Low-cost 3D scanners one more necessary step toward mass-market 3D printing

If you’re an old-timer like me, you might remember it was much harder to do pretty much anything when you first started using computers.
Whether you were an early Apple ][ guy/girl in the 80’s or started computing in the 90’s when the web first became mainstream, doing stuff we take for granted today like printing, zipping files around from one place to another’ or uploading images was much more difficult than compared to today. You had to cobble the pieces together, and it kind of took a while to do things like get online, print a document, or make a presentation that you could show at school or work.
Well, that’s kind of where 3D printing is today. Sure, it’s rapidly getting easier and prices are dropping, but to do anything quickly is not realistic unless you’re fully equipped with the printer, good 3D design software, lots of materials and so on.
Slowly but surely, we’re starting to see the pieces of the 3D computing fall into place, and before long someone who is just getting into 3D printing will be able to jump in quickly and start producing.
And a big piece of the puzzle is 3D scanners. After all, the promise of 3D printing is more than just designing completely new creations or downloading designs from Thingiverse to print out. It’s also to also to be able to easily replicate any real-world item we have in our midst.
And to do that you really need a scanner.
They’re on their way, and at much lower prices than just a year ago. Today Makerbot announced that its first 3D scanner, the Digitizer, is available for preorder for $1,400, and there are others such as  Matterform and Fuel3D that are bringing even lower-cost 3D scanners to the market.
This is just the beginning of lower-cost 3D scanners, which is important piece to the puzzle if 3D printing is to ever go beyond the maker and professional crowd to the masses. In fact, it’s probably just a matter of time — probably within the next 12 to 18 months — before someone puts together a “3D printing lab” in a box, with all the various pieces together for $1,000 or below, which is probably the threshold price for much bigger adoption for what is now largely still a tinkerer’s hobby.