MakerBot Industries held a press event in their Brooklyn headquarters where they demonstrated their new 3D scanner, the Digitizer. It’s a small turntable powered by a stepper motor, with a pair of lasers scanning an object as it rotates. It works on Mac/Linux/Win, you don’t need a robust machine to run it, and it exports .STLs, a standard 3D modeling format supported by most 3D printers. That said, MakerBot has made an effort to make it compatible with the MakerBot ecosystem. You can send files to Thingiverse with a couple clicks of your mouse, and MakerBot claims the scanner is “optimized to work with your Replicator.”
After MakerBot Industries CEO Bre Pettis presented the scanner, groups of us went into a conference room and witnessed an actual scan. A staffer put a shell on the turntable and started the scan. The turntable turns 800 times and each laser scans the object. The software generates meshes, then combines the two meshes to create the .STL. The entire process takes 12 minutes.
One cool idea that was brought up is to use the scanner to step up the speed of the prototyping process. They created 3D models not with software, but by prototyping in clay and then scanning the clay, then finally outputting on a 3D printer.
The Digitizer costs $1,400 and will be available in October.