Although they’ve been on the market for awhile as a 3D printer manufacturer now, MakerBot has been up to a lot more than just creating glorified hot glue guns that create colorful vases and toys. In addition to their recent partnerships with global brands including Sesame Street, Hello Kitty, Martha Stewart and more recently, Hoover Vacuums, the company has also been busy developing new materials, new apps, new partnerships and even a full-fledged 3D printing production facility that promises to fulfill orders of up to 100,000 parts.
While the majority of the talk at CES this year is centered around the Internet of Things (IoT) and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), the news coming out of the 3D printing area at CES Tech West is still critical for shaping the future of localized manufacturing and where we’re heading next with additive manufacturing.
But while other 3D printer manufacturers are showing off their new machines, MakerBot chose to opt out of this year’s curtain unveilings in favor of announcements that build off of their already-established ecosystem to help break down the complexities of 3D printing for a wide variety of users.
Regardless if you use a MakerBot or not, the announcements reveal what the possible near-future of consumer 3D printing in general will look like. Here’s a breakdown:
New Services for 3D Design and Education:
Aimed at helping both professionals and consumers alike, the new Professional Services component of the MakerBot ecosystem consists of a wide range of options including consulting for businesses that want to add 3D printing to their services or processes, 3D printing education for those needing a primer in 3D printing 101, a 3D design service that includes high-poly modeling and industrial design, as well as a production service for clients needing between 50-100,000 units made of a particular product.
New Composite PLA Materials:
Slated to be released in late 2015, the new materials will coincide with a swappable MakerBot Replicator Smart Extruder, which is designed to accommodate an increasing range of material options, starting with these.
With the updated iOS and Android apps, MakerBot is aiming to make printing remotely a new standard. Due to long print times, this makes sense. The latest models of their 3D printer lineup include onboard video cameras for watching your print progress remotely, while the latest update brings digital file previews, file preparation and the ability to start and stop a 3D print from your smartphone. Additionally, the company is also working on a MakerBot Innovation Center Management Platform for managing large groups (as many as 100) 3D printers all from a single interface.
“(We are) focusing our efforts on creating the most comprehensive 3D Ecosystem to support our customers,” said MakerBot CEO Jenny Lawton. “3D printing is not simple. It is not plug-and-play. 3D printing takes work and takes software and hardware that make it work. We are focused on improving the overall 3D printing process to make it easier and more accessible for everyone.”