Its seems like everyday I run into some article, tweet or news story about 3D printers. Apparently the price for a good 3D printer has dropped significantly over the last 2 years, which means a regular consumer like you and me can actually afford one.
People have printed 3D iPhone cases, jewelry, figurines, guitars, and even bigger stuff like dresses and cars. It’s gotten quite crazy and since it’s such a new technology that is also cool, it’s becoming quite popular. If you’re interested in getting your own 3D printer and making your own toys for your kids or building something more elaborate, then here’s a quick list of good, but affordable 3D printers.
Of course, there are tens or even hundreds of 3D printers out there, but so far only a handful are being mass-produced and are within the price range of normal consumers. If you have any experience with a 3D printer, feel free to post a comment and let us know.
MakerBot Replicator, 2, and 2X
The folks over at MakerBot know how to make 3D printers. They are the most popular and it’s pretty clear why. The prices for the Replicator, Replicator 2, and Replicator 2X are very reasonable when you’re talking about 3D printers at $1,750, $2,199 and $2,799 respectively. On top of that, the build quality is first-class and it’s also stylish.
Obviously, the main draw is the fact that it can print 3D objects beautifully. You can print out an entire chess set using this thing! That’s pretty amazing. You can use multiple colors at the same time to print multi-colored 3D objects. The new Replicators also have a host of other advancements that make it one of the best 3D printers currently on the market.
Cube & CubeX
Next down the line is the Cube and CubeX 3D printers. These are also reasonably priced and give you close to the quality of MakerBot. MakerBot still stands out with it’s excellent design and high-quality build materials, but the Cube printers from Cubify are pretty top-notch.
As you can see from the screenshot above, the price of the CubeX goes up quite a bit when you take into account the number of colors you can print at once. It shoots up to $4,000 for the top-of-the-line model. With MakerBot, you can spend a grand less and still print in multiple colors. With the Cube, you can print 3D objects up to 5.5 inches whereas on the CubeX, you can go all the way up to 10.8 inches!
Solidoodle is a 3D printer that is a fraction of the cost of other 3D printers. Why? Well it definitely cuts some corners. However, it’s made my a former employee of MakerBot, so that’s a good thing. Priced at $800 for the 3rd generation model, Solidoodle is a great 3D printer for someone who can’t afford the $2K+ robots, but still wants to be able to print their own 3D objects. It’s got less features and definitely doesn’t look as fancy and polished as the Replicator, but it still gets the job done. You can print objects up to 8x8x8, which is pretty big considering the price.
If you can’t afford $800 either, then you should check out the 3Doodler Pen on Kickstarter! It’s an amazing pen that lets you draw on a surface or in the air and create a 3D objects for only $75 (or $99 if you don’t back it on Kickstarter in time). As you draw, the pen extrudes heated plastic fed in from the back, which then cools and forms a strong 3D structure.
The great thing about this pen is that it’s so cheap compared to ALL other 3D printers and let’s you start playing around with 3D printing quickly. As long as you can trace, you can create your own 3D objects. Granted these are not going to be professional grade 3D objects by any means, but it’s still pretty cool. Check out some pics below:
Not bad for a $75 pen! Delivery of the pen isn’t anticipated until September 2013, so you’ll have to wait a while to get it. However with the low-cost and level of sophistication, it’s definitely worth waiting for. So there are four affordable 3D printers you can purchase to start your own business on Etsy selling unique trinkets. Enjoy!