Noted @ World Maker Faire 2018

A handful of highlights from Make: magazine’s annual craft, creativity, and technology event.

I spent a few hours this weekend at World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. I’ve never been to a Make: magazine event before, and I was surprised by both its enormity and diversity, encompassing everything from fabric crafts to blacksmithing, robot battles to tiny homes, and cosplay to 3D-printed chocolate.

Inevitably, a few hours wasn’t enough to see everything in-depth, but here are a few items that caught my interest at the event:

Palette 2

Palette 2In the fair’s “3D Printer Village,” I was intrigued by the boldly colored prints on display at the Mosaic booth; these were in fact created using Palette, a new kind of device that enables multi-material 3D printing on desktop devices. Palette is a material ‘splicer’ – multiple threads of plastic feed into the device, which merges them together into a single, multi-colored filament; when synchronized with a 3D printer, this enables prints to use up to 4 colors or materials, seamlessly integrated without the need for multiple extrusion heads. It doesn’t seem like it should work – yet the results I saw were truly stunning.

Fat Cat Sampleator

SampleatorFat Cat Fab Lab presented this tactile, kinetic installation that sits somewhere between a music box and a drum sequencer. Users fit wooden pegs of different colors and sizes onto a giant plywood disc. When the wheel is spun, music is generated, its rhythms based on the peg pattern and its tempo matching the speed of the spin. With a little safety proofing, the Sampleator could make a great science center or children’s museum experience.


5AXISMAKERBritish firm 5AxisWorks presented their first-of-its-kind product, a desktop device that combines CNC routing and 3D printing with five-axis tooling. Using subtractive manufacturing, the additional rotation axis lets this device mill extremely complex forms out of solid objects, and its compact scale makes a good fit for smaller workspaces. CNC technology is far outside my area of expertise, but I’m intrigued by its potential to build complex physical interfaces.

The Looking Glass

The Looking GlassLooking Glass Factory showed off their latest volumetric display, known simply as The Looking Glass. Using a small display with a lenticular filter behind a block of lucite, the device presents ‘holographic’ 3D content without requiring visitors to use glasses; the images are small but look magical. I’ve invested in a few of the company’s Kickstarter campaigns in the past, with mixed results. I’ll get the chance to test drive The Looking Glass when mine arrives later this year, but for the time being I’m excited by its possibilities.


PXLWahila Creative‘s PXL project is built around a set of large cubes, a bit more than a foot in each dimension, with embedded color-changing LED lights. The cubes can be arranged in a variety of configurations, and users can customize and interact with the colors using a mobile app. The tech here is not new, but I was impressed with the visual impact of the stacks of cubes and their potential for play-based exhibits. Currently positioned as an event rental only, I hope Wahila can find ways to build more meaningful experiences with PXL.

Digital Apple

Digital AppleOne of the most striking installations in the ‘darkroom’ gallery at NYSCI, Digital Apple was comprised of three small cubes hanging from an abstracted ‘tree’ structure. Each cube featured low-resolution LED arrays on each facet, presenting images of a single apple on a tree branch; the cubes reacted to touch, turning on and off in response to visitor interaction. Created by Young Bum Kim, Dequing Sun, Yumi Nakamura, and Peiqu Su, the artwork’s visual presence and form factor was immediately appealing, though its ‘garden of eden’ concept seemed a bit underdeveloped to me.

Sonic Moonbeam

Sonic MoonbeamAnother artwork in the darkroom gallery, Balam Soto‘s Sonic Moonbeam, consisted of a triangular wooden arch with rows of small clear cubes on each side; when activated by touch, the device generates sound and dazzling projected imagery. The installation’s particle effects and sonic output were simple but elegant, and while the artwork may not ‘mean’ anything (or even purport to), its craftsmanship made it a small-scale spectacle.


BlinksBlinks is a Kickstarter-funded game system comprised of small hexagonal ‘smart’ blocks that can be snapped together in multiple configurations using embedded magnets. Each Blink incorporates six multicolor LEDs, a push-button, and the ability to communicate with adjacent blocks. The combination of technologies in the small form factor makes for a wide range of gaming possibilities, from strategy to puzzles to simple action games, and their elegant appearance make them well suited to artistic creations as well.

There was much more to see, of course, from the popsickle-licking kinetic sculpture to the giant, automobile-destroying mechanical hand. At the onset of my visit, I wondered a bit about the purpose of Maker Faire, but after a little exploration, I concluded that it didn’t need a purpose; the massive variety of things to see and do truly provided ‘something for everyone’ – myself included.

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