2008 Was a Year of self Made RepRap Kits. Ponoko Darwins, and various RepStraps/Junstraps
2009 Was the Start of the Commerical RepStrap Revolution, with the BfB Rapman, and the Makerbot CupCake.
2010 Has been the Year of Transition, with the explosion of Makerbot Marketing, and maturing of the RepRap Design, with Mendel, and the supply chain filling out with Makergear, MendelParts, Botmill, Techzone, Reprapstores, the German RepRap Foundation, and Ultimachine. 2010 saw the 1st year where RepRap had multiple venders offering interchangeable parts, based off a common design. It started with the extruders, and by the end of this year expanded to include the kits themselves.
2011 is the year that RepRap will come to the forefront, I know this because like all good declarations, it happened a month or so before it was declared. 2011 will be the 1st year where the price and quality points are more on the RepRap side than the RepStrap side. The era of the Lasercut kit being the better choice than the RP kit has ended. Let me give you a few examples why:
MakerGear Prusa Mendel Kit: $825!!!!
With Makerbot having decided to end the Cupcake standard kit, they have officially ceded the low ground in the RepRap/RepStrap community to Makergear. MakerGear is officially the cheapest off the shelf 3d Printer kit that I can recommend, and boy is it not a compromise.
Prusa 20x20cm PCB Heated Build Platform
High Quality printed Parts printed on an Up!, and RepStrap printer (second only to Stratasys is FMD build quality)
All hardware and Bearings
Makergear's Planetary gear extruder (The only extruder available with a metal planetary gear)
All that from a company where you can find the owner in IRC almost all the time, and the most responsive customer service in the community.
MendelParts.com Sells Mendel Kit: $916!!!
MendelParts is something special, they are taking the RepRap concept to it's logical conclusion that all of us have surely thought of. Build a Mendel, print the parts for a second and sell them, use the funds to build more. Well Camiel now have 6 folk running full blast running over 8 machines 24/7 printing Mendels for the world. Poor fella isn't sleeping or seeing his friends any more, but his loss is your gain at this price point. :) Again No compromises here either.
Gen6 all in 1 board electronics (developed by Mendelparts, and shared on the RepRap Wiki)
Aluminium build plate
PLA printed parts printed on a Mendel, they way all RepRap's really want to be
Adrian Extruder, with Mendel parts v4 hot end
Stainless or Zinc rods
BotMill's new Sells Mendel Kit: $1165!!
The issue always I had with Botmill was that they used the Gen3 Remix electronics by Techzone, which are known for having issues (read the RepRap forums). Botmill has remedied this by going to the Gen6 electronics (I do not know if these are sourced through MendelParts, or if they are a copy. If they are sourced from MendelParts they have a proven track record of reliability). This is an awesome kit also.
Professionally printed RP parts produced off a Stratasys 3d printer (The gold standard of FMD printing)
Looks like only 1 color is now available (yellow?)
Prusa Heated Build Plate
All of these kits have something no lasercut kit can offer:
You can replicate each one for 1/2 what you pay for your 1st kit.
RP based printers using 1/2 stepping are ghost quiet (even a lasercut kit using 1/2 stepping can't say that)
All parts for these printers can easily be upgraded in the same material, in the same color as your base printer, so upgrades don't make your printer look like a Frankenbot.
His name is RepRap
One year ago RP parts where going for $750 dollars, we only had one choice in electronics, there was a 2-3 month wait for a Makerbot, and not even the best of us could print the RepRap parts without warp issues. The majority of interesting research was being done by the core team that had been with the community from the beginning like Zack and Adrien.
Today the hottest new RepRap was designed by a DJ from the Czech Republic (Prusajr), & the hottest electronics come from south of the Mason Dixon Line in the US (Ultimachine's Ramps Electronics). In this short year RepRap has exploded. The number of designs on Thingiverse has doubled, as have the pages on the RepRap Wiki.
It's only the beginning folks, the RepStraps have served their purpose, they got RepRap jump started, now it's time to see how how well this bird flies. Merry Christmas!