Makerbot unveiled its Replicator Mini and Z18, its respectively smallest and largest 3D printers to date. Both are consumer-facing and ready for market. Having firmly established itself as a the brand-to-know in the rapidly expanding 3D printing arena, it has sold over 44,000 universe, and over 48 million digital designs have been downloaded on its Thingiverse. The new devices aim to expand both of those figures. The Replicator Mini is a small, cheap device that Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis calls the “point-and-shoot” model for the Makerbot family, designed for one-touch, plug-and-play functionality with an app store – in other words, an easy to use, cheap, consumer facing baseline at $1,375. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Z18, the biggest unit to date that’s capable of producing 12″ x 12″ x 18″ printouts (Makerbot showcased a full-sized stormtrooper helmet at CES). It will be available in the spring of 2014, for $6,499. Both devices are a sure sign that 3D printing is here at least for the forseeable future, and that Makerbot is pushing as hard as it can to make 3D printing a conventional consumer product.
3D printing has been touted (in big block letters, no less) as THE FUTURE (of everything) for some time now, and Makerbot, an American leader in the consumer 3D printing sphere is ready to make the push towards this reality by placing a Makerbot in every school in America. The effort is being funded by a crowd funding campaign at DonorsChoose.org. Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis calls Makerbot “manufacturing education in a box,” which hints at the greater ambitions of the presently small 3D printing industry. If Makerbot achieves its goal and places a printer in every school in America, could we be headed for a greater shift, leading to a full industrial revolution that forever changes how we think about making products?
See IPG Lab’s Makerbot in action, currently making a turkey head (’tis the season): http://instagram.com/p/gYGwQBoeYp/
MakerBot got things started in Austin, delivering a keynote from CEO Bre Pettis. With 3D printing on the rise, it’s not surprising MakerBot was the one to kick things off at this year’s SXSW festival. During the keynote, Pettis reiterated the dramatic changes in terms of access as printer prices have dropped from $100,000 to around $2,000. Also interesting is the release of MakerBot Digitizer, the latest printer that can complete high quality scans in a matter of minutes. The user won’t need any experience with the software to use the scanner, and MakerBot hopes to see it in schools, businesses, and the home alike. All of these developments bring 3D printing into the consumer space, allowing people print just about anything from spare car parts to Happy Meal toys
Stay tuned throughout the 14th for live coverage from SXSW including original interviews from some of the most compelling tech and media companies from this year’s festival.