3D printing is on the rise. Its uses range from 3D printing cases for Raspberry Pi models and other maker boards, 3D printed art, and even 3D printing a house or food. While 3D printing ideas are necessary, you'll also need a 3D printer. Discover the best 3D printers you can buy, from Lulzbot and MakerBot to the best budget 3D printers and affordable 3D printers on the market!
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
The Anet A8 is easily one of the best budget 3D printer options on the market. This sub $200 model makes for an affordable 3D printer, and comes with an MK.8 Extruder, plus MK.3 Hot Bed. It can handle an array of filament options including ABS and PLA. It's similar to the industry standard Prusa i3 MK3. However, since the Anet A8 comes as a do-it-yourself (DIY) assembly project, cost is kept pretty low. What you'll find in this 3D printer for beginners is a high-quality, extremely capable 3D printer at a low price point.
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.
In its review, 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.
While Monoprice may be most renowned for its budget-oriented computer cables and headphones, its Monoprice MP Select Mini is an affordable 3D printer for entry-level 3D printing. With its minimum layer height of 100, 120 x 120 x 120 build area, and around $200 cost, it's a fantastic choice. There's robust community support, costs of materials and maintenance remain low, and simplicity in overall use. Supported 3D printing materials range from ABS, PETG, Nylon, and PLA to HIPS. Unfortunately, build volume isn't fantastic and it's a bit slow. Though the Monoprice MP Select Mini won't satisfy hardcore 3D printing buffs, it's sure to appease beginners.
The Prusa i3 MK2S truly set an industry standard. Highly-lauded in the 3D printing space, the i3 MK2S boasts a build volume of 250x210mmx200mm. The MK42 heated bed provides a unique feature set including heating, cooling, and bed leveling. You can print using PLA, ABS, PVA, PETG, HIPS, Nylon, and more. Yeilding exquisite printing quality, intuitive use, and reliable printing, the Prusa i3 MK3S is easily the best 3D printer you can buy. Furthermore, its hardware and software are open-source, which means you'll benefit from a passionate, lively community. Disappointingly, noise level won't make the Prusa i3 MK3S suitable for a bedroom or living area, but it's a minor shortcoming.
Aleph Objects makes the LulzBot Mini, a ridiculously easy to use 3D printer. Onboard, you'll find everything you need to get started, including an auto-leveling bed and self-cleaning nozzle. Loaded with features and featuring a low learning curve, the LulzBot Mini caters to beginners and intermediate 3D printing enthusiasts. A large part of its appeal derives from the open-source nature. Community support from the massive user base as well as LulzBot itself.
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.
The Ultimaker 3 Extended touts an impressive spec sheet, and as such is the best 3D printer to break the bank. Swappable print cores offer a tailored experience for various materials. There's a lift switch for raising the second nozzle when it's out of use, extreme reliability, an auto-leveling bed, Wi-Fi support, and more. Software and hardware is open-source, there's a solid minimum layer height, and robust build area. Jam-packed with features, the Ultimaker 3 surprisingly offers a click and print simplicity which, considering its slew of features, is shocking. But the $5,000 cost means it's best for experts rather than budding makers.
At almost $3,000 the MakerBot Replicator+ is an excellent upper to mid-range printer. Ease of use, print quality, and simple software make this a delightful click-to-print experience. With a USB port, Ethernet, and onboard Wi-Fi, there's an array of connectivity options. Plus, it's a quite 3D printer. PC Mag disliked its mobile app, though the main downside is price. If you're just starting out with 3D printing, you might not wish to drop around $3,000. Still, it's one of the best 3D printers you can buy.
A basic, high-quality, 3D printer, the Flashforge Finder is superb for beginners. It's a cheap sub-$500 3D printer with a decent build area. It's only compatible with PLA which somewhat limits usefulness. 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.
Just like its Arduino UNO starter kit, the Elegoo 3D printer is a best bet for novice 3D printers. It's a Prusa i3 style option, and does require assembly. Simple construction, fast printing, and relatively quiet print jobs mean the Elegoo Neptune rocks. Bed leveling is a sinch, and it's pretty inexpensive. Community support isn't as hearty as other 3D printers. Nevertheless, this is one of the best cheap 3D printers you can purchase.
Striking a pleasing balance of quality, ease of use, and power, the Dremel DigiLab 3D45 comes as a fantastic mid-range 3D printer. Top-tier print quality, a host of printing options including USB, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi, as well as low noise volume mean you'll benefit from a premium experience as a modest price. 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 Touches
Overall, 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?