MakerBot Has The Coolest Office We've Seen In A Long Time

bre pettis, makerbot, june 2012, bi, dng

Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

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.

The MakerBot Botcave is located in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

Here's Bre Pettis, cofounder of MakerBot

MakerBots run all day, making all kinds of different objects. Here's one in the middle of making a statuette

We met Michael Curry, Director of the MakerBot Design Studio

They have little servos inside of them to move their legs and can even be steered left and right using this remote control

He cracked one open to show us what the insides look like

A MakerBot is roughly the size of a microwave, but it can make all kinds of objects

For example, MakerBot recently paid a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to take photographs of various sculptures

Then, back at the Botcave, they printed out scaled-down versions of them in ABS plastic

People even use them to make their own games. Here's a rubber band-powered catapult that fires pennies... your enemy's flags. All of these components were made on MakerBot printers

There have been three models of MakerBots to dateā€”the Cupcake, the Thing-O-Matic, and ...

... the Replicator, MakerBot's latest and greatest

Rob Vincent, Bot Farmer, spent some time with us discussing what the Replicator can do

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 ...

... the community stepped in with solutions

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

Immediately next to it is more MakerBot space

When you go inside, you're greeted by boxes of finished MakerBots to be delivered to customers

Just past that is the main workspace, where Replicators are assembled, checked for quality, and boxed for delivery

Here's a Replicator in mid-assembly

Steven McGriff is a MakerBot Productor, spending his workdays assembling 3D printers

Rachel Woodard has worked in QA since March. Here, she checks out an extruder

Everywhere you look, you see Replicators in various stages of construction and testing

Andre Donald works in QA has been with the company for a year

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

Spare parts are all over the place

We didn't ask, but it seems like a safe assumption that they go through a lot of plastic each day

Here's a pile of completed test patterns

Barry Storey, MakerBot's purchasing agent, had a small stash of them on his desk

We loved this piece of artwork on the wall, which we're told was made by an employee

They even let us in to an employees-only area

Bre Pettis, MakerBot cofounder, shows us the latest objects he's printed

There are a number of models around his office

There's even a banjo

Little did he know that I play, too

Plenty of people use MakerBots for hacking objects into new things

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