Makerbot Releases Zee, A Blank Canvas For Artists

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Not content with selling the best-selling consumer 3D printer on the market, Makerbot is working hard to become a force in just-in-time design and alternative art.

Zee is a small figure inspired by paintable toys like Kid Robot’s Munny, Zee is designed to be printed out and decorated. It is available on Makerbot’s digital store for 99 cents.

Zee is part of Makerbot’s effort to start selling digital models in its specialized store, thereby giving 3D printer owners something cool to print. While its powerful Thingiverse model archive is full of amazing (free) stuff, the digital store features content from Sesame Street alongside homegrown content like Chunky Trains, a printable train kit for kids. Much like the old cabinet makers recorded records for pre-War homeowners to play on their new phonographs, Makerbot is making stuff to play on their hardware.

It’s a clever – and potentially lucrative – model. Makerbot gave Zee to a number of artists and even created a magazine issue dedicated to Zee designs available at the Makerbot Retail Store. By creating art out of what is essentially a geeky pastime, Makerbot is able to convince designers that it makes perfect sense to have a Replicator right next to their jars of pencils.