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Recently, we were fortunate enough to try out some of the best 3D printers. And boy, did we sure have fun with them. If you’re considering getting yourself one, we know how overwhelming it can be trying to narrow down the best ones.
To make your search as easy as possible, we’ve selected our top 10 favorite picks and compiled them all here. We reviewed and ranked each one according to price, performance, and user-friendliness.
Before we move on, we’d like to show you two of our highest-scoring entries. These impressed us by their speed and accessibility. We really appreciated the quality of prints, too.
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LulzBot stole the show with the incredible Mini 2. It’s our top pick as the best overall thanks to its easy and efficient printing capabilities. We loved the detail and speed of prints. It’s a bit pricey, but its performance is hard to beat.
If you’re new to 3D printing and want a beginner-friendly model, Monoprice’s Voxel will blow you away. It comes equipped with a color touchscreen for easy operation. And it makes high-quality prints right out of the box.
It was tough enough deciding on the top two, let alone all 10. We looked at some truly impressive printers, but we think you’ll be pleased with our selection. Read on to get more detail on our favorite picks, as well as the remaining eight entries. Whether you’re just starting out or are looking to upgrade your existing 3D printer, we’re sure there’s a model for you.
LulzBot’s Mini 2 is incredible. It is easily our favorite as the best overall due to its exceptional productivity. The quality of prints has to be seen to be fully appreciated. The detail in them is stunning, and the only limitation is your imagination.
It’s a highly-versatile machine that produces sharp, accurate prints. We love that it cleans the printing nozzle and auto-calibrates with each new print. If you’re into creating intricate models and architecture, you’ll be pleased with the Mini 2.
LulzBot gives you everything you need to start printing. You get a knife, tweezers, pliers, keys, glue, cleaning strips, and more. What’s great about the quality of prints is that you don’t have to do much cleaning at all.
They come out looking absolutely fabulous. We found that we had to use the included finishing tools very little, in actuality. That’s how great every single one of our prints turned out.
We made a few figurines to start, and ended with some small buildings. Selecting and producing 3D models is really straightforward. Even if you’ve never touched a 3D printer in your life, the Mini 2 makes it easy for you.
It always helps to have a general understanding of the process. But don’t worry if you know little to nothing about it. By following the included guide, LulzBot will have you up and running in no time. You’ll be amazed at how simple they make such a complex field.
If you’ve used 3D printers before and are looking for a great unit, you’ll be happy with the Mini 2. If you’re just starting out, just know that this is a fairly pricey model. But considering what you get and how great the quality is, it’s worth every cent.
We love that the Mini 2 comes fully-assembled and ready to go. There’s just a quick setup process that is easy and straightforward. And we really like that you get a detailed manual that walks you through the printer’s features and settings.
If you’re new to 3D printing and aren’t sure where to start, we recommend Monoprice’s Voxel. It’s a great unit for first-timers because it’s just so easy to use. There’s nothing frustrating about the setup or printing procedure. It’s straightforward and simple enough for just about anyone to learn.
In fact, the printer comes calibrated and ready to use. Just take it out of the box and plug it in. You’ll soon be creating your own prints, hassle-free. It’s a breeze to load filament, and the color touchscreen makes operation easy to understand.
We love the enclosed construction of the Voxel, and how easy it is to remove prints once finished. And switching to a new print is quick and painless. We were pleased with the quality of our prints, especially considering that we’re fairly new to the whole thing.
Another big plus is that it’s nicely-priced, as far as 3D printers go. If you want an easy model to tinker around with that will produce great-looking prints once you’ve mastered the process, the Voxel is perfect for you.
The Voxel is the perfect 3D printer for novices. The unit comes fully-assembled, too. So you can start printing the moment it arrives. The built-in color touchscreen further adds to its user-friendly operation.
There’s even an onboard 2MP camera that makes it easy to monitor your prints. And with 8GB of memory, you’ll have plenty of room to store your models.
XYZprinting takes a kid-friendly approach to 3D printing with the da Vinci Nano. This cute little machine eliminates any and all hassle for a straightforward and easy printing experience. If your kids have been begging you to get on board the 3D bandwagon, this is a great place to start.
The da Vinci Nano is an affordable model that won’t bog you down with a bunch of convoluted instructions. You don’t need a whole lot of technical know-how to operate this printer, either. The software, although limited, is easy enough for anyone to figure out.
There’s an online gallery of 3D models to choose from until you get the hang of things. It’s all very easy to learn and understand. We like the simple presentation of the Nano. It’s not intimidating in the least, and actually makes the process rather inviting.
The printer is a little white plastic box. It’s safe to use, with prints coming out cool to the touch. You’re a bit limited on what you can print, and the detail isn’t what you find with premium models. But considering the low price, you can’t expect a Mona Lisa. This is more like a really good knock-off.
The included CAD software is very rudimentary. This is great for kids and first-time printers. But you’ll be underwhelmed if you have a lot of experience with 3D printing.
But this also means it is very easy to use. Just don’t expect a great deal of versatility and you’ll be pleased.
Let us be clear; the Ultimaker 3 is an expensive machine. If you’re new to 3D printing, you should probably start with a more affordable model. That will allow you to better familiarize yourself with the printing process.
It will serve you well if you have a decent understanding of how to use a 3D printer. The Ultimaker 3 is a complex unit that needs to be understood to fully benefit from its capabilities.
There are a great deal of connectivity options that allow you to send prints to your computer or Ultimaker’s proprietary app.
With built-in Wi-Fi and NFC technology, the versatility in which you can use the printer is nearly limitless. You can even download 3D models directly off of a USB drive for easier printing. Commands and selections are made with a scroll dial on the face of the unit, and an LCD screen displays the menu and options.
The print quality on deck here is mind-boggling. Prints have excellent detail, and require much less finishing compared to other 3D printers. A built-in camera lets you easily watch the printer in action so you can keep an eye on the process.
We like that you can now print in two colors, thanks to a dual-head setup. Changing filament is a bit tedious, but still easy enough. And the printing procedure is quiet as a mouse. As you can see, there’s a lot to like about the Ultimaker 3. And yet, there are some downsides we’d like to see addressed on the next release.
For one, printing is agonizingly slow. It can easily take a few days to print small objects, like miniature figurines. Even tiny replacement parts seem to take forever and a day. But the plus side is that they look incredible once completed.
It’s pretty easy to get up and running. But again, you really need to understand 3D printers if you want to get the most out of the Ultimaker 3. This is more geared toward professionals than it is the hobbyist.
If you’re just looking for a machine to fiddle around with on occasion, do yourself a favor and choose something like a LulzBot Mini. You’ll save yourself a tidy sum of money and have a much more enjoyable time printing.
MakerBot’s Replicator+ is a very sci-fi-looking printer. It appears to borrow both its name and design from Star Trek: The Next Generation. In fact, this thing would fit right into an episode of TNG as a background prop.
That is to say that the Replicator+ is a beautifully-designed piece of equipment. And this lends to its user-friendliness, as well. We love the approach MakerBot took, as this is easily one of the best machines we’ve used in terms of design and direction. The slick user-interface is a joy to use, and making selections is a breeze.
Prints look fabulous and removing them is a snap. The high-quality filament is also easy to work with. Our biggest gripe, however, is having to fight with the nozzle. We had to deal with clogging on more than one occasion. But after some creative thinking, we were able to resolve the issue.
There are some really nice additions that make this one a winner for us. Like being able to monitor printing from your iPhone while you’re away from the printer. And the build-quality is exceptional. The Replicator+ is an all-around solid machine. It’s sturdy and very attractive.
There are times when some of its operation is confusing, so a good bit of knowledge is a plus. It’s also expensive. If you’re new to 3D printing, you might be better off with something a bit less complex.
A nicely-detailed display and a scroll dial controls the Replicator+’s operations. You get a good deal of connectivity and versatility, so you’ll need a fair amount of knowledge to benefit from all that this printer has to offer. But prints are excellent, and there are enough features to keep you busy.
If you’re a teacher or instructor in need of a high-quality 3D printer for your classroom that won’t break the bank, Dremel has you covered. This unit is sleek and stylish. It sports a large, user-friendly touchscreen for easy control and management.
Prints are amazing, offering detail that you just don’t see on many printers. It’s very quiet when it’s in action, and it’s a pleasure to use. The flexible print bed makes it a breeze to remove objects once they are completed.
All this comes in a compact design. The printing is done in an enclosed space, making it perfect for classroom demonstration and use. It’s a very good unit for beginners, too. Most users should have no trouble learning the ropes with the Digilab.
Best of all, there aren’t any nasty fumes, and it uses a safe HEPA filter. If your school uses Macs, you might have some trouble with connectivity. We struggled getting a solid connection on ours, but PCs posed no problem.
For newcomers, the Digilab is a dream come true. The built-in menu display and scroll wheel are so easy to use. And the system walks you through every step during startup. Filament is equally easy to work with, and prints turn out incredibly detailed.
What a fun little printer. This colorful machine is very well-made and feels great to use. The real surprise here is the built-in touchscreen display. If you’re unsure of anything, you’ll find exactly what you need to do from here.
The software included works like a charm and walks you through everything you need to do in order to successfully print. It seriously doesn’t get any easier than this. If there is, we sure haven’t found it yet.
From the design to the printing results, the Finder Lite impressed us. And when you factor in the incredibly low price, you have a real winner.
We really like how you can take off the training wheels once you have gotten the hang of printing. The software has an advanced mode that unlocks its full potential, allowing you to play around with settings to get the full effect.
All in all, this is a solid 3D printer that makes a great learning machine or a gift. Well done, FlashForge. Well done.
Anyone can jump right in and start printing thanks to the incredibly easy software. We wish there were more ways to connect for greater versatility. But all you can use is an SD card. No USB, and no Wi-Fi.
Monoprice makes another appearance among our rankings with the MP Cadet. This well-priced little wonder delivers some of the easiest setup we’ve come across. It’s an absolute breeze to get the printer prepared for printing.
That’s because the MP Cadet comes ready to work, without the need for complicated calibrations or commands. Now, that being said, you are going to be quite limited in terms of usability.
But if you aren’t interested in creating the most detailed prints and just want something to play with, the MP Cadet is made with you in mind.
We were impressed by the connectivity that this unit has. There are a lot of ways to upload models for easier printing. And you can download the mobile app for an even easier time.
Simply take the MP Cadet out of the box and turn it on. You’ll be printing in seconds; it’s that fast. This unit was designed for the easiest 3D printing possible, and it sure delivers.
This does limit you considerably in terms of versatility. But if you want to learn the ropes and familiarize yourself with the 3D-printing process, the MP Cadet is the perfect learning companion.
Phrozen is one of the fastest 3D printers we reviewed. But more importantly, prints look detailed and attractive. It’s hard to believe you can get such a high-quality printer for as affordable as this one is. But Phrozen makes it possible with the Sonic Mini.
There were some concessions made in order to deliver such a low-cost machine. There’s a lot of plastic, but so far it hasn’t affected the overall performance. In fact, prints look better than some of the premium models we considered.
Operation is done via a built-in touchscreen display. It works well and even has one-touch printing at the ready. You don’t need much expertise to use the Sonic Mini. Uploading is fast and easy, making for an enjoyable experience.
A simple LCD touchscreen controls the Sonic Mini. It’s a breeze to operate and is very user-friendly. It’s pretty limited on connectivity, but it works well and produces some finely-detailed prints.
If you’re on a tight budget but want to experience the thrill of 3D printing, Kingroon has the perfect solution. The DIY is an open printer built with aluminum alloy and plastic to keep costs low.
An LCD touchscreen controls the printer for easy operation. There are a lot of settings and options in this affordable little machine. You can upload 3D models via an SD card, and there’s even an assisted-leveling option.
We were mighty impressed with the quality of our prints. They had lots of detail for a printer of this price. Setup is really straightforward, too. You’ll be up and printing in no time.
Assembling is quick and easy. You can start printing the moment you get everything put together. And printing from an SD card is fast and accurate.
3D printing technology has come a long way. 3D printers used to be a tool that only scientists and engineers could use. Nowadays, as the prices continue to drop, 3D printers have become affordable to hobbyists and small entrepreneurs.
Before you can buy a 3D printer that will satisfy your needs, you need to be aware of a couple of facts. Fortunately, we have spent countless hours researching the subject of 3D printers, so you don’t have to. It doesn’t matter if you want to purchase a 3D printer now, or in the near future. What matters is that the following information will make you an educated consumer.
At the moment, there are nine major printing technologies: stereolithography (SLA), fused deposition modeling (FDM), digital light processing (DLP), selective laser sintering (SLS), selective laser melting (SLM), laminated object manufacturing (LOM), material jetting (MJ), and binder jetting (BJ).
It might seem daunting at first, but don’t fret. Most of the home users will be satisfied with the two most popular options – stereolithography (SLA) and fused deposition modeling (FDM).
SLA technology is very versatile. It exposes photosensitive resins to an ultraviolet laser beam, thus creating 3D parts. Basically, the process starts with plastic being melted. The melted plastic is left to cool down until it is solid and forms a 3D object. Each printed cycle forms a new layer on top of the previous layer until the 3D model is complete.
When you print using SLA, you need to use support structures on objects with an overhang. Finally, the end product needs to be rinsed, and sometimes even baked in a UV oven.
SLA 3D printers can be a good choice if you need high precision and a smooth finish. Bear in mind that the price of SLA printers can be quite steep.
FDM technology is very common in 3D printing. It has been around since the late 1980s, and it has received many innovations up to today.
They work by heating up a thermoplastic filament before it is extruded to create one layer of the final product. The process repeats itself until all of the layers have been placed and the final 3D product is complete.
When you print using the FDM technology, you need support structures for materials with overhangs.
FDM 3D printers are very affordable, which is why so many hobbyists are purchasing them today.
Before you can go out and spend your money on a 3D printer, you need to familiarize yourself with some of the features.
Printing speed is important. But, some 3D printers that claim to print fast don’t mention an important caveat – the quality of the end product.
You should understand that 3D printing isn’t a hobby for those who can’t wait. Once you fire up the printer, you are supposed to leave it be. The waiting period can last for 12 hours and more, so be sure to train your patience.
The size and complexity of your object play an important role in the speed of printing. So, if a product claims to work at 150mm/s, you can bet that it won’t have the same speed with complex objects.
In the end, printing speed is an important factor, but not when it sacrifices the quality of the 3D print. If you want to create high-quality objects, you need to ignore the promises of insane printing speeds. The longer the printing process, the better the overall quality and smoothness of the object.