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Gadget review: MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer

The MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer

The MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer

  • by JOSH WELENSKY
 

PICTURE the scene - you’ve just broken the hook that holds your vacuum cleaner nozzle in place. No longer can your Dyson rest tidily in the cupboard; every time the door is opened its elephant-like trunk spills out.

Or perhaps you’re looking to save money by producing your wedding favours at home? In the near future instead of phoning to get a tradesman round or making an expensive visit to a stationery shop, all you’ll need is a 99p download from a Spare Parts App or a quick sketch on your PC.

3D printers have arrived. It was an amazing sight as a full chess set was “printed” in front of me by the MakerBot Replicator™ at the CES Electronics Fair in Las Vegas. About double the height of a microwave, the Replicator can create items with dimensions up to 225 x 145 x 150 millimetres (that’s about the size of a toaster). It works by building up layers of ABS plastic. The plastic is supplied in rolls of various colours, which are fed into the machine like a ball of string, heated and then squeezed out. The £1,270 3D printer on demonstration could nozzle two colours simultaneously, with a cheaper £1,109 version handling one roll of plastic at a time.

At well over £1,000 PC World is not going to be stocking the Replicator any time soon. However, this gadget has enormous potential. Printing speed was slow but mesmerising, a chess piece took about 20 minutes to be created. The whole ethos of the Brooklyn, New York-based manufacturer is creative freedom – users are encouraged to share blueprints for their 3D models via the Thingiverse website (www.thingiverse.com). This is a truly amazing invention that’s destined to bring a new dimension to DIY.

£1,270 for two extruders or £1,109 for one extruder, due for release in the UK in two to three months, for more information see www.makerbot.com

 

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