One of the big surprises for me this year at CES 2014 was the new product lineup from MakerBot. I went to the MakerBot press event thinking I would see a new 3D printer announcement, but there were three new 3D printers unveiled: the Replicator Mini, the Replicator, and the Replicator Z18. In this article I’ll give an overview of these new 3D printers, and also share a discussion I had with MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis about these exciting new products from MakerBot (see video at end of post).
At the MakerBot booth discussing the new MakerBot 3D printers with CEO Bre Pettis
The new lineup of MakerBot 3D printers spans a super-wide audience including those just getting into 3D printing, corporations and enthusiasts, movie prop makers, scientific researchers, and much more. Since these 3D printers will have a Windows 8.1 3D printer driver, owners of these 3D printers can realize the benefits of 3D printing support in Windows 8.1. These new MakerBot 3D printers are built on a common technology MakerBot 3D Printing Platform which introduces some awesome new common features and also makes these new 3D printers easier to use and maintain.
Next-Generation Technology Platform
MakerBot didn’t just show new printers, they showcased a common next-generation MakerBot technology platform that is shared between these new devices. It was clear to me that MakerBot put a lot of thought and engineering into this new wave of innovation.
Here are some of the highlights from this new technology platform:
- MakerBot Smart Extruder: quick disconnect, improved serviceability and easier filament changes. It also knows when you run out of filament and will send a message to your desktop, tablet or smartphone.
- On-Board Camera: Take pictures of your 3D prints, remotely monitor 3D prints.
- Windows 8.1 3D Printing Integration: print from any compatible Windows 8.1 app. Manage your MakerBot 3D printer just like any other printer including print queue management. Drivers automatically download and install from Windows Update. Support for 3MF files. Note that these drivers are in-development and the exact date for public availability has not yet been disclosed, coming soon!
The new Smart Extruder – image courtesy MakerBot
MakerBot had all of these new 3D printers on display at CES 2014, and I was excited to see them in-person!
MakerBot Replicator Mini
The MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer is all about making 3D printing accessible and easy. At $1375, the Replicator Mini is the most affordable Replicator to date. With a build volume of 3.9” x 3.9” x 4.9”, the Replicator Mini is ideally suited for printing smaller objects.
The MakerBot Mini – MakerBot’s new compact 3D printer (click/tap to enlarge)
While the MakerBot Mini may be the smallest in the lineup of MakerBot Replicators, it’s got a lot of the same features as its larger siblings. One such example is the new Smart Extruder which can be detached and re-attached in a matter of seconds. The MakerBot Mini doesn’t require build plate leveling, so you can get straight to printing. I like that!
The MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer is the successor of the highly successful MakerBot Replicator 2. This new Replicator is intended for enthusiasts, engineers, architects, scientists, and anyone else who needs an affordable professional-grade 3D printer with a spacious build volume.
The MakerBot Replicator showing top loading filament setup (click/tap to enlarge)
The Replicator will cost $2899, and features a 100 micron print resolution, the same as the Replicator 2. With 11% more build volume compared with the Replicator 2, you have more room to print larger things. The Replicator also features assisted build plate leveling (can’t wait to try that out), a 3.5” color LCD display with control dial, and a glass build plate surface.
But what if you need to print big things, like really big things?
MakerBot Replicator Z18
The MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D Printer is a 3D printer with a huge 12” x 12” x 18” build volume. Yes, you can print things that are 18” tall in this big daddy of the Replicator lineup!
The MakerBot Replicator Z18 – a huge 3D printer (click/tap to enlarge)
Bre told me that he expects the Replicator Z18 to be the most disruptive 3D printer from MakerBot. Why would this 3D printer be so disruptive? The huge build volume is one reason, but when you look at the standard features, seamless technology integration, and the low price ($6499.), this printer could definitely be a game-changer. With the exception of assisted build plate leveling, the Replicator Z18 has the same base features as the new Replicator plus a heated chamber and a superflat build plate. I definitely need one of these!
In the following video I get a tour of these new MakerBot 3D printers from CEO Bre Pettis, and an explanation of the technology that powers them:
If you want to know more about these printers check out the MakerBot website. Stay tuned here on the Extreme Windows Blog because I plan on getting hands-on with these new 3D printers in 2014. It’s going to be an exciting year in the 3D printing world!
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