MakerBot?s fifth year at CES found CEO Bre Pettis on stage with three black boxes. Like the TV game show Let?s Make A Deal, he revealed the contents one by one. Pettis was proud and enthusiastic about what his company has created, saying ?MakerBot innovates so others can be innovative?.
Pettis claims 44,000 MakerBots inhabit the world along with 218,000 Thingiverse digital designs. MakerBots teach, entertain, and can make really useful things like inexpensive prosthetic hands.
Unveiling each box with imaginary drum rolls, Pettis trumpeted the benefits of each of the three new products, while telling the audience that Replicator 2 and 2x are still rock solid and will continue to be sold. Instead of calling the latest version 3, they simply named it The Replicator, a fifth generation model. The new desktop 3D printer fits on top of a dorm room size ice box, but its volume is 11 percent more than its predecessor, the MakerBot Replicator 2.
The Replicator has a new printing platform and smart extruder with assisted build plate leveling. The Replicator is app and cloud enabled with USB, a new mini USB stick, and Ethernet connectivity with WiFi promised in the near future. It can be set for draft or fine resolutions to obtain a smooth surface that does not require sanding, finishing or post production effort.
The new Replicator Mini was revealed next. Geared for beginners to professionals it is a plug and play, optimized for speed, with no leveling needed. With it you can print models from Thingiverse with the free app. Another option is to buy models from the new MakerBot Digital Store.
The filament used by MakerBot is PLA filament derived from corn for what Pettis called ?No Guilt Printing? guaranteed not to have any heavy metals, phthalates or BPA. It comes in more than 20 colors including transparent ones. The filament is so affordable you can throw your mistakes away. Thankfully, the extruder recognizes when the filament runs out and automatically pauses the printing process. Soon the machine can notify you on your MakerBot Mobile App of the need to replace the filament.
MakerBot ?s Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner makes clean 3D models ready for 3D printing. It?s a great companion to the Replicator Desktop 3D printers. That being said, finally, Box #3 was opened revealing the new, larger Z18 Replicator measuring 12x12x18 inches with a volume of 2592 cubic inches. It can accommodate industrial printing of prototypes on the big platform or several smaller objects printed all at once. A heater keeps the object dimensionally stable. The 3.5? LED display offers a simple user interface and intuitive dial for settings. Pettis placed his head inside a mask created on the Z18 to emphasize how large of an object could be made.
Adding to the fun, the MakerBot Entertainment Studio team has made designs you can get through the Digital Store. The designs do not require supports or glue. They snap together. The six collections of characters include Chunky Truck, Cosmic Cadets, Dragons, Aeronautics and Pet Pals where the dog prints out inside the dog house. You can take him out of it when the printing is complete. Each character is only 0.99 cents or the entire set is yours for $9.99. With the Print Shop app, you can create type for name plates or signs and custom make bracelets for yourself or your friends.
Pettis wants to share the excitement of creativity with the world, starting with school children. His dream is to put a 3D printer in every school in the US. He has gotten lots of response from teachers already.
In closing, Pettis announced the opening of not one, but three MakerBot retail stores. In them, you can see the products demonstrated, so as Pettis put it ?People can see it is not science fiction?. An exciting addition is the ability to step into their 3D Photo Booth where you?ll create an image with a 360-degree scan of your head and shoulders in just over a minute. It produces a scan file ready to be printed in 3D fashion. You can print out a 3D bust of yourself from a photo. Unfortunately, this fun is available in the stores which are only on the East Coast at this time, in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.