Put simply, the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic is a thing you can make to make your own things – automatically. On show at CES 2011, it is a desktop 3D printer that comes in kit form and, once assembled, can then be plugged into a PC via USB to print 3D objects from your own 3D digital designs. While you won’t be able to print your own car or your own replacement organs, you will be able to churn out everything from a customized plastic chess set to an action figure of yourself.

The kit comes with v2.0 of MakerBot’s Automated Build Platform that lets users set up a print queue of multiple or a variety of objects, with the machine automatically clearing the build surface between builds and ejecting the completed object before moving onto the next job. In addition to the USB connection, jobs can also be printed from an SD card.

At the business end the Thing-O-Matic features the MakerBot MK5 plastruder that the company says is “essentially unbreakable” making it extremely reliable and easy to maintain. Changing the filament is also easy thanks to the filament pressure thumbscrew, and can even be hot-swapped mid print. MakerBot says it has had the unit running for more than a thousand hours with minimal maintenance.

The MakerBot Thing-O-Matic kit comes with all components, all the tools you’ll need to put them together and one pound (454 g) of ABS plastic to print with. It sells for US$1,225 but allow seven weeks for delivery.