Holiday 3D Printer Gift Guide 2014

Printing a Super Mario Tree Topper

If you’re thinking of getting yourself, your family or a loved one a 3D printer this holiday season, that’s awesome! To help you decide which printer might be the right gift, this is my 3D printer gift guide featuring my top 3 choices and the reasons behind them. I’ve tried to cover a range of prices in the consumer printer space and ones that I’ve had personal experience with. There are LOTS of options out there, often with very subtle differences between them, so do your research and ask questions.

One thing I don’t recommend is a printer from Kickstarter…at least as a holiday gift. It’s highly unlikely you’re going to get the physical printer before the holidays (I’m still waiting for my often delayed Peachy Printer) and usually these printers have no track record and in the race to the bottom, you’re likely to get a printer that doesn’t live up to the marketing.

On to the printers!

Entry: Printrbot Metal Simple (fully assembled, $599US)
This is a great little printer that keeps impressing me. It now comes fully assembled and working out of the box. It’s a very solid printer with lots of new features like an autoleveling probe, all metal frame and extruder, decent build area and a number of upgradable options. While not a huge build area (6″ x 6″ x 6″ / 150mm x 150mm x 150mm), it’s a perfect starter printer. As proof of it’s durability, my friends at ProtoPasta even mounted it onto a backpack frame and walked around printing with it at the Portland Maker Faire:
ProtoPlant @ PDX Maker Faire

This printer is also available in a less expensive holiday kit bundle with some nice extras. While I haven’t used it (nor seen it in person) yet, Printrbot also just came out with a new model, the $999 Printrbot Plus which looks pretty cool.

Mid: SeeMeCNC Rostock Max (kit, $999US)
This deltabot kit from SeeMeCNC has been extremely popular amongst 3D printing enthusiasts due to the combination of massive build area (11″ diameter by over 14 3/4″ height), low cost and very high quality results. As it’s an open source kit, it’s also highly customizable and hackable. It’s a HUGE printer and the Printrbot above could probably fit on the build plate.

The print quality I’ve seen from it is amazing for a $1000 printer and easily rivals (or betters) my $2000+ MakerBot. Assembly isn’t for the faint of heart as it’s estimated at around 20 hours depending on the skill level of the assembler. Fortunately, it’s well documented with an active community to support and help you build it.

Rostock Max

It’s also a fun printer to watch print (well, they all are, but Deltabots are even more fun)

High: Tinkerine DittoPro (fully assembled, $1999Cdn)
This is the latest printer from my friends at Tinkerine (disclosure, their CEO is my co-founder). This machine really is in a new class from their previous models on a number of levels. Gone is the laser cut wooden frame. It’s been replaced by a truly sleek, industrial design that looks more at home on your kitchen counter than in your garage. But don’t let the appearance fool you, it’s a professional level 3D printer that feels like it was designed in Cupertino. Stay tuned for my full review soon but I’ve spent a fair bit of time around this printer and it’s definitely a workhorse.

Tinkerine Ditto Pro

My favourite things are the giant build area (220 x 165 x 220 mm) on a removable build plate, sleek CNC’d aluminum parts, full graphical display to control the untethered printing and the fact that it’s made in Canada and supported locally.

All of these printers are available today, with shipping in time for the holidays. They all use fairly common spools of filament available from many different suppliers (some 3D printers require proprietary cartridges for their filament). These machines also excel at printing with PLA which is a bio plastic made from corn so you’re not going to stink up your house with ABS fumes – there is a slight smell in some cases with PLA but since’s it’s basically cornstarch, I find that it’s similar to maple syrup or cotton candy…but it’s very subtle.

Let me know if you’re planning on getting one of these or another printer for under the tree and as always, leave a comment if you have a question about them.

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