Brainstorm: 3D Printer Shootout for Students

Educators are constantly asking me for 3D printer buying advice. I usually refer them to the Make magazine 3D printer reviews as a starting point. I have been a reviewer for the annual Make 3D Printer/Digital Fabrication Shootout the past 2 year and respect the process and the opinions of the reviewers.

Make Magazine Reviews of Top 3D Printers

I think it would be exciting to have a mini 3D Printer Shootout for students and educators. I realized that I have access to quite a number of printers and it would be great to get feedback from the intended users.

Currently I have access to the following printers:
Afinia H800
Dremel Idea Builder
Makerbot Replicator 2 (w/new Smart Extruder+)
Printrbot Play
Printrbot Metal Simple
Printrbot Metal Plus
Ultimaker 2

I think with a little help from my community of 3D printing friends, I might be able to round up a few more education friendly models. Ideally, I would want students to setup and run the shootout. I help mentor a group of student researchers that incorporate digital fabrication into their projects. It would be great if they developed the test prints and testing methodology for the student and educators.

Choosing a 3D printer for the classroom is like choosing a car. It isn’t about choosing the single best model but rather picking the model that best fits individual needs. Having students and educators going hands on with the printers would be a great way to determine which features are most appealing for different situations.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions about this idea, leave a comment or contact me on Twitter @DesignMakeTeach.