MakerBot Replicator video shows off open-source 3D printer

Don't want to buy toys? Why not make your own? Check out our video of the MakerBot Replicator 3D printer.

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Sick of going to shops and buying plastic toys like a chump? That woeful life could be behind you thanks to the MakerBot Replicator -- a 3D printer that prints plastic goodies. We've gone hands-on with the Replicator at the CES trade show in Las Vegas, so check out our video above to learn how this mechanical marvel works.

The Replicator uses ABS or PLA plastic, which is wound around two spools -- allowing for two different colours -- that sit on the back of the printer. That stringy plastic gets pulled into an extruder, where it's heated to 220C.

It's then pushed out as the printer-head part moves around, layering up the plastic goop to gradually sculpt an object.

So how does the Replicator know the pattern it's following? It works with MakerBot's ReplicatorG software -- a free, open-source program for Windows, Linux and Mac.

The software reads .stl files, which is a file format for 3D models. That model is then split down into layers, with the command send to the Replicator. Simple!

The Replicator connects to your computer via USB, though there's also an SD card slot on the side.

All that tech will set you back a pretty penny though -- the Replicator costs $1,999, though if that's a bit too much cash you can pay $1,749 for a version with only one spool on the back, though with that you'll only be able to print objects with one colour.

We're pleased to report the Replicator won one of CNET's Best of CES awards in the Emerging Tech category. This plastic-printing prince's predecessor was the smaller Thing-O-Matic -- a 3D printer we saw at CES last year.

Looks like it's time for us to learn 3D modelling. While we head down to our local library (or wherever the kids go to learn things these days) tell us what you think in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.

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About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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