3D printers grant you the ability to make anything you can dream of. However, as they’re fairly complex pieces of kit it’s often hard to decide which one is best for your needs.
That’s where we come in. We’ve researched some of the best 3D printers on the market and broken them down by category. No matter your needs or budget, we’re positive that there’s a 3D printer right here for you!
Zoom Out: The 15 Best 3D Printers For 2018
|Type||3D Printer||Build Volume|
|Best Budget 3D Printers||Monoprice Select Mini||4.7" x 4.7" x 4.7"|
|New Matter MOD-t||6" x 4" x 5"|
|XYZprinting da Vinci Jr.||5.9" x 5.9" x 5.9"|
|Best Commercial 3D Printers||LulzBot TAZ 6||11.02” x 11.02” x 9.8”|
|HICTOP Creality CR-10||11.8” x 11.8” x 15.7”|
|Best 3D Printers for Designers||FlashForge Creator Pro||8.9” X 5.8” X 5.9”|
|QIDI TECHNOLOGY3D Printer||5.5" x 5.5" x 5.5"|
|Best 3D Printer for Hobbyists||XYZprinting da Vinci mini||5.9" x 5.9" x 5.9"|
|ALUNAR 3D Printer||8.6” x 8.6” x 9”|
|Best Mid-Budget 3D Printers||FlashForge Finder 3D Printer||5.5" x 5.5" x 5.5"|
|QIDI TECHNOLOGY 3DP-QDA16-01||8.8" x 5.9" x 5.9"|
|Robo R1+||10” x 9” x 8”|
|Best High-End 3D Printers||Robo R2 3D Printer||8” x 8” x 10”|
|JGAURORA 3D Printer||11” x 7.1” x 7.1”|
|Sindoh 3DWOX DP200||7.9” x 7.9” x 7.3”|
In the short buyer’s guide below we’ll explain a few things to look out for. This will help ensure that you find a printer that fits your needs and prevents you from feeling ripped off or otherwise disappointed in your new product. Now, before you spend any money, it’s important to know what the 3D printer’s specifications mean.
We know, we know, it’s a little boring but it CAN save you hundreds of dollars and a whole lot of buyer’s remorse, so taking a little time to compare different products is vital.
This one is really simple. The build area of a 3D printer refers to the maximum size of an object you can create.
Now, 3D printers come in all shapes and sizes, so some might have a taller or wider build area than others. You can still use most of the templates you’ll find online but you might have to rotate them first.
Generally speaking, bigger is better when it comes to the build area. Unfortunately, larger areas usually mean a higher price tag, so you should try and strike a balance between creating huge items and saving money in the long term.
Essentially, 3D printing works by heating a filament until it’s malleable and remolding it in the shape you need. However, there are several different filament materials on offer and not every printer can use every type.
The most commonly used filaments are ABS and PLA. These make durable, temperature resistant items, but there are many other types available. If you want to use one, in particular, make sure the printer supports it before buying.
There are even 3D printers that can use other materials, like clay or Sugru. The problem with these printers is that they’re usually less reliable than standard filament-based models. If you’re an artist or want to use a printer for experimental use then have at it, but most people will be better suited towards a standard printer.
Here’s the bad news: 3D printing is still very slow despite its many recent advancements.
Generally, most low-budget printers go at a rate of around 50mm per second. This means that larger models can take a long time to create. There’s another problem too: very fast printers usually create thicker, more obvious layers in the final product. This proves that sometimes, slow and steady really is the better option.
Some printers allow you to add an extra extruder (essentially a nozzle) to speed up the printing process. These have another benefit too – you may even be able to use multiple materials at the same time. If this is something that you think you’d like, consider purchasing a dual-extruder model.
Best Budget 3D Printers
While 3D printers still aren’t particularly cheap, there are several that come with a relatively low price tag. We’ve located and thoroughly researched three of the best budget 3D printers on the market so that you don’t have to.
Take a look!
Our first recommendation is the Monoprice Select Mini. At a little over $200, this model is an excellent choice for people looking to dip their toes into the world of 3D printing.
It has a 4.7” build area. This isn’t huge, but it’s still large enough to create models or little things for around the home. With a printing speed of 55mm/s, it’s slightly faster than others in this price range. Need a bracket for that cupboard door? No problem, just wait a few hours.
With its WiFi capability, MicroSD slot, and simple, intuitive interface, this product offers far more than you might expect. Plus, its low price makes it an absolute bargain.
Next, let’s take a look at the New Matter MOD-t. This is a futuristic looking printer that comes with lifetime tech support and wireless printing functionality.
It uses PLA filament and can print at up 80mm/s, although its speed is adjustable. This allows you to spend a little longer to create a smoother, more professional looking product or just get the job done quickly depending on the situation. Good, right?
It has a slightly larger build area than the Monoprice, and accordingly, costs a little more money. That said, we believe that the versatility of this product more than offsets the increase in price.
Lastly, in this category, we have the XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. This model has a 5.9” build area and a maximum printing speed of 100mm/s, making it larger and faster than the two others we’ve seen.
So what’s the catch?
Well, this printer uses a uniquely sized filament. It’s a little less expensive than you might think, but your options for buying filament are very restricted. This can, in turn, lead to slightly more expensive refills.
That said, in terms of performance, this product far outshines the others we’ve seen so far. It’s unfortunate that you can’t use standard filament with this model, but if this doesn’t bother you then the da Vinci Jr. would be an excellent choice.
Best Commercial 3D Printers
At some point, a standard 3D printer just isn’t going to meet your needs. Maybe you’re considering starting a printing business or just have exceptionally high demand. Whatever you need, we’re positive that one of the two following models will fit the bill.
The Lulzbot TAZ 6 is very well-known in the 3D printing community, but it comes with a substantial $2500 price tag. So what does this product do to justify it?
Well, keep reading to find out.
Firstly, it has a massive build area of almost 11 square inches. Secondly, with the TAZ 6, you aren’t limited to just the standard materials. In fact, it can handle more than 30 different types of filament including wood, metal, and stone composites.
Not only that but this model has a self-leveling and self-cleaning print head. This takes the hard work away and leaves you free to enjoy the design and printing process.
So is it still as slow as all the rest? Well, it’s dual extruder compatible. This means that you can hypothetically halve the time it takes to complete a model, although of course, as we’ve mentioned above, this will affect the overall look of the finished result.
All things considered, we think that this printer will likely be too expensive and too high-tech for most people’s needs, but for commercial printers or organizations who plan to use it a lot, it’s actually fairly reasonably priced.
The second commercial printer we’ve found is the HICTOP Creality CR-10. This is far less expensive than the TAZ, at around $500, yet provides an even larger build area.
This is due to this printer’s open design. It’s not constrained by the same hardware and can freely create things much larger than most of its rivals could handle. This simple design means that this printer can be broken down into just three parts for easy assembly. What else is good?
This printer has a variable printing speed. At its base rate, it can run at 80mm/s but this can be boosted as high as 200mm/s if you’re in a hurry. Layers can be as thick as 0.4mm or as thin as 0.5mm so there’s a good degree of creative freedom with the CR-10.
You might expect the CR-10 to be a compromise considering its far more palatable price. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s a solid, fast 3D printer that can handle anything you throw at it.
Ultimately, if you don’t care about using anything except PLA then there’s no reason to spend any extra money on a fancy printer. Simply put, this model has everything you need.
Best 3D Printers For Designers
If you work in a creative field, you’ll probably have been asked to create a rapid prototype of something. What if you could remove the hassle from this and create an even higher quality item while you were away doing other things?
Well, you can. The following 3D printers are packed full of features that make them invaluable to designers and we’re confident that you’ll find one you like.
First up we have the FlashForge Creator Pro. This is a pretty pricey printer but it supports printing with a huge range of different materials including wood and nylon. So how is it to use?
It does have a fairly small build area, but this is offset by its high speed. This means that you can create several smaller items and combine them later at the same time that creating a larger object would have taken.
This printer supports tetherless printing via SD card, but there’s no WiFI functionality. Considering it’s the kind of product that would be best suited to a computer lab, this really isn’t as big of an issue as it first appears.
Overall, while the FlashForge can seem a little overpriced considering its small build area, it’s actually pretty good at what it does. We particularly liked its wide material support – this is something usually only found in far more expensive models and something we’re sure will come in handy.
There’s also a reasonably priced 3D printer from QIDI TECHNOLOGY. It costs around $400 and has a 5.5” build area. This is a pretty small chamber but considering this is a mid-budget pick, that’s to be expected.
So what is this printer’s best feature?
One of the things we really liked about this printer is its ultra-simple interface. 3D printing can get pretty technical so having something that’s easy to understand is a breath of fresh air and will help less experienced users feel more at home.
This printer supports both simple and advanced materials, although there are limits. You won’t be able to print with wood, for example, but less common plastic composites will work just fine.
All in all, the QIDI printer is a decent middle ground between the functionality of an advanced model and the price of a budget one. For that reason alone, it’s a strong choice, but when you take the versatility into account, this printer becomes a no-brainer for any designer.
Best 3D Printer For Hobbyists
Maybe the products we’ve seen thus far are way more than you’re looking for. Maybe you only want a 3D printer for occasional use or to help facilitate another one of your hobbies.
That’s okay too!
However, since you’re not going to be a heavy user, it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money. Below, you’ll find two 3D printers that are as versatile as they are inexpensive.
First up is another entry in XYZPrinting’s da Vinci line. The XYZPrinting Mini is, as you might expect, a tiny little printer. It stands just 24” tall, 18” wide, and 15.5” deep. This makes it nice and easy to put away in a closet when you aren’t using it.
It has a build area that’s a reasonable size given this model’s sub-$200 price and 5.9” is plenty of space to create most of the things you’ll want, plus you can always combine components if you want to make something larger. So, let’s talk filament.
Like the da Vinci Jr., the Mini only uses a proprietary XYZPrinting filament. This is fairly standard PLA material but it’s a little narrower than other brands’. This does mean that filament is slightly more expensive, but infrequent users will find that they don’t have to buy extra filament all that often anyway.
There’s a lot to like here. This product has an incredibly simple interface: it’s a single button with LED lights to indicate print status. This helps make the Mini an excellent choice for people looking to experiment with 3D printing for the first time.
This printer takes the stress out of setup by automatically calibrating itself and with a maximum speed of 120mm/s, it’s more than capable of getting things done quickly when necessary.
So it’s perfect, right? Well, not exactly.
We did find that the Mini is a little loud, but that’s to be expected at this price range. If you’re planning to print overnight, we’d recommend placing this product as far from the bedroom as possible because even if it seems quiet at first, it can quickly become distracting enough to keep you awake.
Apart from its noisy operation, the da Vinci Jr. is an exemplary little 3D printer. It comes with everything you need to get started and is unhampered by the extensive setup and configuration process that more advanced printers are.
If the Mini’s reliance on specific materials annoys you, you might be better suited to the ALUNAR 3D printer. It’s capable of using any standard filament plus some more advanced ones like wood or conductive materials.
This printer is a touch more expensive at around $210. That said, it comes with a 1000 hour motor guarantee, so you can expect it to work for a long time. So far, so good.
Now, a word of warning. This printer requires some assembly. For the most part, this is very simple but it does require some degree of common sense. For example, you’ll have to switch the voltage to either 100V or 220V depending on your input.
We really liked that this printer lets you pause your work at any time. This allows you to quiet it down after hours or catch any mistakes before they’re set in stone (possibly literally). You’ll have to be quick, though: this printer can go as high as 100mm/s.
Again, the ALUNAR has a slightly more complex user interface than the Mini. It has five buttons and an LCD display for navigating its menu system. Rather than complicating things, this actually makes the user feel like they have more control, and with this new wave of tech, that’s a benefit that can’t be understated.
This is a printer that provides the best of both worlds. On one hand, it offers far more creative freedom than its rivals, and on the other, it does require some construction. Nonetheless, we still wholeheartedly recommend it.
Best Mid-Budget 3D Printers
The products above are great but let’s say you don’t fit neatly into any of our categories and just want to know what’s available. Well, you’re in luck! We’ve created a list of the best all-around 3D printers in the mid-budget range to help you out.
Let’s take a look at the FlashForge Finder. It costs around $400 and has a 5.5”3 build area. But that’s far from all this product has to offer.
This printer is exactly what you imagine when someone says “3D printer”. It looks futuristic and sleek, featuring a small 3.5” LCD touchscreen interface. This keeps operation nice and simple while providing enough flexibility to navigate menus with ease.
The Finder offers two ways to import files. The first is the standard SD care and flash drive support, but it also features WiFi functionality for tetherless printing. This can be particularly useful if your computer is somewhere out of the way and you don’t fancy running cables through your home.
The only issue with this printer is that it’s designed to work only with FlashForge PLA filament. That said, it’s also possible to use Hatchbox filament if you run it in from outside. Either way, your filament options are limited which may lead to slightly increased costs down the line.
One of the things we really liked about this model is its filament refill alert. It automatically detects when you’re running low so you never find yourself halfway through a print and having to buy extra filament.
Our second pick is the QIDI TECHNOLOGY 3DP-QDA16-01. What it lacks in a catchy name, it makes up for in terms of functionality.
First up, it has a slightly wider than average build area at 8.8”. This gives you the freedom to create ever larger items and given its price (around $650) this size is excellent. So what else does it offer?
Well, it’s almost entirely metal. This not only looks good but lends the printer added stability and structure. This is more important than you might think – with temperatures up to 280° you need all the stability you can get.
It features a dual-extruder setup. This means that you can print models up to twice as fast as other models. There is very little range in terms of layer size, however. It ranges from 0.1-.2mm and while you might think that this makes layers noticeable, it’s actually not that bad.
We really liked that this model comes with 24-hour tech support and a turbofan cooling function to let you grab your items as soon as possible after it’s done.
Files can be transferred either via SD card or USB stick, and while there’s no WiFi capability, this is just a bonus and isn’t all that necessary.
Lastly, in this category, we have the Robo R1+. Sounds fancy, right? Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that its functionality lives up to its futuristic name.
This printer has a quick-change extruder system and fast-feed filament setup. Finally – a printer that can keep up with the fastest print speeds, In many ways, it’s designed for professionals – with maintenance this simple, it’s no longer a chore.
Believe it or not, it gets better. This printer has an absolutely huge build area. For around $500 you can create items up to 10” x 9” x 8” in size. That’s incredible, but wait, there’s more.
Let’s say you run into trouble using the R1+. No problem – just use the free 24-hour tech support. Ah but wait, what if the problem is your hardware itself? Relax! The R1+ is covered by a six-month parts warranty, so you can have it fixed at no additional cost. Good, right?
Our last point is a big one: this printer can use more than 30 different materials including carbon fiber PLA, rubber, and stainless steel. This provides unparalleled flexibility in terms of what you can create and frankly at this price range, that’s amazing.
Best High-End 3D Printers
Okay, we’ve covered most of the popular basic 3D printers but what if you have a little more money to spend? You’ll likely want printers with functionality that you can’t find in lower price brackets, right? The printers below offer extra features, both in terms of ease of use and printing capability.
Our first high-budget pick is the Robo R2 3D printer. This is priced at around $1500 so it’s not going to be for everyone. Those that can afford it, however, will find that it offers a lot of bang for your buck.
Did you know that this printer can print very thin layers? They range from 0.02mm to 0.3mm which is frankly crazy. This is far finer than any other printer we’ve seen and will result in a much more professional looking finished piece.
The build area is large but not as big as some due to the closed nature of the printer. Still, there’s plenty of space available for those who like to create larger items. This printer can actually save you time: models that would have to be done in parts on other printers can be done in one go with the R2.
More than 30 different materials are supported and because you can add a second extruder, you can even print two at once for a more attractive end product. If you’re not impressed yet, maybe this final point will change your mind.
The R2 comes with a year’s subscription to a professional level printing program, and there’s even 24/7 customer support, as well as a year’s warranty on parts. What’s not to like?
Next, we have the JGAURORA printer. It’s still considered a high-budget printer but costs about half as much as the R2. If you found the R2’s high price tag too hard to justify, perhaps this would be a better choice.
Let’s start with the basics. This printer works with any 1.75mm printing filament. That’s it – there are no other restrictions. This makes it an excellent choice for those who want to build complex, multi-material pieces without spending over a thousand dollars.
It also features a switchable voltage so be sure to change this based on your power source. The frame is made of metal for added stability, plus the temperature can be controlled either by changing it directly or by using the built-in fan. So how is it for printing?
In a word: excellent. The layer thickness can be adjusted from 0.1-0.4mm which allows for some exceptionally high-quality models. These can be pretty large too since the build area is 11” wide, 7.9” tall and deep.
While this printer can’t connect via WiFi it does come with an 8GB SD card and reader. To be honest, WiFi connectivity would have been a bonus, but it’s hardly essential. The only difference is that files have to be transferred across. On the plus side, an SD card can load data faster than WiFi so you can get started sooner.
Our final recommendation is the Sindoh 3DWOX DP200. Now, you might be thinking “how can I justify spending all this money on a product with a 7.9×7.9×7.3” build area. Well, this printer has a number of features that make it a strong contender, and we’ll outline these below.
Take connectivity, for example. It can use Ethernet, USB, WiFi, or SD cards. Better still, it has an internal camera that can be viewed remotely. Want to check on its progress while at work? No problem!
This model makes it easier to begin printing, too. It can automatically load and unload filament and uses specialized technology to assist you during the bed-leveling process. The only way this printer could make your life even easier is if it sprouted legs and plugged itself in.
Now, this printer supports fewer material types than some of the others we’ve seen. That said, it still accepts the standard PLA and ABS filaments so the most commonly used types will work. Considering the layers can be as fine as 0.05mm, you’ll be able to create truly stunning, professional looking items.
Overall, we believe this printer to offer a good middle ground between performance and affordability. Although it has only basic material support, no other product on this list offers a camera or as many connectivity options.
After spending his youth hanging out at his local hardware shop, it was no wonder Justin decided to become a computer engineer. When he’s not working, he enjoys riding his Honda across the picturesque Montana farmlands.