popular vote.
You can see the winners, and 49 other entrants, here.
The six finalists are now in their studios, working on their projects. In September, the judges will choose one winner who will receive an $11,000 grand prize. You can follow the finalists on their Tumblr blog: From Maker to Founder.
3D Systems Acquires TeamPlatform
The 3D printing giant bought TeamPlatform, which offers collaborative access to cloud-based tools.
MakerBot 3D Scanner Ready For Sale
An email from the company says that the Digitizer will launch “next week.” No price given. Announced last spring, the device faces competition from crowdfunded consumer scanners fromMatterform, CADScan, Fuel3D, and others.
Recent Events You Missed
- Sketching in Hardware
- Inside 3D Printing Conference
- The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
Jane ni Dhulchaointigh
If the maker world had a periodic table, Sugru would be one of the elements. The self-setting rubber is used by makers to modify all sorts of things, just a little bit.
Jane ni Dhulchaointigh (@janeonbike) has been building a business around this putty-like material for ten years, and MAKE’sAndrew Sleigh (@andrewsleigh) visited company headquarters in the Hackney area of London, to find out how she’s been doing it.
It starts with a philosophy. “We don’t see everything as finished,” she told him.
Sugru is also story-oriented: the company’s marketing is primarily word-of-mouth, driven by stories from users, staffers, and from Jane herself.
One of those stories, which Sleigh captures, is of particular interest to maker pros: how Sugru has been able to eschew outsourcing and keep its manufacturing and its headquarters together, in a former button factory in England.
Four Pieces of Advice
Anchor Your Brand With a Niche Segment
Take Advantage of “Startup Tools”
Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham (@paulg) would be the first to admit that his advice can be wandering and inconsistent (“This is true,” he seems to say frequently, “except when it’s not.”) but posts like How to Convince Investors and Investor Herd Dynamicswill give you some insights into the way funders think (which is also often inconsistent, so it’s a good match). In the first post Graham defines “formidable,” and explains why he thinks it’s important.
Make “Focus” a Priority
The design blog Core77 has been profiling design entrepreneurs for a few months now. Last week they teased out 7 qualities these successful industrial designers seem to have in common. “Focus” is #2.
3D Printing Buzz
It’s easy to get cynical about all the attention that 3D printing is getting. What about CNC routers? Why not laser cutters? How about makerspaces in general?
But it’s just flat-out exciting how the 3D printing idea continues to percolate into the mainstream. It’s like “cloud computing” and “big data” — suddenly, people seem to get it. And it could be a leading indicator of what the new industrial movement can become.
Two recent, prominent media mentions:
A Michigan Tech University Researcher Predicts That a 3D Printer May Soon be in Every Home
Associate Professor Joshua Pearce made the prediction after conducting a “lifecycle economic analysis” on 3D printing in an average American household. Pearce and his team chose 20 common household items listed on Thingiverse. Then they used Google Shopping to determine the maximum and minimum cost of buying those 20 items online. Next, they calculated the cost of making them with 3D printers.
The conclusion: it would cost the typical consumer from $312 to $1,944 to buy those 20 things compared to $18 to make them in a weekend. That’s enough savings to easily justify the purchase of a 3D printer.
The study is described in the article “Life-Cycle Economic Analysis of Distributed Manufacturing with Open-Source 3D Printers,” to be published in the journal Mechatronics.
3D Printing a “Creative Destroyer”
Investment banking firm Goldman Sachs has issued a report on eight “disruptive technologies,” and among them is (surprise) 3D printing.
The report isn’t online, but 3ders.org gives a good summary.
One interesting data point: 3D printing revenues by end-market, from research by Wohlers Associates.
Open Hardware Summit: Impressive Speakers, Cool Badge
Among them: Josef Průša (@josefprusa), one of the core developers of RepRap project, will be talking about open source 3D printers; Stefan Hechenberger (@stefanix) of the Lasersaur Project, the open source laser cutter, will be there; so will Pablo Garcia (@prgarc) and Golan Levin (@golan), the creators ofNeoLucida, the first portable, authentic camera lucida to be manufactured in nearly a century.
But what has garnered the most pre-conference attention? The hackable badge that will be distributed to attendees.
And it is cool, like last year’s (which was constructed out of Lego).
The Open Hardware Summit badge
The badge has an ePaper screen, an onboard ATmega328, and a microSD slot. It is Arduino-derivative, and can also function as an Arduino shield. The board was designed by WyoLum and manufactured by Seeed Studio.
Nice technology. Awesome marketing.
World Maker Faire New York
Five weeks until the show! Sept. 21–22.
The Hardware Innovation Workshop
Bunnie Huang, Ayah Bdeir and Massimo Banzi (pictured above) are among the list of confirmed speakers for the Hardware Innovation Workshop scheduled for World Maker Faire week on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens (the venue for World Maker Faire, Sept. 21-22.) The one-day event will again focus on the business of making and navigating the ecosystem. The jam-packed agenda features speakers with expertise in digital fabrication and manufacturing, 3D printing, industrial design, and robotics. Sessions will also feature leading firms from the investment world who focus on hardware innovation, as well as individuals from incubators and accelerators who specialize in startups with early stage hardware products and devices. Today is the last day to buyearly bird tickets for $199, which includes two adult day passes to World Maker Faire and a one-year subscription to MAKE magazine.
Confirmed Hardware Innovation Workshop Speakers:
- Bunnie Huang, Maker Advisor
- Massimo Banzi, Arduino
- Scott Miller, Dragon Innovation
- Brian David Johnson, Intel Futurist
- Ben Einstein, Bolt
- David Lang, OpenROV
- Jason Kridner, BeagleBone
- Dorian Ferlauto, Elihuu
- Nick Pinkston, Plethora
- Ayah Bdeir, littleBits
Featured Maker Faires
Start making plans to participate in the first Maker Faire Rome, Oct. 3–6. It is for Europe at large, and will attract an international crowd from all over Europe and beyond. (You can watch a sneak preview here.)
Mini Maker Faires
More than 70 are currently scheduled for this year, around the world. Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.