Want to get the latest Maker Pro news right in your inbox? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

makerproslug

“We need someone taking care of the little guy in a dangerous world. I feel that’s part of what the mouse armor represents.” —metalsmith Jeff De Boer

How to Crush a Crowdfunding Campaign

You might have a great idea for a crowdfunded product, but the crowdfunding industry has grown into a sprawling complex of platforms and strategies that can be difficult to navigate even for experienced entrepreneurs.

This week, Make: contributor Gareth Branwyn (@garethb2) published an expansive, accessible guide to the modern crowdfunding market that draws on the experience of industry veterans, experts, and even former Kickstarter Senior Director of Design and Technology Communities John Dimatos (@dimatosj). The result is a must-read for anyone who’s toyed with the idea of launching their own campaign.

Speaking of Kickstarter, the company debuted a worthwhile mini-documentary earlier this month about the founders of BeeLine (@ridebeeline), a Kickstarter-funded gadget that gives intuitive directions to cyclists. It’s a worthwhile clip, but it also fits with an ongoing trend: Kickstarter is investing serious resources into building and supporting its own community of makers.

And if you can’t win by coloring inside the lines, check out this profile of a pseudonymous hustler who identifies up-and-coming crowdfunding campaigns — and then does whatever it takes to beat them to market. We’ve discussed this moral gray area before, but he reportedly netted some $345,000 in just three months.

Rise of the Machines

Last week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (@stevenmnuchin1) brushed off the notion that automation could displace large numbers of American workers. But a new paper by researchers at MIT and Boston University argues that hundreds of thousands of jobs have already been lost.

Automation seems poised to upend great swathes of the economy. Maker pros could be uniquely positioned to experience the complex ways the transition could play out: while manufacturing robots bode ill for individual workers, they can open up incredible possibilities for the creative class.

What do you think automation means for the future of jobs? Email us: [email protected]

Aleph Objects and IC3D Team Up to Create Open Source Filament

LulzBot-maker Aleph Objects (@alephobjects) is teaming up with fellow 3D printer builder IC3D (@IC3D_Printers) to release a line of open source filament. It’s an intriguing collaboration, because while many 3D printers are open source, the raw materials used to print are still largely proprietary.

“Because Open Source 3D printer software, firmware, electronics hardware, and mechanical hardware designs already exist, the materials represent the final missing piece of the open source 3D printing puzzle,” said IC3D CEO Michael Cao.

For other filament news, check out this Make: report on Biome3D’s (@biome3D) plant-based plastic.

Battle Armor for Cats and Mice

On the other end of the maker pro spectrum from open source hardware and materials is Jeff De Boer, a talented Calgary metalsmith best known for the intricate suits of battle armor he makes for cats and mice. This week, Make: contributor Donald Bell (@donald) profiled De Boer, who first started the armor project when he realized his jewelry-making skills could be applied to miniature hoplology.

“We need someone taking care of the little guy in a dangerous world,” De Boer told Bell. “I feel that’s part of what the mouse armor represents.”

Boer has never attempted to dress a mouse in a suit of armor, but he did once attempt to gear up one of his cats. The project can pay off: a single suit can command a price of $25,000.

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

There are few tasks more fraught than moving from low-run fabrication techniques to the unforgiving world of plastic molding. In a new Make: post, Proto Labs (@ProtoLabs) Global Product Manager Becky Cater gives some tips for beginners.

The frugal maker pros at automotive startup AutoX cobbled together a self-driving car using little hardware except for seven Logitech webcams, according to CEO Jianxiong Xiao.

Northwell Health (@NorthwellHealth) teamed up with marketing agency JWT New York (@JWTNewYork) to create a next-generation prosthetic that lets amputees both walk and swim. The pair are calling the collaboration a “brand act.”

Longtime readers know we have a soft spot for smart agriculture. A new system by researchers at the University of Missouri (@Mizzou) uses a surprisingly advanced robot to collect detailed data on drought-parched corn plants.