ERRF 2022 – Post-show round-up by attendees and exhibitors

What were the highlights of ERRF 2022? I asked exhibitors and attendees for their thoughts. The event was well attended by those involved in desktop 3D printing at all levels, from users, hobbyists, company founders, developers of software that powers a vast number of 3D printers, and of course the influencers. 

The East Coast RepRap Festival returned as an in-person event this year to welcome attendees from across the 3D printing community. Taking place in Bel Air, Maryland the two-day event was highly anticipated and according to those interviewed in the following article was worth the wait. 

With its roots in the RepRap project, just how is open source fairing in 2022? Is there still a community spirit that enabled desktop 3D printing to break through to a much wider audience, just what is this Death Race, and what did you miss at ERRF 2022? 

Answering these questions and more are Josef Prusa, Alexander Dick, Pooch, Melinda McGee, Scott Lahteine, Sam Prentice, Ellie Weinstein, Daniel Barousse, Grant Posner, and Ray Kholodovsky.

East Coast RepRap Festival DeathRacer. Photo via Sam Prentice
East Coast RepRap Festival DeathRacer. Photo via Sam Prentice

Want to add your experience? Get in touch. 

Nominations for the 2022 3D Printing Industry Awards close later this month. Perhaps, you think one of the following interviewees deserves an award? Nominate now!

How was your ERRF 2022 experience?

Josef Prusa, founder, Prusa Research: With my busy schedule these days, I have to be a bit picky about which events to go to. But when it comes to ERRF, I made sure to clear my calendar – and ERRF didn’t disappoint! It was super nice to meet everyone, many of which I last got to see before the covid pandemic. I could barely get out from our booth, with how busy it was this year. But even with so many visitors, there was always plenty of space around, which I appreciated. 

Melinda McGee, CMO, WhamBamSystems: So great! Only wish we would have given ourselves more time to enjoy it. The team that puts the event together is amazing and humble but they are integral to the success!

Alan Puccinelli aka Pooch, Founder & Owner, Repkord LLC: Absolutely fantastic. The energy at these types of events is just so incredible for me both as a maker and a small business. To see such creative uses of technology, talk to so many like-minded people, and observe or participate in such fun events and speaking opportunities is always such a joy. The organizers did such a great job of making sure there was something for everyone.

Grant Posner scanning Pooch. Photo via Grant Posner.
Grant Posner scanning Pooch. Photo via Grant Posner.

Scott Lahteine, Maintainer of Marlin Firmware: I had many good interactions at this year’s ERRF. It was great to be with so many friends, both old and new, and to see all the amazing projects being developed using Marlin. I was located at a little table tucked away behind the stage area, so it was fun when people would find my secret lair and jump in surprise. None of the content creators covering the event came by to bother me with questions, so I was able to keep up the productivity and do my Marlin tasks in relative peace.

Daniel Barousse, CEO & Co-founder, Slice Engineering: ERRF was great as always (shout out to Chris Pelesky and his team!). The show is very well organized, and the venue is conducive to interaction with other attendees and still being able to find a quiet place to get away for a few minutes when needed. Attendance was the highest yet for an ERRF event, making it well worth the trip to meet with other people in the community and make it financially worthwhile as a sponsor. We’ve sponsored ERRF since it’s inception in 2018 and will continue to do so as long as we’re able!

Sam Prentice: My whole experience was simply fantastic! I’m based in the UK so the shows we have there are so limited so to be able to attend a show in the USA of this scale has been a wholesome experience. As you might know I ran the D’ERRF Death Race which simply put is the 3D Printing pugilists battle, merging RC racing with a battle bot format. The call to arms was answered in the form of 30 racers with several prizes offered by Polymaker and Fokoos. This simply wouldn’t have happened without the ERRF team getting behind me with this.

The show had a great feel about it, unique in every way and you can almost feel the creativity and inspiration being led by the markers. It was great to catch up with creators and see how inspirational this event for many attending.

Deathracer combat commences. Photo via Sam Prentice
Deathracer combat commences. Photo via Sam Prentice

Alexander Dick, Protopasta Cofounder: ERRF was great! There is no replacement for connecting to people and connecting people to physical things in person. I really enjoy the collective creativity of the makers in this community.

Grant Posner, 3D Musketeers: ERRF was my first community event ever. So it was a bit unique for me, being able to see people that I have talked to for years via the phone, zoom, discord, twitter, etc. was just amazing. Now with the YouTube channel getting to meet fans was also stellar. Memories I won’t soon forget. 

Personally I had a lot of fun. I brought my Artec Eva with me and scanned over a dozen people, just for fun! The better 3/4, Amber, captured this wonderful picture of Pooch getting scanned! Looks like an album cover to me! I spent so much time trying to talk with people, film, etc. and still did not get to talk to everyone that it almost feels like a blur to me! But I am so glad it happened! I hope to be able to attend next year. 

Ellie Weinstein, founder, Cocoa Press: ERRF was really amazing this year. It was the first in-person ERRF since COVID started which gave it the unique ability to be a time capsule. There were people I talked to in 2019 who were able to see all of the upgrades to Cocoa Press since then. I brought three old prototypes as well as the newest revision to try to show that story throughout time.

A chocolate 3D Benchy. Photo via Ellie Weinstein.
A chocolate 3D Benchy. Photo via Ellie Weinstein.

Ray Kholodovsky, Content Manager, LightBurn Software: ERRF from its inception has been a completely different experience from any other maker event I have been to. Combining the focused passion for 3D printing that makes MRRF so special, with the organization and detailed planning that rivals a proper trade show, there aren’t many events like it. 

The friendly team that runs the show works extremely well at creating a welcoming atmosphere that feels like you are just going to meet up with all your friends. For LightBurn, as a Laser Cutting company, it’s been interesting coming to the xRRF shows the last few years and seeing the community change and embrace more digital fabrication techniques to expand the possibilities of their projects. As the company has grown so has our team and our booth size, even to the point where we were able to bring Billie Ruben over for her first trip to the US and see all the people she’s been helping with her amazing videos and poster designs over the years. 

What were some of the highlights? (e.g. innovative applications/tech or particular moments during the show)

Josef Prusa, founder, Prusa Research: Hmm, that’s always hard to say. Well, I did see a huge print of the Atlas robot from Portal 2 printed entirely on a single Original Prusa MINI, that was crazy! I really enjoyed the discussion after our Printables presentation. There were a lot of questions and suggestions, people are clearly enthusiastic about the site and that makes me super happy. Oh and I almost forgot, the 5-axis MK3 mod, super cool!

Melinda McGee, CMO, WhamBamSystems: Everything really, amazing tech everywhere!

Alan Puccinelli aka Pooch, Founder & Owner, Repkord LLC: Sadly I did not get nearly enough time to go see as much as I’d hoped given I had to man my own booth, but I did get a chance to check out some interesting things and be part of a few panels and speaking engagements I found quite interesting. The first being the “What’s up and coming in 3DP/AM” panel that I sat on with a few of the thought leaders at the conference and the other being a live recording of our weekly Maker Entrepreneur podcast called “Maker that Money” on “How to Make Money With 3D Printing in 2022”.

In addition to these, two other things, in particular, stood out to me. The first was the Death Racer event put on by YouTuber Sam Prentice where people were able to 3D print and assemble their own RC Jousting Vehicle. The point was to try to knock the head off of other competitors to disable them and be the last one standing. I believe there were well over 25 participants this year. This ended up being a fantastically fun spectacle and did wonders for building excitement around the possibilities of what additional hobbies can be empowered by the use of 3D printing. I do hope they have more exhibitions like these at future events. 

The last item I was excited to see was the 5-axis mod to the Prusa MK3s that Duet3D was showing off at their booth. Things like this always show off how far we still have to go with the things 3D printing will be capable of in the future. This was the Open 5x project by Freddie Hong in action

Daniel Barousse, CEO & Co-founder, Slice Engineering: Sam Prentice’s Death Racer build/event sponsored by Polymaker was definitely a highlight of the show. It was so much fun watching people get really into it, laughing and exclaiming as their favorite racer won or was decapitated (or caught smoke!). What could be more fun than racing 3D printed robots at a Rep Rap Festival? Another highlight is that all of the speakers on the Build Platform were live-streamed on the ERRF YouTube channel. I would encourage anyone that is interested in learning more about the state of the industry to check that out. 

Dan Barousse and Sam Prentice. Photo via Slice Engineering.
Dan Barousse and Sam Prentice. Photo via Slice Engineering.

Scott Lahteine, Maintainer of Marlin Firmware: One of the coolest Marlin-based projects is the amazing Opulo LumenPnP open source pick-and-place machine. Duet3D was showing off a neat open source “5th axis” for non-planar printing – which also works out of the box with Marlin! Chameleon3D always blows me away, and Bill had a much improved multicolor printing product on display. The biggest highlight for me was to meet, share notes, and talk shop with the magnanimous Kevin O’Connor, the author of Klipper.

Alexander Dick, Protopasta Cofounder: We experienced a combination of good timing and bad timing. 20 minutes before I planned to present customer prints including a 3D printed violin with a heat-treated Protopasta Carbon Fiber HTPLA body and one-off custom spool of rainbow neck  as well as a Jupiter blaster configurable with Protopasta materials, Alfred from Forte3D (with some good timing) showed up with a 3D printed cello. I invited him to open for me and he accepted to play! Unfortunately, many of the attendees missed out as Sam Prentice’s Death Racers competition drew attendees outside just beforehand (the bad timing but for a project that many enjoyed).

Grant Posner, 3D Musketeers: Of course seeing the Prusa XL in person, functioning and such was a highlight for me, but really one of the big ones was Opulo, the open source pick and place machine. It was fast, precise, and really well done. Lucian, one of the founders, and I have been friends for years and have discussed this often. To see it come together has been amazing.  

Ellie Weinstein, founder, Cocoa Press: One thing that was special about ERRF 2022 is that it was the first time many of us had met in person. I have been on dozens if not a hundred zoom calls with some community members and to be able to talk face-to-face was so joyful.

Ray Kholodovsky, Content Manager, LightBurn Software: Our team is made up of DIY machine enthusiasts first and foremost. Almost all of us come from a robotics, RepRap, or DIY CNC background and laser cutting just happened to be the common ground that brought us together. Our entire team was enamored with the builds at ERRF and it was hard to choose just a few highlights.

For 3D printer builds, we particularly loved Adam’s RANCOR, Chase’s over-engineered RailCore, Mercury, and the printers at the Duet booth such as Brendon Builds’ CoreXY build with impeccable attention to detail and design.

And of course, we can’t leave out Cocoa Press’s remarkable chocolate prints.

Autodrop3D’s intro to JSketcher, their browser-based parametric 3D CAD, had several of us fascinated and ready to pull out a computer to try it. Also, we’re admittedly a little biased towards a blended approach, but we loved seeing projects expanding digital fabrication to blend 3D printing with other tools. Seeing laser/CNC tools, Lumen PNP, Sam Prentice’s Death Racers, and Joe Spanier’s talk on expanding digital fabrication options were all really exciting for us.

How would you describe the state of Rep Rap and the community in 2022?

Josef Prusa, founder, Prusa Research: For a while now, I’ve had mixed feelings about it. There are still plenty of people trying something new, experimenting with crazy printer concepts or pushing the existing ones further. And I love that. But I have to admit there’s fewer and fewer of them every year. I guess it’s natural as the market matures. Well, here’s to hoping we’ll have many more ERRFs in the years to come!

Scott Lahteine, Maintainer of Marlin Firmware: The state of RepRap is alive and well, bolstered by quality open hardware designs like the Voron and the continued advancement and healthy competition among open source firmware projects, RepRapFirmware, Klipper, and Marlin. It’s so rewarding to see our combined work as open source developers making older 3D printers better and better, while opening up whole new capabilities for the next generation of 3D printers.

Sam Prentice: Great question, the state is pretty much ever changing with new ideas and key focus on elements like speed, and quality. I’m seeing Klipper taking more of a centre stage with companies like Slice Engineering and E3D working hard to ensure that the plastic flows as the best possible rates. I don’t think we are at the end of anything, and its been an interesting journey for me seeing changes inside not only businesses but also the community. It’s a growing concern with the technology becoming more and more accessible and less complicated for the end users.

Alexander Dick, Protopasta Cofounder: If by Rep Rap you mean machines making machines, limiting to that definition would be a disservice. Certainly, that’s part of it, but the access to technology is the differentiator. Whether for personal use, a side hustle, or full-time gig, folks in the community continue to explore, share, and extend the potential to 3D printing through hardware, software, materials, and design. There are so many examples of this. I’m grateful to support and participate in this grassroots movement.

We are serving an increasing number of businesses that leverage our quality, reliability, and creativity in support of their businesses. They have 10s of printers because of the affordability and access to the technology. It’s rewarding to have our specialty business support theirs. I mentioned Out of Darts above, but they are a wonderful example and in case you missed it, they were recently on Jimmy Kimmel Live with a custom build made from Protopasta. You can find more about it here.

Grant Posner, 3D Musketeers: As for Rep Rap, that is a tough one. So many companies blatantly ignoring GPL, stomping on open source, and just using it, not ever providing anything back does pain me because that means the original ideologies of it are being lost. Sure with some companies it is alive and well, but others, not so much. As for the community as a whole I think it is having a revival. So long it has pushed towards cheaper and cheaper machines, materials, etc. and that race to the bottom really was not going much lower. Seeing machines in the 1k+ price class with LOTS of interest was great to see as well. Even amazing open source innovations like the Open 5X.

Melinda McGee, CMO, WhamBamSystems: After seeing how much everyone loved being at the show again and how many people showed up, we would have to gauge the community is stronger than ever and hungry for more!

Daniel Barousse, CEO & Co-founder, Slice Engineering: I would say that the community has been reinvigorated after COVID and is ready to get back to business and play. There are more and more new small businesses joining the ranks with fun and innovative new takes on how to use 3D printing to solve problems.  

Alan Puccinelli aka Pooch, Founder & Owner, Repkord LLC: Not just alive and well, but thriving. Given the state of the world with the pandemic and lockdowns over the past few years I would say there is clearly pent-up demand for people to get back out into the world to create and interact with other like-minded individuals. Everyone I spoke to was so genuinely excited to be there and share what they were working on or ask me what I’d been up to. Similar to what we’ve seen with the computer-building communities of the past, I can confidently say no matter what kind of “ready to go straight out of the box” product comes to be in the future there will always be those who want to continue to make and mod their own. The inspiration we see as a result of this, and the products and businesses that are often born of it is such a fantastic thing to be part of and bear witness to. 

Ellie Weinstein, founder, Cocoa Press: I love how collaborative the consumer 3D printing ecosystem is. The new Cocoa Press printer was inspired by the VORON V0.1 platform and uses components from multiple other suppliers there, some of whom I have never met in person. The collaboration in both the hobbyist and commercial spaces was evident and is the same spirit that started the RepRap movement in the first place.

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Featured image shows a chocolate 3D Benchy. Photo via Ellie Weinstein.