Maker Pro Newsletter #15

Maker News
Maker Pro Newsletter #15

“In five years, Kickstarter looks largely the same — but the rest of the world looks a lot more like Kickstarter.”

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, innovators, along with technology and market trends. Please send items to us at

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Report: 3D Printing Industry Thriving; Low-Cost Printer Market Growth Slows

Wohlers Associates, a consulting group that covers 3D printing and additive manufacturing, released the 18th annual edition of its Wohlers Report. The results were bullish, as expected. The market for 3D printing in 2012, consisting of all products and services worldwide, grew 28.6% to $2.204 billion. This is up from $1.714 billion in 2011, when it grew 29.4%. Growth was 24.1% in 2010.

By 2017, Wohlers Associates believes that the sale of 3D printing products and services will approach $6 billion worldwide. By 2021, they forecast the industry to reach $10.8 billion.

It took the 3D printing industry 20 years to reach $1 billion in size. In five additional years, the industry generated its second $1 billion. It is expected to double again, to $4 billion, in 2015.

The only surprise: the growth of the low-cost (under $5,000) “personal” 3D printer market segment, which has averaged 346% each year from 2008 through 2011. In 2012, the increase cooled significantly to an estimated 46.3%.

Estimated numbers of under-$5000 3D printers sold

Estimated numbers of under-$5,000 3D printers sold.

One reason for the slowdown, according to principal consultant and president Terry Wohlers (@TerryWohlers): much of the “low-hanging fruit” has been picked, since he believes that most of these machines are being sold to a relatively small cohort of hobbyists, do-it-yourselfers, hackers, and engineering students. Another factor: few industries, or industrial segments, can sustain growth of 300% after the first few years. “Growth of 46% is still quite good,” Wohlers said.

New Platforms, Marketplaces, and Libraries

It keeps getting easier to buy, sell, and share 3D designs. Four new services have recently come online with ambitious marketplaces for 3D designers and makers.

Online file sharing platform Teleport It 3D lets users “teleport” ready-to-print 3D designs to anyone with a personal 3D printer. The service pre-slices everything on its servers and uses email to notify the recipient that the file is available.

airflow funnel available via Azavy

An airflow funnel, available via Azavy, for $12.

Azavy has launched an online store for buying and selling 3D-printed items with the goal of “crowdsourcing manufacturing.”

Sunglass just bulked up its Sunglass parts library, an application on this web-based platform that now gives engineers access to over one million 3D manufacturing parts.

FABfabbers is pursuing a “Github for 3D” model.

And coming soon: the folks behind London’s self-proclaimed “largest 3D printer store in the world,” iMakr, have announced plans to open a 3D design marketplace, called My Mini Factory, in mid June.

Cubify’s New “Draw” App Lowers the Bar to 3D Creation

There’s a new entrant in the race to make the world’s easiest 3D design creation software: Cubify Draw, a 3D printing app for Apple’s iOS devices from 3D Systems. The free app allows you to doodle a 3D design with your finger, enhance it, and upload the drawing directly to Cubify or have the STL file emailed to you for printing. Expect the average shoe size of 3D printing enthusiasts to continue shrinking as 3D design tools becomes more user-friendly.

3D Printing Meme of the Week

As the “3D-printed gun” story exited the main media stage, it was replaced by a new, sunnier 3D printing-related story: how doctors in Michigan were able to use 3D printing technology to create a complicated splint that could be used to help support a baby’s failing airways. The research, originally published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was picked up by literally hundreds of publications — from Time to Boing Boing to CNN — restarting the discussion of 3D printing’s future on a different trajectory.

Upgrade Your Maker Skills

Are you looking for a way to enhance your current maker skills, or learn entirely new ones? MAKE just announced a whole new way to learn: Maker Training Camps. These collaborative online courses are designed to help you learn a new skill or build a specific project. Camps use both Google+ Hangouts and online communities to make it easy to work with other students and teachers, and are generally between one and five weeks in length with a lecture, office hours, and a project each week. Costs range from free to $150. The first three courses, all starting June 1, are: Introduction to Arduino, Introduction to Raspberry Pi, and Design for Desktop 3D Printing.

Note: These camps are not to be confused with this summer’s free, virtual Maker Camp for teens, hosted by MAKE and Google+. This series kicks off July 8. All teens within your sphere of influence should be notified.



The 3D Print Barometer

Having a difficult time deciding whether to 3D print your project? Let Materialise help you out, via their 3D Print Barometer, an interactive guide that will tell you whether your part is a good candidate for 3D printing. It paints in broad strokes, naturally, but it’s a fun exercise.

Two questions from the 3D Print Barometer

Two questions from the 3D Print Barometer.

Making Makerspaces

If you are planning a makerspace, or you’re already managing one, MAKE has launched a series that’s worth following: “Making Makerspaces” by Gui Calvalcanti (@robogui), founder of Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, Mass.

Cavalcanti, who has taught a number of workshops on the topic with Artisan Asylum’s acting director Molly Rubenstein, has a gift for zeroing in on the right questions, in the right order.

His first post on the topic, for example, addresses the different varieties of hackerspace/makerspace/FabLab/TechShop. The spirited give-and-take in the comments prove that the distinctions are more than semantic.

The second installment dives into what he’s discovered is the #1 question that rises in the minds of people who are planning a makerspace: What to do about insurance?

How Much Should I Charge?

Another common maker question gets a thorough MAKE treatment: How much should I charge for my products? The author, DIY rocket scientist and student of business Stephen Murphey (@stephenmurphEy), starts with a little theory about “cost of goods sold” (COGS), but quickly moves on to harvest real-world pricing stories from hardware startups like Faraday Bikes, gTar, CameraMator, Brain Jr., Sifteo, Pocobor, and Custom Power Solar.

Reading through the strategies, it’s striking how many factors go into pricing decisions: from cost to competition to focus group data. It’s not neat, but Murphey delivers on his promise: to show how hardware startups really price their products.

Buy 3D Printer, Reduce Costs by 97 Percent

Open source optical chopper wheels

Open source optical chopper wheels.

The open source hardware movement + 3D printing = a cost savings of 97%.

That’s the equation in optical laboratory equipment, according to a recently published academic paper.

In this case, the open source hardware is laboratory equipment for an undergraduate optics teaching facility: things like lens holders and filter brackets. By using 3D printers and open source designs, Joshua Pearce, an associate professor of materials science and engineering and electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Tech, and his team point out how the cost of outfitting a lab can be dramatically reduced. They published a paper on their project in PLOS One from the Public Library of Science.

A standard commercial filter holder, for example, costs between $58 and $80. The cost to 3D print an open design of the same piece of equipment (filament + electricity): 40 cents.

The authors of the paper claim that 30 setups in an undergraduate optics lab would cost around $15,000 if the equipment was purchased from proprietary manufacturers. Using open source hardware designs and 3D printers, that drops to $500.

One probable result of this dramatic cost savings: “access to experimental setups in far more locations (e.g. high schools).”

Sounds like a big win for everybody.


New varieties of crowdfunding continue to develop, creating more specialized platforms for makers — if the new entrants can attract a critical mass of backers.

Wired recently surveyed the landscape, highlighting platforms with interesting variations on the now-classic Kickstarter model. Featured: CrowdIt, Crowd Supply, Christie Street, and the soon-to-launch Jump Start City.

Of course Kickstarter is still leading the pack, and co-founder Yancey Strickler (@ystrickler) talked to PopSci about the platform’s plans. Worth noting: the service does not intend to switch to an equity-based model once the SEC implements the JOBS Act.

“We believe the real disruption comes from people supporting things because they like them,” Strickler said, “rather than finding things that produce a good return on investment.”

Strickler also speculated on what Kickstarter will look like in five years.

“The ultimate goal is that in five years, Kickstarter looks largely the same — but the rest of the world looks a lot more like Kickstarter,” he said. “We’re already seeing that happen, in the sense that there are now things all around us that were created by us and by our peers.”

And, by the way, how’s that equity funding JOBS Act coming along in its journey through the SEC?

The latest advice from the front: Don’t hold your breath.


World Maker Faire New York

Let’s start the countdown now, with less than four months to go.

The exact dates: Sept. 21-22. The Call for Makers launches in June.

Featured Maker Faires

Maker Faire Kansas City is taking place June 29 and 30 in Union Station. The Call for Makers has just been extended to June 10.

The fourth annual Maker Faire Detroit happens on July 27 and 28 at The Henry Ford. The Call for Makers is open through June 7.

Also, start making plans to participate in the first Maker Faire Rome, Oct. 3-6, 2013. Event curators Massimo Banzi (@mbanzi) and Riccardo Luna(@riccardowired) are producing the event with World Wide Rome, a Rome Chamber of Commerce initiative, but the fair is really for Europe at large and will attract an international crowd from all over Europe and beyond. The Call for Makers is open from now until June 2. If you’re a maker, performer, or presenter, Maker Faire Rome wants to hear from you.

Mini Maker Faires

More than 40 of them currently scheduled for this year, around the world. Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.

MAKE’s 2013 Hardware Innovation Workshop

If you missed MAKE’s 2013 Hardware Innovation Workshop, no worries — we recorded all the presentations, and our Maker Pro Newsletter subscribers will have early access. Here’s one to get you started: Rob Faludi kicked off the Workshop with an excellent talk called “Liking the Guests.” Check back next week for access to more content.

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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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