Makerbots May Be Coming to a Home Depot Near You!

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http://techcrunch.com/2014/07/14/makerbot-comes-to-select-home-depot-stores/?utm_campaign=fb&ncid=fb

Image credit: Techcrunch.com

Home Depot is bringing 3D printing technology closer to where the public is by offering the Makerbot 3D printer at 12 stores in California, Illinois and New York. The Makerbot can currently be purchased on the Home Depot website, but entry into brick-and-mortor retail stores will definitely bring awareness of the technology to a different demographic.

This drive to bring 3D printing technology to big box stores will help the Do-it-Yourself (DIY) movement gain traction and popularity, and reduce the cost of such machines in the future.This will lead to 3D printing technology taking different forms and sizes, depending on the purpose of the printing within household use. Like the sudden explosion of home computers in the ’90’s, 3D printing could also take off 5-10 years from now and become as ubiquitous as PCs and gaming consoles.

Maker culture is about empowerment: makers value skill over money, building over buying, creation over consumption. The maker movement covers bicycles that generate electricity, art projects that light up when you press a button, and the enormous genre of how-to videos on YouTube. – Adrianne Jeffries, TheVerge

The maker culture or DIY movement is rapidly expanding, with Maker Faires and gatherings jumping in attendance by the tens of thousands annually. The demand is growing, which libraries should not ignore.

Entryof 3D technology into retail outlets is a major step, but the current Makerbot may seem a bit too complicated, especially with the hundreds of hours it may take to become adept at designing and creating high-quality, usable items. Libraries have the unique position right now to provide aspiring DIYers community-sponsored programming to learn how these devices work, and how to design blueprints.  As more blueprints are created and shared among DIYers at places like Thingiverse, the learning curve will taper out, allowing everyday users to become adopters of this strange but exhilarating tech.

I was excited to see my first Makerbot at the Phoenix Central Library, and look forward to seeing more libraries invest in this technology. With the ability to investigate, use, and purchase the 3D printers at Home Depot, the entry cost to invest in a library makerspace will become easier in the future. With the proposal of moonbases being built using 3D printing tech, the current generation of DIYers will benefit greatly by mass market introduction of devices like the Makerbot.

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Mickel is an MLIS and the creator of Library Currents. His inspiration for the blog was the SJSU course "The Hyperlinked Library" taught by Dr. Michael Stephens, a course that is also a worldwide MOOC. If you wish to contact him, feel free to write to Mickel Paris at librarycurrents1@aol.com.

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