News (Maker)

Maker Faire Westport: Call for Makers Open

January 22, 2018

The “Call for Makers” is now open for the seventh annual Maker Faire Westport that will be on Saturday, April 21, 2018 throughout downtown Westport. 12,000 attendees are expected. This year’s theme for the event is #WeAreConnecticut and will highlight the people, places and organizations that make Connecticut a great place to live and work.

“We are looking for creative people who want to share their energy and talents with others,” says Mark Mathias, Founder and Co-Chair of Maker Faire Westport. “We are inviting artists, musicians, engineers, craftsmen, entrepreneurs, students, teachers, businesspeople, comedians and creative people of all ages and backgrounds to inspire attendees with what we as humans can do.”

“Our expanded venues and multiple stages will give makers the opportunity to not only have space to engage our attendees, but be on stages to speak about, demonstrate and interact with interested, curious people,” says Alex Giannini, Manager of Experiential Learning at the Westport Library and Co-Chair of Maker Faire Westport.

Apply online at The deadline to apply is March 15, 2018.

Companies that wish to benefit from sponsorship should contact Mark Mathias at Remarkable STEAM or 203-226-1791.

About Maker Faire Westport

Maker Faire Westport began in 2011 as the first official Maker Faire event in Connecticut. It has grown to become Connecticut’s largest event focused on creativity and innovation. Over the past six years, Maker Faire Westport has become a catalyst for tinkerers, artisans, engineers, schools, libraries, companies and communities. More than 50,000 people have attended Maker Faire Westport and many thousands more have benefitted through educational programs, maker spaces, employment opportunities and business growth. This year, organizers expect to welcome a record 12,000 people to the Faire.

Maker Faire Westport is produced by Remarkable STEAM, Inc. in partnership with the Westport Library. The Maker Faire Westport name is licensed from Maker Media, Inc. For more information, go to

About Remarkable STEAM

Remarkable STEAM is the leading Connecticut organization that promotes innovation and creativity in the areas of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). It focuses on support for education and job creation. Remarkable STEAM is a 501(c)(3) organization. Its leadership team founded and through generous community support, finances Maker Faire Westport and supports similar initiatives. It is creating “maker” events and facilities where people can improve their lives and communities.

About the Westport Library

Since 1886, the Westport Library has been devoted to enriching the intellectual and creative lives of the residents of Westport. Overlooking the scenic Saugatuck River, the Westport Library is a vibrant community hub where people of all ages come to seek information, gain knowledge, exchange ideas and share experiences.

Construction is currently underway on a major renovation project at the Library. Among other exciting features, the renovated space will feature an increased number of conference rooms and quiet areas, an enlarged Library Café, a professional, state-of-the-art recording studio, a larger dedicated MakerSpace and a HackerSpace workshop with prototyping equipment and co-working space. To learn more about the project visit:

The Westport Library earned the prestigious “Five-Star Library” status in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 from Library Journal, the nation’s premier publication for libraries. Only 1% percent of public libraries nationally earned 5 stars.

About Maker Faire

Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker Movement. It’s a place where people show what they are making, and share what they are learning.

Makers range from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers. They are of all ages and backgrounds. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community.

The original Maker Faire event was held in San Mateo, CA and in 2017 celebrated its twelfth annual show with some 1200 makers and 125,000 people in attendance. World Maker Faire New York, the other flagship event, has grown in six years to 900+ makers and 95,000 attendees. Forty larger scale Maker Faires occur in cities around the world—Berlin, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, and Shenzhen to name a few—and over 220 community-driven, independently organized Mini Maker Faires are now being produced in the United States and in 43 other countries around the world.


Maker Faire 2017 Behind-the-Scenes with Alex Giannini, Westport Library Manager of Experiential Learning and Co-Chair of Maker Faire Westport

February 27, 2017

Maker Faire 2017 Behind-the-Scenes with
Alex Giannini, Westport Library Manager of Experiential Learning and Co-Chair of Maker Faire Westport

Q. How did the Westport Library and Maker Faire begin this partnership?

A. Mark Mathias, founder of Remarkable STEAM, Inc., approached the Library with an idea. Our then-Director of Innovation, Bill Derry, liked what he heard and set out to figure out how to make it happen. That first year, they expected a few hundred people, since the MakerSpace was new but nearly 2,500 people showed up!

Q. How long have you been involved with the Maker Faire? Why are you passionate about it? 

A. I’ve been involved since 2015, my first year at the Library. Last year, after Bill Derry retired, I became the co-chair of the event along with Mark. When I first arrived here, I had a very hard time visualizing what a Maker Faire at a Library would look like. Even now, after two of them (one that had nearly 8,000 attendees and another that came close to 10,000 people), it’s still hard to put into words what the Faire is like. It’s an explosion of creativity and good vibes, with some of the most interesting people on the planet sharing the things they’re passionate about. Because, at the end of the day, Maker Faire is about PASSION!

Q. What is involved in making the Maker Faire happen?

A. Lots and lots of work behind the scenes. With a Maker Faire the better answer might be something like, “little elves that appear in the middle of the night and put everything together,” but that’s not the case. The “little elves” are actually a small group of incredibly dedicated people—both from the Library and from the Maker Faire Planning Committee.

Q. Why is the Maker Faire important to the community?

A. Maker Faire Westport is a family-friendly explosion of creativity and a love letter to the Maker movement. We are helping to transform people into makers, not just consumers. Since the Faire is an open event where all the participants share their inventions, tools and resources, open collaboration is encouraged. What’s more, the Maker Faire brings thousands of people to the downtown area, many from outside Westport. It’s an opportunity to showcase our town and all of the wonderful people and activities who call Westport home.

Q. How can the community be involved with the Maker Faire?

A. We are always looking for Makers to set up a table and display their ideas and products and for volunteers to help set up and run the event. If you’re an interested Maker, please fill out our Call for Makers form at If you’re looking to volunteer at the Faire, you can email me at agiannini [at] westportlibrary [dot] org.


October WestportMAKES: Seasonal Fun!

July 12, 2016

October is the season of Making, from DIY costumes and decorations to pumpkin carving and spooky makeup design. Join the MakerSpace for four weeks of seasonal fun, kicking off with costume-design workshops in week one, decoration creation in week two, mask-making and makeup design in week three, and the construction of a zombie laser maze in week four. Finally, mark your calendars for a very spooky evening with our special October “Un-Maker,” Ghost Hunters star, Dustin Pari, as he gives a lecture about the paranormal on Thursday, Oct. 27.

Click the links below for days, dates and times of workshops.

Create Your Own Pokemon-ster: Pokemon Costume workshop


June WestportMAKES Program Invites Astronomy Enthusiasts and Citizen Scientists

June 1, 2016

Physics and astronomy professor and Westport Astronomical Society board member Kevin Green will lead a community build of two prototype telescopes in the Library’s MakerSpace. Members of the public are invited to help with the construction of the telescopes on:

  • Tuesdays from 10 am-3 pm
  • Thursdays 10 am-3 pm
  • Thursdays from 5-7 pm (except June 9)
  • Saturdays from 11 am-3 pm

Celestial viewing with the Library telescopes in the upper parking lot, weather permitting:

  • Wednesdays, June 8 & 15 from 8-10 pm
  • Mondays, June 20 - July 25 from 8-10 pm (no viewing week of July 4)

If the prototyping goes according to plan, several automated telescopes will then be placed in various Westport locations and will be available for astronomy enthusiasts to view objects and events in space, which can be recorded, downloaded and potentially used for “citizen science” data collection. As part of the Westport Library’s bi-monthly Maker-in-Residence series, Westport Library cardholders and members of the Westport Astronomical Society will have access to a website that will allow users to reserve a telescope to observe any point above the horizon or selected objects. During times when community demand is low, the Community Telescope Array (the 5-6 available telescopes) will record asteroid occultations, or shadows of asteroids on Earth’s surface as they pass in front of more distant stars.

Maker, Science

August WestportMAKES a Movie!

June 1, 2016

In August, local filmmakers and Staples high school grads Connor and Carson Einarsen will shoot their independent movie, An Inconsistent Story in Stealing, with local actors and crew members. They will offer classes on script-to-screen filmmaking on a zero budget as well as film appreciation.Information and times for auditions will be announced.

Maker, Movies

WestportMAKES: A Collaborative Community Dragon-Making Project

March 7, 2016

All ages are invited to help build a vehicle-sized dragon during the months of March and April. The dragon, constructed with wood, clay and fiberglass, will be featured at the fifth annual Westport Mini Maker Faire on April 30.

Sculptor Chris Crowe will oversee the project, which begins the week of March 7. The build will take approximately four weeks, and work on the structure will be included in the Library’s all-night Maker Madness event March 12. Library patrons and the general public are invited to help Crowe build the creature throughout the course of the project, which promises to have some surprising features.

Construction will take place both inside the Library and outside, with a good portion of it taking place in the space behind the MakerSpace. Members of the public are invited to drop by weekdays 5pm to closing and all day Saturdays and Sundays. In addition, Crowe will hold a series of free pop-up style workshops:

Friday, March 18, 4:00-5:00: Mold Making 101 (Creating refrigerator magnets)

Friday, March 25, 10:00 AM-11:00 AM:  Intro to Sculpting for Seniors

Friday, March 25, 3:30-5:30: Intro to Sculpting (2-hour class)

Friday, April 1, 4:00-5:00: Intro to Drawing (1-hour class)


Westport Mini Maker Faire Announces Its 2016 Call for Makers

February 2, 2016

mini maker faireWestport Mini Maker Faire organizers announce the fifth annual Call for Makers, an invitation for creative, innovative people and companies to apply to participate in the fifth annual Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, April 30, from 10 am to 4 pm at the Westport Library and on adjacent grounds.

The Westport Mini Maker Faire, produced by the Remarkable STEAM in partnership with the Westport Library, is Connecticut’s largest event focused on creativity and innovation.  Every year, it attracts tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, artists, hobbyists, engineers, scientists, students, teachers, food artisans and commercial exhibitors.  All are invited to show their wares, inventions and creations by applying HERE or at

Westport’s Mini Maker Faire is a free, family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. Attendees flock to the event to glimpse at the future and find the inspiration to become makers themselves.

“Every year, the Westport Mini Maker Faire continues to attract talent that inspires and amazes attendees,” said Mark Mathias, founder and co-chair of the event. “With a planned attendance this year of 10,000, we expect a record number of makers as well as attendees.  We also look forward to announcing some incredible makers as well as leaving a few experiences to surprise and delight people when they arrive.”

To celebrate the Westport Mini Maker Faire’s fifth anniversary, this year’s theme will be “five” in all its possible configurations. Maker projects that incorporate “five” will be featured leading up to and at the event. In addition to makers who incorporate this theme, those who demonstrate the positive impact makers and making have on communities will be specially recognized.

“Makers who apply early and are accepted will be promoted through social media as early as February. This can help makers increase awareness and let attendees get a sneak peak regarding what to expect,” said Alex Giannini, the Library’s Manager of Experiential Learning and co-chair of the event. “Makers that have a connection to either of this year’s themes will receive additional publicity.”

Event organizers are also calling for sponsors, who will have exposure to a planned audience of 10,000 attendees. Interested sponsors should contact Mark Mathias at mark [at] remarkablesteam [dot] org or 203-226-1791.

remarkable steamAbout Remarkable STEAM

Remarkable STEAM, Inc. is the leading Connecticut organization that promotes innovation and creativity in the areas of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). Focusing on support for education and job creation, it is a non-stock Connecticut corporation and is recognized by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a 501(c)(3) organization. The organization finances the Westport Mini Maker Faire and supports similar initiatives. Remarkable STEAM creates “maker” events and facilities where people can improve lives and communities. For more information, go to

About the Westport Library

Since 1886, the Library has been devoted to enriching the intellectual and creative lives of the residents of Westport and surrounding communities. Overlooking the Saugatuck River, The Library is a vibrant community hub where people of all ages come to seek information, gain knowledge, exchange ideas and share experiences. A national leader in innovative public library services, the Library earned “Five-Star Library” status in 2013 and 2015 from Library Journal, the nation’s premier publication for libraries. Only 1% percent of public libraries nationally earned 5 stars. For more information, go to


Robotics at the Library

January 27, 2016

PLEASE NOTE: ROBOT OPEN LAB WILL NOW BE BY-APPOINTMENT ONLY. FOR DETAILS, EMAIL agiannini [at] westportlibrary [dot] org (subject: Robot%20Open%20Lab) (HERE)

The Westport Library's two NAO robots, Vincent and Nancy, have been the talk of the town during their time here. Many of you have seen them in action, and since their arrival date in September, 2014, more than 2,000 of you have been trained to program them!

On December 8, the Westport Library was chosen as one of four sites in the world to host a special Hour of Code event, where we featured a course in Python coding. If you missed the sold-out event, no worries! You can watch the event in its entirety, right here.

Vincent and Nancy have made quite an impact on our community, helping to establish a continued interest in and passion for programming classes and all things robotics.

For upcoming robotics classes and workshops, please see below:

LEGO Robotics Club (Grades K-5) 

The Westport Library Flexes its “Maker Muscles” at First Capitol Hill Maker Faire

June 8, 2015

capitol maker faireWestport, CT—The Westport Library will travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in the first Capitol Hill Maker Faire on Thursday, June 11. The Westport Library is one of a few dozen selected to participate at the faire and panel discussions at the Rayburn House Office Building, which are open to the public, members of Congress, and congressional staff. For the National Maker Faire on June 12-13, the Westport Library will be part of the CT Makers, along with the Fairfield County Makers Guild and Hartford MakerSpace.

As part of this celebration, a series of panels on June 11 with leaders of the Maker movement will precede the Faire and will be held in the House of Representatives Rayburn Office Building. From 2-3 pm, Bill Derry, Westport Library Director of Innovation, will be representing the Library on the “Making in Education” panel, with moderator, Helen Soule, "Partnership for 21st Century Learning" and panelists: Bill Derry; Pam Moran, Albemarle Public Schools; Gene Sherman, Vocademy; Blair Blackwell, Chevron. Many in Congress are curious about the Maker Movement and need to hear directly from those who are already practicing and fostering its growth.

The Capitol Hill Maker Faire kicks off a nationwide celebration of making, and is being held in conjunction with the much larger National Maker Faire at the University of DC, on June 12–13. It will be followed by the White House National Week of Making, June 12–18.

Hosted by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in collaboration with the Congressional Maker Caucus (@MakerCaucus), Maker Media(@MakerMedia) and Nation of Makers(@NationOfMakers), the faire will explore the new movement driven by hobbyists, tinkerers, crafters, and innovators that is breathing new life and innovation into American manufacturing. The movement is also changing the face of informal learning at community institutions with learning that is inherently experimental, inventive, creative, and project-based.

The Capitol Hill Maker Faire is free and open to the public. Itruns from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm and will feature approximately 30 exhibitors with hands-on displays, such as robots, crafts, 3D printers, and other new manufacturing tools, and is open to members of Congress, their staff, and the public. The faire will be preceded by a series of panel discussions, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, with leaders of the Maker movement discussing its impact on the economy, education, and community development. The free panel discussions are ticketed events geared for the public, including members of Congress and their staff.

For details and to register, see the website: Both the faire and panels are open to the press; Press can RSVP to gbullard [at] imls [dot] gov. Follow the day’s events on Twitter with #CHMakerFaire and #IMLSMakes.

“As leaders in participatory learning experiences, museums and libraries are ideal settings for community makerspaces. IMLS has invested more than $4 million in funding to support library and museum makerspaces, and we are excited to help bring the Maker movement to Capitol Hill and to have libraries and museums among the participants showcasing their work in making,” said Maura Marx, acting director of IMLS.

About the Congressional Maker Caucus
The Congressional Maker Caucus is a bi-partisan group of members of the United States Congress who recognize the importance of the community of makers who use technologies such as 3-D printers, CNC machines, laser cutting machines and other manufacturing technologies that enable anyone, from individuals to small and large companies, to craft, build and create, rather than just consume. Follow on Twitter: @MakerCaucus

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 librariesand 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Robots Arrive at the Westport Library

September 29, 2014



Sept. 29, 2014 - A pair of robots have arrived at the Westport Library! See them in action at a special demonstration Saturday, October 11, at 11:30 am on Star Wars Reads Day.

Developed by the company Aldebaran, the 23-inch-tall robots are an incredible resource in the educational realm, as they allow students of all ages to learn computer programming in a fun and practical way. Named Nancy and Vincent, they can be programmed to respond to vocal commands, recognize faces, carry out conversations, walk, catch and kick a small soccer ball, and even dance!

But that's not all these amazing little robots can do.

Developers quickly realized the huge potential for the autonomous pair, as they present a powerful and incredibly expressive medium for creating applications that can tailor the robots to work with us. For example, Vincent and Nancy can be programmed to tell stories and speak languages. But that's just scratching the surface of their potential impact. 

As featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Hour, there are big plans for the robots. 




Q: Why robots? 
A: We are surrounded by robots, in one form or another, from factory assembly lines to responsive smart phones. In the tradition of introducing disruptive technologies such as 3D printing, the Westport Library will take the fiction out of science fiction, and present robots in a new and personal light. Nancy and Vincent will provide demonstrations of their skills, and for patrons who wish to program them, workshops will be provided at different levels. 

Q: When can I see the robots?
A: Vincent and Nancy made their grand debut on Star Wars Reads Day. (Check out the video, here!) In November, a series of classes will begin to introduce and teach robotics.

Q: How can I sign up to learn how to use, interact, and program the robots?

A: Throughout November, we will offer various workshops to learn the software that comes with the robots and introduce the computer language, Python. Check the website for more information, coming soon.

Q: How did the Library pay for the robots?

A: The funds were donated by several family foundations.

Be sure to stay tuned to our website for all the details on what we have coming up with Vincent and Nancy.



Mini Maker Faire Videos!

May 5, 2014

We are gearing up for the 5th annual Westport Mini MakerFaire, which will take place right on Jesup Green on Saturday, April 30, 2016! Check out the latest information, right here. And be sure to check out these videos, from past Mini MakerFaires!


Fourth Westport Mini Maker Faire on April 25, 2015 attracted 6,500 people!

Enjoy this video/slideshow of this year's Mini Maker Faire April 26, 2014. Over 4,000 people came!

Russians Visit MakerSpace: slideshow

October 20, 2013

A contingent of 17 Russian librarians led by Ksenia Volkova of the Russian National Public Library for Science in Technology in Moscow visited the Westport Library’s MakerSpace to learn about American libraries that have implemented innovative programs.  They first visited with representatives of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and stopped in Westport on their way to the Harvard University libraries. Watch this short slideshow:


MakerSpace Birthday Party Video

July 17, 2013

Over a hundred people came to help celebrate the first anniversary of the MakerSpace, which has generated media attention from around the country.

Watch this short video:


Mini Maker Faire Video

April 30, 2013


Connecticut’s 2nd Mini Maker Faire on April 27 was a huge hit! Over 3,500 people came to the Westport Library from all over the region to see dozens of inventors, hobbyists and students showcase their creations. Congressman Jim Himes (CT-District 4) spoke about the economic importance of making things in America, and official recognition proclamations were read from Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg for Governor Dannel Malloy and Representative Gail Lavielle for the Connecticut General Assembly. Here are some highlights:


New Video Tour of 3D Printing

April 19, 2013

Video tour of 3D printing in the Maker Space (April 2013):

More on 3D printing.


Library 3D Printing on CBS

March 7, 2013

CBS Channel 3 reporter Dan Kain interviewed Director Maxine Bleiweis, Asst. Director Bill Derry and 3D Printing Coach Graham Nash about why the Westport Library has 3D printers, and what the future holds.



NY Times on the Power of 3D Printing

February 21, 2013


The New York Times

February 20, 2013

A Factory on Your Kitchen Counter

Link to Photos included in this article

In his State of the Union address last week, along with the standard calls for education reform and energy independence, President Obama gave a shout-out to a growing technology. In a lab in Youngstown, Ohio, the president said, “Workers are mastering the 3-D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost anything.”

When Brook Drumm saw clips from the speech at his home outside Sacramento, Calif., he wanted to reach through his TV and give the president a fist bump. Mr. Drumm, a bald, goateed father of three, designed the Printrbot, a desktop 3-D printer kit. Like a number of other 3-D printers, it uses heated plastic — applied layer by layer to a heated bed by a glue-gun-like extruder — to turn designs created on a computer into real objects.

As Mr. Drumm illustrated in the Kickstarter campaign he used to raise more than $830,000 to start his business in late 2011, the Printrbot is small enough to fit on a kitchen counter, next to the Mr. Coffee. “The goal for the company,” Mr. Drumm said in world-beating tones, “is a printer in every home and every school.”

The technology for 3-D printing has existed for years, and President Obama was referring to its applications in manufacturing. But there is a growing sense that 3-D printers may be the home appliance of the future, much as personal computers were 30 years ago, when Dick Cavett referred to the Apple II in a TV commercial as “the appliance of the ’80s for all those pesky household chores.”

Like computers, 3-D printers originally proved their worth in the business sector, cost a fortune and were bulkier than a Kelvinator. But in the last few years, less expensive desktop models have emerged, and futurists and 3-D printing hobbyists are now envisioning a world in which someone has an idea for a work-saving tool — or breaks the hour hand on their kitchen clock or loses the cap to the shampoo bottle — and simply prints the invention or the replacement part.

Bre Pettis, the chief executive officer of MakerBot, the Brooklyn-based company leading the charge in making 3-D printers for the consumer market, has seen how the technology is already being applied. “We have stories of people who have fixed their blenders, fixed their espresso machine,” he said.

A file-sharing database MakerBot oversees, called Thingiverse, currently holds more than 36,000 downloadable designs. “One of my favorite stories from Thingiverse is a dad who has a daughter who is 41 inches tall,” Mr. Pettis said. “They were going to an amusement park, and she wasn’t going to be able to go on any of the rides because the minimum height was 42 inches. The dad made orthopedic inserts for her shoes.”

Last fall, MakerBot opened what may be the first retail store devoted to 3-D printers, in Lower Manhattan. Inside, demonstration models of the company’s Replicator 2, a slick, steel-framed machine with the boxy dimensions of a microwave that sells for about $2,200, are constantly printing, turning files created on Trimble SketchUp and other computer-aided design (CAD) software into things like architecture models or smartphone cases.

Emmanuel Plat, director of merchandising for the Museum of Modern Art’s retail division, said that in his experience, watching a 3-D printer work can induce future shock. “When people see the machine function, they’re mesmerized,” said Mr. Plat, who counts himself among those impressed.

As part of its “Destination: NYC” collection in May, the MoMA Design Store will feature a Replicator 2 printing New York-themed items for sale, like a miniature skyscraper or taxi; people can also buy the printer, Mr. Plat said.

In an age when shooting video with a phone and sending it to a friend across the world is old hat, it’s not easy to wow anyone with technology. Still, everywhere he goes lately, Mr. Plat said he hears people gushing about 3-D printing. “The word is out in the design community and creative community,” he said. “The applications are limitless.”

BUT FOR ALL THE EXCITEMENT surrounding 3-D printing, there is still a significant gap between its potential and the current reality. The 15,000 or so early adopters who have bought a MakerBot printer are mostly design professionals or hobbyists from the maker community, not homeowners who still have trouble programming the remote. And the things being printed still tend to be trinkets like toys, key chains or just colorful pieces of plastic in amusing shapes.

Mr. Drumm bought a kit a couple of years ago because he wanted to be “the first family on our block to have a 3-D printer,” he said. After assembling the machine, a complicated task that required a knowledge of soldering, he and his 6-year-old son managed to print a bottle opener. “It took 45 minutes and it was kind of crappy, but I was encouraged,” Mr. Drumm said. “O.K., we’re doing this at our kitchen table.”

It’s a sentiment Mr. Pettis hopes other parents will share. He is betting they will buy 3-D printers for their children, despite the current limitations, in the same way his family purchased a Commodore 64 home computer back in the early 1980s. The machines represent the future, he said, and “for the cost of a laptop” they offer “an education in manufacturing.”

Still, at $2,200, a Replicator 2 costs more than most laptops, and in this sluggish economy, one imagines families could find more essential uses for that money.

When he was designing the Printrbot, that was one of the things Mr. Drumm had in mind. He wanted the kit to be easy to assemble and to require no soldering, he said, but most of all he wanted it to be cheap. “It became obvious to me that it can’t be $1,200 or even $800,” he said. He settled on a price of about $550.

“People don’t know what they’re going to do with it,” he added. “I just say, ‘This is such a new technology. Get your feet wet.’ ”

Hearing Mr. Drumm recount his initial forays into 3-D printing, or watching the Replicator 2 print a brightly colored doodad, one is reminded of another Apple commercial, one that ran a few years before the Dick Cavett spot. In the ad, a synthesized voice touted all the things families could do with a home computer, like “create dazzling color displays” on their TV and “invent their own Pong games.” Given the myriad uses we’ve since found for home computers, and how indispensable they have become, the ad is almost absurdly quaint.

Max Lobovsky, one of the creators of the Form 1, a desktop 3-D printer that is stunning in both its design and printing quality, said the home 3-D printer is at a similarly protozoan evolutionary stage. “It’s not just about technology or reducing costs,” Mr. Lobovsky said. “The machines need to be easier to use, more capable and offer more applications in the home. I think all of those things are missing today.”

He and his partner, Natan Linder, envisioned the Form 1, which sells for around $3,300, as an affordable 3-D printer for professionals. Last September, they raised more than $2.9 million on Kickstarter, proof of the enthusiasm in the marketplace. They see 3-D printing technology working its way down from corporations to smaller companies to the engineers, architects and crafters at whom the Form 1 is aimed.

“There are a few more levels,” Mr. Lobovsky said, “before we get to every single household.”  

IT MAY ONLY BE A MATTER OF TIME until a 3-D printer shares shelf space in the home with the laptop or TV, and of course Mr. Pettis already has a Replicator 2 on his coffee table in Brooklyn. But at the moment, the most common place to find a desktop 3-D printer may be at a hacker space, where hobbyists gather to share tips and troubleshoot what can be glitchy machines to operate.

Consider 2-D printers with their paper jams and low-toner warnings, then remember that most 3-D printers use hot plastic and don’t come with an office repairman.

Hack Manhattan holds a weekly event called 3-D Thursday in its narrow second-floor workroom on 14th Street. One evening last month David Reeves and Justin Levinson, two club members, sat huddled around a printer Mr. Reeves had built using plans available free online. Its exposed wires and bare rod frame gave the machine the look of a homely science fair entry, but the bit-like extruder circled with the quick, precise movements of a hummingbird, printing layer by plastic layer.

In a mind-bending technology feedback loop, Mr. Reeves, a research scientist who likes to tinker, was using his 3-D printer to make parts to build another 3-D printer.

Nearby, Matthew Duepner was hoping to get tips on modifying the Printrbot Jr. kit he had bought for $400 at a fair and has been testing in his bedroom. A 15-year-old high school sophomore at the Professional Children’s School, Mr. Duepner learned about 3-D printing at a workshop at M.I.T., he said, and “just fell in love with it.”

He was excited because he had recently found a Long Island source for cheap plastic, the 3-D equivalent of printer ink. “You should see the spool,” he said. “It’s like as big as me. Dude, it’s crazy.”

Mr. Levinson, an editor at Makeshift, a magazine that spotlights creativity, said he can think of at least one practical use for a 3-D printer: the burner on his mother’s oven is broken and she can no longer get a replacement part. “Entire objects are rendered useless because a stupid piece of plastic broke,” he said. Being able to print a new one, he added, “makes the life cycle of objects a lot longer.”

But Mr. Levinson doesn’t have a 3-D printer at home, and perhaps he’s wise to hold off for now.

Another visitor, Jim Galvin, a lighting programmer for film and television, said he spent around $1,100 for a Cupcake, an early MakerBot model. It came in handy when he printed an iPhone holder for his car. Even so, he complained, “anything I’ve printed I’ve printed at least eight times to get right,” and the Cupcake malfunctioned often. “I became a 3-D printer mechanic, and that’s not what I wanted to be.” (A Replicator 2 sitting on a shelf at Hack Manhattan, with a sign taped to it reading “Not Working! Do Not Use,” suggests MakerBot’s latest model isn’t glitch-proof either.)

Still, the iPhone holder Mr. Galvin made seemed to demonstrate 3-D printing’s potential. Because he uses two protective cases, his phone is too wide to fit inside a standard holder — a problem that may be unique to Mr. Galvin, and one he was able to solve with his 3-D printer. “That’s what I think is so exciting about 3-D printing,” he said. “Whatever you need, all that stuff you want to make, you can make.”

It was clear that despite the technical challenges and costs, everyone in the room was as enthusiastic about the technology as Mr. Galvin. Throughout the evening, they debated the various types of plastic, shared operating tips and new developments they had seen or heard (Mr. Duepner described one model that printed pancake batter), and speculated on how 3-D printing will bring about the revolution President Obama foreshadowed in his speech.

If you closed your eyes, you could almost imagine yourself standing in a room in Silicon Valley in the 1970s, listening to the early programmers sing the praises of the personal computer. We all know how that turned out.


Like computers before them, 3-D printers are moving from the business and manufacturing sector into retail stores and homes. There are dozens of printers for hobbyists to choose from these days. We asked David Reeves, a member of Hack Manhattan who has experimented with several 3-D printers and built one, to offer his thoughts on a few.

MODEL Replicator 2 by MakerBot

COST About $2,200

THE BASICS The optimal printer is one that can print quickly without sacrificing quality. The print quality of the Replicator 2, Mr. Reeves said, is better than that of any other machine he has used. While this model is advertised as being ready to print out of the box, Mr. Reeves said the one he used did require user-end software tweaking. Also, the price is a little steep.

MODEL Prusa Mendel

COST About $750

THE BASICS The Mendel grew out of the RepRap project, an open-source initiative with the goal of creating an inexpensive, self-replicating printer. Mr. Reeves built his Mendel with parts he found online, and said it has been “very durable.” Perhaps the best thing about it is that updates are often made to the design; owners can download the files free and print new parts.

MODEL Form 1

COST About $3,300

THE BASICS The Form 1 was a wildly successful Kickstarter project, and it is perhaps the coolest looking 3-D printer on the market. It uses a different technology from the rest of the printers (called stereolithography, it produces higher resolution prints with lasers, the company says), and that accounts for its high price tag. Mr. Reeves said he didn’t know enough about the Form 1 to offer an opinion, though he noted that it’s an out-of-the-box printer, not a kit. “They’re complex machines with complex software and hardware,” Mr. Reeves said, adding that assembling a printer yourself “can get frustrating even for the tinkerers.”

MODEL Printrbot Jr. by Printrbot

COST About $400

THE BASICS One of the members of Hack Manhattan owns a Printrbot Jr., and Mr. Reeves said he has been “really impressed with the print quality.” The price is also attractive for beginners, as is the small size (it can be easily transported). One downside for nontinkerers is that the Printrbot Jr. is a kit; another is that the size of the bed limits the size of the objects you can print.




On Location | Midtown East: One Size (Small) Fits All

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Boston Public the Latest Library to Seek Advice From Westport

January 16, 2013

Maker Space-BettyMore and more libraries are looking to Westport for guidance on a national library trend that is catching on like a hot new book title—Maker Spaces and innovative programs that go with them.

The latest library to visit? Boston Public Library.

Michael Colford, BPL's Director of Library Services, visited recently with BPL Director of Branches Christine Schonhart. He said he first heard about the Westport Library Maker Space last October, when it was featured on the cover of the preeminent national publication for libraries, Library Journal. He also tuned into an ALA (American Library Association) webinar later that month that was hosted by Library Director Maxine Bleiweis and Asst. Director Bill Derry, who spoke to over 800 attendees nationwide about the new structure inside the library’s main level designed as a place where people can connect, create and experiment.

The BPL visit to Westport follows trips by a string of other libraries—Larchmont, NY; Port Washington, NY; Trumbull, Darien and the CT state library. The Scarsdale, NY, school district sent representatives as well for a tour. 

“It’s catching on. We believe in the Maker Space and its potential as a vital service and learning environment for library users,” said Asst. Director for Innovation and User Experience Bill Derry, who was recently interviewed on a NPR show called The Wonderful World of Tinkering. “The Maker Space merges industrial, creative and technology arts to offer something for almost everyone to participate as an observer or maker.”

Since its inauguration last summer with a press conference for members of the media as well as local and state elected officials, the Maker Space has been the venue for workshops, collaborative creating and a lab for learning about computer assisted design and 3D printing. Over 100 parents and children turned out for a recent session called “Making and Learning.” A local entrepreneur has produced a device to prevent teens from texting in their cars. Teen volunteers print out pieces for chess boards and name tags. A grandmother learned how to use a power drill. Passers-by can view 3D images in a photo gallery with 3D glasses, and learn how to view 3D photos in the nearby Annual Report. A solar panel on the roof of the Maker Space demonstrates how energy can be channeled to power a fan. And, plans are underway to install more 3D printers, with computers to go with them. Two state-of- the-art printers by Stratasys, currently on loan, quietly demonstrate the newest capabilities of 3D printing.

“The bigger picture of the Maker Space is about doing things differently,” said Bleiweis. “It’s an example of how we are evolving into a community think tank, answering a need for more democratic, participatory learning and creating.”

On April 27, the Westport Library will host the 2nd Mini Maker Faire, following Connecticut’s first Mini Maker Faire at the Library last year. Later in the spring, Library officials will speak at the Connecticut Library Association annual convention on the Maker movement, and innovative library services.


Westport Library Makes Cover of Library Journal

October 2, 2012

New York-based Library Journal Art Director Kevin HeneganThe Library is featured on the cover of the October 1 issue of Library Journal, the largest library publication in the country. Two of the three pictures on the cover are of the Westport Library’s Maker Space. The cover article is about public libraries that are leading the trend in creating spaces where people can come together to design and create for either personal fulfillment or entrepreneurship.New York-based Library Journal Art Director Kevin Henegan Maker Spaces in libraries are the latest step in the evolving debate over what libraries are, and what they should be. On October 15, Westport Library Director Maxine Bleiweis and Asst. Director Bill Derry will be featured in an American Library Association free webinar about the creation and development of the Westport Library Maker Space.

Photos: New York-based Library Journal Art Director Kevin Henegan taking pictures of the Maker Space

Library Journal article