Treasure Trove Of 3D Printers, Scanners Coming To Market
August 23, 2013

Treasure Trove Of 3D Printers, Scanners Coming To Market

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

While 3D printing has been slowly gaining traction, the other half of the equation has been in developing at 3D scanner. 3D printers can “print” from 3D models, but only a few devices have been developed to actually capture physical objects and recreate them for the digital space.

This week Brooklyn-based 3D printer company MakerBot announced the Digitizer, a $1,400 device that utilizes sophisticated software to scan and then replicate clean, watertight 3D models that are ready to print. The entire process has also been optimized to work seamlessly with the MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D printers, the latest of which were introduced earlier this year at CES. The Replicator 2 3D printer can produce items that are about the size of a loaf of bread.

This 3D printer is currently available from MakerBot for $2,199.

Unveiled at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) conference in Austin in March, the MakerBot Digitizer Desktop Scanner utilizes a pair of lasers and a webcam to scan objects up to roughly eight inches in diameter.

The process reportedly takes under three minutes to complete, and once the object has been fully captured as a digital file it can be printed using the Replicator devices.

“This is another innovative product for visionaries, early adopters, experimenters, educators, creative hobbyists, 3D sculptors, organic modelers, designers, and architects who want to be the first to become an expert in desktop 3D scanning.” said MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis. “We believe that the MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner is an innovative technological breakthrough that sets the standard for affordable desktop 3D scanning.”

The device reportedly requires no design or 3D modeling skills nor any CAD expertise, but the scanner can also output to standard 3D design file formats that can be modified via third-party 3D modeling programs including Autodesk’s MeshMixer.

The key to the devices’ success could be that it is simple to use.

“We focused on making the MakerBot Digitizer super easy to use, intuitive and simple,” Pettis added. “The MakerBot Digitizer is powered by MakerBot MakerWare software, and we plan to offer in the future additional software updates that are expected to add even more features and capabilities.”

Despite MakerBot's successes, its Digitizer scanner does face some stiff competition from other 3D scanners on the market, including devices from NextEngine, which can scan in color. The Santa Monica, California-based NextEngine offers its NextEngine 3D scanner for $2,995.

Greenville, North Carolina-based Fuel 3D is also looking to get into the 3D scanning game with a point-and-shoot, full color 3D scanner. The startup took to a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign, with the goal to raise $75,000 to develop the device. However, at press time – and with still more than a week to go – the startup has raised $277,985. It promises to bring the device to market for less than $1,000.

Matterform, another startup that took to crowd funding, is looking to bring out its own 3D scanner next month, and is now taking preorders for just $599.

The days of bland photocopies look to give way to a new era of fresh 3D copies.