Bre Pettis; a wordy maker report by Greg McRoberts

  Champions come in all forms and sizes, champions of justice, nature and branding to name a few. Bre Pettis, a champion of DIY electronics and cofounder of Makerbot industries, has created an open source 3d printer for the personal manufacturing of goods to improve lives. Have a broken light bracket? Print a new one instead of buying a whole new lamp.

He has also been a teacher, artist and puppeteer. He created new media for and hosted Make Magazine’s Weekend Projects Podcast. History Television gave him a pilot program called Hacker History. Bre is founder of NYCResistor, a hacker collective in Brooklyn where people gather to share ideas and techniques on making all manor of electronica. Bre continues to push the DIY boundaries by facilitating the DIY world through his projects collectively.
Along with Makerbot Industries, Bre went on to create A world of shared open source 3D designs to download and print on your Makerbot or any printer.

So all that history and what does it mean for you? Lets say you are into Arduino and making robotics or interactive sculpture. It is now possible for low cost, very low cost, to have the capabilities of making an object specific to your needs. Want to make an interactive piece that has moving parts or just need a housing for your Arduino, Raspbery or other PCB? Down load the free software called Openscad or Sketchup, spend a few minutes figuring it out (it isn’t hard) or go to Thingiverse or Google 3D warehouse, perhaps what you need is there or better. People are even 3D printing PCBs with embedded traces. Home made boards that are completely recyclable.

After your done designing you save your file and import it into the free Makerbot software called ReplicatorG. It will slice your model and generate the code to send to the printer. Once that is done you hit print and wait for your object to be built.

It was once said, “with great power comes great responsibility” and using this technology is no different. Of course with disruptive emerging technologies experimentation is required but through that comes the next big innovation. I have a box of failed prints that wait recycling. Others have the same box of scrap and want to reclaim this material. Now we are starting to see open source devices that take failed prints and extrude them back into usable filament to feed the printers made from printed parts as well as metal mechanical components. Now it comes full circle and people are using Makerbot printed and electronic components to do it.

On the other end of responsibility, one can print parts to devices that would potentially do harm to others. For example on Thingiverse some users have uploaded a rifle component that is 100% printable and useable but heavily controlled by gun regulations enforced by the government. What this means for our future I am not sure but it is a bit of a scary notion no doubt.

I am very excited about this stuff and feel that it has the capability and inertia to change the way we view products and manufacturing. Bre didn’t invent 3D printing but he did make it very accessible to everyone. For two thousand dollars you can be part of this 3D manufacturing revolution. I am and I could never have guessed at the success I have had but that’s another maker report waiting to happen. When I considered getting my first Makerbot I watched a video of a very animated and excited Bre Pettis telling me “ I can do it too and Makerbot is here to help” and he was right. Bre’s work continues to leave his mark on the DIY electronics world like Superman has on comic’s…scratch that he is more like Batman. No superpowers, just a quest for the knowledge to achieve his goals. He makes it easy to follow and rally behind him, a true champion.

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