MakerBot may be best known for its 3D printers (Thing-O-Matic and Replicator, to name two), but at this year's South By Southwest (SXSW), the company's CEO Bre Pettis revealed a new 3D scanner prototype called the "Digitizer" that can scan small objects and create a 3D render out of it. The render can then be printed out with a 3D printer. Basically, anyone with a Digitizer and a 3D printer will have a duplicator.
MakerBot says its "desktop 3D scanner" uses a combination of cameras and lasers to create "high-quality, water-tight 3D models, in as little as three minutes." Aside from that, solid specs have yet to be released.
In a press release, Pettis expressed how the Digitizer would open up the world of 3D printing to people without 3D modeling experience:
"The MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner is an innovative new way to take a physical object, scan it, and create a digital file — without any design, CAD software or 3D modeling experience at all — and then print the item again and again on a MakerBot Replicator 2 or MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer."
As we mentioned, the Digitizer can only scan small objects such as jewelry, artifacts and models, so don't go dreaming of scanning yourself a second chair or desk. Although, we can definitely see parents cloning their kid's toys with the Digitizer.
Although pricing and release haven't been announced yet, it's hard to not be excited for Digitizer's potential, even if it is still a prototype. We imagine having a Digitizer and 3D printer will fulfill a lot of Star Trek replicator fantasies when the 3D scanner does come out.