The End of Big Cookie Cutter: How a 3-D Printer in Kansas is Helping to Bring Down Big Business

Brittney and Kyle Boe, a couple from Wichita, Kansas, have turned a single 3-D printer into a small cookie cutter empire. These two run the Etsy shop BoeTechLLC which they founded in May 2013. This shop specializes in “Literary, Anatomical, and Custom Cookie Cutters” that they design and print in-house. Want a cookie cutter shaped like Shakespeare? They have it. Want a cookie cutter shaped like an anatomically correct liver? They have that too. Want a cookie cutter shaped like your dog’s face? You guessed it, they have that too.

BoeTechLLC offers over 113 items in their shop, some of which are completely personalized by you. Alongside cookie cutters, they also create prototypes, molds, and stencils all in the comfort of their home.  This actually takes a lot of work, especially if the design is custom or based on a user’s photo. The couple says that “[the design] has to go from a concept, to a line drawing, to a 3D model before it even touches our printer.” All of this is done by the husband-wife team.

Yes, this is a cookie cutter shaped like a human pelvis.

BoeTechLLC also boasts:

A 5-star rating (averaged from 1,354 reviews),

a whopping 9,387 sales count,

and is the favorite shop of 5,078 users.

They have been featured in the November 2016 edition of Redbook Magazine as well as on the website World Science Festival.

One of the main reasons that BoeTechLLC even exists and is successful is the platform it uses. Etsy allows individuals to bypass Big institutions like Wal-Mart and buy/sell lots of different products. Users can find unique and often personalized content that doesn’t exist anywhere else. These products are too specialized to be profitable for large corporations but are still in demand by niche markets. Once you throw radical connectivity into the mix, making Etsy available to global users, that niche market only gets bigger. Let’s use custom cookie cutters as an example. Yes, you can buy generic cookie cutters at Wal-Mart or Michael’s but if you’re looking for a cookie cutter that will turn normal sugar cookies into the bust of Sigmund Freud, BoeTechLLC is your shop. While this shop isn’t quite disrupting the cookie cutter market (if that exists), it is certainly drawing the attention of small bakeries and creative individuals.

BoeTechLLC would also not be possible without the help of a little machine called the 3-D printer. While it may not be a cost-effective purchase for most, the Boes have utilized it in a way that works for them. Nicco Mele mentions in his book that the 3-D printer is something that will eventually lead to the downfall of Big Business as more and more individuals take the means of production into their own hands. BoeTechLLC has joined the revolution against Big Business in a small way. Their 3-D printer allows them to run a lucrative small business out of their home and send their products around the world. And hopefully, this is only the beginning. BoeTechLLC is also capable of creating large amounts of products for wholesale deals, broadening their market to larger bakeries and restaurants. While Big Business is on the decline, BoeTechLLC and similar shops on Etsy are only going to get bigger.

Like Jane Austen and taking down Big Business? Make her a cookie.

Therein lies the problem Mele is seeing. As the End of Big approaches, we aren’t adequately equipped to replace Big. He mentions in his book that while most small items can be purchased on Etsy and similar platforms, problems arise when larger, more complicated products need to be created. Would anyone trust a plane built and sold on Etsy? Can cars be “homemade” and still be safe for the road? Mele warns us of the dangers that come with the collapse of our Big institutions and reminds us to prepare new ones that are capable of taking on the new responsibility. Without this new infrastructure, we risk losing the credibility and accountability of our old institutions. So it is important to remember that while we cheer on BoeTechLLC as they take down Big cookie cutter, we should also be carefully designing and constructing new institutions that combine radical connectivity with the values of our old institutions.

If you are interested in purchasing a cookie cutter in the shape of male genitalia or just one of your favorite author, please check out BoeTechLLC on Etsy, Twitter, and Facebook.

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