Maker Pro Newsletter – 05/08/14

Maker Pro Newsletter – 05/08/14

“When you launch satellites, there’s no undo button.”

From the editors of MAKE, 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. Please send items to us at

Are you a Maker Pro? We’re compiling a list of Maker Pro Twitter handles, so please send us yoursSubscribe to the Maker Pro Twitter list here.


* The annual Wohlers Report on 3D printing and additive manufacturing, 2014 edition, reports that the 3D printing industry grew 34.9 percent last year, the highest in 17 years.

* Pitched this week at TechCrunch Disrupt NY: a 3D printer for makeup, Mink, although it appears more idea than a technology at this point.

* A “community fabrication” center for Los Angeles, SyncFab, just made its campaign goal on Kickstarter.

* The state of Washington has filed the first consumer protection suit against a crowdfunding scammer.

* Amazon has launched a wearable tech store.

* The U.S. is rising as a location for low-cost manufacturing, although when it comes to electronics, China still “reigns supreme.”

* The next wave for makerspaces: collaborating and creating a maker campus.

* The Maker Pro Newsletter will be on hiatus next week so that the editor can attend, and cover, MakerCon. Watch for updates in the Maker Pro section of MAKE. We’ll be back May 22 with a special Maker Faire edition. 


New on 3D Software’s Frontier



Mixed Dimensions, which just raised some financial backing, and moved from Jordan to Silicon Valley, has ambitions to make 3D software that’s dramatically easier than anything else on the market. The Economist and TechCrunch have taken notice.



A 3D scene created in Text-to-3D

Text-to-3D from BrainDistrict, still in beta, promises that you’ll be able to create 3D objects and worlds by typing in text descriptions.

Type “add a wall” and you get one on the screen. Use more text commands to customize it.

Type “add a window to this wall,” and now you can see through it.

And so on, until you have a living room, or a house.

BrainDistrict, based in Germany, predicts that their text interface will provide the platform for “a whole new generation of interactive 3D users.”

Disney Research is 3D Printing Speaker-Like Surfaces


This 3D-printed duck toy is wrapped in a compliant diaphragm, creating one single sound-emitting surface.

The folks at Disney Research are using 1930s-era electrostatic loudspeaker technology to 3D print objects that can make sounds. The result: sound reproduction can easily be integrated into various objects — a simple spiral, for example — at the design stage.

A German Research Group is 3D Printing Circuits and Sensors

Fraunhofer IFAM_funktionalisierter Zylinder

A cylinder with 3D-printed sensors. Credit: Fraunhofer IFAM

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM, in Bremen, Germany, are using various 3D printing methods to produce electronic components and sensors. The tiny resistors, transistors, circuit paths, and capacitors are first designed on screen and then deposited directly onto two- and three-dimensional substrates: circuit boards, for example. Instead of the usual paper inks, the scientists use what are known as “functional inks” — electronic materials in liquid or paste form.

And 3D Systems is Printing Antennas


The base platform, or “Endo,” for the Project Ara modular smartphone.

For the first time, 3D Systems has blogged about its role in Google’s upcoming Project Ara modular smartphone, and it sounds like the initiative is really pushing them into some new areas. Like conductive inks, and the printing of “functional components” such as antennas. The company claims it has also optimized its manufacturing process in new ways, to ramp up to produce millions, even billions, of units.

Speaking of Project Ara, which has been dubbed an “Ikea for smartphones,” SparkFun attended the recent Project Ara developers conference, covering it from “the hacker/maker perspective.” Their conclusion: there’s plenty in the project to “get a geek’s blood flowing.”

Open Source Wearable Platforms

Given all the interest in wearables, Open Source Electronics decided to survey the scene in open source wearables.


Adafruit’s open, wearable Flora platform.

Among the touchpoints in the article: Adafruit’s Flora platform, Android Wear, and the nonprofit, community-based organization WaRP (for wearables reference platform).

GE Ventures Partners with Lemnos Labs

GE Ventures is partnering with the San Francisco hardware accelerator Lemnos Labs.

The arrangement: Lemnos Labs startups will receive learnings specific to their product from GE subject experts. GE Ventures, in turn, will get to see new concepts and technologies at an early stage.

Jeremy conrad, lemnos labs

Jeremy Conrad, Lemnos Labs

Conveniently, for those unfamiliar with Lemnos Labs, ShopLocket just published an interview with co-founder Jeremy Conrad.

Conrad tells ShopLocket that he estimates that an early stage hardware startup makes between 500 and 1,000 design and business decisions in the first year.

He also discusses his past experience in the Air Force, blowing up missiles with lasers, and some of the lessons he has learned, including, “When you launch satellites, there’s no undo button.”

Note: Eric Klein (@sircoolio) from Lemnos Labs is presenting at MakerCon: “Embracing the Difference Between Cottage and Mainstream.” ShopLocket CEO Katherine Hague (@KatherineHague) speaks on “Launch from Concept to Consumer.”

The Next Wearables Platform: Your Fingers


The design blog core77 runs through the available landing zones for wearables — eyes, ears, wrists — and gets to the next, inevitable spot: your fingers.

Nod is ready.

Here’s what it looks like inside.


Inside the Nod


Maker Faire Bay Area

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. Buy your tickets today!

Final Days to Register for MakerCon

try 3

Hey, Maker Pros — MAKE is hosting its first MakerCon, May 13–14, the week of Maker Faire Bay Area. Connecting makers is essential to continuing the proliferation of new ideas, products, devices and solutions. At their very nature, makers are collaborative and community-minded. The premiere MakerCon brings together the leaders at the forefront of the maker movement. Providing new insights into local and global manufacturing, design, marketing and distribution, even creative culture, MakerCon explores the impact of making on education, business and community.

Featured speakers include:

  • Massimo Banzi – co-founder, Arduino
  • Peter Hirshberg – CEO The Re:imagine Group
  • Michael McCool – principal engineer, Intel
  • Yancey Strickler – co-founder and CEO, Kickstarter
  • Taylor Dawson – product manger – FirstBuild, General Electric
  • Scott Miller – co-founder and CEO, Dragon Innovation
  • Carl Bass – president and CEO, Autodesk
  • Alice Taylor – CEO, MakieLab
  • Eric Pan – founder and CEO, Seeed Studio
  • Lisa Fetterman – co-founder and CEO, Nomiku
  • Bunnie Huang – founder, Chumby
  • Katherine Hague – co-founder and CEO, ShopLocket
  • Kevin Kelly – founding executive editor of Wired, founder of Cool Tools

Check out for a full list of speakers and themes.

Upcoming Maker Faires

Here’s what’s happening in May:

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

Rob|Arch 2014 conference, May 14-18, 2014 in Ann Arbor, Michigan


This conference will bring together an international cohort of artists, designers, fabricators, and industry leaders for the purposes of advancing the discourse surrounding experimental robotic fabrication in their respective fields.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

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


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).