Anyone know about the performance of home 3D printers?

  1. I've been interested in 3D printers for a while but am not good enough with computers to do my own home designs. I read an article about new software that, along with being easy to make designs into code, can also turn a 2D picture into a 3D object. (

    I might be looking into getting a home 3D printer soon but haven't heard much about home units and their performance. Anyone think they know how much it will cost to run it, it's speed, reliability, etc. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mech_Engineer

    Mech_Engineer 2,347
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    What exactly are you hoping to print on said 3-D printer?
  4. Little trinkets or unique shapes. Nothing really over a few square inches. I've read about a program called Omnomnom creations which allows you to import a 2d image and it creates a 3d object out of it (on top of making customizable objects etc). It grabbed my attention.
  5. jhae2.718

    jhae2.718 1,152
    Gold Member

    The Printrbot is relatively inexpensive for a home rapid prototyping machine and has pretty good resolution. (Key word is relatively. They are also currently out of stock.)

    Generally speaking, you can use almost any parametric modeling software you want to generate an .stl file for a 3D printer. I like SolidWorks.
  6. The "master" design is called RepRap (, it's open source so you pay parts only, and depending on who you get the parts from, the cost is about 400 euros/dollars. (Go to local hackerspace, rent their 3d printer and print your own parts is cheapest). They are fiddly to setup and tune. The first things you will probably fab are additional parts to improve the printer quality! You can buy a pre-made, pre-tuned one e.g. MakerBot ( for about 150 more. MakerBots have a small print area however (20cm?)

    Speed is slow. Go out for dinner, come back to it. Much depends on the resolution you choose.

    Running cost is very cheap. 5 kilos of ABS is a few dollars.

    Reliability? They're open source kits. You build it yourself. If it breaks, you deal with it. If have issues with that then pay MakerBot.

    Look at for examples of stuff people are making. You can do car repair parts, home ornaments, dice, legos, jewelry, statues, kitchenware etc.

    The software is technically involved to use and doesn't really have a commercial standard GUI. You also have to design the object in such a way to allow 3d printing. For example overhangs can't be printed, so you have to do that in separate pieces.

    EDIT: Disclaimer. I should add that I have a Reprap which I bought in kit form. I have since modded it to use the Makerbot print head.
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