You’re reading our weekly Maker Pro Newsletter, which focuses on the impact of makers in business and technology. Our coverage includes hardware startups, new products, incubators, and innovators, along with technology and market trends. Subscribe today and never miss a post.
“But that doesn’t mean Americans don’t make things anymore.” – Pew Research
Maker Pros Working for Social Good
For a compelling case study of how makers can promote the common good, check out our new profile of Machines Room (@machinesroom). A space in London that provides resources and residencies to people and groups working to create a positive social impact, Machines Room projects range from mycelium materials research to new types of recycling. The space’s most famous makers-in-residence might be the maker pros at Kniterate (@Kniterate), which Kickstarted a high-profile knitting machine this year.
Make: correspondent Liam Grace-Flood, who’s traveling the world this year to report on maker culture and spaces around the globe, recently took part in a Machines Room residency of his own. This week, he wrote about his experience at the space — which works closely with its neighbors Open Desk (@open_desk) and London Hackspace (@londonhackspace) in the city’s “maker mile” — and how it strives to connect entrepreneurs with the tools they need to enact social good.
For more coverage of how maker pros can make the world a better place, don’t miss our new feature about how maker Sharon Clausson made her low-cost, next-generation solar cookers available to refugee populations, or Maker Pro Editor DC Denison’s (@dcdenison) interview with Amy Peterson (@RebelNell) who teaches impoverished women how to make jewelry out of reclaimed chips of graffiti, gifting them the skills to empower themselves.
The Maker Pros of Maker Faire NY
Slated for Sept. 23-24, World Maker Faire New York (@makerfaire) is gearing up to be one heck of a show — and a new preview post highlights a number of the maker pros who will be there to showcase the craft and business of their trades.
Jingwen Zhu (@jingwen_zzz) will talk about her work creating the luminescent garments of the future. Tony DiCola (@tdicola) will discuss his work with MicroPython (@micropython). Wearables phenoms Anouk Wipprecht (@AnoukWipprecht) and Tiffany Trenda (@tiffanytrenda) will give a presentation on jewelry that melds organic and electronic components.
The Counterfeiter Detectives
Experts estimate that counterfeiting is a $400 billion industry in China — a market that cuts into the trademark and intellectual property of entities ranging from individual entrepreneurs on Indiegogo to multinational automotive manufacturers.
A riveting new exposé looks at the mechanics of that market, as well as the surprising efforts by many Fortune 500 companies to fight Chinese counterfeiters with the aid of Pinkerton (@Pinkerton), one of the world’s oldest surviving detective agencies. Pinkerton agents traverse the country’s black markets to build cases against the manufacturers of knockoffs. The big question for our readers: if corporations need to hire copyright mercenaries to enforce their rights, who will look out for the little guy?
As Manufacturing Jobs Disappear, Productivity Rises
Even as domestic manufacturing jobs have evaporated, the output of the United States’ remaining factories has continued to increase due to automation and other factors. But that’s a subtly lost on Americans themselves, according to a new poll by Pew Research (@pewresearch); though most respondents knew that manufacturing jobs were in decline, just one in three were aware that productivity had simultaneously risen.
It’s just one datapoint, but it does highlight the deep divide between the knowledge and manufacturing economies. Modern factories — especially with the help of platforms like CircuitHub (@CircuitHub) and ambitious, small-scale maker pros — hold the promise to remake the manufacturing sector, but that conversation is still barely a blip on the cultural radar.
Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web
Augmented reality seems perennially poised to become a maker pro market, but like much of VR, the hype trough has been lengthy. Secretive startup Magic Leap (@magicleap), which has promised to change the face of AR, was granted a patent this week that might finally give a glimpse of what the company has been working on.
Make: contributor Chiara Checchini (@ClaireCecchini) this week profiled The Algae Factory (@TheAlgaeFactory), an Amsterdam food startup that produces chocolate that contains Spirulina, a highly nutritious cyanobacteria found in algae.
Tony Wright (@webwright), the co-founder of smash hit crowdfunded laser cutter startup Glowforge (@glowforge), has left the project. The split seems to be amiable. “We sold about $28 million worth of these things when, just a month before, nobody had ever seen one,” Wright said. “Think how amazing that is!”
Maker pro Sarah Duyer (@SarahDuyer) works in many mediums. A new Make: profile looks at one of her spookiest projects: an unsettling series of teapots that balance, villainously, on spindly legs. You can check out more of Duyer’s work on her online store.