While visiting Carsten Höller’s “Experience” exhibit at the New Museum, we noticed something far more interesting: a display in the front window designed by MakerBot Industries.
MakerBot New Museum

MakerBot is a Brooklyn-based company that builds 3D printers, which use plastic filament to create figurines, prototypes, toys, and other objects. 3D printers are not a new concept, of course, but MakerBot is one of the few companies that has specifically targeted the small business and hobbyist market. The aliens, snowflakes, X-Wing sleigh, and robots seen above were all printed by MakerBot from “blueprints” contributed by their community of designers. What’s even more unusual about this museum installation is that visitors are encouraged to recreate it at home: the designs are available for free online, so anyone with a 3D printer handy can print their own lightsaber-fighting aliens.

MakerBot CommunityWhile at $1,099, the entry-level printer is still too expensive for the average household, it does indicate that more and more people are becoming interested in designing and manufacturing objects. In fact, their latest printer, the Replicator, was also just named “Best of CES 2012” in the Emerging Technology category. It’s not difficult to envision a future in which people download a design to print at home rather than run out to the store to replace a missing part, or produce a new toy to distract the kids. This shift to small-scale, instant manufacturing will force brands to reconsider their entire supply chain and presents interesting opportunities for local, enterprising businesses.