Scientists, hobbyists, and entrepreneurs: five fresh interviews from 2011

Best of the Blog 2011 – Interviews, Thoughts & Opinions

Here’s five of my favourite interviews from 2011: we’re talking printed organs, education, DIY, hobby printing, and the future of connectivity. Kick back and tune in!

3D printing organs

PopTech talks to Dr. Gabor Forgac, founder of Organovo, a company that sells “the world’s only commercial bioprinter proven to create tissue.” (more…)

What happens when everyone and everything becomes connected?

These are the beginnings of some exciting times indeed

This short film explores how connectivity is changing our lives in ways never before imagined. Through conversations with a mix of people including David Rowan, chief editor of Wired UK; Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr; and Eric Wahlforss, the co-founder of Soundcloud, we learn that there may be greater changes in the next ten years than in all of the past half-century.

“…when the light bulb was the big thing and they dug up all of NY just to be able to put light bulbs in the houses, they didn’t really see the extension of light bulbs – that you could have other electrical appliances.

We are at the light bulb stage of the Internet.”

It’s well worth setting aside 20 minutes to watch, absorb and be inspired.

via Sugru

Escape Velocity podcast with CEO David ten Have

“…treating manufacturing as an unsolved problem” ~ David ten Have

Escape Velocity isn’t just about entrepreneurship in the technology sector. It’s about the social impact and change that’s being brought about by new businesses — or as they say in their own words “innovation that matters, the technology behind the products and services that can change the lives of individuals, communities and societies around the world and create a brighter future.”

Every other week, Escape Velocity hosts a new podcast to introduce listeners to “creative enterprise and change-makers”. They’ve interviewed leaders of companies doing everything from recycled footwear to interactive gaming to global reforestation.

This week they spoke with Ponoko CEO David ten Have and got Dave talking not just about the wonders and realities of 3D printing, but also the underlying vision of changing the environmental impact of manufacturing as well as the challenges of growing a small business in the nascent field of digital fabrication.

Stream or download David’s interview at Escape Velocity.

What happens when you turn a middle school library into a hackerspace?

guest article by Thomas Maillioux

above: David designs an animation for his LoL Shield with LoL Shield Theater

Editor’s note: Several months ago I put a call out on this blog for a DIY electronics blogger, and I couldn’t believe how many funny, friendly, fantastically qualified people from all over the world responded.

One such person was Thomas Maillioux, an unconventional librarian in France. He told me about his work to bring hackerspaces into the libraries of public schools in metro-Paris to teach kids about electronics, programming, design, and even 3D printing.

He graciously accepted my invitation in broken franglais to tell his story here on the blog. I hope you enjoy!

What happens when you turn a middle school library into a hackerspace?

by Thomas Maillioux

A hackerspace at school

I was lucky enough to work through the 2010 school year with a bunch of brilliant, curious pupils at the Evariste Galois middle-school in Epinay sur Seine in the northern suburbs of Paris.

2 hours a week, we’d meet up at the library to try and answer — through research and tinkering — all the questions they had about computers, electronics, gaming and programming.

We created a small hackerspace where the kids programmed RFID tags, designed a logging system of their own with Touchatags and Google Docs, created animations with Arduinos and LoL shields, compared automatically-generated and human-written code, and even designed their own video games. So what did I learn from this teaching-meets-tinkering experience?

“My project, my pace”

All of the projects I mentioned were chosen by the students themselves. For them, being able to decide what to work on was a huge motivator to actually doing the work — something which might also explain the amazing amount or work the pupils achieved over the few months of the hackerspace experiment. They wanted to come to school early and stay late so they could tinker together!


DIY without owning the tools — Dale Dougherty of MAKE interviews Ponoko CEO David Ten Have

talkin’ robots, 3D printing, and on-demand manufacturing to the masses

Ponoko’s David ten Have sat down with Dale Dougherty, founder and publisher of Make magazine, to talk about Personal Factory — a distributed and on-demand manufacturing system available to anyone.

David talks about how the Personal Factory platform works (how Ponoko makes your stuff, where Ponoko makes your stuff, and what you can make stuff from), but more importantly he discusses with Dale the importance of bringing on-demand manufacturing tools to the masses.

“You can make almost anything you want, anywhere you are. You don’t need a big lab, a maker space, hacker space, fab lab…” says Dale. “You could do this on a computer, press a button, and have it delivered to you…”

“Exactly. And that’s the exciting thing that has emerged over the past four or five years,” explains David. “[We’ve] started to bring these tools online. So that means you can have your own virtual factory, your own Personally Factory, that you run from your computer. And the parts turn up, just like books turn up from online stores.”

Many of Ponoko’s customers don’t just use their Personal Factory to make one-off designs. Several small businesses, from jewelry designers to toy makers to providers of custom housing for DIY electronics, run on Personal Factory.

Interested in designing and making your own stuff? Learn more about Personal Factory and sign up for yours, free.

Waka Roa [First] Light

When New Zealand cultural heritage and digital manufacturing meet in a first of a kind eco-house

Earlier this year Wellington designer David Hakaraia designed a light for the solar decathlon house project.  The house was designed and built by a team of Victoria University architecture students – a group privileged to have been selected as one of 20 university teams to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011.  This was the only entry, ever, from the southern hemisphere.  The house was named First Light, and this is where David, known to all as Hux, drew his inspiration.

Hux’s light references the first waka – traditional Maori canoe that arrived to the pristine landscapes of Aotearoa.  The waka precedent is articulated not only through the overall form of the design, but through its use of Pacific binding techniques and Whakairo – traditional carving.  The Waka Roa light represents the heritage of many New Zealanders with its mixture of design elements from Maori, Pacific and European cultures.  It blends traditional motifs with contemporary technology and expresses Whakairo using digital manufacturing techniques.Hux talks about the project under the cut:


“We need copying to build a foundation of knowledge & understanding…

and after that, things can get interesting.” ~ Everything is a Remix

Everything is a Remix is a 4 part video series created by Kirby Ferguson. And part 3, entitled The Elements of Creativity, explains how copying is essential to innovation.

The 7 minute video (which you can watch after the jump) explains that, “Nobody starts out original. We need copying to build a foundation of knowledge and understanding.”

Product engineering is the focus of this part of the series, and the video begins with examples of variations and improvements on existing inventions.

The creation of the personal computer is the main case study, and there’s a bonus 4 minutes or so on the concept of multiple discovery.

How 3D printing is changing consumer products

Talks from the 2011 RAPID conference

Consumer Products was one of the major topics at this year’s RAPID conference on additive manufacturing. I attended all five presentations and was honored to be one of the speakers presenting on how 3D printing was changing this area of design and manufacture.

This is the fourth and final post on my experience at RAPID. What follows is summary of each of the talks on Consumer Products.

How to Create an Industry with 3D Printed Consumer Products

The first speaker was Janne Kyttanen, founder of Freedom of Creation.

Kyttanen was 100% designer from his insistence on using his own MacbookPro to give a Keynote lecture (We were supposed to only use Windows and PowerPoint.) to his Marilyn Monroe by Warhol Madonna t-shirt.

And it was from a designer’s perspective that he talked about his vision of a new industry completely based on 3D printed consumer products.


How digital fabrication is democratizing product design

presentation for the 2011 RAPID conference

Last week I presented one of the Consumer Products talks at RAPID 2011. Several people approached me afterwards and asked for a copy, so I’ve decided to share it here on the blog. View and download the PDF here.

Here’s an abbreviated version (14 instead of 36 slides) of my 30 minute talk.
And because the conference was about additive manufacturing, the presentation focuses on 3D printing.

I started out by giving some context around the maker movement and explaining that a handful of new companies, all launched within the past 2-4 years, are helping people create their own products.

Then I outlined the 4 factors that make the democratization of design possible. (more…)

Public outcry over Urban Outfitters stealing independent design

A simple tumblr post goes viral

It’s currently a trending topic on twitter from New York to Chicago to San Francisco. Urban Outfitters is selling a knock-off jewelry line originally created by independent designer Stevie Koerner.

Koerner’s own label tru.che is well known for its United/World of Love necklaces, silhouettes of states and countries with a single hollow heart inside.

Yesterday, Koerner published a screenshot on her tumblr I Make Shiny Things of her exact designs being sold on Urban Outfitters online store and wrote:

My heart sank a little bit. The World/United States of Love line that I created is one of the reasons that I was able to quit my full-time job. They even stole the item name as well as some of my copy.

I’m very disappointed in Urban Outfitters. I know they have stolen designs from plenty of other artists. I understand that they are a business, but it’s not cool to completely rip off an independent designer’s work.

I’ll no longer be shopping at any of their stores [they also own Free People & Anthropologie], and I’m going to do my best from here on out to support independent designers & artists.

Please feel free to pass this link on. I really appreciate all the support & love I’ve received today.