LAS VEGAS--We knew the Replicator 2X was coming, and MakerBot did not disappoint.
Announced only in name this past September, MakerBot demonstrated a working Replicator 2X 3D printer at a press conference today at CES. The new printer is a higher-end version of the Replicator 2 MakerBot announced this past autumn.
Like the Replicator 2, the new model features a finer printing resolution than the original MakerBot Replicator, as small as 100 microns per layer of extruded plastic, and it also has a redesigned chassis. Among the updated features of the more polished-looking design are an aluminum build platform and print area that's enclosed by plastic windows. The benefit is that the build area retains heat better than the open chassis, allowing for faster and more reliable printing.
Unique to the Replicator 2X are the ability to print in two-different colors, and also the ability to print with both PLA (Polylactic acid) and ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastics. The Replicator 2 will only support one color, and will only print with PLA. ABS can be more challenging to print with, but it's a popular material among 3D printing hobbyists.
MakerBot has launched the Replicator 2 a day after competitor 3D Systems announced its own high-end 3D printer, the CubeX. The Cube X also supports PLA and ABS, and comes in configurations that let you print with up to three different colors. The Replicator 2X costs $2,799, a single-color CubeX costs $2,499, and scales up to $3,999 for the three-color model.
The Replicator 2X is not MakerBot's only news from the show. The company also announced that it will be manufacturing its own plastic print material, with the goal of expanding the color selection and experimenting with different material properties.
MakerBot has also announced a new API for its Thingiverse Web site that hosts user-made design files for printable objects. With the API, MakerBot says users can make their own applications to tap into the Thingiverse object library. The company says a community member has already made a Customizer app that makes it easy for those without CAD training to come up with their own printable designs.
MakerBot will begin taking orders for the Replicator 2 on January 11, and it says it will begin shipping the printer to customers by mid-March.