A Peek Inside Chicago’s Inventables

A Peek Inside Chicago's Inventables

13 photos
Don't be fooled by the inconspicuous hallway door: There's some pretty cool high-tech "toys" in here. The business is an ecommerce and online hardware store for designers.
CEO Zach Kaplan says that in the last decade, 3D printers, CNC mills ("basically the opposite of a 3D printer," he explains) and laser cutters have all gotten more affordable -- meaning his company has gotten way more customers.
This 3D printer can make just about anything you can imagine, assuming you have the designs. This one's making a bracelet.
This lamp (usually there's a cloth around it) is another example of the products its customers can make using Inventables' supplies.
The warehouse space -- which is located on another floor -- was just moved into in the last week. Kaplan says they plan on hopefully hosting live shows in 2013 demonstrating how to use their machines to make all sorts of different objects.
More of the warehouse space. Eventually there will be a full machine shop down here, too.
This is the first thing you see upon entering. Looks like an ordinary bookcase, right? It actually slides away to reveal another workspace. (Kaplan admitted to being a Batman fan.)
More examples of the sorts of stuff their customers can make. All the software to get started designing and printing on these machines are all open-source, free and can be gotten after a simple Google search.
An example of what makes the Inventables a little different: Not many hardware stores stock glittery acrylic sheets.
Interested customers can ask for a sample kit of the different acrylics.
You can make skateboards, lamps and, again, anything you can think of with these materials. (You'll need bigger sheets.) It's also possible to get sheets that reveal another color when you laser into it, creating a really neat effect.
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