printthelegend_22min_bremakerbot_th

blog: 3D objects, relief models, and technology

A MakerBot ad today and Edwin Howell with a skeleton he made in 1869. Plastic vs plaster. The dinosaur casts from Howell's time are the HISTORY of the MakerBot models!

A MakerBot ad today and Edwin Howell with a skeleton he made in 1869. Plastic vs plaster. The dinosaur casts from Howell’s time are the HISTORY of the MakerBot models!

The documentary “Print the Legend” covers the rise of 3D consumer printing startups. The featured companies are MakerBot and FormLabs. At the very beginning, I was excited to see MakerBot founders displaying a small relief globe in the startup lab. Later, founder Bre Pettis, midway through the documentary, holds it up in the TV screen capture below.

I find intensely interesting that some of the first objects people try to make in 3D are globes and maps! (See my book excerpt about how 3D relief models were made in the 1800s) Why do 3D landforms? What unconscious impulse drives us to it? Perhaps when we connect with our purpose on earth that a joyful gratitude finds expression in creating an image of that original love, like a child first makes a Lego figure of its mother. Either that–or the MakerBot folks found a great DEM model of the earth online and used it to make something highly recognizable. But the romantic in me wants to believe the former reason.

The subject of my book on relief models, Edwin Howell, was also an original “maker.” The book’s story on the first commercial relief model describes how he did rapid iterations of the Grand Canyon in 3D, having his colleagues stop by for critiques, making several versions, before settling on the best approach, and experimenting with various materials. Howell, like Pettis, got the exciting scent of something that could change history, not for money or fame but for the sake of human fulfillment alone. Relief modeling changed the field of cartography forever, giving humans a way to see a near-reality planet from space before aircraft were invented.

Here’s another picture of Bre with the globe inside a MakerBot: http://www.tribecadisruptiveinnovationawards.com/bre-pettis-co-founder-and-ceo-makerbot-industries/  and here’s another with a red/green globe of the same pattern when they were sold to Stratisys in 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/makerbot-ceo-bre-pettis-on-acquisition-2013-6

For us geeks who live for the combination of 3D technology and art, it’s a great film that focuses on the challenges–technical, social, and ethical–of new 3D technologies. The documentary was screened at the 2014 SWSX http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_FS15065. I’d recommend it.

 

MakerBot Industries founder Bre holds up one of the first 3D objects they made: a relief globe!

MakerBot Industries founder Bre Pettis holds up one of the first 3D objects they made: a relief globe!