New York Times article on Maker Bot 3D printer

Today’s New York Times has an article on a low-end 3D printer called Maker Bot:

Has anyone tried this already for design projects, and are the results comparable to professional quality FDM’s etc.? It seems like they are geared towards hobbyists and artists for now. But a 1300$ 3D printer (even if it has to be assembled from a kit) almost sounds too good to be true…

A friend of mine has worked at Makerbot for the past couple of years, and while it started out as a simple idea (lets just take a plastic extruder, control it numberically, and we can make parts!) with all the roughness that comes with simplicity, it is getting better. They are always working to improve the machine, and I hear what’s next is going to be pretty slick.

The quality as it currently stands, from what I’ve seen, is not quite as good as FDM. (I’ve only seen samples at places like Maker Faire, never used one myself). So it would be good for a volumetric model, maybe comparing to different concepts in some baseline testing, but it is certainly not a client-facing prototype machine.

If you want to see examples of things people are building, check out Thingiverse. Also, if you want to get really cheap you can check out reprap (they don’t sell anything, but I believe the guy I spoke with said you can get plans to build your own for ~1000 or less (or so, it’s pretty fuzzy in my mind).