September 26th, 2014
02:19 PM ET

Life a little less 2D

Forget what you know about conventional printing – and start thinking three-dimensionally.

3D printing – once considered niche – is now becoming more mainstream. UPS, for example, just expanded its 3D printing services to locations across the United States to keep up with demand.

But Bre Pettis and the folks at Stratasys are working to bring 3D printing to your home.

Pettis is the co-founder of Makerbot, the company that pioneered 3D printers for consumers. Now at Makerbot’s parent company, he’s part of an innovation workshop called Bold Machines.

“We’re exploring the frontier of what’s possible,” Pettis says. “Imagine Iron Man’s workshop. We’ve got all the 3D printers in the Stratasys lineup – from Makerbots to wax printers – that make wax 3D models that you can then take into a foundry and make beautiful customized jewelry.”

So how does it work?

It starts with a digital image that you can create using computer modeling software. You connect this image to your 3D printer, which takes it, analyzes it and prints it out in physical form, layer by layer.

Instead of using nozzles that spray ink like a traditional printer, 3D printers can use all different types of liquid consistencies, such as plastic, rubber and even metal. Those get melted down and layered into whatever shape or design you desire.

“In many ways this is about taking a factory – and instead of having to go shopping to buy stuff that came from a factory – the factory’s on your desktop and you get to make stuff right in your own home,” Pettis says. “We’ve put a lot of time, energy and money into making Makerbot 3D printers easy to use and friendly.”

And his team isn’t stopping there. They’re currently in the process of creating a feature-length movie based on characters printed through Bold Machines. (You can even download and print your own 3D copies).

The movie is called Margo, and chronicles the adventures of a young detective who discovers her parent’s laboratory filled with cool crime-fighting tools.

Check out the video above to hear how Pettis hopes to transform the movie industry one 3D character at a time.


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Filed under: Gadgets • Movies • Technology • Titans of Tech
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