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3-D printers: A look at the machines

We check out the Form 1, Replicator 2, Cube, Afinia H-Series 3-D printers.

January 19, 2013

The Solidoodle is hardly the only 3-D printer attracting attention from those looking to play with the latest technology. More than a dozen printers are trying to capture slices of the market, though some of the devices require assembly or lack the kind of hand-holding tech support that the typical American consumer has come to expect. But make no mistake: 3-D printing is spreading. Aaron Pratt, vice president of marketing for manufacturer Afinia, said the first buyers of his company's H-Series printer were early-adopter hobbyists, but in the last few months the company has seen a surge in sales from high schools, where teachers have incorporated the machines into the science curriculum, and from colleges, where professors are using the hardware for discussions on everything from design to the future of American manufacturing. "We have teachers who are buying printers with money out of their own pocket," Pratt said. Here's a quick look at a few of the machines spurring that kind of excitement:

Form 1

Manufacturer: Formlabs

The story: Launched on Kickstarter. Now taking orders for shipments starting in May, company says. Build volume of 4.9 inches by 4.9 inches by 6.5 inches. Print resolution of 25 microns (0.001 inch).

Price: $3,299

Replicator 2

Manufacturer: Makerbot Industries

The story: Aimed at "pro-sumer" market, spokeswoman said, because it combines ease of use out of the box along with 100-micron resolution and a larger build volume (11.2 inches by 6 inches by 6.1 inches).

Price: $2,199


Manufacturer: Cubify 3D Systems

The story: The most affordable of the company's four printers. Maximum build volume of a 5.5-inch cube. Print resolution of 200 microns.

Price: $1,299

Afinia H-Series

Manufacturer: Afinia

The story: Launched in August, the H-Series was the top pick in Make magazine's review of 15 printers, lauded for easy setup and ease of use. Build volume of a 5-inch cube. Print resolution of 150 microns.

Price: $1,499

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