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Although in its emerging stage, 3D printing technology has captured the fancies of gadget freaks and consumers alike. Unlike conventional printers that allow people to print on flat surfaces like paper, 3D printing technology can be used to create solid, three-dimensional objects from digital models.

With the help of CAD (Computer Aided Design) models, the 3D printer is able to obtain thousands of cross sections or "slices" of the three dimensional object. The virtual model is stored in the STL file format and the actual models created by these printers are very similar to the virtual models. The printer reads the .stl file and builds up the three dimensional object by spraying on layers of liquid, paper and powder.

3D printing companies you should know about
Conduct extensive research before buying a 3D printer as prices can vary vastly - from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars for one unit. MakerBot is perhaps the largest and most popular 3D printer manufacturer and its Replicator series has set standards in the 3D printing industry. However, MakerBot is now facing serious competition from 3D Systems and their 3D printer named CubeX. FormLabs is the newcomer in the industry but their Form1 3D printer is already receiving rave reviews from experts.

Choosing best 3D printers

Price
If you are looking for reasonably priced yet good-quality 3D printers, you can look at other lesser known companies like Eventorbot, Bits from Bytes, DeltaMaker, etc. that are offering great 3D printers for the mass market at affordable prices.

Ease of assembly
3D printers by 3D Systems and MakerBot are some of the most sought after in the industry. For a first-timer buying a MakerBot printer the best option as their printers are very easy to assemble.

Color and plastic options
When you are buying a 3D printer, you should also look at the color options and two and three-color printers can be quite expensive. Most printers can create models out of PLA plastic or ABA plastic but not both so you need to decide the type of models you want before purchasing a 3D printer.

Model making methods used
MakerBot's 3D printers are cheaper and even have dual-extruder print heads. Most 3D printers use fused-deposition modeling method to create objects, which can be slow. FormLabs is now creating 3D printers that use stereolithography to create models that are smoother and more detailed. Stereolithography creates models much faster and requires fewer parts as it uses UV light to harden the material that forms 3D models. A laser beam is directed at a vat of the polymer, which hardens thin layers of the polymer to create very accurate models. Models created using this technique are harder and much more durable.

3D printers that use fused-deposition modeling consume more power as the material that makes up the model needs to be heated so that it can be sprayed thinly in layers. Hence, buy a 3D printer that uses stereolithography if you want robust and long-lasting models. A 3D printer with dual-extruder technology is also a good option as stereolithography printers are hard to find. Dual-extruder printers have two nozzles so that layers are created more quickly. You need to check the type of material, ease of assembly, speed, smoothness of final model and recycling options of various 3D printers while buying a 3D printer.

Browse All Top 3D Printerss »

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Aleph Objects, Inc LulzBot AO-101
Cubify CubeX
Airwolf AW3D XL
MakerGear M2
MakerBot Replicator 2X
Aleph Objects, Inc LulzBot AO-101 3D Printer
Cubify CubeX Trio 3d Printer
Airwolf AW3D XL 3D Printer
MakerGear M2 3d Printer
MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D Printer
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Release Date
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Product Features
Comes fully-assembled and ready-to-print, Includes 5 lbs of ABS filament to start printing immediately, The AO-101 is capable of printing ABS and PLA plastic filaments, Layer resolution: 75 to 500 microns, The AO-101 is a Libre Hardware product, All of the part designs are provided with the printer, Printable updates are also made available at download.lulzbot.com, One of the most reliable desktop 3D printers on the market
Clear, familiar and easy to use interface, Scaling, rotation and movement of parts on a simulated print bed, Proven default settings for all CubeX 3D printers, Ability to create custom profiles as needed, Imperial / metric conversion available, Combined part and toolpath viewer, Built-in STL file verification, Profiles for multiple material / support material, Software upgrades can be downloaded from the CubeX Technical Resources hub
Capable of printing in five different materials, including nylon and a wood-polymer composite
Fully Assembled MakerGear 1.75mm Stepper Plastruder - works with ABS and PLA, Precision Ground and Polished Steel Shafting, Low Maintenance, Includes 1K Spool of 1.75mm PLA Plastic Filament
A super flat build plate, a draft-blocking enclosure, and completely re-engineered dual extruders

  • The AO-101 does require assembly but the detail and ease at which this device and print 3D objects will appeal to a number of customers.


  • 3D Systems has made 3D printing easy their CubeX Trio. The device prints multiple colors and has the largest print area you will find for this price.


  • The AW3D XL is a solid choice for those who are searching for a printer with a large print area and low maintenance.


  • Aside from requiring you to purchase all the external components separately, the M2 3D printer functions perfectly when producing 3D creations.


  • Because this printer has a quick build speed it is great for those who want to create many objects in a short amount of time.


Top 5 3d printers:

  1. Aleph Objects, Inc LulzBot AO-101 3D Printer
  2. Cubify CubeX Trio 3d Printer
  3. Airwolf AW3D XL 3D Printer
  4. MakerGear M2 3d Printer
  5. MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D Printer