Here’s what I take away from this small poll:
- People initially get interested in MakerBots because of a general interest in technology, the thought of making their ideas real on their own desktop, and because they just find MakerBots cool.
- While far and away the most common anticipated use of Thingiverse is for toys, games, and puzzles – this doesn’t really reflect the uses people intend for their MakerBots. If we were to put MakerBots into these people’s hands we’d see1 tools, replacement parts, and inventions as often as we saw designs for new toys.
- Lots of people design things in 3D, but not many of these designs are ever uploaded to Thingiverse.
- The three biggest obstacles to people getting a MakerBot are, in descending order, money, waiting for further improvements, and then doubting their own MakerBot building skills.
If you truly don’t have the money or a way to save up, there’s not much that can be done. However, if you are one of those who doesn’t have the money yet, but does have surplus time there may be hope. If you can lay your hands on the money for a MakerBot, you can crunch out parts for Mendels and Mini-Mendels. While the prices have fallen significantly, the selling point of these parts is still a lot higher than the cost of plastic plus electricity and wear-and-tear on your robot. Your robot can pay for itself. In fact, if you have a good enough idea you might even be able to open an Etsy store, your own storefront, eBay store or something similar selling prints of your ideas.
To those of you who are waiting for improvements – don’t. Yes, the MakerBot will be getting continually more awesome as people contribute to it in the future. But, no one is going to stop working on this open source project any time soon. They are going to be incredible improvements for years to come. Your MakerBot is essentially obsolescence-proof. Yeah, you might want to purchase an upgrade here or there in the future – but you don’t have to. You can be the person who figures out a simple solution to an existing problem you find with the MakerBot and you can fix it. I have zero expertise when it comes to electronics – but I’ve uploaded a few small improvements2 You just aren’t going to know how you can help yourself and others with this project unless you jump right in. Your MakerBot will never be obsolete. 3 Irrespective of improvements, I can tell you right now that building, designing for, operating, and even repairing a MakerBot is just plain fun. Don’t rob yourself of a fun weekend, just go purchase one right now. 4
Finally, to those of you who think you don’t have what it takes – I wasn’t sure I did either. Assembling it really is on par with putting together Ikea furniture. Go to the wiki, look at the build pictures, and read the instructions and troubleshooting guides. Once assembled it will take a little bit of work to get running – but there are lots and lots of people out there who will help you. Why not find someone nearby on the MakerBot map and e-mail them? Lots of us have websites and blogs – we’re happy to talk about our MakerBots. 5 There are also regional groups and hackerspaces. I don’t know for sure, but I strongly suspect if you get one and no one at your local hackerspace has one yet, they’ll be falling over themselves to help you get it operational.
Look, if I can do this, so can you.6
- Assuming they do as they intended… [↩]
- My X and Y axis tensioners. [↩]
- Look, if it happens somehow – well, just build a RepRap with it. The RepRap is specifically designed so that each generation can build the following generation – you’re guaranteed an upgrade path. [↩]
- Oh, and get the Deluxe kit. You won’t be sorry. [↩]
- Hell, I can’t stop talking about it. [↩]
- Oh, and, to those of who whose parents were killed by awesome robots… well… not to worry. As soon as I print up a few more upgrades, my MakerBot will be ready to finish the job. [↩]