I just got back from World Maker Faire New York, where an astonishing 70 different kinds of 3D printers were on display—maybe the largest single gathering of these “additive manufacturing” machines ever assembled!
To call 3D printing “hot” is a bit of an understatement. Bre Pettis, the founder of the most well-known 3D printer company these days, MakerBot, is on the cover of WIRED magazine this month with the statement, “This Machine Will Change the World.” !!?! While I was in New York, a 3D printer company Formlab announced a new printer on Kickstarter, asking for $100K. It was at $750K within 24 hours, and is now with 17 days remaining, at $1.786 MILLION. 3D printers are RED hot.
What is a 3D printer, you ask? 3D printers make three dimensional objects. A computer design file generates a pattern, and an extruder that can move back and forth AND up and down AND side to side lays down successive layers of material on a tray (the “bed”). A lot of printers use plastic rolled up on a big spool – kind of like “thread” – and the extruder melts it and lays it down. Cool innovations in types of material used — concrete, filaments of wood, metal — are making 3D printing more interesting. It’s a tool only big manufacturers used to be able to afford and that more ambitious makers have in the past few years gotten their hands on; now everyone is saying it’s the next must-have fancy household appliance for everyone.
And YES we’ll have 3D printers for you to check out at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. Type A Machines, a San Francisco 3D printer company fresh from Maker Faire New York, will be showing off their Series 1 printer. Type A co-founder Ronald Miloh Alexander is an electrical engineer and a hackerspace engineer. Their origin story and mission from their website FAQ is nice: “Forged in the fires of Noisebridge and TechShop [makerspaces in San Francisco], a team of dedicated hackers set out on an epic journey to bring better desktop 3D printers within everyone’ reach.”
To that end, Miloh will be teaching a session at the Faire on this new, easier, and more affordable world of digital fabrication. His session is titled “D43D: Remixing Digital Designs for the Physical World.” Miloh will provide a background on design fundamentals that are suitable for 3d printers, as well as an introduction to the basic operation of 3d printers. “This
class provides the student with the necessary skills to start designing digital objects for additive manufacturing, and work with a variety of machines.” You can find this class time on the schedule page.
The other 3D printer company coming to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire is Hyrel 3D. They are coming all the way from Georgia to show! And we think Ace Monster Toys will be bringing their MakerBots as well. Designfluence will be running some printers off their solar generator. NOTE that we’d love to show a Replicator or even a Replicator 2, but MakerBot the company is busy this weekend. If you have a 3D printer you’d like to run, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to get you a last-minute space.