Maker Pro News: Manufacturing Meets VR and More

Maker News
Maker Pro News: Manufacturing Meets VR and More

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“[Peter] Thiel’s actions are in direct conflict with our values at Project Include.” –Ellen Pao of Project Include


Sensing a Groundswell, Make Works Eyes Expansion

Make Works (@thisismakeworks) is an online database of information and photography of Scottish manufacturers and suppliers that aims to connect local makers and hardware startups with hometown resources.

Now, Make Works (which you might remember from the whimsical “speed dating” event it organized last year) is looking to expand beyond Scotland. To fund that journey, they’re seeking monthly pledges on Patreon (@Patreon), a crowdfunding site favored by creatives. Make Works plans to use the contributions to pay its hosting bills and increase its work with photographers and videographers to document more local resources.

Ideally, founder Fi Scott told us, she’d like to see people take the Make Works concept and run with it — either by setting up their own similar networks or by researching and sharing information about manufacturing resources in their own neighborhoods.

“We want to help local industry and local makers across the world work closely together to support their local creative economy,” Scott said.

We should note that Make Works isn’t the only organization looking to bolster connections between makers and area factories. A few to check out: Maker’s Row (@MakersRow), Core77’s (@core77), Design Directory (@designdirectory), and Greentown Labs’ (@GreentownLabs) Manufacturing Initiative.

Do you know of other people or groups working to connect maker pros with local manufacturers? Drop us a line at

VR Industry is Still Rife With Hackers, Thankfully

Earlier this year, Make: explored the frontiers of virtual reality and its potential for makers. It’s only been a few months, but the industry’s sense of momentum — and simultaneously, perhaps, of untapped potential — has only increased.

There are the A-list commercial products, of course, like Sony’s hotly anticipated Playstation VR. What’s more interesting in the long term, we think, is the ongoing left-field research into novel ways the technology could change the way we approach play, socialization, and even engineering and design.

Take this gallery of outrageous prototypes by Microsoft that explore ways to blend haptic feedback with head-mounted displays. The tech giant seems to be banking on the idea that, eventually, people are going to want to touch, rub, and manipulate physical representations of objects in virtual worlds. There’s a Rube Goldberg element to the company’s NormalTouch and TextureTouch prototypes, but also some ingenious engineering. We’ll be fascinated to see where it goes.

On the engineering front, Industry Week (@IndustryWeek) recently looked at industries that are already using augmented reality to make existing jobs easier and more intuitive. Lockheed Martin (@LockheedMartin), for instance, is experimenting with augmented reality glasses that overlay instructions for workers assembling jets. And Bosch (@BoschGlobal) recently used Oculus Rift to t

Make Works looks to expand its online database to connect Scotland-based makers and hardware startups. Plus, hackers still drive VR innovation.

rain some 10,000 service technicians.

Not even the staid world of advertising is immune to the gold rush. The Wall Street Journal reports that marketers are struggling to balance VR’s unprecedented potential for creating immersive experiences with its complexity and low market penetration.

Manufacturing Roundup

Also in the world of manufacturing, don’t miss this treasure trove of interviews with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (@rpi) faculty on the subtle ways rapid prototyping is continuing to change education and industry. 3D printing and similar technologies are leading students to look at old engineering problems in bold new ways, the professors report — and industry may never be the same.

“The manufacturing classes we deliver are where it all comes together for our students,” said Sam Chiappone, the director of manufacturing innovation at RPI’s engineering school.

In the same sector, check this analysis of how 3D Robotics (@3DRobotics) failed to compete with DJI (@DJIGlobal). One takeaway: while local manufacturing can be feasible at a certain scale, it becomes strikingly difficult to compete with overseas factories at volume.

The flip side, of course, is that the ecosystems around any manufacturing hub can be beautiful, complex, and irreducible. Mechanical keyboard maker Keyboardio (@keyboardio) recently blogged about the astonishing range of cheap, bootleg and just plain fascinating stuff you can pick up for pennies in Shenzhen — from fake Apple merch to impressive knockoff electronics, servicing equipment and accessories of all kinds.


Elsewhere on the Maker Pro Web:

Cloud-based Arduino programming platform Codebender (@codebender_cc) shared some glum news this week: faced with growing bills to keep the free service running, the site’s leadership say they’ll be forced to shut the service down later this year to focus on B2B development. They plan to phase the service out in a way that will keep existing users supported for as long as possible.

Fabrication startup Maslow (@MaslowCNC) plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign for a hanging plotter that works as a CNC machine. You may want to temper your expectations for the first iteration of the sub-$500 cutter; according to the company’s pitch video, they hope it’ll be “at least as good as someone with power tools.”

Author and entrepreneur William Belk (@wbelk) pulled together a thought-provoking timeline of IoT tech that reaches all the way back to early radio control around 1900, through the hospital pagers of the 60s, UPC codes of the 70s and, of course, the explosion of technologies that blossomed in the 90s, 2000s and beyond.

In the world of fabrication, Optomec‘s cost-cutting, hybrid additive and subtractive manufacturing system could be another sign that 3D printing is expanding from a prototyping tool to a manufacturing staple. Also, check out the photo above — it looks drop-dead amazing.

Outspoken tech mogul Peter Thiel‘s (@peterthiel) $1.25 million donation to Donald Trump‘s (@realDonaldTrump) presidential campaign appears to be costing Y Combinator, the storied accelerator where Thiel is an advisor. Project Include (@projectinclude), which works to increase diversity in the tech sector, came down particularly hard by announcing that it would no longer work with YC startups.

Questions? Comments? Shoot us an email at

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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


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