Break a coffee mug? Put it on this 3-D scanner, repair the damage in the resulting model on your computer, and print out a new one. That's the promise of the Digitizer device from Makerbot, announced at SXSW in March and due to go on sale next week, according to the company.
The Digitizer uses a laser scanner to record the precise dimensions of objects as they are spun slowly in a full circle on a small rotating platter. A few minutes later, a 3-D model appears on your computer, where you can tweak the dimensions, smooth out rough areas, or replace pieces that have chipped off.
It works with objects up to about 8 inches wide and tall, so you can't print a car just yet, but the demonstration at SXSW delighted the audience just the same. Making a 3-D model of something, even a simple object like a mug, is a fairly involved process, and the Digitizer makes it possible to recreate highly complicated things like figurines, parts, and even small tools.
There's no pricing yet, and like with the Replicator 3-D printer (about $2,200), there will probably be a bit of a wait even if you're among the first to order a Digitizer. All should be revealed next week when the device is officially launched.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.