… a free two-day unconference (unscheduled conference) for anyone who loves anything related to technology, data, culture, community, open source…and more!



Just about recovered from Saturday’s revelry, and what a great time we had! The atmosphere was really open and friendly, and the interest in our Mendel was evident from the moment we got it out of the car. Some had never seen a 3D printer and some had already completed their own, but whatever the level of familiarity reactions were almost entirely positive.

We gave away lots of OSHW logos that we’d printed out and attached to business cards with a paperclip. Some of our example prints in particular attracted a lot of attention e.g. Martijn’s Tornado, the 3D Printed Roller Bearing, and perhaps unsurprisingly being an open source event, the head of the Android mascot.

Dad also gave a talk about RepRap, a slightly abridged version of the one from Reading Geek Night. Here are the videos for those who missed it:

Video courtesy of mikethebeeuk

A question we always get asked is “What are they for? What is the point of having one?”, which is probably deserving of its own post. Someone put it very well on Saturday, saying “It is a solution awaiting a problem.”. It is still early days, and I think not enough people know enough about the technology to fully explore its potential. The engineers envisage prototyping, the potters printing ceramics, the bakers like it for custom cake decorations, brides want custom wedding cake toppers, builders are using it for printing construction materials,  doctors for printing replacement organs… the list goes on. Perhaps the better question is “What can’t it be used for?”!

Quite a few people seemed interested in having their own 3D printer, enquiring about the costs and effort required to build one. After the Reading Geek Night we announced plans to host a Build Camp in the Reading area, the idea behind it being that we will ease the pain of building your own 3D printer in several ways:

  • avoid figuring out which machine to build and the various improvements to choose, or spending time calculating the bill of materials and sourcing them all – a kit will be provided for a set up that we ourselves will have built and tested.
  • be guided through the assembly instructions by those who have already built their own machines, passing on their hard-learned lessons and helping you avoid the various “gotchas” along the way
  • access that extra pair of hands required at various points throughout the build that make it all so much easier, but you just don’t have if you’re building it on your own
  • learn how to maintain your machine through constructing it
  • receive advice on software chains and configuring and calibrating your machine and software
  • be taught how to source objects to print and how to go about printing them
  • get ongoing support in the form of a Thames Valley RepRap User Group, which we hope the build camp will be a springboard for.

Before we can hold one though we need to know there is sufficient interest, and have created an event on EventBrite.com for anyone interested to sign up. It is for a preliminary meeting where we can negotiate a place and time for such an event that is convenient for everyone.

So all in all an excellent day, the only disappointment of which was that I was kept so busy talking about RepRap and answering questions that I didn’t get to experience any of the talks!

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