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Which 3D Printer is Right for Your Library?

Submitted by Caitlin A. Bagley on March 8, 2013 - 9:38am

Choosing the right 3D Printer for your makerspace is a big financial commitment, and one that you’ll likely have to live with for some time. Below are a few of the more common machines with pros and cons to help you make your decision.

Makerbot Replicator - $1,749.00

The Makerbot company has created a series of 3D printers that vary in price and capacity. The basic Replicator model works with all the major operating systems, including Linux and OSX, and accepts files in STL format. It uses 1.75 mm filament to heat up and create your objects, and most small projects are finished within an hour. At a hefty 32 pounds, this is not something you’ll want to move often.

Solidoodle 3D Printer, 2nd Generation - $499.00

In comparison to other 3D printers on the market, Solidoodle offers a great product for comparatively little money. 3D files are uploaded in STL format, then printed out on 1.75 mm filament. The printer arrives fully assembled out of the box. It llacks some of the precision of the Makerbot, but makes up for that in price.

MakerGear M Series 3D Printer - $1,450.00 - $1,750.00

On of the lightest of the options, MakerGear’s printer weighs in at only 25 pounds while still filling out the same basic functions as other 3D printers. It also uses 1.75 mm filament, but what distinguishes this printer from the others is that it comes ready to assemble, so you to learn how to build your own printer.

Stratasys 3D Printing/Mojo Printing? - $185.00/month lease

Unlike many of the printers that we’ve seen, this one allows for you to make a short commitment with a leasing agreement through Stratasys.

3Doodler - pricing not available

Although not yet on the market, the 3Doodler is a smaller 3D printer that might make a splash in libraries. Funded by Kickstarter, it is a small pen that is capable of using filament to create physical designs that can be held in the hand. Unlike it’s larger cousins, this printer creates objects in minutes and requires no software.