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Tuesday, February 19 News

Maker Faire to attempt world’s largest 3D-printed duck

WESTPORT — Last year’s Maker Faire broke many of its own local attendance records. This year, however, the event is aiming to make its mark on a more global scale — with the world’s largest 3D-printed duck.

The effort, named the Great Duck Project, is the brainchild of Maker Faire Westport founder Mark Mathias.

“It’ll be 6 feet tall and will consist of 475-plus pieces,” he said. “People from around the world will be able to ‘be a part of the duck’ and download a 3D printable part, print it out, mail it to us, then we will build the duck.”

The organization applied to Guinness World Records for the new category in December and plans to find out by March if it was accepted.

People and companies from every continent are encouraged to help “build” the duck, which will be assembled by a team at this year’s gathering of tinkerers, crafters and inventors on April 27.

Mathias, an information technology executive who has worked to promote creative STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) initiatives as a member and current chair of Westport’s Board of Education, said the goal is to reach out to libraries, students and other maker faires around the globe to get involved. He has even put in calls to the United States’ McMurdo Station in Antarctica and the International Space Station, but the space station declined. There is no cost to participate.

“We want to engange them all,” he said. “ ... This is intended to be a global, collaboration project.”

More Information

The Westport Maker Faire 2019 will take place April 27 at the Baldwin Parking Lot, town hall and Veterans Memorial Green. For information, contact Mathias at mark@remarkablesteam.org, 203-226-1791.

The Westport Sunrise Rotary Club is sponsoring the duck in connection with its Great Duck Race every year, in which thousands of rubber ducks are released on the Saugatuck River to raise money for local and international charities.

When looking for new ways to promote the race, the thought was “what could we do to help the rotary club get visibility for the duck race and be part of the Maker Faire?” Mathias said.

Thus, the 3D duck idea was born.

“I thought it was a brilliant idea,” Sunrise Rotary President Eileen Flug said. “We brought it to the board and our board approved the sponsorship of it. ... Having the 3D-printed duck goes hand-in-hand with our efforts every year to promote the Great Duck Race.”

Teachers at Greens Farms Academy then created a 3D-printable file that participants can use to download the parts they wish to contribute. Due to the variety of colors and materials available for 3D printing such as steel and porcelain, Mathias said, the end result will likely be a “calico duck.”

“We are honored that Greens Farms Academy is the technical lead for the project,” GFA’s Head of School Bob Whelan said. “It’s a perfect example of creativity, innovation, and collaboration for our students and faculty. This is boundary-breaking work.”

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Since announcing the project on Feb. 7, several duck parts submissions have been received, but the focus is still getting the word out, Mathias said.

“I sent an email to the more than 500 people who produce Maker Faires worldwide soliciting their participation. I’m personally reaching out to my contacts in foreign countries,” he said.

Those wishing to get involved can visit thegreatduckproject.org to sign up. They will fill out a form and will be emailed a file containing a specific duck part that can be printed on a 3D printer. The printed duck parts should be mailed to Greens Farms Academy to arrive by April 1, where they will undergo quality assurance before being put into the inventory for the duck build.

After its construction at the Maker Faire, the finished duck is scheduled to make an apperance in the Memorial Day parade, followed by the duck race on June 1.

As far as securing a permanent home for the potential record-setting waterfowl, “that’s an open question,” Mathias said. “If it achieves world record status, we’d like it to have some home, but we don’t know what that would be yet.”

lteixeira@ctpost.com; @lianateixeira14

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