I’m a sucker for sentimental gifts (secret admirers, take note). At home, I have a small, highly prized collection of mixtapes: some were gifts from childhood friends, and others were tokens of affection from boyfriends of yore. Each one was a work of art as much as it was a time capsule; a love letter delivered in 60 minutes (with one short break for flipping it over). A mixtape was always so much more special than an store-bought album. It was, and still is, unique: a private message between two people, produced in an edition of one, and expressed through the words of David Byrne, or Al Green, or Neko Case. These days, my prized mixtapes remain sanctified but unused, as every passing year (and new car) brings with it fewer and fewer opportunities to pop a tape in the deck.
That’s why I nearly lost my mind when I saw this new offering from MakerBot. To create your mixtape, you can either print the “cassette” at home on your 3D printer (with the electronics purchased from MakerBot, for $25), or you can order an already printed/assembled cassette (for $39) directly from MakerBot. Either way, you can make a thoughtful mix of digital music that your mix recipient can actually play! As in– your loved one will not have to go trolling thrift stores, cursing the day they met you, trying to find some archaic piece of audio equipment on which to play your gift.