Gowanus techies want to put a 3D printer in your apartment

Gowanus techies want to put a 3D printer in your apartment
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Meet Brooklyn’s Steve Jobs.

A Gowanus tech entrepreneur wants to follow the path of Apple by bringing the 3D printer — a high-tech device normally used by industrial designers and architects — into your apartment.

MakerBot’s Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer gives anyone the ability to make virtually anything, such as toy cars, industrial models, or even a modest door jam — just ask company CEO Bre Pettis.

Pettis used the machine to create a plastic door jam last week after a latch on his shop’s door broke — saving him a trip to the hardware store.

“In the future, we envision a MakerBot 3D printer in every company and in every home,” said Pettis. “At this point, we would compare the MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer to the Apple II.”

The Apple II helped introduce personal computing to the home user — a novel idea at the time, when oversized computers were largely limited to big companies and humongous labs.

Much of that remains true for 3D printers, which are common for mechanical and bio-tech engineers today — but also increasingly popular among as a nifty home arts tool.

The printers use computer-aided designs to build three-dimensional objects layer-by-layer using a technique dubbed “fused filament fabrication,” which results in strikingly detailed models that can have moving, interlocking parts, and are strong enough to perform basic tasks.

Doctors have used them to make models of feet, vascular skin tissue, and models of the human inner ear — while artists have printed out nifty busts of Steve Jobs and gramophone-shaped smartphone mounts.

“We have made a model of a five cylinder rotary engine with a MakerBot Replicator 2,” said Pettis.

The Gowanus-based company isn’t the only group that’s trying to make 3D printing as common as its 2D counterpart — but MakerBot has already earned plenty of cred in the industry according to technology analyst and Greenwood Heights resident Cody Burke.

“MakerBot is really well positioned as the cool kid of 3D printing,” said Burke. “They have been around for a while and they are tied in and associated with the DIY movement.”

The new model — which sells for $2,199 including a spool of filament (extra spools, not unlike the toner cartridges of 2D printers, go for $48) — is already generating plenty of buzz, prompting nearly 10,000 MakerBot-related tweets within an hour of the product’s launch.

MakerBot’s Jason Bakutis said he’s confident in the Replicator 2, which much like the Apple II, follows a more bare bones predecessor and that was aimed at hobbyists more than mainstream consumers.

“The cool thing is that, with this machine, anyone can learn to make parts that fit together that a toddler couldn’t break,” said Bakutis.