Michael Golubev doesn’t temper his enthusiasm when asked where the business of 3-D printing is headed.
“It’s going to be bigger than the Internet, bigger than smartphones, bigger than anything we’ve seen before,” says the 30-year-old owner of local startup 3Dprintler. “It’s going to revolutionize manufacturing.”
Technology such as 3-D printing which allows virtually anyone to design and build their own goods has become far more accessible over the past few years. Mr. Golubev’s company is one of nearly 50 exhibitors taking part in this weekend’s Ottawa Maker Faire, which bills itself as the fastest-growing such event in the world.
The two-day exhibit, which takes place Saturday and Sunday at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, is hoping to attract up to 6,000 curious tech buffs who want to check out the latest in 3-D printing, electronics and robotics. This is the fourth edition of the Maker Faire, which began in 2010 and drew 4,000 people last year.
Remco Volmer, one of the event’s organizers, says the new technologies have implications for virtually every sector of society, from retail business to health care.
For example, he sees a day in the not-too-distant future when 3-D printers will be used to “manufacture” not only consumer products such as custom-fitted shoes, but more complex items that can benefit users’ long-term quality of life like prosthetic legs.
“These new technologies allow people to very quickly fabricate or produce,” says Mr. Volmer, the program manager at Artengine, a “creative technology” centre in downtown Ottawa. “It gets into the hands of a far broader demographic of people.”
The exhibitors at Maker Faire reflect the diversity of uses for emerging technologies. Among the creations on display will be a “Martini Bot” that mixes up to 19 different variations of James Bond’s preferred cocktail with the push of a button, and ukuleles built with the latest in computer-aided design and laser-cutting tools.
Mr. Volmer says Artengine, which is hosting the event, sees artists as the R&D department of the DIY manufacturing movement, experimenting with different equipment and techniques to see what the emerging technologies are capable of producing.
“The analogy is always that in fashion shows nobody in their right mind would wear it in the street, but it points to where certain things are going on a day-to-day basis,” he says. “In a similar way, we see what artists are doing with new technologies as sort of a vanguard of what it could mean for everyday life.”
The Ottawa Maker Faire runs Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. Regular museum admission rates apply. For more information, go to makerfaireottawa.com.