It’s a well known fact that printer technology has evolved a lot in the past years. From the first ink jet printers, to laser printers and now, the stage belongs to the 3D printers. A new technology that is revolutionizing the way we look at printers, literally from a drawing on paper to a 3D object you can hold in your hand. A few years ago, 3D printers where just a concept, a thing we used to reed in science fiction navels, but nowadays, they are getting more and more attention.
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Because the prices for 3D printers have dropped, they can now be found even in some homes, not only in university science labs. They have bigger resolutions, so they can “print” more complicated designs with much more fidelity, putting them, for the first time in the shopping list of average consumers. Of course, they are still complicated pieces of equipment, and also bigger and slower than most ink jet printers, but on the other hand, they’re about the size of a big, laser printer. I’m sure that with time they will get smaller and smaller, and if the prices continue to drop, they will be a usual item on people’s desks.
Top 6 Cheap 3D Printers
But how do 3D printers actually work? It’s a question that I asked myself since the first time I’ve heard of such printers. 3D printers work by adding layer upon layer of material until they create a 3D object from a digital 3D file. There are other technologies, like DPL (digital light processing) that make 3D prints by shining laser lights in a plastic tub. When the light heats the molded material, it hardens. 3D printers are now getting smaller and smaller and soon we will be seeing them on everyone’s desk. But if you don’t want to wait until then, here are a few alternatives:
MakerBot seem to be leading the way in 3D printer technology and development. They are the ones behind the Thing-o-Matic, one of the best 3D printers targeted to average users. This 3D printer will do high quality 3D models really fast (for a 3D printer), but if you decide to buy one, keep in mind you have to assemble it yourself. You will get a lot of parts and an instruction manual. Try to think of it as a LEGO model. But after all the work is done, you will have a fully functional 3D printer capable of making almost any 3D model you can think of.
This is not a 3D printer in the real sense of the word. It can replicate almost any 3D model with real high fidelity. This replicator can be found in 2 models: one with only 1 printing nozzle, that can print monochrome models, and the other with 2 printing nozzles that can print 2 colors. A really nice piece of tech and I expect to see more of it in the future. Maybe a merge between the Thing-o-Matic and the Replicator.
The most portable 3D printer you could ever find! It’s lightweight, it can print really detailed models and it’s perfect for home or office environments. You can pick up one for $2700. This printer is perfect for anyone who wants to build models, engineers, architects, teachers or those who are passionate about DIY. As you can see, this is a basic 3D printer but it will make the desired objects without hesitation. If I had enough money, I’d try a kiddo like this!
This 3D printer design is an ambitious project that Brook Drumm undertook a while back, and now it’s finally done. The Printrbot HQ is now up and running and it seems it will be here for some time. Seeing the market picking up, Brook is one of the pioneers of 3D printing. This project received an incredible amount of $830,827 from the $25, 000 goal. Let’s hope they will continue on working on the project and maybe we’ll soon see some more cheap and affordable 3D printers.
RepRap is an even more ambitious project struggling to bring 3D printers to the masses. It’s a printer that can almost self replicate. Because it has many of its part made from plastic, the printer can make most of its own parts (except the electronics and the metal parts obviously). RepRap has more than one 3D printer designs, and if you are interested, you should give them a call and get one of their 4 designs: Prusa Mendel, MendelMax, Original Mendel or RepRapPro Huxley.
This a hefty printer, at 150 pounds and a little under $10k, this printer is not for anyone. But it’s still cheaper than most. It’s a good investment for anyone who is in the design business. It’s not as good for a home of office, because of its dimensions, but nonetheless, a very good 3D printer and an affordable one as well. If you’re planning to sell toys at low prices and beat even the Chinese products, then maybe you should go for this “monster”.
Update: Currently, on Kickstarter there is the FORM 1 3D printer. With a nice looking design, it has many chances of becoming a real, affordable 3D printer that could find its place in your house. It’s different than other 3D printers because it’s said to come with a much bigger resolution. The team has managed to receive already $1.5 million; they initially asked for only $100, 000. The 3D printing revolution is here.
It’s true, the market for 3D printing is not that wide yet. But it’s a technology still in development and in few short years you will be able to find them at your local computer dealership. And, to be honest, I sometimes doubt that 3D printing will reach to the wide audience because, if everybody will have to chance to make products at home, why bother and buy them. I am talking about small to medium objects that you could make using your printer buddy. And, why not, even make a business out of it? 3D printing and affordable 3D printers are the way to remodeling our society.