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Cool watches made on a mill

The guys over at Mistrua designs make some incredible watches using a router / milling machine.  The body of the watch is made out of wood and the leather band is cut and sewn.

This time piece is called Ferro.

"Monikered as the "Leonardo Da Vinci" of timepieces, the Ferro collection capitalizes on an unequivocal alture of confidence and prominence. From the boardroom to the marina, it's striking rectangular geometric classic design fits the ever-changing needs of your lifestyle. Enchanting Arts and Crafts confour with oversized straps that come in a plethora of colours."

The Digital Manufacturing Revolution

The extraordinary evolution in digital manufacturing is driven in part by a drop in the low cost of entry.

Winner of the Desktop Factory Competition Announced!


3D printing holds great promise for prototyping and small-volume production, but it has the potential for high volume production as well.  Over time, the software interfaces that control these machines will improve, the number of files available for printing will increase exponentially, and the precision of the machines will be indistinguishable from parts made on an injection molding machine.  However, to become competitive with conventional manufacturing processes, the unit cost of each part produced by 3D printers must be reduced.
Low-cost 3D printing, including Up! Plus, Makerbot’s Replicator II, Cubify, Printrbot, Solidoodle, and the Ultimaker, range in price from $399-$2200. These machines require extruded plastic filament that costs about $40-$54 per kg. This is between 5-10 times the cost of the raw resin pellets.  Last year, at Maker Faire in San Mateo, we launched a global competition to find ways to reduce the cost of producing parts on a 3D printer that uses plastic filament as its feedstock.
Lesa MitchellZach KaplanAnnMarie Thomas
Lesa Mitchell of Kauffman Foundation, Zach Kaplan of Inventables, Ann Marie Thomas of Maker Education Initiative, 

The competition was a designed as a prospective prize. This meant the reward went to the first team or individual to successfully meet all the critera. The open call to the world offered a prize that included $40,000 cash provided by theKauffman Foundation through the Maker Education Initiative, and a 3D printer, Shapeoko CNC Mill, and a desktop laser cutter provided by Inventables.
Here were the rules:
The first team/person to build an open source filament extruder for less than $250*(calculation details below) in components can take ABS or PLA resin pellets, mix them with colorant, and extrude enough 1.75mm diameter +/- .05mm filament that can be wrapped on a 1kg spool.  The machine must use the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).
At Inventables we will verify the BOM posted matches the machine sent. We will verify we can order all the parts from suppliers in an attempt to build it ourselves. We will then run the machine and verify it meets the criteria listed on the challenge. After we are done with the evaluation we will send the machine back if you wish.
The competition will end when the first person sends in a valid solution. If the clock runs out before then we will likely extend the time frame. The decision will be based on what the state of the art solutions for 3D printers look like at that time.
The winner of the competition will be objectively determined by the first one to upload a solution to the iStart website.
Thirty eight teams registered to compete. We received three fully assembled functional machines and one of the three met all the criteria stated in the contest.
Inventor Hugh Lyman
Inventor Hugh Lyman
The winner was Hugh Lyman, an 83 year old retiree who lives in the greater Seattle metropolitan area. Hugh has been designing and manufacturing products and devices almost his entire life. He owned a manufacturing company with up to 100 employees that he sold in 1996. These days he spends most of his time inventing in his home workshop below, along with golfing and fishing. Time.com had a story about him and the contest today.
Hugh Lyman's Workshop
Hugh Lyman’s Workshop
Hugh has built and rebuilt his own 3D printer several times. He has also built a small pad-binding machine that he sells online. When Hugh saw the competition he thought it would be a fun challenge that he could tackle. I had dinner with Hugh and his wife last Saturday and his wife Jeanne said, “he never stops.” She explained that working on his projects keeps him young. For someone 83 years young, Hugh is sharp as a tack. The machine is called the Lyman Extruder, which is shown below in a diagram and photo.
Lyman Extruder Diagram
Lyman Extruder Diagram
Lyman Filament Extruder
Lyman Filament Extruder
The Lyman Filament Extruder extrudes filament from pellets for use in a 3D Printer. It can extrude 1.75mm and 3mm filament with easy nozzle exchange. The material cost is about $250.  You pour the pellets into the black cup and it is slowly mixed and fed. He used an auger drill bit to do the mixing. To my surprise, despite the short distance when I ran the tests, I used a let-down ratio of about 2% red pellets and it yielded a consistently light red color filament that was in spec.
Here’s Hugh’s video of the machine in action:
Hugh has released a second version of the machine and we’ve already seen other folks improve the design like this.
This competition is evidence that the R&D labs of the future are not only inside the walls of major corporations and research labs. It demonstrates that by identifying a clear need and presenting a clear incentive people all over the world can help develop solutions. The clarity encouraged people to participate who might not have seen the problem, but were willing to experiment with possible solutions.  Hugh’s success here is evidence that anyone regardless of age can develop and reduce to practice ideas and inventions in their house.  Digital fabrication tools are going to distribute production but they are also distributing R&D.  The R&D lab of the future is borderless and resides with those that have interest.  As of the publishing of this post Hugh’s design has been downloaded by 10,484 people all around the world.
Zach Kaplan Presenting Award to Hugh Lyman in Seattle
Zach Kaplan Presenting Award to Hugh Lyman in Seattle at MakerHaus.
Zach Kaplan is the CEO of Inventables.

TED 2013

I've been going to TED conferences for 8 years.  Each year has different theme and typically the theme is only loosely tied to the content of the talks.  This year the theme was taken seriously.  The theme: The Young, The Wise, and The Undiscovered was the foundation and the TED team did a worldwide talent search to find speakers.  I had been thinking abou the fact that it must be harder and harder to find compelling speakers who's ideas or storys aren't out there.  The internet, YouTube, at the TEDx program have made it much easier for great ideas and great people to float to the top.  This year the TED team literally traveled around the world using the local TEDx hosts as their local ambassadors and brought some young voices from countries all over the world to the TED stage.

The stage had a tree house and was a bit more dynamic than years past.


At each TED I get new ideas, fresh perspective, and the opportunity to bump into people that I don't see in my day to day routine.  Here are some highlights:

Educational researcher Sugata Mitra is the winner of the 2013 TED Prize. His wish: Build a School in the Cloud, where children can explore and learn from one another.  Sugata Mitra is a Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University in the UK, has been awarded $1 million in seed-funding for his wish to design the future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their innate sense of wonder and work together. He hopes to build a School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can embark on intellectual adventures by engaging and connecting with information and mentoring online.

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He believes:


To prepare for the realities of the future workplace and the rapidly changing technological landscape, it is critical for educators to invite kids to get good at asking big questions that lead them on intellectual journeys to pursue answers, rather than only memorizing facts.

After a series of experiments revealed that groups of children can learn almost anything by themselves, researcher Sugata Mitra began his pursuit to inspire children all over the world to get curious and work together. In 1999, Sugata and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering a slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera). Soon, they saw kids from the slum playing with the computer, learning English and searching through a wide variety of websites on science and other topics, and then teaching each other.

Sugata and his colleagues carried out experiments for over 13 years on the nature of self-organized learning, its extent, how it works and the role of adults in encouraging it. His innovative and bold efforts towards advancing learning for children all over the world earned him the first-ever $1 million dollar TED Prize award. At the 2013 TED conference, Sugata asked the global TED community to make his dream a reality by helping him build the ultimate School in the Cloud where children, no matter how rich or poor, can engage and connect with information and mentoring online. 

I find his approach to be extremely compelling.  I have been thinking about new models for education for quite sometime.  His research into who designed our educational system and why it was designed with the current structure was fascinating.  It is truly out dated and the results we are seeing in schools are getting worse every year.

Another talk that I found interesting was done by Punk Rock star Amanda Palmer.  I'd never heard of Amanda before but I found her approach to her fans fascinating.  She has a very close relationship with her fans and she developed this style when she was just starting out by being a street performer with a hat requesting donations.  After each show she does a meet and greet with her fans.  She finally got on a record labels, released and album, and sold 25,000 copies.  To her surprise her label found the sales to be disappointing.  She was thinking holy smokes 25,000 people bought my album!  In response her next time instead of going through a record label she launched a kickstarter for her album.  She raised over $1M from roughly 25,000 fans.

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The last talk I'll point out in this post was a fireside chat between Chris Anderson and Elon Musk.


Elon is the driving force behind SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and Solar City.  Chris asked him if there is anything we can learn from how Elon operates.  What can we understand about his approach that we can teach our kids.  Elon found this to be a very hard question to answer and kept saying "I don't know."  Chris persisted and eventually Elon thought about it a bit more.  He explained that most people think and act based on analogy.  They take a look at what someone else has done and do something similar based on those results.  Elon said that he uses Physics as his inspiration.  He always builds up his strategies and thoughts from first principles.  It's a seemingly simple idea but it struck me as having wide implication.  When you derive what you should do from first principles it forces you to get a very clear set of thoughts on the actions that you should take.