What is next?

So what classes are next? We recently asked the question on facebook and generated a lot of traffic, now lets vote.

With every MakerSpace class we think it is important that we actually make something together. It’s the best way to learn, and usually the perceived value of the item made covers all the costs of the class, so it’s a great deal! We haven’t decided what we should make for most of the classes below, so the cost can’t be determined yet. For example, in the woodworking class we could make a stool for R300ish or a side table for R1000ish. There is a ROUGH cost estimate on the poll. Please fill it in and let us know what you’d like to do:

maker space courses
What classes would you pay to attend? Welding, woodworking, build a cafe racer, wood frame surfboard, home brewing/craft beer, artisan baking, laser clock (repeat), leather wallet (repeat), studio photography, something else?

Welding, woodworking, build a cafe racer (6 months, R40k, Yamaha SR250 custom), wood frame surfboard, home brewing/craft beer, artisan baking, laser clock (repeat), leather wallet (repeat), studio photography, something else?

What Class would you pay to do next?

Analogue is the new Black (Digital) – DbnDDay Keynote presentation @5tevegray

I had the privilege of participating in the Durban Digital Day #DbnDDay yesterday. 300ish of Durban’s leading social media peeps came out to learn.

the crowd - 300ish?
#DbnDDay crowd

My big idea was about unlocking the latent bandwidth in the analogue space, and some ideas on how technology and analogue can make the world a better place. I wore an electronic ticker under my shirt which the people in the front row appreicated, and someone called me RoboHipster… which might stick. Enjoy.

@5tevegray talking the talk


Here’s the Prezi FYI. #5tevegray #DbnDDay

3D Scanning for everyone


affordable 3D scanning
affordable 3D scanning

First up: Kickstarter is a cool platform (check it out if you haven’t before).

3D scanning is the missing piece in the “new industrial revolution” driven by 3D printing. Occipital has just set the benchmark, coming in at just over 15% of the cost of the makerbot 3D scanner.

You see it is all very well to be able to print anything, but you have to model that anything first. That takes hours and years of skill, and leaves most of us on the sidelines, scouring thingiverse for something to print. But now, plug in your ipad and you have your very own 3D scanner. So scan whatever you want to print, maybe 10 minutes of tweaking and print. I know what i want for Christmas

3D printing 101

Quick Guide:

  1. Download a 3D file from thingiverse.com
  2. Download Cura slicing software
    1. Open Cura and set your printer (we have the following printers at the Makerspace: Prusa i3, Makerbot Dual, Printrbot)
    2. Set your temperatures according to the plastic you plan to use (PLA: Nozzle 210°C, Bed 50°C; ABS: Nozzle 240°C, Bed 90°C)
    3. Set the nozzle size according to your print objective (we use 0.4mm and 0.8mm)
    4. Set your layer height (0.1mm high res, 0.35 low res)
    5. look at the estimated print time, and see if you want to change the scale or print speed accordingly.
3D printed hand gesture
Thats the way we like it

So you want to learn about 3D printing? Cool! 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that creates a physical product out of a digital model. We use FDM printers because they are cheaper and more accessible. The process:

    1. The easiest way to get printing is to download a model from thingiverse.com, youmagine or grabcad you can even customise some items on the website.
    2. You will need to save an STL file, Import it into a slicing program like Cura (easy),  Makerware (makerbot only), repetier host (intermediate) or Slic3r (advanced). Customise the settings for your print (temperatures, material types, speeds etc)
    3. Export the “gcode” file which the 3D printer you are using understands.
    4. Print: (you can use a service like 3Dhubs if you don’t have your own 3D printer, you won’t need to slice the model)

Take it to the next level:

Create your own part.

  1. You will need to draw/design a 3D model in modelling software. We use opensource/free software like tinkercadSketchup (and SDL Plugins), 123D design, 123D catch (on your smartphone), Blender. If you are a digital pro, then you already know how to use something expensive and powerful like cinema 4D, maya, Solidworks, Inventor, ProE, catia etc.
  2. Once you’ve made the part, save the model into an STL or OBJ file type.
  3. (optional step) Then you should check your STL file before going further to save yourself hours of frustration. Use a free service like Netfabb or willit3Dprint.

My 3D Hub

  1. wait (3D printing takes a long time – the printer builds the model literally 0.1mm at a time)
  2. Enjoy your creation!
  3. Repeat.

3D printing materials: FDM 3D printers melt a plastic filament usually made of ABS or PLA and squeeze the molten plastic through a thin nozzle (0.2-0.5mm). The print head moves around squeezing out the plastic like a toothpaste tubeThink about which Plastic you want to use. more background reading: wikipedia on 3D printing 3D printing: whats all the fuss about REPRAP detailed beginners guide to 3D printing


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The need to Make

“…there is something very novel and thrilling to me, to build with wood and stone… I can’t recreate that sense of pleasure online.”

I just watched a documentary called “the Startup kids”, which gives a brief overview of young entrepreneurs who have succeeded (and failed) online. They say the same thing all entrepreneurs say: “Just do it.”, “Be willing to loose everything”, “Change the world”, “Expect to fail at least once”.

Encouraging and daunting at the same time. But one entrepreneur said something that really resonated with theMakerSpace dream:

“My entire career has been spent online pushing pixels around, and there is something very novel and thrilling to me, to build with wood and stone, with my friends. To iterate with these materials, to make physical things we can use… I can’t recreate that sense of pleasure online. I can’t explain it, i don’t think it’s permanent, it’s just right now this is where i’m most inspired.”

Zach Klein – The Startup Kids documentary
Zach Klein started collegehumor.com and vimeo. Now he builds cabins in the woods and works a 3 day week in NY. I’m convinced that the more time we spend immersed in this digital life, the more our soul,mind and body cry out for an authentic tactile experience. Doesn’t it ring true to you, that after a hard week of email, ipad, facebook, excel and admin you crave a physical outcome to your work? I think it must be even more relevant for Graphic designers, who seldom get to see the physical outcome of their digital creations.
That is what is so exciting about the maker movement, it’s like our digital culture has been pulling us deeper and deeper into a catapult and when it’s unleashed there will be an explosion of creativity manifesting in a physical form!
make something
make something
Make something!
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Make a leather wallet

Open your wallet, it’s time to make – with style.

Join theMakerSpace and Savior Brand Co for this special leather craft course

Register here while there is still space

Join us on thursday 26th of Sept, 7pm

Max and the Leather guru’s from Savior Brand Co. will be working with us on their most popular product: the slimline leather wallet. It retails for R300 and you get it for free as part of the course.
This has been our most anticipated class, and it will inevitably sell out soon after this email has been sent out, so you may not want to delay.

Click here to register for the course.


You are going to learn leather craft techniques and then use them to make your own leather wallet, together with other cool people, whilst drinking quality cappuccino’s. Get to Salt Rock by 6:45 as we will start by 7pm sharp!

About Savior Brand Co:

Born out of a love of doing things the old fashioned way. In our instant culture of 5 minute ab workouts, 2min noodles and the 1 minute manager it’s refreshing to find a business that focuses on crafting things that take time. Savior Brand wanted to create an environment where good design, superior quality and pride in your work actually matter. For them, workmanship is critical and every tiny stitch detail and pattern is pored over with meticulous care. Products are hand-stitched, the old fashioned way. They make things that they love, and steve I bet you will love them too. They make things to last, just like the old days.
They are passionate about helping young adults re-discover and fulfil their dreams & to help them change their life circumstance along the way – a significant portion of our profits feed into their SMLV+18 program..
Register Now


The facebook event will be listed as “Umhlali Preparitory school” because it should pick up on everyones GPS, but its actually across the road from the school at the isigns/impressive signs offices (see attached link)

The course costs R300 and includes the wallet you make.


EFT R150 deposit
FNB Cheque

branch no 250655



Make something soon,


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software for makers

This is the right place to start if you are looking for software for makers

The software you need depends on what you are wanting to make, but we recommend some almost universal tools that will be a great starting place. We also believe in the OpenSource movement, so most of these tools are free and cross platform (work on Mac/Windows/Linux):

Inkscape: is an excellent open, cross platform vector editor. It exports files in DXF and those work with Laser Cutters, Vinyl Cutters and can be a base for CNC & 3D printing. Also make sure you read this: Vectors for Makers

Sketchup: simple architectural based 3D modeler, Trimble will try to upsell you from the free version, ignore them their are lots of plugins available *recommend sketchucation.

sketchucation plugins: register for a free account and browse your plugins directly from sketchup as you need them. *”export to SDL” is a plugin you will need later.

123D Design: Autocad’s free offering hoping to get you into their maker community – buggy but simple and free.

123D make: As above, but specifically for slicing predesigned models, ideal for laser cutting and 2-3 axis CNC router.

sketchchair: A cool but poorly supported software only for making chairs and tables using a laser cutter or simple CNC router.

makerware: Simple 3D printing software for makerbot 3D printers.

tinkercad: Online 3D CAD (computer aided design) software, free for now.

blender: 3D modeling software (an open source cinema 4D/Maya), steep learning curve.

kerkaythea: Render engine for sketchup (Not strictly a making tool, more a visualising tool).  free and amazingly powerful


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Making with Vectors

What the heck is a Vector?

It is a way of representing an image. Most pictures that you see on the internet are bitmaps. The difference between bitmats and vectors is best described the picture below:

read more about vectors from wikipedia
vector vs raster

Vectors are lines drawn through a list of mathematical equations. Bitmaps (also knows as Rasters) are made up of lots of tiny blocks called pixels.

You’ve heard about “Mega Pixels” from digital photography, the more pixels (blocks), the higher the mega pixel number. If you keen zooming in on a bitmat picture you will eventually see the individual blocks and loose detail. With a vector image you can keep zooming and the lines will always be clear. Machines can’t understand pixels like we can, so we have to feed them vectors or they won’t budge. SVG stands for “Scalable Vector Graphics” and is the open format for vectors (as opposed to closed formats like AI or Corel).



Here is the quick SVG training module:

We use Inkscape because it is cross platform and free. Download it here.

Quickstart convert Pictures to Vectors: Look Here.

3 minute crash course video (bonus: mexican accent):

There is another quick,helpful training video here:


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theMakerSpace begins

Laser cutting steel plate
Laser cutting is a primary tool used by modern makers, its speed, running cost and precision make it a versatile and valuable tool

Welcome to theMakerSpace!

What is a “maker space” and what’s up with THEmakerSpace? isnt that a bit presumptious?

It could be, but this is South Africa, and we have to keep things simple because we are usually a step or two behind the first world. The Maker Movement, is all about you and me making stuff. Making stuff is important, there is a subtle shift away from demand for mass production and technology is opening up tools that used to be accessible only to the megapower conglomerates that influence economies. Now, the power is in your hands… nearly. But you are invited to be amongst the first, the innovators, the early adopters. isnt that something you’d like said about you? Imagine your mates gathered around the braai, sipping on a cold one and reflecting: “Ja remember Bob, He was the first one to buy/make that whatchmajidget. I bet they are all over at Bobs house now, eating a gourmet dinner prepared by a 3 michelin chef brainstorming about their next world changing idea…” Our advice: when you are the star of the neighbourhood, remember the little people, they may also appreciate an Adriano Zumbo Crock n Bush!

So have a look at what is going on in the maker world:


latest 3d printing news 

www.shapeways.com – online print on demand service

kickstarter crowdfunding


and join the revolution! Sign up here to be part of the journey towards Democrotising Manufacturing, and making the world a better place.


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