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3D printers move toward mainstream: Ricoh brings MakerBot to NZ, reveals sales expectations

When Ricoh NZ marketing manager Murray Clark wanted to make a plastic part for his motorbike, he went casting around for 3D printer options.

Discovering his own company had no plans to develop a 3D printer, he pushed for it to become the local agent for MakerBot - the US brand that has brought 3D printing to the masses.

He succeeded. 

This week, Ricoh NZ announced it's selling the MakerBot Replicator 2 printer ($3795), which can print 3D plastic objects from 100,000+ designs downloaded from MakerBot’s Thingiverse.com.

Ricoh is also selling the MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner ($2195), which canbe  to scan a real-life object in 3D. A copy of which can then be printed by the Replicator 2.

The MakerBot Replicator 2 allows you to print one colour at once, but you can pause and change the filament to add a second colour, if a design demands it.

Ricoh is also selling the MakerBot Replicator 2X ($4495), which has dual extrusion for printing two colours at once.

Plastic filament is $99 a kilo if you buy the official MakerBot brand, but Mr Clark is also hooking customers up with filament from a third-party that starts at $27 for 300g.

MakerBot is far from the cheapest 3D print around. But Mr Clark liked the MakerBot Replicator 2 for its solid reputation, its size (it claims an industry leading build volume that lets you create objects up to [8.5cm long  x 15.3cm wide x 15cm high) and its speed.

Within 10 minutes, he has the MakerBot whip up a length of interlocking plastic chain for NBR, followed by a plastic bracelet, which also takes around 10 minutes.

Mr Clark says he's already had a lot of interest from schools. He also sees potential for service outlets to "print" replacement parts for the likes of home appliances rather than order them in.

He's picking he'll sell between 500 and 1000 units during the MakerBots first 12 months on the NZ market.

If you're not afraid of a little self-assembly (with crowdsourced help on hand and meetup opportunities) the NZ-designed DiamondMind 3D Printer V2, created by West Aucklanders Tim Carr and Vik Olliver, is another option. It sells for $1499. Check it out at www.mindkits.co.nz.

Read more about the 3D printing revolution, and Ricoh and others' plans, in this Friday's print edition of NBR.

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

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