News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Wayside Furniture

Knight Foundation


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Science and Technology




Exploradio - A tour of maker culture
'Makers' are part of a new movement that combines high-tech with hands-on, as people rediscover the joys of making things.
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
A sign at Akron's hackerspace SYN/HAK invites people to explore the world of maker culture. The club is one of around 150 hackerspaces in the U.S.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Desktop publishing revolutionized the world of printing in the 1980’s. In the 90’s, digital recording changed the way music is made. Now, 3-D printers are making desktop manufacturing a reality.

In this week’s Exploradio, we take a tour of maker culture in Northeast Ohio.  It’s a movement that combines high tech with old fashioned do-it-yourself creativity.

Exploradio - A tour of maker culture

Other options:
MP3 Download (4:05)


(Click image for larger view.)

Sharing the urge to hack 
Our first stop is SYN/HAK, Akron's hackerspace. 

It’s actually Trever Fischer’s garage - a place where people come to make things.

Fischer explains that hackers are people who make something new using a device in ways other than originally intended...like the old-fashioned rotary dial he uses to program a robot. 

Tinkering around the garage is nothing new, but Fischer says the new generation of makers is combining high-tech electronics with social networking.

Fischer says the information age is transforming the landscape of making things through an iterative cycle of feedback.  "You come up with an idea, you share it, everybody knows about it," and that's how ideas improve, according to Fischer, a newly graduated computer programmer.  


Home made 3-D printers 
The next stop on our tour of maker culture in Northeast Ohio is the Shaker Heights home of Rick Pollack, founder of MakerGear.

Pollack demonstrates the 3-D printers he makes in his dining-room assembly plant.  A spool of plastic wire feeds into a moving print-head, which quickly melts it and ‘prints’ an object onto a small platform. 

Artists, engineers, educators, and entrepreneurs use 3-D printers to make everything from toys to prototypes.

Pollack even prints parts for his printers using the machines he makes.  He says anyone can now design and make nearly any plastic product, something that used to require large-scale injection mold technology.  

Removing the barrier to entry
Although 3-D printers have been around for a couple of decades, they’ve always been out of the average person’s price range.  Now, they cost less than thousand dollars

Pollack says it’s not about capital anymore, desktop manufacturing has removed the barrier for people wanting to take an idea from concept to store shelf. He says, "the cost to enter is very low, what’s really required now is know how.”

Affordable desktop technologies like laser cutters, mills, lathes, 3-D printers allow anyone with an idea to "fabricate just about anything.”

But more than anything, Pollack sees the maker movement as reconnecting with the urge to create -  “it’s just getting back to getting your hands dirty.”


Think[box] and the thrill of creation
Creativity is nothing new for Ian Charnas.  He’s operations manager at Case Western Reserve University’s new hackerspace called Think[box].

Charnas is an artist and engineer who's made everything from the world’s largest twin musical Tesla coils, to some computerized waterfalls with a swing-set attached to them...hickey machines, magical mustache mirror, remote controlled talking porta-potty, dancing chalk boards…you name it.

He says the digital age exploded when creative amateurs began playing around with modern computer hardware.  Apple, Charnas reminds us, came out of the homebrew computer club, "They’re in a garage and they’re tinkering and they’re building what turns out to be Apple Computer,” says Charnas.

At Think[Box] students can design and make things from scratch, including hand-made computer circuit boards AND the plastic case that holds them. 

Charnas says when people come in direct contact with making things, it’s like  the visceral thrill of an amusement park.  It’s that ability to take things that are in our lives and manipulate them and make them interactive, says Charnas.  "It’s the same thing as when you go to Cedar Point and you’re on a roller coaster,  it’s the same center of your brain that gets excited.”

Maker Faire and the maker movement
The first gathering of maker culture was seven years ago at San Francisco’s Maker Faire.  Regional Maker Faires are popping all over the country this summer. 

Meanwhile, Akron's hackerspace and Cleveland’s Makers Alliance bring together local hackers who want to explore in a social setting the new interface between high-tech and hands on.

I’m Jeff St.Clair with this week’s Exploradio


Related Links & Resources
3-D printer demonstration and review

Listener Comments:

FYI, its SYNHAK, not "Hackerspace Akron" :D


Posted by: Trever Fischer (Akron, Ohio) on June 4, 2012 9:06AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

Plane that crashed killing Case students is a popular training aircraft
The following is incorrect. The last few words should read "UNDER maximum gross take-off weight." “They have a normal take-off speed and all those take-off...

Exploradio: The never-ending war against superbugs
Super Federico ,we are so proud of you ,and very lucky to be among your friends . Keep it up human kind needs people like you to survive .Thanks for being so d...

Ohio's Lyme disease-carrying tick population is exploding
Interesting report. The last sentence needs some editing. It isn't a good idea to "save garments carrying ticks for analysis." The garments carrying t...

Teach for America enters third year in Ohio
For more background on TFA, check out http://reconsideringtfa.wordpress.com/

Faith leaders hold week-long prayer vigil at Ohio Statehouse
I think this is the wrong link to the audio. Its Andy Chow about cigarette taxes.

A $30 million plan to turn Cleveland's Public Square from gray to green
The current plan is for the Land Bank, RTA, and Mr. Jeremy Paris to run a bus line through the new Public Square and cutting the park in half. Save Public Squar...

Medina County residents question safety of proposed natural gas pipeline
I'm very concerned about this nexus project. I've received mail requesting my permission to allow the company to survey my property. I don't understand how thi...

A small group of tea party and Democrats protest at Kasich campaign stop
Enjoyed your excellent coverage of the statehouse for sometime now, never dreamed I'd be on. The feedback from people has been great. Thank you. Doris Adams

Top staffers are leaving the FitzGerald gubernatorial campaign
I's too bad that the dirt on Fitzgerald dug up by Kasich's operatives and publicized heavily by the Yellow Plain Dealer has caused the weak staffers of the Fitz...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University