BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- MakerBot Industries has become one of the most high-profile players in the increasingly crowded 3D printing space, and its new mass-market-oriented Replicator is one of the reasons why.
At the company's offices, dozens of Replicators are humming at any given moment, churning out all kinds of 3D printed objects. Many are simply test objects to make sure the devices are properly aligned and ready to be sent off to a buyer. But right now, the company is also slowly turning out the parts for its first-ever "Robot Petting Zoo," a display that will make its debut at Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif., next month.
On a shelf at the company's Brooklyn offices, workers have stored a number of 3D printed robots, each of which is awaiting the thrill -- if robots can have such emotions -- of delighting kids and adults alike at Maker Faire.
This is Button bot, a member of the Robot Petting Zoo. Each of its arcade-game-like buttons will do something different, but there will be no labels, meaning that kids (and some adults) will have to play with the robot long enough to figure out what the buttons are for.
This is the MakerBot Bot Farm, a place where the company runs almost continuous tests of the low-cost 3D printers, making sure that they work as they're supposed to, and at the same time, printing out a number of objects the company will use for its own internal purposes--such as the petting zoo robots.
When testing out a new Replicator, a MakerBot employee will ensure that the machine turns out one of these pieces of plastic, in which the lines come out properly. If not, the machine is not ready for prime time and may require some minor adjustments.