3D Printing Costs a Pretty Penny, but Options Abound

 
 
By Nathan Eddy  |  Posted 2013-10-10 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Imagine being able to print in 3D from the comfort of your very own home or easily from your office. Although 3D printers have been used for years in large vertical industries such as the automotive sector, they are fast becoming a more affordable reality for smaller businesses and the consumer market as the technology advances and prices drop. While still expensive—think at least $1,600 for a decent one—they're not totally out of reach. The 3D printers fabricate physical objects directly from computer-aided-design (CAD) data sources. Using additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, objects are built by dispensing successive thin layers of molten material onto a moving platform base from a robotic extruder nozzle. The material is most commonly a thermoplastic or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) filament. Rapid quality and performance innovations across all 3D printing technologies will drive enterprise and consumer demand as worldwide shipments of 3D printers priced less than $100,000 will grow 49 percent in 2013 to reach a total of 56,507 units, according to Gartner forecasts. In this slide show, eWEEK examines some 3D printing offerings.

 
 
 
  • 3D Printing Costs a Pretty Penny, but Options Abound

    by Nathan Eddy
    1 - 3D Printing Costs a Pretty Penny, but Options Abound
  • LulzBot Taz Costs $2,195

    Taz is one of the desktop 3D printers that can print with more than just your run-of-the-mill plastic. Create with ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), PLA (polylactic acid or polylactide), PVA (polyvinyl alcohol), high-impact polystyrene and wood filament. But don't stop there. With add-ons, you can print with nylon and more.
    2 - LulzBot Taz Costs $2,195
  • Afinia H-Series 3D Printer Offers Portability

    For $1,599, Afinia offers an array of plastic filament colors, including natural, black, red, blue, yellow and green, and the printer weighs just under 11 pounds, making it easy to transport. Design files for 3D printing can be created using online software, professional software such as SolidWorks, or by downloading from the extensive online 3D printer community for free.
    3 - Afinia H-Series 3D Printer Offers Portability
  • Cubify CubeX Trio Prints Three Colors at Once

    This 3D printer can print three colors at one time. The Website also has more than 15 different colors to choose from, even glow-in-the-dark colors. This one will set you back $2,499, comes in three configurations and can print an object the size of a basketball—and with multiple materials, too.
    4 - Cubify CubeX Trio Prints Three Colors at Once
  • MakerBot Replicator 2 Features 100-Micron Layer Resolution

    Starting at $2,199, the Replicator 2 enables users to make big objects, up to 410 cubic inches in volume and is one of the more elegant designs on the market. In addition, MakerWare software lets the machine make multiple models at once.
    5 - MakerBot Replicator 2 Features 100-Micron Layer Resolution
  • MBot Cube 2 Runs for Less Than $1,600 on Amazon

    With a bigger printing area for larger objects, Magicfirm's Cube 2 is an affordable personal 3D printer with single or dual extrusion (two-color printing). A changeable printer-board also offers a good way to improve the surface clearance and also much easier to reset.
    6 - MBot Cube 2 Runs for Less Than $1,600 on Amazon
  • UP! Mini 3D Desktop Printer Sports All-Metal Enclosure

    The enclosure guards against room drafts to help minimize temperature fluctuation, and helps reduce operational noise and odor. The included printer management software runs on a Windows or Mac OS X computer. Amazon has the printer listed for $925, making it one of the least expensive.
    7 - UP! Mini 3D Desktop Printer Sports All-Metal Enclosure
  • Bits From Bytes 3DTouch Offers CAD Platform Freedom

    Whatever your chosen CAD package—from Google Sketchup to Alibre, Solidworks to Inventor—you can 3D print your models with the Bits From Bytes 3DTouch. Bits From Bytes 3D printers have evolved quickly from the Reprap project at Bath University just a few years ago.
    8 - Bits From Bytes 3DTouch Offers CAD Platform Freedom
  • Solidoodle 3D Printer Starts Under $800

    The Solidoodle 3 is the latest in the Solidoodle lineup of 3D printers, incorporating the company's latest advances and boasting a larger 8- by 8- by 8-inch build area. In addition, the printer is designed by aerospace engineers to be extremely strong and precise at the same time.
    9 - Solidoodle 3D Printer Starts Under $800
  • Sculpteo Offers Designers an Online Resource

    If you're still not sold on dropping a grand or more on an emerging technology, businesses like Sculpteo can make your designs into a 3D reality. A Web portal team designs and operates online services; it is in charge of promoting the Sculpteo brand and enhancing the customer relationship. The workshops perform the actual printing of 3D designs and handle all shipping aspects.
    10 - Sculpteo Offers Designers an Online Resource
  • MakerBot 3D Printers Land in Microsoft Stores

    "The MakerBot Experience," the company's in-store 3D printing demonstration at the Microsoft retail store, is expanding from its roots in Seattle and in San Francisco and Palo Alto, Calif. Stores across the country will offer customers the chance to see 3D printing in action as well as purchase a Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer and PLA filament right in the store.
    11 - MakerBot 3D Printers Land in Microsoft Stores
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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