Both the Roland iModela and the original Cupcake CNC make for excellent 3D model builders at under $1,000. What I've been waiting for, though is one that can cross the $500 threshold which could make it casual hobbyist fare rather than a box for more serious amateur designers and prototypers. I guess I didn't have to wait long with the introduction of the Solidoodle, a $499 3D printer.
Despite the low price, it's actually quite the powerful machine. Able to print three-dimensional objects up to 6 inches on all sides, you can really turn out some impressive creations on this thing.
Unlike many home 3D printers available today, the Solidoodle doesn't come as a kit that you'll need to assemble. Instead, it's shipped over pre-built (with starter plastic included), so all you really have to do is plug in and start cranking out your 3D creations. The frame, measuring 11.5 x 11.75 x 11.75 inches, is made entirely from steel and is supposedly sturdy enough to hold a 200-pound man sitting on top of it even while you print.
To get the price down, the base model features an acrylic build platform, an open profile (no outer panels and doors), and a 70W power supply. You can opt for better specs (like a heated platform and acrylic panels) for just a little extra. All models require 1.75mm plastic filament as your base material for bringing the 3D objects to life.
The Solidoodle is now available on pre-order directly from their website. Products ship out in six to eight weeks.