Makers are Designers, too!
Here at ANDesign, we like to share unique ideas – anything that may inspire individuals to dive into the world of design. With the rise of sites such as Etsy and Pinterest, people have rediscovered the joy of crafting and reimagining everyday items. Couple this with affordable rapid prototyping technology, including 3D printers and CNC kits. The maker movement embodies the do-it-yourself ethic, while sharing newfound knowledge with others.
Joan Voight of Adweek hits the nail on the head when describing the maker movement:
“[It] is the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers. A convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans, the niche is established enough to have its own magazine, Make, as well as hands-on Maker Faires that are catnip for DIYers who used to toil in solitude. Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers. The creations, born in cluttered local workshops and bedroom offices, stir the imaginations of consumers numbed by generic, mass-produced, made-in–China merchandise.”
The Maker Faire has been around since 2006 celebrating the work of backyard inventors and fabricators. The movement blends science, engineering and art and makes it enjoyable to all ages. The would-be Edisons of our time come from all backgrounds and skill levels from the hobbyists and professional designers alike. This was all made possible by the internet and advancements in 3D printing tools.
At a Maker Faire, there are various exhibits and speakers who share their knowledge and seek to inspire others to invent. Speakers and exhibits will explore topics ranging from engineering, to robotics, and even fashion and kinetic art. One such example that blends all of these is the El Pulpo Mecanico created by Duane Flatmo, which made its Maker Faire debut in San Mateo this past May. Standing over two-stories tall, the robotic octopus uses propane tanks to shoot jets of fire from its tentacles.
Websites such as Thingiverse allow anyone to upload their 3D constructions while sharing it with the world. Makers can download models of action figures, jewelry and even instruments such as a violin. This website transformed DIY to DIWO (do it with others) and emphasizes the idea of open-source learning. That is, anyone can take the files, tinker with it and reinterpret the design to make it their own.
There is no doubt that the growing popularity of the maker movement has given attendees a glimpse to the design world. MakerBot has even created an app for iOS tablets. MakerBot PrintShop gives users the ability to customize premade 3D models.
Earlier this year, MakerBot worked with the State university of New York New Paltz to introduce the MakerBot Innovation Center. The room has over 30 MakerBot Replicator 2s, desktop 3D printers and scanners to give a valuable resource to students interested in the design world.
As a comprehensive design firm, ANDesign uses the same MakerBot Replicator 2 found at the Innovation Center to print mock-ups for our clients. 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process where the PLA filament is molded layer by layer to create a prototype. Making 3D prototypes on the Replicator 2 could take hours to print. Since the machine uses an affordable PLA filament, each model uses less than $5 worth of material. We can print out early prototypes in-house to see the scaling and have a tangible model to further refine a project.
Hobbyists are able to own their own CNC (computer numerical control) machine kits at an affordable price. We use a desktop CNC milling machines to carve out prototypes from blocks of plastic or other materials such as wood and acrylic. We appreciate the maker movement’s open-source value and DIY attitude because we were able to piece together our own CNC machine from a $600 Shapeoko 2 kit. Industrial-grade CNC machines could cost well over $20,000.
An unintended effect of the maker movement and Make Faires includes exposed countless people to the world of design whether they know it or not. For that, we are thankful.
The maker movement solidifies the fact that the world needs more designers and inventors. Some people can easily make prototypes and one-off creations, but to fully conceptualize a product and produce it for mass markets it is necessary to consult a design firm such as ANDesign.
If there is a goal we should all strive for, it is to leave this world in better shape than when we came. Whether that means making new art or fabricating a new tool to help humankind, designers and makers shape the world.
The upcoming World Maker Faire will be held in New York in September. But if you’re not in the area, you can immediately start producing 3D models with the PrintShop application for free. Get out there and make, design and create!