Science, technology, & society.
I bought a maker-bot. It is awesome, even though it doesn't work reliably at the moment. More pics here.
Damn, you kicked our asses
I was going to do it the hard(er) way, but after a week and frying $40 worth of boards I decided that the only conceivable way I was going to finish anything (laser cutter/printer/plotter) in two weeks was to to use a kit. The total came to $850, so this represents this year's "luxury item". Ultimately I think this saved me money, at the rate I was screwing things up.
so, in summary, siphon money from your summer fellowship ?
+24 hours, now have a completely broken maker-bot. Their community maintained instructions are sufficiently incomplete such that following them will cause you to destroy your maker-bot without getting a single viable printout. I've ordered parts ... but, this is severely disappointing, not because it is hard to build, but because it is so easy to fix the instructions. In fact, I have already fixed them on the wiki. I am disappointed that the producers of the kit do not maintain the documentation at a level sufficient to actually build the kit. I am also disappointed that I had to spend another $40 and will have to wait a week to get back to work.
so ... in summary, the hobby you are engaging in when purchasing the maker-bot is not the printing of 3D objects, it is the open source refinement of the 3D printer itself. Also, expect to spend +$200 in extra parts and several days of repair work, at some point.
not that this is an entirely unrewarding hobby, its just skews more toward the work side than the easy-fun side.