Maker Pro Newsletter – 12/12/13

“The secret to excellent design is excellent process.”

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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Sketchfab, a “YouTube for 3D Models,” Lands $2 Million Investment, Releases 3D Gold Bar

3D model sharing service Sketchfab just raised $2 million in a fundraising round.

To note the occasion, the company released an interactive, 3D-printable model of a gold bar, imprinted with the details of the deal.

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 9.57.02 AM

You can play with the embedded model here.

Based in Paris and New York, Sketchfab has grown quickly. An average of 300 object files are uploaded daily. Nearly 100,000 users have signed up; a total of 70,000 3D files are now on the site; it has 10 employees.

Engineers: Development Boards Reducing the Need for Custom Printed Circuit Boards


In a recent survey, nearly two-thirds of printed circuit board design engineers (64%) think development boards are reducing the need for custom PCB design.

The survey was conducted by CadSoft, the creators of the EAGLE software program used to make circuit board designs. The company released its findings in conjunction with its 25th anniversary.

The survey, conducted in October 2013, included responses from 100 professional engineers from 42 countries.

This is not necessarily bad news for CadSoft, since EAGLE is also used in the design of development boards and related peripherals.

“In cases where dev boards are used instead of designing a PCB from scratch, engineers will often need to design an interface board (such as a shield, cape, expansion, daughter card, etc.),” wrote Mark Toth, business development manager for CadSoft, in an email to MAKE. “With the BeagleBone Black, for example, many of the capes (interface cards) available today are being designed in EAGLE.”

Arduino, Adafruit, and Sparkfun are also heavy users of EAGLE.

Also of interest: three-quarters of respondents (74%) are targeting control system applications with their design, and almost half (46%) are involved in open source hardware.

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Misfit Wearables Raises $15.2, Targets Medical Technology

picture of Shine device

Shine, from Misfit Wearables.

Misfit Wearables raised $15.2 million to create its next device. Misfit Wearables CEO Sonny Vu told MobiHealthNews earlier this year that the company will likely focus its future development on medical devices.

Could be a good bet. Industrial designer Fernd van Engelen thinks that medical devices will be the next frontier for industrial engineers.

3D Systems Buys Ceramic Printing Firm, Figulo


Ceramics moved a little closer to the mainstream of 3D-printed materials with 3D Systems‘ acquisition of ceramic 3D printing firm Figulo. The purchase will enable 3D Systems to integrate ceramic 3D printing capability into their Cubify line of printers, and its cloud printing service, Quickparts.

The Next Big Thing in 3D Printing: Materials


The next big thing in 3D printing could be materials. Anna Kaziunas France (@akaziuna), Digital Fabrication Editor of Maker Media, considers the idea after listening to a talk by Matt Stultz (@mattstultz).


HP is starting to talk about its plans for getting into 3D printing. Right now, they’ve got a 5-foot-high “monster” 3D printer in the lab, some secret material, and a business model that sounds like a cross between an industrial version of Shapeways and Kinkos.

* The Factory in a Day project aims to get robots working in small companies within 24 hours.

* The largest incubator in the world could be coming to a converted Parisian train station, Fast Company reports.

* Two brave individuals have attempted to assemble comprehensive lists of Internet of Things projects: Matt Turck (@mattturck), andMike Nicholls (@mikenicholls88) at Startup88.

* Fans of the brainwave-controlled cat ears, which received a workout from the MAKE editorial staff at this year’s Maker Faire Bay Area, will be interested to know that the same company is working on a brainwave-controlled camera.

* An all-star panel considers: Is this the end of Moore’s Law?


Design Professor Tackles Ice Cream Scoop, Crowdfunding


How an ice cream scoop evolves.

The $39 Belle-V Ice Cream Scoop is a hardware project you can learn from.

It originated with Karl Ulrich (@ktulrich), a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, who teaches a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on product development. He partnered with Palo Alto-based design firm Lunar to provide a cool industrial design. Together they launched a Kickstarter campaign that brought in nearly $65,000, more than 12 times its original $5,000 goal.

Both Wired and the design blog Core77 teased out the lessons from the way Ulrich approached the project.

“My main message for new designers is that the secret to excellent design is excellent process,” he told his students.

If you want to go deeper, you can sign up for Ulrich’s free online course: “Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society.” It’s too late to join this fall’s session, which is already in progress, but you can put it on your watch list.

Building a Business on 3D Printing


Kacie Hultgren of Pretty Small Things uses two MakerBots to create scale models of set designs.

In an excerpt from the MAKE: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014 (available, btw, in Maker Shed), four 3D printing entrepreneurs talk about how they built businesses around 3D printers.

The article features dollmaker Alice Taylor (@wonderlandblog), jeweler John Allwine (@johnallwine), artist Cosmo Wenman(@CosmoWenman), and scenic designer Kacie Hultgren(@KacieHultgren). 


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:

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DC Denison is the editor of The Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection of makers and business. That means hardware startups, new products, and market trends.

The former technology editor of The Boston Globe, DC is also interested in ebook experimentation and content management systems.

One of the places where can be found online is Google+ (which I'm adding here only because I want to see if by adding "rel=author" and "rel=me" to those two links I can get Google to display my picture in its search results.)

Hey, it works!

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