CES 2014: MakerBot Moves Upmarket, Unveils 3D Printers

Written by Lamont Wood

MakerBot Industries at CES 2014 said it’s moving away from its hobbyist roots. It unveiled a prosumer line of 3D printers, says our Lamont Wood. Details..

aNewDomain.netMakerBot Industries moved away from its hobbyist roots this Monday by announcing a prosumer line of 3D printers at CES 2014 in Las Vegas.

Whether it will hasten the day we all have 3D printers in our homes to generate appliance parts, tableware, or toys — and make the retail, manufacturing and transportation industries largely redundant — remains to be seen. But the new machines were clearly designed with ease-of-use in mind.

MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis unveiled the new line of machines in ascending size. Each model has similar features, including optional 100-micron resolution to produce end products with satiny finishes, and each model uses corn-based PLA filament.

CES 2014: Three New MakerBots

Unveiled Monday at CES, the new 3D printers are, from left, the Replicator Z18, the Replicator Mini, and the MakerBot Replicator.

All image credits: Lamont Wood

First and smallest was the Replicator Mini, retailing at $1,375, with a work volume of slightly less than 4x4x5 inches. Next was the $2,899 MakerBot Replicator with a work volume of 8x10x6 inches. Last and largest was the $6,499 Replicator Z18, whose 12x12x18-inch work volume can generate life-sized helmets and busts.

Other announcements included design software and an online marketplace of proven 3D designs.

CES 2014: MakerBot Samurai Helmet

MakerBot announced the display of a life-size replica of a samurai helmet made with the Replicator Z18.

Pettis said that 44,000 MakerBot 3D printers have been sold to date, and the goal is still to have a million installed. He also hopes to have one in every school in the U.S. and so far 541 teachers have procured the funds to purchase one.

At the Analyst’s Briefing, the day before the official mega-convention kicked off, Shawn Dubravac, chief economist for the Consumer Electronics Association and sponsor of CES, noted that 3D printing is the technology that has probably generated the most excitement for this year’s show. He pointed out, however, that while nearly 100,000 consumer 3D printers have been sold, Americans currently buy about 40 million TVs a year. The new tech has a long while to go before mass acceptance it seems.

For aNewDomain.net at CES 2014, I’m Lamont Wood. Stay tuned for more.

Based in San Antonio, Texas, Lamont Wood is a senior editor at aNewDomain.net. He’s been covering tech trade and mainstream publications for almost three decades now, and he’s a household name in Hong Kong and China. His tech reporting has appeared in innumerable tech journals, including the original BYTE (est. 1975). Email Lamont at Lamont@anewdomain.net or follow him @LAMONTwood.