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10 Open Hardware Startups Seen at Maker Faire Rome

Maker Faire Rome is just over, and it’s also the end of my week in Italy. This second edition was even bigger than last year. Venue was huge and packed with thousands of visitors. It was a lot of fun, sun and inspiration. I explored the alleys of the huge Parco Della Musica looking for open hardware startups to share with you. Take a look at my special round-up:


Armdillo is an open source man-hauled cart designed for outdoor exploration.  You can build it yourself or buy it already made. It can be pulled by hand, plugged on a bike, used as a backpack or as an undersea carrying system.


Armadillo. Photo: – CC BY 4.0

Bare Conductive

Bare Conductive is this awesome startup from the UK who makes a pen to draw with conductive ink. The team just launched Bare Conductive Touch Board, a micro controller that transforms almost any surface in sensors that you can program. It works with Electric Paint and is designed for kids and makers.

Bare Conductive. Photo: - CC BY 4.0

Bare Conductive. Photo: – CC BY 4.0


BotFactory develops Squink, a desktop machine for fast prototyping circuits. It deposits conductive ink and glue, and picks and place components on the circuit. Machine looks pretty rough so far but the team, based in New York, is actively working on the commercial versions.

BotFactory. Photo: - CC BY 4.0

BotFactory. Photo: – CC BY 4.0


fel.Fil is an open source filament extruder using PLA pellets or old 3D prints. Device is made of laser-cut wood parts, upcycled bike chain and open source electronics. You will need the help of a fablab to make the extruder head as it requires a CNC mill. fel.Fil started as an ecodesign school project at Politecnici di Torino. The team of 4 decided to keep going. Young design collective Collettivo Cocomeri is based in Italy.

fel.Fil. Photo: - CC BY 4.0

fel.Fil by Collettivo Cocomeri. Photo: – CC BY 4.0


If there is one booth that really got an outstanding attention, it’s the InMoov life-size robot. This open source robot is entirely 3D printed. It’s a labor of love for the French maker behind it, who is actively developing it. All the parts can be downloaded on InMoov website and reproduced at home. Among this year’s novelties was voice recognition, and it really drove people crazy! Excited to see what will come next. A shop is on the way.

InMoov. Photo: - CC BY 4.0

InMoov. Photo: – CC BY 4.0

MakeSmith CNC

Sometimes you have to go far to meet your neighbors. MakeSmith is an open hardware startup based in Santa Cruz, California. The team develops MakeSmith CNC, an open source low-cost desktop CNC router. It works by plugging your Dremel in it. This very compact machine can cut through many soft materials, including wood, acrylic, rubber, circuit boards or foam. Project launched on Kickstarter and got pre-ordered by more than 400 backers. First production is about to ship. Documentation has not been released yet.

Armadillo. Photo: - CC BY 4.0

MakeSmith CNC. Photo: – CC BY 4.0

Red Pitaya

Red Pitaya is an open source tool that replaces the need to buy measurement and control tools for electronics. It lets you transform your PC or smartphone in an oscilloscope, a generator, a spectrum analyzer or a frequency response monitor, among many other lab applications. This exciting company is based in Slovenia and is getting great feedback from teachers and makers. Red Pitaya is definitively a project to follow.


Red Pitaya. Photo: – CC BY 4.0


Risha is a low-cost open source laser-cutter that is portable and easy to build. Super flat and light, Risha can cut through many soft materials and even mill boards. Based in Egypt, the team of 3 organizes assembly workshops and actively advocates for open source hardware. All documentation is available on the website.


Risha. Photo: – CC BY 4.0


Tracco is a solar panel mounted on a mobile wood box who follows the sun. Leave it at home and it will look towards the sun all day. Use it to recharge your electronic devices. Active member of Fab Lab Torino, Tracco’s inventor showed his creation to the public for the first time at Maker Faire Rome.

Tracco. Photo: - CC BY 4.0

Tracco. Photo: – CC BY 4.0


WunderBar is a one-of-a-kind type of product. It’s a set of hardware development tools for Internet of Things developers. In the box, you’ll find sensors, beacons, SDKs, APIs and Libraries to let you develop apps for connected things. Graphic interface seems user-friendly. And it comes as a chocolate bar. WunderBar is based in Germany.

Wunderbar by Photo: - CC BY 4.0

Wunderbar by Photo: – CC BY 4.0

One-man’s project, team of friends… makers of all backgrounds and ages have now the right tools in hands to live from their passion. Good luck to all of you in building a sustainable and enjoyable hardware business!

And you, what are you working on? Share your projects in the comments below.


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