Maker Pro Newsletter – 10/24/13

Maker Pro Newsletter – 10/24/13

“Market research is a full-contact sport.”

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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New Robot From Unbounded Robotics


The UBR-1 from Unbounded Robotics

Unbounded Robotics, the spin-off from Willow Garage, released a new, mobile robot, the UBR-1, based on the open source ROS software.

At $35,000, the UBR-1 is priced at less than a tenth the cost of the $400,000 flagship robot from Willow Garage, the PR2.

IEEE Spectrum puts the new mobile manipulation platform in perspective, and talks to the team.

3D Printing Frontiers: 5-Axis, 6-Axis, 4-Wheeled


Le FabShop’s mobile unit, ready to print on the road.

A German production company that specializes in injection molding machines, Arburg, has created a 3D printer that has an extrusion head capable of 5-axis motion, and uses droplets of material instead of a stream of filament.

With players like Arburg getting into the game, the gap between additive manufacturing and injection molding continues to shrink.

Meanwhile researchers at the University of Southern California have upped the axis capability by one, developing a 3D printer with six-axis movement. The prototype can build directly on curved surfaces, for example.

Finally, the adventurous French 3D printing outfit Le FabShop made a short, fanciful film imagining the possibilities of mobile 3D printers: for plumbers who need to produce a hard-to-find part on the spot, to architects who have to print a model on the way to visit a client, to dads who want to quickly print a sand shovel at the beach.



Read about a hackerspace in a shipping container, in Hackerspace Happenings.

A new Shapeoko 2 CNC mill is available from creator Edward Ford and Inventables. MAKE has the story, and the backstory.

Formlabs, which raised nearly $3 million last year on Kickstarter to produce a high resolution consumer 3D printer, announced that it has raised an additional $19 million from a group of investors.

German 3D printer firm Voxeljet had a successful IPO, establishing itself alongside 3D Systems, ExOne, and Stratasys in the pantheon of publicly funded 3D printing companies. 3D Printer explains how the new entrant differs from its competitors.

The Drone User Group Network, which is trying to impress upon the public that drones are good for much more than bombing raids, is offering a cash prize for the most socially beneficial drone project.

For the latest from spaces with makers, read John Baichtal’s (@johnbaichtal) new edition of Hackerspace Happenings in MAKE.


Study: Open Source Hardware on the Rise


From a survey by Newark element14.

Open source hardware has hit the mainstream, according to a recent post on the EDN Network.

Proof: A survey by Newark element14 shows that more than half (56%) of professional engineers are more likely to use open source hardware such as Arduino and BeagleBone in 2013. Among hobbyists, that figure jumps to 82%.

Explanation: Wilson Lee, Newark element14′s director of product marketing: “Engineers have historically been hesitant to fully embrace open source, but the sheer availability of open source tools and resources has mitigated many of the risks associated with designing in open source for commercial use.”

Example: Newark element14′s own Open Source Hardware community.

Crowdfunding Advice: Do Your Market Research; Tap Your “Secondary” Market


The Afterburner light from Fortified

If you’re working on a hardware product, Fortified Bike Alliance, which just completed its second successful Kickstarter campaign, has a message for you: ”Market research is a full-contact sport.”

In an article for Fast Company about the company’s bicycle lights, co-founder Slava Menn (@slavamenn) urges entrepreneurs to go beyond too-easy online surveys.

“We almost messed this up,”  Menn writes.

After emailing product renderings to hundreds of customers, they told us they loved the design. The problem was, they hadn’t seen the physical product. After walking into bike shops with a 3D-printed prototype, customers told us it was too big and clunky. If we didn’t spend one hour showing the product in a bike shop, we would’ve lost thousands of hours and dollars on a failed product launch.

“We wouldn’t have known what questions to ask had we not first stepped out of the building, and qualitatively observed our customers,” says Menn.

Another crowdfunding reality you should be aware of: the “30 percent rule.”

If you can reach 30% of your Kickstarter total, you’re pretty likely to make it to 100%.

The reason: that 30% shows that your network is large enough to break out beyond your tight circle of family and friends.

Bobbie Johnson (@readmatter) co-founder of the journalism site, Matter, tells how his campaign was able to cross that 30 percent threshold in a post on Medium.

Matter’s strategy: tap a secondary network of people, with significant credentials, to give the project their imprimaturs. You can see how Matter used that to power its successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.


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:

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


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