Check out this video from CNN Money sharing about 3D printers at Maker Faire this year, with a special focus on Formlabs and MakerBot.
3-D printers have been in industrial use for more than 20 years, but their cost — sometimes reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars — generally put them out of reach for everyday customers.
That’s changing fast. Entrepreneurs devoted to the “democratization” of these devices are building cheaper versions with rapidly falling price tags. Hobbyists are testing out at-home 3-D printers and chefs are giving them a whirl in the kitchen, using the technology to create intricately designed food. Doctors are even experimenting with using advanced printers to make artificial organs and prosthetic limbs.
While I have a number of CNC machines on my factory floor, my 10 year-old son really wants to build a tabletop 3D printer to make custom legos, small figures, etc. I’ve priced out the BoM for a Mendelmax, and its pretty reasonable ($500). Figure we’ll build it this fall.
I myself have plans to make replacement synthesizer parts for failing keyboard actions, and so on.
I’d recommend either a MendelMax or a Wallace as a great RepRap project to do on a budget. Whosawhatsis is making a new Wallace version at some point, to definitely check into the latest news in that community.