Today we have a guest blog from our maker navigator Jorge to explain why 2014 will be another exciting year for 3D printing.
What’s CES, and Why Are We Interested?
January is the month of the Consumer Electronics Show, and the maker scene had its fair share to display this year, including:
- 3D printed candy
- a cheaper alternative to the Makerbot Digitizer
- three new MakerBot 3D printers and a new suite of software that will be available later this year.
MakerBot Mini – $1,375
“44,000+ MakerBots in the World, 450 employees” – Bre Pettis
The first of three machines announced is a smaller machine with a print area of 10 x 10 cm and up to 12.5 cm tall. This falls just smaller than the lab’s Up Mini, which has a print area of 12 x12x 12 cm and almost matches the original Cupcake CNC. It comes in an enclosed case and features a self-leveling plate, wireless connectivity, an on-board camera for streaming and sharing images and a smart extruder. The smart extruder is said to be able to pause the print job when a spool is finished or clogged and will send notifications to compatible MakerBot programs and mobile apps.
The new MakerBot Replicator is the replacement for the Replicator 2. Following Apple’s name styling as many others have, it drops the number from the series. This year’s model has capacity for 11 percent more build volume than the previous iteration, but the plate ratio is slightly altered. That comes to a build area of 25.2 x 19.9 x 15 cm (the MakerBot 2’s build area is 28.5 x 15.3 x 15.5 cm). The Replicator comes in an open enclosure and also includes the self-leveling plate, Wi-Fi, camera and the smart extruder found in the Replicator Mini. This model includes a new full color LCD display with a stereo-like knob for navigation. It features new spool feed design that looks cleaner and should help prevent tangles.
The Z18 monolith-like printer is a larger machine aimed for the “prosumer.” With its 30.5 x 30.5 x 45.7 cm build area, it is the largest printer MakerBot Industries has offered to date. Pettis mentioned in the press conference that this is designed for “Industrial-strength 3D printing” with an enclosed, heated build chamber. It features everything included in the two smaller printers.
MakerBot Desktop and MakerBot Mobile
Along with the new hardware, MakerBot showcased app suites for mobile devices and desktops that provide a platform to share and organize designs via the MakerBot Cloud Library. These apps will enable the webcams mounted on the machines and receive alerts when a job is complete or when there is an issue. A Printshop mobile app allows all ages to easily craft simple 3D designs. Lastly, there is a new MakerBot Digital Store that will print professional 3D models that can be purchased at a digital storefront. Models will start at 99 cents and complete sets at $9.99.
ChefJet by 3DSystems
“Food is an incredible platform… we are thrilled to place these powerful 3D printers in bakers and chefs’ kitchens” – Liz von Hasseln
There were two other very important products showcased at the International CES show this year. The ChefJet by 3DSystems (makers of the Cube 3D Printer line) is capable of creating sweet confections. It uses a combination of water and flavored sugar to create a sugar frosting. The ChefJet can only print in black and white and uses a variety of flavors. For anyone who needs a little color in their candy, they offer a ChefJet Pro, which adds an inkjet printer packed with food-coloring cartridges. As stated by the company, a good application for this may be wedding cake toppers with scans of the wife and groom. No price has been named, but the ChefJet is expected to be just under $5,000 in the first half of this year while the ChefJet Pro is set to be under $10,000 and will be released in the second half of this year.
3D Scanner by Matterform
The next exciting product is a new scanner to compete against MakerBot’s Digitizer. It is a project by Matterform that was successfully funded on Indiegogo. It features a scan area of 18 cm in diameter and a 25 cm height compared to the Digitizer’s 20.3 cm diameter and 20.3 cm height. It is capable of reaching that height with a z-axis moving camera. The software will display a rendering of the scan on a computer in real-time and folds away for easy transportation. The most impressive aspect is its cost; it will retail for $579 against MakerBot’s $949. No release date has been announced.
Some images in this post are courtesy of MakerBot Industries, 3DSystems and Matterform.