From The Desk Of They Might Be Giants: The Good, The Bad And The 3D

TMBGLogoPerhaps it’s poetic license that has seen They Might Be Giants—Johns Flansburgh and Linnell—through a voluminous series of ups, downs and holding patterns over its three decades in operation. TMBG’s second adult album in five years and its 16th overall, Nanobots (Idlewild/Megaforce) boasts 25 new songs. Much of Nanobots takes advantage of what is now a fully acclimated quintet that also includes guitarist Dan Miller, bassist Danny Weinkauf and drummer Marty Beller. “We’d been functioning as a two-piece for 10 years, and we really just sort of talked ourselves into it,” says Linnell of the bumpy transition, which began in 1992. “It’s still John and I making the decisions, but we lean heavily on the other guys for a lot of the musical resources. It’s a benevolent dictatorship.” Flansburgh will be guest editing all week. Read our brand new TMBG feature.


Flansburgh: I first heard about 3D printing a few years back when our manager, Jamie Kitman—who along with managing bands writes about things automotive—told me about this crazy device that had generated a lot of buzz among high-rolling car collectors. There was this magical box selling for a few-hundred-thousand dollars that was capable of scanning any car parts in three dimensions, then—by stacking countless thin layers of plastics or resins—robotically recreate the part. In that world of restoration, the utility of this amazing device was almost limitless. And evidently with a simple command, it can make a part in its mirror image. Or you can make any design tiny.

Of course, 3D printers have proved capable of testing the imaginations of their owners, and now routinely fabricate objects far more intricate and complex than vintage car parts. Stories sprung up about 3D-printed electric guitars and then a working acoustic (although the end result looks like the guitar is melting). In the video below you can see a 3D printer creating an entire working bike,  although again the result seems a little droopy.

But, like so many emerging technologies, the bad part seems to emerge just as the fun part is understood. With 3D printers, the long and creepy shadow of the gun controversy has revealed what a Frankenstein monster this device could be. While word that 3D printers could conceivably make an untraceable, unlicensed gun, many voiced doubts that the strength of any 3D printer’s build being up for the creation of a firearm. But now gun-lovin’ designers at a Texas-based company called Defense Distributed have upped the ante (and my anxiety) by creating a 3D printed 30-round automatic-rifle magazine. The company has snarkily christened the design “Cuomo” after N.Y. governor and gun-control advocate Andrew Cuomo. Alas, every silver lining has a cloud.

Video after the jump.