3D manufacturing has been touted as the new revolution in American Manufacturing — even by the President himself.
Today, Brookyn-based MakerBot is promoting that Made in America hook by showing its Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer ($2,199) at the MoMA Design Store in New York City as part of a ten-week event called Destination: NYC • Made in the USA. Both the 3D printing machine and novelty items it will make — think little Statues of Liberty, Empire State Buildings, Taxi Cabs, and other NYC-themed nicknacks — will be on display and for sale.
Whether 3D printing becomes central to a new breed of American Manufacturing — currently a $1.7 trillion entity — remains to be seen. But additive manufacturing is certainly within reach for hobbyists: MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis says that the 3D printing process is increasingly easy thanks to 3D "ecosystems" like thingiverse.com, where designers can borrow and share 3D-printing CAD files — some 80,000 at last count.
Taking another tack, another new 3D-printing machine doesn't require users know any CAD software at all to design and print parts. A startup called Pirate3D has just finished a prototype of its consumer 3D printer that will soon be available for the low, low price of $347. Called the Buccaneer, the machine based on fused-filament fabrication. A Wifi connection allows design sharing.