MakerBot Introduces the Digitizer, A Viable Personal 3D Scanner


Makerbot 3D scanner gnomeThis morning it was 3D printed accessories, this afternoon, the advent of the 3D scanner.  MakerBot previewed the Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner today, which, at $1400 and shipping next month, represents the tech world’s first leap into personal 3D scanning.  The trouble with 3D scanners up to this point is that they’ve been too specific.  “There are scanners out there just for scanning the hulls of boats,” Bre Pettis, MakerBot’s CEO, joked during the launch.  “We wanted to make a scanner with a seamless experience without CAD cleanup needed.”

Pettis and his team did it.  Using a sheet of light triangulation scanner, the Digitizer creates a 3D model of any object under eight inches (though not less than two inches) in fewer than 12 minutes.  The detail resolution is half a millimeter, so very little information is lost in translation.  During the scanning process, a rotating plate takes 800 steps, through two passes, for the camera to create the final model.  A camera covering filters out extra color, so it only sees lines, and users select from light, medium, and dark shades at the beginning of the process to designate the tone of their object.  As was pointed out in today’s demonstration, scanning black or translucent objects, which won’t be picked up by the lasers, can be worked around with a little cornstarch.

Check Thingiverse, MakerBot’s hub for sharing 3D printed designs, to see some examples of the scanner’s potential.  While the first iteration of the technology isn’t ideal for very small objects, Pettis pointed out that “we’ve taken the time to get the software right and make it easy for people. And we’re going to continue to work on that.”  Once MakerBot’s scanner can work with under-two-inch dimensions, this could be a killer piece of technology for the accessories industry.

In the meantime, for your enjoyment, watch the scanner make a 3D model of a conch shell.