Gerrit Niezen


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I'm just sitting around this lazy Sunday afternoon stitching my son's blanket and watching some tennis.

We cut his favourite blanket into four pieces, so that there is always one of them available when he needs it. I've never stitched before, but after a quick introductory lesson by my wife it's been reasonably easy going so far. The trickiest part is threading the needle.

I don't usually watch tennis, but for the first time in nearly a century[1] there is a South African playing in the final at Wimbledon. Let's see what happens!

  1. 97 years to be exact ↩︎


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I found these battery holders on Thingiverse. I printed the one to hold AAA batteries a while ago, and printed the AA one last night. The thing on the right is my honeycomb cable holder for USB cables.


I go through a lot of batteries for my Tidepool work, given that I have dozens of glucose meters and insulin pumps that need to be powered. It's nice to have a compact and stackable design to keep them all in one place.

When I eventually start using an different colour filament I can print the lettering that goes on the front. For now, it looks fine even without the different colours.

#Making #Tidepool

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We just got a Sammy Screamer motion sensor from Bleep Bleeps. It's a small alarm that you can attach to your baby's stroller, bag or other valuables. You turn it on and off via an app, and it sends you a notification when it goes out of range.

It was the first in a series of connected products made for parents from Bleeps Bleeps. Their second product, Suzy Snooze, is a baby monitor and sleep trainer. They also just launched Benjamin Brush, a smart musical toothbrush.

I first got interested in Bleep Bleeps when they released one of their first designs, a baby ear thermometer, as an open-source hardware design. I can't find it online anymore, but I still have the enclosure that I 3D printed. I never got around to buying and installing the electronics though.

I hope that Bleep Bleeps does well. It's hard being a small company that manufactures hardware, and they've been setting a good example so far.


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If you want to build anything, you probably need to go down to the hardware store to pick up some materials, or order something from an online store. But what if you could create the materials you want to use from scratch?

An advantage of open-source design is that we can distribute the designs online so that the product can be made locally, reducing transport costs and environmental impact. Opendesk is a great example of this, where you can find a local maker with a CNC router to build furniture out of plywood based on an OpenDesk open-source design.

But we still have to ship the materials used to build the product, like the plywood in the Opendesk example. Current supply chains are optimised for centralised factories, not decentralised makers. What if we can use local materials instead? Imagine we can make it easy enough for a local woodland or forest owners to sell individual trees, and we can share mobile sawmills for on-demand wood production?

I've been wondering how this would work for other materials like plastics, and then this tweet popped up in my feed this morning:

Creating plastics made from algae, starch and proteins with @AGarmulewicz & @_ECorbin from @Materiom_ - a materials recipe book using locally abundant nutrients. A teaching materials session from today’s Higher Education Workshop. #circulareconomy

— Ellen MacArthur Fdn. (@circulareconomy) June 20, 2018

Materiom is a brand new open materials database with recipes for biopolymers and composite materials you can make using locally abundant sources. For example, using mussel shells and sugar you can make a calcium carbonate composite that can be used in 3D-printing with a syringe pump extruder:


I remember experimenting with creating artificial leather from kombucha as part of the first BioHack Academy back in 2015, so it was nice to see they've included a kombucha fabric recipe as well.

  1. Image licensed under CC-BY 4.0 : Marita Sauerwein, cover image by Margarita Talep Follert ↩︎


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This morning I was watching Estefannie Explains it All on YouTube making a Daft Punk helmet using her new 3D printer.

She was 3D printing a mold and using that to vacuum form a visor out of a PETG plastic sheet. What I love about her videos is that she shows everything, including her failures, like completely melting the plastic sheet or gluing the box to her workbench by accident.

I've watched other makers on YouTube and usually feel inadequate when I look at their amazing skill set, even though I have a Masters degree in computer engineering and a PhD in industrial design. With Estefannie, it's refreshing to see how she's learning as she's making and sharing the whole process.

As she was making the vacuum forming box I noticed many things that could be improved, for example how she was clamping things to her workbench. Instead of pointing that out in the comment section (which I'm sure many people will do) it reminded me that I don't have to know how to do everything perfectly before starting, and that even if you make mistakes you can still make something awesome.

I used to think that looking at great maker projects will inspire me to make things. That's not true – looking at the process, including all the failures and mistakes, is what provides true inspiration.