Just discovered that there's a regular Makerbot User Group meeting in New York City and the meetings are shared live via Ustream.
Archived videos of meetings are available online, though it looks like they just started adding content. Could be a treasure trove of information and inspiration as more meetings are added in the future.
I won't embed the stream here because it tends to auto play in some browsers, but you can access it via the via link below.
There's a significant debate going on in the hackerspace/maker community over acceptance of funding from DARPA, the research organization of the US Department of Defense to underwrite the creation of high school makerspaces.
The 'Yes' side of the argument is personified by Dale Dougherty, the founder of MAKE Magazine and Maker Faire, while Mitch Altman, a pioneer in the hacker/maker movement, is vehemently opposed to the point that he is actively boycotting Maker Faires and related activities.
Both sides of the debate are presented in detail by both Dougherty and Altman in the "Makerspaces & the Military" segment on this week's episode of Spark.
For those not already familiar with the excellent programming by Spark, it's a regular 'radio' broadcast (also available via podcast) produced by the CBC. Spark's charter is to create "An ongoing conversation about technology and culture."
There's an old saying that "Politics makes strange bedfellows." Apparently that's true for 3D printer startups as well. According to an article in the online edition of Monday's Wall Street Journal, Makerbot Industries will soon be sharing building space and rubbing elbows with the likes of Morgan Stanley and the Goldman Sachs Group.
’Makerbot and Wall Street – Strange Bedfellows?’ continues
Rich Brown at CNET provides a good overview, including covering some of the tradeoffs and purchase/implementation considerations, of the MakerBot Replicator 3D printer.
Brown's overview doesn't contain anything surprising or new for people already involved in the 3D printing movement, it will be quite useful for those looking to purchase or build their first printer.
’CNET – MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer (Video)’ continues
Last week I visited the iheartengineering headquarters in Brooklyn and was surprised to find that they have managed to build a rapidly expanding business around the print-on-demand model and unique product designs. Besides their abundant creativity, the heart of their business is a first generation MakerBot 3D printer that manufactures parts as orders come in the door (or over the internet).
It's not unusual for them to keep the printer running for hours, and sometimes days, at a time when orders peak. They've developed some special techniques for producing large parts with some unique fill patterns that I will post more about later.
Most important, the work, and the business model, that iheartengineering is pioneering convinced me that all the buzz about 3D printing generating a rebirth of manufacturing and creativity in the U.S. is much more than just hype. It is a practical and achievable goal, one that may soon be a reality for a growing number of start-ups.
’Affordable 3d Printers Hit The Market…? (Video)’ continues
One of America's outstanding strengths, and the thing that makes it unique in the world, is its pioneering spirit of self-sufficiency and belief that the nation, and its individual citizens can overcome any obstacle or hazard that nature or mankind throws in its way. That spirit may not be so obvious in its more well known left and right coast megalopolises like New York and L.A., but it survives and thrives in heartland cities like Kansas City.
Kansas City, like so many midwestern areas, was given birth by early pioneers and farmers that knew if they didn't take control of their daily lives they would quickly perish. If a piece of farm equipment broke, they figured out how to fix it. There was no Amazon, no FedEx, nor UPS.
I remember visiting a friend's rural home near Kingsville, just outside of Kansas City, and being amazed as he explained how he built a small tractor. He couldn't afford to buy a commercially built tractor, but he had an old junker car in the backyard that was way beyond being road worthy.
First, he pulled the engine and completely rebuilt it. Once the engine was running reliably, he rigged some pulleys so the engine would drive a generator he had scrounged, and set it up as a welding rig. Using the welding rig, he set about transforming the car frame, cutting most of the body off down to the frame members, then modified the basic frame design. Eventually, and it took months of hard work, he had the tractor he needed, and a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction.
But he didn't have 'pride' - he wasn't egotistical at all about what he had been able to accomplish. He, like many midwesterners of that generation, didn't see anything particularly special or unusual about what he had done. It was just normal, every day, life from his perspective. If I had asked him about it he probably would have responded, "You just do what you gotta do."
That spirit, that creativeness, that self sufficiency is still very much alive and well in America's heartland. And, it's seeing a new groundswell of energy and enthusiasm. A great example is the way the Maker Faire initiative has taken root in Kansas City.
There's a totally different, perhaps stronger, perhaps more grounded, feeling about the Kansas City Maker Faire compared to other similar events. You can feel the difference just from watching the video below featuring the 2011 event.
And, the KC Maker Faire isn't just about 'seeing' and 'experiencing' what makers are doing. It's very much about diving in head first, getting involved, sharing what you are making - or want to make, learning from others, and teaching them what you know. Now's the time to get involved, to become part of this great movement, and to get the same wonderful sense of personal accomplishment. Sign up to be a maker now - the entry deadline is rapidly approaching. You'll be glad you did.