There was a time when 3D printers and those types of gadgets seemed to be out of reach for us regular folks -- but did you know that time is actually long gone? It's true: In the last decade, laser cutters and the like have come down significantly in price. Heck, you can find one to take home on layaway for about $75 a month for three years. For a business, that's completely doable.
It isn't just lip service: Zach Kaplan, the CEO of ecommerce and online hardware store Inventables (located on W. Van Buren St.) says a significant portion of his customers are actually Etsy sellers, making things like clocks or skateboards out of the acrylic sheets and machines they sell. To clarify, Inventables is a bit like Amazon in that its physical location is more of a shipping warehouse and machine shop than a brick-and-mortar store. That doesn't make what they do any less interesting; it just means that they don't usually have visitors.
I braved the fog, snow and indecisive December weather to pay Kaplan and his company a visit.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.