When MakerBot announced the Z18 printer last January at CES, there wasn’t much of a shipping date. Now, however, the company has begun shipping the massive 3D printer to customers who have pre-ordered thus far and expect to ship from their Brooklyn factory in six to eight weeks for new orders.
The $6,499 Z18 is most notable for its 18-inch build height, allowing you to print surprisingly large items including life-sized helmets and cohesive industrial prototypes for vehicles and the like. It is part of the new MakerBot line-up which also includes the MakerBot Mini and the standard Replicator.
Who needs a Z18? Designers of large-scale items, obviously, as well as engineers and anyone looking to prototype large objects without having to snap them into smaller pieces in software and then glue them together. It is still one of the least expensive large-format printers available (although there have been some crowdfunded projects that have come under $4,000) but the MakerBot includes a heated and closed build environment as well as a camera for watching the print in action via desktop or mobile app.
That said, if you have seven large to drop on a large-format printer, this might be just the thing you need to build your Iron Man/Hello Kitty mash-up cosplay armor. Let us know how it goes.