My local Maker Faire has changed a lot over the years. Our very first Maker Faire was held in a park and amounted to about a half-dozen tables of guys showing off their 3D printers. I think most of them were made from the same kit. It left a little to be desired. These days, our Maker Faire is held in the massive hall of our train station and attracts over 100,000 people and as many unique and creative projects and tools as there are tables.
This year, at the end of an aisle, about midway through the hall, stood a kid with curly, blonde hair. His friend, a year younger and a foot shorter, sat nearby. It’s not a bit unusual to see young inventors at Maker Faire. In fact, they are somewhat common and encouraged by the community–via the Young Maker program. What was uncommon was the crowd surrounding the kids and their booth.
Some of the time, when you see kids displaying at Maker Faire, they have simple products they are selling, as Ted Brull did a couple years ago when he first attended Maker Faire. Then, he was hawking Ted Clocks, timepieces made from repurposed computer parts. Other times, these Young Makers have serious products that stop adults in their tracks and draw them in for closer looks, as was the case when Brull returned to Maker Faire this June. The product Brull was selling this time was Kevo.
Last year, Brull was making a custom case for his computer. He couldn’t find the parts he needed, so he did what any Young Maker would do: he invented a way to inexpensively vacuum form his own parts. “I looked for vacuum formers to buy, but everything that I found was large and expensive, so I decided to make my own,” said Brull. After a few tweaks and further prototyping, Brull, who is now 13, is ready to share his invention, Kevo, with the world.
Kevo (the Greek word for vacuum) is currently being funded on Kickstarter and offers a 5″ x 5″ base or “former”, a grip to hold the mold, 10 sheets of forming plastic, and a variety of vacuum adapters. The base is sturdy plastic and can form around objects as large as a 16 oz soda bottle. Operation is pretty simple: heat up the plastic, place your object on the former, turn on your vacuum, and let the plastic form around your object. If you have any questions, Brull’s made an instructional video.
Like any good young entrepreneur, Brull’s even got his own company, Creation Hardware, and a mission: to make tools for makers. To that end, Kevo’s just the beginning. He has plans for new larger and automated vacuum former designs and some new automated tools that he is designing. With a modest goal of $750 to push the Kevo into production, Brull is currently sitting on more than $5,000 with a bit more than two weeks to go. That’s incredible success for a young inventor, especially one with a great product to share. Get over there and check it out!