Bre Pettis profoundly believes that 3D printing can make the world a better place. And after talking to him, it’s hard not to leave feeling the same way.The key is how it lets you experiment in the physical world in the same way people do with software.
“You learn that it’s OK to fail,” he told us. “If a print gets screwed up, what have I lost? Just 25 cents worth of plastic, really.”
Pettis is the cofounder of MakerBot, a 3D-printing startup based in Brooklyn. After receiving numerous awards and delivering three generations of its hobbyist 3D printer, the company is at the height of its game.
Usually reserved for elite manufacturing companies, 3D printers cost tens of thousands of dollars (sometimes even more) and take up loads of space. It’s probably the last thing a private individual would want in his house.
But then you look at the Replicator, MakerBot’s 3D printer for normal people. It’s about the size of a microwave and costs less than $1,800. It even arrives at your house assembled, so you don’t even need to be especially tech-savvy to use it.
Pettis and company have figured out how to make the 3D printer into a home appliance just like any toaster or coffee maker you already have. MakerBot represents a total democratization of manufacturing. We started to think, “Why doesn’t everyone have one of these?”
MakerBot was kind enough to show us around its workspace in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. We were totally impressed.
MakerBots run all day, making all kinds of different objects. Here's one in the middle of making a statuette
They have little servos inside of them to move their legs and can even be steered left and right using this remote control
For example, MakerBot recently paid a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to take photographs of various sculptures
People even use them to make their own games. Here's a rubber band-powered catapult that fires pennies...
There's always a lot going on in here and a lot to be seen, so we weren't surprised when this passerby stared through the window
MakerBot has a huge online community working together to tackle all kinds of problems. When one person couldn't figure out how to make his homemade clock work ...
On your way out of the Bot Farm, you can buy 3D-printed models from this vending machine if you like
As you leave the Bot Farm and go around the corner, you pass NYC Resistor, the New York hacker space where MakerBot was conceived and developed
Just past that is the main workspace, where Replicators are assembled, checked for quality, and boxed for delivery
He explains that every Replicator prints this test pattern before being sent to customers. Based on how the pattern comes out, he can determine that it's in working order
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