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Inside 3D Printing Santa Clara Day One: The Lulzbot Mini and Tying Knots

It was sunny(ish) day Santa Clara yesterday where the first day of the Inside 3D Printing Conference got underway. The three-day additive manufacturing convention is one of the biggest 3D printing shows in the country, and just based on the line-up of guests alone it’s going to set a new standard for this type of event. Day one was a day of hands-on workshops, similar to the NYC programme, and very much signaled the calm before the storm.

inside 3d printing santa claraThe exhibit hall wasn’t open today, so there wasn’t too much to see, yet. But just because I couldn’t visit the exhibit floor, didn’t mean there was nothing to do. There were plenty of speakers and workshops going on, and the slower pace meant that there was actually time for people to get to know each other.

tying_a knot inside 3d printingI spent much of my first day travelling and getting situated at my hotel, but I did manage to catch the Strategy for an Educational Revolution workshop from Table Top Inventing’s Steve and Debby Kurti. Table Top Inventing offers teachers and educators tools to implement 3D printing “edutainment meetups” with a focus on encouraging maker learning. The Kurti’s workshop was a lot of fun, and they did a great job of demonstrating the ways that teaching by doing rather than teaching by showing is beneficial to people of any age. I left the workshop having learned how to tie a knot – it’s hard to explain – and excited about the possible future that educational 3D printing can bring to our kids.

lulzbot mini 3d printerEven though there wasn’t much to see on the exhibit floor other than exhibitors setting up their booths, I did manage to get an early look at the new Lulzbot Mini being debuted at the Conference. It may have been the first piece of tech that I saw at this show, but the rest of the exhibitors now have a lot to live up to. It’s a pretty impressive little machine. Not to suggest that the original Lulzbot is not well constructed, because it is very well constructed, but the Lulzbot Mini takes it up a notch.

It wouldn’t be a Lulzbot without a lot of their parts being 3D printed, but those parts are complemented with a new sturdy frame made from powder coated metal parts. They’ve also included several ninjaflex printed parts, really taking advantage of the versatility of the flexible material. The self-leveling heated bed is going to really turn some heads, and like the rest of the printer it just looks cool. The Lulzbot mini can 3D print in quite a few exotic materials, including the notoriously fussy nylon, and it does so almost effortlessly. The detail of the prints was, honestly, of almost ridiculously high quality, especially for a 3D printer that only costs $1,350.

lulzbot 3d printing santa clara

The Inside 3D Printing show has managed to pull in an impressive list of big name speakers and exhibitors and the show is at times almost comically overloaded with them. It’s an embarrassment of riches for any 3D printing nerd, and the packed schedule is going to keep me extremely busy tomorrow.

I will continue to live-tweet the event, and will be sending out instant updates all week about the multitude of exciting announcements and new products being displayed. So make sure that you join me in the twitosphere by following along @sjgrunewald and if there is anything in particular that you think I should check out or someone that you want me to say hi to, just let me know!

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