3D printing is also commonly called additive process manufacturing. In a nutshell, it forms 3D solid objects from multiple thin layers of the manufacturing substance utilized. Any shape imaginable can be generated with 3D printers. This type of manufacturing is distinctly different from more common manufacturing methods like drilling and cutting away portions of material to gain the shapes desired. These processes are called subtractive; they “subtract: material. 3D printing is an additive process. It adds different shapes of layered substance to build up the desired computer-generated object.
While there are some unproven 3D printers emerging on the market that cost as little as $500, you’re most likely looking at a higher price tag to obtain a 3D printer that will perform to the capacity you need. There are is no shortage of places to purchase a printer these days, everywhere from Amazon to Konica Minolta will be able to offer you something to suit your budget.
4 Affordable 3D Printers for Home Use
Cubify Cube: $1300
Modern design standards mark this a very popular 3D printer. All models made in 2012 or after feature WiFi connectivity, making tangling wires unnecessary. It prints in ABS and PLA formats and has been a proven producer for years now. It prints at a minimum of 200 microns per layer. This $1300 unit is an entry level model, and is somewhat limited in terms of output size (5 x 5 x 5-inch baseplate). (see larger unit description below)
Afinia H-Series H479: $1,600
Able to print at a minimum of 150 microns per layer, this 3D printer is making waves in the market. It’s a solid performer that also prints in PLA and ABS. Its resolution is higher than the Cube’s. It has a decent degree of fine-tuning capacity, although not quite as good as, say, the Makerbot. Its baseplate, like the Cube’s, is 5 x 5 x 5 inches; rather limited for anything other than entry-level experimentation and printing.
Lulzbot AO-101: $1,700
This 3D printer makes you appreciate its larger-than-Cube’s 7 x 7 x 3.9 baseplate. However it also makes you regret that you purchased a 3D printer that lacks WiFi connectivity. It does however feature a SD card slot to make uploading your designs more convenient. It offers the ability to produce wider designs than its competitors, although not any taller.
Cubify CubeX: $2500
Amazing resolution and loads of customizable features make this larger Cube model a big hit in today’s 3D printer market. It features a whopping 10.8 x 10.45 x 9.5-inch baseplate, allowing you to exponentially increase its application capacities. It is 66% deeper and 33% taller than the ever-popular Makerbot Replicator 2.
So you see, there are several affordable options for 3D printers for home use. It’s a relatively new market (since 2010) and prices are still in the honeymoon phase. Prices are already beginning to fall, and there are already cheap #D printers on the market, pulling in the unknowing. Do proper research and find a 3D printer that works best for your unique situation. If you’re not in desperate need right away for this type of equipment, consider waiting for the inevitable techy price drops – coming up soon!