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Steampunk Makers in Silicon Valley: An Afternoon at Steamy Tech

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Steamy Tech, the Northern California kinetic art studio, is best known for wooden steampunk accessories, most visibly the hats with rotating gears worn by co-owners Greg and Lora Price at steampunk events. But lately they’ve been ramping up and branching out with new product lines, virtual Maker Nights, and a service that provides access to their extensive array of production equipment.

We recently spent an afternoon at their facility near San Jose International Airport, where they’ve built what’s essentially their own private makerspace.

When you enter, the first things you notice are two gigantic laser cutters, which are the workhorses for wood and acrylic components used in their projects. But they also have multiple 3D printers—resin-based Elegoo Saturn models for highly detailed work plus a large Ultimaker filament printer—along with sewing machines and a vacuum-forming machine. The latter allows them to fabricate their own plastic packaging inserts.

They use this equipment to make products they sell at conventions, festivals, and other events. But they also sell kits if you want to build your own projects.

Expanded Product Offerings

LED-illuminated pins and pendants

Until recently, their products were made mostly from wood, including fidget spinners, coasters, and pendants with spinning gears. But lately they’ve also been selling LED-illuminated pins and pendants made from laser-cut acrylic material. Their latest creations are acrylic earrings in the shapes of bees, dragons, and butterflies.

In addition to the cutting the shapes, they use a laser cutter to etch artwork on the acrylic surfaces.

As much as possible, they use in-house equipment to make the components and even the packaging. For example, they use their 3D resin printers to make the housing for LEDs and batteries in the pins and pendants.

Virtual Maker Nights

One of their latest ventures is a video production studio they use for the virtual Maker Nights, when you can build your own gadget at home while watching a livestream that shows you how.

They previously held in-person Maker Nights at bars and restaurants, where people could “come out and have dinner and drinks and build a project,” Greg explained. But these were accessible only to folks who lived nearby. With the virtual nights, you can sign up for a scheduled event online and they will ship you a kit.

“When the event starts, we’ll have everybody open their bags and then we’ll do the build from there,” he said. The events are hosted on Zoom, which allows participants to interact with one another as they work on the project.

Steamy Tech has also revived The Box of Making, a subscription program where you receive a build-at-home project every one to three months. This is in addition to kits you can buy at events or order from their website.

Another venture is ST-Invent, through which they offer consulting, production, and fulfillment services. These include access to the hardware and software they use for their own projects.

You can take a closer look at their work and the facility in the gallery below.


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