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“We are at the dawn of something big.”

From the editors of MAKE, 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.  Please send items to us at  makerpro@makermedia.com.

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News


WHITE HOUSE MAKER FAIRE CAPS TWO DAYS OF INNOVATION IN WASHINGTON

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After visiting a variety of exhibits at the first White House Maker Faire, President Barack Obama (@barackobama) began his remarks to the attendees with a question: “What on earth have you done to my house?”

Obama noted the mobile factory on the side lawn, the robotic giraffe, the giant red weather balloon in the Rose Garden, the papercraft dinosaur head in the hallway.

It was a light beginning to a festive day, an official “National Day of Making,” but the event also served a serious purpose for the Obama administration: to inspire and encourage invention and entrepreneurship in the U.S., and to recognize the achievements of the maker movement.

“We are at the dawn of something big,” Obama said.

Educational, scientific, and entrepreneurial projects appeared to be equally represented at the Faire. The official attendee list included well-known maker businesses like Inventables, littleBits, SparkFun, Tindie, and Sproutel.

The message: “Today’s DIY is tomorrow’s Made in America,” Obama said.

The day’s events were accompanied by a flurry of announcements and initiatives — literally dozens of them — from government agencies, educational institutions, and many private firms, including Indiegogo, Kickstarter, Coca-Cola, Disney, and Lego. The complete list of announcements is worth perusing. Opportunities galore for makers!

The White House Maker Faire was actually the second high-profile day for the maker movement this week.

On Tuesday, the President visited a TechShop in Pittsburgh and described new manufacturing investment commitments from 90 mayors across the country, as well as a plan to provide private-sector innovators with access to expensive federal equipment such as wind tunnels at NASA and supercomputers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The plan would provide access to more than $5 billion worth of research, prototyping, and testing equipment at more than 700 federal facilities.

Obama also announced a $150 million investment in research to support the Materials Genome Investment, a public-private endeavor that aims to reduce the time it takes to develop new materials that can be used in advanced manufacturing.

Also on Tuesday, in Washington, a Maker Summit highlighted the present and future impacts of the maker movement in the U.S. and beyond.

But the capstone event was the first White House Maker Faire.

Clearly enjoying the maker takeover (“This is not your typical day at the White House,” he said), Obama concluded his remarks by noting the maker attitude that he noticed at the Faire: “If you can imagine it, you can do it.”

“That’s a pretty good motto for America,” he added.


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Meanwhile, in Other News


3D SYSTEMS TARGETS SPEED, RECYCLING, AND THE 3 M’S: MATERIAL, MEDICAL, AND METAL

Last week saw a flurry of announcements from 3D printing giant 3D Systems, to coincide with a report to investors and analysts. The initiatives reflected goals that are probably shared by the entire industrial 3D printing sector. Among them:

Speed

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A still from 3D Systems’ video on its new “racetrack” style of 3D printing manufacturing.

A new “racetrack” model developed by 3D Systems will increase 3D printing speeds by 50 percent, according to the company. The system uses an assembly line model to distribute the layers of printing among a series of printers. A video explains how it will work.

The immediate motivation for stepping on the accelerator: 3D Systems’ involvement with Google’s upcoming modular phone initiative, Project Ara, which will demand the creation of millions of customized modules — quickly. But the new model could also enable the company, and the entire additive manufacturing industry, to better compete with injection molding for manufacturing gigs.

Already 3D Systems is claiming, in a light-hearted video, that 3D printing can be faster than injection molding.

Recycling

3D Systems announced the Ekocycle Cube 3D printer, a collaboration between 3DS and Ekocycle, a brand launched by will.i.am and The Coca-Cola Company, which will use a filament made in part from recycled plastic bottles.

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Ekocycle Cube 3D printer will use filament that contains consumer plastic bottles.

Also promised: investments in “the 3M’s”: metal, medical, and materials; and the world’s first “digital bakery,” in Los Angeles this fall, to highlight their sugar 3D printer, the ChefJet.

GE IS BUILDING IBEACON-LIKE CONNECTORS INTO LIGHTING FIXTURES

GE is adding a new technology to help retailers track consumers in stores and parking lots: Visible Light Communication (VLC), developed with a Boston firm, ByteLight.

How GE's lighting system works.

How GE’s lighting/location system works.

The GE solution combines Visible Light Communication (VLC), Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and inertial device sensors, and supports any Android or iOS application on a smart device equipped with a camera and/or Bluetooth Smart technology.

Walmart has already signed up.

GROUPE GORGE STARTS EUROPEAN 3D PRINTING INVESTMENT FUND

The giant French engineering company has started Prodways Entrepreneurs, a support and financing solution intended for European companies in the 3D printing area, or those who wish to migrate their production towards 3D printing.

THE BUILDER 3D PRINTER INTRODUCES COLOR MIXING

The Dutch manufacturer Builder 3D Printer has capitalized on the two extruders in its “Dual-Feed” printers by introducing “color mixing.”

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It’s not full color printing, but the printers are capable extruding two colors at the same time, enabling some new effects.

Updates


DEEPER INTO APPLE’S HOMEKIT

Venture capitalist Matthew Witheiler (@witheiler) did some digging into the documentation for Apple’s just-announced home automation/Internet of Things platform, HomeKit, and was surprised at just how limited it is today.

So far the framework only includes 5 different device types.

AND THAT BIG HEALTH INITIATIVE THAT APPLE ANNOUNCED LAST WEEK…

Looks like Google is thinking along the same lines: they are also planning a platform that can accomodate a wide variety of gadgets.

Frontiers


THE FIREPICK DELTA IS TARGETING THE “HOLY GRAIL” OF DESKTOP MANUFACTURING

The difficulty of getting small quantities of printed circuit boards, quickly and inexpensively, has been taunting makers for years.

The FirePick team wants to tackle the problem head on, by creating a desktop manufacturing system built around a $1,000 pick-and-place machine.

The current alternatives to expensive, traditional printed circuit boards available to makers (SMT = surface-mount technology).

The current alternatives to expensive, traditionally manufactured printed circuit boards available to makers, according to FirePick (SMT = surface-mount technology).

video lays out the challenge.

Tempo Automation is also working on this common hurdle for makers.

Road Trip!


VISIT ONE OF THE LARGEST METAL INJECTION MOLDING COMPANIES IN THE WORLD

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A recent 3dMT delivery: 17 metal injection molded prototypes in 1 week.

The blog 3D Printing Industry just took a field trip to one of the biggest metal injection molding (MIM) companies on the planet, 3D Material Technologies.

Customers of the Florida facility are evenly divided between the aerospace, automotive, and medical industries. But the company is now ramping up the service bureau, which could be good news for makers looking for quick-turnaround prototypes.

Although the company offers a wide variety of 3D scanning and printing, the article focuses on its leading edge ability to deliver metal injection molded (MIM) prototypes within a week, with no tooling investment.

Worth following, as the gap between development and production continues to shrink.

Tweets of the Week


Upcoming Maker Faires


Here’s what’s happening over the next few weeks:

What’s ahead further down the road? Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.


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DC Denison

DC Denison

DC Denison is the editor of The Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection of makers and business. That means hardware startups, new products, and market trends.

The former technology editor of The Boston Globe, DC is also interested in content management systems.

One of the places where DC can be found online is Google+ (which I’m adding here only because I want to see if by adding “rel=author” and “rel=me” to those two links I can get Google to display my picture in its search results.)

Hey, it works!


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