Maker Pro Newsletter – MakerCon & Maker Faire Special Edition

Maker Pro Newsletter – MakerCon & Maker Faire Special Edition

“People are doing incredible things, despite the tools.”

From the editors of MAKE, 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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The newsiest week in Makerdom, which begins with MakerCon and ends with Maker Faire Bay Area, was newsier than ever this year. Maker-oriented companies with news to announce couldn’t resist launching freshly minted initiatives into the roiling confluence of makers that spanned both events.

Here are the high points from a busy week.

Autodesk Will Produce a 3D Printer


At MakerCon Carl Bass (@carlbass), the president and chief executive officer of Autodesk, discussed the state of software for 3D printing (“People are doing incredible things, despite the tools.”) and then announced that the company has created an open 3D printing platform, Spark, and will be releasing a yet-to-be-named 3D printer. The printer’s design files “will be made publicly available to allow for further development and experimentation.”

After the announcement, Carl talked with Make: magazine’s Dale Dougherty (@dalepd).

Arduino Releases a Powerful New Zero

Top view of the new Arduino Zero

Top view of the new Arduino Zero

Arduino founder Massimo Banzi (@mbanzi) hinted during his keynote address at MakerCon that something more powerful was around the corner. The next day, the Zero was released.

Make:’s Alasdair Allan (@aallan) evaluated the new board.


LittleBits Launches an Arduino Module


The snap-together electronics platform littleBits showed off its first programmable module, a tiny Arduino module, at MakerCon and Maker Faire Bay Area.

The board which looks like an electronic prototype of a caterpillar, sports an ATmega 32U4 chip (like the Arduino Leonardo) and is programmable through the Arduino IDE. Make:’s Matt Richardson (@mattrichardson) got a preview.

Shapeoko Will Give Away 50 “3D Carvers”

the shapeoko

Inventables’ Zach Kaplan (@inventables) announced a program to bring their Shapeoko CNC mill to maker communities in all 50 states in the U.S.

According to Zach, community spaces such as schools, makerspaces, and libraries are encouraged to apply as long as they give free access to their community. Recipients will also receive beta access to Easel, Inventables’ new web-based CNC design software.

One sidenote: the Inventables announcement referred to CNC mills as “3D carvers.” Maybe that will catch on, as a more descriptive term.

Here’s a video interview Zach gave to Make: on the plan.

PrintrBot Announces a CNC Machine

A prototype of Printrbot's new CNC machine. The final model will be constructed of folded & machined metal. (Photo: Dave Hays)

A prototype of Printrbot’s new CNC machine. The final model will be constructed of folded and machined metal. (Photo: Dave Hays)

Printrbot founder and CEO Brook Drumm (@printrbot) revealed a beta of the upcoming Printrbot CNC router, targeted as a tool for beginner CNC’ers. It can cut wood, plastic, and aluminum at “respectable speeds,” according to Brook.

“We’re making a tool that I’ve wanted for a long time,” Brook told Make:. He emphasized that ease-of-use and low cost are high priorities for the product.

Handibot Expands Further into 3D


A year ago, ShopBot introduced the Handibot, a portable CNC tool, at a Maker Media event. Part of the plan: an open philosophy that invited users to help push the new tool in new directions.

This year, the ShopBot team brought the Handibot to MakerCon with two new accessories: a rotary tool and a five-access tool. Both push the CNC machine toward 3D — giving users a subtractive alternative to 3D printing.

Ted Hall, the founder of ShopBot Tools, Inc., stopped by Make:’s MakerCon press room to tell us about the new capabilities.

BotFactory Demonstrates a Desktop PCB Printer


BotFactory showcased a desktop printer at Maker Faire that can assemble a circuit board in minutes.

Makers buzzed around their exhibit, attracted by the scent of faster turnarounds for prototypes.

Modio Launches an iPad Toy Creator

A 3D rendering of a toy created by a Maker Faire attendee.

A 3D rendering of a toy created by a Maker Faire attendee.

Modio announced “Modio for iPad,” which enables users to create 3D-printable toy characters on a tablet.

Many users at Maker Faire did just that — generating a gallery of toy characters.

GE Launches FirstBuild to Focus Makers on Appliances


A rendering of the planned FirstBuild microfactory in Louisville, Kentucky.

GE announced FirstBuild, an online and physical community dedicated to designing, engineering, building, and selling the next generation of major home appliances. The program is soup-to-nuts, incorporating idea generation, development, even sales.

To jumpstart the idea, GE has seeded FirstBuild with a few pre-selected projects, like indoor grilling.

Tindie Announces an Education Initiative

tindie, the artisanal maker marketplace, started an initiative to educate people on the process of shepherding a prototype to a product. It’s called Tindie U.

Tindie will be rolling out a number of educational activities such as monthly hangouts with experienced people in the field. Tindie founder Emile Petrone(@emilepetrone) described the idea to Make:.

Tweets of the Week


Upcoming Maker Faires

Here’s what’s happening in May:

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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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