MakerBot At CES: New 3D Printers, New Apps, New Digital Store

MakerBot brought the noise as well as the funk, as it were, to CES this year. The company, which is now a subsidiary of Stratasys, announced a trio of new 3D printers as well as new apps and a digital online store.

With its 5th generation of 3D printers, MakerBot is bringing three machines to market with the MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer ($1,375), Replicator Desktop 3D Printer ($2,899), and Replicator Z18 3D Printer ($6,499).

MakerBot 5th Generation 3D Printers
MakerBot 5th Generation 3D Printers

All three use the new MakerBot Replicator 3D Printing Platform, which includes an easily swappable Smart Extruder, an onboard camera to monitor (and share) your progress, and a 3.5-inch full-color LCD display (except for the Mini). It also has USB, Ethernet, and WiFi.

The Mini Compact is designed to be an “affordable” option and offers a petite build volume of 3.9 x 3.9 x 4.9 inches (LxWxH) with plug and play features, no leveling needed, and speed optimization with a 200 micron resolution.

The Replicator Desktop 3D Printer offers a better 100 micron resolution as well as a larger build volume (9.9 x 7.8 x 5.9 inches [LxWxH]) and assisted leveling. It can handle filament of up to 1.75mm in diameter.

The big brother of the new 3D printer family is the Replicator Z18, with a beastly price tag and large 12.0 x 12.0 x 18.0 H inches (LxWxH) print area. You can actually print multiple objects at once at a resolution of 100 microns. The device also boasts a “superflat” build plate and a heated chamber for printing larger items without as much curling.

MakerBot Apps

To complement a trio of printers, MakerBot has a trio of apps, which are designed to “enable you to easily discover, manage, and share 3D prints—from your desktop computer or a mobile device”. With MakerBot Desktop, you can “discover, manage, and share” your 3D prints, which is perfectly lovely, but the MakerBot Mobile app allows you to control your 3D printer (provided it’s one of the new 5th-gen models) and also access all of MakerBot’s online content and resources.

The MakerBot Printshop looks to be the most fun of all; you can use it to create 3D print your own designs.

MakerBot toys
One of six MakerBot collections

Finally, there’s a new MakerBot Digital Store where you can buy digital models from MakerBots six collections. In other words, MakerBot has its own line of toys--except that it’s selling the files required to print them, not the objects themselves. The designs are tailored for MakerBot Replicator printers, and you can paint them when you’ve finished printing them out. It sounds like a great way to kill a snowy afternoons with the kids.
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