Maker Pro Newsletter #27

Maker Pro Newsletter #27

“Everyone will be interested in making things instead of buying things.”

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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New York’s “Next Top Makers” Winner to be Announced at Hardware Innovation Workshop

Late last year, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg(@MikeBloomberg) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) challenged the city’s makers to compete in a year-long New York Next Top Makers Challenge.

The goal of the challenge was to support design-driven production, promote a culture of innovation, and foster the development of new businesses in New York City.

It appears to be working. Fifty-five ideas were submitted and evaluated by a panel of judges; the public was also invited to vote. A few months ago, six finalists were named. All six are now finishing up a five-month studio residency, with assistance and mentorship from a wide variety of New York City-based businesses.

Now one of them will be selected as the Grand Prize winner, which comes with an $11,000 cash prize. And that winner will be announced at MAKE’s Hardware Innovation Workshop on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at a special evening reception at the New York Hall of Science.

The setting is appropriate. The New York version of the popular maker pro event focuses on industrial design, features local hardware startups and investors from East Coast venture firms who specialize in hardware, and promotes entrepreneurs with early-stage products and prototypes.

This one-day event, presented by GE and sponsored by ShopBot and Engadget, will feature over 30 speakers with expertise in digital fabrication and manufacturing, 3D printing, and industrial design.

To register for the 2013 MAKE Hardware Innovation Workshop at NYSCI in Queens, NY, visit:

FounderDating Adds Hardware Vertical

FounderDating, the site that helps entrepreneurs find each other to create startup teams, has added a hardware edition.

Started in San Francisco in 2009, the service originally focused on software; recently it branched out to include an educational vertical.

The new hardware focus is a clear sign that a significant percentage of the site’s audience is interested in starting hardware-focused businesses.

FounderDating is organized like a dating site. You can apply on the site for an invitation. If accepted, there’s a one-time $50 application fee.

About fifty percent of the network’s members are engineers; the other half are in business development, design, and other startup skills.


The site’s hardware offerings include new searchable areas of interest, skill sets, and targeted types of people: for example, industrial designers and mechanical engineers.

FounderDating’s knowledge sharing section also now has more questions on topics like manufacturing and 3D printing.

To support its new hardware initiative, FounderDating has partnered with TechShop and PCH International’s Highway1 hardware accelerator and consultancy for networking events and office hours.

One reason for the new vertical, according to founder Jessica Alter(@jalter): a realization that “it’s exponentially more difficult for hardware founding teams, as so many pieces have to come together,” she said. ”Rarely do these people just happen upon each other day-to-day. FounderDating gives them a platform to connect the right people together to get hardware companies started the right way.”

Digital Fabrication: Q’s & A’s

There’s a new resource in town for makers and hackers: Digital Fabrication — a beta Q&A site on StackExchange (which you may recognize from its more popular Q&A site, StackOverflow) for professionals and advanced makers who design, prototype, and fabricate physical things. This is a community-led initiative, supported by organizations such as GrabCAD, MakerBot, Quirky, GE, and more.

Stack Exchange is giving Maker Pro Newsletter subscribers early access to the beta site, and a chance to help shape this resource for Maker Pros. If you do not have an account on StackExchange already, create one here. Then, use this private invite link to register for the Digital Fabrication beta. There’s only a few days left in the private beta, so if you’re interested in supporting this effort, log in now to ask your questions.


  • Dragon Innovation’s new crowdsourcing site, announced earlier this summer, is live today (Thursday), with eight hardware campaigns.
  • A new service has been launched offering a way to protect your 3D designs from unwanted copying. FabSecure joins Authentise, described in last week’s newsletter, in the emerging 3D design protection business. MakerBot is a partner.
  • 3D Hubs, the Dutch company that has been quietly building a beta network of local 3D printers in European cities, has received some financial backing and is going global.
  • A majority of the employees of early robotics innovator Willow Garage have been redeployed to founder Scott Hassan’s new company, Suitable Technologies, to support its remote personal presence robot, Beam.
  • Another company is lining up to offer a combo 3D printer and scanner: Radiant Fabrication is planning a Kickstarter campaign later this month for Lionhead. That makes four new products in the growing “hybrid 3D printer/personal fabricator” sector.
  • TechShop Menlo Park, which has been forced to relocate by Halloween, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise $250,000 to help move to a new location and build a brand new TechShop.


Material Frontiers at the Inside 3D Printing Conference


Printed with paper, using an Mcor 3D printer.

Plastic is the default, sure, but 3D printing’s innovative edges keep pushing out into new, unexpected materials.

Like paper. That’s the medium used by Mcor Technologies’ 3D printers. Mcor’s printers use plain, vanilla copy paper to create surprisingly durable, colorful, and tactile models.

Researchers at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) are pushing 3D printing in another direction: towards electronics. Using specially concocted inks, composed of nanomaterials and suspended silicon chips, PARC scientists are experimenting with printing electronic components like sensors, transistors, light-emitters, smart tags, flexible batteries, memory, and smart labels.

Leaders of both projects will be explaining their technologies at the upcoming Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo that will be held in San Jose, Sept. 17–18 (metal, ceramics, and plastic will also be represented).

The event, programmed by Cornell professor Hod Lipson, will feature talks by executives, researchers, investment professionals, and technologists.


Keynote addresses will be delivered by S. Scott Crump, chairman of the board and chief innovation officer of Stratasys, and Avi Reichental, president and CEO of 3D Systems.

Lipson will present his view on the future of 3D printing in a talk on the second day.

BTW, Maker Pro Newsletter readers get a 15% discount on a full conference pass to the Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo.Just enter promo code: MAKE.

Project Aura: Giving a New Bike Product a Push


It’s not often that makers who are deeply involved in creating a hardware product are able to step back and give a blow-by-blow account of how their thinking has evolved.

But the two co-founders of Project Aura, Jonathan Ota and Ethan Frier, have done just that, in a 3-part series in the design blog, Core77.

Project Aura is a product that illuminates the wheels of your bicycle, increasing its visual presence on the road.

The two co-founders, who began the project as sophomores at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, jumped into the idea with no hardware training whatsoever.

Particularly interesting is how they have constantly readjusted what they could do, and what they were better off paying others to do. Their struggles with the patent process will also resonate with maker pros.

MAKE’s John Baichtal (@johnbaichtal) came across the series and recommends it highly for anyone who is contemplating launching a hardware startup.

Designer Janne Kyttanen: Passion Over Business Acumen


A lamp designed by Janne Kyttanen

It probably helps if you’re an amazing designer, but Janne Kyttanen, who is the co-founder of 3D-printing-powered studioFreedom of Creation and the creative director of 3D Systems, is a fountain of contrarian business advice.

In his view, passion trumps business acumen.

It has worked for him.

In a video interview with the design blog Dezeen, Kyttanen admits, “I started my company with a completely bogus business plan.”

Nevertheless, ten years later it was purchased by 3D Systems, which then named Kyttanen creative director.

Although he’s associated most closely with 3D printed designs, Kyttanen believes that the new technology is part of a much larger change in attitude, accelerated by the availability of inexpensive tools.

In another interview with Dezeen, he predicts that in the future, “Everyone will be interested in making things instead of buying things.”


World Maker Faire New York

Two weeks until the show: Sept. 21–22.

Take advantage of a new deal we’re offering with our friends at Engadget. A single $50 ticket gets you into Maker Faire andEngadget Expand NY 2013, Engadget’s consumer technology event that will be held Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 9–10 in New York City.

Also consider arriving a few days earlier to attend the Hardware Innovation Workshop.

Featured Maker Faires

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

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

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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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