The world's biggest 3-D printing factory dedicated to consumers opened with the snipping of nylon scissors this week in New York City.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg reached into a block of dust and grabbed the shears, which lasers built layer-by-layer earlier in the day. He later cut through a commemorative ribbon to open the 25,000-square-foot "Factory of the Future" in Long Island City, Queens.
Running the new facility is Shapeways, a Netherlands-based company that lets customers upload bespoke 3-D designs, and then prints and ships the objects in the span of a few days.
Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen told a crowd in a mostly empty floor of a warehouse that many of his customers live in and around New York City, so opening a factory there makes a lot of sense.
"This is the future of our city," said Bloomberg, who views the factory as part of a larger strategy to make the city a mecca of technology (the mayor's administration gave Shapeways a tax break to attract the startup).
Shapeways hopes to fill the factory with 50 high-resolution industrial 3-D printers that are just hitting or have yet to hit the market. Weijmarshausen says the collection of yet-unnamed machines will print objects out of a gamut of materials ranging from acrylic, nylon, and glass to gypsum, ceramic, and sandstone -- even precious metals such as silver. To run the machines day-in and day-out, Weijmarshausen says he needs to hire about 50 skilled employees.
Shapeways spokesperson Carine Carmy told PopSci that the main factory floor -- currently a dusty concrete slab -- should be finished and filled with printers, product polishing stations, and other equipment around January 2013.
Drop in on the factory's grand opening in the video below.
Just you wait, they'll have a 3D printed building next...
Otherwise, surprised it took this long to make the factory, we have machines that build machines, why not printers that print themselves?
Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.