Last week , we took a look at the various machines 3D Systems debuted at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show and it was a pretty impressive batch. 3D Systems’ main rival for the consumer 3D printing crown, MakerBot, also unveiled its own catalogue of jaw dropping new devices at the show, however, plus some potentially game-changing software.
MakerBot had three major new printers on show: the Replicator, the Replicator Mini and the Replicator Z18. That first one is not a typo: after the Replicator, Replicator 2 and Replicator 2X, the thoroughly modern folks over at MakerBot have decided to jettison boring old numerical titles altogether for its third generation of consumer devices.
This Replicator is ready to ship in the next few weeks, boasting an 11% increase in build volume on the 2X and a $2,899 price tag. The Mini is, as you would have guessed, a smaller version, which has been designed specifically as an entry level machine for curious newcomers to the 3D printing experience. MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis calls it a ‘point and shoot’ experience, giving users the most simplified one touch 3D printing yet. It should ship in spring for $1,375.
The really big news from the MakerBot stand was, however, the debut of the Replicator Z18. With a 12 x 12 x 18 inch build volume, this behemoth is meant for large scale personal objects. It also packs a heated build chamber (a feature MakerBot inherited as part of the Stratasys merger), making it the first personal device to officially use one. Users looking to go big with the Z18 will have to be willing to part with a cool $6,499 when it hits the shelves this spring.
All of these machines boast a list of highly impressive new features including a smart extruder, which connects to the device with magnets so it can be loaded and lifted out easily, an embedded camera that allows you to monitor your print job as it happens, Wi-Fi and USB connectivity, LCD displays and simplified bed levelling.
It’s also worth noting that, as far as we can tell, all the models support PLA filament only.
If all that wasn’t enough, there’s also a host of new software, including a new MakerBot Desktop application, a mobile app that allows you to monitor your prints remotely, a MakerBot Printshop for easy creation of type-based objects and a Digital Store where objects designed in-house by MakerBot’s designers will retail for as low as 99 cents.
All of this makes for pretty staggering news. Pettis himself describes this year’s CES as being ‘year’s in the making’ for his company, but he may as well have been talking about the entire consumer 3D print industry. Both MakerBot and 3D Systems have thrown down the gauntlet, with potentially transformative announcements and next level machines. Strap in for a bloody title fight between these two consumer 3D print heavyweights over the next 12 months.