Just as with printing smaller plastic objects on a 3D printer, once you start using a CNC machine like a MakerBot to create an object – the complexity of the infrastructure becomes almost irrelevant. While it might be much more work for humans to construct a circular, curvy, or angular building – such complexities are reduced to a mere toolpath when handed off to a giant printer.
Another question from Maker Faire from a family was – “What materials can you build using a MakerBot?” I told them there was no limit to what they could create with a MakerBot. While the most obvious use was with plastic, a MakerBot can help you create nearly anything you want out of nearly any kind of material.
One of my favorite series of questions came from two boys who were at the booth with their father. After watching half a squirrel being printed out, they asked what material the MakerBot was using to make objects. I explained that it was the same ABS that went into Legos. All of a sudden the pairs of eyes that were watching the Replicator were now on me with laser focus. They had to know if the robot could make Legos. I told them that people had, indeed, shared designs for Lego compatible bricks on Thingiverse and they were no longer constrained to only have those bricks they could find in stores – they could have any brick they could design. Now, that got their attention.
Their father, ever the savvy and wary consumer, wanted to know just how expensive it would be to make those bricks. I responded with my own question – how many plastic building pieces could they buy for $50? The father and both kids agreed that it wasn’t much – $50.00 might buy you a medium sized Lego set. I reminded them that those boxes were also mostly empty – you buy a lot of air when you buy a box of Legos. 2 Hefting a spool of ABS plastic in their direction I told them that $50.00 would buy enough plastic to make more than two pounds of bricks – bricks of any size and shape they could imagine. That definitely got the dad’s attention.
At MakerBot, we are on a mission to make manufacturing things yourself inexpensive, easy, and fun. We hold the MakerBot Operators of the world in the highest regard. We’ve been engineering our tails off to bring you the best personal 3D printer and we rejected the proprietary cartridge model for printing materials which other companies use, because we encourage sharing and iteration. And those are both best done when material is inexpensive. You can be generous and give things away and the cost of failure is low. We believe the low cost of failure will drive people to iterate their designs, bask in the glow of innovation, and invent the future.
I hate the ink cartridge business model where the machine is ultra cheap and the ink cartridge is absurdly expensive. Have you ever bought an inkjet printer inexpensively and then run out of ink at a critical moment? Then you have to go out and spend a lot of money on a whole new cartridge. It often is cheaper and more convenient to buy a new printer than it is to buy a replacement cartridge. On top of that, I’ve had an inkjet say it’s out of ink when there’s visibly still ink in the cartridge. This is done by chipping the cartridges to monitor use, so you can never use all the material. That makes me so mad. It’s wrong.
This is such an old, accepted model of doing business, we don’t even think about it anymore. Razor blades, ink cartridges, photo printers, Swiffers, and mobile phones & service contracts. That’s the old world. That’s a wasteful world. That’s a world in which consumers are treated like hostages. That’s not the future I want to live in. The way we’re doing things at MakerBot is common sense. It shouldn’t be a revolutionary business model, but these days, it is.
For those of you who don’t know, the Raspberry Pi is a “credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard.” While “underpowered” compared to full sized traditional computers, there are some ground-breaking distinctions. The Raspberry Pi Model B comes as a small computer motherboard with RCA video, audio, HDMI, LAN, two USB connections, and a small USB micro power connector on board – all for just $35.1
Between the just-released open source Raspberry Pi and printable Raspberry Pi cases on Thingiverse, there’s nothing to stop you from creating their very own custom laptop. All it would really take to create your very own laptop would be a USB hub, a USB keyboard, USB LCD monitor, power supply and/or battery pack, connectors, and a 3D printed case to hold it all in. I’d be willing to bet all the parts could be sourced for less than $250 plus a 3D printed case.
The Model A has only one USB port and no LAN ethernet port for $25! [↩]
File under unexpected-but-awesome! The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research hosted a talk on the glories of additive personal manufacturing last week, and who showed up to bring home the message? That’s right, our friend the Thing-O-Matic!
Christopher Williams, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and DREAMS Lab Director at Virginia Tech (an IALR partner), told the crowd,
There are no more constraints…There are no more rules about what can and can’t be made.
Preach on, Dr. Williams! We’re thrilled MakerBot was part of your evening.
"The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed." - William Gibson
How long ago was it that you first saw a pack of blank CD’s at your local drug store or super market? 1 For me this was ten years ago. I purchased my first CD burner in 1998 – but it wasn’t until about 2002 that I first saw a blank CD at the corner drug store. Until that time I could only find blank CD’s online or at electronic component stores. But, at some time between 1995, when I first saw a CD burner and 2002, when the media were available off just about any store shelf, the future, to paraphrase William Gibson, started to become evenly distributed.
I wonder how long it will be before I can find plastic filament in the supermarket? 2
“So once I started printing things, my sci-fi loving wife’s eyes sparkled (more than normal) and she had a ‘we can replace every plastic piece in the house with something custom’ moment. What I love about her is this was immediately followed by ‘you could drive someone mad with real subtle changes, too.’”
Of all of the potentially mischievous uses of a 3D printer, this is the most creative I’ve heard to date. This could even be automated to a certain extent. It would be fun to shrink someone’s office supplies. Heck, it’s not inconceivable that someone could scan in someone else’s objects, then scan the objects they will morph into, create a stream of intermediary 3D models, and slowly replace someone’s beloved coffee mug with a sculpture of a jackalope.
Here at MakerBot, we make open source hardware and we freely share digital designs for our products on Thingiverse.com. As a business, we strive to be a model for the bold companies of the 21st century that embrace sharing. You can download the design files for the things we sell on Thingiverse.com.
We created Thingiverse to be the digital design sharing utopia of our dreams. Thingiverse.com integrates with open licenses that encourages Thingiverse users to let others copy and change their work so that others can stand on their shoulders and create the products of tomorrow and the solutions for the next generation. Every day I look on Thingiverse and say “Wow!” when I see the new things that have been shared. People who upload designs to Thingiverse are my heroes.
The Pirate Bay announcement of a new category for digital designs is interesting because it’s another place where people can share digital designs for real things. As a technology, torrents are particularly great for super mega giant files because they distribute the downloading load and I’m curious to see what kinds of things will begin to show up in that category. Because The Pirate Bay takes a bold, no-holds-barred approach to sharing, I’m sure there will be controversies as companies and people who long for the proprietary days of the 20th century come to terms with the raw power of contemporary sharing technology. Cue squeaking of the world’s tiniest violin.
In the contemporary age of sharing, those who share will be the leaders of tomorrow. The sharers will be the ones who will emerge in the 21st century as winners in the rapidly changing innovative landscape. I’ve consistently advised individuals and companies to push their comfort level and share more. If you have a company that feels threatened by the idea of someone sharing digital designs for your products, I suggest you join the sharing community and share those design files yourself on Thingiverse.com.
January 10, 2012 (Brooklyn, NY) – MakerBot Industries is excited to announce the launch of its latest product, The MakerBot Replicator™, which will debut at CES in Las Vegas, NV on Tuesday, January 10th. Available in the MakerBot store for pre-order today!
The MakerBot Replicator™ is the ultimate personal 3D printer, with MakerBot Dualstrusion™ (2-color printing) and a bigger printing footprint, giving you the superpower to print things BIG! Assembled in Brooklyn by skilled technicians, the MakerBot Replicator™ is ready within minutes to start printing right out of the box. Starting at $1749, The MakerBot Replicator™ is an affordable, open source 3D printer that is compact enough to sit on your desktop. Want to print in two colors? Choose the Dualstrusion™ option!
With a build envelope that’s roughly the size of a loaf of bread, The MakerBot Replicator™ gives you the power to go big. Make an entire chess set with the press of a button. Friends, classmates, co-workers, and family will see the things you make and say “Wow!”
The MakerBot Replicator™ creates anything you can imagine with the new MakerBot Stepstruder™ MK8, the extruder is the part of the machine that turns raw feedstock, like ABS (what Lego® is made of) or PLA (a biodegradable material made from corn), into the objects you desire. You can order your MakerBot Replicator™ with single or dual MakerBot Stepstruders on it. By choosing the dual extrusion option, you’ll print with two different colors at the same time. MakerBot Dualstrusion™ unlocks the ability to make beautiful combinations of colors and opens the door to experimenting with with multi-material objects.
The MakerBot Replicator™ is ideal for personalized manufacturing, providing a new way to make the things you want and need. It is also an essential tool for children and students; parents and educators with a MakerBot Replicator™ offer the next generation an opportunity to learn the digital designing skills required to solve the problems of the future. Students with access to a MakerBot have an edge in the future job market. Just like the youth of the 1980’s, who had access to computers, children with access to a MakerBot Replicator™ will become the leaders who make a better tomorrow.
The MakerBot Replicator™ is the tool from tomorrow, today. In the two years since the company was founded, the capabilities of a MakerBot have grown from printing cupcake-sized objects in 2009 to printing things as large as an entire loaf of bread today on on the MakerBot Replicator™. MakerBot Industries continues to demonstrate its dedication to putting the tools of creativity into the hands of the those brilliant and bold enough to bring their imagination into the physical world.
This is my attempt to translate the chess-like game featured in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels (Game of Thrones). Being a huge fan of the man and his work, I wanted to try and give his game the best translation I could. Working with my good friend (and studious Martin scholar) N…