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MakerBot goes big (and small) with its new 3D printer lineup

Leah Yamshon | Jan. 8, 2014
Admit it: You know you want to make your own life-sized, wearable Storm Trooper helmet at home. And now you (somewhat) easily can. MakerBot, the biggest name in 3D printing, announced a new trio of desktop 3D printers during a press conference on Monday at CES: an updated MakerBot Replicator, the Replicator Mini, and the Replicator Z18. These models represent an entire ecosystem of printers with something to appeal to all interests and skill levels.

Aside from big objects, the Z18 can print multiple things at once, and prints are kept dimensionally stable (that is, they won't warp) thanks to its enclosed and heated build chamber. The Z18 costs a cool $6499 and ships this spring.

Yep, there's an app for that
Pettis also announced new desktop and mobile companion apps for MakerBot owners to monitor their builds while at home or on-the-go. The Smart Extruder can tell when the printers are low on filament, and will send you a notification so you can refill it.

Apart from filament levels, you'll get notifications when your projects are finished printing and when there's activity on your Thingiverse account (Thingiverse, of course, is MakerBot's online marketplace). You can sync your build files between your computer and mobile devices as well, and start new prints right from the apps.

The apps are free, and are available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. An iOS version is coming this spring and an Android version will follow later this year.

More than just knick-knacks
As Pettis pointed out, MakerBot machines are "not just for tchotchkes" — the company has paved the way for affordable prosthetics, research prototypes, and ambitious education plans — but that doesn't mean they can't handle toys, too.

The company has launched MakerBot Entertainment, a new digital store with complex, full models of small toys available for purchase. Assembly requires no additional supports or glue: All you need to do is buy the file and print it. There are six different collections to start, including sets with trucks, animals, and rocket ships. Toys can be purchased individually starting at $1, or as complete sets that start at $10.

"We're excited to see how these toys take off and which ones do well," said Pettis.

With three machines, a set of apps, and a new online toy marketplace, MakerBot's momentum continues to make 3D printing more accessible for the masses.

 

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