The Power of the Word “Desktop” and 3D printed hermit crab shells…


Chris Anderson on Google+ – “The Power of the Word “Desktop” I write a lot about…”.

I write a lot about “desktop manufacturing” and other use of desktop digital fabrication tools such as 3D printers and scanners, CNC machines, laser cutters and the like. When most people hear “desktop”, they rightly think smaller, cheaper and easier to use, just as they once did when they heard “desktop computer” or “desktop printer”.

But although those are all important, they’re not the really transformative aspect of “desktop”. What’s more important about desktops is that we all have one.

The key is that “desktop” = “democratized”. It puts production tools that were only available to companies and factories into the hands of regular folks. And what’s important about that is that they’ll do things the companies and factories do not. Just as the Web does not look like a newspaper, but rather what regular people wanted once they had their own means of production, so will the coming explosion of desktop-fabricated products not look like mass-produced ones.

To use just one example from today’s stream: 3D printed shells for hermit crabs, who apparently don’t have enough of the real thing these days. You’re not going to find that on any store shelf, but then again you don’t need a store shelf to get one. That’s the point.

Everyone’s Talking About Project Shellter! « MakerBot Industries

Join 5,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython in 2018 – Python on Microcontrollers is here!

Have an amazing project to share? Join the SHOW-AND-TELL every Wednesday night at 7:30pm ET on Google+ Hangouts.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more https://www.instagram.com/adafruit/

Maker Business — The first step in making: a PCB

Wearables — Try maximum twinkling

Electronics — Behold…the power of pseudocode.

Biohacking — All Day EEG Recording Tools

Python for Microcontrollers — PyCon US 2018 Rocked!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !


  1. I’ve seen this story come through a few sources and have avoided being a wet blanket … but I guess I have to.

    This is actually horrific on two levels.

    First, if 3D printers are going to have a revolution, they shouldn’t have slack capacity for such silly efforts.

    Second, dude. Buy some “total lifecycle analysis” for a dollar. If this is a net boon for the reef, I’ll eat my Prius.

  2. @john – we keep the tone here constructive, you’re not in charge of what should or shouldn’t be 3d printed 🙂

    what you might consider “silly” is important and interesting to others.


  3. To the point where you would support environmentally damaging practices, because they “seem good?”

    I assume you have experience with lifecycle analysis.

  4. @john – you’re using a computer to comment about this, everything “can” be wasteful and damaging. makerbots are not on our list of “environmentally damaging practices” that we’re currently concerned about. however, if you think this is an issue please post on the makerbot site, thanks!

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.