TechShop Bankrupt, Maker Community mourns by taking action

It’s taken us some time to process the magnitude and impact of the recent news that TechShop declared chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Many of the fabricators in our network leveraged the tools provided by the TechShop to conduct much of our clients’s fabrication work.  Those users productivity all has since stopped, delayed expected delivery dates for project work and has pushed that fabrication demand originally supplied by TechShop members onto our You3Dit independent laser, CNC machine and 3D Printer owner / operators.   We’ve scrambled a bit internally to reroute the fabrication of several jobs and are back on track for the short term  (HUGE THANKS to our You3Dit fabricators who stepped up).  We want to help others do the same.

However as of this writing, TechShop is still bankrupt, closed an leaving many people stranded who need help with getting access to machines.  We have to figure out what we’re going to do next to solve the long-term issues created by the absence of the TechShop ecosystem and answer the questions:   What are we going to do in the immediate-term to help people suffering from the TechShop closure?  Short term?  and long term?

Currently, our You3Dit local fabricators can only do so much to fill in the gaping hole the TechShop closing has put into our Maker community heart.  This has especially hurt the small-business owners and other independent contractors who’s livelihood was depended on the existence of TechShop.  Much of the value they put into their products is the craftsmanship stemming from a deep knowledge of how to use the TechShop tools and ecosystem which has imploded.  The way the bankruptcy was handled seems to have left a lot of people in the dark causing real suffering and panic about how these businesses are going to recover in both in the immediate, short and long term.  Many of these TechShop members own tools and materials (worth thousands of dollars) were stored at TechShops and are now locked up waiting for some response from our court system about next steps (updates on this can be found below).  There are many valid reasons to be majorly upset, angry and frustrated at the current situation.

Suffering makers, business owners and all others painfully impacted by the TechShop closure: we hear you and we want to help.  You’re not in this fight alone.

Let this blog post be a start to our effort at You3Dit to help these stranded businesses, independent contractors and all others get back on their feet and with access to the tools they desperately need.  This is no doubt going to be difficult, but as Makers we’re innately poised to solve this major challenge and there is reason to be hopeful.

Reasons to be hopeful:  Makers are builders and consequently, re-builders.  The Maker community is vibrant and is eager to get this problem resolved.  Many people are already jumping in to help.

As makers, we’re used to breaking things, figuring out why they broke and re-designing the solution to prevent future failures.   We used to do this daily at one of many TechShop locations.  Now that is much more difficult.  But there’s hope…We used to say that You3Dit is “TechShop in the cloud”.  You3Dit has 3D designers and fabricators in over 34 countries today who can likely help impacted TechShop members build and re-build an alternative production infrastructure that can help them get their work completed for the holidays.

IMMEDIATE EFFORTS AND WAYS YOU CAN HELP:

Here are some ways You3Dit is committed to start helping immediately:

  1. Provide you paid You3Dit 3D design work which you can reinvest into outsourced fabrication and production.  This work can be found here: https://beta.you3dit.com
  2. Offer our You3Dit fabrication services and for a limited time, re-invest a portion of the proceeds on affected TechShop member projects back into the purchase of new machines for your business:  3D Printers, Laser Cutters, CNC machines, etc.  By aggregating our purchases together, we should be able to negotiate bulk pricing deals.
  3. Helping you onboard your design skills and fabrication resources to people who need help, allowing you to easily quote their work.
  4. Open to other ideas…let us know what kind of help you need or what type of help you can offer:  http://bit.ly/helpTechShopMembers

The following people and businesses have already offered support and leadership directly to TechShop impacted parties:

  1. Marc Roth – CEO of Abricate – facilitating discussions on LinkedIn, Facebook, Slack and elsewhere.
  2. Circuit Launch – Is offering two months free membership to former TechShop members.
  3. Inventables, FormLabs, LittleBits and Inventables have offered some nice discounts for TechShop members who were impacted.
  4. You3Dit – Design resources.  Fabrication resources.  Limited-time partial reimbursement of service fees for purchase of tools to get impacted members back on their feet.  See above
  5. You3Dit Machine Map –  to see machines in your area (some may sadly be TechShop machines)
you3dit-map-11-2017

You3Dit machine map as of November 2017: https://www.you3dit.com/map

Do you know someone or a business that should be added to this list?  Please let us know:

http://bit.ly/helpTechShopMembers

Contribute to Online and Offline Conversations:

  1. Caleb Kraft from Make Magazine has contributed this major list of hackerspaces and makerspaces nationwide.
  2. Reddit Forums – there are many.  This one talks about some of the issues of why this may have all happened and some offer very detailed points
  3. Join the SF Bay Area Makers & Hackers Slack Channel
  4. Join the TechShop Orphans Facebook group – requires admin approval
  5. Thanks to Jim S. and his colleagues, here’s the Hacker Dojo TechShop Townhall meeting minutes from the Hacker Dojo meetup that happened November 20th, 2017.  Lots of important data, information and resources for California TechShop members / orphans.

Have others?  let us know:  http://bit.ly/helpTechShopMembers

SHORT-TERM EFFORTS AND WAYS YOU CAN HELP

Keep the discussion going – the TechShop used to be the meet up location for many Makers (speaking for myself in the SF Bay Area).  We need to find alternative places to get in sync and make progress on rebuilding the Maker ecosystem.  Please inform as many people as you can using the above discussion points, forums and Slack channels to coordinate your efforts so we can all stay involved as much as we can be.

Facilitate Meet Ups – for those of you who have venues or makerspaces that can host orphaned Makers, please let us know.  You can add your resources to the above help TechShop Members Google Form or e-mail me: chris@you3dit.com  Would be eager to co-host something in December 2017 to keep the discussion and access to resources increasing.  I’d recommend a meet up 1x/month until things get back on their feet is probably the right cadence.  There are folks who are coordinating as we speak in the Facebook group.

LONGER-TERM EFFORTS – TO BE DETERMINED

Despite the closure of TechShop nationwide, there exists a vibrant, active and AMAZING maker community that TechShop helped grow.  We need to find a way to keep it alive and thriving.  While the dust settles, it will be come clearer what the long-term solution(s) can and should be.  For ideas and thoughts on how to

At the TechShop, we’ve met many incredible people, made meaningful and lasting friendships and helped so many people build their dreams, but that can’t stop in 2017 because we had a makerspace closure.  There still millions of people who are still in pursuit of their dreams.  Let’s do whatever we can to make the most out of this major maker challenge.

Thanks in advance to everyone who is willing to help.  May the Maker Community come out of this crisis stronger, with new friendships and more resilient than ever.

Sincerely,

Chris D. McCoy

chris@you3dit.com

 

Mini review of the Printrbot Simple Metal – in short – IT’S AWESOME

I definitely made one of the better 3D printing purchases of my life buying a Printrbot Simple Metal for $599 assembled.  From the first day I received it, it was solid and started printing without flaws.  I’m going to give my opinion here first, but I’d also recommend reading the Make Magazine Review by Nick Parks.  He knows his stuff and I value his opinion in the 3D printing world.

With regard to my slicing setup, here’s what I’m running:

  1. Repetier – 0.95F (link to downloads page)
  2. Slic3r engine
  3. With the recommended print settings from the Printrbot Forum (see article)
  4. Octopi 3D print server (link to Octoprint.org)

What I love about this little machine:

  1. Super Reliable – Since I’ve bought it, I have yet to have a failed print – seriously.  Maybe that is because I’ve gotten pretty used to Repetier and and how to set these things up, but out of the gate, it just seems to be working flawlessly.
  2. Large build volume for price – Although I haven’t needed the full 6″ cubed, I know it can do it and I’ve printed iPhone cases and flat surfaces which sometimes pose delamination challenges from the build plate.  This machine seems to handle these larger prints with ease and for approximately US$0.18/cm3, it is a good value (Makerbot is US$0.44/cm3 and the Ultimaker 2 is US$0.26/cm3 for comparison)
  3. New z-height leveling switch – No more mechanical switch and fussing with long screws to calibrate the z-height.  The new Printrbot Simple Metal has a ultrasonic sensor that measures the distance of the nozzle to the build plate repeatedly and consistently.
  4. New filament feeding mechanism – I believe this new mechanism has a fancy name (which is currently skipping me at the moment) but it makes swapping filaments a breeze.

This is the printer I’m recommending to all my colleagues who are on the fence about buying a 3D printer because for the cost of 1 iPhone out of contract, you can have a machine which creates physical objects.

Where this little bot could be improved

  1. The USB connector to the computer – while this may not be a big deal to anyone else, I really hate these USB 2.0 charger ports.  First day I had my Printrbot Simple Metal (PBSM), I tried to move the bot from my desk to my kitchen counter and stepped on the USB cable which then pulled, cringingly downward on the Printrbot motherboard.  Thankfully, no damage seems present to the Bot but the USB connector has no resistance / snap feeling when plugging in the USB connection.  I know it’s bulky, but maybe this could be replaced with the larger, Arduino- or regular Printer-style USB that has a little bit more meat and can’t be bent so easily.
  2. Handle + other common printing accessories included – I found out at the Maker Faire that they were just building a handle for this little bot.  I’m always bummed when I order something to find out there was a new / cool accessory that wasn’t shipped with my new machine.  When I buy, I want all the bells and whistles included.  For example, When I pulled the machine out of the box, I didn’t have any blue masking tape and thus had to use some crappy piece of cardstock with scotch tape (which didn’t work) and I received it AT work so a ton of my colleagues were looking at it with awe.  If only I could have had the infamous blue tape to get the Bot running as designed.  This also happened to me with the Shapeoko 2 I just purchased from Inventables.  Why don’t they include the wood blocks to hold the test Sharpie marker and then the aftermarket clamping kit?   Who doesn’t want the clamping kit?
  3. Some form of heating in the build platform – I am noticing a bit more warping in the metal plate…likely due to the fact that the heat is quickly conducting away from the hot, molten plastic and causing a thermal differential which in turn causes a differential thermal expansion problem (read more about thermal expansion at Wikipedia.org).

That’s it.  No real complaints at all.  The little machine runs like a boss and I’ll likely buy another one once I get my other Printrbot Simple fixed.  I just love what Brook Drumm and his team are making up there in Sacramento.  Highly recommend this machine!

Feel free to e-mail me with questions at chris at you3dit dot com

Slick Rock Trail, Mountain Biking in MOAB, Utah, U.S.A.

It seems we’re all in the game for finding the best camera angle for our GoPros and ContourHD cameras.  In our limited experience here, we’ve found that a “fixed reference” with moving scenery in the background really makes for a cool camera angle, but we don’t always have a way to the camera to our mountain bikes, motorcycles, etc.

For our mountain bike ride in Moab, Utah, we were looking to get a camera down low enough so we could see the terrain of the trail and also stay out of the way of our rider’s legs while they pedaled.  So as you’ll see in the video below, we designed and 3D printed a mount to attach to the universal water bottle mount.  It’s a quick set up and made for some cool camera angles.  The chest-perspective was filmed with a GoPro and the front wheel perspective was filmed with the 3D printed mount and an old school ContourHD which still works like a champ.  We’ve uploaded the model to http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:312744 so you can download the model and print for yourself. Enjoy and let us know if you made one!

Also a huge thanks to Poision Spider Bikes in Moab, Utah for loaning us a 3/16″ allen key to tighten the 1/4-20 screw and hooking up the duct tape!

Don’t know how to get your hands on a 3D printer?  Drop us a line: www.You3Dit.com and we’ll take care of you!  Make Anything, Anywhere…today!

HD camera mounts for your skateboard

Although it was some time ago, Chris—our co-founder—had the opportunity to work with Fox News and the founders of Z-Boards electric skateboards to film a news story on their company.  As part of that story, action shots were needed of the skateboards and they needed to be made quickly.

Z-Board Electric Skateboard with a 3D printed Contour HD Camera mount

Utilizing Solidworks 2011 and a Makerbot Replicator 2 from the TechShop in SF, both the design and print were completed within a couple of hours.  The design leverages two mechanical clamping springs to pinch the skateboard deck and a through hole to w/a countersink / counterbore hole to accommodate the ¼-20 screw head.  The story was covered by Michelle Macaluso from Fox News and we were happy we could assist in some quality news-worthy film.  For details on the solid model and photos, check out Chris’s blog.

You can watch the Fox News Segment at this link.

Also, you can download the Skateboard Clamp from Thingiverse.com

 

Don’t know how to get your hands on a 3D printer?  Drop us a line: www.You3Dit.com and we’ll be glad to help you Make Anything, Anywhere!

 

Hospitals suck…but one You3Dit Maker found a way to improve them

No one likes to be in a hospital, no one.

There MUST be a better way!

There MUST be a better way!

However, Joan–amidst the pain of her surgery–made the most of her unfortunate situation and came up with this brilliant idea for hospital beds–a cable routing tool!  Her request (written from her hospital bed using her smartphone) was:

Subject: “Invention Need”

Body: “Using a Styrofoam cup to manage my IV lines over the bed rail. There MUST be a better way!”

Photo Attachment: (see image to the right)

While Joan and husband were particularly clever to MacGyver the Styrofoam cup as a temporary solution, there was still a clear need for something better.  Thus, You3Dit and its community accepted the design / print challenge…people jumped at the opportunity to help.

Enrique–a You3Dit designer–came first to the rescue and had a series of designs that could potentially improve Joan’s cable situation.

Cable Manager 1.0

Cable Manager 1.0

We were initially a little concerned with the curved bar not being universal enough so we had Enrique propose some alternative designs.  He responded quickly (which our customers LOVE about our You3Dit community, btw).

Cable Manager 1.3

Cable Manager 1.3

Then we suggested that maybe some of these components might be “too thin” for robust cable management so we asked Enrique to beef things up a bit and also make the design 3D printable–in this case, have the snap on part for the hospital bed print as a separate part compared to the fork like cable manager piece.

Chosen Cable Manager

Chosen Cable Manager

Then Enrique had a design we were willing to try out!  Unfortunately we didn’t have a printer near the hospital in LA where Joan was located (do any of you have a 3D printer or know someone who does in Los Angeles, CA?  If so, please DO let them know about our You3Dit 3D Printing Community), so we printed the concept in the San Francisco Bay Area where You3Dit is co-located (or other location is in Madrid, Spain).

Joan and Enrique's cable manager design

Joan and Enrique’s cable manager design

Fortunately, Joan was out of the hospital by the time the full solution was printed (only a short 24 hours after the request was sent).  But that doesn’t mean Joan’s concept, enabled by Enrique’s design and Chris’s 3D print doesn’t still have value somewhere in the market place.  Now Joan–should she care to build a business or market this product, not only does she have something to show to a potential investor–but she also has a distributed manufacturing force that could supply the market quickly with test products.  Therein lies the beauty in the powerful You3Dit community.

We’re always excited about projects like these that are inspired by people who have never designed anything or made anything before.  It is our core set of Designers and 3D Printer owners who help our Maker customers bring their ideas to life and for them, we’re truly grateful.

Until the next time someone wants to make anything, anywhere, the You3Dit Blog is signing out!

You3Dit helped me quit smoking! Seriously!

Well that’s at least our goal with one Maker in our community.  Amine–a San Francisco Resident–would like to quit smoking.  But as anyone who’s ever tried to kick the habit knows, it’s not easy and for many reasons.  One of which is the standard pack of smokes has 20 cigarettes–always begging to be smoked when the urge hits.  Well, what if you’re brilliant like our Maker Amine and said, “wait, what if I could make a pack of cigarettes that only holds 15 cigarettes, then 10, and then 8, and then 5…and finally 1 or 2?”  If the smoker only has access to a few cigarettes when they’re trying to quit, the assumption is that they’ll be able to kick the craving and NOT fall weak to the temptation–because the cigarettes won’t be in their possession.

amine-cigarette-case

Currently, we’re still in the design phases but we’re looking for 3D printers who would be interested in helping us bring Amine’s idea to life.  And more than just bringing an idea to life, you might be part of a You3Dit distributed manufacturing team who helps prolong someone’s life in addition to just helping them make something.

We’re looking forward to updating you all on Amine’s progress in quitting smoking–especially if our community helps him do so with 3D printed parts.

Are you interested in helping people make anything anywhere?  Let us know about it at info@you3dit.com!

The Wobbly Table Wedge

The Wobbly Table Wedge

Back in late 2012, Chris designed and printed a solution to one of his largest pet peeves–a wobbly cafe or bar table. The beauty is in its simplicity. Combining a simple wedge with an integrated clip so that the wedge can easily pop off your key ring and be used to make your table stable.

Read more here at http://www.3dgeni.us/six-of-the-best-key-chain-accessories/

Or download the “Wobbly Table Wedge” on Thingiverse.com: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:32289