MakerBot Industries unveiled its next-generation personal 3D printer, the Replicator, which comes fully assembled, and features a build area that’s twice the size of its predecessor, the Thing-O-Matic, so that it can build larger 3D objects (the Replicator’s build area is about the size of a loaf bread or 300 cubic inches). At pricing of $1,749.00, the Replicator is also cheaper than the Thing-O-Matic. Two configurations of the Replicator are available – one for producing an object consisting of a single color, the other for producing two-colored objects.
Also new is an LCD panel and video-game-style control pad. The LCD screen provides build statistics and monitoring information, and full control of the printer without having to use a PC. The Replicator uses an additive printing process – it heats and melts ABS plastic (the same material used to make Lego blocks) to print 3D objects layer-by-layer. It’s connected directly to the PC via USB port, and is compatible with Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X, and Linux systems. There’s also an SD Card slot, so users can download model plans and begin builds directly from the control pad without having to use a PC.
3D printing has been called the next billion-dollar industry, with analysts such as ABI Research predicting that it will reach $782.6 million by 2013. To date, it’s primarily used in manufacturing by companies such as Stratasys, Inc., but MakerBot’s Thing-O-Matic and the new Replicator are now within range of many consumers, and in the future 3D printers will probably be even more affordable. Orders currently take six weeks to fulfill.
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Original source: MakerBot Unveils Next-Generation Personal 3D Printer: The Replicator
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