So a while ago, I got myself an Ultimaker
And while I do not want to degrade the usefullness by calling it a toy, I would like to say
Best. Toy. Ever.
It is sold as a kit, and it took me two evenings (and part of a night) to build. Ever since then I have been happily making little things with it.
You do have to realize that it is quite the DIY project; for the Ultimaker kit you do not need to do any soldering, but don’t expect perfect prints straightaway; 3d-printing itself has a learning curve, and you’ll be tweaking and playing around with your machine to improve it as well.
I’d estimate that I spend about half the time fixing, calibrating, and improving the machine itself, and half the time actually printing other things. I love it, but before you go out and get one for yourself, you do have to realize this.
But that is one of the great things about these 3d-printers; you can print improvements for your printer as well. Or even entire new printers (without the electronics, obviously).
For instance, I’ve printed
- several forms of belt tensioners
- a tube holder for the hot-end
- a handle to carry the Ultimaker around
- a new fan duct for the hot-end
But also a lot of non-ultimaker things;
- the infamous geared heart
- a nice little decorative dragon
- a dock for my phone
- presents for people :)
The ultimaker is pretty actively worked on, both by Ultimaking inc. itself, and by its community; for instance, recently a lot of work has been put into improving the filament feed mechanism, and currently people are looking at better ways to build the hot-end.
For things to print, Thingiverse is a great resource. I regularly check it to see what to print next.