Just about everyone has heard of 3-D printing by now. It is amazing technology that lets you scan real life images, create your own 3 models in software, or use premade designs from a growing community to make just about anything. Have a household item that breaks? Make a new part. If you are an artist, make that sculpture or doll you have always wanted to bring into real life. Do you like to tinker and design? Make prototypes for just about anything. If you are concerned that an affordable printer is too small, make your pieces interlock to create larger models. The material is sandable and paintable so seams are no problem. FlashForge has been a leader in affordable 3-D printing for several years now, borrowing from the Makerbot design. There is a great community that share the plans for what they make on Thingiverse, so even if you don’t want to scan or design your own stuff, you can spend months or years just making things from pre-made plans. This is one of those things where your creations are only limited by your imagination.
The FlashForge 3d Printer Creator Pro is a 3-D printer that fits the budget for this price range and can get you started off making models. While the Makerbot brand is a pretty popular choice, their new models have received poor reviews, and this one offers the same heavy duty build with even more features like a heated build plate which the Makerbot does not have, while costing much less. The actual printing dimensions are 8.85″L x 5.7W x 5.9H It has glowing reviews as to print quality, sturdy design, reliability, and ease of use. It also includes software to get you printing right away. This unit comes in at about $1350.
Pick up some printing material like this Octave Black ABS Filament. There are tons of other colors too, just look around. A spool runs about $31 and can produce several small models depending on design.
You want something that can stick to your platform, take the heat, and provide a good release surface on the other side to easily slide your model off with out damage. Pick up some Octave Kapton Tape to get the job done right. About $45.
If you want to get started designing your own 3-D models for your printer, check out the free Autodesk 123D software suite. FREE.