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Wall Street Journal: the economy of tinkering

dcuartiellesNovember 12th, 2009

The Wall Street Journal looks into hackerspaces, prototyping, tinkering … and even Arduino in an article published today:

Mr. Smith, 25, studied computer science at the University of Iowa, and worked as a Web developer. But a few years ago, he started playing with an “Arduino” — an open-source microcontroller. These are used as the “electric brains” for everything from wall-avoiding robots to a hat that pokes the wearer’s heads if the person stops smiling. “I was hooked,” he recalls.

Intrigued by the idea of making a machine than can build its own parts, Mr. Smith got interested in “rapid prototyping machines” — 3D printers that lay down layers of materials like plastic to form objects. The technology is used by manufacturers to make prototypes, with industrial machines typically costing tens of thousands of dollars.

Mr. Smith’s NYC Resistor friends Mr. Pettis and Adam Mayer joined the project. Using off-the-shelf electronics and parts, along with a laser cutter, they came up with a machine. Now they’re selling kits to make 3D printers.

Their company, MakerBot Industries, has shipped 350 of the $750 kits so far. They hired two employees, started paying themselves, and are building another 150 kits for their next shipment.

The article is worth reading, looks into the alternatives to corporate jobs that tinkering is generating during the current economic crisis. You should also give a look at the article’s comments, priceless.

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