3D printer hits the high street

15 October 2012

3D printer hits the high street

Whilst 3D printers have been around for a while now, they have always seemed rather unattainable - largely due to their cost.

Well now, MakerBot Industries, best known for its small 3D printers, has opened a shop in New York.

The store not only sells 3D printers, including the new Replicator 2.0, but also offers stage demonstrations and workshops for those who are curious about the printing technology.

Although certainly not a cheap printer – the Replicator 2.0 will set you back around £1,350 – this 3D printer is one of the first being marketed at the "prosumer", either a design professional or a hardcore hobbyist.

The Replicator 2.0 looks pretty darn good. It's certainly several steps away from the 'exposed interior' look of the 1.0 and also comes in a chic black rather than a clunky-looking white.

MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis likens the design to "Darth Vader driving Knight Rider’s KITT car while being airlifted by a Nighthawk spy plane."

The printer also features a rather impressive LED lighting set up. Mr Pettis added: "LEDs are part of our core values as a company." The new machine will glow in any hue – "to match the colour of your couch," he says, "or like something in the movie Tron."

This is the company's fourth generation 3D printer and can provide 100-micron layer resolution and a build volume of 410 cubic inches. That means the height of each layer of material is 2.5 times finer than the layer height of the previous MakerBot.

The volume of the build area is 37 per cent greater than the original MakerBot.

The entry level Replicator 2 uses an eco-friendly bioplastic called PLA (polylactic acid), which can be made from cornstarch. Unlike other materials, PLA doesn’t shrink very much when it cools, and overall it requires the machine to be less fine-tuned.

If you go one step up, the Replicator 2X is designed to use ABS plastic, the same material that Lego bricks are made from.

We are really excited about this new printer and the store as MakerBot brings 3D printers one step closer to commercial use.

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