A Gift Guide For The Novice 3D Printer

This is the year you and yours should take up 3D printing. Why? Because it’s cool, because 3D printing is the future, and machines have fallen in price and risen in quality. In short, 2015 will be the year of 3D printing. Here are some amazing printers to help you ring it in in style.


An inexpensive, European-made 3D printer? Yes, please. I reviewed this model this year and found it a true workhorse: it’s missing a lot of the bells and whistles of better printers but for the prize I’ve been able to product some quality prints without much fuss. It’s still $2,000 so it’s not the cheapest model on this list but it’s still far from the worst I’ve seen.

sense-giftguide14Cubify Sense

The Cubify Sense is a super-cool 3D scanner that lets your capture your friends and family right on your computer. What can you do with it? I made this fun model of my friend Phil with the scanner and now you can download and print him. Be warned: it’s not great for smaller objects. For that you need a turntable scanner like the Digitizer.

form1plus-giftguide14Form 1+

While the Zortrax is all business, the Form 1+ is all art. This cool resin printer uses special fluid that hardens under laser light. The resulting objects, which are solid instead of hollow, are surpassingly high resolution and are the closest you’ll get to injected-molded parts. The Form 1+ isn’t cheap but even at $3,299 artists and designers will squeal if they get one of these under the Festivus Pole .

solidoodle-giftguide14Solidoodle Press

The $499 Solidododle Press is the cheapest of this bunch and is more than acceptable for a beginning 3D designer. While it doesn’t have any of the fancy tools that Makerbot and Zortrax offer, think of this as the HP Inkjet of 3D printing – solid, dependable, and easy-to-use.

makerbot-giftguide14Makerbot 5th Gen

The granddaddy all of all 3D printers, the Makerbot is a complete printing package. The software, hardware, and on-board firmware – plus the connection to Makerbot’s Thingiverse – make this the easiest printer to use. Think of this as the Macintosh to Zortrax’s PC. $2,899 but well worth the investment.