The world of personal 3D printers is changing so fast that you can even buy them at your local hardware store in the tool aisle. In fact, this year, the editors of Make:'s annual guide to 3D printing are featuring on the cover a 3D printed car, the Strati from Local Motors -- the future of custom 3D printed vehicles. They're also featuring the new Dremel 3D printer, the Idea Builder, that's available at 100 Home Depots across the country for under $1,000. Dremel, the quintessential maker tool, surprised its fan base with the announcement at MakerCon and World Maker Faire in mid-September.
"2014 has been a full-throttle year for 3D printing since January's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) introduced us to dozens of new machines. It's clear that additive fabrication has caught the attention of major brands in all sectors (Adobe, Microsoft, Hasbro, Dremel and even Arduino) and the push for the mainstreaming of this technology has hit new heights," said Anna Kaziunas France, digital fabrication editor for Make: magazine. "The field of printers we tested this year represent a departure from last year with a number of new entries from across the globe. We've seen 3D printers from Asia and New Zealand, and at Rome Maker Faire in October, there were dozens of 3D printers introduced."
For the Ultimate 3D Printing Guide 2015, the Make: team of reviewers recognized experts in the 3D printing field, and team leader France hit the road. Arriving in Youngstown, Ohio, they put the printers through a battery of tests, to create side-by-side comparisons in order to identify the ten top performers.
"This year, we created a publishing event for our annual 3D printer shootout and conducted the testing at the home of America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a government-supported initiative to support 3D printing and manufacturing," said Jason Babler, creative director of Make: magazine. "As manufacturing returns to America -- in part driven by 3D printer technology -- what more relevant location than a city in the industrial belt?"
The 3D printing products and related services market is projected to grow to over $6B by 2017. What's more, Wanted Analytics recently released findings indicating growth in demand for 3D printing expertise. According to the report, 35% of all posted engineering openings in the month of August 2014 sought "3D printing and additive manufacturing skills."
First copies of Make: The Ultimate 3D Printing Guide 2015 will be available at the Engadget EXPAND event at the Jacob Javits Center this weekend, Friday-Saturday, Nov. 7-8. Some of the Make: 3D printer reviewers, led by France, will demo six of the best preforming printers tested in the issue and will be on hand to answer questions. A PDF of the Ultimate 3D Printing Guide 2015 and pre-orders of the print issue can be purchased through makershed.com for $9.99. The issue will also be available at Barnes and Noble stores and on newsstands November 25.
"This was an incredible effort by everyone on our team of testers who represent a cross-section of 3D printing gurus, from engineers to designers and artists to technology and 3D printing instructors," said France.
The Ten Standout Printers are:
Best in Shootout: Ultimaker 2 "Undisputed best scores in print-quality tests"
Rookie of the Year: BeeTheFirst "An easy-to-use, attractive, portable machine"
Reliable Performer: Afinia "A solid bet for the third year running"
Most Maker Machine: LulzBot TAZ 4 "Everything a maker wants"
Happy Mediums: Ditto Pro & Zortrax "Not quite top of the charts, but high quality prints"
Smart Software Integration: DeltaMaker "Seamless integration of OctoPrint"
Most Upgradable: Ultimaker Original+ "Continual support and available upgrades"
Thin Wallet Win: Printrbot Simple Metal "Affordable and tied for 2nd for print quality"
Feature Packed: Replicator 5th Gen "Flagship machine full of shiny new tech"
About MAKER MEDIA
Maker Media is a global platform for connecting makers with each other, with products and services, and with our partners. Through media, events and ecommerce, Maker Media serves a growing community of makers who bring a DIY mindset to technology. Whether as hobbyists or professionals, makers are creative, resourceful and curious, developing projects that demonstrate how they can interact with the world around them. The launch of Make: Magazine in 2005, followed by Maker Faire in 2006, jumpstarted a worldwide Maker Movement, which is transforming innovation, culture and education. Co-located in Sebastopol and Oakland, CA, Maker Media is the publisher of Make: Magazine and the producer of Maker Faire. It also develops "getting started" kits and books that are sold in its Maker Shed store as well as in retail channels. The Make: brand caters to a universe of more than 25 million makers collectively across its Make: magazine, makezine.com, Maker Faires, and Maker Shed properties.
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