Mark our words, the revolution is coming, and it will be 3D printed. Scrappy startup Makerbot has always led the charge to make this advanced technology accessible at the consumer level, and their latest creation, the Makerbot Replicator 2 ($2,200) is the next logical step. The biggest advantage of the new machine is its 100 micron print layer resolution, which is about as thin as a standard sheet of copy paper and allows users to create truly smooth models with no additional sanding. It also boasts 37% more volume than its predecessor (410 cubic inches) for printing larger scale objects. Unlike the previous machines which featured plywood frames and required some assembly, the Replicator 2 ships fully assembled with professional grade powdercoated steel chassis and is built to use MarkerBOT PLA Filament, a renewable bioplastic that is far less prone to peeling, curling, sliding or shrinking and requires 32% less energy to build compared to ABS plastic.

While these improvements are unquestionably beneficial to enterprising modelers, the bump in sophistication does come with some caveats. The improved machine is more expensive and shockingly, it’s also closed-source, both in terms of its hardware design and the software used to develop printable objects; this is a major change for a company that once stood as the poster boy for open-source development. Specifically, since their inception, Makerbot has fostered an incredibly active community in the 3D printing space — built around a free exchange of innovation in both CNC machine and 3D object design. After a recent funding influx of $10 million, and weathering a Kickstarter scare over a project dubbed Tangibot which essentially wanted to clone Makerbot’s work, it appears that protecting its developing business has become priority number one. We can’t blame them for this change of heart, but the maker community is unlikely to be so forgiving.

Buy Now: $2,200