3-D printing has come a long way since last year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Once a curiosity left to the smallest of obscure booths in the massive Las Vegas Convention Center, which is filled each January with thousands of prospective tech entrepreneurs, MakerBot’s press booth now overflows with tech bloggers and industry analysts this week as it announced a handful of new developments.
On the hardware side, MakerBot announced its latest 3-D printer model: the MakerBot 2X. The device features two-color printing capabilities, but many other features such as the resolution and the design of the outer casing are the same as the MakerBot 2, which was first introduced in September 2012. However, the 2X does introduce a new extruder -- the component that actually feeds plastic into the device, heats it and prints it out but it's been redesigned with a new extruder — the system that feeds, heats and "prints" the plastic.
Along with this, the new printer has also been adjusted to allow for use of both PLA (Polylactic acid) and ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastics. ABS tends to be a trickier material to work with but can yield better results for seasoned tinkerers, so MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis said that the new device was developed for the gadget-friendly mavens rather than a general audience.
This specialization is reflected in the price as well. The 2X will sell for $2,799, a $600 increase from the Replicator 2. Petties said that device will begin selling on Jan. 11, and printers will ship in March.