Maker Pro Newsletter – 10/31/13

Maker Pro Newsletter – 10/31/13

Kickstarter does not penalize you for being late.

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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Robot Hacks, New Maker Sessions Series, Starts Sunday

Gael Langevin's open source, 3D-printed InMoov robot will be our guest on November 13th.

Gael Langevin’s open source, 3D-printed InMoov robot will make an appearance at Robot Hacks on November 13.

Robot Hacks, the latest program in MAKE’s Maker Sessions series, kicks off this Sunday, November 3 at 1pm ET with a live event and Google+ hangout from Olin College in Needham, Mass.

If you’re in range, free tickets are available to attend the event live. Otherwise join the Robot Hacks Community to watch the program on G+, and contribute any questions, comments, or ideas.

This new program launches with two components: discussions with masters in the field of robotics and robot design, and the enlisting and equipping of community members to build and share robotics projects of their own. Those interested in participating can apply to create a team and receive our package of robotics components, parts, and materials.

If you have a hackerspace, makerspace, library, or robotics club — or any place/organization where makers gather — join the series as a team and receive materials to participate in your local community with other makers. Then tune in together to the weekly Robot Hack sessions.

The program kicks off Sunday (that’s November 3 at 1pm ET) with a live event and Google+ Hangout from Olin College with Intel Futurist and 21st Century Robot author Brian David Johnson, illustrator Sandy Winkelman, designer/fabricator Wayne Losey, and Olin College Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Design Dave Barrett.

Joining remotely will be robotics engineer and founder of Artisans Asylum Gui Cavalcanti, USC PhD research fellow Ross Mead, and more.

Robot Hacks then continues with additional sessions on November 6 with Michael Overstreet, 13 with Gael Langevin and Chuck Fletcher, and 20, where participating teams will check in and show their work.

To review, you can get involved with this new Maker Session four ways:

Follow and contribute comments on Twitter: @make #robothacks


'Harvey', the HV-100 nursery and greenhouse robot, from Harvest Automation

“Harvey”, the HV-100 nursery and greenhouse robot, from Harvest Automation

HP plans to enter the 3D printer market.

Back to the future: an Italian team launches a project to 3D print in marble.

A proposed 3D printer with five extrusion heads soars on Kickstarter.

Motorola will produce modular smartphones with Project Ara.

Protocow launches a “Shopify for 3D printing services.”

3D Systems has upgraded its 3D design suite with an advanced CAD program, Cubify Design.

The American Library Association, in partnership with Instructables, introduced, a website tailored to librarians interested in implementing makerspace projects in their libraries.

FiberFix hopes to be duct tape’s stronger brother.

Harvest Automation, which has launched “Harvey,” a robot to help with greenhouse and nursery management, raised $11.8 million from investors.


8 Reasons Your Crowdfunded Hardware Project Will be Late

Zach Supalla (@zsupalla), the founder of the Spark, an Arduino-compatible, wi-fi enabled, cloud-powered development platform, admits that when it comes to lateness, he’s writing from experience.

His article for the online magazine Svbtle thoughtfully considers why he, and other hardware entrepreneurs, tend to be tardy.

He offers 7 reasons:

1. Founders are optimistic.
2. Prototypes are rougher than you may think.
3. Making a product “manufacturable” is tricky.
4. Tooling for injection molding is difficult and challenging.
5. Lead times for components will surprise you.
6. Supply chain partners often share your optimism.
7. Project scope tends to expand.

Spark advisor Bunnie Huang (@bunniestudios) adds another one.

8. Kickstarter does not penalize you for being late.

So how do you handle this inevitability? Supalla recommends transparency: be honest with your backers and customers, and share what’s going on.

Spark’s own status page is a good model.

3 Ways That Affordable CNC Routers Could Re-Make Industry

This AtFAB chair, available as a downloadable digital file to be manufactured locally, is an example of one of the capabilities that Jerry Davis believes could re-make industry.

This AtFAB chair, available as a downloadable digital file to be manufactured locally, is an example of one of the capabilities that Jerry Davis believes could re-make industry.

Business professor Jerry Davis zooms out for a long view of the ways that CNC routers and 3D printers could change manufacturing in the 100kGarages blog.

First, he offers a sweeping view of how the modern corporation developed. Then he considers three ways the availability of low cost tools like CNC routers could have a “transformational” impact on how we organize business in the U.S. In the foreseeable future, he predicts, the per-unit cost to create bookshelves with an inexpensive CNC router will be comparable to the cost of buying them at Ikea, with the bonus of customizability.

Ikea, in fact, is something of a transitional institution in Davis’ view: it does not sell furniture to its customers, but rather sells the ingredients and the recipes for assembling them. It’s not a long way from that to the downloadable designs of AtFAB, with its motto, “Ship information, not stuff.”

Here are three ways this could play out, according to Davis:

1. Mega retailers, like Walmart and Amazon, could build “universal fab facilities” in which products that are ordered online are created and distributed from more-or-less central hubs that replace the current system of warehouses.

2. Grassroots federations of independent business people (like 100kGarages), could organize around the process of creating products.

3. Following the precedent of farmers’ co-ops, manufacturers could collaborate at a local level to outfit a general fab shop with shared ownership.

Another transitional model that Davis likes: Ace Hardware, which became a cooperative in 1973 when its founder retired and sold the company to its local retailers, creating a hybrid that allows both local autonomy and the economies of scale that comes with large size.

5 Crowdfunding Tips from Play-i’s Fast Launch

An image of Play-i's Yana robot, illustrating points #3 and #4, below.

An image of Play-i’s Yana robot, illustrating points #3 and #4, below.

Educational robot company Play-i launched its crowdfunding campaign earlier this week. After a single day the young company had raised more than half of its campaign goal.

The Hack Things blog captured 5 best practices the Play-i team employed.

1. Right product, right time. Play-i is surfing the “teach programming to kids” wave.

2. Create a waiting list of customers before you launch. The Play-i team conducted sneak previews and in-person demonstrations in advance of their crowdfunding campaign, building a list of potential backers.

3. Make sure you have an attractive, polished industrial design (see picture, above).

4. Prep the press. A “media kit,” with plenty of images, is easily available on the Play-i site. Hack Things also speculates that the Play-i team offered advance demos to important publications under “embargo” agreements that prevented publication before the crowdfunding start date.

5. Partner. Play-i got influential organizations, such as, to share the launch announcement with their supporters, dramatically expanding the pool of potential supporters.

10 Lessons for Farm Drones

The 3D Robotics Y6 multicopter, which has been flying over vineyards in Northern California to monitor ripeness. Photo credit: Sally French, 3D Robotics.

The 3D Robotics Y6 multicopter, which has been flying over vineyards in Northern California to monitor ripeness. Photo credit: Sally French, 3D Robotics.

Chris Anderson (@chr1sa) of 3D Robotics has been touting agriculture as the first, best use of non-military drones.

Recently, in the Robohub blog, he listed ten lessons he learned launching drones over farmland.

The first five:

1. Every crop is different. There is no universal crop survey solution, he writes, and it will probably be specialists in each particular crop type who ultimately deliver solutions to farmers.

2. Multicopters, not planes. For one thing, few places to land.

3. Phones/tablets, not laptops. Farmers don’t want to be dragging laptops around the farm.

4. One-click auto missions, not “flying.” Those same farmers don’t have time to navigate drones.

5. Fly the camera, not the aircraft. Pictures are the deliverable, not whiz-bang technology.

More at Robuhub.

The 12 Most Popular Items from the Hammacher Schlemmer Catalog

A garment steamer, one of the most popular items on HS

A garment steamer, one of the most popular items in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog.

Does your product have consumer appeal?

Do you think it’s the kind of item that will leap from the pages of the iconic Hammacher Schlemmer catalog?

Hey, what kind of item actually does succeed in Hammacher Schlemmer, anyway?

Gizmodo found out.

(Hint: it’s not the floating hot tub, or golf cart hovercraft.)

Among the winners: two analog-to-digital converters, and a pair of devices to sharpen up the creases in your clothing.


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 month:

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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