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“People ask me why I make. It’s like asking a fish about water.” — Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell
The State of Maker Pros
Rapid prototyping firm Fictiv (@fictiv) released its annual State of Hardware report this week in collaboration with partners including Highway1 (@highway1io) and Hax (@hax_co). The result is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the contemporary maker pro ecosystem.
The company surveyed 340 engineers and designers about the tools and resources they’ve used in their professional lives over the past year. Key findings: the most common fabrication tool respondents used in their work this year was the 3D printer; their favorite technical books were Machinery’s Handbook and Shigley’s Mechanical Engineering Design; if they could choose a superpower, 18 percent would spring for time travel.
And crowdfunding experts Benjamin Joffe (@benjaminjoffe) and Cyril Ebersweiler (@cebersweiler), both of Hax, last week published a remarkable guide to contemporary crowdfunding. The primary takeaway: to succeed, you need find a way to convince potential buyers — and the media — that you have what it takes to actually produce and ship your product.
Does the FDA Want to Regulate Your Prototype?
The Food and Drug Administration diligently regulates medtech research, and with good reason — if you’re taking a blood test or wearing a heart monitor, you want to be certain it’s been independently tested. But it isn’t always clear when DIY biohackers need to start paying attention to those laws, especially would-be maker pros who could eventually move toward offering a commercial product.
Attorney and maker Michael Weinberg (@mweinberg2D), who serves as president of the Open Source Hardware Association (@oshwassociation) and general counsel for Shapeways (@shapeways), dives into those questions in a new Make: feature.
“Keep hacking and building new things,” Weinberg wrote. “But as you start building devices that are geared toward treating specific diseases or that can do real harm if they malfunction, keep in mind that the FDA might be interested.”
Readers Respond: Should Gadgets Expire Like Milk?
When we mentioned Stacey Higginbotham’s (@gigastacey) contention last week that gadgets should come with an expiration date, it touched a nerve. Some readers agreed with Higginbotham, but others pointed out that the concept could legitimize planned obsolescence and undermine the right to repair.
“Feel free to create obsolescence for your tiny runs of proof of concept models,” wrote Chuck Patten, “but don’t try to sell them to the real world.”
Bill Miskell (@wmiskell2100) disagreed. “In whatever way an expiration date could be assigned, it might provide some indication of whether my interest or investment is worth consideration,” he wrote.
Nolan Bushnell on Making and Family
Serial maker pro Nolan Bushnell (@NolanBushnell), who founded both Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, appears in the latest episode of WhyIMake — and it’s a lively look into the life of a visionary, fun-loving entrepreneur who never slowed down.
Four of Bushnell’s kids appear in the video, where they talk about the role of inventing in their childhoods as well as the careers they’ve built as maker pros. Bushnell’s son Brent (@brentbushnell), for instance, is the founder of Two Bit Circus (@TwoBitCircus), a wild live act that’s been a regular at many Maker Faires (@makerfaire).
“People ask me why I make,” the elder Bushnell said. “It’s like asking a fish about water.”
Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web
Don’t miss the final installment of entrepreneur Natasha Dzurny’s (@TechnoChicShop) series on launching a successful Kickstarter campaign. An important part of Dzurny’s advice this week: take a break once in a while to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
The new administration has removed the Champions of Change page, which celebrated local makers from across from the country, from the White House (@WhiteHouse) website. A new petition is asking that it be reinstated.
The winner of the Z-Wave Alliance’s (@ZWave_Alliance) latest IoT startup competition is W Cubed, which created an automatic door trigger that detects when somebody approaches and intelligently locks or unlocks. A word to the wise: if your startup wants to be considered for Z-Wave’s next year-long program, the deadline to apply is May 14.
And on the subject of deadlines, the accelerator NextFab is now accepting applications for its spring 2017 cohort, each of which will receive an investment of up to $25,000.