My NYC Maker Week: Hanging with Adafruit and Limor Fried

Maker News
My NYC Maker Week: Hanging with Adafruit and Limor Fried

At the end of my first day of visits in NYC, I made my way to an evening meeting with Limor Fried and Phil Torrone at Adafruit.

The entire Adafruit team is incredibly busy, having become one of the top manufacturing entities in New York City over the course of its 13-year existence. For that reason, we agreed to meet up at 915pm, after the workday and after their weekly “Ask an Engineer” and “Show and Tell” livecasts wrapped up. While this meant I wouldn’t see the hustle of their business in full effect, it did mean that I’d get a better chance to see the space and chat uninterrupted.

Adafruit’s offices are in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, with the bulk of manufacturing happening on the top floor of a 10-story building. It’s a full production facility, with electronics being mass-produced, tested, boxed, and shipped from the space. Large, automated machines dominate one side of the floor; rows of shelves warehousing parts and more take up the space on the other. In the middle is where many of the employees work, with assembly and testing stations throughout. And in the middle of it all sits the desk of Adafruit founder Limor, where she works relentlessly.

I got a tour of the space as we caught up about the latest details of the company and of the maker community — Adafruit’s success has given Limor and team a unique perspective of how the movement has developed and where it’s headed. Then we called it a night and headed out. I left even more impressed than I was before the visit.

Two industrial Samsung machines solder the smallest of components onto the Adafruit circuit boards. The production line largely employs two of every machine to help eliminate downtime if one machine stops working.
Reels of components await placement on boards.
Six soldered Metro Express M4 boards still connected to the original PCB sheet.
A bucket full of Crickit controllers — Adafruit tells me this has quickly become the most-used robotics controller. DigiKey later confirmed this as well.
Homebrew board-testing equipment.
Some Circuit Playground puppets — Adafruit’s adorable way to help promote learning electronics.
Various poster blow-ups of magazine covers Limor Fried has graced.
Ever wonder what being on the other side of the “Ask an Engineer” camera feels like? Here you go.
Seated in the center of the Adafuit office, Limor juggles countless tasks.
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Mike Senese

Mike Senese is a content producer with a focus on technology, science, and engineering. He served as Executive Editor of Make: magazine for nearly a decade, and previously was a senior editor at Wired. Mike has also starred in engineering and science shows for Discovery Channel, including Punkin Chunkin, How Stuff Works, and Catch It Keep It.

An avid maker, Mike spends his spare time tinkering with electronics, fixing cars, and attempting to cook the perfect pizza. You might spot him at his local skatepark in the SF Bay Area.

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