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Print your own Yoda at home for $499: 3D printers become affordable

Evan Dashevsky | April 29, 2013
Additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) may finally have its moment. The technology has been around for decades, but only recently has it managed to crawl out from behind the curtains of advanced industrial production and bearded basement hobbyists into the awareness of the general public.

The Replicator 2 utilizes PLA filaments, while the Replicator uses ABS.

Cubify Cube and CubeX ($1299 and $2499)

Cubify, one of the oldest names in 3D printing, now offers one of the most versatile models. The company's Cube and CubeX printers sell for $1299 and $2499, respectively, and can use both ABS and PLA plastics.

The CubeX is able to print in three colors and can render an object the size of a globe or basketball.

Solidoodle ($499 to $799)

Brooklyn's Solidoodle has the most affordable model with a fully assembled printer available for only $499 for the Solidoodle 2. However, more advanced models run upwards of $799.

All sales are handled through the site and built to order with a lead time of four to eight weeks.

Makergear ($1475 to $1750)

Ohio's Makergear offers a DIY approach to 3D printing and offers a fully assembled model for $1750 (or $1475 for a kit that you assemble yourself). The printer will work with either ABS or PLA plastics, but can render only with one color at a time.

The future is now-ish

Today, you can purchase a new desktop 3D printer for about the same cost as a high-end tablet or laptop (or even a midrange one in some cases). This may be the year we begin seeing 3D printers making their way onto desktops around the country.

As of now, the consumer 3D industry is too small for the Googles and Apples of the world to take notice. And that is exactly why it's so exciting. This is a brand-new industry with no breakout stars and no foregone conclusions.

The crown is there for the taking.


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