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The greater Houston area celebrates its 3rd annual Mini Maker Faire this Saturday, November 14. The event has grown so large we’ve moved it to the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, where it will fill all 99,000 sq. ft. of Hall B3. This is an all-indoor venue, so we’ll have a great time regardless of the weather outside. We invite everyone to come and stay a while! Here are highlights from the 130 exhibits we’ve arranged for you.

Turning Dreams into Reality with 3D Printing

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Nickolas had a dream when he started an engineering summer camp at local STEAM education center and Makerspace Techno Chaos. He’s an avid fan of the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” video game, and he imagined a full-size Freddy FazBear costume that he could wear for Halloween. He wanted it to look realistic but with a techie spin.

He discussed it with his instructor and they launched it into a project and began exploring the technical and engineering challenges involved. Nickolas learned not only how to use 3D design tools to create the right look, but also how to scale and shape the pieces to fit his body, and how to engineer them for strength, weight and 3D printability. But there was more work to do, because this was a big dream and had to be printed on a big 3D printer. Enter the Jocelyn H. Lee Innovation Lab at the Freeman Branch Library and Houston-based 3D printer manufacturer re:3D, who had the equipment to take this project through its final phases.

With their assistance Nickolas continued learning and working, focusing on getting the sizing right, component and color separation to improve the final look, and enabling jaw movement. Then the 3D printing started, and after 4.5kg of filament and 120 hours of printing, the pieces were ready for final clean-up and assembly. With the help of the Maker community across Houston, Nickolas completed his project on time and proudly wore the costume on Halloween night! And while enjoying the satisfaction of achieving his dream for 2015, Nickolas gained outstanding experience in 3D design and engineering that could be very valuable in the medical and industrial fields in the near future. What a great outcome!

Thinking Big with Concrete

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Maker Faire is the place to see people who take the latest tech and use it to do amazing DIY things, like Alex Le Roux and his incredible 3D Concrete Printer. Le Roux graduates from Baylor University with a Mechanical Engineering degree next month, but he already knows what he plans to do next. He will be making very large things with concrete, leveraging the advantages of computer-based design and control afforded by 3D printing. He will show his first-generation 3D Concrete Printer — capable of printing objects up to 8′×8’×8′ in size — to the public for the first time ever at Houston Mini Maker Faire.

You can visit with Le Roux and his team to learn about the invention and design process and what he plans for next steps with this set of technology and tools. And yes, he is launching a business around this fantastic tool and he’s ready to take on clients for concrete construction jobs, so challenge him with your “wish list” ideas and see how he can help you do some amazing things that weren’t possible before.

Launch Your Ingenuity with ThumbSat

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When we say “launch” we really mean it – as in launch it with a rocket into near-Earth orbit. Yes, personal Earth-orbiting satellites are now much more achievable and economical with DIY space systems like ThumbSat. Using their standardized femto-satellite platform, Makers ranging from scientists and educators to engineers and hobbyists can design and arrange a satellite for launch in the next 2 years, at much lower cost and effort than ever before.

The satellites are small but packed with the technical capability to host a wide variety of experiments, and can transmit the data for retrieval on Earth. And the ThumbSat platform comes with benefits, because the ThumbSat team does the time-consuming, mind-numbing paperwork required to get your project into space for you. Visit with the ThumbSat team at Houston Mini Maker Faire to see how they are “Unlocking Space For Everyone.” This is the kind of amazing exhibit you can only see at our event for “kids (and dreamers) of all ages.”