3D Printers by Makerbot

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Mass ST & E - 4.3-5-ETS1-5(MA), 7.MS-ETS1-2, 7.MS-ETS1-4, 7.MS-ETS1-7(MA), 4.3-5-ETS1-3

3D Printers are machines that make things layer by layer in a process known as 3D printing or additive manufacturing. 3D printers follow a programmed design to build up layers of material in order to make an object, unlike traditional machining, which usually involves subtracting material in order to 'carve out' an object.

MakerBot's 3D Printers are desktop 3D printers, making them accessible to the ordinary consumer. Up until recently, 3D printers have been very large, expensive machines, generally only found in industrial manufacturing plants. Now, however, they can be used by scientists and hobbyists alike for prototyping, producing project parts, making true-to-life replicas or miniatures, creating visual aids, and manufacturing plastic products of all kinds.

MakerBot currently produces the MakerBot Replicator 2, the Replicator 2x (an experimental printer) and the Replicator Desktop 3D printer (5th generation). The Replicator 2 is MakerBot's flagship printer and is sized to fit in a desktop, office or workbench space. It uses MakerBot PLA Filament, a bioplastic derived from corn, as its printing material. This plastic filament is extruded and built up in extremely fine layers to produce high-resolution objects. The accuracy of the printer means that the objects produced don't need any further sanding or other refinements.

The Replicator Desktop (5th Generation) looks set to eventually replace the Replicator 2, and MakerBot is currently launching two new printers, the MakerBot Replicator Mini and the MakerBot Replicator Z18. The Replicator Mini, as the name suggests, is a smaller version of the Replicator Desktop printer and is designed for use in home offices and classrooms. The Replicator Z18, on the other hand, is a larger and more advanced version of the Replicator Desktop that will most likely prove popular with industrial-scale manufacturers and prototypers.

The Replicator Mini, Replicator 2 and Replicator Desktop are the most suitable MakerBot 3D printers for use at home and in school, and can be used to make a great variety of fun and creative projects. Many 3D designs are freely available from MakerBot's sister site, Thingiverse, and from various other sources online. MakerBot's printers make 3D printing accessible, educational and inventive in a way that would have been unimaginable just a few short years ago.