The September 2012 design issue of Wired magazine features the new Makerbot 3D printer on its cover, with the headline “This Machine will Change the World.” Will it? The dialogue of participatory and collaborative production must be revisited as new technologies make physical design and construction accessible to the general public. The emergence of a 3D production ecosystem that is broadly accessible both in cost and ease of use makes this technology of particular and immediate interest to museums. There are multitudes of opportunities for 3D scanning and printing. Models of museum objects can take on a creative life of their own through further derivation, by becoming parts of new collections of things or by being connected through programming and sensors. By the very nature of the name, Museums and the Web has explored how the Internet can be used to further the missions of our museums. 3D printing adds a new parallel dimension by rematerializing the Web in small plastic forms. The paper documents and explores how 3D printing and scanning can be used to help our audiences feel the museum.


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