The best 3D printers allow for a multitude of wonderful creations in a variety of settings. Far from being an experimental technology reserved for the scientists and uber-geeks of the world, 3D printing has become a valuable tool in a wide range of industries.
From intricate designs to clothing, household items, to detailed miniatures, to medical supplies, 3D printers help create it all and more. The ability to print with materials like metal, rubber and biodegradable filament means these creations are tough and durable.
The rise of 3D printing means there are now more choices than ever, which is why we’ve put together this helpful guide to help you choose the best printer for you. Below are the best 3D printers for your ability level, budget, creative process, or preferred materials. We’ve also rounded up everything you need to know about the best 3D printers, jump in to read it.
If you are a 3D modeler or designer, you can really get the most out of your 3D printer. Our guides to the best 3D modeling software and the best laptops for 3D modeling can help you make sure you have the right tools to create awesome 3D prints.
The best 3D printers you can buy today
Anycubic’s range of 3D printers are all good options, but for a lower cost FDM printer, the Vyper is our pick. It has features not found on my more expensive options, produces prints with detail and clarity, doing so with minimal noise or fuss. The heated, self-leveling print bed is a nice feature, but add to that the magnetic spring steel sheet that makes print removal easy and you’re onto a winner. For more information, check out our AnyCubic Vyper review.
Ultimaker printers come in a range of sizes and capacities, but the Ultimaker 3 is the one we picked for our list of the best 3D printers. It has most of the features you’d expect from its bigger brothers, including dual extruders and different nozzle sizes. This means you can print models that are otherwise problematic, using PVA support printing, which washes out with water. Genius! It also has a step-by-step camera, a wonderful touchscreen interface, and is solidly built. If you need a larger build volume, go for the extended version, which is only a bit more expensive.
Elegoo is relatively new to the scene, but the original Mars made a big impression on the 3D printing community. The Mars 2 Pro takes that success and runs with it, making it bigger and faster. The new 6-inch screen bakes a layer in less than 2 seconds, with no loss of clarity or layer blurring, making it one of the fastest resin printers on the market. For rapid prototypes, you can’t beat it, as long as you don’t need bigger items, because the only real downside to Mars is the smaller build volume and a hint of fumes, which is common with this type of printer.
Makerbot has been around for a long time and are probably the most well-known consumer 3D printers, having even been used by Anna Kendrick in space in the movie Stowaway. Makerbot’s experience has allowed them to maintain a similar footprint but with an enlarged build volume, reduced noise, and a good number of connection options including wifi. the Makerbot+ Replicator even has a camera so you can keep an eye on things from a distance. Print results are good, with fine details, although being an fdm printer some layers are visible from the print process. The Replicator+ is a great option though, running quietly and reliably and suitable for the home office, school or workshop.
The Photo Mono SE, from Anycubic is a great choice if you like custom toys, collectibles or wargame miniatures, as the detail is fantastic and the surface quality is also very good. Like other raster monochrome printers, the photo is also fast, at only about a second per layer. The resin can be a bit stinky but you can always print an extractor adapter yourself and get a length of dryer hose. It’s a small sacrifice for the performance of the machine which is really something at this price point.
The Ender range of 3D printers are known for their excellent value for money and the Ender 3 is a fine example of this. Priced under £200, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s Black Friday all year round. Creality has somehow managed to squeeze some premium components into the Ender 3. They also come in kit form, which might be off-putting to some, but actually gives you a solid understanding of how the Ender 3 works. printer and can help with troubleshooting if a problem arises.
Anycubic’s Mono X 6K is designed to help you print bigger without sacrificing quality. The build quality is excellent, with a replaceable screen protector on the exposure screen not seen on many resin printers, but which suggests it will keep working for a long time. It’s easy to use and the prints themselves are more detailed and accurate than previous models thanks to numerous hardware improvements. Getting all of this for around $659 makes this 3D printer a great value.
One of the biggest limitations to 3D printing is the limited build volume. The 3Doodler is a 3D printing pen, which counteracts this by opening projects of all sizes. The price of refills can make this prohibitively expensive if you’re trying to model a 1:1 scale car, but it can be done. Plus, it’s fantastic fun to pick up a pen on your table surface and draw lines of plastic ink in the air. Filament also comes in many colors, so you might consider that a pretty exciting prospect, assuming you’re happy with the less-than-precise precision as the extruder sits solely in your hands, not on rails. There are different options available including the 3Doodler Start (for people with short stature) and the Pro as well.
It’s hard not to love the EasythreeD K5, with its attractive looks and simplicity. Costing not much more than a few weeks worth of coffee to go, this entry in our list of the best 3D printers is a pleasant introduction to 3D printing, so it can be forgiven for the small build area and lack of fine detail. It’s also the ease of use itself, combined with the fully enclosed build volume, it could also be a fantastic introduction to 3D printing for kids.
What should you know about the best 3D printers?
Keep in mind that not all the best 3D printers work the same. Some use spools of filament that are heated much like a glue gun and then laid out in a print bed. the quality can be good with this method but it often requires manual finishing to remove layer lines. Different models use an LCD screen to expose light to a pool of resin, while others use a laser to harden liquid resin. For this reason, we have separated the best 3D printers into different categories so that you can choose the one that best suits your needs.
Don’t feel like modeling your own design? A multitude of 3D model markets means you don’t need to understand 3D modeling to get good results. ThingiversCG Trader and many other sites offer all kinds of .stl files that you can print with just a few clicks, often for free.