Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bring me the head of, well, myself

I’m not quite a Luddite.

It’s not as if I don’t TXT, or order tulip bulbs online, or, errrr, blog.

And, after all, my career has been in technology.

Still, I’m not 100% enamored of new techie stuff just because it’s new. Or techie. I tend to view all of it – including the elements that I use (and enjoy using) regularly, like TXT-ing, ordering tulip bulbs, and blogging – with a slightly jaundiced eye. Do we really need cars that park themselves? Yet another social networking app that lets everyone and his brother know where everyone else and his brother is at any moment in time?  I like doing flight check in ahead of time, but do I really need to be able to watch a TV show on my smartphone?

But if there’s one technology that I am absolutely capable of falling virtual head over virtual heels in love with, it’s 3-D printing.

“YOU can carry your own head in your hand,” enthuses Bre Pettis, inviting customers to try out a three-dimensional photo booth that will scan their head and then print a miniature plastic version of it as a solid object. (Source: The Economist.)

Not that I actually want a plastic 3-D scan of my head, or the head of anyone else, for that matter. But I’m loving the idea of MakerBot, which is the maker-bot of:

…desktop MakerBots, which make things out of plastic, for just $2,200. It is still early days, but MakerBots and machines like them are “empowering people to make the things they want, rather than buy them from factories,” says Mr Pettis.

Forget economies of scale! Think scale of one.

Fast forward a few years, and how cool will it be to go to a shoe store and have them print me up a pair of 10-1/2 AA shoes that don’t look orthopedic or nunnish. Not that I’ll be bringing on the Jimmy Choo’s or the Laboutins, but a pair of fun-colored kippy flats that won’t fall off my feet? I’m so there.

How about being able to merge a Peter Paul Mounds with a Peter Paul Almond Joy and get both dark chocolate and almonds. Because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. (And while I wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice the scrumptious blue M&M’s to do so, I’d also like to bring back tan M&M’s while I’m at it.)

And I’d love to be able to print out a Christmas tree. A real one, thank you. Seven-foot balsam (with that real balsam smell).

Although I don’t consider myself a classic narcissist, I’m down with empowering me to make the things I want.

The first MakerBot store is in NYC, on Mulberry Street.And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.png Wish that I’d known this when I was in The City a few weeks back. I would love to see these MakerBots in action. I might even have let them print out a copy of my head. (Christmas ornament?)

Given that one of Dr. Seuss’ first books was And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, how cool that a store that sells products that are almost Seussian in nature plunks itself down there. (And to think that I didn’t see it on Mulberry Street, even though I was just around the corner. Oh, boo-hoo.)

Okay, okay. 3D printers aren’t printing out many real things. Yet. Certainly not Christmas trees. Or Jimmy Choos.

But they’re extremely useful for creating prototypes, so I’ll imagine that product designers are all over this. Here’s a nifty little John Deere printed on a MakerBot Replicator 2.

And check out MakerBot’s Thingiverse, a gallery of objects designed/created by MakerBot users.

I have no idea whatsoever what I’d do with it, what I could possibly contribute to the Thingiverse. But the Replicator 2? I want one!

Who knew there was a techie thang out there in the thingiverse that could get to the acquisitive heart of this near Luddite?

1 comment:

katrog said...

Heh--wait a couple of years and it will be as available (cheap, cheesy, etc.) as the Easy-Bake Oven of yore--or that thing that made plastic heads and so on, the Thingmaker. Creepy Cralwers, Vacuforms, etc.