Best 3D Printers on the Market: What Should You Consider When Buying a 3D Printer?
When selecting a 3D printer to fit your needs, there are several considerations. Primarily, 3D printer price plays central role. Budget-oriented 3D printers clock in around $150-200 USD, though high-end models surpass the $6,000 mark. Aside from the outright cost of the 3D printer, you'll need to purchase filament. Thus, the base 3D printer cost isn't the only expense you'll see over the lifetime of your device.
What specific 3D printer projects you're looking to create may dictate which 3D printer is best. For generating objects of certain sizes, you might need a larger device. Among the most essential qualities in selecting a 3D printer, there's build volume. If you're wondering what build volume is, it's a measurement of length, width, and height, and shows the largest size of an object your 3D printer can print. This is calculated by multiplying the maximum length, width, and height, commonly measured in inches.
Layer resolution, or vertical resolution, shows the minimum thickness of a layer a printer can generate in a single pass. Smaller thickness translates to a smoother surface. But fine layers foster a longer printing process.
While technical specs remain important, community is a huge factor. It's disappointing dropping a few hundred, or even thousand, dollars on a 3D printer only to find little or no support. Depending on your set up and where your 3D printer resides, noise could play a key role. If you've got a dedicated maker space, it might not be a problem. But for those running a 3D printer in their bedroom or living area, that loud noise may prove problematic.
What to consider when buying a 3D printer:
- 3D printer price
- Filament type
- Build volume
- Noise level
- Community support
Unfortunately, the nature of this cheap DIY 3D printer kit complicates its usefulness for entry-level 3D printing. While the Anet A8 clearly targets 3D printing beginners, assembly instructions are lacking. Manually calibrating this 3D printer isn't the most intuitive, and it requires fast learning. But despite a DIY design and mild complexity, the Anet A8 remains one of the best budget 3D printers since, in its completed form, it's about on par with the Prusa i3 MK3.
PC Mag awarded the XYZprinting da Vinci Mini a rating of Excellent, and four out of five stars. With a cost just shy of $300, the da Vinci Mini is a step up from the Anet A8. Filament prices are reasonable, misprints are rare, and set up is a breeze. Moreover, the da Vinci Mini handles printing via USB or over Wi-Fi. Unlike the Anet A8, the da Vinci Mini arrives with a low learning curve. With a respectable build volume, intuitive setup, and low pricetag, the XYZprinting da Vinci Mini is easily the best cheap 3D printer for beginners. It's perfect for 3D printing enthusiasts as well. PC Mag did find the odd software hiccup, and occasionally finished builds proved tough to remove from the print bed. Nevertheless, it's an incredible 3D printer for the money.
Since the LulzBot Mini eschews a control panel on the device, it could be frustrating for users. But clever LulzBot makers jerry-rigged a fix with Octoprint and a Raspberry Pi. However, price proves the main detriment for beginners. Despite its ease of use, excellent customer support and community support, as well as open-source software and hardware, an over $1,000 starting price makes it a hefty investment for beginners. Add to that its somewhat noisy operation and moderate build volume. Ultimately, LulzBot's open-source nature, intuitive operation, and material compatibility which includes ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, and Exotics make it a worthy 3D printer. You may also consider the LulzBot Taz 6, although it's a pricey 3D printer at just under $3,000.
PC Mag appreciated its print quality, connectivity options, and modest price. However, in its testing, the Flashforge Finder was tricky to get started with. While there are better options, the Flashforge Finder is a great beginner-level 3D printer which won't cost an arm and a leg.
PC Mag disliked the filament color options, and noted that the touchscreen wasn't quite as responsive as other 3D printers. Still, with the combination of intuitive printing and power user features, the Dremel DigiLab 3D45 is one of the best 3D printers that money can buy.
Best 3D Printers You can Buy: Finishing TouchesOverall, you'll find tons of 3D printers on the market. These range from affordable 3D printers and cheap DIY 3D printer kits to several thousand dollar 3D printers. Which you pick depends on your intent and desired features. For 3D printing beginners, the da Vinci Mini is a superb option, and Monoprice's MP Select Mini comes as a pleasant offering. If money is no object, turn to the Ultimaker 3 Extended. Open-source junkies might consider the LulzBot, an excellent 3D printer with one of the best communities you can find.
Which 3D printers are you using, and what are you printing?