GE Garages Pop-up Maker Space in Chicago, Sept 20-Oct 20

A new temporary maker lab has appeared in Chicago! Inventables team member Michael Una visited the GE Garages pop-up maker space and offers his review:

Entering this space is like walking into a future space egg laboratory. There's a ton of natural light, a chill lounge area with comfy mod chairs, and a living wall of plants. Oh, and pretty much every digital fabrication machine you'd ever want to make things with.

When I arrived, Inventables' Edward Ford was showing the staff how to run the big ShapeOko CNC mill he had built specially for the space. Edward's been building variations on this design for a while and it shows. This machine should work well for all the workshops and projects going on all month.

 The tools are well-placed and inviting, with lots of informative signage and ample staff to answer questions. I liked how there were lots of reference materials and example pieces on hand to show off each machine's capabilities.

I spotted a legion of these little acoustic iPhone amplifiers near the injection molding machine. The detail was perfect and it works pretty well as a functional object. Personally, I like pieces that show off the true utility of these processes and tools, and this was a perfect example.

 In addition to the digital fabrication tools, there's a full complement of hand and "traditional" tools like drill presses to add finishing touches to a project.

I'm really looking forward to the workshops getting up and running. This week, Massimo Banzi of Arduino is giving a talk, and Samantha Alaimo of Inventables is starting a series of workshops to build a specially designed lamp with Chicago Public High School students. All the programming looks amazing and it's free to the public, and is designed for people of all skill levels to get started right away.

The space is open from Sept. 20-Oct. 20 at 401 N. Michigan Ave in Chicago. Full hours and the workshop schedule can be found on the GE Garages website. The summary is Tues-Sat: 12:00 pm - 8:00 pm and Sun: 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm.

3rd Ward's Make 'n' Take Event

Amongst the mayhem of New York Fashion Week, Inventables' own Lucy Silverman tucked into the iconic Chelsea Market to take a breather, grab a bite, and get building at 3rd Ward's Make 'n' Take Pop-up space. 

3rd Ward is an educational and inspirational mecca for artists, designers, hobbyist, makers, and DIY-enthusiasts alike. It is the go-to place for learning through making. They have classes varying from 3D rendering to cheese making. In addition to their diverse and unique curriculum, 3rd Ward provides its members with both a community and resources to create. Think of it as a gym for creativity. 

From September 9th to 15th they set-up shop, quite literally, in the ground floor of Chelsea Market to give the public a taste of the 3rd Ward experience.

Upon entering, participants are immediately overtaken with the spirit of making.  To the left, six lathes hummed away while instructors demonstrated possible take-away projects. Sawdust flew, revealing wooden tops, candle holders, and bowls. To the right, beautiful reclaimed logs displayed more advanced projects that were made in shop, and available to purchase. Passersby who may have come to the market for the delicacies were treated to a sample of the 3rd Ward experience, finding an appetite for wood working instead.  

Throughout the day participants can drop in and make a simple project such as these wooden tops or sign-up to make more involved pieces like a skateboard or an Enzo Mari chair. Being a novice woodworker myself, I signed up to make a spinning top for my first ever lathe project. 

Tim Dowse, artist and 3rd Ward instructor, (pictured above right) greeted me enthusiastically and helped me get set up on the lathe. He explained the different tools and techniques I would need to make my top whirl while we chatted about wood working.  


I have to say it was a lot of fun getting my hands dirty in the middle of a commercial center. I asked Tim if the Pop-up site was deliberately chosen to spark a conversation about making and consuming. He explained that it was, but also added "but if someone just wants to walk in here and make a kick-ass project, thats cool too." 

I couldn't agree more.  A big thanks to Tim Dowse and everyone at 3rd Ward for a great experience!

To learn more about 3rd Ward visit: www.3rdward.com

Craving a similar experience? Chicago's Harold Washington Library frequently hosts events in their Innovation Lab. September 20th is the laser cut greeting card workshop
For more events and information about these events Click Here.    

IDSA Launch Day 3D Printed Car Challenge

The Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) is a non-profit association of professional designers.  Each year their big event is their annual conference.  At the 2013 event Inventables teamed up with Paul Hatch the conference chair, Computer Aided Technologies, Stratasys, Models Plus, and The 3D Printer Experience to put on a 3D printed pine wood derby contest called Launch Day. 

The race was captured by 6 cameras strategically mounted around the track.  We even had one camera at the top of the track and one in the crash zone getting slow motion coverage of the action.

Models Plus built a 6' track that was modeled after a Ski Jump.  The purpose of the contest was to give Industrial Designers the chance to really flex their design muscles with 3D printing technology.  In addition since this years design conference theme was "Breaking the Rules" we opened up the entries to designers from all over the world. This meant you didn't need to be in the IDSA and you didn't need to be attending the conference.  We thought this was an interesting twist because the combination of low cost digital manufacturing tools and crowd funding sites like Kickstarter and Indie Gogo it is really changing who can be a designer and manufacture a product.

The actual track looked like this:

In order to challenge the designers Inventables offered up three 3D printers as prizes to the best car in each of the following 3 categories:

1. Best flight (farthest distance traveled)
2. Best crash
3. Best looks

Each of these three champions won an Up Mini 3D printer pictured below:

The seven runners-up will receive a $100 gift card to use on Inventables.com.  

In addition to the 3D printed material each team was allowed to use two sets of pinewood derby wheels and one ball bearing.  The entrants could choose between two 3D printers:  Connex 350 Polyjet, with Acrylic photopolymer and resolution of 0.025" and a minimum wall thickness of 0.050". or Fortus 400 FDM, with ABS and a resolution of 0.040" and a minimum wall thickness of 0.065".  And the entrants could choose colors, but the part has to be molded as one piece (and therefore one color). 

The top 10 cars that were printed and raced on Launch Day are featured in a gallery here.  You can click each car to download the file, ask questions to the designers, and in some cases learn more about their design process.  In addition to the unofficial sponsors Priority Designs and Kaleidoscope printed their own cars.  This was a HUGE help because the prints were so big we almost didn't have enough time to print everything.  We really appreciate that the design firms had an industrial grade 3D printer on premises and were so willing to help.

Here are some photos of the winners:

Designed by Priority Designs in Gahanna, Ohio this car was actually made as a barrel.  Instead of using the wheels it used the straps on the barrel to ride the rails of the track.  The concept was that when the barrel hit the ground the structure would shatter freeing the princes from the cage.  The race vehicle was printed as one part.  However the 3D Printer Experience broke the STL file down into it's component pieces and printed a color one on their MakerBot Replicator 2.  They then assembled the pieces with super glue and painted the details on Mario and the princess.  This car won both Best Looks and Best Crash!


Here's what it looked like assembled

And from the side.

The car that crashed was actually printed three times!  Once by Priority Designs and then again by Stratasys.  Due to the size of the print it took 48 hours to complete and then 24 hours to soak in a bath to remove the support material.
Here's what was left after the best crash!

Designed by Reut Kovetz of Fahrenheit Design in Austin, Texas the Balloona car was designed to fail.  The concept was that the car would speed down the track and when it hit the ground break into a bunch of little pieces.  The secret sauce of this car was that each of the pieces where spherical so when it broke apart the balls kept rolling.  It worked successfully and this car won best flight as it traveled the farthest.

The Balloona Rednering
The actual car

On the way to it's crash!