Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis excitedly announced a new Makerbot Digitizer Desktop 3D scanner on stage Friday at SXSW in Austin. Currently a prototype, the next-generation scanner will allow anyone to scan a physical item, digitize it, and then print it in 3D, regardless of whether or not they have any design experience.
Sort of like a copy/paste for real-world objects, the Digitizer works using two lasers and a webcam. The webcam sees where the lasers are shining off of an item, and wraps all those points up into a plan for a 3D model that can then be printed.
To make the magic happen the lasers spin around the object, a process Pettis describes as “like Tron.”
“This is something you would envision being a piece of fiction, but in fact, it is real — and it is so cool,” says Pettis.
Able to scan items in as little as three minutes, the Digitizer can create small to medium sized objects, 2” to 8” cylinders. The Digitizer works in indoor light, and prints watertight models that can be used for prototyping, or to replace broken items in your home.
“The MakerBot Digitizer is a great tool for archiving, prototyping, replicating, and digitizing prototypes, models, parts, artifacts, artwork, sculptures, clay figures, jewelry, etc. If something gets broken, you can print it again.”
Makerbot is currently testing the scanner, with plans to release it to the general public in the fall. You can sign up to receive updates on the Digitizer on Makerbot’s website.