• I took my dad to the 3D printer expo and here’s what we saw

    A 3D printed wrench: this was my dad’s personal favorite because he loved the potential to actually print useful things

    On the weekend of 8/23, I took my dad to the 3D Printer World Expo. I should explain: My name is Ari Porad, I am 12 years old and I live in Seattle. I am also very into 3D printing, so I was excited to go and see all of the printers, especially the deltabots, which I had never seen in person before.

    My dad doesn’t know very much about 3D printers.  So, the expo was an opportunity to figure out what kind of printer would be good for a beginner like him.

    makerbot-replicator-desktop-3d-printer-5th-generationFor my dad, I would get a Makerbot Replicator because it is an established company, and it is very simple to use. Also, there is not a lot to break. It prints reasonably big, and if you only use Makerbot filament it is unlikely to break.



    Once my dad is a little more familiar with 3D printing, I might get him a Kossel Pro. It seems like the team at OpenBeam has spent a lot of time and energy building a high quality printer that won’t break.



    Another candidate for my dad once he is a little more advanced is the Airwolf 3D. With a huge print volume and two extruders, it is really capable of printing anything.  You can see in this picture that it printed a traffic cone, and my dad thought that was pretty neat.

    And now, this: A photo gallery of some really cool things:

    A 3D printed wrench: this was my dad’s personal favorite because he loved the potential to actually print useful things.

    This was printed on one of the printers that uses SLS, or a projector that shines on light-sensitive resin, instead of a thermoplastic extruder.

    We met a group of people called “Made in Space”, who built a 3D printer that is currently on the International Space Station. One possible use of the technology would be Apollo 13 in 1970, on Apollo 13 the astronauts desperately needed to fit a square air filter in a round hole.  They barely made it in time and used a lot of duct tape, but if they had had a 3D printer there would not have been a problem because they could have just made the part they needed (pictured above).

    This was printed on a printer THAT PRINTS IN FULL COLOR!!!!!

    I have no words for this, it is just so big! So Big!

  • React Sidekick is hardware designed to differentiate software

    React Sidekick

    The React Sidekick is a sort of portable panic button, currently available for pre-order on Kickstarter. It’s a simple concept — tap the nondescript, coin-sized button and it activates your smartphone and calls out for help. The device uses a Bluetooth LE radio, so it weighs practically nothing, can be clipped to your clothes or your keys, and the battery lasts a year. All the brains of the product live in the React app running on your smartphone.

    The React personal security app has actually been in the App Store for over a year and has been downloaded by some fifteen thousand people. But it faces stiff competition. A quick search on the app store for “personal security” reveals dozens of apps. React realized the potential of a companion device to help it stand out from the pack.

    Also, where app pricing is under enormous downward pressure towards free, people are still willing to spend money on a physical good. Fans of the free app may choose to pay for the extra functionality of the device, and the physical product can be promoted through retail and other channels unavailable to an app.

    Seattle entrepreneur Robb Monkman initially approached a top product design firm to help bring the React Sidekick from idea to production. But the price tag came to almost a million dollars. Instead, he partnered up with manufacturing expert Rob Bangerter. Together they’ve bootstrapped the design and engineering with a tiny fraction of that money.

    It’s common for device manufacturers to use software to differentiate their products, but relatively novel for it to work the other way around. As hardware manufacturing gets easier we should see more examples like this one, where a single-purpose device is used to provide differentiation for what is still fundamentally a software product.

    Check out React Sidekick on Kickstarter — the campaign ends in less than 48 hours.