What affordable 3d printers are available?
The short answer: A lot of... here are some of the highlights (Date: June 2016):
Makerbot Replicator 2
One of the first professional-looking, fully assembled 3d printers to be delivered with a relatively close proximity to the user experience you'd expect, most printers work instantly, the software is quite mature and the print quality for an FDM printer is excellent.
The Replicator 2 has one of the largest user communities behind it and one of the largest 3d printer manufacturers on the market for low-cost 3d printers.
Although there is now a successor model, this printer is still considered to be the best makerware printer, which may change as soon as the new Replicator 5th generation is finished with its teething troubles - until then, but this printer is recommended.
Form feed form 1+
Form 1 (+) is the only affordable printer that can print with stereolithography technology and produce excellent resolutions, but it can only print with resin that is hard to get and much more expensive than PLA or ABS plastic, which limits the printer's ability to print inks and materials, making it one of the best on the market.
Ultimaker Ultimaker 2
The Ultimaker 2 is an extremely hot candidate for the first place.
High resolution, a low price and a rather active community make the Ultimaker 2 very attractive, but the community is a bit smaller and can change quickly. the FDM printer can print any kind of filament and achieve a very good print result with high resolution. even if 20 Micron is the maximum, this should be handled with caution.
The Cube 3D printer is a visually very nice device and allows good print results at a good price, but the print volume is smaller than other FDM printers and the printer uses a closed filament system, which makes it less attractive.
PP3DP UP Plus 2
The UP Plus 2 is also a neat and tidy machine with a very good print resolution and an automatic calibration system that can be helpful, but the UP plus has a relatively small print volume.
The features and expandability of these open source printers are usually impressive, but you have to assemble the device yourself and often the look suffers a bit.
But real hobbyists can save money and learn a lot about 3d printers and their setup.
Are those all affordable 3d printers?
No, not by a long shot... there are probably 20 more... but these are the best known and certainly also the more interesting systems... If you know any other good printers, please write in the comments and tell us what makes them stand out from other systems.