Michael Buffington

The Wish Machine

Monday, May 27 2013

At the first XOXO conference last year, Bre Pettis, CEO of Makerbot Inc. announced on stage that 24 hours from that moment he’d give away the demo printer he’d brought to the person who tweeted the best idea for what they’d print with the 3D printer.

Less then 24 hours later I’d tweeted hundreds of ideas.

I spent time talking to my kids about each idea, and coming up with new ideas. I was picky with the ideas - nearly all of them needed to be things you couldn’t just buy. They needed to have value of some sort. They needed to be useful, entertaining, or special in some way. I easily rejected 2 ideas for every 1 idea I tweeted.

I also told myself, rather naively, that if I won the printer, I’d print each idea and document it here. Telling myself that would help me ease the guilt of getting such a valuable thing for free, a thing that other people wanted and wouldn’t have because of my win.

Minutes before Bre was to take the stage someone hinted to me that I was the sure winner. They’d been sitting behind Bre earlier and caught sight of my name on his laptop. I was hopeful, but wouldn’t call me a sure thing until I had the printer in my hands.

Then Bre announced the winner of the demo machine.

It wasn’t me.

I was actually pretty sad. My kids were excited, hoping I’d win. I’d just been told it was a sure thing. I wanted to win if for no other reason than to make my kids happy, like their participation in the idea process paid off. Before I had time to dwell on the loss for too long though Bre said that he decided to award another person a machine.

“If only by sheer volume alone, Michael Buffington has won a Replicator as well.”

That’s when it happened. I vowed that I’d make good on my promise and print every idea I’d submitted.

Now almost a year later I’ve finally come around to making progress on that promise. Below is the list of ideas, each of which I plan on attempting to design and print (if someone else hasn’t done it already). Having had plenty of time to learn the art (and I do mean art) of 3D printing, I can promise that some of the ideas are nearly impossible. But I’ll try anyways.

  • parts for my chording keyboard
  • tools for helping build balsa wood model airplanes
  • board game parts
  • musical instruments
  • replacement camera lens covers
  • a lens mounted lens cover keeper
  • models of microscopic things
  • glasses cases
  • bespoke bike parts
  • camera mount for a skateboard
  • hooks to hang a laptop to the back of a monitor
  • accurate measuring cups and spoons for toddlers
  • linkable small parts containers
  • spring shaped bracelets
  • edges that clip onto an ipad to making gaming comfortable
  • a guitar capo with a secret guitar pick pocket
  • mini clamps for model building
  • specialized jaws for a mini vise
  • marionette body parts
  • glasses frames
  • ball point pen body
  • extreme playdoh fun factory
  • sculpting tools for toddlers
  • data tracking pet food dish
  • micro servo mounts for micro servos for micro robots
  • custom parts for radio controlled cars, helicopters, boats, airplanes, cats
  • a handy mount that lets you hang an ipad on the seatback tray hook for hands free movie watching
  • LED infused chunky jewelry
  • custom guitar pick (for your thumb)
  • electrical outlet cover with a charging shelf
  • lego part sorting robot parts
  • animal shaped coat hooks
  • aquarium decorations
  • replacement knobs for drawers and doors
  • suction cup shelf
  • springy hair clip to replace elastic bands
  • doll shoes, furniture, and other tiny accessories
  • camping fork spoon knife
  • custom dog tags
  • water bottle cap clamp
  • robot snake
  • custom wallet with built in address and phone number
  • custom luggage tags
  • fingers puppets featuring your’s and your friends heads
  • tiny plumbing fixtures used for low pressure automatic drip systems for greenhouses
  • parts for video game controllers built for people who can’t use normal video game controllers
  • interestingly tactile custom keycaps for keyboards. bumps, skulls, ridges, patterns