Personal additive manufacturing is still in its infancy, much like computers were before the PC revolution that brought the devices into nearly every home. Early PCs were bulky, expensive and usually didn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles. Early home 3D printing systems are pretty much the same.
The Thing-O-Matic, MakerBot’s first offering into the field, is now joined by the Replicator (I’m honestly surprised it took this long for someone to use the Star Trek reference). The Replicator shares the same rough-and-ready look of the Thing-O-Matic, but can be purchased with what MakerBot is calling their “Dualstrusion” option. Dualstrusion allows for two color products, which may be a first for home 3D printers.
The Replicator also allows for larger products to be printed. Where the Thing-O-Matic restricted users to objects no larger than 5x5x6 in., its new brother can print objects up to 8.9×5.7×5.9 in. The going price for the Replicator with the Dualstrusion option is $1999, and the single color version sells for $1799.
3D Systems’ upcoming personal 3D printer is named the Cube. Unlike MakerBot’s offerings, the Cube is sleek and stylish, and looks more like what most people would expect from a finished product. The Cube can print objects up to 5.5×5.5×5.5 in., and offers the ability to print in 10 different colors (only one color per object). The retail price for 3D Systems offering is $1299.
Which home 3D printing system eventually comes out on top will likely be based just as much on community support as offered features. Most home users don’t know, and don’t care to know, how to use a CAD system. MakerBot has a thriving community at Thingiverse and 3D Systems has launched their own Cubify site.
Below you’ll find videos about both new printers. These videos can also be found in our video archives.