MakerBot Industries CEO and co-founder, Bre Pettis, was among the TEDFellows speaking at the TED2012 conference in Long Beach, CA last week. In his presentation, Pettis spoke about the importance of community and co-creation in making the impossible, possible. The talk focused on an open-source design phenomenon that took place in 2011 and early 2012, in which users of MakerBot’s Thingiverse collaborated on the web to develop a 3D-printed clock.
Thingiverse is an online community where users can post digital design files, document their designs, and collaborate on open source hardware. Thingiverse currently has over 15,000 3D-printable objects free for anyone to download!
The capabilities of 3D printing, and what can happen when a creative community comes together!
The clock project began when Mathieu Glachant, a.k.a. Thingiverse user Syvwlch, became fascinated with the escapement mechanism of a clock (the part that activates the clock’s pendulum and makes it tick). Glachant created a 3D model for an escapement and posted it on Thingiverse, but he couldn’t print it out, as he did not have a MakerBot at the time.
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. Thingiverse users from around the world started making various elements of the clock, sharing them online, and collaborating to design the remaining parts.
This January, MakerBot invited local members of the Thingiverse community, including Glachant, to gather in person at the MakerBot workshop in Brooklyn for a ‘Clock-a-Thon’ with the goal of finishing the clock. The community worked together to design gears and parts in CAD (computer aided design) software and troubleshoot ideas to perfect their designs.
Today, anyone with access to a 3D printer can make the clock by downloading the files on the clock’s Thingiverse page. MakerBot will also be selling the non-printable parts of the clock, the laser cut base, including a laser cut wooden shelf stand, signed by Pettis himself, in its online store.