Makerbot Replicator 2
This is the Tandy TRS-80 of the home 3D printer market: it is by far the most well-known hobbyist device. Makerbot recently upgraded its Replicator to the Replicator 2, and then announced the 2X at CES. It's a Fused Deposition Modelling printer with a metal chassis to reduce shake and increase print speed. It is optimised for PLA filament but will print in ABS. The Replicator 2 has a 100-micron output resolution through a 0.4mm nozzle. A dual-extruder model prints in two colours, but cannot mix colours. Makerbot provides excellent support through a helpline and comprehensive online videos. The maximum build size is 28.5 x 15.5 x 15.3 cm.
More info Makerbot
Objet Connex 350
This is the Bugatti Veyron of desktop 3D printers and costs at least £100,000. What makes this Connex machine really special is that it can jet two materials at the same time, which means you can mix colours, although the choice of coloured resins is limited. A single object can have 14 levels of flexibility within it, and this machine is therefore ideal for making bendy things such as hearing aid parts. The results, however, are not that durable and they have a shelf-life. The resin is UV cured, and expensive, and loading and unloading resin uses noticeable amounts of material. Objet quotes resolution in dpi – 600 dpi for the X and Y axes and 1600 dpi for the Z axis. The build size is 34.2 x 43.2 x 20cm.
Next page: Printrbot jr
I have no need for a 3D printer but for some strange reason I want one.
I guess it's a sign of how far we've come that you can fill a "10 3D printers" article with credible suggestions, and still leave out some of the biggest names.
@Lee Rowling Re: Cost
"Though there are a couple of models in the "affordable" range there, they seem to be the cheap junk that has poor quality output."
How are you judging the output ?... from the minimum feature size ? Have you seen the output from all these ? Enquiring minds want to know..
"They literally look like someone's attempt to make their own inkjet printer and though I don't doubt they work and are "good enough" for a lot of things, that's all I think of when I look at them. What are we talking about? Three stepper motors, a control board, some supporting struts, belts, chains, gears, and a heated nozzle with a box of raw plastic on top. Just what is in there to cost several thousand pounds?"
The cheap and nasty looking ones don't cost several thousand pounds.
"Honestly, I expect to pay £50-100 for a "homebrew" one of these (i.e. the price range of a half-decent commercial inkjet, or some large homebrew lego project), and £300-500 for a full commercial-quality one."
May I be the first, on behalf of the rest of the world, to apologize for things not yet being what you expect. The nerve of those manufacturers.....
"Until then, I don't see what market they serve."
Evidently not... though i'm left to wonder to whom this reflects more on.
Re: Lack of faith
So after about 10 or 20 iterations of this we will be down to the nanobot level? All hail our nanobot overlords!
Wot no Ultimaker?
Pity that the best hobbiest 3d printer isn't listed.... The Ultimaker (www.ultimaker.com). I print on mine at 0.08mm layer height and have gone down as low as 0.04.... I've compared directly with prints from most of the printers on this list and the Ultimaker blows them all away. As a plywood contraption it doesn't look as good as some of these,but it excels where it counts.
Also, I just have to toss in my 2p on the Replicator.... Makerbot are going the way of Apple... they had a great hacker community but now they've evolved into a corporate environment and have close-sourced everything and are moving towards a closed non hacker-friendly eco-system. They've taken work done by the community and have built proprietary work on it without giving anything back.