Maker Pro Newsletter #22

Maker Pro Newsletter #22

“You can’t wait for users to come to you. You have to go out and get them.”

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. Please send items to us at .

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Hardware Innovation Workshop Heading to New York

After two successful events on the West Coast, the Hardware Innovation Workshop is launching a New York edition: a one-day event, Sept. 18, at the New York Hall of Science.

(BTW, the Hack Things blog says that New York could be the next hardware epicenter.)

The Hardware Innovation Workshop is a combo deal: an opportunity to network with fellow maker pros and an intense program of tips and hints, best practices, and avenues to successfully navigate the maker pro landscape. It’s the ultimate “toolbox for maker pros.”

Topics and sessions will include:

  • Digital Manufacturing: Getting to Scale
  • Prototyping and Fabrication
  • Partnering to Get it Made
  • Wisdom of the Crowd: Crowdsourcing
  • Getting Started: Maker Pro Case Studies
  • Manufacturing & the New World Order
  • Maker-to-Market: Incubators & Accelerators

Reduced, “early bird” tickets are available through August 15.

Pitch Your Prototype for the Chance to Win Startup Cash

HIW New York will also include a Pitch Your Prototypes session, popular at last year’s West Coast version, when entrepreneurs get the chance to demonstrate their projects to the HIW audience. This time around, the winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize, and all finalists will have a presentation slot at World Maker Faire New York the following weekend. (Got a project? Submit it here.)

Ultrafine Emissions From 3D Printers

3D printers can produce potentially dangerous ultrafine particles, according to research conducted by the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

The rate of emissions is low: equivalent to grilling on an electric or gas range. Nevertheless, a paper based on the research suggests operating the machines in well-ventilated areas. The researchers also recommend additional, more focused research on the topic.

3D Printing Will Explode in 2014, Thanks to the Expiration of Key Patents

Online business publication Quartz reports that key patents that currently prevent competition in the market for the most advanced and functional 3D printers will expire in February 2014. This is according to Duann Scott, design evangelist at 3D printing company Shapeways. These expiring patents cover a technology known as “laser sintering,” the 3D printing technology, often referred to as “SLS,” that uses a directed energy beam to selectively sinter, or melt, certain areas of a powder bed in order to build an object in layers.

The Quartz article points out that the expiration of patents around another 3D printing technology, FDM, sparked a wave of new, innovative, low-cost machines like the ones manufactured by MakerBot. It predicts a similar trajectory for SLS 3D printing in 2014.

3Doodler, Cloned

One of the frequently cited downsides of manufacturing in China is the danger of getting your designs ripped off. Well, it looks like thathas happened to “the first 3D printing pen,” 3Doodler, which raised more than $2 million on Kickstarter.

A Manufacturing Site to Get Excited About

When MAKE recently asked kinetic artist Benjamin Cowden(@b_cowden) what ideas are currently exciting him, he, a site that puts designers in touch with manufacturers around the world. That excited us.

Shapeways Introduces New Material

Gold plated brass. Price: $35 per cubic centimeter. Available during a one-month trial.

Gold plated brass


3D-Printed Parts to the Rescue

A ukelele bridge, a bump knob for a weedwacker, a pulley for IKEA blinds … just three of the responses from readers to our call for stories about parts printed out on a 3D printer.

Martin Koch’s 3D-printed ukelele bridge on Thingiverse

How about you?

Have you used a 3D printer to create replacement parts, custom tools, or adaptations of existing objects?

Share your stories and images in the comments to the story we’ve linked to above. We’ll be picking our favorites to feature in our next 3D printing guide.

Martin’s uke with new 3D-printed bridge in place.

Is the Accelerator Bubble About to Burst?

Two recent articles, in Inc. and Bloomberg Businessweek, are suggesting that there are just too many of them. Both stories cite a study that showed that only two accelerators — Y Combinator andTechstars — had produced meaningful exits for company founders. The message, delivered by many quotable financial notables in both accounts: investigate an accelerator carefully before you give up equity in your fledgling startup.

Meanwhile accelerators continue to proliferate. Just this week,Flextronics, the electronics manufacturing services firm based in Singapore and San Jose, Calif., established its own accelerator program, Lab IX, to support “early stage disruptive technology companies incorporating hardware and software innovation.” Startups accepted into the program, which will be co-located with Flextronics’ Silicon Valley Product Innovation Center, will receive a comprehensive $500,000 package that includes seed funds, discounted services, access to equipment, and mentorship.

What to Expect When You’re Starting a Startup

While we’re on the topic of accelerators, Y Combinator co-founderPaul Graham (@paulg) has written a long blog post with a counterintuitive title: Do Things That Don’t Scale.

Graham describes how the startup process is usually uphill, slow to get going, and focused on a depressingly small number of users.

You get the feeling, reading this post, that Graham has seen too many young founders who assume that if their product is good enough, it will succeed on its own.

That can be a costly mistake, according to Graham.

“You can’t wait for users to come to you,” he writes. “You have to go out and get them.”

Is Mexico the new China?

Chris Anderson pointing to an image of 3D Robotics’ clean room in Tijuana, Mexico.

Chris Anderson (@chr1sa), of 3D Robotics and DIY Drones, beganhis presentation at last spring’s Hardware Innovation Workshop by talking about how he segued from the editorship of Wired magazine to the world of flying bots.

But about twenty minutes in, Anderson started talking up the advantages of manufacturing in Tijuana, Mexico, where 3D Roboticshas a manufacturing facility. It’s not just the shorter trips to the factory, he said, but the number of talented engineers who have experience working at the many electronics factories based in the region (your flat-screen TV was made in Mexico, Anderson confidently asserted). Anderson went so far as to describe the company’s “Mexican connection” as its secret weapon against its mostly Chinese competitors.

Other American companies are also choosing to “near source” their manufacturing to Mexico, according to Inc. magazine. Among the advantages: goods imported from Mexico are duty free, thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico also has a strong reputation for protecting intellectual property, a valuable advantage over China. And there’s that convenient hop for U.S. companies, particularly those based in the West.

Although Mexico’s wages are 40 percent higher than China’s, at about $3.50 an hour, Chinese factory wages are climbing 14 percent annually, according to Inc., which will push them 25 percent higher than Mexico’s in five years.

Downsides: security is a concern in Mexico, especially near the U.S. border, where carjackings and highway robberies are common. One entrepreneur who manufactures in Mexico, quoted by Inc., recommends looking for factories in industrial parks protected by armed security guards.

Makerspace News

Hackerspace Happenings

MAKE’s John Baichtal (@johnbaichtal) posted a Hackerspace Happenings blog item for July 21 that included a party at San Francisco’s Noisebridge; a new makerspace in Troy, N.Y.; and a dramatic expansion of a makerspace in Meriden, Conn.

He promises more updates whenever he gets enough news (hint, hint — it’s

In the meantime, there’s more makerspace news in MAKE:

  • A visit by Michael Colombo to a “make tank,” Brooklyn Research.
  • pointer to a profile of the emerging maker culture in West Oakland, Calif.
  • And an “early release ebook edition” of Makerspace Workbench by Adam Kemp.

Crowdfunding Leaderboard

Visionnaire pens, popular on Kickstarter

MAKE’s Curated Kickstarter Page

We’ve recently topped off our list of current favorite campaigns on Kickstarter. New entries include recycled fire hose mats and aspider tank robot toy.

Popular on Kickstarter

This week: high-design, low-cost (comparatively) Visionnaire pens.

Popular on Indiegogo

The Kite Mosquito Patch that allows humans to go virtually undetected by mosquitoes for up to 48 hours.


World Maker Faire New York

Less than two months until the show: Sept. 21–22. The Call for Makers is open until July 28 — that’s Sunday!

Need funds to polish your project? Apply for the popular Road to Maker Faire ChallengeWorld Maker Faire New York version, which will award one maker $2,500 to bring a project to New York. If you’ve got a project on the runway, consider applying.

Join the advance Street Team and earn two free tickets.

Featured Maker Faires

The fourth annual Maker Faire Detroit happens July 27–28 — this weekend!

Also, start making plans to participate in the first Maker Faire Rome, Oct. 3–6. It is for Europe at large, and will attract an international crowd from all over Europe and beyond. (You can watch a sneak preview here.)

Mini Maker Faires and More

More than 70 are currently scheduled for this year, around the world. Check the Maker Faire Map to find the closest one to you.

And way off in the wintery distance: RobotsConf, a two-day technology event for software developers who would like “an efficient and effective deep dive into the exciting world of hardware development.” The conference will be held December 6 and 7, 2013, on Amelia Island, Fla., just south of Georgia, 29 miles from the Jacksonville airport. The call for speakers is open until the end of the month.

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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