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Before long, no garage or workbench will be complete without a 3-D printer, be it to replace broken parts, make party favors, or just tinker with. The MakerBot Replicator Mini, announced at CES in January, puts full-featured 3-D printing capability in a small package — if you have $1,375 to spend.
The Mini shares the same mold as its big brother, which goes by plain old Replicator, and uses many of the same materials and software. But it can only only print things up to 4 inches wide and 5 inches tall; that's more than enough for spare parts and small toys, but if you want to make a case for your tablet or perhaps a shoe (it's been done), you'd want a larger platform.
There are certainly smaller and cheaper printers out there, but MakerBot is one of the oldest brands in this new field, and has proven itself in the community. The Mini is shipping now, the company announced Monday, and you'll also soon be able to download apps specifically for monitoring your prints and finding new models.