Fake Plastic Trees And The Next Industrial Revolution

“3D printing has been around for about 25 years, but until recently, to get into it, you had to spend as much as a Ferrari,” says Bre Pettis, the charismatic, bespectacled CEO and co-founder of Gowanus-based MakerBot Industries. “So we made a machine that was cheap, that we could afford. When we did it, we thought, ‘everybody should have one of these.’” Makerbot perfected their $1,299 miracle machine in 2009, calling it the “Thing-O-Matic,” and began linking customers via the “Thingiverse,” a website where users share designs (recent examples include a lightsaber-shaped chalk holder and maracas in the shape of the New Museum). The next step is getting the technology in the hands of kids, and they’ve developed curriculum for teachers to help them do it. “Just think about it—if you had learned how to invent things, and innovate, at age 11, how would the world be different today?” Pettis asks excitedly over the bleeps and whirrs of his “Botfarm,” a sci-fi fantasy brought to life. “Wonderful things are going to happen.”

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