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CES 2011: Amazingly Affordable 3D "Printer" From MakerBot Industries

MakerBot is a 3D printer, but not a machine that prints 3D images on paper. The MakerBot is a machine that “prints” three dimensional objects out of plastic. And unlike professional machines that turn three dimensional computer files into real objects, MakerBot is incredibly affordable.

The printer will take most any object you can design in a computer and then create it (as long as it’s no bigger than about 5 inches by 5 inches) in the real world. It’s open source, which means you don’t need any proprietary software or anything to make it work. In fact, you can download 3D designing software for free and join the Thingiverse community to get tips and even download pre-made objects.

To me, after seeing this I immediately thought of how schools and students could use the MakerBot to bring the computer skills they are learning to life. Having a physical representation of something you design is incredibly important to a designer. And who knows? Maybe the kid who designs the must-have gadget for 2021 will have learned on a MakerBot.

Keep in mind, right now MakerBot Industries is a total DIY-type company. A MakerBot costs $1,225 for a kit that you have to put together yourself. In 2-3 months they should be selling pre-assembled printers, with no price yet on those. The material (coils of a plastic thread that the printer uses) costs $10 a pound and come in 5 and 10 pound coils.

Check out some of the things made by MakerBot at the show in the picture below. You can find out more information at MakerBot.com.

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