I was really excited to hear about the latest edition of the MakerBot 3D printer. Called the Replicator, it features all the recent improvements announced over the past year such as dual extruders and the interface controller. It has a 9″x6″x6″ build envelope and comes with either one or two stepstruders.

The interface controller as part of the unit is genius, and moves the product past the point where you need a computer plugged into it to print:

Each MakerBot Replicator now ships standard with an LCD panel and video-game-style control pad. The LCD screen provides build statistics and monitoring information, and full control of the machine without the use of a computer. Using the SD Card slot, you can load models and begin builds directly from the control pad. Pack up the Bot, and grab your SD Card and you’re ready to go to your friends birthday and make all the party favors. Print anywhere!

One of the most surprising innovations doesn’t involve some technological improvement, but who the printer is marketed to. The on-board interface controller, and the fact that the Replicator is sold only as an assembled product — not as a kit — suggests to me that MakerBot is aiming the printer at a somewhat less technologically savvy group than previous products — aimed more at schools, for instances, than hackerspaces.

I love how it’s still open source — even as MakerBot inches toward a more general audience, it hasn’t lost sight of its origins as an open source company:

MakerBot Industries believes in the power of sharing. We encourage MakerBot Operators to publish their designs to Thingiverse so that others may be inspired by their work and build on it. We lead by example by sharing the machine designs including the lasercut files and the software that runs our machines.

The MakerBot Replicator is available at the MakerBot store and costs $1749 for a single extruder model and $1999 for the dual extruder.