‘Till You Make It: 3D Printing

makerbot 3d printing model art 3D printed objects courtesy of MakerBot: (left to right) Cat No. 1 (30407), snowflake, Stretchlet bracelet (57810), and fish.

Maker Media is slowly changing the world. The company responsible for innovating MakerBot 3D printers and Make Zine has affected me in the best way possible since I attended the World Maker Faire last year. For about two days, I surrounded myself with inventors who are creating things simply out of necessity and curiosity. This was beyond building things out of LEGO. Although everything seemed technologically advanced, like small homemade robots with Arduino circuitry, venturing into this territory was easy enough that kids were doing it. The next generation was inspiring me to channel my inner five-year-old.

Writing about technology for the manufacturing, construction, and aviation industry introduced me to the maker community. I covered World Maker Faire for MachineDesign.com. I actually wished I could have written about everything I set my eyes on. It was stimulus overload, and I think that’s a great thing. In the back of my mind, I’m constantly thinking about the possibilities of what else is out there; what else can I produce?

MakerBot Store NYC 3D Printing DesignThe fruits of Makerbot’s labor.

3D printing is the new wave. I firmly tell friends that learning how to use a 3D printer is going to be as important as knowing how to use a computer. Maybe not next year, but at least in the next three to five years. So, I’m getting started now. I’ve read through most of Zero to Maker, which humbled me to accept that it’s okay to start with no engineering experience whatsoever. Sure a little knowledge of soldering could help, but you learn as you go by meeting other makers online or at hackerspaces welcoming you into their world. I live in Brooklyn, the founding capital of MakerBot, so why not? After my first visit to the MakerBot retail store in SoHo with my son last week, I earned a more thorough understanding of various 3D printers, the two types of filament: PLA (polylactic acid) or ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). What’s pretty cool is that ABS is what LEGO bricks are made of. Aside: my fascination for LEGO hasn’t waned, it only keeps the creative juices flowing. Designing small figurines or practical objects, like building with LEGO, is just a small step towards thinking bigger though 3D print design. It can only get better from this point.

3D Printing Children's Book Leo the Maker Prince Make Zine The display cases at MakerBot, NYC are made of plastic. The glass, I’m not sure…yet.

A new children’s book published by Maker Media shows the range of 3D printing for the hobbyist and the entrepreneur. The story follows Carla, the main character and author, who stumbles upon a walking-talking 3D printer named Leo. The robot encourages her to draw a sheep, which she does, so she can see the potential of the robot’s power. Through the course of their conversation, he teaches her about the variety of 3D printing robots all around Brooklyn that serve different intents and purposes. She realizes her own potential to re-approach design, a passion she put on the back-burner when she became an accountant. Any person frustrated with the monotony of their unfulfilled job can appreciate the ambition at the core of Leo the Maker Prince. Why be a sheep when you can make sheep?

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