It will perhaps not surprise you that I spent most of my time at Maker Faire ogling the various 3d printing displays. Although that is what I will focus on in this post AND these beasties have surely taken over huge chunks of land at Maker Faire in recent years (based on what I’ve been told, this was my first Maker Faire), there is a lot going on at Maker Faire that is NOT 3d printing related believe it or not and I’m sure that folks interested in just about anything geeky, hacky, oddball and techy will find plenty to love even if they are somehow immune to the hype surrounding 3d printing. In fact, I find it hard to imagine that anyone could fully absorb what is on offer even if they went both days from open to close, it is that big and jam-packed with interesting stuff.
I’m sure I could write plenty about my single day there, but I want to jot this down fast and loose and throw it up on the interwebs in the hope that some soul may read this tonight and decide to go to the Faire tomorrow, so here we go.
I hitched the 7 train over to Maker Faire and observed a higher than usual geek count on the train. Geek dads (and moms) with their daughters, geek bros rapping about server migrations, geek boyfriend/girlfriend pairs with quirky t-shirts, that kind of thing; so it was pretty easy to figure out which stop to get off at and how to get to the Faire. Of course, I am an Android geek and had plotted the path on my Galaxy S4 and used the GPS to tell me the way anyway.
So I walk past the valet bicycle parking, the sponsor, exhibitor and maker sign-in areas and the ticket booths and show the folks at the gate my e-ticket via the EventBrite app (geeky) and saunter into the never-never-land of awesome and we stop being geeks and all of a sudden we are normal. We are with our people.
I didn’t really know where the heck I was going despite the GPS guidance the Maker Faire app was trying to give me, but I attempted to head towards the 3d printing area (grotto? ghetto?encampment?) and wandered through one of the circuitry tents where Alasdair Allan was talking about how to choose your board. No silly, of course he didn’t mean a surfboard, skateboard or snowboard. He meant circuit board! Or more precisely, which Arduino variant is right for your project.
So then I found the 3d printing exhibitors and started snapping pics like a crazy person. First up was the Makerbot booth with the slick new Digitizer (desktop 3d scanner). This $1400 trinket is capable of scanning any item that can sit within it’s 8″ diameter and 8″ height scanning envelope and turntable it into an STL. That’s pretty fresh, but I’m not sure I need one for that price.
Next I see 3d printing web celebrity Jeff Keegan.
I’m a big fan of Jeff’s blog, it’s weird and kind of haphazard and has these great videos of him talking too loud to the camera about RepRaps. The man is a RepRap evangelist par excellence and I was too shy to talk to him. I stood next to him for quite awhile when we were both admiring another exhibitor’s RepRaps later in the day hoping to tell him how great he was but the man just doesn’t stop talking very much and I didn’t want to interrupt. Jeff, if you’re reading this, you’re great.
And right next to Jeff was the display of true RepRap legend Josef Prusa. Mr. Prusa is a 3d printing celebrity on par with Bre Pettis in my book (gee, I hope I’m not insulting either of them by saying that) and he’s got his latest Prusa i3 set up and printing right next to Mr. Keegan and… he’s not there.
So then I see this weird Vader printer I’ve never heard of. Actually I think I might’ve seen that before Jeff and Josef’s displays, anyway…
And this colorful guy (gal?) from Vision.
And look, it’s Deltaprintr!
And the B9 Creator was there doing its DLP resin thang.
Then I got my first look at the Ultimaker². This is a super sexy machine to me just based on the tremendous success of the first Ultimaker and some nice upgrades, but it’s around $2500 so… Would I get this instead of a Makerbot? I think so, but it’s $2500!
Here’s some Solidoodles.
There were several 3d printer makers there that were total size queens, but this was the first I saw: Gigabot.
These guys were taking this idea to the next level, but not actually printing anything with it, so… you know, take with grain of salt.
These guys are going to Kickstarter like next week or something and it’s hard to be anything but terrified for them in this 3d printer saturated (or is it?) market. 3DMonstr says they have a huge build volume (tell that to the other guys prior), they have ball screws for all 4 axes (no, I did not ask what the 4th axes was – if they can control time with a ball screw then watch out!) and appear to be built for live action combat.
Then there’s also the gMax in this general large printer category.
And this is a Tinkerines Ditto+. Do you think the name is subconsciously saying “me too”?
And if that name doesn’t say “me too”, surely the Ulti-Replicator name does.
There was some other stuff there too.
I finally tracked down the Formlabs booth and snapped some pics of the elusive Form1.
This was a great little collection of bots that make stuff.
Kids both love and are bored by 3d printers. Mesmerized? Sleepy? Yes.
Did I mention that there were a lot of people there? We geeks are legion. There were more tents like this.
The star of the show for me were these newborn RepRaps at the ConceptForge booth. The RepRap Wally has been printing for a little while I think (correction: Wally’s first print was at the show!), but the Simpson only just came to life about five days ago with a glorious and giddy YouTube video as evidence of its first print. Besides being mesmerizing to watch and mind-boggling to contemplate, these may be the RepRaps with the smallest vitamin ratio yet. Vitamins are what RepRap symbiants (creators) call all of the things that a RepRap cannot replicate. i.e. The things that they must pull from their environment in the same way we humans need vitamins (well, sorta… it’s an analogy, you know?). For most RepRaps this includes threaded rods and rails in addition to motors, screws, bearings, belts, circuit board, etc. The Wally and the Simpson have done away with the rods and rails.
So when I went back later, The Man Josef Prusa was there and I even told him how awesome he is.
Then I finally tracked down Brook and Dave and the printrbot display in The Shed (after a very helpful tip from @pb_support) and snapped some pics and chatted them up for a little minute. Brook dropped a hint about a project he’s working on that I’ll pretend is top secret that involves even more axes than 3DMonstr. X, Y and Z plus A, B and C or something like that. I was confused and Brook was acting confused so I didn’t press, but it sounds amazeballs.
And RadioShack had the most genius service to offer. Free phone charging in a little locker. You drop off your phone, the tech plugs it in and locks it up and gives you the key and you come back later to a charged phone.
Ok, so that’s it. You should totally go tomorrow. Or next year. Or both. It’s fun.