Entrepreneurs Toss Aside Paper for 3D Printing

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The one moment of last week’s South by Southwest conference that had me wondering if I was indeed living in the time of the Jetsons was during Bre Pettis’ keynote address, where he discussed and demoed a 3D printer. Desktop 3D printing, a field led by Pettis’ company MakerBot Industries, involves scanning an object, creating a 3D digital design, and “printing” out a replica in model form.

It’s a pretty wild idea, but becoming more and more real as businesses such as MakerBot continue to tweak and improve upon initial prototypes. Here’s a time lapsed video of one of MakerBot’s printers creating a 3D bust of Pettis:

Back at SXSW, Pettis provided a few examples: one replicating fun little monster figurines, and the other where a girl receives a replacement part for a prosthetic limb after it’s replicated with a 3D printer. Manufacturing, design, creating and recreating parts for machines or people…this has entrepreneurship written all over it.

While you can buy a printer right now on MakerBot’s website or from its retail store in New York City, you may want to wait it out, at least for a little while. Small Business Labs sees mainstream 3D printing use still some years away, as updates are frequent and obsolete printer parts require constant swapping. While it may not be on your list of items to purchase anytime soon, its a promising technology to keep an eye out for in the future.

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