I have to disagree with the blanked “Just stay away from Makerbot, BFB, Cubify, UP!/Afina, etc.”. In particular, Makerbot is by a wide margin the most popular 3D printer, with a huge, active user base generating all sorts of great improvements (firmware, modified extruders, etc.), and it is open and heavily modified by the user community. Yes, in the latest revision they “closed” the steel frame (so they can’t get low-balled by a PacRim “clone” that copies their design and adds no value). But the whole tool chain that I use (OpenSCAD, ReplicatorG, Skeinforge, firmware, etc.) is open, and there are all sorts of upgraded extruders, firmware, etc., created by the user community. Keep in mind that MakerBot is an outgrowth of the RepRap community, and is an open source company. And while Up!/Afinia is proprietary (hardware and software), it’s generally regarded as the easiest “set up and print” and has quite good output, so if your interest is in printing, rather than tweaking the printer, it may be the “best” printer. Both MakerBot and Afinia/Up! are much easier to get working, and generate higher quality output, than the “pure” RepRap printers, and they certainly cost a lot less than the industrial 3D printers.
I agree that BFB and Cubify are probably best to avoid. In particular, Cubify’s business model is to lock you into a completely proprietary system, with DRM, so that you have to buy their plastic, buy 3D models from their store to print (or load STLs), use their proprietary software, etc. BFB isn’t quite that creepy, but they’re much more closed than MakerBot or the DIY RepRaps.
And, to be blunt, most of the DIY open source printers’ output isn’t that great, because it’s pretty hard getting the mechanical assembly, software configuration, etc., all properly tuned. That being said, if money is tight, and/or you want to learn by making your own, by all means do so - the RepRap printers (and the Rostock, which is a different design) are getting better all the time. But if you want a 3D printer, without the work of assembling and tweaking, I’d say that most people would be better off buying an assembled printer, either a cheap one like the Printrbot Jr or a higher end printer like the Makerbot or Ultimaker or Up/Afinia.
Or if you really want to go to the bleeding edge, try one of the resin-based printers. They’re crazy and exotic, and produce amazing output.
I use a Replicator, and have had a great time with it. My next printer will be the QU-BD RPM. http://store.qu-bd.com/product.php?id_product=45 because it’s both a 3D extrusion printer and a CNC mill. I love the idea of being able to print designs in plastic to test, then milling them from wood/metal.