Maker Pro Newsletter #9

Maker News
Maker Pro Newsletter #9


“To not be amazed is to be numb to the technology of our day.”

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 Click here to subscribe!


TechShop Raleigh-Durham to Close

TechShop Raleigh-Durham is closing, effective Saturday, April 20.

In an email to MAKE, Dan Woods, chief operating officer and VP of business development at TechShop, said “In the final analysis, it is obvious that the location is not convenient enough to the vast majority of the maker community in the Raleigh-Durham market.”

TechShop Raleigh-Durham opened in 2008 as an independently owned makerspace, and was later acquired by TechShop, Inc. in late 2011. In the sixteen months since TechShop, Inc. took ownership, the company said it made significant investments to upgrade both the building and equipment in an effort to attract more members and increase revenues. However, after five business quarters, “the store continues to be unprofitable and shows no signs of turning the corner,” Woods said.

Jon Danforth (@jdanforth), the founder of Maker Faire North Carolina, which was created at TechShop Raleigh-Durham in 2009, said the hackerspace, referred to as TechShop RDU, was “a rallying point for all of the Triangle Makerati and it holds a very dear place in my heart.”

Danforth said, “TechShop RDU didn’t fail. TechShop RDU sparked a fire in the makers of North Carolina the likes of which I’ve never seen. It launched projects, products, careers, and grand ideas. It will be sorely missed but the spirit lives on in the forever-changed lives of those it touched.”

U.S. Manufacturing Gets Some Newsstand Visibility

Manufacturing, which has added 500,000 U.S. jobs over the last three years, has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise sluggish economy. Major media has noticed.

Time Magazine Cover Story

Time’s cover story is strong on General Electric’s initiatives; it has nothing about the maker movement. But there’s plenty here about the value of making things to the U.S. We like the way Harvard Business School professor Willy Shih put it: “The ability to make things is fundamental to the ability to innovate in the long term.” Bloomberg Businessweek’s recent story on the topic focused on the “mom and pop” manufacturers.

Got a 3D Printer? Join a Hub

3D Hubs, based in Amsterdam, recently announced that it has expanded its “Airbnb model” for owners of 3D printers. This online platform locally connects 3D printer owners with people who like to get something printed.

Currently there are over 15 Hubs registered in Amsterdam. The site plans to launch an “Unlock Your City” campaign in the 20 largest American and European cities to enable users to register their printers locally.

On its blog, 3D Hubs tells a cute story of how an Amsterdam high school student with a 3D printer used their system to print out a camera mount for a local photographer, who simply biked over and picked it up.

Meanwhile Makexyz told 3D Printer last week that it has now expanded to 18 countries. Its top 3 cities, by searches: San Jose, Austin, and New York.

Frontiers of Filament

How frustrated are 3D printer owners with the price of filament?

Filastruder, a filament-making machine that promises to lower the cost of feeding a 3D printer, set a Kickstarter goal of $5,000. So far it has raised $196K. The disruptive element of the machine: it digests raw plastic pellets that cost much less than filament-on-spool.

And there’s more activity on the “free the filament” front: the open source RecycleBot is still a project at Michigan Technological University, and we haven’t seen the last of the DIY filament extruder that won a $40,000 prize for its 83-year-old inventor (Zach Kaplan (@zkaplan) covered that story on MAKE) .

These developments are significant because the business plans of many 3D printer manufacturers are based on revenue from selling “consumables,” similar to the model that has floated traditional computer companies, not to mention Schick and Gillette.

Meanwhile, colorful innovation continues. Helian Polymers has recently launched ColorFabb, a brand of high quality filaments. And RichRap is experimenting with tie-dyed nylon filament.

Yeggi, A New Search Engine for 3D Models, Launches

Need a 3D design for a bottle opener? Search Yeggi. You’ll get hundreds of designs, culled from sites like Thingiverse, Ponoko, and Shapeking.

The new 3D search engine already searches more than 39,000 available models, and it is growing fast. During the time that we wrote this, Yeggi added a dozen items, including a pencil holder, some parts for a plastic extruder, a DNA model, and a Nexus smartphone cover.

The site, based in Germany, offers keyword search and displays the most recently updated files that are available.

Yeggi joins two existing 3D search engines that we know of: Dimensionext and Fabforall.

Marketplace options for buyers and sellers of 3D designs is also expanding, with the addition of two new virtual showrooms: Cubize and CGTrader.

Education-Oriented? Consider an EdTech Incubator or Accelerator

If you’re making something with an educational bent, consider partnering with an edtech incubator or accelerator. One of our favorite educational technology newsletters, EdSurge (@edsurge), noticed that five new U.S. edtech incubators and accelerators launched in February alone.

What’s behind the expansion? An EdSurge article for Fast Company explains the phenomenon. Also worth checking out: their list of educationally focused incubators and accelerators.

In Brief

EFF plans to challenge six 3D printing-related patent applications… Internet of things device connector Electric Imp will collaborate with the GE-Quirky project that was announced last week (they will also be exhibiting in the Innovation Showcase at the Hardware Innovation Workshop)… 3D Systems has rolled out a new “ultra tough white plastic” called Accura Xtreme White-200. Here’s the data sheet.


Inexpensive Click-and-Scan 3D Scanner Soars on Indiegogo

Photon co-inventors Adam Brandejs (left) and Drew Cox

Photon co-inventors Adam Brandejs (left) and Drew Cox

The Photon project got started, co-inventor Adam Brandejs admitted, because “I’m just not that patient.”

Brandejs wanted to launch his 3D efforts fast, with a simple scan instead of laboring over micro measurements and CAD files.

So a little over a year ago, Brandejs and his more patient friend and collaborator, Drew Cox, began working on an affordable 3D scanner in a small industrial space in Toronto. That led to an Indiegogo campaign which, to their surprise, has already quadrupled its $80,000 goal with a little less than two weeks to go. Almost as gratifying: the Photon has generated a flurry of proposed uses for the device beyond the original “maker hobbyist” market they were targeting.

“We clearly tapped into something,” Brandejs told MAKE earlier this week. “There’s something about an inexpensive scanner that has pushed a lot of people over the edge into 3D printing.”

Wire Cutters

Eric Jennings
Sally Carson

Eric Jennings (@erictj) and Sally Carson (@fixpert), co-founders of Pinoccio, will be making a round trip to this year’s Hardware Innovation Workshop (HIW): from last year, when Eric was an eager attendee actively developing their wireless, web-talkin’ microcontroller, to this year’s Wednesday afternoon session, when they will both be on stage as panelists at the Internet of Things panel (fellow panelists: Rachel Kalmar (@grapealope), data scientist, Misfit Wearables; and Brent Polishak, co-founder and president, Beyond 5).

In the meantime, they’ve been through nine prototypes and a successful Indiegogo campaign that blew past their original $60K goal and hit $105K. Now the duo are in the final sprint to make the July deliveries they promised their backers. They’ve been in the development bunker for awhile now. A very small group of beta testers already have kits and are tinkering away. Their HIW appearance will be one of the first times they’ve come up for air since their crowdsource-fueled liftoff in February 2013.

What a Hoodie Says About U.S. Manufacturing

The greatest sweatshirt known to man

It started with a rave in Slate: American Giant — USA based — makes “the greatest sweatshirt known to man.” Wired, and others, celebrated the firm as a possible savior for U.S. manufacturing.

But if you’ve tried to order one, you’ve gotten the message: “This product is currently on backorder. Estimated ship date is 06/30/2013.”

To its credit, Slate wrote a follow-up.

Road Trip!

To Shapeways

With Forbes, which conducts an onsite video interview in the company’s New York City facility.

To the Stratasys Finishing Station

Where you can watch how your orders are buffed before delivery.

Thinking BIG About 3D Printing

There seems to be a race to print the first house. The KamerMaker (literally “room maker”) in Amsterdam is making a lot of headway on the idea. They are hoping to finish their house by the end of the year. They are using a large, movable pavilion to print rooms on site. London’s Softkill Design is taking a different approach with their ProtoHouse. It is proposing to build lightweight, high resolution, optimized structures which, at life scale, are manageable truck-sized pieces that can be printed offsite and later assembled onsite. Universe Architecture, another Amsterdam outfit, is proposing to use 3D printing technology to create a “Landscape House” that consists of “one surface folded in an endless möbius band. Floors transform into ceilings, inside into outside.”

A detail from a model of Universe Architecture’s Landscape House

A detail from a model of Universe Architecture’s “Landscape House”

The latest issue of the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings journal takes a detailed look at the possibilities of 3D printing for naval architecture. The first use of the technology, the article predicts, will probably be on board existing ships, printing replacement parts.

A Canadian television station profiles the 3D-printed prototype Urbee car.

Maker Profiles

Sketchfab Co-founder Alban Denoyel

Sketchfab Co-founder Alban Denoyel

MAKE caught up with Alban Denoyel (@sketchfab) last week. He’s the co-founder of Sketchfab, a web service where you can publish, share, and embed interactive 3D models online in real-time, without a plugin.

A few months ago MAKE made a cool, meta video with Denoyel that placed him in his virtual service, but Sketchfab has continued to evolve, and the most recent story adds its newest project:, a service for creating professional 3D portfolio websites. Denoyel said the site is the first portfolio website dedicated to 3D artists with real-time 3D viewing technology.

And, funny thing, when we were banging around the site, looking at portfolios, who did we come across but Joshua Harker, who happens to be the next maker we are going to write about. In 3, 2, 1…

Artist Joshua Harker

So here he is, Joshua Harker (@joshuaharker), creator of the #1 most-funded Kickstarter sculpture project of all time, below.

#1 most-funded Kickstarter sculpture project of all time

MAKE’s Eric Weinhoffer interviews the 3D artist about his process and the current state of 3D printing.

“3D printing has affected art profoundly for me,” Harker says. “I can now make what was unmakeable just a few years ago.”

In this video interview at Shapeways, Harker describes how he crafted his early successes. Harker is a hero at Shapeways, which 3D prints most of his work.


3D Printing in Salt, Cement, Nylon, and Metal

Emerging Objects is a design and research company in Oakland, Calif., that specializes in designing and 3D printing objects using custom materials and processes. Check out the materials they are using, and start thinking outside the plastic box.

Metal is also becoming an affordable reality for 3D printers. ExtremeTech has assembled three videos that showcase the power and flexibility of 3D printing with metal, and bracketed them with descriptions of advanced processes that are just coming into view. The author’s opinion: “To not be amazed is to be numb to the technology of our day.”


Countdown to Maker Faire

Maker Faire Bay Area (May 18-19) is just a month away.

Consider arriving a few days early: the Hardware Innovation Workshop runs May 14-15. Here’s the agenda.

And there’s still time, just barely, to…

Pitch Your Prototype

The MAKE Hardware Innovation Workshop is looking for prototypes of early stage products, projects, and ideas.

Selected prototypes will be presented at the opening session of the Workshop, and featured in the Innovation Showcase on Tuesday, May 14. Each winning entrant will have 5 minutes to present the idea and a prototype: a 2-minute pitch, then a 3-minute demonstration of the prototype. Attendees at the Workshop will vote for the most interesting and innovative product idea, taking into consideration its application, target market, and commercial viability. The winner will receive a slot on the Innovation Stage to present the prototype to the Maker Faire audience the following weekend.

Submit a video of your project here. Your entry must be an early-stage new product idea that is not on the market and not currently posted on a crowdfunding site. The deadline is Friday, April 19. That’s today!

Further Down the Road

The fourth annual Maker Faire Detroit is taking place this summer, on July 27-28, at The Henry Ford. The Call for Makers is open now through June 7.

World Maker Faire New York is Sept. 21-22, and the Call for Makers launches in June.

Maker Faire Rome

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.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

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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