Maker Pro Newsletter – 10/17/13

Maker Pro Newsletter – 10/17/13

“Corn doesn’t mind if you watch it.”

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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Survey Shows “Astonishing” High Usage of Personal 3D Printers

A new survey of the personal 3D printing market found that 83 percent of users reported that they use their printers several times per week or more.

So although 3D printers are often tagged as trendy, most do not end up as dust-gathering impulse purchases.

The survey was conducted by the Photizo Group, a research and consulting firm in the imaging industry based in Midway, Ky. An excerpt was published on the website 3D Printing Industry, which categorized the usage statistics as “astonishing.”

Personal 3D Printing Usage Graphic

Photizo Group research manager Scott Dunham told MAKE that he believes that two factors contribute to the high usage.

1. Personal 3D printers, especially DIY builds and some lower-end machines, require a trial-and-error process for printing new designs for the first time. For most users this means more time, and ultimately more attempts, to get the print exactly how the user wants it.

2. The current user, while expanding rapidly, is still largely involved in communities like makerspaces, open source projects, etc. These types of groups and their activities use their personal 3D printers more because it is a hobby in itself. It’s not yet being viewed as simply a tool or a means to an end.

Significantly, the Photizo study predicts that the next group to adopt 3D printing may have different habits. They will be more interested in polished, functional 3D printers backed by responsive manufacturers.

You can buy the Photizo report here.



The European Space Agency plans on developing metal 3D printing capabilities that will enable the efficient production of an optimized hinge (foreground) that improves on the conventional part (background).

The European Space Agency is hoping to take 3D printing into the metal age by developing the capability to 3D print complex shapes in metal. (Startup Vader Systems, which made an impact at this year’s World Maker Faire New York, is also pursuing metal 3D printing, but with a less lofty focus: earthbound businesses and “the common man.”)

Good News. Industry analyst Michael Wolf (@nextmarketco) is predicting that beer brewing could become the next makerspace activity.

Autodesk has launched a free 3D previewer, Project Miller, that promises to help you find design flaws before you start consuming expensive consumables.

An Australian textbook rental company is now making deliveries via drone.


Drone Sightings


The Gatewing X100

Last weekend’s Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference in New York City claimed to be “the first ever massively multidisciplinary conference about aerial robotics, with a focus on civilian applications.”

MAKE’s Andrew Terranova (@ignoblegnome) attended, and reported that it lived up to its “massively multidisciplinary” claim.

First day topics ranged from drones as “moral hazard,” to the suggestion by Michael Toscano, of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, that drones are well suited to enable precision agriculture to better feed a hungry world.

“Corn doesn’t mind if you watch it,” Toscano joked.

For three days, Andrew bounced from introductory sessions, to preview demos of highly anticipated projects like the Phantom Vision quadcopter, to the tethered Fotokite, to drone cinematographer Chris Kippenberger.

Kippenberger’s focused approach is particularly interesting in contrast to the orgy of drone videos that surfaced after this year’s Burning Man festival.

MAKE’s drone coverage last week also included a report from the Saint-Malo Mini-Maker Faire in France, where Alasdair Allan (@aallan) caught up with Omar-Pierre Soubra and his Gatewing X100 UAV.

The Internet of (Lost) Things

Tile will track that key

Tile will track that key

The Internet of Things has been surprisingly slow to take off.

One reason: consumers have yet to grab on to a compelling need to figure it out.

Another drag on lift-off: a lack of standards.

The Thing System, co-founded by Marshall T. Rose (@_mtr) and Alasdair Allan (who is, full disclosure, a frequent contributor to MAKE) is one recent, promising, still-in-alpha, attempt to bring some control to this network of Babel.

In the meantime, there is one consumer “IoT” application that will soon get a thorough testing in the marketplace, from three different directions.

Wait, I know it’s around here somewhere…

Oh yeah, tracking lost items, from bicycles to pets.

One propitious sign: all three products had amazingly successful crowdfunding campaigns.

StickNFind is already shipping; Button TrackR is planning to start delivering this month.

Tile, which bills itself as “world’s largest lost and found,” and is aiming for a winter launch, is the focus of a feature interview in the blog Hack Things.

With three similar projects coming out in the next few months, consumers may finally find a compelling on-ramp to the currently inchoate concept of an Internet of Things.

Materials: Titanium, Recycled 3D Printing Filament


A titanium spork

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy has awarded a large grant to a Case Western Reserve University team to explore a low-cost, energy-efficient method to extract the titanium from ore.

“Our project, if successful, will lower the cost of titanium by up to 60 percent,” said Rohan Akolkar, associate professor of chemical engineering and the principal investigator on the project.

ExtremeTech provides some background on this unique metal.

Also on the material beat: A working prototype of Filamaker, which can recycle 3D printing filament, was a hit at Maker Faire Rome. Shock waves were felt as far away as Boing Boing.

Three Hardware Startup How-To’s


1. A month ago, the entrepreneur matching service FounderDating expanded to include hardware projects.

Last week, they primed the pump with a how-to guide for people considering taking the plunge. It’s kind of an outline, with links to resources.

2. Nick Pinkston (@nickpinkston) has also started a list of Hardware Startup Resources on Reddit.

3. How to Build a Hardware Startup, recently published on the Adafruit Learning System, is the most ambitious of the three. It’s by Marc Barros(@marcbarros), who writes frequently about hardware startup topics, plumbing his experience launching the action camera Contour (which recently closed down, vanquished by the GoPro).


Engadget Expand Heading for New York City November 9-10

Join the MAKE team at Engadget Expand in New York, November 9–10 at Javits Center and Experience the Future of Technology, the theme for this premiere New York event.

Designed for tech enthusiasts and gadget geeks, the weekend offers an opportunity to hear from favorite consumer electronics luminaries and to get hands-on with some of the latest new devices on the show floor.

MAKE will roll out its hot-off-the-press, next-generation 3D printer guide, featuring reviews of 23 of the newest personal printers.

MAKE project leader and 3D printing guru Anna Kaziunas France (@akaziuna) will explain the elaborate review process and rigorous tests the MAKE team designed to put the printers through their paces.

The MAKE booth will spotlight some of the top performers, with the review team talking about features that elevated one printer over another, and what the price differences deliver in terms of performance and benefits.

Get your ticket today.

Mini Maker Faires

More than 70 are currently scheduled for this year, around the world. Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.

Coming up in the next few weeks:

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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