3D Printing. By the People. For the People.

Day one of the Bay Area Maker Faire was today!  In upcoming weeks, we’ll be blogging at greater length about the cool stuff we saw, new companies we met, and new trends  we sniffed out.  But, first, 5 things we absolutely loved about today:

Brook Drumm - Printrbot - 350x2331. Brook Drumm of Printrbot.  We’ve met Brook before and came to Maker Faire with solid knowledge of his Printrbot line–his consumer grade home printer kits retail from $299 to $1499 and show astonishing quality for the price.  We went to see him speak because, frankly, we like the guy and his energy is contagious.  He’s all about the same things we are–access, affordability, and creation.  Today’s presentation focused on demonstrating his latest release, the Printrbot Simple, which at $299, is a manageable buy even for cash-strapped enthusiasts.  Engineering choices like the use of high-strength kevlar fishing wire instead of drive belts are the type of simple, inexpensive,  and universally available solution we have come to expect from Brook.  Still, we learned something new–Printrbot is working on new formats, such as a laser cutting machine and a CNC router (all open source, of course).  We can’t wait to see more from this company.

Ditto Filament Palate - 350x2332. Sophisticated filament color palette from Tinkerine Studios.There’s no shortage of PLA filament on the market these days, but–let’s face it–the colors can be a bit prime.  The Tinkerine Studios lineup immediately caught our eye with colors that are edgy, and refreshingly modern.  Fun names like “Pomelo Yellow”and “Pomegranate Red” for individual products, and “Fruity Candy” to describe the entire collection, undersell the sophistication of the palate.  Even spool shots on the Tinkerine web site don’t do justice to finished products, which are striking, and quite beautiful.  1.75mm PLA retails for $44.99.

Autodesk Photo Booth - 350x2333.  The Autodesk 123D Catch photo booth.  Capturing 20-30 photos of a stationary object with the intention of developing a 3D model is easier said than done (trust us–we’ve tried).  Autodesk made it easy for Maker Faire attendees by providing a 56-camera (by our count) photo booth to take simultaneous shots of a human subject.  The process was easy: submit your e-mail address, sit for a single shot (but, really 56 shots), and receive an e-mail with a file that can be fed into 123D Catch software, which can be tried for free.  For novices, a great conceptual intro to the 3D scan!

Apex 6-Source Extruder - 350x2334.  Apex 3D printer with 6 filament FDM and liquid dispensing printer system.  What if, instead of having to scour filament libraries in search of the exact color you want, your printer could mix the right color for you in real time?   The Apex 6 filament 3D printer does just that, with an innovative design that mixes color inside the extruder head.  Think of how your document printer works: you don’t buy printer cartridges with specific colors like lavendar or chartreuse–instead you buy  a single configuration of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK), and your printer mixes them during the print job.  The Apex works similarly.  Via Fred White, we got a brief tour that also alluded to the use of liquids and other materials versatility–we can’t wait to learn more!

Autodesk Sign - 350x2335. Autodesk CEO Carl Bass.  During his presentation on CAD design for kids, Bass discussed a few recent changes at Autodesk: first, that Autodesk has acquired Tinkercad (a cloud-based CAD tool that was well-liked by users, but which abruptly shuttered its operations around two months ago);  a second line of discussion surrounded the partnership between Autodesk and  Makerbot (announced in March–for a limited time, Autodesk community members will receive a discount on the Makerbot Replicator 2).  Our take on these changes are as follows: aligning with companies like Tinkercad and Makerbot are a clear signal of Autodesk’s support for consumer-level products.  We think this is a step in the right direction for an industry that we clearly see will be increasingly driven by individuals.

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