3D printer

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1 Introduction

This article shortly introduces 3D printers and provides some advice on selecting a printer and then lists cheap open source and commercial 3D printers. However I won't try to update this list very much. Some day I probably kill most entries and just list a few models that are typical for a given kind. Other web sites have more man power to do comparisons. Daniel K. Schneider (talk) 02:32, 3 February 2016 (CET)

According to Wikipedia, retrieved 14:48, 14 October 2011 (CEST), “3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing technology where a three dimensional object is created by laying down successive layers of material. 3D printers are generally faster, more affordable and easier to use than other additive manufacturing technologies. 3D printers offer product developers the ability to print parts and assemblies made of several materials with different mechanical and physical properties in a single build process. Advanced 3D printing technologies yield models that can serve as product prototypes.”

3D printer as geek campfire (Source:[1])

See also:

3D printing technology

The three most popular 3D printing techniques are:

  • fused deposition modeling, also called Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). A typical example are low cost models like the RapMan
  • Stereolithography (SLA): “is a form of 3-D printing technology used for creating models, prototypes, patterns, and production parts in a layer by layer fashion using photopolymerization, a process by which light causes chains of molecules to link, forming polymers.[1] Those polymers then make up the body of a three-dimensional solid.” (Wikipedia, Aug. 2017).
  • Selective laser sintering (SLS): “an additive manufacturing technique that uses a high power laser (for example, a carbon dioxide laser) to fuse small particles of plastic, metal (direct metal laser sintering), ceramic, or glass powders into a mass that has a desired 3-dimensional shape” (Wikipedia, retrieved 14:48, 14 October 2011 (CEST))

Most hobby 3D printers use FFF, i.e. an extruder (i.e. a kind of gun) that heats up plastic filament which is then deposited layer by layer. They can print different sorts of Polymers. In the early years, the two following plastics were popular.

  • ABS (used for Legos and car parts) is solid, but warps when printed a room temperature. I.e. it is difficult to print objects that have a larger than 4cm footprint.
  • PLA (polylactic acid) is made of starch (i.e. plants). It doesn't warp, but it's not very solid and starts deforming (melting) at relatively low temperature.

As of 2015 a much wider range of 3D printer filaments are available, including Nylon, PET, TPEs, and various PLA-particle composites.

Syringue-based systems like the Fab@Home can print Epoxy (composites) or food and these materials are pushed down with a piston.

Comparison chart od 3D printing technology
Type FFF SLA SLS Piston
Material rolls of various types of plastic Liquid resin Various powder (only Nylon or similar for low end machines) Anything that can be pushed down (e.g. chocolate or Epoxy resins)
Durability OK (depending on type of plastic) Low High depends on material, very little for printed food :)
Precision 0.1mm or less in reality high good
Post-processing Easy (except when dealing with support materials) Treatment is require to improvde solidity Blasting is required to remove bits of loose powder
Freedom of forms No.

Somewhat if soluble support is used in dual head printer.

limited yes very limited
Heat resistance Depends on the plastic. Popular PLA is starts weakening at 60 and melting at 160. Some plastics like nylon or PET are difficult to print but more resistant limited good
Unit cost very low high very high (but changeing as of 2017) low
Material cost very low to low (20-100 Euros/kg) 100-250 Euros / litre 100 - 1000 Euros / kg. (directly from China, Nylon PA12 is 100$ else it will be double or more)


The opposite of additive manufacturing is subtractive manufacturing that takes away material from an initial form. These alternative technologies include:

  • Laser cutting, a fairly simple to use technique for creating "flat" 3D objects by cutting "sheets" like wood or plexiglass. One can create designs that involve sticking or gluing components together.
  • Milling, a process where parts of an object (e.g. a cube) are removed by drilling. For example, parts of car motors are produced like this. Milling is a fairly dangerous process, however hobbyist models that carve out from plastic or wood are safe to use in a classroom for example.

2 Filement printer features you should you look for

Must have features:

  • A strong extruder including a good filament intake system (you should be able to walk away from the printer and be sure that plastic is always extruded, even after 10 hours or printing). Newcomers don't often get the fact, that even a fairly small piece takes many hours to print !
  • A good board and firmware (as above, there should be no mistakes, i.e. a print head that stops moving at some point)
  • A heated platform
  • Ability to print 0.2mm layers accurately (or better of course)

Nice to have features:

  • Support for multiple types of plastic, in particular PLA but also some strong plastics like ABS or Nylon (for some, this is a must-have feature). Some people also want to print with flexible polymers. That requires a motor that sits on top of the nozzle (i.e. so-called Bowden extruders are not suitable)
  • Extrusion and printhead movement speeds as slow and as fast as possible. Typically the first layer should be printed at 10-15mm/s but prototype quality should be printable at 150mm/s.
  • A heated chamber (or at least a closed box) for printing plastics that warp, e.g. ABS.
  • Accuracy (both detail and movement) down to 0.1mm resolution if possible
  • Two print heads (for printer either two color models or designs that need support. In the latter case, there exit soluble plastics.
  • Included easy-to use printer control software
  • Support for a good machine code generation software (i.e. a slicer). Most printers work with open source slicers but the vendor should nevertheless provide some good standard settings.
  • Support for standard RepRap g-code (in order to avoid slicer software lock-in)
  • Control hardware/software that allows to pause/resume a print and to manually extract filament.
  • As many standard hardware parts as possible (this will allow for quick replacement) and allow you cope if the company goes out of business. This includes the control board.
  • Use of open source software for controlling the printer. Except for very few exceptions (e.g. netfabb for the now dead fabbster), opensource solutions like Repetier Host are simply better.
  • Automated bed levelling. Adjusting the bed (1-2 sheets of paper distance from printhead to bed in every position) is something that beginners have trouble with.

To do:

  • produce some specifications for each model
  • have some indication on how well these model operate. Speed, print size, resolution is not everything. An important criteria is knowing whether you can leave your printer alone. Many require constant attendance, because of filament intake problems for example.

Comparisons

Comparing 3D printers is very very difficult for several reasons:

  • Some do better than others with respect to different sorts of objects. Do the benchmark pieces represent what you would like to print ?
  • Calibration is essential. Only a real expert can get the most out of a machine. I could not.
  • How do you weight various factors ? (Reliability, smoothness/accuracy, min. layer size, speed or less obvious stuff like does the first layer stick, warping, dealing with overhangs, stringing)
  • How do you account for the interaction between slicing software and printers, and between slicing parameters and printers ?

So far, the most serious comparison was done by Make Mag (nov 2012). One of my printers (the Felixprinter 1.0) came out ok. Nevertheless the author complained about assembly that was more difficult than expected and glitches with some delivered parts (like calibration of the stepper motors) and he is right to do that. However, why compare a non-assembled printer with assembled ones. I bought mine assembled (400 Euros extra) and it worked out of the box! In addition, the testers used default settings of the slicer software. Had they selected a different profile they would have obtained widely different results. I was able to print a test design that failed without problems. The Make Mag test was serious, but far from perfect. - Daniel K. Schneider 17:53, 22 November 2012 (CET)

Do not trust marketing hype, in particular, some commercial printers make disputable claims and some even do not work well (other commercial models do work very well). Ask around if you know people in your area. In any case, filament printers do have inherent flaws that no design can solve...

3 List of 3D printers

This section was revised in summer 2012. There are no endorsements, since I only own a RapMan (which was the best thing to buy when I got it back in Jan 2010), a fabbster and three different Felix printers (1.0, 20.2 and Pro1. This list is not complete, for example, many vendors sell RepRap Darwin, Mendel, Prusa and Huxley kits. You can find them in the RepRap wiki. Look at this wiki if you need a real RepRap!. Below, we listed printers that either seem to be well known and known to work or that are new and somewhat exciting - Daniel K. Schneider 20:44, 19 October 2011 (CEST).

4 Do it (almost) entirely yourself

4.1 Reprap 3D printers

Prusa Mendel

RepRap, a British project, is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper. This type of 3D printer builds the parts up in layers of plastics. It can be assembled from parts bought in various places.

Designs:

All RepRap printers can built with spare pars available from many places. However, this requires good "bricolage" skills. For those who don't have these, there exist many commercial kits that are relatively easy to assemble and also fully assembled kits (see below).

Resources:

The CandyFab 6000 sugar-based 3D printer

4.2 The Quantum QRD bot

Announced on Jan 2012 at The Quantum ORD bot: a printer using MakerSlide bearing system.

The project was hashed out in about 3 hours, fabricated in about 2 hours and assembled in about 2 hours. That includes cutting all the custom parts. The structure and linear bearings are 100% MakerSlide. “The parts are cheap. This uses less than $60 dollars worth of MakerSlide rail, wheels and idler pulleys. The rest are off the shelf items or fabricated by CNC router, laser cutter, 3D printer or other means.” ([The Quantum ORD bot).

4.3 Candyfab printers

Note: As of oct. 2011 this project seems to have stalled (no wiki update since 2009).

5 Cheap 3D open source printers or kits

Below are the fabbers that were most popular in October 2011, sorted in alphabetical order. You can buy three types:

  1. Fully assembled (unwrap and maybe some small assembly)
  2. Easy to assemble (a few hours)
  3. Hard to assemble (3-4 days)

Most companies offer both kits and fully assembled 3D Printers. Some have web sites with a lot of information. Some have quite good customer support, others don't. Search the forums. Most designs are close or far derivatives from RepRap models.

This list is by no means complete. In particular, there more small companies that sell one or another variant of a RepRap design. See the RepRap wiki and its buyers guides (one for each model type).

Rapman 3.1. schema - Source: Bits from Bytes

5.1 Bits from Bytes printers

Bits from Bytes did produce and selle Reprap derivatives. The company is now dead, i.e. it was absorbed by 3D systems.

Hardware (history)

  • RapMan v3.11 (£750 / CHF 1270) is a device we acquired in January 2010. It was assembled by end of Feb 2010 Read the RapMan article. - Daniel K. Schneider Nov 2009/Feb 2010.
    • Print area: 27 x 20.5 x 21 cm, not heated platform
    • 3mm nozzle
    • Resolution: x&y axis = 0.2mm, z axis = 0.7mm (roughly)
    • A1 Technologies is a UK reseller
    • Materials: ABS (warping for bottom surfaces larger than 4-5cm), PLA of various sorts.
    • The Rapman was one of the first commercial kits for the RepRap v1 and it's probably one of the most beautiful designs. Assembly is rather difficult, but very well documented. All you needed was good reading skills. It works well, but does need what we could call "RepRap printing skills". Some design elements could be improved, in particular: filament intake (extruder), connectivity (USB instead of a SD card), portability (after transport the structure may need adjustment), (optional) heated platform. The commercial 3D Touch solves some of these problems.
  • 3DTouch 3D Printer was an assembled 3D printer and costs £1,995.00 (single head) or £2,245.00 (double head). The Education pack (£2,484.00) included double head and plastic rolls. This model seems to be the successor of the BFB 3000 (or the same design ?). It includes "industrial" parts, i.e. it's rumored to be reliable.
    • Resolution: same as RapMan v3.11

Unfortunately, 3D systems killed all the forums and the wiki which did include valuable information for other people using other 3D printers (www.bitsfrombytes.com/forum Forum and wiki.bitsfrombytes.com) or maybe I just can't find them. I do not like marketing managers since they love to make interesting information go away just for the sake of "branding" and other sales concerns. Anyhow, at least they seem to provide good support for the Rapman, 3D Touch and BFB-3000, e.g. this wiki. Let's hope that it will stay. Finally, some people did save some of the old contents, e.g. google for ""bits from bytes" forum"

Bukobot, Source: http://deezmaker.com/

5.2 Deezmaker

Hardware:

  • Bukobot, various models
    • features an easy-to-assemble "2D" Aluminum frame
    • Available: End of summer 2012

Comment:

  • It's probably a good idea to offer an alternative to the more difficult to assemble RepRap designs. The Felix printer (design is not open source) uses a similar approach and I find that very convincing.
Fab@Home version 2

5.3 Fab@Home 3D printers

Fab@Home, is marketed as "personal fabricator". As opposed to RepRap designs, Fab@Home uses a syringe system and can print a large variety of materials, including silicone, cement, stainless steel, cake frosting, and cheese. Hardware designs and software on this website are open source. This printer can include a dual syringe tool for printing two materials simultaneously.

Hardware:

Resources:

5.4 Imagine 3D Printer

Essential Dynamics sells a syringe-based 3D printer.

Hardware:

  • Imagine 3D Printer, launched end of 2011 (?).
  • fully assembled
  • Prints several materials, including food, chocolates, silicone, cheese, epoxy, organics, etc.
  • $2,995
  • no reviews found .....

Support/sharing site

Cupcake/Thing-O-Matic 3D Printer

5.5 Makerbot printers

MakerBot Industries sells other RepRap-inspired designs. Like other Reprap derivaties, their 3D printers include a plastruder and an Arduino-compatible microcontroller and they work with several kinds of plastic, e.g. ABS (Lego-like) and HDPE (milk-jug like). The founder of this company also is involved in the RepRap research project.

Hardware: Currently, (2012) there are several versions, see also the closed source Replicator II (somewhere below)

  • A free design called CupCake CNC and and its current (2011) Ultimate. Makerbot will sell the parts. I don't know if there is any difference in design with respect to the Thin-O-Matic kit.
  • MakerBot Replicator
    • $1,749.00 fully assembled
    • dual head is possible (+$250)
    • 225 x145 x150 milimeters printing area
    • Layer thickness: .2-.3mm with 4mm stock nozzle.
    • Speed: 40 mm/s
  • MakerBot Thing-O-Matic® Kit (formerly called Cupcake?)
    • Between $1225 and $1300 for the kit
    • 3mm extruder
    • 9.6 x 10.8cm print area
  • Fully Assembled MakerBot Thing-O-Matic
    • This is the old (well known) model
    • out of stock (was $2500)

Other devices are in development as documented in the Makerbot wiki (oct. 2011)

Orca V0.3 3D printer

5.6 Mendel Parts

  • Mendel-Parts is a Dutch one-man company that started by selling parts for the Mendel design.

Hardware:

  • Orca v0.3
    • Mendel-inspired design, but the big parts are laser-cut aluminum (and therefore "non-replicatable", but easier to assemble)
    • $600 EUR
    • ABS and PLA
    • Print size: 210x210x165mm
    • Choice between 1.75 and 3mm hot end.
    • Speed: up to 300mm/s
    • The V 0.2 is still available and costs slightly less (oct. 2011)
    • Note: Very new as of oct. 2011. I couldn't find any detailed reviews, but the design looks good - Daniel K. Schneider 20:44, 19 October 2011 (CEST).
  • Mendel v2
    • €699.00
    • I'd rather get the "non-replicating" Orca since it's much easier to assemble. Folks who want to play with the printer design itself, may look at this model or other Mendel Prusa kits.

Resources:

MakerGear Prusa 3D Printer

5.7 Makergear

Makergear sells two kits as of oct. 2011. One is rather destinated to people who want to play with the Mendel Prusa design and maybe do creative modifications. The other, i.e. the Mosaic is more an end-user product.

Hardware:

  • Prusa 3D printer kit
    • $825 for a complete kit
    • 8 x 8" Heated Build Surface PCB
    • Either 1.75mm or 3mm hot end (allowing to print either more precisely or faster). Most current printers feature a 3mm nozzle.
    • supports both ABS and PLA
  • Mosaic 3D Printer kit
    • $999
    • (Probably) fairly easy to assemble
  • Mosaic 3D Printer fully assembled
    • Price is unknown, since out of stock on oct. 19 2011

MakerGear also sells various sets of printed parts and other gear for assembling your own.

Resources:

  • Home page (Includes a blog and instructions)
Printrbot prototype. The final versions look different and use wooden parts

5.8 Printrbot

Probably is one of the most popular 3D printers as of summer/fall 2012. S

Hardware:

  • printrbot.com
  • Open Hardware Design
  • z axis: printhead moves up (not the platform)
  • Heated platform that moves in the y axis (or x axis depending on how you look at it)
  • Cheap, i.e. between $400 (smallest, print bed not heated) and $700 (largest)
  • The large Printrbot PLUS has a 8x8in heated bed
  • Claimed to be fairly easy and quickly to assemble

Documentation:

Ultimaker

5.9 Shapercube

Shapercube has a printer based on the RepRap Mendel design

  • Kit availabe at RepRapSource
    • Price: 950 Euros + VAT.
    • Build area: 20 x 19.5 x 18.5cm
    • Single or dual head
    • 3mm filament
    • Accuracy 0.0125mm
    • includes a heated platform
    • Fast (over 100mm/s print head movement
    • Fairly heavy (16 kg)
Shaper Cube

5.10 Ultimaker

As of Oct. 2011, the Dutch Ultimaker seems to be the favorite open source design kit. It's fast, can print big and it's easy to assemble (compared to a RapMan for example). Ultimaker focuses on speedy PLA printing. PLA doesn't warp like ABS, it is ecological but fragile. ABS is very solid, not ecological and would require a heated bed for larger prints. Therefore, if you need to produce tough objects, Ultimaker may not be a good option.

Hardware:

  • The Ultimaker 1 Kit (a + variant is still sold) costs EUR 1200.
    • Reprap design
    • It can print 21x21x22 cm volumes
    • USB connectivity, drivers for Win/Mac and Linux
    • 0.4mm nozzle The theoretical resolution: 0.0125 mm for the X and Y axis and better for the Z-axis. Don't know what the practical one would be.
    • User-friendly feed mechanism
    • No heated bed (?)
  • Ultimaker 2 is again a very popular machine in Fablabs, because of its good design, reliability and precision.

Resources:

6 Commercial closed design entry-level filament 3D printers

We distinguish between commercial 3D printers that are closed source (below) and commercial open source/open design printers (in the previous section). An other very important distinction is between closed design printers that are open to modification and use standard boards (e.g. Arduino), standard g-code, open-source slicers and control software (such as the Felix) as opposed to printers that will rely on proprietary boards, g-code, slicer and control software (such as the fabbster). Personally I like the combination of commercial (the printer) and open (software, spare parts that can be printed, standard filament) as opposed to printers that require special plastic, special software, special hardware. A bit like Android as opposed to the iThings ....

As of december 2011, we counted two fully assembled machines and two announcement for kits. By summer 2012, there were more and one could buy a commercial printer kit for around 1000 Euros or less. See below. By 2013, there first Stereolithography (SL) printers are on the market for as little as $10000 or even less. By 2016, the cheapest printers from China cost around $300. As of 2017, you also can get very cheap printers made in Europe.

This section will hardly ever be updated. There are enough other good websites - Daniel K. Schneider (talk) 16:56, 7 September 2015 / August 2017.

Cube 3D printer

6.1 3D Systems - Cube and CubeX

3Dsystems, a company that sells professional 3D printers (see below) introduced the Cube consumer model on Jan 2012. This was probably the first consumer model created by a large 3D printer company. It may show a trend: Cheap price but proprietary material cartridges (same principle as home user 2D printers). The CubeX came out in 2013 and sponsors a bigger print area, optional dual/triple head, and improvements in quality. The CubeX can be considered a successor for the BFB 3000 (from the bought-up now dead british company that pioneered 3D printing with the Rapman). It looks as heavy and solid as the BFB :)

Hardware
  • Cube
    • Print size: up to 5.5 X 5.5 X 5.5 in. (140 x 140 x 140 mm)
    • Print Cartridge (at $50, no idea how much it lasts ...)
    • Durable, ABS Plastic in 10 Colors
    • USB & Wi-Fi Connectivity
    • Price: $1400
    • Layer Thickness - 5 mil (125 Microns)
    • Materials: ABS
  • CubeX
    • 275 mm x 265 mm x 240 mm
    • Prints both ABS and PLA
    • Part painting tool (assign a print head to a "section" ?)
    • Included Design software (what ?)
    • Single, double or triple head printing
    • 36-38kg
    • Z-resolution: 0.1mm
    • X/Y resolution: 0.2mm
    • $2800 (single head) to $4400 (triple head)


Fablicator 3D printer

6.2 Dremel

Dremel 3D Idea Builder, a filament printer from the well-know DYI tools company. (new/2014)

  • Prints (proprietary) PLA
  • Maximum Build Volume: 9” x 5.9” x 5.5” / 230 mm x 150 mm x 140 mm
  • Layer Thickness: 4 mil | 0.004 inches 100 microns | 0.10 mm
  • $1000

Note: In the advertisement the machine is hailed as very easy to use. IMHO, do not trust that. Filament printers are never easy to use. All of these require calibration (printhead must be 0.2mm off, surface must be sticky, etc.). Otherwise, price/quality relation should be ok if you do not mind a fully proprietary solution.

6.3 Fablicator

Fablicator is an US product that features a rigid aluminum frame.

  • fully assembled
  • Price: $3000
  • Build area 7x7x7 inches
  • 2012 model
  • Prints both ABS and PLA
Fabbster 3D printer

6.4 Fabbster

Fabbster was announced for March 2012, but had a slight delay (April/Mai ?). This printer was sold through retail shops for about 1500 € total. It went out of business sometimes in 2014 or 2015.

  • I signed up in Feb 2012 for the 500 € pilot program and got the machine on April 24 2012. As of 2013/14 I didn't use it anymore. It's design for sticks isn't suitable for my needs, i.e. I have to leave a printer unattended for 12 hours, can't do that with sticks. In 2015, I gave it to a student. - Daniel K. Schneider

Read:

Hardware
  • The flyer announces a pretty fast engine
  • 4mm nozzle (by default)
  • 0.025 to 0.4mm layer size
  • Customized Netfabb engine tool included
  • Suggested retail price: 1000€


Felix 1.0 3D printer

6.5 FelixPrinter

Felix is the IMHO the first European company to offer a low cost printer that is easy to assemble, according to the website. Assembly of the current DYI model (Felix 3.x) seems to take about 5 to 12 hours depending on your DYI skills. Felix DYI printers also can be bought assembled. The Pro line is assembled and takes about 10 minutes to set up.

Felix 2.0 (2013)
    • Kit: 1000 Euros
    • Fully assembled and tested: 1400 Euros
    • Aluminum frame, assembled by screwing 6 hex bolts, Drylin-sliding bearings, Opto-sensor, NEMA 17 motor
    • RAMPS 1.4 electronics
    • 0.35mm diameter nozzle
    • 1.75mm filament
    • Build size: 235, 205, 200 mm
    • Z accuracy: 0.05 mm
    • Opensource Repetierhost control software.
    • The printer is designed for PLA printing, however it also can print ABS if the print platform is adapted (various methods)
Positive sides of the Felix 1.0 (after our own experience in 2012)
  • Reliability (long over night print, 24h prints)
  • Accuracy, probably as good as any other high-end printer.
  • It can be easily carried around (crucial for some school settings). It doesn't weight much and has a handle on top. The geometry will remain stable, as opposed to "pure" RepRap designs that may need recalibration after transport.
  • Good combination between closed source (the frame design, etc.) and opensource (arduino board, controller software)
Negative for the Felix 1.0 (after our own experience in 2012/13)
  • Typical filament printer problems that all of them have (e.g. clogging if the filament is bad or dirty, warping, large flat objects not sticking, overhangs)
  • Calibration work is difficult if (and only if) you plan to get the optimal prints
Positive sides of the Felix 2.0 (after a few hours and the three first prints on oct. 25 2013 !)
  • Like the Felix 1.0 it worked out of the box. Setting it up took about 30 minutes (getting it out of the box, downloading a new version of the controller/slicer software). We skipped calibration, but just made sure that the print head would not touch the printbed.
  • With respect to the Felix 1.0 (2011/2012), the 2.0 seems to print with better precision. However, we will have to create new SFACT problems for Lego printing. Standard settings (several) are fine, but as we always claim: There is no such thing as good universal standard settings that work with all types of objects ...
Negative
  • Probably due to transport, the platform was not totally level (about 0.2mm to high in the x/y=0 corner. Therefore we had to recalibrate (tighten the screw).
  • After that, the hotend was a bit too close to the printbed (less than 0.1mm) and we had to adjust the Z homing sensors (turn the screw in the right direction ...)

6.6 Leapfrog

Leapfrog offers two 3D printers; the entry level ready-to-go 3D printer the Creatr and the high-end 3D Printer the Xeed

Hardware
The Creatr by Leapfrog BV
  • The Creatr is available as a Single extruder or a Dual extruder.
    • € 1250 [Single extruder] / € 1500 [Dual extruder]
    • Heated bed
    • Build Size (WxDxH): 230 x 270 x 220 mm
    • Max. Print Volume 13.7 Liter
    • Positioning accuracy: 0.05 mm
    • Min. Layer thickness: 0.15 mm
    • Material types: ABS, PLA, PVA and experimental other types of plastics (PE, PPE, PC, etc), 1.75mm filament.
    • Standard size extruder : 0.35 mm
    • Speed X and Y axis: up to 0.35 m/s
    • Extrusion speed 200 mm/min
  • The Xeed looks like a high-end filament printer, e.g. similar to the well-known BitsfromBytes 3D Touch.
    The Xeed by Leapfrog BV
    • € 5,460
    • Wireless 3D printing
    • Build size (WxDxH): 340 x 370 x 290 mm
    • Max. Print Volume 36,5 Liter
    • Standard size extruder : 0.2 mm
    • Speed X and Y axis: up to 1 m/s
    • On-board 10" Tablet
    • Multiple heads (dual extruders are standard)
    • Closed chamber
    • Heated bed

6.7 Makerbot

Makerbot offers various models.

Makerbot replicator 2

The Replicator 2 and the Replicator 2x seem to be closed source designs as opposed to prior models:

Hardware (replicator 2)
  • Available sept. 2012
  • $ 2200 to 2800
  • 0.1 mm - 0.37mm layers
  • 28.5 x 15.3 x 15.5 cm build volume
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm
  • Filament type: PLA
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4 mm
Software
  • Proprietary
M3D

6.8 M3D

  • Really small, really cheap (new as of 2014)
  • $199 to $299
  • Available around March 2014

6.9 Robox

  • Robox
  • A new "design" printer that will be available sometimes in 2014
  • Should support a wide range of material, automatic bed levelling, proprietary software, replaceable printhead
Solidoodle (beta)

6.10 Solidoodle

Solidoodle is the first company to offer a fully assembled low-cost (under $1000) printer (Shipping Q4 2011). The box seems to have a closed chamber which is a good solution for printing ABS at a more or less constant temperature.

Hardware:

  • As of 9/2013, there are two versions, The 3rd generationat $800 and the 2nd generation at $500.
  • The 2nd generation was:
    • Design: ReRap Sanguinololu v1.3 electronics
    • Max Part size: about 10 x 10 x 10 cm
    • Accuracy: .3mm (84dpi)
    • .35mm nozzle, using 1.75mm filament (ABS), Sprint loaded extruder (no thumb screws).

Resources:

6.11 Sumpod

Sumpod sells both a kit and fully assembled printers

Hardware:

  • The fully assembled Sumpod Aluminum should come out by Aug. 2012 and it has a heated print bed and can have multiple print heads.


Peachy printer (beta)

6.12 Tiko

  • The unibody printer uses a reprap Delta design and will be really cheap (kickstart funded in 2015).

6.13 Peachy Printer

This printer will be both very cheap (100$ self-assembled) and it is a photolithographic system working with resin and a laser (!).

Hardware:

According to A geeky world (9/2013), “The peachy printer is a Photolithographic printer which uses a controlled beam of light to cure light sensitive resin into hard objects. The peachy moves a laser beam along the X and Y axes to create the shape of the object, while using a drip system to control the level of the resin on the Z axis which determines the height of the object. ... Grayson wrote an add-on to blender which translate 3D model into an audio waveform. It then plays the audio file out to the printer through the headphone jack in your computer. This waveform drives a pair of electro magnetic mirrors which reflect and control the path of the laser beam. The higher the volume, the higher the voltage, the more the mirrors move. The laser beam can then draw out the shape of the object along the X and Y axes. You can also uses smartphones, radios, stereos, and mp3 players that have DC coupled audio to control the X and Y axises of the printer.”

Light-weight UP! 3D printer

6.14 PP3dp / Up!

  • PP3dp sells light-weight fully assembled 3D printers

Hardware:

  • UP! Plus
    • $1500
    • 14 x 14 cm build area, heated platform (good for ABS)
    • Supports ABS and PLA in later model versions
    • 0.2 mm accuracy.
    • Close source software
  • Reviews: Ponoko, ....
  • Afinia
    • A rebranded model for the US market (Aug 2012).

In oct. 2011, this model seemed to be one of the easiest solution to start 3D printing, i.e. you can unpack and print and don't need to learn about calibration with tools like Skeinforge. On the downside (if I understand right) one only can print ABS in three settings (fine, normal and coarse). Also, the print area is small compared to a RapMan.

Resources:

3D-One by Robotfactory

6.15 Robotfactory

An Italian company,

Hardware:

  • 3D-ONE
    • A high end filament printer, for which I couldn't find any reviews yet. If the specifications are true, this must be the best filament printer out there as of nov 2012 - 11:58, 7 November 2012 (CET)
    • 245 x 245 x 245 mm print area (this is large compared to most others)
    • 0,06 mm x/y resolution
    • 0.01 z resolution
    • Slice settings (?): 0,10 / 0,21 / 0,31 / 0,42 / 0,53 (mm)
    • Support for PLA, ABS, PVA and PC
  • 3DLPrinter
    • A stereolithography printer. Quote (google translated) The prototyping technique © DLP (Digital Light Processing) is the 3D printing system that uses a special photosensitive polymer resin to create the objects.
    • It "looks" a bit like the Formlabs (see above). No idea whether there a similarities in design.

6.16 XYZ Printing

  • Sells several models
  • da Vinci 1.0 AiO
    • Includes a 3D Scanner
    • 20 x 20 x 19 cm build volume
    • 27.5 kg
    • Resolution: 0.1 mm
    • Nozzle 0.4 mm with 1.75 mm filament
    • ABS/PLA
    • STL and XYZ (.3w) format

7 Commercial closed design entry-level SLA printers

B9Prototype - Source: KickStarter

7.1 B9Creator

Since 2012, SLA technology is also available for hobby printing.

  • Printing is somewhat easier but requires a bit more post processing
  • Materials (resin) is more expensive

Probably the first opensource design that used none filament deposition technology and that was announced in 2012.

Hardware:

  • Technology: Uses a DLP projector to cure a photopolymer (light initiated) resin. A deformable Mirror Device (DMD) projector shines a 1024 x 768 pixel image onto a layer of photo-initiated polymer resin.
  • Build area: 102.4 x 76.8 x 206.4 mm (max at 100 micron x/y setting)
  • Price: $3000 (Kit) and $5000 (Assembled)

Reading:


Formalabs Form 1 printer (prototype)

7.2 Formlabs

Formlabs is an SLA technology available since 2014, they ship world-wide.

Form 1+
  • $3300.- (?) / €2799, A liter of Resin costs at least 100$ / 85 Euros
  • 300 min. size of objects
  • 25 micron layers
  • Build volume: 125 x 125 x 165mm
  • Material: Acrylate Photopolymer Resin
  • 8 Kg

The Form 1 uses Stereolithography (SL) technology, i.e. uses a laser to cure a liquid resin. That kind of technology, so far, was only available in professional printers. Daniel K. Schneider (talk) 16:18, 17 April 2013 / September 2014.

Form 2 - replaces the Form 1+
  • 4169.00 CHF

7.3 Photocentric3D

Photocentric offers three models as of Aug 2017. They use DPP (Daylight Polymer Printing) which use much less energy than SLA. Also Resin (both standard and flexible) seems to be much cheaper. SLA printers may for the moment offer more variety of Resin (e.g. tough one).

Liquid crystal 10
  • 9 kg
  • As of Aug 2017, the Photocentric LC10 SLA 3D is probably one of the cheapest SLA printers, at 1300 CHF / 700 £.
  • Build volume: 200 x 100 x 200 mm
  • Layer thickness: 50 - 100 microns
  • X/Y density: 220 microns
  • Speed: 25-55 sec layer (depending on resin)
LC Pro
  • 68 kg
  • 3700 £
  • Build volume: 470 x 240 x 340 mm
  • Layer thickness: 50 - 100 microns
  • X/Y: 137 microns

7.4 XYZ

XYZ offers comparatively cheap printers. As of Aug 2017 they have one SLA model.

Nobel 1.0A
  • About 1800$ / 2000 CHF
  • Build size: 128 x 128 x 200 mm
  • X/Y Resolution: 130, Z-Axis Resolution: 25 micron

8 Commercial entry-level SLS printers

Although SLS patents expired some years ago, it took time to see "powder"-based printers appear on the market. As of Sept 2017 there are several machines. Also take into account that you should buy extra machines for dealing with powder recycling and for blasting printed parts.

8.1 Sintratec

Sintratec is a Swiss company that provides both a kit and assembled model. Both print polyamide (Nylon) powder.

  • Sintratec Kit, 5000 Euros
  • The assembled machine is around 20K or more

As of 2017, one of the cheapest powder printers if you buy the kit.

Formlabas Fuse 1 (printer only)

8.2 Formlabs Fuse 1

The Fuse 1 comes from the manufacturer that brought the first successful cheap SLA printer to the market (see above). As of Sept. 2017 the model is advertized but not yet available. Regular units should ship in Spring 2018.

  • Fuse 1, 12'000 Euros base price (without post-processing unit, or powder). A full recommended system will be 24'000 euros.
Sinterit Lisa kit (printer, sieve and blaster

8.3 Sinterit Lisa

  • A cheap desktop SLS Printer from Poland. As of Sept 2017, prices have fallen dramatically and this is probably the best SLS buy with respect to price/qualityif you are low on budget. You can get the printer alone for 5000 Euros and a full kit with sieve (to clean powder), blaster and 6kgs of powder for 7000 Euros.

9 3D Pens

3D pens were hyped sometimes in 2015 we believe and are fairly useless.

3D doodler (prototype): Source Kickstarter

9.1 3D Doodler

3D Doodler, the original. A version 2.0 will be available in May 2005.

  • A pen that will heat 3mm ABS plastic. Is that still true ?
  • You can draw 3D "wireframes" either on a flat surface or upwards...

Available around nov. 2013

9.2 Lix Pen

Available in summer 2015. An light weight aluminum design

9.3 Freesculpt 3D Pen

  • Two models: FX1-free (also known as Claudio2Go) and FX2-free
  • Seems to work
  • FX1 Review

9.4 Swiss 3D Print

  • Takes ordinary 1.75mm PLA or ABS
  • home page
  • Out of stock as of feb 2015. Was it ever working ?

10 Commercial desktop printers

These range from 20K to to several hundred K. See also above for some interesting SLA and SLS printers that have become fairly cheap.

Technology

Commercial desktop printers use a variety of patented technology. Most are power-based, but there are also hight end filament and SLA printers.

Cost

Roughly speaking, the cost of printing with commercial desktop printers is about CHF 500 / liter or kilo, i.e. around 0.5 CHF or 0.4 Euros per cm3 or grams. For example, a 4x2 standard Lego brick is about 2.5 grams and therefore should cost about a Euro. Price for solid objects like this depends on the filling and whether the printer can do non-solid fills.

10.1 Asiga

  • The Asiga was in 2012 on of the most compact and the cheapest UV LED printer (from $7000)
  • “The Pico’s dual build resolution (50 or 37.5 microns in X&Y) and the ability to grow parts in 1 micron increments in Z, makes the Pico ideal for high resolution applications such as dental, jewelry and hearing. When building at 50 micron layers, the Pico achieves a build speed of approximately 6mm p/hr.” (Pico, retrieved feb 2012.

10.2 BluePrinter

Was an affordable 3D Printer with new Selective Heat Sintering (SHS™) technology. Filed bankruptcy in 2016.

  • $13'200 (according to 3ders.org
  • SHS™ technology uses a thermal printhead as opposed to a laser in SLS machines
  • The thermal printhead applies heat on layers of thermoplastic powder in the build chamber
  • 160 x 200 x 140 (W x L x H)
  • Printing speed: 5 mm/hour
  • Layer thickness: 0.1 mm
  • Uses white thermoplastic powder.
  • Power-based systems like this one, don't need support structures (because of the powder)

It seems that the printer did work fine, but the "medium" market was not big enough for such a company to survive.

10.3 SolidModel USA

Sells objet prints plus the Solido line (don't know how they are connected to Stratasys)

The Solido SD300 Pro 3D Printer used polyvinylchloride that is bonded with liquid adhesive.

  • Plastic sheet lamination technology
  • Build size: 160mm/6.3in x 210mm/8.26in x 110mm/4.33in (xyz)
  • Material colors: amber, cream, black and red
  • $ 10'000
  • Accuracy: 0.1mm
  • Layer thickness: 0.168mm
Mojo Desktop 3D Printer

10.4 StrataSys

Since Aug 2013 Stratasys acquired MakerBot. Quote: "MakerBot, which offers the most popular desktop 3D printers, will maintain independent operation while gaining resources to fuel innovation." Stratasys.com, Sept. 22 2013.

10.4.1 UPrint / Mojo series

Idea Series is the desktop line from StrataSys. The model line includes former Dimension printers.

Mojo
  • Mojo (mono color ivory ABS) is about $10000
  • layer resolution: .007
  • Can only print solid (no fill styles like honeycomb)
  • Cost: $5/cubic inch, i.e. about $0.3 / cm3
  • Print heads are including in so-called print packs (printing 80 cubic/inches of material), about $400
  • Probably an interesting solution, if you don't print models with a lot of fill.
UPrint
  • UPrint SE mono color is about $14000
  • UPrint Plus SE multi-color is about $19900

These models use Fused Deposition Modeling with a 0.254mm resolution.

  • The HP Designjet 3D printer series is a uPrint from StratSys (see above). We don't know if it is totally identical. It may be just a bit more expensive.

10.4.2 Solidscape series

Not sure if these are different or just somewhat rebranded from other models

10.4.3 Design series / Objet (formerly from Objet)

  • Use jetted photopolymer (polyjet) technology
  • Objet24 Personal 3D Printer
  • Objet30 Desktop 3D Printer

Pricing is not known, the Objet 24 is rumoured to cost around $20000.

Design series / Dimension
  • Dimension 1200es: ABS, fast and large build envelope, probably fairly expensive (over 100K)
Design series / Objet Eden 260V
  • 260 x 260 x 200 mm tray size
  • PolyJet technology
  • 17 different types of materials
  • Probably the one I'd like to have (over 100K) - 23:41, 17 April 2013 (CEST)

10.5 3Dsystems

  • The Projet 1000 personal mono-color (?) printer costs around $11000.
  • The ProJet™ 1500 personal 3D color printer costs around $/EUR 14500
  • The VFlash entry-level monocolor costs about EUR/$ 10'000

These printers use Film Transfer Imaging (FTI) technology

In addition, you have to buy material cartridges. Dollar prices seem to be lower than Euro prices (as usual, e.g. $9900 for V-Flash mono color)

Other information
  • 3DSystems bought ZCorp (see below) on Jan 2012 and therefore is probably the industry leader as of 2012. It also owns Bits from Bytes (the maker of the RapMan) and maybe some other smaller companies.
  • 3DSystems announced an end-user consumer model for spring 2002 (see the "Cube" above)

10.6 ZCorp

  • The cheapest ZCorp (one of the industry leaders) model, i.e. in 2010 the "jetting" ZPrinter 150 was 164 kg and costs about $15'000. The multicolor version, ZPrinter 250 was $25'000. As of 2017, model names did change and I have no idea about pricing of these ...
  • As compared to Stratasys machines, ZCorp models maybe print faster and use less materials (since they are either jetting or powder agglomeration based)
  • Finished parts should cost $.20 USD per cubic centimeter in materials

10.7 Others

  • Matrix 3D printer from Mcor technologies is a Laminated Object Manufacture printer, i.e. glues and cuts paper. You have to buy a package with an annual fee (e.g. £6600)

11 web services for 3D printing

There exist probably several companies who do this. Typically, online 3D printing services also include a store where users can both upload and sell designs. Some sites also offer other manufacturing and commercial services and most also provide free resources for learning how to create things

Note: The laser cutting and engraving services will be moved once I decide to start resources on that topic.

Shapeways

  • They take STL, VRML, Collada & X3D formats with some constraints, e.g. less than 500'000 polygons, a watertight mesh, etc.

Sculpteo

  • Similar as Shapeways

Kraftwurx

  • Your can sell your models, buy printed objects. Some models are free for download.

Ponoko

Formulor

  • Laser cutting service. The company also provides Illustrator, CorelDraw and Inkscape templates

VectoRealism

  • Laser cutting (very similar or same as Formulor ?)

RazorLab

  • Laser Cutting and engraving.

12 Software and formats

Roughly speaking, the production pipeline looks like this:

  1. Model something or find a model
  2. (Merge/adapt models)
  3. Translate to STL
  4. Translate to machine code
  5. Print

12.1 3D modeling Software and file formats

For more detailed information, see:

File formats

The most popular file format is the .STL file format: “An STL (“Stereolithography”) file is a triangular representation of a 3-dimensional surface geometry. The surface is tessellated or broken down logically into a series of small triangles (facets). Each facet is described by a perpendicular direction and three points representing the vertices (corners) of the triangle. These data are used by a slicing algorithm to determine the cross sections of the 3-dimensional shape to be built by the fabber” (The StL Format, retrieved 17:25, 24 June 2009 (UTC)). STL files can be created with most CAD programs. Alphaprototypes provides instructions for several popular CAD applications.

12.2 3D Printing software

We distinguish between three kinds of "printing software"

  • Preparation software will take a 3D model, allow you to make some adjustments (like repairing) holes, positioning and rotation and then output a clean printable format, in particular .STL files. The most popular software in that category is Netfabb Studio.
  • Slicer software will take as input an .STL model (or similar) and then produce machine code according to various parameters that you can set.
  • Control software, can send print files to a printer and control the printer otherwise (e.g. manually move the print head, change temperature, etc.)
  • In principle, some software could do all

See: Slicers and user interfaces for 3D printers

Special-purpose software

  • CandyFab developed CandyFaboulous, written in Processing, an open source programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interaction.

12.3 Related EduTechWiki articles

In EduTechWiki, we provide a few overviews and/or beginner's tutorials. See the category 3D printing. For example:

Printers
Modeling software
Preparation and Slicing

13 Links

3D objects can be found in various repositories

See also the Fab lab and 3D printers in education articles which also includes bibliographies or reviewed articles and books.

13.1 Repositories

See 3D assets

13.2 General

  • 3ders.org “latest news and developments of 3D printing technology, and informations of 3D printers.”
  • 3D Printing (Explaining the Future, oct. 2011). Includes a review of both commercial and open source printers.

13.3 On wikipedia

14 Acknowledgments

  • 17 October 2011 (CEST). Bart Bakker (Mini FabLab Utrecht) for pointing out two missing items (the Ultimaker and the Solidoodle)
  • 26 November 2011 (CET). Maarten Vermaak for telling me about the Felix printer.
  • 9 dec 2011. Bart Bakker told me about the Printrbot.
  • Pictures are reproduced without permission. I don't think that any non-open source Maker should complain. After all, these may help selling.