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CES 2014: MakerBot reveals new Replicator Mini 3D printer

MakerBot has introduced three new 3D printers in its upcoming lineup of fifth-generation Replicator products, including one dubbed the Replicator Mini, which the company is pitching as an affordable desktop unit for beginners.

Along with the entry-level Replicator Mini, which has a build volume of 75 cubic inches, MakerBot is also dialling up a new flagship Replicator desktop 3D printer with a 456-cubic-inch build volume, and an industrial-class additive manufacturing box called the Replicator Z18, measuring 2,592 cubic inches.

"This is fifth-generation technology that's setting the standard for reliability, quality, and connectivity. It's our fastest and easiest 3D printer to use," MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis said of the new Replicator printer.

The new printers come packed with 3D-printing software and firmware, plus cloud-connecting capabilities, meaning "you can connect to [them] however you want—a phone, a tablet, or your desktop computer," Pettis said in a video introducing the new Replicator lineup.

The MakerBot 3D Printing Platform now includes the some new applications for desktop and mobile, including MakerBot PrintShop, a "fun, easy, and free way to create and 3D print unique items," and the MakerBot Digital Store where users can "purchase, download, and print incredible MakerBot Verified 3D collections and models," the company said in a news release.

MakerBot's new printers also feature 3.5in colour LCD screens to give users the ability to monitor the progress of their print jobs and set up Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections with other systems and devices.

The Replicator Mini prints at a 200-micron resolution, while the larger units can print at 100-micron resolution. MakerBot's new printers can use biodegradable PLA filament for printing jobs, a greener alternative to ABS plastic.

One new feature in the Replicator 3D printer highlighted by GigaOM is the automated pausing of print jobs when filament runs out and then restarts the job when more has been loaded, which is also made easier to do in the new printers courtesy of a new "extruder" unit that snaps in and out of place using magnets.

"We believe that the MakerBot 3D Ecosystem we are presenting to the world fulfills the vision of a 3D printer for everyone," Pettis said. "Years and years of hard work and dreams are packed into these 3D printers, 3D scanner, apps, and the new MakerBot Digital Store. We have laid the groundwork for everyone to be able to be a creative explorer. We can't contain our excitement to unleash the MakerBot 3D Ecosystem to the world."

The new Replicator 3D printer is currently available to purchase, while the Replicator Mini and Replicator Z18 are set to ship later this year.

Meanwhile, MakerBot also announced that it is entering a "strategic alliance with innovative 3D vision company SoftKinetic" to make future 3D scanning products.

Check out our CES 2014 liveblog for up-to-date info on all the happenings in Vegas.