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HOMEMADE A snap-together lamp.

But you're not doing that with the sub-$2000 consumer models.

Plus, even while remembering that the technology has come a long way even in the two-plus years since Galen Richmond bought his MakerBot Cupcake, you'd be wise to listen to his experience:

"It took 20,000 times longer than I thought it would to figure out how to use it," he says. "I didn't know anything about 3D design or any of the code you'd need to change the 3D designed object into machine code . . . I regularly wanted to destroy it as I was trying to get it to work."

But he did eventually prevail. Sometimes. "I definitely feel like I adopted way too early," he says, "and I now have this old machine and I was trying to keep current with the new machines and doing all the upgrades, but they just got so advanced. It's much more exciting to see the new Replicators that Makerbot is making and how quickly they're coming along. It's really amazing."

Is now the time to get in on 3D printing? It's hard to say.

"It kind of makes me think of the gap between early video games you'd find in arcades and console games," Richmond says, thinking about the question. "It's like in the early days there was this huge difference between Pole Position in the arcade and what you could get on the Atari at home, but people still bought the consoles, and now the experience is indistinguishable."

And no one goes to the arcade. Maybe the Maine FabLab in Biddeford could be likened to those early arcades. There's now an unprecedented local opportunity for checking it out 3D printing yourself. Get making.

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