Jalisco Mini Maker Faire 2015

Jalisco Mini Maker Fair

 Carlos Torreblanca

 19 June 2015

Jalisco Mini Maker Faire 2015, Mexico

The Mexican makers’ community gathered from 12-14 June for the first Jalisco Mini Maker Faire. An opportunity to explore possible interactions between traditional crafts and technology.

Jalisco Mini Maker Fair

Jalisco Mini Maker Fair. Photograph: Carlos Torreblanca

Mexico is a land of Makers. They make tequila, and pottery, as well as movies and technology. Clearly, Mexico is not different from any other country.

But the truth is that the Mexican makers’ community is divided by the things they fabricate, and rarely do they interact with one another. Not only that, but the technological aspect is hidden and only known to those within the technology circles.

I consider myself a maker: I have built my own 3D printer, I order electronics for microcontroller projects, and I even draw and paint. But then, I arrive at Jalisco Mini Maker Faire and realize that so many people are doing interesting technological stuff… And yet, not that many.

Here is what I mean.

On 12June 2015, Jalisco Mini Maker Faire opened the doors to the public on a very cloudy weekend, with the risk of rain at any moment.

Technology exhibition

The tent dedicated to technology was full of surprises. It had regular 3D printer distributors, like XDS and D3D selling Zortrax M200, Up3D, Robo3D, and Stratasys.

I was surprised to see the quality of the Zortrax 3D printer: large pieces with little to no mistakes and the person selling was great at hitting all the strong points of the Zortrax M200 and at diverting the attention away from the 3D printed elephant in the room.

I would like to have one of these 3D printers in my workshop/garage, but I wouldn’t want it in an elementary classroom.

Jalisco Mini Maker Fair, Zortax tent

People at the Zortrax Tent. Photograph: Carlos Torreblanca.

The most important 3D printers were two manufactured by Mexican companies: MakerMex  with the “MM-1” modular 3D printer that, after a successful Kickstarter campaign, is looking to expand internationally.

They think they are ready to compete with the big brands, but they need to put their efforts on refining the product and reaching the Mexican community, which they are abandoning little by little.

MexBot 3D printer

MexBot 3D printer. Photograph: Carlos Torreblanca

On the other hand, there is MEX-BOT, a young company that became successful by selling the Prusa i3 model and that is now on the final stage of prototyping its new machine.

It aims to increase the printing height with its newest Prusa model, which can print up to 35cm in height.

They say the final product would be made of acrylic, which would greatly reduce the noisy sound that the wooden and aluminum structure generates.

I think this is a good-looking machine reminiscent of the old wooden 3D printers.

A group of students from San Luis Potosi presented their final prototype of a product they call Briko.


Jalisco Mini Maker Fair, Briko tent

Briko. Photograph: Carlos Torreblanca.

It is a programmable brick with ports to connect any sort of sensor, similar to the Lego Mindstorms programmable brick, but with the opportunity of hacking and modifying it easily.

These guys set up a workshop for kids age 6 to 10 for programming microcontrollers on the spot and building a line-following robot with their platform.

At this moment, what they have is good, especially for the Mexican market. Their demo has 3D printed shells, which they will hopefully change with a plastic mold.

BriKo is one of those ideas with a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to seeing the final product.

In the same tent, they gathered anyone who was making drones, and they managed to get enough people for a drone exhibition show.

Jalisco Mini Maker Fair, Drone exhibition show

Drone exhibition show. Photograph: Carlos Torreblanca.

At the corner of the tent, Hacker Garage Guadalajara, in collaboration with Intel, were having a hackathon with Galileo boards and teams of 4 young adults and teenagers to develop whatever they wanted with the board.

I couldn’t stay until the end of it but, at a quick glance, they looked very engaged on the task of exploring the potential of the Galileo Board.

Arts and Crafts exhibition

The other tents were dedicated to arts and crafts. Tuthy  has an impressive line of paper jewelry with vibrant colors and motifs.This woman has a business with simple strips of paper. I hope she could explore the possibilities of the material for innovative solutions in this field.

Jalisco Mini Maker Fair, Tuthy

Tuthy jewelry. Photograph: Carlos Torreblanca.

I don’t wear a watch but I found myself fascinated by the people of Albore: two guys who are fabricating handcrafted laser cut wooden wrist watches. I have never seen something like that and I almost bought one.

Despite all this cool stuff, most of the stands were empty.

Of course, they had talks and courses with people doing pottery and carving wood but, in a country full of craftsmanship, all those empty spaces should have been full of people designing cloths, jewelry, and furniture.

It was a big surprise for me to see a guitar maker in a lone corner next to a guy that recycles wood into furniture, and nothing else in that same alley. In general, the Mini Maker Faire was 40% empty, maybe the risk of rain scared visitors as well as stand holders.

Jalisco Mini Maker Fair, Guitars

Handcrafted guitars. Photograph: Carlos Torreblanca.

I will call this 1st Jalisco Mini Maker Faire a success. There are cool and interesting things that are being developed in this country!

The community is young but very close, and the emptiness of the Faire is a reflection of this aspect. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun, there was a lot to see, and I didn’t mention many other projects.

I don’t want to end on a sour note. There are lots of ideas and new projects here to transform the Jalisco Mini Maker Faire into a Flagship Maker Faire for Mexico.

We have the community, we just need to spread the word about the fact that makers and technology are developing lots of cool stuff here.

We should encourage young people to go to this type of events, and local distributors to sell our local products instead of trying to import technology from other countries.

Mexico is a land of makers, and we can make awesome stuff!