Maker Pro Newsletter – 11/21/13

Maker Pro Newsletter – 11/21/13

“The end of ‘Do Not Touch.’”

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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MAKE Survey Takes Snapshot of Consumer 3D Printing

To accompany the release of the Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing, MAKE conducted a survey on consumer 3D printing.

Digital fabrication editor Anna Kaziunas France (@akaziunacommented on the findings in MAKE, highlighting revealing data points such as the percentage of respondents (MAKE and Maker Pro newsletter subscribers) who own, or who have access to, a 3D printer (below).

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 10.08.37 AM

Other revelations include the percentage of respondents (the vast majority) who are printing useful, working items, and the brand dominance of MakerBot (91 percent of respondents were familiar with the name, compared to just 50 percent for the runner-up, Printrbot).

Anna addressed one comment to the 3D manufacturers in the audience: pointing out that the survey indicated that the most important product attributes for consumers who are thinking about buying a printer are value for the money (85%) and durability/integrity of the product (83%).

littleBits Raises $11.1 Million


The littleBits base kit

littleBits, the New York-based open hardware startup that makes libraries of electronic modules that snap together with magnets, raised $11.1 million from a group of nearly 20 investors.

The company raised $3.65 million in 2012, and $850,000 in 2011, bringing its total funding to date to over $15 million.

littleBits was founded by Ayah Bdeir (@ayahbdeir), who blogged about the investment on Wednesday. The company now has nine kits and 29 employees.

A week earlier, Ayah discussed her company in a more casual setting: in an Ask Me Anything on Reddit.


More 3D Printing for Final Products


3D printing is for prototypes, right?

That’s not the trend at the high end of additive manufacturing, according to one of the industry’s most prominent annual reports.

The Wohlers Report 2013, just out, reports that the use of 3D printing for the production of parts for final products is continuing to follow a decade-long growth trend. Final part production rose to 28.3% of the $2.2 billion spent last year on 3D printing products and services worldwide. In 2003, it represented only 3.9% of revenues, as shown in the chart above.

The use of 3D printing, aka ”additive manufacturing,” for final part production is growing in several diverse market segments, including metal copings for dental crowns and bridges, orthopedic implants, and jewelry. The aerospace industry is another sector that’s 3D printing parts.

Ultimately, the production of parts for final products will far surpass prototyping applications for 3D-printed parts, said Tim Caffrey, senior consultant at Wohlers Associates. This is because the ratio of prototypes to production parts is often 1:1,000 or greater.

“The money is in manufacturing, not prototyping,” said Caffrey. “The opportunity for more commercial production activity from additive manufacturing is immense.”


Raspberry Pi

2 million Raspberry Pis — now out in the wild.

Microsoft released 3D Builder, a touch screen 3D app.

* Our friends at le FabShop in France sent us a note that the French General Directorate for Competitiveness, Industry and Services (DGCIS) is launching a major study on French and international digital workshops (FabLabs, makerspaces, open workshops, etc.) If you are involved with a maker facility, read this letter, check out their database, and help fill in the blanks.

* Two million Raspberry Pis are now in the wild.

Ultimakerthe most popular 3D printer in Europe according to one survey,  has reorganized.

* The Fabaloo blog visited Choc Edge, which claims to be the first chocolate 3D printer.

* Britain’s Precious project wants to make the U.K. a center for 3D-printed jewelry.

* Coming soon: a silcone 3D printer.

AlphaLab Gear, a new hardware and robotic accelerator, has opened in Pittsburgh.

* The Maker Pro Newsletter will not be published next week in observance of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll see you again on Thursday, Dec. 5.


Jumpstart Your 3D Printer with Free Models


A 3D scan of the world’s first successful airplane, the Wright Flyer, is now available from the Smithsonian Institution.

Is it getting easier to get a 3D printing project off the ground?

It sure seems that way, with more free models available that allow you to start a project further down the runway.

The latest collection to come online: 3D scans from the Smithsonian. MAKE contributor Todd Blatt reported on the conference in Washington, D.C., that launched the new initiative, which includes scans of the first successful airplane, a few Abraham Lincoln life masks, ancient weapons, and whale fossils.

The message from the Smithsonian: 3D scanning will dramatically expand access to, and interaction with, its collection.

One result: “The end of ‘Do Not Touch.’”

Also upgraded and expanded: the free models from the Autodesk 123D library.

Need more?

3D Printer has a bunch of sites stocked with free models.

If you are willing to broaden your search to marketplaces that include models for sale, Mathilde Berchon (@makingsociety), of Making Society, has 37 for you to consider.

Should Your Next Robot be an Exoskeleton?


If the humanoid robot project of your dreams seems daunting, perhaps you should reduce your focus: to one body part, to “assistance” rather than replacement, and “normal” human activity over superhuman.

That worked for the Titan Arm team, which just won the James Dyson Award for student engineering.

Kubota is also developing exoskeletons to assist humans in everyday activities, like picking fruit

If you want to get ambitious, you can make your exoskeleton mind-controlled.


Mini Maker Faires

Nearly a hundred a year to choose from, around the world. Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.

Coming up through the end of this year:


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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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