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MakerBot Replicator first hands-on (update: video)

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Makerbot's Replicator is a 3D printer designed for the mainstream.

Gallery Photo:
Gallery Photo:

MakerBot's newest 3D printer — the Replicator — is on display here at CES 2012, and it's the kind of toy that'll instantly make you both the coolest and nerdiest kid on the block. It's got a wooden enclosure with wide cutouts on the front and sides that allow you to access the printing plate and watch as your item gets printed in ABS or PLA biodegradable plastic. An LCD screen up front lets you monitor your build and see statistics, and since it also has an SD card slot, you can start printing immediately using the built-in d-pad next to the screen. An optional dual-extruder configuration will let you print two-color items simultaneously, though it'll bump up the price by $250. Items up to 8.9 x 5.7 x 5.9-inches can be created on the machine, and it's honestly quite hypnotic to watch as the extruder moves in circles and lines across the printing plate. Print times vary based on size and thickness, but it's said to print 40mm per second. Since all units come preassembled, it's as simple as taking it out of the box, loading up your STL or gcode file, and clicking print — once you've paid the $1,749 starting price, of course.