Author Options:

What Kind of 3D Printer? Answered

I am looking into getting a 3D printer for hobby projects and what not.  I don't have a lot of experience with 3D modeling, or 3D printing and 3D printers are expensive.  I would like to get a good printer but not spend a lot.  Does anyone have any suggestions of what kind of printer I should get, should I get single or double extruders how big a printing area etc?  I have been looking at Makerbot, and Rap Man.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.


I'm very partial to the Ultimaker - it takes a fair amount of tweaking, and you have to build it yourself but it has fantastic, affordable results. I've spent many an hour building/using one. ~1700USD

I personally own a Quantum ORD bot. It's not fully assembled yet but looks very promising. ~1000USD

Makerbot's new printer is fairly unique in the 1700 range, because it has dual extrusion built in - you just need to tweak a little and you have multiple material build support out of the box, preassembled.

Others to consider:
Reprap Mendel (or later) -- about 500-1000 in parts will get you a highly supported, average build quality machine. It won't knock your socks off for speed or accuracy but is very simple.

Someone recently came out with an open source RESIN/DLP build that should be absolutely stunning results once the resin is less than 50 dollars per kilogram. Depending on how you source your projector, entire build cost could be less than 1000.

IMO, its going to take additional research on your part to figure out exactly what you want (based on the pros and cons of each 3D printer) for what you'll use it for and for the price.

Here are some links that should get you started in comparing some of the printers that are available. Unfortunately, I don't think you'll find too many options that are "inexpensive", but we all have a different interpretation of what "expensive" is. ;-)