Well, this was an unplanned convention for me, but it was pretty cool anyway.
Two days ago, Amie DD made a post on twitter about being in Baltimore for ERRF2018. I make a bad crab joke, and don’t really think much about it, expecting it to be a big convention in Baltimore.
Yesterday morning, I actually look into the convention. It’s the inaugural East Coast Rep Rap Festival (You can visit their website here), and it’s being held at the community college that’s between where I live and my day job. And I somehow had off on my day job today. So I bought a ticket and headed down.
The convention was quite small – It fit into a sports arena, and only took up most of the space, but what I saw was great. There were a great many people there, from cosplay prop printers to big manufacturers and everything in between.
- Amie DD (Website) (Twitter) As mentioned above, she’s the whole reason I even found this convention. She does a lot of nerdery – Cosplay, LEGO, 3D printing, IoT, software development… I’d have to dedicate an entire article to capture everything.
- GreyBeard3D (Website) (Twitter) This guy is doing an amazing thing – Acquiring as many filaments as he can and printing the same print with them, and documenting the results. Seriously, take a look at his website. It’s a great resource to see how specific filaments actually work and look, and he gives what settings he used too. Not just temperature, but retraction, speed, etc. An amazing resource, and it really needs to be out there more.
- 3D Gloop! (Website) (Twitter) These guys have a really neat product. Not only does it glue things together, it does so extremely well. They had a demo piece that was holding two 25-pound weights up, no problem. Of special note is that they’re currently running a Kickstarter – And after talking to one of them for a while, I can tell they have their stuff together and as long as they get the money, they’ll have everything well in hand. They have contracts for production, have done some test runs, have labeling and packaging down, know how to ship it, so literally all that they need is the funding. And it’s not even that much.
- Central Pennsylvania Open Source Conference (Website) (Twitter) The name is a good description. They’re a conference for Open Source things, and this year it’s on December 1st in Lancaster, PA. They’re looking for speakers, and they have a program to help out first time conference speakers, so if you’ve ever been interested in doing that, here’s your chance. They also had a nice “Open Source” activity in the shape of a Star Wars puzzle, where people could just walk up and put pieces together.
- E-Nable (Website) These folks are some of the best people. They’re taking 3D printing and making prosthetics with them. From Captain America arms for kids to simple hands for adults, they’ve done everything. The change they can enact with a simple device – At a fraction of the cost of traditional ones – is amazing.
- GekoTek Build Surfaces (Website) GekoTek has a different type of build surface than most, and I honestly couldn’t tell you precisely what it is (That’s why I linked their website). But the chat I had, and the examples they showed me, were really impressive. It’s super smooth, and quite grippy – One of the examples was a single layer of PETG – and they have two types. One for unheated build plates, and one for heated. What’s really cool about the one for heated build plates is that it’s adhesion is terrible at room temperature. So once the print is done and the bed cools down, it pops right off. Their claim is 100 prints or 6 months of use, but realistically it’s going to be more. The rep I was talking to said they got something like 200 prints out of one. They seem to work really well, and they have good adhesion but also a good release. Sometimes having good adhesion can be a bad thing if you can’t get the print off the bed.
I’m sure I’m missing tons of things. Prusia was there. BuildTak was there. OSHPark was there. There was a super tiny 3D printer there. It was great.
It wasn’t perfect. For a first year convention, it was Amazing but there are, of course, improvements.
First and foremost, there wasn’t much to keep me there for more than a few hours – Let alone come back for a second day. There was a single stage for talks, so if a talk wasn’t interesting, there was just a floor to walk. And while there were plenty of people, it’s not something you can just walk for the whole day. There was also an issue with the space – Being a sports arena, when the announcing system was made, it drowned out everything.
My thoughts, as an attendee, are pretty simple – There was extra room in the exhibitor hall. A bunch of it. Instead of having dead space, a smaller exhibitor area would be good, and using the extra spaces for another stage or two for talks would be great. Maybe even a few talks or panels where things are a little more interactive and fun. There was a 3D printed derby there, which was cool – Perhaps move it to the second day, and have some designers on hand to help kids design a derby car, and then have the printers right there to print it for the next day.
I will close out with a positive, though. I went to a 3D printing expo in New York City a few years ago, and it was a well put together and fancy one. I preferred this one, since it was less stuffy salesmen trying to sell you their stuff and more of a community thing of people doing cool stuff and wanting to show it off. So long as it comes back next year, so will I.