In 2008, perennial tinkerer Bre Pettis was toiling away in a warehouse-turned-hackerspace in New York City when he ran into a wall. He and a few friends were participating in the RepRap project , which aims to build a self-replicating device capable of printing all the components needed to duplicate itself. But Pettis and his friends couldn’t make it work with the tools they had on hand. The point of RepRap is to get 3-D printers diffused into communities around the world. “It’s a holy grail for tinkerers,” Pettis says, “the potential to be able to make anything.” In the end he and his friends threw out the self-replication requirement and started from scratch, this time to see if they could at least make a cheap but functional 3-D printer. They soon realized they could. Consequently, MakerBot was founded in January 2009, with Pettis as CEO. In various forms, 3-D printing ...