Conference 2018 - Grand Rapids, MI

Our 2018 Conference in Grand Rapids featured local area tours, workshop sessions and presentations, networking and social events, an expo with vendors and suppliers and a great keynote speaker! We also hosted our biennial Student Model Making Competition. The winners took home prizes, but the rest of us got to see some amazing models made by up-and-coming model makers.

We hope you were there to experience the excitement and inspiration found at a Conference of model makers, but if you weren't... here's some of what took place.





As we've done at recent Conferences, we've taken an after-hours tour to makerspaces in the local area. This time, we were able to visit the Geek Group in Grand Rapids.

There, we were treated to the Grand Tour of their 43.000 square foot facility, which included the High Voltage Lab to see their Tesla coil in action. Between the tools, video labs, equipment, workshops, materials, robotics, spare parts and shared know-how, it was a maker's dream! There was even a gift shop to buy some of the items members create there.




A Big THANK YOU to Our Event Sponsors:




Ranging from lively and informative to information-packed, the workshop sessions give model makers the chance to gain new information, for vendors to demo their materials, and for sharing of best practices to take place. We don't have many photos, so... I guess you had to be there!

If you have photos you took during workshops, feel free to share with us! Send to [email protected]

History of Patternmaking with Bruce Williams of Accurate Pattern


Materials for Rapid Prototyping with Reynolds Advanced Materials

Markus McKenna, Steelcase - Keynote Speaker             Bob Schneider, Whirlpool - Featured Model Maker



Workshop Presentations:

Arduino - Introduction to Microcontrollers
assets/Conf2018/Arduino 101 - Lakeshore Makers.pdf

Arduino - Exploring Microcontrollers
assets/Conf2018/Arduino 102 - Lakeshore Makers.pdf


Have a workshop presentation to share? Let us know!


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Technical and Model Shop Tours

Our Friday and Monday tours are a full-day opportunity to see the inside of model shops and technical sites of interest that you'd otherwise never get to see... and there's good food, too!

Tour A - Steelcase and Meyer May House







Tour B - Herman Miller and Gerald R Ford Museum






Tour C - Amway Corporation and Kendall College of Art & Design


** Do you have photos from this tour? Please send to [email protected]!


Tour D - Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, World Class Prototypes and Tiara Yachts









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2018 Keynote Speaker in Grand Rapids
Markus McKenna, Global Design Director at Steelcase

See video of his full presentation here:





An Interview with a Designer – APMM Speaks with Markus McKenna


As a design professional, Markus McKenna feels that prototypes are critically important to his creative process. He says he spends a great deal of time on a computer, which he considers wonderful, virtual models are not wonderful for judging scale.

“Without a physical model, it is very difficult to experience the mechanisms that many of our products include,” McKenna says.

Growing up on a farm in the middle of Illinois, McKenna was accustomed to having the ubiquitous John Deere tractor around. In fact, the tractor was his first thoughtful encounter with Industrial Design. He says he’s always been drawn to objects – particularly people-sized objects.

As the Global Design Director at Steelcase, McKenna says he tends not to be a process-y person when it comes to designing objects. “When I think about ideas, I work with a large team of designers and model makers. We think a lot about where the ideas come from, and what conditions surround them, he explains.” In the office furniture and office space design business, conditions like repetitive physical motion and reclining posture are vital to the success of a product.

“Sometimes our ideas come out fully formed,” he says. “But they must fester and cause sores” in order to be fruitful. First they sketch, but then “model making is the quickest way to actualize an idea.” He believes strongly that the best results come from a group of talented people each doing what they do best.

“It affects me profoundly,” explains McKenna, “are that there ought to be a reason why we bother to make something. The product ought to be really good or meaningful.” He says sometimes the product incorporates new materials and processes, but often new materials and processes inspire new products.

“We try to incorporate new materials or processes,” he says. “We ask the process what it needs.” As an example, he asks, “What would 3D printing want to do?”

McKenna believes that “Design is user-centered, but that’s only one way to innovate.” One product line in the Turnstone corral is the Bassline table frame, allowing customers to add their own table top. McKenna says, “The subversive thing about Bassline is that it requires our customers to co-design with us.” That surfboard in the garage, the barn door you salvaged? It becomes the unique coffee table in your office space. Now, that’s meaningful.



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The networking and social events are important aspects of our Conferences - a great way to get to know fellow model makers from across the country and around the world... or win a cool prize!

Jill Kenik checks out the door prizes brought by Nike

Bruce Willey displays prizes for emcee Craig Leese




Winner of Herman Miller chair is John Erickson of Bose                     Winner of Steelcase chair is Alex Pelzek of Midwest Prototyping


The 25 Talents of the Model Maker activity (commemorating 25 years that APMM has been around) got us looking around for the easily-recognizable "talents" placed in different locations around the conference center.  It coincided with a workshop discussing the 25 Talents, put on by Hal Chaffee and Bruce Willey. 














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Vendor Expo
Some of the most important suppliers to the model making world brought their products, equipment and supplies. Conversations ranged from problem solving to exploring innovation.








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Student Model Making Competition 2018

One of the highlights of our gatherings is to meet and get to know some of the rising stars in model making. This year was no exception, as we had good attendance by students and recent graduates and an exciting array of student models. The judges had a tough time selecting the winners from this excellent bunch. Prize winners are noted in the captions below.

1st Place - Steve Ward, AUB "The Pooper Scooter"                             2nd Place (tie) - Sarah Crystal, AUB "Lockheed Lounge"

2nd Place (tie) - Julia Hartwanger, AUB "Bleriot's Monoplane"       3rd Place - Harry Quarendon, AUB "Motorola Portable Phone


Marshall Coope, AUB "Nomos Table"                                                 Jasper Cousins, AUB "Dali's Elephant"

Jack Hazell, AUB "Mike Wazowski Stop Motion Puppet"           Linsey Jones, NWTC "Wonder Woman Shield"

Josh King, AUB "Electric Guitar"                                                 Martha Lucas, AUB "The Original Sony 'Walkman'"

Ollie Smither, AUB "Rolleiflex Camera Replica"                         Alex Stewart, AUB "San Pietro in Montorio"

Lauren Taylor-Heaton, AUB "Hidden Spy Camera"               




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