2MakerBot’s New Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Factory
3A Willy Wonka Factory for Adults
In one particularly colorful corner, products—offering a sense of what’s possible—are made for the MakerBot retail store. The orange, white, green and yellow pieces on top of the printer in the foreground are called “corner mounts” and are included with each printer. They help secure the machines during shipment, but also add a bit of joy—purchasers receive not just a printer but something already printed.
6The Factory Floor
The factory floor is divided into sections. Everyone who works at the factory starts here, in subassembly, getting a bottom-to-top understanding of the printers. Pettis, who considered moving production to Asia, said he loves that every printer is made in Brooklyn, “by people who take pride in their work.”
The LED lights inside the printers serve the practical purpose of enabling users to clearly see the printing process. But, like the corner mounts, they also add a bit of fun, lighting the stage, as it were. Each printing run “is like a little theatrical experience,” said General Manager James Gunipero.
8Application Reliability Testing
10The Infinite Factory
“The MakerBot factory is a factory that makes small factories,” said Pettis, during a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Every box that we ship out of here is a bundle of potential energy that has the potential to change the world, to shift the world in a direction where it’s more creative, people are more empowered and the world is better.”
11‘This is the Future.’
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and a representative from Mayor Bloomberg’s office were on hand to help cut the ribbon—using scissors made by MakerBot, of course. “What I do know is this is the future,” said Markowitz. “The world is changing, and [MakerBot] represents where the world is going.”
12Revitalizing Manufacturing, and New York
During the event, a tropical storm lashed at the factory, which is on a gritty Western edge of Brooklyn. Zoning wasn’t an issue, since the new factory is in what was an empty factory building. “This is not just the future of manufacturing, but the future of New York City’s economy,” said Bloomberg’s representative. “New York City is on its way to becoming the No. 1 technology city in the world.”
13The MakerBot Way
Pettis said that for tinkerers, who are people who like to go to hardware stores, MakerBot is a “holy grail.” His favorite inventions are the RoboHand—an inexpensive prosthetic—and an adapter that makes it possible to connect Brio’s train track toys with Lego Duplo bricks. Both are on MakerBot’s Thingiverse site, where inventors share their designs.
Pettis dismissed a question about where the market will be in five years, saying that MakerBot is launching its 3D scanner later this year. “And then it’s game on,” he grinned. “You want to know where your industry will be in five years? Make it happen right now.”