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Few things have the ability to change the landscape of technology quite like 3D printers do. Not since Henry Ford invented assembly line manufacturing has there been such a seismic change in the way we create the things which we use, with astonishing implications.

The way 3D printers work is amazingly simple. You pass in a design created in a CAD/CAM 6 Tips To Get The Most Out of LibreCAD Free CAD Software 6 Tips To Get The Most Out of LibreCAD Free CAD Software Finding a good, free CAD-style drawing program is not an easy task. There are plenty of great 2D CAD programs out there, like TurboCAD or AutoCAD, but how many quality options are completely free? There... Read More product, and the 3D printer interprets your design to produce a product. Then, layers and layers of a hot, pliable polymer is stacked until you’re left with something that resembles the relayed blueprints. The uses for 3D printers What Is 3D Printing And How Exactly Does It Work? What Is 3D Printing And How Exactly Does It Work? Imagine if you could print out three-dimensional objects straight from a printer in your home. When I was a kid in primary school, I thought it would be awesome if I could print pizzas out... Read More are endless, and are applicable in creative arts, medicine and even the culinary world. Some people have even used them to replace parts of the human body, including a Welshman who had his face crushed in a motorcycle accident.

Until recently, the only way you could get your hands on a 3D printer was by selling one of your kidneys, but now (as often is the case with consumer technologies) they’ve started to fall in price. Here are some 3D printers you can buy right now for less than a grand.

RepRap (Prices Vary)

RepRap is billed as “humanity’s first general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine”. So, what does that mean?

Firstly, the RepRap is a DIY 3D printer. It’s entirely open source, making it easy for people to make their own RepRap devices from commonly accessible components. If going on a components hunt isn’t really your thing, you can always buy a parts kit, and assemble it yourself.

3dprinter-reprap

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Making yourself a 3D printer can cost anything from $200 upwards, with some kits costing upwards of $400. And the really cool thing about the RepRap? You can use it to print another RepRap!

UP Mini ($940)

Are you looking for a 3D printer that “just works”? The UP Mini might be what you’re looking for. This diminutive device is tiny in size, but packs a mighty punch, printing designs both quickly and robustly. It also easy to get started, without having to perform any manual calibration or configuration.

upmini3d

The UP Mini prints with ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) – a common material used by 3D printers which is cheaply available in most good hardware and electronics shops; as well as PLA filaments. Unlike some of the more expensive 3D printers, filament is not included and has to be purchased separately. It’s able to print anything that can fit within 120mm x 120mm x 120mm with a resolution between 200 and 400 microns.

Sadly, none of this comes cheap. The UP Mini will set you back a cool $1037 from eBay, That’s no small chunk of change. With that said, in return you get a small, powerful 3D printer that doesn’t get in your way, and that looks the part.

3d StuffMaker Creator ($700)

The 3d Stuffmaker Creator is a little known printer from Aussie firm iPrint Technologies. Don’t let the tiny price fool you; this 3D printer packs a punch. With sleek, industrial aesthetics, it looks the part too. Fully assembled, it takes up a space of 480mm x 480mm x 500mm which is roughly the same as a regular laser printer. The supplied printing software is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.

3dstuffmaker

This beast quaffs 3.0mm Polylactic Acid (PLA) filament, which can be easily be found online. In addition, you get a reasonable level of accuracy, with each layer being a miniscule 5 microns thick. The 3d Stuffmaker Creator costs just short of $700, and can be grabbed from Amazon. One thing you will have to purchase separately is the 12V power supply unit, which you can easily find in most hobbyist shops for around $20.

Cubify Cube ($1299)

The Cube is a relatively inexpensive 3D printer, but doesn’t compromise on usability and looks.

Okay, I’m cheating a bit here. The Cube is just slightly over $1000, setting you back $1299 if purchased from Amazon. However, for that bit of extra cash, you get a pretty incredible 3D printer. Cube comes with plug-and-play functionality, WiFi printing and is sold in a range of pastel colors that are almost reminiscent of the iPhone 5c iPhone 5c Review And Giveaway iPhone 5c Review And Giveaway At this year's iPhone event, Apple announced not one, but two new iPhones, a first for the company. We are giving away an unlocked 16 GB green iPhone 5c to one lucky winner. Read More . They also make assurances to it being child-safe, which will be reassuring to any parent of an aspiring maker.

3dprinter-cube

The Cube takes up very little desk real-estate, but can still print reasonably large designs, with the maximum size being 140mm x 140mm x 140mm. You can also print with two materials, including ABS and PLA (Polylactic Acid) – a compostable plastic with less environmental impact.

Cube is available to order right now, and you can get your hands on it here. We’ll reviewing it very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that, and the accompanying giveaway!

Conclusion

The prices of 3D printers are dropping, and as they get cheaper and cheaper, it stands to reason that they’ll find themselves in more and more homes. Will you be getting one? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo Credits: Maciej Wojnikijabella

  1. Milinda L
    January 6, 2014 at 6:04 am

    It's awesome.

  2. Kevin M
    December 16, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Where did you get your information that you could build a RepRap for under 400? The reality is these printers cost as much or more than a commercial printer does (average is $1200). So in the end you get a Sanford and Sons look alike 3D printer that looks home made for sure but cost out the ass! Personally I would rather buy a sharp looking printer that has company support that does not look like something Si Robertson might have built!

    • Chris
      January 10, 2014 at 7:57 am

      WHOOSH!
      I'd still rather build my own for $1200, then print an epic looking case to hide it under rather than buy one for the same price that looks 'meh..'
      + Then there's the added bonus of being able to tell people I built it myself and being proud of the achievement.

  3. John
    December 16, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Er, "just slightly over $1000" is $1001, not $1299! Unless it prints Bitcoins of course. Then it could cost less to buy than you paid for it.
    Now that's cool.
    Seriously though, you can design ABS parts to embed steel rods part way through printing which will multiply their strength significantly. Similarly you can embed steel washers to reinforce mounting holes and even embed nuts in the plastic to make a threaded fixing point. These armatures are not glued in later or added as part of a two piece moulding, they are fully embedded in the part - fantastic!

    • Matthew H
      December 27, 2013 at 11:49 pm

      I did have a bit of license with the 'slightly over $1000' bit. But when you consider that some 3D printers are $3000 and above, it's not too unreasonable!

  4. JR
    December 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Matthew, it's "WojniCki" not "Wojniki". Maciej Wojnicki. ;]

    • Matthew H
      December 27, 2013 at 11:48 pm

      Cheers JR. :)

  5. Farverpearce
    December 15, 2013 at 12:04 am

    I would like three or four printers each with a large capacity. I could then supply my town with an endless supply of coat pegs and washing line pegs. How exciting. No really I want to build a kart for my two boys. Pretty certain I could use 3d to manufacture the fiddly bits instead of searching for them.

    • Matthew H
      December 27, 2013 at 11:48 pm

      Haha. I wonder how many coat pegs you'd need to make for that business to be economically viable!

  6. Dave
    December 14, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I want to put one in my store to have something cool for customers to check it out..

    • Matthew H
      December 27, 2013 at 11:47 pm

      For sure! What kind of store do you have?

    • Dave
      December 28, 2013 at 12:04 am

      We do Custom Vinyl Decals and Signs, while you wait. idecalsplus.

  7. Paul V
    December 14, 2013 at 7:00 am

    Great article, I wish I could afford one.

    • Matthew H
      December 27, 2013 at 11:47 pm

      They're dropping in price crazy fast!

  8. Gheezer
    December 14, 2013 at 5:00 am

    To put this in historical perspective, I once paid $1400 for an HP color plotter and $2700 for an HP Laser printer. These are cheap in comparison for what you can do.

    • Matthew H
      December 27, 2013 at 11:46 pm

      Crazy. I actually just bought my dad his first smartphone. It was a Samsung Galaxy Young and cost £30 (about $45) and has more computational power than the £1500 PC I was using in 2001.

  9. Mary H
    December 14, 2013 at 2:00 am

    Hmm, I wonder if I could use it to make parts for my car. There are several pieces that should be 3D printable and work made of ABS.

    • Martyn
      December 14, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      I've been thinking on this and I don't think you'd want anything that is going to be stressed made out of ABS - there are high end printers out there that print metal (in hospitals you'll get a new knee or hip 3D printed, but they use a different system)
      Look into the printer (totally forgotten the name) that basically crosses a MIG welding head with a 3D printer and comes up with metal parts.

    • Mary H
      December 14, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      Hi, Martyn! I was thinking of the plastic parts, not the metal ones. There are so many plastic pieces to a car, both inside and out, that live up to the definition of plastic--easily shaped or molded---and change shape as they age. Besides, it would be more fun printing my own parts than looking through a wrecking yard for them.

    • Matthew H
      December 27, 2013 at 11:44 pm

      Hmm. That's quite a good question. I'm not sure of any filaments that are sturdy enough for car parts. Perhaps one of the Nylon filaments. What do you think?

  10. James B
    December 13, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    I might be "giving away" too much if I said I have the Cube gen 2 sitting on my desk right now. But I do. For giveaway. Stay tuned!

    • Matthew H
      December 14, 2013 at 12:50 am

      How exciting! :D

    • Anonymous
      December 14, 2013 at 10:30 pm

      That's really cool! I have a four year old, so what runs through my mind is an endless stream of plastic toys made to spec...

    • Anonymous
      April 21, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      Do tell!

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