3D Printers

Inside 3D Printing Santa Clara Day Three: Final Thoughts … & the Power of Bacon

Bacon makes everything better. After an excruciatingly long day two at the Inside 3D Printing Santa Clara conference my body was a little upset at my suggestion that we do it one more time. But I made a deal with it, if my body would let me get moving, then I would imbue it with the healing power of bacon. Bacon really does make everything better.

bacon Unfortunately my last day would be a little truncated due to an earlier than desired flight, so while I didn’t have as much on my to do list, I had to do what I did have in far less time. Needless to say, anyone who tried to speak to me and expected any sort of coherency was probably sorely disappointed, and for the many people whose names escaped me, thank bacon for the larger than most conventions badges with over-sized writing. They saved me from making an ass out of myself several times.


As I’ve already mentioned in my previous daily recaps, there was just an absurd amount of people at the show that I was simply thrilled to meet, much less speak to. Since most of the day was spent running around and finishing off interviews that I had set up previously, there was very little that I was able to see that was new, so I thought that rather than write more about bacon – I asked Rachel, she said no – I would remember some of the small moments at the show that really stood out for me, both good and bad.

There was a moment when I inadvertently revealed myself to be a giant, ridiculous nerd. I was able to have a brief chat with Lynn Rothschild, who is an Evolutionary Biologist and Astrobiologist with NASA. I’m a giant NASA nerd, and believe it or not poor Lynn was the first actual person who works for NASA that I’ve met so I got a little fanboy on her. She is working on the future manned mission to Mars, and I could have listened to her tell me about her work for hours.


One of the most humorously memorable moments for me was the moment when I felt the uncomfortable silence from the audience after Autodesk SVP Jeff Kowalski made his first of several bombastic statements about the industry while introducing Spark and Ember. There was some nervous laughter, certainly, but there was also a bit of confusion and most certainly tension. He managed to defuse it pretty quickly of course, and he said quite a bit that was inspiring and showed that he is genuinely passionate about what he does. But that moment was there, and as someone who can SOMETIMES be a little critical of the industry’s spectacular ability to confuse hype with reality, watching the audience of industry professionals unsure where he was going with that statement was a little amusing.

During the great workshop by Steve and Debby Kurti I was completely unable to tie a pretty basic knot. It was pretty embarrassing. The Kurti’s were attempting to demonstrate the benefits of maker education by having everyone watch a video of a knot being tied, and then use a piece of rope given to us to replicate the knot from memory, something that we all failed at. After splitting into groups of six, the entire team managed to find the solution as a crowd while I did a wonderful job of faking it. Being a middle-aged man unable to tie a simple knot wasn’t my finest hour. But in my defense, knots are hard.

Of course the moment when I finally figured out how to tie that damn knot I felt pretty special.


Needless to say, the show got pretty busy, and just like with any convention or trade show when it was crowded there were times where I was anonymously touched in ways that I usually associate  with the one doctor visit any man over forty dreads. I think they honestly believed that if they smooched in closer to me (which they did!), it would make me somehow able to force the person in front of me to move faster (it didn’t!).


At one point I was cornered by someone who was pretty unhappy with 3DPI’s coverage of something that he liked. He seemed to calm down when I told him that the article wasn’t mine. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it wasn’t even our website that wrote the article. I just told him that we’d try harder next time.

As I ran out of the convention Thursday, in a mad dash to make it to the airport to catch my plane home, I was relieved to be on my way back to Los Angeles but I was also a little sad that it was over. Most certainly my body couldn’t take another day – not even for all the bacon in the world – but I left having missed meeting and talking to so many great people. You can never do everything that you want to do at a conference or convention, but I couldn’t help feeling like I was missing something.

Of course any residual sadness or frustration melted away pretty quickly once I got back home. If you’re a pet owner, then you’ll understand that the welcome back that you get from your critters is worth far more than even a welcome back from your spouse. Nothing washes away the con-crud faster than furry creatures that are happier to see you in that moment than you’ve been happy to see anything in your life.

fur_kids While this is only the second convention specifically about 3D printing that I’ve been to, I’ve been to plenty of other conventions and this was probably the smoothest running show I’ve ever experience. It seemed to be a well-oiled machine, and that made the sometimes chaotic moments run a lot smoother than events of this size usually run. If you have a chance to visit one of the eleven Inside 3D Printing Conferences being held all over the world you’ll find it to be a great time.

Thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy show to talk to me, and also thanks to all the readers of the site who came up to our booth and said some incredibly nice things about mine and all of 3DPI’s writers’ work. And don’t worry, my coverage isn’t done yet. I’m going to have a series of in depth articles about some of the bigger announcements and happenings at the show with some video interviews over the next week or so. And if you missed my live tweeting during the show you can find them all here @sjgrunewald.