News: American 3D printing company MakerBot has unveiled a prototype of a desktop scanner that will allow users to digitally scan objects they want to replicate with a 3D printer at home.
Launching the MakerBot Digitizer at the SXSW technology conference in Austin, Texas, last week, the company's CEO Bre Pettis said: "Now everyone will be able to scan a physical item, digitise it, and print it in 3D – with little or no design experience."
The Digitizer works by using a webcam to locate the points at which two laser beams bounce off an object's surface. The points are mapped out and turned into a plan for a 3D model, which can then be produced by a 3D printer like the desktop version sold by MakerBot.
"The MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner is a great tool for archiving, prototyping, replicating, and digitising prototypes, models, parts, artifacts, artwork, sculptures, clay figures, jewellery," added Prettis. "If something gets broken, you can just scan it and print it again."
MakerBot hopes to make the Digitizer available to consumers this autumn, but in the meantime users can register their interest on the company's website.
Last year Prettis told Dezeen that cheap 3D printers could bring manufacturing back into the home. "Before the industrial revolution everybody did work at home; there was a cottage industry," he said. "Now we're bringing the factory back to the individual."
Earlier this year we reported on a desktop machine that grinds up waste plastic to make new filament for 3D printers and news that firearms enthusiasts in the US are sharing 3D print files for illicit items like weapons, medical devices and drugs – see all news on 3D printing.
Dezeen was also at SXSW as part of Hackney House Austin, a showcase of the most exciting creative and digital companies from the London borough.