|The MakerBot Thing-O-Matic|
While still not a trivial amount of money for most of us, it's getting into a price range that begins to bring in hobbyists and small businesses. It also uses an Arduino to run the whole thing which is a device I've been playing around with for the past year or so and am comfortable programming and building electronics with. The idea was really neat, but I was looking for something that felt a little more hackable and where I could potentially be able to contribute to a community.
|RepRap Prussa 2|
These things are amazing, they are built around off the shelf parts and are constantly being tweaked with new software and hardware revisions. One of the awesome things about 3D printers is that they can print out many of the parts needed to build them. While I'm hoping I can do a better job with my wiring to give it a cleaner look, the picture to the left is essentially what I'll be building. A Reprap Prusa Mendel for about $500 including a few extra bells and whistles.
I've been researching everything I can find online about these 3D printers. From build guides, to working with programming the microchips and modifying them. Calibrating the whole system so it will print right and how to build your own 3D models to print out. There are some limitations with the quality or resolution of printable objects at this point, but cutting edge stuff like this will always have it's flaws and issues to be worked out and in the past 6 years they've figured out solutions to a lot of them and refined the printing quality to rival some of the professional 3D printers out there.