Showing posts from May, 2014

Hackerspace tour part 2: Double Union

5/14/2014: Day two of our Bay Area Hackerspace tour brought us to Double Union, a hacker/maker space for women in San Francisco's Mission District. Their mission is to "create a community workshop where women can work on projects in a comfortable, welcoming environment." You can read a great article written by founding member Liz Henry on why they do what they do and how to make your own Feminist hackerspace here

This hackerspace was my personal favorite of the tour. The community had obviously take great care in setting up and organizing their space, and it felt very warm and inviting. The work spaces were laid out very well and there were separate areas for quiet working or studying and large-scale making. Hackerspaces can take on a lot of different forms, and this one was obviously a very tight-knit community that was proud of their space and supportive of their members in a very personal way.

Zach and I got the machine set up and gave a quick crash course on how to…

So Many Hackerspaces!

While we were in the San Francisco Bay Area for MakerCon and Maker Faire, we decided to spend our evenings visiting as many local Maker/Hackerspaces as we could. I personally found it really interesting to see all the activity going on in the area, and each space had it's own character and mission that reflected its members and their approaches to making. It's a big wide world out there.

Day 1: TechShop SF

Techshop is a bit different than other maker spaces. It's a for-profit organization, kind of like a fitness gym but with waterjet cutters, welding equipment, and big ol' lasers. We visited the San Francisco location and set up a Shapeoko on one of the big worktables upstairs. My first impression was that this space is huge, clean, and well-organized. There were maybe 60 people throughout the building elbow-deep into various projects. I wish we had gotten more time to take the full tour because their machine shop downstairs looked amazing.

People crowded around and cha…

MakerCon Recap: There's a revolution going on

Inventables' Zach Kaplan and Michael Una were out in the Bay Area recently for MakerCon, a conference "providing new insights into local and global manufacturing, design, workforce development, education and even creative culture", organized by the fine folks at Make Magazine. 

We learned a lot and had the opportunity to share some of our own experiences, and also got to make one big announcement.

In case you missed it, Zach gave a talk in which he announced that we're giving away a Shapeoko 3D Carving Machine to a public maker space in all 50 states (plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico).

If you're interested in applying, or know someone who might be, the application form and all the pertinent information is available here.

Zach gave a brief talk as part of a panel with Bunnie Huang and others on the process of going from idea to a finished product. He discussed some of the issues we've encountered as Shapeoko has grown and walked the audience through some of th…

Ninjaflex Filament

We just got Ninjaflex filamentin the store and are having a ton of fun with it.  It is super squishy and perfect for making car tires, bumpers and cell phone cases.  We wanted to print a ninja, so we used the official mascot of Pumping Station One's CNC Build Club: The CNC Ninja Squirrel.

We printed a few of them at about 40mm tall.

Next came the fun part.  We tried to torture them to death.  We could not kill them.  Ninjaflex is pretty cool stuff.

Print Settings.
We printed it using our MakerBot Replicator 2X.  The default lines came out rather thin so we created a custom profile for it.  That profile is attached below.  Unzip the file into the [username]/My Things/Profiles folder and you're good to go!
The profile is on the product pages of the store.
You select the profile from the dialog "Make" box.

Why the Maker Movement Is Important to America’s Future

I met Tim Bajarin at TED 2014 in Vancouver.  We started chatting and I asked "what brings to you TED"?  He explained since 1981 he has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Hewlett Packard/Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others. He had met and worked with Steve Jobs on a number of occasions and also wrote articles for USA Today, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time and Newsweek magazines, BusinessWeek and most of the leading business and trade publications. The TED Conference is a unique place where when you turn and chat with the unassuming person sitting next to you they often have a decorated history and are at the top of their profession.  In this case I was chatting with a person that had a front seat to the personal computer revolution.

We met up again last weekend at Maker Faire in San Mateo California.  Tim was walking around obse…

Impact Engine - June 22nd Deadline

Chicago-based accelerator Impact Engine is looking for passionate entrepreneurs trying to solve the world's toughest societal and environmental challenges. Its 16-week program is designed to provide mission-focused entrepreneurs with the capital, business resources, and network they need to build successful companies that positively impact the world. Apply by June 22nd for the opportunity to build and grow a successful impact business alongside like-minded entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors. 
If accepted, startups receive the following in exchange for 7 percent equity in the company: $25,000 in seed funding; access to dedicated mentors; business workshops and seminars; the opportunity to present at Demo Day; co-working space; pro-bono legal services; fundraising support; and more. Learn more at apply at Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so get yours in today! Target Sectors: Climate & Environment, Educat…

The Quiet Cut Spindles Have Arrived!

We have been using these Quiet Cut spindles internally for quite a while.  We absolutely love them and everyone who sees and/or hears them, loves them too.  The first thing to love is the sound level.  They are very, very quiet.  In a slightly noisy office, workshop or hackerspace you may not even know that it is on.

The second thing to love is the collet.  The collet is the part of the spindle that clamps the bit.  The collet is a standard ER11-A.  It comes with a collet for 1/8" shank bits, but we also sell collets for 3/16" and 1/4" shank bits.  We sell additional collet nuts too in case you want to pair your collets with nuts to save time when swapping sizes.

The third thing to love is the power.  These have over twice the power of a rotary tool.

We have an awesome and totally comprehensive blog post about using this spindle on a Shapeoko with spindle control via grbl or TinyG in the works.  It should be done shortly after Maker Faire.  In the mean time, thi…

We are donating a 3D Carving Machine to Every State in the US!

San Mateo, CA – May 12, 2014Inventables, Inc. today announced it will give away 50 3D carving machines to publicly-accessible spaces in each of the United States. The announcement was made at MakerCon, a conference and workshop focused on digital manufacturing and hardware development that takes place in Silicon Valley. Organizers of maker spaces can apply here.

The Inventables team was inspired by the success of the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, whose Innovation Lab of 3D carvers, laser cutters, and 3D printers is free and open to the public.

“We believe that to ignite the digital manufacturing revolution, we need to provide free access to these important 3D carving tools to as many people as possible,” said Inventables CEO Zach Kaplan. “We hope that access to a free 3D carving machine and free software will help reboot American manufacturing education, and allow people to start their own small-scale manufacturing businesses in the United States.”

3D carving, also known a…

Chicago North Side Maker Faire

The world-renowned Inventables street team was on hand at the Chicago North Side Mini Maker Faire today, and let me tell you, there was nothing mini about it!
We were introducing makers of all sizes to Easel—our free design software that runs right  in your browser!

Easel allows you to design something in 2D, instantly view it in 3D, and cut it out of real materials like wood, plastic and soft metals on your Shapeoko.

Attendees made their own custom-designed keychains, and Easel took care of all the confusing technical details so they could focus on inspiration. 

Sign up for beta access at

Also, there were adorable bunnies.