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January 9, 2014

The ‘iTunes’ of 3D printing

MakerBot's digital store makes it easy to purchase and print.

By Ben Sullivan

MakerBot, a 3D printing company, has unveiled a digital store that features professionally designed digital 3D models that are able to be bought, downloaded and printed with just one touch.

It heralded the store as the ‘iTunes’ of 3D printing at the CES in Los Angeles.

"3D printing can be a bit daunting from the outside, so we’ve created all these 3D designs that you can buy individual models or as a collection – a bit like songs – and create fun for kids and adults alike," said Bre Pettis, co-founder and chief executive of MakerBot.

The digital store works alongside the Thingiverse service, guaranteeing proven designs. It launches with six collections of models mainly based around toys.

"In the MakerBot Digital Store, visitors can purchase high-quality, delightful, printable and paintable digital 3D models and collections. The models are MakerBot Verified to successfully print on MakerBot Replicator 2 and fifth generation MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printers," said MakerBot.

"The Digital Store effectively turns a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer into an in-home entertainment device and completely redefines the distribution channel: there is no packaging, no shelving requirements, no distributor/retailer mark-up, and the customer can print as many copies from the digital file as they want."

Individual models cost just $0.99, or $9.99 for a whole collection. Toys include dragons, knights, and pet animals.

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The model collection also includes a series of rockets and "famous flyers", based on real-life famous aircraft.

"Our objective is simple. We’re going to learn by what people like, and do more of that," said Pettis.

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