Nick Charlton

Maker Faire 2013

Last weekend was Maker Faire UK, up in Newcastle. Stewart, Dan and I headed up (aided by Stewart’s Dad’s superb driving skills), part of us from Exeter and Dan from Nottingham.

My journey started on the 6:55 train out of Plymouth to get to Exeter for around 8:00, from there we set off on the drive to Newcastle, via Nottingham. It’s quite the trip; we landed at the Life Centre by about 18:00 with just about enough time to setup, grab something to eat, find the hotel and then crash in preparation for Day 1 of the Maker Faire.

Our plan for being there was two fold; one was to evangelise 3D printing (as in, the stuff you can do on your desk) and secondly to help sell a few RepRap kits by promoting Printed Worlds. To do this we bought along a RepRap and spent the weekend printing off whistles. These make a cool demonstration as just off the printer they essentially work (you just have to poke the ball that’s printed inside of the body). We gave away a few to slobbery children (and, er, adults.) We’ll see how successful it ends up being in the next few weeks[^buy].

Dan doing some evangelism.
Dan doing some evangelism.

For the evangelism side, this worked rather well. In the photo above you can see Dan explaining the purpose of a printed part to a group of people (this is likely a hotend assembly, although it’s hard to tell.)

And, as you can see below, we regularly had a rather huge group of people crowded around. The working RepRap (which was printing those whistles) can be blamed for much of it. It was a great crowd puller.

The crowd around the stand on Day 2.
The crowd around the stand on Day 2.

Overall, we had an interesting mix of people come over to the stand. A small proportion hadn’t heard all that much about 3D printing, had seen the RepRap going and came over to see what was going on. A much larger proportion had heard of 3D printing and were subsequently rather impressed with what we were doing and indeed, impressed with the price of the kit we were promoting. And a few others knew quite a bit (these often had RepRap’s or MakerBots or one of the many others that exist) and were more interested in us personally; that was pretty cool.

Another thing that was nice to see was design and technology teachers talking about what they were either doing, or thinking about doing with a 3D printer. This is already something that Stewart has been doing with local schools and colleges around Exeter; the students can work on their project in the morning (say, learning CAD) and then by the afternoon print it and see it as a real object. As someone who was quite uninspired after making the fifth wooden box at school, I can see this as being quite revolutionary — especially on the motivation front.

At the end of day one, we were fed and then head off in search of a pub. Firstly, we ended up at Newcastle’s Brew Dog Pub (which was rather nice), but then I suggested meeting up with Adam, who was in town, and a few other makers at a Weatherspoon’s closer to the venue. Here we ended up meeting Oli Wood and a bunch of other people. And had a fine time. Day 2 then followed, with slightly less, but still quite a lot of people. After closing time, we packed up, found something to eat and then turned in. We were leaving at 7, after all.

Pole Dancing Robots. Photo courtesy of Oli Wood.
Pole Dancing Robots. Photo courtesy of Oli Wood.

As a “maker” myself, it was fascinating seeing everyone else’s creations. From Pancake Bot to the Pole Dancing Robots in the photo above, there were lots of things to see. There was also a good showing from the many Hack Spaces around the country; notably Nottingham who had a huge stand.

Exhibiting at Maker Faire, and the faire itself was great fun. I hope to be at the next one. But in the mean time, I’ll likely next be at the Brighton Mini Maker Faire in September.

[^buy]: And if you’re interested, go and buy a kit. Say I sent you.