What Has Maker Faire Got to Do with Steel Doors?

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Interesting that you should ask (even though it is just me talking to myself at the moment).  The connection is not so direct, but for me it is exactly the kind of thing that created the 2Fold® product and every other thing I have invented in the past.  Namely, I am always looking for the next technology, material or process to use in a new and different way.

When I discovered the fact that the large NYC Maker Faire was scheduled I just had to jump on the train, pay my $38 and snoop around even though I wasn’t sure I was going to find anything new and exciting.  The road to discovery is not a direct path, but if you are curious and inventive by nature, you are driven to keep looking.  I did just that.

If you have never been to a Maker Faire or don’t know what the “maker” movement is, I can help you out.  The maker movement is a community of creative types that use things like 3D printers, customizable electronic parts and other computer-oriented CNC gadgets to make things for themselves.  They create in their own homes or shared maker spaces with homemade equipment or equipment purchased from other makers that become cheaper and more powerful every year.  Small, independent developers are the heart and soul of American innovation, and I love to keep in tune with what they are working on.

One of the things that is common at the faire is a lot of me too entries with one or two added features of what showed up two years ago.  Each of these inventors ran into something that they couldn’t do with what was available and figured out a way to have their cake and eat it too.  This newfound opportunity was a way for them to bring a newer widget or software to drive a widget or accessory to the market on their own and share it with the community.  Sharing is driving factor more than commercial success for most of these folks.  Their pitches are not polished, but the cleverest of them have hoards standing around their open-air booths trying to take a peek, ask a question, or touch the examples of output.  The atmosphere is electric with inspiration everywhere.

3D printing has been a big interest of mine for several years, but I still have not taken the plunge and bought one even though great output can be had on a machine for less than $1,000.  The fine detail from newer machines could only be had on machines 2-3 times the cost a couple of years ago.  Being able to prototype hardware parts to test them out in plastic prior to building them in stainless steel in a matter of minutes or a few hours is very appealing.  However, I get some of the same benefits by doing all of the development work in SolidWorks with real moving 3D models on the computer screen.  Touching and feeling how the gears interact is just another confirming element that 3D printing can offer.  We’ll get one soon based on what I saw at the fair.

My biggest mission was to explore CNC machining.  There were several systems on hand that gave me some great ideas on how to automate some of our wood processing.  Now the decision is to take an existing system and modify it to our needs or buy components and build a machine custom to our needs.  The itch that I have needed to scratch for some time is to build a custom machine.  The show introduced me to some new resources who can help me accomplish for a few thousand dollars what it would take a $90,000 store-bought machine to do.

This machine is how I will spend some cold dark winter nights working on and 2Fold will take another leap into the computer-driven processing world with faster, more flexible, and better products available to the architectural and construction communities.  I’m so glad I spent the time going . . . thank you, Maker Faire.

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