This actually feels like the future. So much stuff comes out that's like "ok, that's cool", but it's really not that fast or great, and yes I know this isn't close to out, but even the demo is like wow! And the medical applications! It's nice to be genuinely excited once in awhile!
Yeah. I have a standard 200mm edge-length-cube printer, and I find it just a little small for functional designs. Something around 1ft to 18" would be nice. I don't mind waiting a few days for a print if it all comes out in one solid piece.
This doesn't have the bed adhesion issues that SLA and DLP printers have, so much more delicate structures can be built. So it will be perfect for constructing microtubial networks that form the support structures for growing biological material. If used to make soft robots with embedded sensors, we could construct artificial coral. Measuring is affecting, is constructing.
3d printing is currently on the human scale of "can I hold it, and interact with it", while scaling up will eventually enable us to 3d print buildings and megastructures, scaling down will enable intelligent matter.
I can't speak to the less expensive printers but the Prusa MK3S is really a well-engineered device for the price. A lot of thought and refinement has gone into the incremental evolution (for example, I had an MK3, and while it was OK, it's clear the MK3S has a much better extruder design that makes maintainence easier).
Some people prefer the fast shipping and no hassle return policy of amazon while not having to give your credit card number to another company. 3D Printer makers have been known to be hard to work with when it comes to DOA/broken hardware. But that is a good savings!
The Elegoo Mars Pro is slowly shipping now. I just got one. It's $300 and a worthwhile upgrade over the regular Elegoo Mars. Best to wait for stock to catch up with demand. Spring Festival is over now so they should get better stock soon.
As others have mentioned, my coworker got the Cretality Ender 3, for $174. They have a "Pro" model with some upgrades for $214. He's been really happy with it, and I'm planning on getting one for my son for his birthday.
The Prusa for around $700 has some pretty compelling features like bed auto-leveling, but that's a pretty big step up.
Not OP, but own 2 printers. The Creality Ender models are a solid bet.
If you can spare a little more cash, the Prusa MK3s is probably best bang for buck, but the Prusa Mini is great as well if you need smaller build volume.
I own a Prusa and despite not having done any maintenance in ages and it vibrating and making noises like crazy (due to said lack of maintenance), I still get near 100% success printing on it. They also offer fantastic customer support.
You need to ensure all screws are tight from time to time.
Belts need to have enough but not too much tension.
Bearings need cleaning and re-lubing.
Nozzle needs unclogging and replacing every now and then.
Fans must be kept as dust-free as possible.
Print bed needs wiping frequently with 99%+ isopropanol, eventually a wipe with acetone (if PEI; glass only needs alcohol but you need to ensure it's squeaky clean).
Plastic parts can break or sag and need reprinting and replacing.
I'm sure I've missed something but you get the idea.