Maker Pro Newsletter – 02/27/14

Maker Pro Newsletter – 02/27/14

“When we care, we share.”

From the editors of MAKE magazine, the Maker Pro Newsletter is about the impact of makers on business and technology. Our coverage includes hardware startups, new products, incubators, and innovators, along with technology and market trends.

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* President Barack Obama (@barackobamaannounced two new public-private manufacturing innovation institutes: one in Chicago and one in the Detroit area. Detroit’s focus will be lightweight and high-performance metals; Chicago’s digital manufacturing and design technologies. A pilot manufacuring hub already exists in Youngstown, Ohio.

* The White House also posted a short White House Maker Faire Interest Form, for anyone intested in exhibiting, attending, or volunteering at the upcoming event, date still to be determined.


* A year ago, we were watching a free-form 3D printer create lines of resin. Now this successor is printing metal.

* Speaking of metal, Australia is determined to extend its titanium industry into the next century, by marrying it with new technologies, including 3D printing. Bike manufacturer Flying Machine is leveraging that desire into new titanium 3D-printed bikes.

* Robot Launchpad announced Robot Launch 2014, the first global startup competition for robotics.

* The stock prices for the big 3D companies are down, but Scott Dunham insists that the sky is not falling.

* Electronics-design facilitator CircuitHub wants to be “a print button for hardware.”

* More help for those on the front lines of hardware innovation: Knowable, a site for sharing and collaboration, is out of beta.

* And when you’re ready to start selling, you have a new place to post your pre-order: Celery, which is now courting fledgling hardwareans. Grand St. and ShopLocket are also targeting this crowd, so you can shop around.

* If jewelry is your thing, you’ve got another option: a new 3D jewelry design marketplace: JewelryThis.

* And if your product is pushpin-small, consider a mobile, RF-controlled, tiny pop-up store.






Quirky’s Egg Minder product has “taken a $0.02 solution (a paper list) and turned it into a $49.99 product with a complex user interface, a rigid behavior paradigm, and batteries that need to be charged,” according to Ben Einstein.

* Bolt’s Ben Einstein (@beneinstein) urges inventors not to be “connection happy,” lest we end up with an Internet of Dumb Things. “Solve real problems,” he urges.

* The Harvard Business Review reminds those who want to tap viral marketing: make your ideas fun and rewarding for carriers to spread. HBR quotes author Jonah Berger (@j1berger): “When we care, we share.”

* A crowdfunding candidate has to tell a story with its design, says Dragon Innovation co-founder Scott N. Miller.


Maker Pro Update: Sproutel


Then: The initial production hardware for Jerry the Bear.


Now: Jerry the Bear and a satisfied customer.

When Sproutel co-founder Aaron Horowitz (@aaronjhorowitz) spoke at MAKE’s Hardware Innovation Workshop New York last September, the three-person startup was preparing for its first production run for Jerry the Bear, a stuffed animal loaded with technology, and a lofty ambition: to teach children with type 1 diabetes how to manage their blood glucose levels, recognize their symptoms, and maintain a healthy diet.

Aaron spent one of HIW session breaks huddled over his laptop, nervously approving the ejector pin and gate layout for one of Jerry’s crucial parts.

Update: Sproutel has manufactured and sold out its first production run of 250 bears, representing roughly 2% of children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes each year in the US. The team has new office space in Providence, R.I., and will expand to five employees in the next two weeks. The next production run, 500 bears, is one month away.

We asked Aaron to share lessons learned. His response:

* Never underestimate the power of the classic friends + food equation when assembling a small run by hand.

* Tooling your own injection molds can be easier said then done — at a certain point intuition and expertise trumps engineering.

* Customer support calls are incredibly gratifying and can be the best way to learn more about your customer and how they are using your product.

* Your first customers are your biggest advocates and supporters. Don’t keep them in the dark; make them feel included in the product development journey.

Should You Buy a 3D Printer, or Use a Service?


A detail from the Sculpteo study

You can take this with a grain of salt, since the study was commissioned by Sculpteo, one of the leading consumer-oriented 3D printing services. But check out the infographic, for some food for thought.

The top-level take-away: the price differential widens as you move up the 3D printing food chain toward higher quality and better resolution. At the home hobbyist/figurine level, it’s just about a wash.

Maker Pro Tweets of the Week

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Maker Faire Bay Area & MakerCon


The 9th annual Maker Faire Bay Area, our “home game” that started it all, is taking place May 17 and 18 at the San Mateo Fairgrounds.

And, hey, Maker Pros! MAKE is hosting its first MakerCon, May 13–14, the week of Maker Faire Bay Area. MakerCon will look at the impact of makers and making on education, the economy, and emerging markets. It offers makers of all stripes — from hobbyists to makers pros — a chance to discover new tools and technologies; available resources and services; and learn more about topical trends and new markets emerging from the maker movement.

If you are interested in submitting a presentation proposal, please visit MakerCon 2014.

Mini Maker Faires

Here’s what’s coming in the next few months:

What’s ahead further down the road? Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.


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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


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