Makerbot announces the Digitizer, a consumer 3D scanner at SXSW


March 8, 2013

The Digitizer scanner uses lasers and cameras to turn objects into digital files

The Digitizer scanner uses lasers and cameras to turn objects into digital files

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3D printing pioneer MakerBot is on a mission to make it easier and more affordable to create all sorts of objects, one extruded layer at a time. But being able to print in three dimensions isn't worth too much right now if you don't have some pretty serious CAD skills or access to the printable data you need to render the object you want.

MakerBot founder Bre Pettis kicked off the first day of the South By Southwest Interactive festival (SXSW) running from March 8-17 in Austin, Texas, by introducing one possible solution to this chicken or the egg dilemma – a desktop 3D scanner dubbed the MakerBot Digitizer.

“It’s a natural progression for us to create a product that makes 3D printing even easier. With the MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner, now everyone will be able to scan a physical item, digitize it, and print it in 3D – with little or no design experience," said Pettis.

At this point the Digitizer is just a prototype that uses lasers and cameras to scan the physical form of an object and convert it into a printable digital file.

There's few other details regarding specs, pricing or release date for the Digitizer, but Pettis said it would allow "everyone" to be able to scan a physical object, seemingly implying that it would be much more inexpensive than currently available commercial 3D printers, which cost much more than the companion MakerBot 3D printer, the Replicator, which costs less than US$2,000.

MakerBot has setup a sign up page for 3D scanning early adopters to get in line for when the Digitizer becomes available.

Source: MakerBot

About the Author
Eric Mack Eric Mack has been covering technology and the world since the late 1990s. As well as being a Gizmag regular, he currently contributes to CNET, NPR and other outlets. All articles by Eric Mack

How about an all in one scanner/printer next Bre?

Arctic Giraffe

Wow. The growth of 3D printing reminds me of 'The Diamond Age', a novel by Neal Stephenson, where 3D printers are use to build everything, including food, fed by pipes filled with seawater; the machines strip out whatever molecules they require and recombine them to create whatever you have a pattern for ... cool stuff ...

Christopher Porozny

Not usable. I built one of these a few weeks back - the laser line is way too thick (1mm) for useful scans, and it doesn't work if the object to be scanned is not white (I was trying to scan a black propeller).

I resorted to stitching together a stack of min-scans from my MDX-20, which uses the R.A.P.S system (a piezo-electric element buzzing at an ultrasonic sound, with a long needed soldered onto it - this makes it possible to scan stuff with the barest minimal contact, at extremely high resolutions (however sharp the pointy end of your needle is)).

Takes ages tho...


Here's a scary thought: a 3D printer...printed by a 3D printer. They could go viral and take over the planet!

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