Funnel. Miniature coffin. Card holder. These are a few of the favorite things on Thingiverse, the website where users of the MakerBot Replicator 3D printer can share the plastic objects they’ve designed and, well, printed. Don’t believe it? Then pick up your very own MarketBot Replicator (or pre-order before it ships in 6 weeks) for $1,749.00.
The MakerBot Replicator, on display at CES 2012, can print objects as large as a loaf of bread in up to 2 colors at a time. It makes these objects out of ABS plastic, which can be purchased in spools, based on a design that you program into the printer’s LCD control panel. You can create the designs or download other people’s designs from Thingiverse– if, for instance, you see a certain skull piggy bank that you absolutely must print for yourself.
At this price point, the Replicator will probably appeal primarily to hobbyists, however it doesn’t seem implausible that 3D printers like this one may soon become a more common household gadget. And while the sheer novelty of the Replicator has attracted a lot of attention at CES, the printer does have some practical applications. As MakerBot points out, the Replicator allows you to “be a hero around the house,” by making shower curtain rings, bath plugs, or even an entire chess set! (OK, that’s pretty novel.)
Is the MakerBot Replicator the way of the future? Or is it just another over-the-top gadget? Tell us what you think about this 3D printer displayed at CES.