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 – 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.