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MakerBot shows off Digitizer 3D scanner at SXSW

MakerBot opened this year's SXSW in Austin by unveiling the MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner, a device intended to facilitate 3D printing on the company's flagship devices.

"It's a natural progression for us to create a product that makes 3D printing even easier," Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot, said in a statement. "With the MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner, now everyone will be able to scan a physical item, digitize it, and print it in 3D – with little or no design experience."

At this point, the Digitizer 3D scanner is still a prototype, and MakerBot said it will spend time testing, scanning, and 3D printing the items scanned with it.

"The MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner is an innovative new way to take a physical object, scan it, and create a digital file – without any design, CAD software or 3D modeling experience at all – and then print the item again and again on a MakerBot Replicator 2 or MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer," Pettis said.

The technology users lasers and cameras to replicate physical objects into a digital form and file, MakerBot said.

"The MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner is a great tool for archiving, prototyping, replicating, and digitizing prototypes, models, parts, artifacts, artwork, sculptures, clay figures, jewelry, etc.," Pettis said. "If something gets broken, you can just scan it and print it again."

Those who want more information on the Digitizer can sign up on MakerBot's website.

SXSW has traditionally focused on software offerings, like Twitter and Foursquare. This year, however, some hardware manufacturers will be on hand, like Leap with its new motion controller. Pettis actually took the wraps of MakerBot's first 3D printer at SXSW four years ago.

More recently, MakerBot in September unveiled the Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer, the company's fourth-generation 3D printer. The MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer, meanwhile, made its debut at CES.