The MakerBot Digitizer: Now Available

By on August 22nd, 2013 in Hardware

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As expected, MakerBot released their newest product today: the MakerBot Digitizer. It’s an inexpensive turntable-based 3D scanner directed at consumers and professionals. 
MakerBot has taken steps to simplify the process of using the scanner itself. You simply drop an object on the turntable and start the process. The turntable rotates slowly, exposing the object to lasers whose reflections are picked up by two cameras. The software interprets these signals and converts the reflections into a 3D point cloud. Subsequent steps convert the point cloud into a printable file by ensuring a solid, watertight model. 
The Digitizer is priced at USD$1400, but there’s an additional USD$150 (optional) for a MakerCare Service Plan. This plan is a one-year service to provide support, spare parts and even a total replacement unit if necessary. The plan is currently available only in the US. 
While the MakerBot Digitizer is sure to open up scanning to a new audience of 3D printer owners, there are some constraints that you’ll encounter with this device: 
  • The maximum effective resolution is about 2mm. This means you won’t be able to scan small, finely detailed items like some jewelry. 
  • Scanned items must fit on the platform and be able to rotate freely. Anything larger cannot be scanned.
  • Reflective or transparent objects can be problematic. This issue occurs even on high-end laser-using scanners, so we’re not surprised MakerBot has the same issue.
  • Aside from the preparation of the scan itself, you’ll have to use other software to modify the scan. For example, if you wish to put a base on the figurine scan, you need to use a 3D modeling tool. 
The Digitizer will likely become the first widely used consumer 3D scanner. Regardless of the constraints, we’re certain this will be a very popular device that will soon fill up Thingiverse with all manner of scanned items. 

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!