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From the Whimsical to the Practical: Bots, Projects, and People Convene at Maker Faire Sachsen

With a rich history that dates back for more than a millennium, the Free State of Saxony (Freistaat Sachsen in German) has a vibrant culture and economy, and has even been called “Silicon Saxony” by microchip producers in the area. Last year, it was also home to the first ever Maker Faire Sachsen, adding to the ever-growing number of Maker Faires in German-speaking regions. The inaugural event showcased 50 maker projects and drew a crowd of 3,500 visitors over the course of the weekend. This year, Maker Faire Sachsen takes place on April 14 and 15, and will showcase even more makers. 

What makes Maker Faire Sachsen particularly unique is its location. Rather than being hosted at a fairground or event center, Maker Faire Sachsen takes place at Stadthalle Chemnitz, a notable civic hall built in the early 70s, which creates a special, intimate atmosphere. As noted on the Maker Faire Sachsen site, “For more than 200 years, skilled inventors have come to Chemnitz. The city is a living technology location that reinvents itself time and again. Historic industrial buildings and workers’ houses from the Wilhelminian era line the streets, reminiscent of Germany’s largest manufacturing concentration at the end of the 18th century.” This “reinvention” has made it a fertile environment for the Maker Movement to blossom in.

This year, the show will feature more makers from across Europe, as well as from within the region. Organizing team member Pierre Graupner shares:

“We have more regional companies attending, which is great. We are convinced that enterprises in Saxony, where we have mainly medium-sized machine building companies, are made and run by the maker spirit. For example, one of the local machine-builders Vogel Gruppe, is bringing a machine to bend tubes. At Maker Faire Saxony, children can make coat hooks with it. We love that, as it shows very practical applications that can rise from the maker spirit. This concept also plays out in collaborations. For example, last year, one of our exhibitors met the CEO of a local company who was visiting and now they are developing a product together and will give a talk on that.”

See a full list of exhibiting makers and scheduled presenters, as well as all the information you need to attend, on the Maker Faire Sachsen website. Here are just a small sampling of the diverse projects that will be on display. 

One Love Machine Band

The brainchild of native Berlin artist Kolja Kugler, the One Love Machine Band is a robotic band made of reclaimed materials. And in case you’re wondering if junkbots can rock, you can stop wondering because they most certainly do!

Brick’R’Knowledge

Brick’R‘Knowledge is a flexible, expandable electronic system to learn and teach, experiment and develop. The individual bricks are connected via a plug system so you can quickly make even complex circuits. In addition, you can plug the bricks in different angles. Each brick includes two contacts containing ground. Because the system is open source, you can develop your own bricks and create your own experiments. Brick’R’knowledge is ideal for prototyping and can be used in schools, vocational training, and universities.

Circuit Accessories

Leipzig-based designer Roswitha Petersen of Circuit Accessories lovingly repurposes old circuit boards into beautiful new jewelry. With great attention to detail, she selects the individual board sections so that each piece becomes a composition of its own. A coating of synthetic resin protects against oxidation and makes the original colors light up.

 

Team Fortis Saxonia

 

Team Fortis Saxonia is comprised of students of various disciplines from Technische Universität Chemnitz (Chemnitz University of Technology), working together to develop a hydrogen-powered prototype vehicle for participation in the Shell Eco-marathon. Two of their current projects are the UrbanSAX, the efficient urban concept vehicle (above), and the Hydrobike, their fuel cell motorcycle “for maximum driving pleasure.”

Variobots

Variobot develops innovative bionic mini-robot kits that use a highly sensitive sensor network that makes them particular sensitive to their environments. These mini-robots can master self-built obstacle courses, push blocks in front of them, or follow an object at a certain distance. All functions can be set directly on the robot in a few simple steps and require no programming. The kits offers children an exciting and playful introduction to the world of electronics.

 

CoBo Lights

Chemnitz-based artist Franziska Dörner hand-makes unique CoBo Lights lamps from reclaimed materials, such as old radiant heaters, cans, canisters, and bottles. She breathes new life into these discarded materials.

 

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

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