I'm a complete novice at this, but have done a bit of research and see a huge price disparity between expensive models and cheap models that prints almost similar resolutions. For example, Makerbot Replicator 2 costs $2199 and pritns at100-micron minimum layer while the One Up by QU-BD prints at 60 mm layers and costs $200. Is 40 microns worth that much, and if so is the former more for rapid proto-typing while the latter for fun?
I just want an affordable printer for my son and me to play around with, one that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg in case we don't like using it, but wouldn't be complete **** and ruin the experience for us.
In short, you want to compared their printing bed, print size, printing resolution, printing speed, cost (obviously), and the materials they use. The One Up model you linked is acceptable for starting with, but don't expect to make anything too serious.
A fairly comprehensive list of printers can be found here:
The prices often reflect quality of prints and ease of set up. Go from turn key ready out of the box to practically a made from scratch unit like a Reprap. Some kits take mechanical aptitude to square up so if you are not so inclined take ease of assembly into acccount. Otherwise, if you're looking at getting your son interested in robotics and electronics and DIY in general and have time to source parts and assemble Reprap is an excellent way to go.
I have some experience printing on the Replicator 2. Typically, I print on medium resolution. The high resolution is much better looking, but for my purposes (proof of concept models, electronics enclosures, etc.), medium is sufficient. That being said, I really wish we would've bought the dual extrusion model. Being able to do print with water soluable material creates a lot of possiblities for creating captured pieces.
I guess setting up a 3D printer is the advisable one for you. You can build one by purchasing a DIY 3D printer kit. It’s a lot cheaper than the fully made 3D printing machine. Plus, all-in-one 3D printer kit can be assembled and can start printing in a couple of hours. Don’t forget to consider reasonable printing materials for rapid prototyping. 3D2print.net is where I order my ABS and PLA filaments to print miniature toys for my son.