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Makerbot Announces Its Digitizer 3D Scanner

By Will Smith

Makerbot Industries is well known for its 3D printers, but how do you make copies of objects that already exist in the real world? A 3D scanner.

At SXSW this afternoon, Makerbot founder Bre Pettis unveiled a prototype of the company's first 3D scanner, the Digitizer. From a user perspective, the scanner seems straightforward. You place the object to be scanned on a revolving pedestal, then its dimensions are captured with a combination of lasers and cameras. Pettis pitched the Digitizer as a device anyone can use to create a 3D model suitable for printing, without requiring any CAD or 3D modelling experience.

Beyond the basic theory, there isn't a ton of information--Makerbot's Digitizer page is just a front-end to notify you when there's more information available. We know that Makerbot has been experimenting with 3D scanning for at least 2 years--I was 3D scanned at Bay Area Maker Faire in 2011.