While there are a number of 3D printers on the market now, many of them either require assembly or are aimed at an industrial market—there are not many options suitable for a mainstream consumer market just yet. This is where MakerBot’s newest model, the Replicator 2, could help change things, though.
The Replicator 2 is MakerBot’s fourth-generation 3D printer, and it lets you print just about any creation you have in mind out of plastic. Well, as long as it fits within the printer’s confines, that is--it can print anything about the size of a shoebox.
For instance, you could print your own toys, jewelry or household objects, or if part of a gadget breaks, you can just run off a replacement part (though there are some potential copyright pitfalls there). There’s also a growing MakerBot community that offers plenty of templates for you to print off to get you started.
The new Replicator has a better eye for detail thanks to its improved resolution: It can print plastic at 100-micron layers, which is about as thin as a piece of paper. You can also print more than one thing at once for projects, too. Finally, the printer helps the environment out a little by using biodegradable PLA plastic instead of ABS.
Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? Yes, if you can afford the cost. The Replicator 2 will set you back $2200—that's $400 more than its predecessor. Then again, the 3D printer comes pre-assembled for you, and is more flexible than the original Replicator.
It will be interesting to see how 3D printing develops outside of the industrial and hacking community, especially with more straightforward products like the Replicator 2. In my house, it'd probably be used to make various toys...
Want one? You can buy your own over on MakerBot’s website.
This story, "MakerBot Replicator 2 could bring 3D printing closer to mainstream" was originally published by TechHive.