At the last CES 2012, MakerBot brought out the Replicator—an amazing consumer-level 3D printer—and this year at CES 2013 CEO Bre Pettis announced the company has kept up their momentum and revealed the prototype Replicator 2X that sports two printing heads instead of one. An update designed for more advanced consumers interested in much more complex objects.
The Wired article on the subject has a video and a quote from the imminent CEO about the device:
“For the daredevils out there, the Doc Browns, the MacGyvers, the test pilots, we haven’t forgotten about you,” says Pettis. “The MakerBot Replicator 2X pushes the limits of what’s possible and puts you in the experimenters seat, figuring out what happens next. [It’s] made for those who are willing to wrestle with the challenges of ABS; if you’ve ever gotten under the hood and tuned up a hotrod or rebuilt an engine or built a trebuchet from scratch, the MakerBot 2X is for you. We can’t wait to see what boundaries you’ll push, what frontiers you’ll explore, and the things that you’ll make.”
The Replicator 2X sports a dual-extruder enabling experimenters to develop 3D designs that can change color or material while the printer is running without having to switch out heads or change sources. As a result, it does dual-color objects much more easily than its previous incarnation.
3D printers are on the vanguard of bringing the ability for garage-inventors to produce their own prototypes but also the leading edge of giving consumers the ability to produce their own products. The idea of the physible—a downloadable blueprint for physical objects—could revolutionize the way that MAKER communities work and play by being able to allow other teams to use the same sort of object (using similar materials) and this is connected to what Pettis is talking about.
Although MakerBot caused some stir in the open source MAKER community with the MakerBot 2 because it was announced the device would not be entirely open source, we’re still not sure if MakerBot 2X will take this same route. Many companies close source their hardware so that they can make more money in the market or for fears of competitors copying them; however, in many cases the hardware is already reverse engineered by the time it’s out of the gate and open source advocates look to the more open versions because it opens up more avenues for tinkering.
That Pettis and MakerBot are courting the MacGuyvers, experimenters, and tinkerers and might have gotten themselves into an impasse with the open source MAKER community might not bode well.
You will be able to own this fascinating piece of machinery for a cool $2,799 later this month when it’s released.