3D Printed MakerBot Digitizer - Desktop consumer scanner. Source: MakerBot
3D Printed MakerBot Digitizer - Desktop consumer scanner. Source: MakerBot

MakerBot begins to bridge the design gap between consumers and 3D printing with the release of the MakerBot Digitizer. This desktop scanner is set to ship in early October, but for $1400, plus $150 for the MakerCare support program, you can reserve your machine today.

The MakerBot Digitizer is the first out-of-the-box consumer scanner on the market and opens the doors of creation to people who don’t have a design background. “For professionals, this means you get a jumpstart on the design process because you don’t have to start from scratch,” said MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis in an announcement video. “For creatives at home, this means you get to explore the frontier of desktop 3D scanning and make wonderful designs that you can either print on your MakerBot or share on Thingiverse.com.”

A desktop scanner, like the Digitizer, makes 3D printing more practical for the average consumer. Before the Digitizer, if you had a broken part there was no way of duplicating that part unless you had some design skills. In theory, the MakerBot Digitizer overcomes that barrier. Anyone should be able to create a 3D model of something they have if it meets the size requirements.    

The Digitizer has a turntable, similar to a pottery wheel. You place an object on the turntable and it slowly spins. The scanner captures the three-dimensional image using a camera and two lasers that sit on one side of the turntable. The process is said to take about 12 minutes.

The Digitizer will scan an object up to 8 inches tall and 8 inches in circumference and weighing up to 6.6 pounds. It will produce a 3D model with a dimensional accuracy of 2 mm. This means the dimensions of the 3D model will be the same as the original object with a 2mm margin of error. The desktop scanner has a detail resolution of 0.5 mm, which means it will scan an object with fairly fine details.

Once the object is scanned, the model can be optimized in the scanning software that ships with the Digitizer. MakerBot advertises the software will create watertight models, ready to print, in just two clicks. The 3D model can then be exported as an STL file so it can easily be opened in MakerWare and printed on a MakerBot 3D printer or another 3D printer.

You can also import the file into a computer aided design (CAD) software to customize, improve, twist, mold, and even animate your 3D model. 

We can sense MakerBot’s excitement about this new product. “[The MakerBot Digitizer] is a powerful and elegant tool for turning physical objects into digital design,” said Pettis. “Really explore what you can do with this. Blaze a trail into the future. Digitize things. This going to be an amazing adventure we get to go on together.”

We’re eager to see how home 3D scanning impacts 3D printing to advance technology and what people can do with it. We’re also excited to try the MakerBot Digitizer for ourselves.