MakerBot Digitizer 3D Scanner Turbocharges the Printing Process

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2013-09-26

MakerBot recently showed off its Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner, a $1,400 complement to its Replicator line of 3D printers. The Digitizer, a small, light device with an 8-inch turntable and two lasers, can scan just about anything that's 8-inches by 8-inches or smaller in 12 minutes. It's what's called a "sheet of light triangulation scanner." The turntable moves 800 oh-so-subtle times while one laser runs over the details of the item, and then it takes another spin around while the second laser goes to work. The MakerBot software then seamlessly combines the two "point clouds" and puts a mesh around them, intuitively filling in any missing details and presenting the user with a watertight digital model that it might have otherwise taken hours, if not days, to create. With a click, the model can then be printed, or, using MakerBot's software, manipulated. MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis likes to say that the Digitizer offers a "jumpstart on the design process because users don't need to start from scratch." MakerBot is now accepting preorders and expects to begin shipping in mid-October. "The power of the [3D printing] community is deep and strong," Pettis said at a Sept. 20 event. "There's going to be an explosion of creativity."


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