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.

β€œIt’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