Toronto Mini Maker Faire, featuring robots and 3D printing, a family affair

The Toronto Star  | By: Kim Nursall Staff Reporter, Published on Sat Sep 21 2013

Toronto mini Maker Faire1 300x229 - Toronto Mini Maker Faire, featuring robots and 3D printing, a family affair

Michael Schwanzer stands eagerly beside his antique typewriter, loading a new page into the machine.

The 27-year-old is dressed to match the 100-year-old keyboard, his brown hair peaking out from underneath a dark-coloured flat cap, made upscale by his charcoal bow tie.

The old-fashioned pair are all the more fascinating because of what happens next: the typewriter whirs into action, plunking letters onto the paper seemingly by itself.

“Tweet Printing Typewriter” a nearby sign reads, underneath “Toronto Mini Maker Faire,” Toronto’s first-ever Maker Faire, taking place Saturday and Sunday at Wychwood Barns.

Schwanzer has repurposed the typewriter to automatically type tweets sent using the Faire’s hashtag, #mmfto.

Schwanzer said the project unites “the online world with the offline world,” and it’s just one of many fascinating technological creations on display this weekend.

Hundreds of people crowded inside the Wychwood community centre, clamouring to get the chance to print using the inevitably popular chocolate 3D printer, one of dozens of 3D printers at the event, or learn how to solder or even pick locks.

Advertised as the “Greatest Show and Tell on Earth,” a Maker Faire like Toronto’s stems from the so-called Maker movement, which prides itself on bringing the ability to make “things” — especially advanced things like electronics — to the masses.

Toronto mini Maker Faire - Toronto Mini Maker Faire, featuring robots and 3D printing, a family affair

Maker Faires have been held around the world, including San Francisco.

The Faire is “where people show what they are making, share what they are learning, and come play with robots, 3D printing, laser cutting and more,” reads the Toronto event’s website.

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Saturday was largely a family affair, as kids scuttled from table to table, begging their parents for the Faire’s main food draw: ice cream made with liquid nitrogen.

Many spent the day at the “toy hacking” tables, where kids can take apart old toys using screwdrivers, hacksaws, drills and so on — safety was assured — and then glue, duct tape and sew new creations together, reminiscent of Sid’s reconstructions in Toy Story 2.

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