Make 48 at the Smithsonian

Make 48 at the Smithsonian

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Last month, on June 10-12, Ultimaker had the great opportunity to sponsor and lend a hand at a great event in a historic institution. Make 48 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History celebrates the American tradition of invention by challenging competitors to produce and prototype an exclusive object within just two evenings. The winners then have the opportunity to license, manufacture and bring that invention to market.

Who are Make 48?

Make 48 is the brainchild of Curt McMillan, Richard Brull, and Bob Coulston, pillars of the invention community and community stakeholders in Kansas City. Together they are involved in the many facets of inventing and innovation. They have been involved with and at times organized the Inventors Center of Kansas City (one of the largest clubs in the nation), supported Maker Faire: Kansas City by holding talks, inviting inspiring speakers, and helping to document innovation at the faire. Last but not least, they have personally invented and brought to market many products as members of the Steel Table Group, a group they helped found. These guys clearly know what it takes to be innovative and what tools to use to get your product to market fast.

The wonder of invention

Make 48 printer farm

3D printing has definitely been one of those tools that can accelerate the time to a first prototype and ultimately, the market and that is where Ultimaker came in. We set up a temporary print farm with three Ultimaker 2 Extended +’s, six Ultimaker 2+’s, and one Ultimaker 2 Go for museum visitors. It was a real hit in the Spark!Lab, a space dedicated to helping visitors learn the invention process, that invention is an essential part of America’s history, and that everyone is an inventor. We also had the Ultimaker community come together and help us to be what the event calls “Tool Tech’s”. These are volunteers that use their skills to help the inventors avoid bottlenecks from gaps in their own skills. Participants didn’t have to worry about knowing how to 3d model a design, optimize the design for manufacturing, or how to choose the right settings to balance speed and quality for 3d printing on our platform. We used Cura 2.1.2 to prepare the designs and utilized the .8 nozzles for maximum throughput and strength, allowing competitors to run many iterations of their designs.

Ultimaker Team at Make48

Matt Griffin and I were the lead Tool Tech’s representing Ultimaker at the event. Additional support was provided by Adam Bouhmad of the Digital Harbor Foundation, Matt Gorton of Printed Solid who also brought Dan Dagen and David Randolph, and Josh Ajima of DesignMakeTeach.

Ultimaker 2+ printing for Make 48
Handibot at Make 48
DeWalt at Make 48

Of the 14 teams totalling 38 competitors from 8 states, 12 used 3d printing for part or all of their prototypes. In addition to Ultimaker 3d printers, teams had access to CNC machines, laser cutter/engravers, as well as access to the professionals in the Smithsonian's fabrication shop. Every sort of traditional tool you could think of was available, including their graphic shop to create marketing materials for the final pitches on Sunday. The challenge this year was focused around Eco-Friendly Household Products! Teams could create products based on water conservation, recycled products, saving power, etc.

From the Shark Tank

The weekend began with remarks from the United States Patent Office and then a group of special folks spoke about their time on Shark Tank. Aaron Krause, Founder of Scrub Daddy, Judy Edwards, Co-Founder of Squatty Potty, and John DePaola, from The Paint Brush Cover, went over the history of their products and how they got to be where they are today. After that teams were off and worked tirelessly through the night. We were surprised at how many teams took advantage of the Ultimakers, making two to three iterations of their designs before finalizing their products. We were swamped and couldn’t have done it without our fellow tool techs.

Make 48 judges

Ultimaker has also been involved with the previous two Make 48 competitions, held at the Maker Studio in Union Station in Kansas City, where a total of 15 Ultimakers are kept running. We love to see what people can do in 48 hours with our printers under such time constraints. Below are the winning ideas, we look forward to seeing them come to market when they go public along with partners like QVC. A bonus for competitors this year is Make 48 will document the whole process for a possible PBS documentary that will run nation-wide.

  • Save Flow by Team 801 - A water conservation faucet attachment
  • Lemon Shine by Team Trident - Cleaning product using all natural lemon juice
  • Wet’s Up! by Inventertainers - Water absorbing product to keep plants hydrated

Save Flow at Make 48
Lemon Shine at Make 48
Wet's Up! at Make 48

Ready to Challenge Yourself?

Make 48 is open to all ages and you can sign up now for the next competition that will be held in Kansas City at the Kansas City Art Institute. You never know, you just might see us there!

All images used courtesy of Make 48.

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