Friday, August 23rd, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

MakerBot releases Digitizer desktop 3D scanner

MakerBot has expanded its product range from 3D printing to desktop 3D scanning with its new Digitizer 3D scanner, which has just become available to order via the company’s website.

Like the upcoming Matterform 3D scanner, the Digitizer is targeted towards the burgeoning home 3D printing market, with the product webpage at pains to link the scanner to MakerBot’s Thingieverse model-sharing site.

However, it’s a tool that many professional artists will at least be interested in checking out: at $1,400, it’s a little under half the price of Next Engine’s 3D Scanner HD, although more than Matterform’s proposed $599.

So how does the Digitizer stack up?
Like the Matterform unit, the Digitizer requires scanned objects to be placed on a rotating turntable, restricting its capture volume. The two have pretty much the same upper size limit: 203 x 203 x 203mm in the case of the Digitizer, 190 x 190 x 250mm in the case of the Photon.

In contrast, the NextEngine scanner does not rely on a turntable, and may be used to scan much larger objects.

Another sticking point for professional artists may be dimensional accuracy: at +/- 2.0mm, the Digitizer is considerably less accurate than the Matterform and NextEngine models (+/- 0.2mm and 0.13mm, respectively).

And like Matterform, but unlike NextEngine, the Digitizer only captures geometry, not texture data.

The range of output formats is also more restricted: STL only, as opposed to Matterform’s choice of STL, OBJ or PLY, or NextEngine’s much larger range of options.

Here now, and being marketed effectively
However, MakerBot does have the advantage of beating Matterform to market, at least by a few weeks – Matterform’s website currently says that it aims to start accepting pre-orders in September.

The Digitizer also benefits from MakerBot’s marketing savvy, with CEO Bre Pettis’s customarily enthusiastic video introduction (above) placed prominently on the Digitizer’s product page.

For home users, the Digitizer looks likely to be popular. Pros looking for a quick way to digitise reference material may be well advised to wait a couple of months for the comparative reviews, however.

The MakerBot Digitizer is available to pre-order now, and should ship in mid-October.

Read more about the Digitizer on MakerBot’s website