Updated: May 2018
3D printing is undoubtedly one of the most exciting technologies to really gain steam in the last decade. While the printers have actually been around for some time, smaller form factors and more affordable pricing are bringing 3D printers into everyday homes at a quick pace. But while there was once only a couple of models and types of 3D printers, the market has expanded rapidly.
As for me personally, I’ve been interested in 3D printing since I caught a glimpse of the original MakerBot. I spend a lot of time at my local makerspace printing out nerdy doodads. I compiled this list using a blend of my own experience and advice and opinions from other makers in my social circle, combined with online customer reviews and extensive research.
Below is our list of the best 3D printers available, whether you’re just a beginner or a serious 3D printing aficionado.
If you’ve spent any time at all paying attention to 3D printing, you’re well aware of the MakerBot Replicator+. This is the newer version of the company’s original, extremely popular 3D printer. With a 30 percent faster production speed, the ability to make items that are 25 percent larger, and an overall better build design, this desktop printer is hard to beat. Granted, it’s not the cheapest 3D printer on this list, but it very well may be the best.
The LulzBot Mini is a perfect option for anyone looking to get into 3D printing for the first time. And unlike some entry-level 3D printers, this one will actually grow with your skill level. As you become more accustomed to how 3D printing works and want to get more detailed with things like resolution, the LulzBot Mini allows you to increase the level of complexity. Moreover, this machine has a nice, open print area so it’s easy to get in and work with your creations.
XYZprinting Da Vinci Mini
If you’re looking for a budget option in 3D printers, the Da Vinci Mini from XYZprinting is an outstanding choice. Considering it costs just one-tenth of the price of most enthusiast 3D printers, the print quality on the Da Vinci Mini is still really great. Plus, it’s options and controls are truly geared towards beginners, so this is also an excellent and affordable option for 3D printing novices. And it’s small enough to fit on just about any desktop.
Beginner 3D printers are great, but if you’re someone who is already well-versed in 3D printing or possibly an engineer-type looking to build some prototypes, the Ultimaker 3 is an excellent choice in professional 3D printing. Granted, this comes at a steeper price, but the accuracy of prints coming off the Ultimaker 3 are truly spot-on. It goes without saying this isn’t for beginners—that would require a serious learning curve—but the Ultimaker 3 sits near the top of the heap in regards to current 3D printers for a reason.
FlashForge Creator Pro
In terms of print quality and price, the FlashForge Creator Pro is an excellent blend of both. While it’s substantially less expensive than many of the other high-end 3D printers on this list, you’ll also find the printing to be extremely accurate. This newer version of the Creator printer adds a sturdier metal frame—the original Creator model used wood—and an “aviation level” aluminum heating plate. Overall, this is a great mid-range desktop 3D printer.
Monoprice’s low-cost 3D printer is a great way to check out the technology without spending a fortune. It’s designed to be “plug and play” in the sense that it comes fully assembled, includes some plastic filament, and there’s even a bundled MicroSD card that has a variety of 3D models on it so you can start creating stuff right away. It supports a variety of filaments ranging from plastic to wood, has a cooling fan for the nozzle, and is small enough to fit on any desk too.