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Makerbot’s Pettis Touts Power Of CES, 3D Printing

Las Vegas – Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis made an excellent case for the power of International CES during the Leaders in Technology Dinner Wednesday.

Pettis told the crowd of industry, political and entertainment leaders how Makerbot landed its first booth, located at the far end of the LVCC’s South Hall, by winning a CEA contest. And now, just a few years later, the company has a modern factory in Brooklyn, N.Y. and is a leader in the 3D printing category.

Pettis ran through the company’s CES product introductions, which included three printers targeted at consumers, prosumers and industrial customers, and gave his rationale for the important role 3D printing will play going forward.

This will range from consumer’s ability to print out simple toys and devices to life-changing objects like limb prosthetics. Makerbot’s Robohand program allows a limb to be created on a basic Makerbot Replicator for about $5, compared to the usual $40,000 to $50,000. Pettis said this is particularly important for kids because they quickly outgrow their prosthetic, but can now easily and cheaply build a replacement.

Because his products have such capabilities Pettis said  there are some educational hurdles that still must be overcome.

“One of the hardest things is explaining to people that this isn’t science fiction,” he said.

Doing so could prove difficult as some of what Makerbot is not accomplishing seems quite futuristic. The company’s new Z18 industrial printer is being used to make the jigs and molds that will be used in its factory.

So far Makerbot has produced 44,000 3D printers and has 218,000 3D designs created by users stored on Thingverse, the company’s online library. These have been downloaded about 48 million times, Pettis said.