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Maker Pro News: Reviving Local Manufacturing, Mourning TechShop, and More

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Participating in a movement requires a certain amount of belief — belief that if we work together, we can change the world. – Maker Effect Foundation founder Ian Cole

Can Makers Revive Local Manufacturing

There’s talk, from local town meetings to the highest national policy circles, of how to revive the domestic manufacturing economy — not just in terms of output, but in creating sustainable jobs that can create value while producing high quality goods and livable wages. One piece of a robust solution: supporting local makers who are working to weave together a hearty economic ecosystem at a grassroots level.

DC Denison (@dcdenison) — a co-editor of this newsletter — published a deep dive into maker economies in Architecture Boston that, in addition to looking at connections between makerspaces and local manufacturing, is a terrific primer on the maker movement that’s accessible to neophytes without dumbing down the concepts.

“Right now the biggest role for makerspaces is drawing people into the maker movement,” said Anne Filson (@aefilson), an architecture professor at the University of Kentucky (@universityofky). “Yet as more people in society recognize their agency as makers, makerspaces are going to have more functions, more than just an introductory one. They can become manufacturing hubs.”

Similarly, a new report from the National League of Cities (@leagueofcities) and a host of collaborators heralds the maker movement as a potential powerhouse for local manufacturing. The catch? Maker pros need support, according to the report, from local government, community groups, and flexible financiers.

What are ways maker pros can help bolster local economies? Are there limits to their roles? Send us your thoughts:

The Third Wave of the Maker Movement

Maker Effect Foundation (@makereffect) founder Ian Cole (@digitalman2112) argues that the movement has been characterized by three distinct waves. The first was centered around 90s hackerspaces in Germany and MIT scenesters, in his conception, and the second by Make: founder Dale Dougherty and widespread makerspaces.

The third wave, according to Cole, is characterized by thousands of distributed organizers who are now setting up maker-focused institutions, nonprofits and business ventures — and, in the process, they’re catapulting the movement even farther into the spotlight.

“Participating in a movement requires a certain amount of belief,” Cole wrote, “belief that if we work together, we can change the world.”

Mourning TechShop – And Making Use of Its Remaining Assets

As makers mourn the loss of makerspace chain TechShop (@techshop), the closure of which we wrote about last week, questions are turning to practical matters. Make: senior editor Caleb Kraft (@calebkraftinvestigates a questionthat’s been posed in social media and comment sections: what will become of the company’s sizable equipment holdings, which are largely of interest to others in the maker scene?

The answer’s not entirely clear, but TechShop has posted a form for individuals, organizations and institutions who want to explore the possibility of acquiring remaining assets or even an entire location. Any developments on that front would be a silver lining to a dark episode.

Maker Pro Cities: Rome and Bangalore

An excellent roundup by Make: contributor Goli Mohammadi (@snowgoli) looks at projects that will appear at Maker Faire Rome (@MakerFaireRome) — and it’s a rousing list of maker pro projects. Take Hangprinter, a RepRap(@RepRapLtd) printer with an entirely frameless design, or Terra Neeru, an IoT system for farmers in India and other areas where irrigation isn’t widespread, or Qmod (@myQmod), an educational kit with hands-on electronics and bright, memorable documentation.

Also this week, Liam Grace-Flood and Saba Mundlay look at the burgeoning maker ecosystem in Bangalore, where Workbench Projects (@makewithWP) is the city’s first makerspace, and local makers are organizing a Maker Faire in Bangaluru Palace. They also cover IKP EDEN (@ikpeden), a startup incubator that’s home to electric bike startup Emflux (@EmfluxMotors), water monitoring system Greenvironment (@GreenvironmentI), and Skylark Drones(@SkylarkDrones).

Speaking of Faires around the world, don’t miss Maker Media VP Sherry Huss’s (@SherryHuss) capstone on Maker Faire Shenzhen (@MakerFaireSZ), which we covered last week.

Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web

A maker pro story from down under: how an Australian hardware startup with the quintessentially aussie name Koalasafe (@koalasafe) ramped a successful Kickstarter campaign into a hopping business on Amazon’s marketplace.

Artificial intelligence is a cash grab for talented chipmakers — which is a blast from the past for Silicon Valley financiers, who despite the region’s moniker have long preferred the safer markets of software.

A riveting teardown looks under the hood of a consumer-facing spy gadget that shares deep similarities, according to experts, with the spy equipment favored by spooks in the intelligence community.

worthwhile profile looks at Loop, a hardware startup that’s breaking all the tenets of contemporary product design with a throwback family communication gadget that hearkens back to the silvery matte and side-mounted knobs of 90s consumer electronics.


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

DC manages customer stories at Acquia, the digital experience company.

View more articles by DC Denison

Jon Christian is the co-editor of the Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection between makers and business. He's also written for the Boston Globe, WIRED and The Atlantic.

View more articles by Jon Christian