CES 2014: MakerBot expands 3-D printer line

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The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show is in full swing in Las Vegas this week. Here’s a look at the 3-D printing technologies that might be in your future.

MakerBot, the company that produces consumer-grade 3-D printers, is expanding its ecosystem. In addition to selling the MakerBot Replicators and home-based scanners (full-body scanners are at its retail stores), the company curates 3-D model designs on its Thingiverse website.

The printing material is a corn-based plastic that is ecofriendly. Spools of the filament cost about $50.

At CES, MakerBot announced three new 3-D printers.

A new MakerBot Replicator Mini provides users with one-touch 3-D printing for less than US$1,500. MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis called it the point-and-shoot of the line of 3-D printers.

The fifth-generation MakerBot Replicator is the prosumer model that Pettis said will be used by designers and engineers. It will cost close to US$3,000 but comes with more features and can print larger objects.

The MakerBot Replicator Z18 has a “massive build volume” that can manufacture 12 by 12 by 18 inch objects (2,592 cubic inches). Pettis said it provides “industrial-strength 3-D printing”. It won’t be available until spring, and will cost US$6,499.

All the printers are app- and cloud-enabled, and have cameras inside the build volume so you can monitor what you create. The printers will also notify you when your items are finished by sending you a picture and can even automatically share photos with your social media accounts.

MakerBot Printshop.
MakerBot

The company also rolled out new desktop and mobile apps that give users access to a cloud library and to their printers. The MakerBot PrintShop is another app that gives users access to simple creation tools for things like 3-D type and bracelets.

The new Digital Store includes models created by the artists at MakerBot, so printer owners can simply purchase the designs and print them at home, knowing that the designs will work.

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