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Tinkerine Ditto Pro Brings 3D Printing to Schools

It's not hard to find a high-quality 3D printer, but finding one that won't break the bank is another story. Tinkerine, a 3D printing company from Vancouver, will soon launch its Ditto Pro printer. This apparatus aims to provide all the functionality of a much more expensive machine at a much lower price point, which could be especially helpful to educators.

Tom's Guide took a look at the Ditto Pro firsthand at SxSW 2014. While Tinkerine cannot yet reveal specs for the device, what we saw looked promising. The printer itself is tall and not too wide, without any extraneous sharp edges. A Tinkerine representative stressed that a sleek design was one of the device's major selling points.

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The Ditto Pro sports a 7 x 8 x 9 inch removable printing bed, and functions with PLA filament. The device can print any color of filament, although it can only print one color at a time. Beyond that, the Ditto Pro appeared comparable to other similarly sized printers on the market.

The printer will also sport flexible, easy-to-use software. Users can download patterns from the Internet and use Tinkerine's software to resize and optimize them for the Ditto Pro. Using programs SketchUp or Maya, users can also create and import their own projects.

Tinkerine aims to set the Ditto Pro apart from its competitors in two major ways: its price and its potential usefulness to educators. The printer is currently on track to launch in April, and Tinkerine will announce a final price then. The company is aiming for about $1,900, which is a far cry from $2,500 for a MakerBot 3D printer of comparable size.

Educators in Vancouver have also worked with Tinkerine to use the DittoPro firsthand. Tinkerine believes that partnerships with educators will benefit both the company and the schools in the long run. A 3D printer has obvious applications in arts and engineering classes.

A Tinkerine representative explained that 3D printing has a range of uses in humanities and sciences as well. A history teacher, for example, could print period-specific sculptures or pottery, while a biology teacher could print out entire skeletons of extinct animals.

The 3D printing market is already getting fairly crowded, but one more contender couldn't hurt, provided that it's a good one. Expect a formal announcement about the Ditto Pro in April, with shipments to follow over the next few months.

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