Popup Factory

Over the past decade, a few enabling tools have emerged to significantly change what it means to make / manufacture things at small scale. For those who launch products, crowdsourcing platforms have provided low risk ways to demonstrate market fit (a disruptive idea that may itself be disrupted by blockchain-based smart contracts), while desktop 3D printing has come to the fore as an automated production method that reduces the risk of tooling investment.

The Popup Factory explored this concept by bringing together experts in electronics, parametric design and manufacturing to create over 1000 unique wearables at the O’Reilly Solid Conference. Powered by a bank of stereolithography 3D printers, pick and place electronics systems, reflow ovens, and custom hardware, the entire manufacturing process came together over the course of 2 days, creating wireless wearables allowing people to match interests based on proximity.

Along the way, the limits of 3D printers were revealed and we demonstrated embryonic technologies and anticipated systems to come. It was a moment in which we explored a democratized vision of accessible making and manufacturing by actually building it.

work for:
  • Designed a guerilla manufacturing cell outputting algorithmically designed wearables.
  • Product designer for the popup factory.
  • Developed algorithm to generate, design, evaluate and produce unique wearable faces.
  • Build a solution to the problem: 1200 unique components in 2 days with 1 day spin-up time with minimum outlay.
One of the clear advantages of 3D printing is that unique objects incur little to no cost penalty. We developed scripts to propagate unique designs onto each wearable.
Printing out test samples to check test fit. Little bumps light up differently!
With sample faces, we demonstrate simple snap fit assembly of the wearable.
Setting up on San Francisco's Fort Mason, we produced wearables while visitors looked on.
Additional automated tools, like this pick and place machine, helped mass manufacture the PCB boards.
Assembled boards going through quality control and human rework as necessary.
3D printed wearables rising out of vats of liquid photopolymer. Yum!
An array of freshly printed watch faces ready for assembly. We encouraged visitors to pick their favorite.
Alike bands being worn - visitors would fill out a brief survey. The band would light up as a signal that people nearby had affinities with you.
The final print farm - 12 printers working for days demonstrating the future of short run manufacturing.