Consumer Report: Impressive 3D Printers

By: Lauren Evans Email
By: Lauren Evans Email

When you hear “printer,” you think of that machine that spits out paper and photos. A 3D printer is a completely different animal that lets you create three-dimensional objects. Consumer Reports just tested 3D printers from MakerBot, 3DSystems, and Solidoodle, costing from $800 to almost $3,000, and it turns out they’re pretty cool.

You feed them a blueprint that you’ve designed, and out comes a three-dimensional object. But what if you don’t know how to design a blueprint on the computer?

That’s okay because there are a lot of free designs, right on the Web. You can go to or and look for thousands of designs.

You’ll find ready-to-download designs for everything from chess pieces to garden toads.

Once you’ve downloaded the blueprint and set up the printer with a roll of material, you’re good to go.

You do need a little bit of patience if you’re going to print with a 3D printer because you’re feeding a roll of plastic or some other material, and it extrudes that material, layer by layer, to build your object. So even building something small can take hours.

For now, the machines are really for hobbyists, DIY enthusiasts, and people who are really captivated by this idea and want to play with it. The printers are not super-practical yet. Right now they cost too much money to be a household item.

Though Consumer Reports says it might be a while before 3D printers go mainstream, many industries are already using them. For example, car companies create prototypes of engine parts with 3D printers and dentists make retainers and mouth guards. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it truthful, stay on topic, be responsible, share your knowledge, and please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. Comments may take up to 24 hours or longer to appear on the site.

See full commenting rules...
powered by Disqus
WILX 500 American Road Lansing, MI 48911 517-393-0110
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 227902491 -
Gray Television, Inc.