Stephen Colbert's 3D printed head goes to space

The MakerBot folks printed out Stephen Colbert (they'd scanned it earlier for an appearance on Colbert's show) and attached it to a weather balloon with a FlipCam and a GPS; Colbert's head sailed into space, got some killer photos, and politely transmitted its location once it had returned to Earth.

Not content to confine ourselves to mashups, we initiated the MakerBot Space Program with a mission to send a bust of Stephen Colbert into space on a weather balloon with a Flipcam and a GPS enabled cell phone.

Special thanks to Bre Pettis, Jonathan Monaghan, Keith Ozar, Luke Schantz, Anney Fresh, Eddie Codel, Mariko Kosaka, Stephen Colbert, and Dave Neff for the R&D, launch, and recovery of this, our first MakerBot Space Mission.

MakerBot Sends Colbert into Space « MakerBot Industries (via Make)



    1. It’s hard to gauge someone’s personality only through media like newspapers and TV shows. Even harder when the person is pretending to be someone else.

  1. It just needs a voice module like those found in teddy bears and we’ll have ourselves a Colbert space core.

  2. Thank you! Having read about 3D printers here for ages, this is the first time I’ve seen one in action and finally “got” what the heck it is! That’s pretty amazing. What does it use for “ink”?

    1. Big spools of plastic filament, usually about 3mm in diameter. The plastic melts around 220 degrees C (~430 F) but cools and hardens rapidly once it’s squeezed out of the printer’s heater nozzle.

      There are other plastics you can use that have different properties, or you can also switch to print heads that use big syringes to print with gooier stuff, like frosting.

  3. Oh Oh!!!! I got a good idea for the NASA scientists!!! Take one of those printers to the freakin’ space station!!! If something breaks and they ever need a special part, they can just upload the data and print it out! Brilliant!!!

  4. Why did the “Connecticut forest” look like a New Guinea jungle? What’s up with the jurassic vines? So many questions.

  5. Just a thought, how hard would it be to use electrolysis to create hydrogen as a lighter-than-air gas instead of helium? Too time-consuming to make the gas, maybe? If it worked, then you wouldn’t need to rely on store-bought helium. (I guess there is the whole ‘splosion factor going against it, though.)

  6. Will you report when this ends up in a landfill along with all the other 3D printed plastic crap? Every time I read one of these 3D printing posts, all I see is “look what we put in the garbage today!!” Hooray for trash!

    1. I think your cynicism is misplaced. When people print something, they are purposefully creating an object to be used — not garbage to be thrown out.

      1. How am I cynical? How long will this Colbert head be a worshiped talisman? A year? Ten? Lets give it 50 years of it sitting on a shelf as a conversation piece. FIFTY years before no one gives a crap about it. Then it goes to a landfill for 1000 years. Will humans outlast the Colbert head? It’s kitsch. It’s plastic. It will end up in a landfill next to all the water bottles. 3D printing = more plastic crap. Even if you pass it down for generations, eventually someone will put it in a landfill.

          1. So is nuclear power. That doesn’t mean it is a good thing. I will be impressed with the ‘makers’ when they find a way to dispose of all the plastic garbage they are making. 

      2. When people print something, they are purposefully creating an object to be used — not garbage to be thrown out.

        What office do you work in?

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