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MakerBot Industries Brings Manufacturing Back To Brooklyn 87

pacopico writes "A few decades ago, Brooklyn was filled with manufacturing companies. Today? Er, not so much. It's mostly restaurants and condos. That is, except for MakerBot Industries, which is assembling 3D printers for consumers by hand at a real, live factory. Businessweek profiled the MakerBot founder Bre Pettis and his goal of revitalizing manufacturing in New York, describing him as a weird 'throwback who lives in the future.'"
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MakerBot Industries Brings Manufacturing Back To Brooklyn

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Are they using the 3D printers to make 3D printers?
    Or are they using other stuff?
    • Re:Self replicating (Score:4, Informative)

      by Big Hairy Ian ( 1155547 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @08:15AM (#39952477)
      Lots of people are already doing this at least in part RepRap [] is capable of replicating about 50% of its own parts
    • by lxs ( 131946 )

      3D printers tend to do badly at mass production, altough I could see a rig with a grid of 5x5 heads turning out 25 copies of a part at a time. (I know, everything would be heavier and would have to move slower, but a man can dream)

  • by voss ( 52565 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @08:10AM (#39952453)

    robots with brooklyn accents. ;-)

  • by self assembled struc ( 62483 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @08:15AM (#39952479) Homepage

    "condos and restaurants...Except for MakerBot Industries" know, aside from three operating breweries, and hundreds of machine shops that dot my neighborhood. Or the medical instruments manufacturers, or the concrete and cement factories, or the furniture companies...

    Just because it's not electronics, doesn't mean there's no manufacturing. A simple google search shows at least hundreds of companies.

    PS - you must not go outside the gentrified parts of Brooklyn because the majority of the borough is still non-condo and sparsely restauranted.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Manufacturing comes across as this panacea for high paying jobs and economic boost of a local economy but the trouble is that modern manufacturing is mostly automated. Sure the individual jobs may be higher paying than a Walmart - like a CNC machinist but those are few. Walk into a modern factory and you hardly see anyone - there would be a couple of operators and some maintenance guys.

      Yes, it boosts the local tax base - assuming there isn't too many tax breaks that the local politicos gave to lure them t

      • by lxs ( 131946 )

        Manufacturing creates value. Without it there is nothing to trade or service. This makes it the basis of a solid local economy.

      • Arguably, the nostalgia for manufacturing is(in no small part) also a nostalgia for the conditions that prevailed during the time-period that people who use the word 'manufacturing' are generally implying to the audience.

        (Also, of course, there really isn't much good news about 'jobs' in any sector, especially if you are counting compensation-in-inflation-adjusted-dollars, job stability, or 'what you can do with a high school diploma' as variables, so there aren't many attractive options to keep nostalgi
      • by mhajicek ( 1582795 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:44AM (#39954223)
        In the long term, jobs are not what's needed. Jobs don't create value, production does. Eventually there will only be a handful of jobs needed to support the whole human race, as automation will have taken over almost every job. What's needed is for production to increase enough and to become cheap enough that everyone can get what they need (and a chunk of what they want) for free. That will require some major changes in thinking, as people with a lust for power tend to take control and then hoard both power and wealth even if there's more than enough to go around.
        • by s73v3r ( 963317 )

          The only way that would possibly end well is if we somehow move past a society in which money, and therefore a job, is required for procuring food, shelter, clothing, medicine, etc. If we go too far on the automation side, and make huge chunks of the workforce obsolete, but still require them to have money so they can get food, then we've got a huge problem.

          • Agreed, hence the major changes in thinking. Total automation will come. There were people protesting and fighting the industrial revolution because machines were putting people out of work, but it happened anyway. There will come a time (perhaps in only a few decades) when there is practically nothing that a human can do better than a robot. The question is how do we prepare for that time, and will we ensure that the robots provide for everyone or will they serve the whims of a few?
        • You can give people a decent basic standard of living while still allowing the option to amass "more stuff" if they excel. Much of Western Europe is run along those lines.

          • That sounds nice. Unfortunately we seem to have a number of people who enjoy depriving others; for whom having plenty is not enough, they must also squash everyone else. That would need to change.
            • Behold, the power of taxes! :D

              I know what you mean though, and here's my thinking on it. Its all about dogs. People and dogs go way back, and along the way clearly some people observed how dogs behaved and decided to apply the same concept to their fellow humans. Politicians, leaders, corporate tycoons, many of these act as though they were the leaders of dog packs rather than intelligent homo sapiens who reached their current elevated status by cooperation and mutual understanding. This can be seen in the

      • But for shear quantity of jobs, manufacturing isn't it.

        Unless you're making scissors.

    • I know at least one (large, multinational, sorta-conglomerate) company that makes more money manufacturing things in the U.S. that overseas. The things in question include great big cast-iron valves for refineries, with little bitty electronic sensors and steppers. The insides and valve seats are automatically ground to tight specs, the electronics are added on an automated line, and lift truck carry them around. The humans are qa inspectors, set-up guys and the lowest-skilled job is the lift-truck drive

      • A weaker dollar, which is almost inevitable in the future as the petrodollar scheme falls apart, will bring back much more manufacturing, especially if the government swings back to a more business-friendly (as opposed to BIG business friendly, which is not the same) type of environment. Our manufactured goods, both exports and those consumed internally, will become that much cheaper, compared to their foreign counterparts, so we will be producing and exporting more, and importing less. There will be much
        • We can speculate about 3d printing changing manufacturing radically, but in the same light we can imagine cheaper non-oil-based energy changing the balance of payments substantially too, which will make the dollar stronger I believe (USA will have less deficit, can print less money). Unfortunately that won't happen soon enough, as long as oil is affordable (if you use less it will be affordable longer). What if we had cheap available solar energy and did not need oil for so many things?
    • by slim ( 1652 )

      "condos and restaurants...Except for MakerBot Industries" know, aside from three operating breweries, and hundreds of machine shops that dot my neighborhood. Or the medical instruments manufacturers, or the concrete and cement factories, or the furniture companies...

      Well exactly. Brooklyn has a population of 2.5 million. The idea of it having no industry except restaurants is patently ridiculous. The idea of it being homogeneous in character is ridiculous. Brooklyn is much bigger than Manahattan, and even people with very limited knowledge of New York have an idea of the different characters of different parts of Manhattan (from film, literature etc.)

  • American industry isn't really as comatose as this article seems to suggest; the unfortunate reality is that all of the "sexy" manufacturing gigs (e.g., phones, novel tech in general) does end up ultimately getting outsourced. I think the real story here is having some manufacturing in the U.S. that produces goods that actually might have a demand on the other side of the pond, which is definitely something more exciting to brag about.

    Bring back Sexy Tech!

    • There was an interesting documentary on BBC the other night.
      It was about a cushion manufacturer who was finding making things in China too expensive and was trying to bring back manufacturing to the UK.
      I would guess that other smaller scale business who have moved their manuafcturing overseas (esp to China) might well be finding the same problem. Also, the Chinese workers are typically employed on a 1year contract. Every Feb they all go walkabout and get new jobs.
      One chinese worker in the documentary wanted

  • It's great that they're keeping the project open-source, but they won't stay competitive if they keep going with the laser-cut wood parts. They already have these guys [] breathing down their necks. They need to start cutting prices, and that means mass-producing SMT electronics (which, while they can keep open-source, are much more difficult to self-assemble) and replace the "shell" with one made of plastic-injection parts. They can only keep so many people loyal for keeping the entire thing open-source -- m
    • by daid303 ( 843777 )

      Cubify makes a damn good profit on their "cartridges", which seem to cost atleast twice at much as normal PLA filament used in 3D printers.

      Also, the 1.8k price doesn't come from raw materials. Less then half of that is material/production costs. The rest is for everything else, "overhead" like paying people for support, keeping stock, sending out replacement parts for DOA bits. "Mass producing" electronics would cut only $50-100 of the price.
      Replacing all the quality parts with cheap plastic bits, and have

      • I've been shopping around a bit for a 3D printer, and it looks like Ultimaker is the current best choice. It's a bit more expensive than some, but the stock is significantly cheaper (and non-proprietary) and the speed, quality, and work envelope are all great.
  • "Already 13 lawsuits have been filed to block expansion of the factory until environmental studies are published, 7 politicians are trying to get elected slamming the company because '3D printers cost jobs from normal manufacturing', and the city has upped the abandoned building's taxes from $200 a year to $27,000,000 a year."

    "Corporate officials could not be contacted in time for this story since they are currently in China."

    • Wesley Mouch, having earlier shuttered the Keystone Pipeline in favor of the Windmills Project, leans forward in his slightly misaligned overstuffed leather executive chair and puffs his cigar, and buzzes his secretary -- "Tell Mr. Slagenhop, good job on the robot factory."
  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @09:14AM (#39952965)

    thanks to manufacturing from 100 years ago. Whole Foods and jetBlue are just two of the businesses that have had delays in building because almost every site is contaminated with toxic waste

  • Businessweek is what is wrong with the world today....they brand him a throw back living in the future, yet this is how we got into this mess in the first place, by allowing Businessweek minded people to dictate it would be better to get stuff made outside of the US, and then we pay through the nose because not only do we have less jobs, and are dependent on other countries for our products, but now just like the oil, we do not control the price, if they want to sell us the dvd player at 1000$ a pop, who ca

  • What we really need is printers that can make printers that can make other thing, including more printers. Then we can go exponential and take over the world... hehehe...

    • Skynet, oh you! :P

    • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      That's called a RepRap [].

      "RepRap takes the form of a free desktop 3D printer capable of printing plastic objects. Since many parts of RepRap are made from plastic and RepRap prints those parts, RepRap self-replicates by making a kit of itself - a kit that anyone can assemble given time and materials."

  • I'm reading Slashdot while waiting for my Replicator to finish printing parts for a client in China.

    I'm curious about the new Cubify from 3D Systems. Could be interesting

    • It looks like a really slick device... Smooth curves and all self contained.... But a quick look at the details shows that it requires you to REGISTER your device! This is the way of implementing DRM into the machine. It runs on proprietary software that required you to activate the machine so you can download all sorts of shape files from "the cloud". What a way to take a great idea and make it terrible.
      • Thanks. The information provided is more hype than substance. I gave up looking for the catch. I'd assumed it was going to be the cartridges holding the materials ... just like ink jet printers.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:20AM (#39953865) Homepage
    stop saying throwback. throwback is a marketing term coined by cola companies and snack food conglomerates to gin up their respective markets and attract new customers to the same unhealthy vapid product theyve sold for 50 years. you can use big boy words like "homage" and no one will think the lesser of you on slashdot

    second, until makerbots start employing millions of people in well paid, safe factory conditions with competitive pay and honest retirement options, theres absolutely zero equivalent measure between a CnC factory that gets a building permit and a tax break from the city of brooklyn and the 1960's manufacturing explosion that dominated the northeast and ushered in american prosperity for hundreds of millions of people.

    makerbot is cool technology in its own right, but to even mention it in the same context as the industrial era that spawned an entire middle class america is almost an insult.
    • stop saying throwback. throwback is a marketing term coined by cola companies and snack food conglomerates to gin up their respective markets and attract new customers to the same unhealthy vapid product theyve sold for 50 years.

      Nope, though abused by those companies, "throwback" is a word that's been around a very long time. Taking a gander at Google's Ngram [] viewer shows the term in use back to the early 1800's. Other sources indicate it's origin as being 1855 [] or 1888 [].

      second, until makerbots star

  • I thought Bathsheba Grossman was "3D Printing's First Celebrity".

  • Hype: everyone will print all their stuff at home. Mass production will be replace by 3d printing. Reality: Some specific manufacturing will be done at smaller, nimbler, less expensive factories (sometimes neighborhood print shops) using 3d printers. Hobbyists will have fun with home 3d printers, like with PCs in the early 80's. A lot of people will be able to get into manufacturing, due to low entrance price, ability to print interesting parts (witness Shapeways), and advantage of being local/imaginative
  • I nearly purchased one last week, then I saw the 12 week lead time. Nope sorry not happening, fix the supply chain, bad management and or labor shortage problem and I may think about it.

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.