Colbert Report discovers 3D printing

During a visit from MakerBot co-founder Bre Pettis, Colbert gets the essential vision: ‘So, we no longer have to rely on the Chinese for our pieces of plastic crap, right?’

3D printing got perhaps its biggest moment in the sun recently when comedian Stephen Colbert interviewed MakerBot founder Bre Pettis. The show humorously explored the possibilities of having an affordable 3D printer in the hands of average people.

ColberT-rex by Jamie Clay.The STL file is in the public domain at

Pettis appeared on the June 6, 2011 edition of The Colbert Report (link to video). The five-minute segment explored how people can design or scan objects, and then—with a $1,200 MakerBot—print them in ABS plastic, the same material used to create Lego bricks. A MakerBot chugged away on a bust of the comedian while Colbert and Pettis talked.

Bre Pettis, left, and Stephen Colbert on the set of The Colbert Report.

Colbert plays an opinionated and sometimes pompous political commentator on the nightly talk show. Never deviating from character, at one point he summed up the value of 3D printing as “so, we no longer have to rely on the Chinese for our pieces of plastic crap, right?”

The 3D scan of Stephen Colbert used to create his likeness. (Image courtesy MakerBot)

Pettis and others from MakerBot scanned Colbert’s head in advance of the show, and made the resulting stereolithographic (STL) file available to some experienced model makers. They used a MakerBot 3D printer to turn Colbert into a T-Rex with a pizza cutter for a tail, an outer space super hero, an eagle with the US Capitol in its claws, and an octopus, among other object d’crap. The STL file of most objects shown here, plus others, are in the public domain and available for download at

"Colbertopus" by 3D printing artist Renosis; the STL file is available under a public domain reuse license at