MakerBot Replicator Mini aims to bring 3D printing to wider audience

MakerBot Replicator Mini aims to bring 3D printing to wider audience

Summary: A 3D printer is unveiled at CES aimed at making it simpler to build 3D models.

TOPICS: Hardware

A 3D printer designed to make it easier to create 3D plastic objects will be released this year.

The MakerBot Replicator Mini printer, revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Monday, will allow users to print small 3D objects in a few steps.

Users can create or modify a digital 3D model using MakerBot PrintShop, a free tablet app, and send it wirelessly to the Replicator Mini printer to be built.

The MakerBot Replicator Mini printer. Image: MakerBot

The Replicator Mini can print objects just under five inches high. The printer is available for $1,375 and will ship this spring.

Makerbot claims the Mini simplifies the 3D printing process so it requires less manual setup, and optimises the speed at which models are printed.

A network-connected camera inside the Replicator Mini captures images of the printing process, which can be shared via social networks.

Makerbot 3D printers build models by layering melted plastic and the thinner the layer the more detail can be reproduced in the printed model. However the quality of the finished model depends on many factors, including the quality of the base material, the mechanics of the 3D printer and the care taken in preparing the 3D computer model.

The Replicator Mini prints objects using 200 micron layers, double the thickness of layers produced by the larger $2,899 Makerbot Replicator desktop 3D printer, an updated version of which was also announced at CES.

MakerBot also revealed its biggest 3D printer to date, which can build objects 12 x 12 x 18-inches in size. At CES Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis reportedly showed a full-sized Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet that had been printed inside the machine.

The Z18 is available for $6,499 and will ship in spring this year.

Makerbot also unveiled a digital store that will sell 3D blueprints for models that can printed out, with prices ranging from 99 cents for a small toy to $9.99 for a collection of figurines.

Further reading on 3D printers

Topic: Hardware


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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  • GREAT marketing idea!

    "A network-connected camera inside the Replicator Mini captures images of the printing process, which can be shared via social networks."

    Kudos to whoever came up with that idea! Of course, some folks will probably claim it was included to allow remote monitoring, but I think it's a lot more likely the marketing aspect is the real reason. If it was included mainly for remote monitoring, there probably would be more than one camera and they would include them on their higher-priced units too.
  • Neat!

    I believe bringing 3D printing to the masses is going to be one of the next big waves in computing. This looks like a neat product and this in an interesting story.
    • Yes, like

      Giving everyone a typewriter, send all to typing classes, and you will get a billion J K Rowling's.
      • Actually, you got ONE J K Rowling

        J K Rowling was a "welfare mom" before she became a writer. Now she is the richest woman in the UK. A cheap writing tool (a manual typewriter) made that possible. Yes, she also has an undeniable gift as a writer, but a typewriter makes writing much easier and faster than writing with a quill pen (or a stylus and a clay tablet.) A PC with word-processing software makes it even easier and faster. The "creative spark" still has to be there, but better tools allow creative people to be more productive.
  • similar kickstarter happened already
  • Bank Loan

    3D Printing sure we all can do it if we get a personal loan and a 2nd mortgage and maybe sell some stuff. 6,500 bucks yeah I'll buy one for the whole family. LOL