WASHINGTON, DC - Furniture makers and other wood products entrepreneurs are exhibiting today at the first-ever White House Maker Faire today, part of an effort by President Obama to highlight technology development and entrepreneurship in the U.S.
The initiative brought President Obama to visit TechShop in Pittsburgh yesterday, where a woodworker showed the President a wood box and a wooden snow flake, created using TechShop's tool set, which includes a CNC router, laser engraver, saws, welders, and other equipment.
The Maker Faire is a showcase of new product invention, that trades on strong public interest in the "maker movement," the trend toward locally produced crafts and design that finds expression in everything from foods, to microbreweries, to furniture and clothing.
The White House Maker Faire features over 100 Makers from more than 25 states, and includes more than 30 exhibits. The President will view some of these exhibits, representing the incredible range of creativity and ingenuity unlocked by the Maker movement. Following his tour of the White House Maker Faire, the President will deliver remarks to an audience of entrepreneurs, students, business leaders, mayors, and heads of non-profit organizations.
Among woodworking exhibitors at the White House edition of the Maker Faire are:
- Maker John Lawton, Austin, TX, followed his career as Marine One Presidential Helicopter pilot by pursuing a lifelong interest in traditional wood and metal making. He participated in GE and the VA Center for Innovation’s year-long veterans training program at TechShop Austin-Round Rock and is an entrepreneur by selling handmade furniture.
- Robert Bridges and Kate Latham of eFab Local, a Machipongo, VA digital fabrication shop cutting custom CNC-designs and making flat-packed emergency shelters for homeless and displaced people.
- Bill Young, Willis Wharf, VA.Trained as a boat carpenter, Young now works with digital tools at ShopBot Tools and helped develop ShopBot's 100kGarages fabrication network and the Shelter 2.0 project.
- Mike Salguero, co-founder of Boston-based Custommade.com, which features more than 7,000 woodworkers selling projects to consumers and businesses.
- Maker's Row, a Detroit-based online marketplace that connects American manufacturers with product based businesses, including 4,000 producing wood furnishings and other wood and home decore products.
Owner of the event, Maker Media, says 1.5 million people have attended the 100 Maker Faires globally. The original Maker Faire event was held in San Mateo, CA, eight years ago. That location's eighth edition last year included 950 makers and 120,000 people in attendance. The World Maker Faire held in New York, for the past four years, drew to 600+ makers and 75,000 attendees. Detroit, Kansas City, Rome, Oslo, Newcastle (UK), Tokyo, and Shenzhen are the home of "featured" Maker Faires (200+ makers), and community-driven, independently organized Mini Maker Faires are now being produced around the United States and the world.
After he tours the Maker Faire Obama will announce new actions by Federal agencies and new public-private commitments to spur local entrepreneurship and inspire young people to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering. Among these are opening access to Federal technology centers.
The White House is also highlighting a recent report it developed, "Making in America: U.S. Manufacturing Entrepreneurship and Innovation," which it says demonstrates how new technologies are reducing the cost, increasing the speed, and making it easier for entrepreneurs and manufacturers to translate new ideas into products Made in America.