Articles

Crossbeams and the Maker Movement

Charles SharmanJune 25, 2015

“Why do you need a 3D printer when you have Crossbeams?”

While Derek and I busily helped people make their first Crossbeams connection, find pieces with a certain name, and mount gears, a father entered our Denver Mini Maker Faire booth and posed this question. His intuition impressed me. After observing for less than two minutes, he had discovered the connection between Crossbeams and the Maker Movement.

The Maker Movement is a world wide movement of people making their own things. It's typified by upper middle class city dwellers who want to create in a world where they're expected to consume. Potters, wood-workers, machinists, 3D printers, and gadgeteers crowd Maker Faires and Maker Spaces transforming consumers into creators, and it's a beautiful thing.

Crossbeams has its own part to play in the Maker Movement, because Crossbeams isn't just a toy. Crossbeams can make and prototype real world systems, and, as the Maker Faire father observed, there are many creations where Crossbeams surpasses the currently hyped prototyping system: 3D printing.

Contrasted with 3D prints, Crossbeams creations are strong, quickly assembled, and movable with tight-tolerance bearings. The 3Ddelaney project serves a good example. John McGuire asked us to construct a Crossbeams prosthetic hand to support the 3Ddelaney project. I sat down for an hour and prototyped a Crossbeams human hand with all possible movements (3 per finger and 2 in the thumb). The equivalent 3D print took much longer and was more fragile.

Crossbeams Hand

Crossbeams has its limitations. Our 3Ddelaney hand was 2.1ft x 1.3ft — not exactly something you'd want to have on your wrist. Without skin, Crossbeams wireframes won't build floating boats. Yet, for many uses Crossbeams serves as a fantastic Maker Platform.

Enjoy making!