Tuesday, October 2, 2012

World Maker Faire 2012: Is This the Future of Making?: Amazing 3D Printers (psst.. I know of a giveaway)

Maybe this red man doesn't strike your curiosity but here's the thing:  This is totally made of plastic BUT it was NOT made in a factory.  Is that strange to you? I went to the Ultimaker Booth twice in one day.

WHAT: 3D Printers at the World Maker Faire New York 2012 at the New York Hall of Science
DOES:Faire's showcase of 3D Printers makes you think about new possibilities in everyday American homes
TOOLS:  Express Yourself- lots of chances to create, Family Fix-its - so much education in conservation/sustainability, Think Like a Scientist/Engineer- but of course, My Body Needs to Move, Inventor Profiles (Meeting Makers is a huge part of the thrill)
GIVEAWAY:  I don't have a raffle but I did find one for you...  Read below... This Afinia printer is worth $1,500!  OMG!  And they have awesome awesome colors!

A long time ago, one of the experts interviewed here sent me a link about a universal connector piece that could connect Lego bricks to K'nex to Tinker Toys etc...  The bad part was that you couldn't buy them, you could only download the directions on how to MAKE them.   Yes, make them.... HOW?   Well, with a 3D printer silly.  Where have you been?

Like, you, I've been right here minding my own business but apparently I have not noticed that 3D printer companies have been sprouting up everywhere.   At the Maker Faire, there were two sections of 3D printer exhibits.  I was amazed.

This machine is called the Ultimaker and it was born in the Netherlands.  It was occasionally spitting out bracelets and we were trying to get one but those darn little kids are faster than us!  Why do little boys want bracelets!   To take an Ultimaker home, it would cost $1,599. 

This video is amazing.  What a great school!   Kids in a gifted Ed class put together a 3D printer. Check out: http://3dabc.nl/

What is a 3D printer?  

Well basically, think like this:  We have plenty of materials and appliances at home to make things like food, play-doh, cloth, sewing machines, waffle irons, and dare I say, computers... All of these things help us make things that we want to use.   Some of these things made especially for us and we do it because we can't buy them.   It can be our own tomato sauce to hemming pants because no store has your size.

Can you imagine creating and making your own game pieces? 

The Form 1 is seriously very pretty.   I think this would look nice on a desktop.  I will try to forget that it costs $2,700.

The folks at Solidoodle confidently stated that they had the least expensive pre-assembled 3D printer in the market.  Up until April of this year, they had only three employees, a staffer told me.  Now, just a few months later, they have fifty. 

$500?  Hmmmmm..... tempting.... tempting, indeed.  I don't even know what I'd want to make but I want one right now.  RIGHT NOW!!!!

This booth was so crowded, I barely had room to snap a photo.  I think this is a dinosaur skull.  To me, the best news is that they are in New York City.  I can go visit!  Hooray!  I also found a very good video that explains this process.  The other great thing is that the MakerBot folks have something called the Thingiverse where you can download, for free, lots of different designs so that you don't have to create your own if you don't want to.  I actually found a refrigerator magnet marble run!!!!   The printer is $2,199.    Either way, I'm definitely organizing a little excursion for my kids and their friends to visit the store.   They have to see this in action!  I wonder if they do workshops.

Imagine being able to make your own toy and then sell or gift them to friends and neighbors.   This one was made by WeisTek based in Shenzhen China.  $1,800.   (I think Shenzhen had their own Maker Faire)

Look how the plastic is fed to the machine.  This is making a cellphone case! This company, Deezmaker, has a machine called the Bukobot 3D Printer.  The "Mini" costs about $850.  There were pricier versions at $1,100 and $1,400.    We really liked chatting with the Deezmaker folks.  They are the ones who told us that these machines could make a lego to our own specifications.  Can you imagine?    My son could make and sell his own kit?  No way!  Uh.. yes way?

I don't know if those are supposed to be cups but look below to see what else the Type A Machines can make.

It's amazing to me that these 3D Printers can be used to make toys.  I think I'd want to make my own building blocks.  Something that could be used to build kids furniture.

The Type A Machine costs $1,200.  Is it worth it?  How about if you co-owned it with a sibling or good friend(s)?

So this machine sells for $28,000 approximately but some go as low as $5,000.    Honestly, the most interesting thing about the video below is the person from Geomagic describing the technology.  I think my son would love to have such a job.  How cool!  The makers at the Maker Faire are cooler than their wares.  I can't believe they let kids touch this!!!

Even though she was using an instrument, she said that it felt like she was pulling and pushing something as hard as clay.  She thought that was awesome. 

I know what you are thinking.  $2,100? $1600?  $500?   How can a family afford it?   Many of the folks running these booths said that some schools and parents do buy these printers.  I can believe that.  They are obviously folks who really want to make things.

The thought of being able to make anything in plastic outside of a factory amazes me.  What is even more amazing is that so many of the products that were "printed" were toys.  What a great way to get kids interested!!!!!   Lately, I have been telling my kids to make their own toys more.  Could this be the direction in which we are heading?

The 3D Printer in the Afinia booth was giving away a free printer via raffle.  It costs  $1,500.  I just checked their website and it still seems to be going on so you might as well try... Hey, you never know...  click HERE for more details. 

So many beautiful colors in the Afinia booth!!!

Thus without making a prediction, I will just make one very bold guess that more of us will be owning these within the next 5-7 years.  Making puzzles, toys, or a new knob for your door... I really don't know but I know there is more out there.   For now, I see parents campaigning schools to get one for their science and art teacher.  I think perhaps, you can teach kids how to design and make their own toys and it could be an afterschool program too.  Or maybe parents can chip in and use it as a group.  Either way, I think there could be a lot of benefits because building in 3D and prototyping in general is a wonderful skill for children to have.   You don't have to be a "designer" to design, right?  Maybe all you need is an idea.....    I showed my son these videos and do you know what he said?

"Ooh, I can make my own beyblade... my own special parts."   Wow, it took about 30 seconds for an idea to fly out of his mouth.  These 3D printers can give kids' ideas their very own place in space.  I think I have to write a letter to Santa now.  Thanks World Maker Faire!   It's good to be alive in 2012.

For more on 3D Printers at the World Maker Faire click here

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools has not been compensated by any company to release this information.  Toys are Tools only wishes that a review unit would be sent to us to facilitate a review but we know that ain't gonna happen.  Toys are Tools will send a letter to Santa Claus instead. 


  1. I wish we had one of those in our home but it is too pricey - even at 500 dollars. Still, it looks really educational.

  2. I am trying to think of what I could make with those and it's hard to imagine but for kids, learning programming and building it seems like a very educational activity

  3. This would be so fun for my son who would love to design something on a computer and then "print" it out in a 3d printer. Thanks for this story!

  4. That is so amazing, I love it.