I had the pleasure of attending the first (hopefully annual) MakerFaire in Providence RI. I agree with @antrod from The Onda that it was not an event not to be missed. 20 or so “Makers” set up booths to show off their wares ranging from the commercial to the avant, avant, avant garde.
Some of my favorite exhibitors were:
First Robotics – First is an organization that give young brainiacs a place to strut their stuff. They organize competitions around the creation of robots at different grade levels. It is a wonderful organization that helps develop the next generation of engineers and technologists.
The Old Fashion Robotics Store – I had a chance to chat with the proprietor and learn the pros and cons of building robots with the Arduino vs. Lego Mindstorm vs. Vex platforms. It was great to be able to meet someone so obviously enthused about their product and to learn a great deal simultaneously.
RepRap – The builder of this model referred to his home brew 3D printer as a “RepScrap” due to the hacked together nature of the materials.
The photo below shows off the unpolished nature of this model. The build table is a piece of Formica counter top, the riser platform is made from scrap pine, and the corner bracket for the screws was printed by the machine itself. It is amazing when you realize that you could easily find all of these materials (except for the electronics) in a dumpster outside a construction site.
Whenever I meet someone who has built or wants to build a RepRap or MakerBot I ask what they want to build with it. I have never received a concrete answer. People are completely enthused by the technology itself. This is very encouraging, now we just need some clever entrepreneur to build the VisiCalc equivalent.
Speaking of the MakerBot, I saw my first one in the flesh and came away really impressed.
My iPhone camera doesn’t do this printout justice, but it is on par with parts I was getting from high end Stratasys machines 7 years ago for significantly less money.
I met another MakerBot builder who printed this cool earbud wrap based on a design from Thingaverse.
Their costumes are amazing, and I really wish I took the “Creature Creation & Performance” class they offer at RISD.
A dancing troll:
Steampunk Diving Suit?
And a 12 ft. tall skeleton “thing”: