Sunday, 21 April 2013

Make Munich report

Make Munich 2013!

The first maker faire in Southern Germany (or possibly in all of Germany) was Make Munich this weekend. I went Saturday, because I also wanted to start the sword fighting season this weekend. There was a lovely mix of 3-D printers, electronics kits, vintage computers, upcycling jewelry, guerilla gardening, textile hacks, and more. A very dangerous place to go, but I managed to not buy stuff for more than €80 - a POV spoke kit for my bike, some cute pieces for Mickey, and a tiny stepper motor driver. I was quite tempted by the LED strips, though, as you will see below.

The big star of the show was the 3-D printer, of course. It was everywhere, in all manner of styles. Fabbster was there with about 10 of their modular systems, which look very simple and useful. FabLab had a one-cubic-meter one that even I hadn't seen before, unfortunately new enough that it didn't work yet. The group shown on the left had a more-printed-than-usual RepRap, the little yellow one in the front.

There were also a number of companies who would print your things for you, shouldn't you not want to handle the care and feeding of new, mostly-experimental systems. What surprised me most was the number of different materials you can get prints in. On the right, i-Materialize's "Periodic Table of Materials", including steel, titanium and gold! These are essentially made by having a powder of the material, heating it to just below its melting point (so don't try this at home, kids!), then shining a fairly weak (couple of watts) laser at it to fuse a bit together. The amount of detail on these was quite amazing, one figure had a magnifying glass in front of it. On the lower right you can see a resin print in clear resin, very lovely surface, and the things in front are MineCraft-style models:)

Of course the main local maker space, FabLab M√ľnchen, was represented with a goodly chunk of the upstairs section. They showed off a lot of the things they'd done over time, but didn't bring that many 3-D printers (which was fine, since there were so many already). They brought Bazinga!, the 30W laser cutter they were lucky enough to get donated, and were able to let people use it. They also had a number of kid-oriented activities, which was quite cool.

Several small companies (or not-quite-yet-companies) were showing their products, from modular rail systems over kits to useful programs and services. One company was showing off their 3-D finishing product, which essentially ensured that a model was a proper volume by turning surface-defined models into volume-defined ones. A pretty specialized system, but from personal experience, I can say it's useful. Another company, Fritzing, provided low-cost PCB production, and demoed their program for PCB design. I quite like it, essentially you can work on the same model in a virtual bread-board, a logical diagram, and a PCB layout, and the other ones get updated appropriately. While still in beta, it looked quite useful, and their prints were just beautiful, lacquered white with black print.

There were many more things, like the local ham radio group, retro-computing groups, a Pac-Man board game, and what-not. The audience was extremely varied, with lots of families with little kids (some less-than-10-year-olds and their dads were soldering together). I managed to get interviewed twice, once by Welt am Sontag, once by a camera crew from I-know-not-where (if anyone sees it, let me know; I did it in my best German, which is not that good).

More pictures and descriptions on the photo album. Sorry about the image quality, I wanted to have my hands free to play with things, so I didn't bring my SLR.

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