(Phys.org) —3D printing has been around for years, well known and used by engineers and designers at big organizations. The real 3D printer revolution today is being seen among independent designers and engineers along with a general audience of enthusiasts who are interested in making something interesting if not innovative. Microsoft has recognized this fresh market to tap in 3D printing and has taken two steps forward. In June, at the BUILD developer conference, Microsoft presented a 3D printer driver for Windows 8.1 demo and announced that the MakerBot Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer was on sale at a Microsoft stores in San Francisco, Seattle and Palo Alto. These were well chosen sites considering customers who may be motivated enough to consider the cost of desktop 3D printers.
Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that it is stepping out again to expand the "MakerBot experience" in-its stores so that, as of August 5, there will be a total of 18 store locations carrying the MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer.
Brooklyn-based MakerBot, founded in 2009, is leading the pack in the desktop 3D printer market. The Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer is MakerBot's fourth-generation 3D printer. The printer is promoted as a fast and easy to use tool for making professional-quality models and prototypes.
MakerBot's printer has a resolution capability of 100 microns; and it has a build volume of 410 cubic inches, or, as the company puts it, "410 cubic inches of creative potential." The frame is black powder-coated steel for strength and durability. The machine is resistant to changes in temperature and humidity. The company notes the printer is designed for quiet operation. The deal includes a spool of Natural PLA filament. The MakerBot Replicator 2 is compatible with 1.75/1.8 mm PLA filament, according to the company.
As part of the Microsoft retail store experience, potential customers can see 3D printing in action as well as buy a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer and MakerBot PLA Filament. PLA refers to polylactic acid, a biodegradable plastic that the printer uses.
Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot, said, "We've seen tremendous interest and enthusiasm at the three initial 'MakerBot Experience' stores. Rolling the program out to 15 additional Microsoft Stores supercharges our mission to bring 3D printing to more people."
According to the company, MakerBot desktop 3D printers are used by engineers, designers, researchers, and people who just like to make things. The 18 Microsoft stores that will sell MakerBot 3D printers and offer in-store demonstrations are in Scottsdale, Arizona; Costa Mesa, Mission Viejo, Palo Alto, San Diego, San Francisco, California; Lone Tree, Colorado; Danbury, Connecticut; Atlanta; Oak Brook, and Schaumburg, Illinois; Bloomington, Minnesota; Salem, New Hampshire; Bridgewater, New Jersey; White Plains, New York; Houston, McLean, Virginia, and Bellevue, Washington. The Makerbot Replicator 2 will be priced at $2,549 from stores when bundled with MakerBot's service plan.
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