Remember the replicator from Star Trek? This gadget from science fiction has now become a reality thanks to 3D printing technology. While it is making a mark in different industries such as healthcare, automobile, aerospace and military equipment; more and more people are trying out this technology for at-home use due to the lower cost of some of these devices. More and more schools are including 3D printing in their curriculum due to the low price point and user friendly nature of these printers. These funky boxes whose print heads, wiring and drive mechanisms are exposed are evolving from geeky gadgets whipped up in your backyard to sleek, user friendly machines for use at home. Hewlett-Packard announced that they would soon be joining the 3D printer manufacturers.
This post focuses on some great 3D printers under the $1,000 mark that are affordable enough for home and small business use. Most of these are DIY kits or fully assembled printers, and you need to pay a larger sum for the second type of printers. All of these are capable of using a kind of thermo-polymer plastic in either pellet or filament form such as PLA or ABS to print for FDM or FFF creations.
Unlike other list, we start with the most inexpensive model of all- the Makibox A5 HT 3D printer which comes at an unbeatable $300 price tag in a partially assembled form. There is a yet lower price for its other unassembled model A6 LT at $200. The print area of both models is the same; however the difference is that there is a heat bed made of stainless steel in the A5 HT. It can also print using a wide variety of materials including ABS. The A6 LT though can only use PLA at low temperature. For futuristic 3D printing technology at such an unbeatable price, the users love it so far.
Advertising itself as a portable 3d printer model, Portabee’s parts are fully collapsible to be stored in a standard laptop bag and charged using a laptop cable! This model’s unassembled form costs $499, while assembling it is fairly simple for the average user. We must give credit to this printer as it is one of the few models under $1000 that comes with a heat bed. This light printer, weighing only six pounds, comes with detailed plans and schematics that help you assemble it easily. Also, most of the parts of this printer should be 3D printed themselves!
Currently, Printbot has three models in the market- the Jr. v 2, Plus and the one we are discussing- Simple. For starters, this one is a great printer for those with a serious creative streak. It is one of the more affordable ones on the list, costing just $399 while its other versions Jr. v 2 and Plus cost $699 and $999 respectively. Unlike the previous two, Simple comes ready to use and fully assembled. Its only drawbacks are the facts that it does not come with a heat bed and cannot print with anything else other than PLA. Moreover, the print area is really small too, but you can definitely compromise that considering the price of this great entry level printer that can lead to more creative and larger projects.
This model by Pirate 3D is being marketed as an iPrint3D kind of a gadget that has a minimalist design. It is only a two piece frame made of polycarbonate with just one button that operates the machine. Buccaneer was just a project on Kickstarter even a year ago, but it has recently become available for preordering in limited quantities for a sum of $497. The best part of this printer is the fact that you can, in fact, print from any device virtually. So printing from your smartphone is not a thing of dreams anymore! The bad news is that the price is going to go up to $697 when pre orders cease.
The Up! Mini’s retail price is set to $899, with the shipping being a little over $1000. This dark, somber machine is in fact a great 3D printer that can print using both PLA and ABS. The operation is super quiet, includes a heat bed and it is a portable printer. This would make an amazing printer for a home business, small design studio, or for use at home.
This fully assembled model by 3D Stuffmaker has a price tag of $799 for the transparent version and $899 for the black one. They also have a model called Classic Prusa, which costs the same as the black one. The Creator though, is better suited for creative people and home based manufacturing businesses. It can create small parts, toys and other intricate objects from PLA thermoplastic.
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