The Elves and the Maker

With apologies to the Brothers Grimm

There once was a maker, who worked very hard and was very honest: but still he could not earn enough to live upon; and at last all he had in the world was gone, save just PLA enough to make one little 3D-printed doohickey.

Then he drafted his design out, all ready to print up the next day, meaning to rise early in the morning to his work. His conscience was clear and his heart light amidst all his troubles; so he went peaceably to bed, left all his cares to Heaven, and soon fell asleep. In the morning after he had said his prayers, he sat himself down to his work; when, to his great wonder, there stood the whatsit all ready made, filled with intricate detail and a level of polish never before seen, within the printer. The good man knew not what to say or think at such an odd thing happening. He looked at the workmanship; there was not one false seam in the whole job; all was so neat and true, that it was quite a masterpiece.

The same day a customer came in, and the thingamajig suited him so well that he willingly paid a price higher than usual for it; and the poor maker, with the money, bought PLA enough to make two whosits more. In the evening he planned out the work, and went to bed early, that he might get up and begin betimes next day; but he was saved all the trouble, for when he got up in the morning the work was done far beyond his skill. Soon in came buyers, who paid him handsomely for his gizmos, so that he bought PLA enough for four more. He queued up the work again overnight and found it done in the morning, as before; and so it went on for some time: what was got ready in the evening was always done by daybreak, better than he could have imagined, and the good man soon became thriving and well off again.

One evening, about Christmas-time, as he and his wife were sitting in front of Netflix chatting together, he said to her, “I should like to sit up and watch tonight, that we may see who it is that comes and does my work for me.” The wife liked the thought; so they left Orange is the New Black playing, and hid themselves in a corner of the room, behind a curtain that was hung up there, and watched what would happen.

As soon as it was midnight, there came in two little naked dwarfs; and they sat themselves upon the maker’s bench, took up the mouse, and began to tweak the model with their little fingers, moving vertices and inverting normals and tapping away at such a rate, that the maker was all wonder, and could not take his eyes off them. And on they went, till the job was quite done, and the doodads stood ready for use upon the table. This was long before daybreak; and then they bustled away as quick as lightning.

The next day the wife said to the maker, “These little wights have made us rich, and we ought to be thankful to them, and do them a good turn if we can. I am quite sorry to see them run about as they do; and indeed it is not very decent, for they have nothing upon their backs to keep off the cold. I’ll tell you what, I will print each of them a shirt, and a coat and waistcoat, and a pair of pantaloons into the bargain; and do you make each of them a little pair of shoes.”

The thought pleased the good maker very much; and one evening, when all the things were ready, they laid them on the table, instead of the designs that they used to prepare, and then went and hid themselves, to watch what the little elves would do.

About midnight in they came, dancing and skipping, hopped round the room, and then went to sit down to their work as usual; but when they saw the clothes lying for them, they laughed and chuckled, and seemed mightily delighted.

Then they tried to dress themselves, but discovered that 3D-printed PLA garments were too stiff and unpliable to wear, and threw up their tiny hands in disgust. In the twinkling of an eye they scampered out at the door, and away over the green.

The good couple saw them no more; and without the help of the sprightly little elves, they were unable to make 3D printing as a service financially viable, and had to learn Ruby on Rails.