Much of recent innovation is hard to notice. We’ve read about the human genome being decoded and your car is safer and gets better mileage than ever before, but besides airbags, it’s hard to comprehend such breakthroughs. 3D printing stands apart here because you can literally see and touch the very tangible progress by attending events like the World Maker Faire in New York. A stroll around Maker Faire is one of interaction and explanation; owners and producers of personal 3D printers showcase their machines and their creations. Presentations are also held to give listeners a glimpse into new technologies and breakthroughs.
If you had gone this year and talked to attendees of previous Faires, some conversations you’d have had may have been about the falling prices of printers or the declining percentage of kit DIYers as compared to the growing numbers of hobbyists operating preassembled printers. The resolutions of printers have also been steadily improving, and you could feel that in your hands by playing with the (touchable) models on display; they’re smoother and with much more detail last year.
Diversity of printers is also a bit wider now. If you make your way to Zone B, the future is palpable to the palate as a RepRap prints sculptures of sugar and chocolate. Wandering to Zone C will let you witness 3D scanning and its application to apparel fabrication. You’ll definitely want to visit Zone D though, which is where MakerBot has their booth with the Replicator 2 on display. Besides the brand new personal stereolithograghy units that technically aren’t even on the market yet, the Replicator 2 sets the current benchmark for quality.
There’s so much more that went on at the World Maker Faire 2012 than what’s covered here, including projects not involving 3D printing. Fabrication seems to be making a shift from giant manufacturers back to the people where creativity isn’t stifled by overhead and policy. As ingenuity finds itself spreading through the populace via the anticipated proliferation of 3D printers, I expect Maker Faire and similar events will also spread and grow. I see these events as essential to the progress of humans, as they highlight and encourage our abilities to solve problems and create solutions; such events host how-tos on many topics and increased awareness of 3D printing ultimately translates to lower prices down the road, removing barriers to access for more and more potentially brilliant minds. I plan to attend in the near future and I hope I’ll see you there.
Website: Maker Faire