by Steve Annear | November 11, 2013 6:15 pm
In a short amount of time, 3D printing—while sometimes controversial—has gone from being exclusively used in high-tech laboratories, to being sold for commercial use, and a Brooklyn-based company is aiding the transition by bringing the technology to the retail market.
As the holidays approach, MakerBot, a company that specializes in 3D printing and scanning, will be opening an in-store location on Newbury Street, allowing customers to both drop by and purchase the printers, as well as get demonstrations on how to use the devices. They can even scan, print, and purchase objects created onsite. The New York company will also be opening a store in Connecticut at the same time.
Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot, said the Boston shop will be somewhat of a “homecoming,” because the company’s president, Jenny Lawton, once ran her own tech company in the area.
“Boston and [Greenwich, Connecticut] are both terrific, tech-savvy communities, so it seemed natural to expand the MakerBot Store presence in these two areas,” said Lawson in a statement about the new retail spots opening up. “We considered locations all around the world, but knew these two neighborhoods offered vibrant retail communities.”
The newest Newbury Street location will also be home to a MakerBot photo booth, where customers can snap a picture of themselves, and then get a 3D rendering of the image printed out on the spot. The technology uses digital cameras to capture the subject matter instantaneously in high-resolution data. “The images are then combined to create an accurate three-dimensional model of the face, including textures,” the company explains. The first 3D photo booth was introduced in New York one year ago.
There will also be a MakerBot Gum Ball machine selling miniature trinkets with Boston-based themes, created by the printers. Installations will be going up in the store’s windows, featuring displays made on MakerBot devices.
In 2012, Pettis told Wired.com that he believes the small-scale 3D printers, like the MakerBot Replicator 2—which retail for around $2,100—will start becoming household commodities in no time. The pint-sized devices are capable of spitting out everything from toys, to desktop items like puzzles, and even jewelry—all made from the special eco-friendly, plastic-like material used to construct products when scanned and 3D printed. “This is MakerBot’s Macintosh moment. Just as nearly 30 years ago Apple made desktop publishing mainstream, the aim with the Replicator 2 is to take something new to the masses: desktop manufacturing,” Wired wrote.
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