On Tuesday, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer ventured into Brooklyn for a tour of MakerBot’s 3D printing factory. It was a gesture appropriate for anyone seeking out the cutting edge of Brooklyn tech—Stephen Colbert hosted MakerBot founder Bre Pettis on his show last summer, and Brooklyn’s own Borough President Marty Markowitz finally the made the pilgrimage to the “Bot Cave” in February. But as the city’s mayoral race gears up for 2013, the trip also held another bit of special significance for the outer boroughs, given the fact that Stringer has been characterized as the plucky underdog of potential candidates.
“I think it’s very impressive that there’s a great talent pool right here in Brooklyn, that’s just a bicycle ride away—working in an industry that can transform the city of New York,” Stringer told The L after a tour of the facilities with Pettis.
Stringer was not hyperbolizing. The prospect of home-owned 3D printers is the stuff of science fiction, but is also quickly blossoming into a reality, largely due to MakerBot’s continuing efforts to churn out ever-affordable ones. Already MakerBot owners are downloading designs from the Thingiverse, an online warehouse of blueprints for the machine, and making their own 3D goods.
Pettis, a former Seattle art teacher, founded the MakerBot company in 2009, and in just two years it received more than $10 million in venture capital investment. Maybe that’s because the possibilities of 3D printing are near endless—the consequences of self-replicating machines could revolutionize American production and consumption practices, the medical industry and engineering, not to mention make grown men in business suits like Stringer giggle and say, “I’m never going back to the office.”
“You know, whoever is elected mayor in the post-Bloomberg era has got to start looking at high-tech industry,” Stringer said. “But also recognizing what’s the next generation of mom-and-pop that starts in a basement or starts in a small store and expands. What I love about MakerBot, 3D printing, is that this is an industry on the move.”
“We’re not going to stop until everyone has a MakerBot or has access to one,” Pettis told The L. “So, do you have one yet? No? Okay, well, I have a problem with that. We gotta fix that.”
As for Stringer, he’s not going to announce what he’s running for in 2013 quite yet, but it doesn’t hurt to be all about the love of outer boroughs—and a new job market. “I like Brooklyn a lot,” he said. “I like Queens. And the Bronx. And Staten Island. And of course I love Manhattan.” Okay, yes, yes. We get it. No hints. “But listen, we live in the greatest city in the world,” Stringer said. “Wherever you live, no matter who you represent, this is a very exciting thing to see today.”
You can follow Sydney Brownstone on Twitter @sydbrownstone