MakerBot opened its new, 170,000-square-foot factory this morning in Industry City, in Brooklyn, NY, ensuring that the phrase “Made in Brooklyn” will continue to be inscribed on the back of MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers for years to come.
“We are very proud that we are here in Brooklyn, not only in our services and design and marketing, but in our operations,” said Jonathan Jaglom, CEO of MakerBot, who told a crowd of more than 100 employees, educators, students, and government officials at Industry City, a manufacturing, shipping, and distribution center which at its peak employed 25,000 people. Jaglom could not contain his excitement that MakerBot was reinvigorating a manufacturing space in Brooklyn.
Neither could Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who held up a 3D printed nut and bolt and quipped, “For many years folks in this community, instead of making screws, felt that they were being screwed.” Adams told the audience that half of employees in Brooklyn have at most an associate’s degree, and 47% of Brooklyn residents speak a language other than English at home. “When we train that workforce, we give them an opportunity to be a part of a technology that will move the entire globe. We want to be a part of that,” he said.
“We’re only as good as the people who come to work for us,” said Jaglom. He pointed to Diana Pincus, MakerBot’s vice president of operations. She joined MakerBot three years ago, when the factory was in a Gowanus garage and her desk was a plank on two sawhorses. Pincus oversaw the creation of the new factory, which streamlines production, doubles production capacity compared to MakerBot’s old Industry City facility, and follows principles of lean manufacturing, which emphasizes waste reduction and efficiency.
“Lean is a culture, not an activity, so we’re on a journey to making the MakerBot Factory a world-class manufacturing facility,” said Pincus, whose team uses its 3D printers to create the jigs and fixtures they depend on improve the productivity and quality of their work.
Other speakers at the opening included Randy Asher, principal of Brooklyn Technical High School; Dan Freedman, dean of the school of science and engineering at the State University of New York at New Paltz; and Ryan Grepper, the inventor of the Coolest, a souped-up cooler which raised $13.2 million last summer on Kickstarter — at the time the largest amount ever raised in a crowdfunding campaign.
Grepper, who announced that Coolest would start shipping this week, spoke about how he prototyped his cooler using his MakerBot Replicator, and that 3D printing made it possible for him to test his ideas quickly and make improvements. “We live in an exciting time when anyone with the drive to learn how to use it can get access to a tool with this much power,” he said.
Freedman, who established the first MakerBot Innovation Center at New Paltz, concurred, calling 3D printers “the Swiss army knife of fabrication technologies.”
Guests then got a tour of the new factory, led by members of Pincus’ operations team.
Pincus — and MakerBot — are in a unique position. As she put it, “I consider myself very lucky to have built a factory not only in the United States, but in Brooklyn, my home.”
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