The future of manufacturing in New York City will take place in discreet warehouses in western Queens. This won’t be a return to the manufacturing of yore, but it will be very industrial in scale and scope. Shapeways, the Netherlands-based “marketplace and community” for 3D printing, has had an administrative office in Manhattan since 2010. Yesterday, they announced their plans to open a new manufacturing facility in Long Island City, Queens. They call it the “factory of the future.”
This future-factory will house multiple clean rooms and over 50 industrial 3D printers, capable of printing in plastics, metals, ceramics, glass, and more. To demonstrate available options, several machines were live printing and various completed prints were displayed on tables, including multi-color and mechanical objects.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was present for the ceremonial ribbon cutting, which was done with a pair of 3D-printed scissors no less! This is a very exciting time for making in the boroughs. The Mayor also announced the launch of a competition to promote 3-D printing and innovative manufacturing in NYC. This competition will establish New York’s Next Top Makers, in collaboration with Adafruit Industries, Shapeways, Honeybee Robotics, and ChallengePost.
Imagining a future where you can on-the-go fabricate everything from jewelry, architectural models, functional objects, and toys, no longer requires imagination. It’s here today. From printing one-off samples for a client to multi-thousand copies for commercial distribution, makers and businesses are increasingly empowered with the tools and resources to make it happen. It will be interesting to see in the coming years how a decision to open a factory in western Queens will have ripple effects in nearby neighborhoods and surrounding counties.