Are 3D Printers Ready for the Home Market?
All technology seems to begin with only the elite early adopters having access to it until the cost inevitably falls to a price point compatible with the average income. If you are of a certain age, you might remember how gigantic brick-shaped mobile phones were a status symbol in the late 1980s.
Today, mobile phones are so ubiquitous that having a landline phone is seen as a rarity. We’re not quite at the point where 3D printers are affordable enough for everyone to have one, but the tipping point has begun.
Okay, so 3D printers might not be as universally appealing for a huge market like the cell phone was. But for those who find the technology interesting, a few models are available for under $1000. If you are running a small design firm out of your home office, or if you just love the idea of creating something out of nothing, you might want to look into some of the latest 3D printers designed for the home market.
If you’re on a budget but love to do DIY projects, the Printrbot Simple Kit might be a good option for you. Dynamism offers this assembly-required kit for only $349. Looking something like a 3D printer built from an Erector set, the Printrbot is a completely customizable printer with exposed motors and circuit boards.
The machine can be assembled in less than an hour with just a screwdriver and a few tools. The printer takes up less than a cubic foot of space. While the Printrbot is fine for small jobs and simple prototypes, it tends to struggle with more intricate patterns.
For those who can afford to spend a bit more, tool company Dremel has introduced the Idea Builder, which is set to retail at $999. The Idea Builder will feature on-board software and a color touchscreen so that users can have a look at their designs before printing them.
The printer will also feature a 100-micron resolution, making it fine enough for more detailed projects. Dremel is targeting the home audience with the Idea Builder, with plans to make the printer available in Home Depot and on Amazon.com as early as November 2014.
Also in the coming-soon category is the Cubify Cube 3, priced at about $1000. The Cubify Cube 3 is amazingly simple, making it great for beginners. Cubify also likes to mention that without a heated printer bed, their 3D printer is safe for kids to use and explore the endless possibilities of 3D printing. Changing the filament is as simple as dropping in a new cartridge, which is available in 20 colors.
The one downside is that you have to buy the cartridges from Cubify, and they cost a bit more than other generic filament spools. However, the Cubify Cube 3’s strength is in its simplicity. It easily connects to several computers at once via Wi-Fi and has simple, straight-forward software with a user-friendly interface, making it perfect for kids and adult beginners alike.