Brooklyn-based 3D printing startup MakerBot lords over the Thingiverse, an online community where users can post printable designs, notes about their designs, and collaborate on open source projects. The design database has reached 15,000 designs, a rep said in an email, including the impressive 3D-printed clock that MakerBot founder Bre Pettis just demo’ed at TED2012.
The clock, developed by Thingiverse users, is on the sophisticated side of the thousands of designs in the Thingiverse, but it gives us a glimpse at the full power of the Makerbot. The creation myth goes like this: Mathieu Glachant, a.k.a. Thingiverse user Syvwlch, created a 3D model for an escapement—the part that activates the clock’s pendulum and makes it tick—and posted it on Thingiverse. But he didn’t have a MakerBot to print it.
“Glachant’s fellow Thingiverse users saw his design and got excited about the possibility of creating an entire working clock that could be printed on a MakerBot,” a MakerBot rep wrote in an email to Betabeat. “Thingiverse users from around the world started making various elements of the clock, sharing them online, and collaborating to design the remaining parts.”
Then in January, the startup invited local members of the Thingiverse, including Mr. Glachant, to the MakerBot hacker den for a “Clock-a-Thon,” during which the gears and the rest of the parts of the clock were designed and printed. (Some parts are non-printable, such as the laser cut wooden shelf.)
So basically, the clock went from a fixation with escapements to a crowdsourced design, to a hackathon, to a clock that looks like it came from IKEA. We’re starting to see what this 3D printing revolution can do. Won’t be long now before the Thingiverse denizens code up a Rolex and add that shit to the Pirate Bay.