We are in a warehouse near downtown Brooklyn dubbed the Botcave. We’re talking with MakerBot Industry founders Bre Pettis, Zach “Hoeken” Smith, and Adam Mayer, and we’re contemplating a future where we can all instantly download, distribute, and manufacturer anything, anytime, anywhere. The implications are mind-boggling.
The road to utopia begins with a much cruder and smaller realization of this vision, however. The MakerBot guys hook up our laptop to the Cupcake, a $900 build-it-yourself 3D printer made of etched wood that is painted and lined with blue LEDs. It glows like something from a steampunk novel. We load up a design and start a print job. The gears and motors on this homegrown 3D fabricator sing. The extruder lays down string after string of hot, red plastic. Ten minutes later, Bre Pettis snaps a small toy violin off the building platform. “There,” he says, “the world’s smallest open-source violin.”