This is the fifth consecutive year where Makerbot has made an appearance at CES and the company has now sold more than 44,000 3D printers worldwide. This year, Makerbot’s CEO revealed three new additions to the product line: The Mini, the Z18, and the Replicator. Each are aimed at a particular market segment and it’s expected that this will give Makerbot a firm competitive edge amongst other leading 3D printer developers across the world. So, what are these printers all about? Let’s review them.
The Mini, as the name implies, is the smallest and cheapest 3D printer of the newest range. It has the build volume of the original Makerbot Cupcake, which means it isn’t going to print the largest of objects that users feed into it. What it does mean, though, is that it will do smaller jobs with precision detail and an accuracy that’s second to none across the 3D printer world.
The Mini is described as a “point and shoot” model. That is, users simply feed the design into the printer, click start, and watch everything unfold in front of them. It’s calibrated from simplicity and is particularly aimed at those who don’t have any experience using 3D printers.
Specification wise, it has a volume volume of 10 x 10 x 12.5 cm and includes Wi-fi and a built-in camera, so users can monitor what’s going on as the object prints. This is especially useful for the largest and most complex of items, where users won’t exactly want to sit around watching the time consuming process. It’s priced at $1,375 and will be released in the second quarter of 2014.
The Z18 was also announced during the same release. The “middle of the road” printer, it sports a larger build volume and is the biggest home-based unit that the company has released to date. It can accommodate objects up to 30.5 x 30.5 x 45.7 cm and allows the printing of multiple objects at the same time using a 100-micron layer resolution.
Similar to the Mini, the printer is equipped with Wifi and a camera that monitors the print progress and can automatically send updates by e-mail. However, unlike the Mini, it includes a full colour LCD display that guides the user to more advanced options and settings that can be adjusted freely by the user. This potentially accommodates different filaments.
The Z18 will be made available for $6,499 and ships during the second quarter of 2014.
Aimed at industrial users, the Replicator has a build volume of 7,522 cubic centimetres and is just over 10% larger than the Replicator 2 Desktop. It boasts the same benefits as the Z18, but can print the largest of objects. Its software is also Linux-ready and officially supported on Mac OSX. It will be made available for $2,899 and is set to ship very soon: within the next few weeks when all of the tweaks are finalized.