Over at Makerbot industries they're now producing a weekly video series of everything "awesome" about anything having to do with the Makerbot. The first video is up and weighs in at 5:46 min, so be sure to check it out after the jump.
I absolutely love 3D Printing and would certainly like to have a Makerbot, however I always wanted a larger build area and higher resolution that can be had with the Makerbot. The rep rap series, of which the makerbot was birthed from, does have larger build areas but they too have similar issues with resolution of the prints. As noted in the video you can sand and smooth the plastic with a bit of sand paper and then wiping down with acetone to smooth out the lines.
One new prospect of home 3D printing is using a normal projector and UV sensitive resin for really high quality and durable prints. The only drawback I see with this design again the size of the build area, as you have to have a wide "vat of resin" and since the printing occurs "upside down" you'd have to have a pretty tall z axis. The other questions regarding this method is how sensitive is the resin to light? In the videos its pretty clear the resin sits behind a protective plastic filter. Do you have to drain the resin when the printer isn't in use? The creator hasn't said too much but that it should be comparable to today's home 3D Printers in the $1000 price range. Here is a video of some of his work:
Of course you could always just print an object in pieces and then puzzle it together. To be honest most of my print projects wouldn't be anything more than an 8x10 ish size anyways. Regardless of which printer you use, or even if you use a service like shapeways or ponoko 3D printing is a great way to get your design ideas out and into the world and getting people thinking of new and exciting things to do with them. It is certainly the next step in custom manufacturing I think.
Hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for stopping by!