3D printing made easier


3D printing made easier

We have mentioned 3D printing on this page before, and many industry experts still think that this could be the next ‘big thing’ in home technology.

3D printing is exactly what it says, ‘printing’ using a computer a 3D, real life model of an object. There was a big hoo-ha when someone in the states managed to print a plastic gun that would fire a real bullet, but much nicer uses of 3D printing are by people like Thornton’s chocolates in the UK, for developing new products.


One of the biggest problems for home users though is to get the design of the object they want to print, which is where the latest developments come in.

A desktop device that can quickly scan objects so they can be replicated using a 3D printer has gone on sale.

The Makerbot Digitizer, which costs $1,400 (£900, B45,000), will be shipped to the first buyers in October and demand for the machine appeared to overload the company’s store when it went on sale late August.

The machine is designed to allow the replication of objects without any need for the user to learn any 3D modelling software or have any other special expertise and it works by pointing several lasers at the object and detecting contours in the surface.

It also allows users to upload their 3D designs directly to Thingiverse, a website where 3D designs can be shared.

The time it takes to scan an object varies, but one demonstration involving a small gnome was said to take around 12 minutes.

“The MakerBot Digitizer is for early adopters, experimenters, and visionaries who want to be pioneers in Desktop 3D Scanning,” the company says.”This includes, but is not limited to, architects, designers, creative hobbyists, educators, and artists.”

However, Makerbot has made it clear that the scanner is not suitable for intricate designs and that users should not expect “too much” from the machine.

“Expectations should be realistic,” the machine’s FAQ page reads. “You will not be able to, for example, scan a hamburger and then eat the digital design.”

So I think it’s ‘baby steps’ at the moment, but I think will be a very interesting market place in the next couple of years.

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