Popular Open Source 3D Printers

prusa i3 mk2 3d printer
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Just a decade ago, 3D printers were a novelty. Costing upwards of US$5,000 for a desktop edition that could convert some powder into plasticky objects. But not only have the prices fallen, but many have gone completely open source. Not just the CAD software, but also the hardware that make it all go.

The best thing about 3D printers is that there are many of them based on an open design. Like RepRap and Prusa out there. So the printers offers so many choices of sizes, quality, features that its truly a maker world.

Chris Anderson in his New York Times bestseller book, The long Tail, talks about the possible revolution of a 3D printer, calling it a “Desktop Factory”. In his words,

It’s the sort of radical technology that can set the imagination soaring…..A 3D printer is a domestic factory, capable of manufacturing almost anything ….”

Chris had hoped a decade earlier that the prices will fall enough to rival those of a laser printer. The 3D printer prices have definitely fallen and the low end of them now cost about the same as high end laser printers. But they have not yet become common place, as it was once hyped. They are still a novelty among professionals, engineers. However, the growing tide of makers and tinkerers may help take them mainstream.

So we decided to check out some of the popular 3d printers in open source domain. We chose four in our initial survey out of at least a dozen that we reviewed. If you think we are missing one popular open source 3D printer, do write in comments section and we will promptly check it out.

All of the reviewed models are small and sit quietly in a corner of your desk. They are small enough not to take up all the space measuring less than two feet on each side.

Robo R1 is really great and compact and designed to look like something from the future. However, it is only open source compatible with software while hardware is pretty much proprietary. The prices vary from anywhere around US$500 for Robo R1 to Lulzbot mini starting at US$1,200.

3DRag and Prusa systems are also available as kits that one can assemble at home. This makes it even more fun and enjoyable for tinkerers and makers out there.

All of the popular 3D printers that we looked at use Fused Filament Fabrication technique which was pioneered by RepRap and is originally based on a proprietary system called FDM. Essentially, both systems of fabrication are identical in engineering.

The prices we share are average retail prices. However, the links of Amazon (that we shared) may be lower due to the holiday season sale.

Comparison of 3D Printers

The following comparison chart can help one differentiate among the offered features of a 3D printer.

Lulzbot Mini 3Drag Robo R1+ Original Prusa i3 MK2S
Manufacturer Aleph Objects Futura Elettronica Robo 3D Prusa Research
Type open filament system Fused Filament Fabrication Fused Filament Fabrication Fused Filament Fabrication
Hardware Open source, including firmware Hackable, open source, RepRap Proprietary Hackable/Open Source, RepRap
Software Open Source. Not limited to any one particular. Can choose from many. Open source Open Source Software compatible Open Source
Connectivity USB USB, Arduino compatible Standalone 3D printing from SD card. Integrated LCD and SD card controller
Size 435 mm x 340 mm x 385 mm (17.1 in x 13.4 in x 15.2 in) 60 cm x 43 cm x 59 cm 433.8 x 459.7 x 383.54 mm 42 x 42 x 38 cm (16.5 x 16.5 x 15 inches)
Print Area 152 mm x 152 mm x 158 mm (6 in x 6 in x 6.2 in 20 x 20 x 20 cm 254 x 228.6 x 203.2 mm (10 x 9 x 8 in.) 25 x 21 x 20 cm or 9,84 x 8,3 x 8 in
Print Volume 3,650 cm3 (223 in3) of usable space 10500 cm3
Top Print Speed 275mm/sec 200 mm / sec Up to 80 mm/s 200+ mm/s
Layer Thickness From 0.05 mm to 0.50 mm (0.002in – 0.020 in) – X and Y: 0.015 mm

– Z: 0.781 microns

Useable Filament Sizes standard 3 mm (0.1 in) standard 3 mm (0.1 in) 0,4mm nozzle (easily changeable) for 1,75 mm filament
Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, wood filled filaments, Polyester (Tritan), PETT, bronze and copper filled filaments, Polycarbonate, Nylon, PETG, conductive PLA and ABS, UV luminescent filaments, PCTPE, PC-ABS, Alloy 910, and more every day. PLA, ABS PLA, ABS, HIPS and nylon Any thermoplastic including Nylon and Polycarbonate.

PLA, ABS, PET, HIPS, Flex PP, Ninjaflex, Laywood, Laybrick, Nylon, Bamboofill, Bronzefill, ASA, T-Glase, Carbon-fibers enhanced filaments, Polycarbonates

Price US$1,250 US$500 US$500 US$600
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Techie by day, blogger by night. Love the outdoors, enjoy traveling and building new and interesting things. Follow me if you want to know something.

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