3D printers are a marvel of modern engineering. A device that is able to build almost any solid object from the ground up stands to reshape modern manufacturing. One of the gaps in the technology has been the lack of a tool that allows you to scan an object so you can replicate it. Last week at South by Southwest MakerBot industries unveiled a prototype desktop 3D scanner:
The maker community has helped on that front, as well, with MakerBot’s Thingiverse serving as an unparalleled resource for 3D images, meaning that, once your printer’s all set up and calibrated, you can download and print to your hearts delight — but what if, say, you want to print up something that some kindly soul hasn’t designed for you? You could learn a CAD program — or you could invest in an industrial 3D scanner. The latter option has lead to something of a land rush of companies and individuals looking to break things wide open with an affordable, consumer-facing offering. And while MakerBot still seems a ways away from the final product, the company used SXSW as a platform to unveil a prototype of its MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner.
Imagine being able to toss a part onto a scanner and having copies print out in a few minutes. That’s what 3D scanners combined with 3D printers stands to do. It will be interesting to see where this technology goes in the next decade.