3D printing is becoming more and more of a regular topic on this blog and the ability of printing a 3D object from your home is getting closer to a reality every day.
At the moment 3D printing could still get cheaper, at the moment it is almost affordable... If you wanted to get something printed then it's fairly easy to do so, and if you wanted to own your own 3D printer... it's not impossible.
So to help you out a bit we have put together a mini guide to affordable 3D printing:
Getting your creations printed:
You don't have to own a 3D printer to print your own 3D products. There are a number of services that will print your designs or allow you to print from a selection of other peoples designs for a cost:
Shapeways allows you to upload your 3D design and they print it and ship it straight to you. If you do not know how to create a 3D model then you can choose from a number of designs other people have created on the Shapeways shop.
They have a number of materials to choose from that vary in cost, durability, flexibility, etc; and they also have a number of useful tutorials and tips on how to create your own 3D templates using free software such as Blender.
A site similar to the previously mentioned Shapeways. You can upload your 3D model and get it printed in a number of different materials that vary in cost and quality.
They also offer a number of kits that allow you to create 3D models based around templates for creating objects such as phone cases and light fixtures. They recommend a few pieces of simple software that you can use to create your 3D templates and if you all ready have experience in 3D design then you can even sell your designs for others to print through the site!
Getting you own printer:
It's not too difficult or expensive to actually purchase your own 3D printer to use, the cheapest way to do so is to buy one of the DIY "make your own 3D printer" kit. There are a couple of kits available, a number of them for less than a grand, which is a good price yet you will have to put in a lot of work.
You can get the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic kit for less than £800, it will take some work to build the thing, but you will end up with a fully functioning 3D printer. MakerBot have also released a new and improved model, the MakerBot Replicator that costs around £1200.
The Vision 3D printer kit is currently being funded on Kickstarter and for a $800 pledge (around £514) you get a "standard" vision 3D printer kit with 1lb of plastic for you to print with. The Kickstarter project only has 16 days left to go though, so unless you plan on getting one in the next few days then it may be a while before they go into production.
There are a few other kits available, check out http://www.reprapcentral.com/ as they have a number of kits and ready made printers available as well as the plastics to print with.
If you liked this post and want to read more, check out our post on how printers have advanced!