It has finally happened – 3D printing technology has reached the stage when it’s available to consumers and is actually affordable. No longer is it just a conversation-starter or a product reserved solely for sci-fi enthusiasts.
The best 3D printer can have a number of uses on a personal and professional level. Whether you’re making custom accessories for your devices or offering 3D printing services on the market, this machine opens up a world of possibilities. We’ve gone through the market’s offer and handpicked only the best options for our recommendations. Here’s what we’ve come up with.
- Five-minute heat-up time
- Resume printing function
- Sturdy metal design
- Multi-resin compatibility
- High-resolution options
- Great price
If you’re new to the world of 3D printing, you need a reliable machine that won’t break the bank but can also provide you with enough room to grow. Monoprice might be the right way to go. It’s a reputable brand that has already made a name for itself in this industry. The Monoprice MP Voxel 3D printer is an easy-to-use device that can be controlled directly through the interface or remotely thanks to its Polar Cloud functionality. Its fully enclosed and compact design make it the best home 3D printer. Let’s dig into the specifics.
When it comes to home printers, you really need to keep in mind the safety of your family members. In order to do their job, these machines need to achieve certain temperatures and melt the filament. Not only can this be dangerous, but you have to think about the fumes and unpleasant smells that might result from the process. This is the reason why Monoprice Voxel’s closed frame is so important. You can watch the process through the heat-resistant glass on its two sides and operate it using a small IPS touchscreen.
As you might expect from the best beginner 3D printer, the Voxel arrives fully assembled and operational. It doesn’t require any particular effort on your part. The preset Polar Cloud technology means you can control the printing process online and use the built-in Monoprice Voxel camera to check how it’s going remotely. Both the high-quality nozzle and the flexible build plate can be removed easily without special tools. One tap on the screen will automatically level the bed to ensure a precise operation. Everything was created with novices in mind.
Monoprice’s best starter 3D printer is pretty fast. It can print out up to 100 mm per second. This is an important piece of information to know if you plan on charging your printing services by the hour. It can use PLA, ABS, as well as a few more Monoprice Voxel filament composites. One of the biggest problems users encounter is concerning spools. Voxel uses a very thin spool that can’t hold more than 500 g of filament. Because of the location of the spool holder, it’s pretty hard to replace it with a third-party accessory. The device supports several slicing software solutions like MP Flashprint, Slic3r, Skeinforge, and Cura.
In spite of a couple of imperfections, Monoprice Voxel 3D printer is still among the best 3D printers under 500 dollars on the market. If you shop around, you might even find deals that are slightly cheaper than this – just make sure it’s the right model. The company also offers a few similar alternatives if you’re looking for something more compact.
Creality Ender 3 V2
The original Ender 3 was an exceptional low-cost 3D printer that offered a lot of bang for your buck and enjoyed cult status among its users. One of its most recent upgrades – dubbed “V2” – has built on that solid foundation by improving the motherboard and the interface, while still being the best 3D printer under 300 dollars. The Ender 3 V2 is the most expensive of all the upgrades, but is it really worth the few extra bucks it demands? Let’s see.
As you’d expect from all Creality products, the Ender 3 V2 also features a solid, sturdy frame with high-quality parts that ensure longevity. One thing that might put off beginners from buying this printer is the fact that it comes as a kit. Before you can use it, you need to put in a bit of effort and assemble it. There are plenty of videos online to help you out with the process, but if this is your first time, you should ask for a helping hand. Creality’s best budget 3D printer has an open frame that lets you enjoy your beautiful 3D printer models from all sides. However, to ensure the safety of your family members, you probably shouldn’t keep it in the living room.
One of the main bragging points for Creality’s team of developers is the silent motherboard. Indeed, the printing process is pleasantly quiet, but this fact is slightly undermined by the comparably loud fans. At the end of the day, despite the designers’ efforts, you’re not gaining that much. The extruder is slightly underpowered, but you can easily replace it with your favorite alternative if you want to. Keep in mind that this is still the best cheap 3D printer, so there have to be some compromises.
The Ender 3 V2 has a completely new, better-looking display that is easy to use and navigate through. The only control is a round knob that you turn around to switch between options and press to choose. This mechanical system is a lot more reliable than touchscreens you often find with the competition. Another interesting new addition to the classic design is a small built-in toolbox drawer. It’s a nice little compartment for you to store your screwdrivers, tweezers, and spare screws in.
Despite being slightly more expensive than the original, the V2 is still the best affordable 3D printer on the market. The new improvements in the build, the interface, and even the extra drawer definitely justify the price. If you know what you’re doing, you can customize the machine with a new extruder (or even try Creality Ender 3 dual extruder), add an all-metal hotend, and tweak the settings a little bit to get outstanding results relatively cheaply.
Phrozen Sonic Mini
As a general rule, resin-based printers offer better resolution than classic FDM machines, but this improvement comes at a higher price. That said, there are a couple of budget-friendly options on the web that might help you out. The Phrozen Sonic Mini is one of them. It is the best resin 3D printer that you can find for just under $300, which is nothing short of amazing. But does the Sonic Mini deliver?
Let’s talk about the build first. The Sonic Mini is a solid machine with high-quality parts made of metal and plastic. Because of its red translucent enclosure, the entire printer looks like a large rotation light. At the bottom of the machine is a translucent resin vat that lets you see your object being built – layer by layer. The printer comes pre-assembled, so you can start printing right out of the box. Some of the additional equipment you get with your purchase includes plastic and metallic scrapers for easy object removal from the sanded plate.
Phrozen’s best 3D printer uses LCD technology to create objects out of resin. Instead of going with the classic RGB option, the developers decided to use a monochrome screen. It allows for better quality and a much faster curing process. Now, this type of screen can be used for an average of 2,000 hours, after which you’ll need to replace it. While these screens aren’t exactly cheap, they last three times longer than classic RGBs. There is no doubt that this is a solid investment.
Before you start using Phrozen’s 3D printer, the best course of action is to perform an LCD test from the display. This involves just a couple of clicks on the touchscreen to make sure everything is in working order. After this, you’ll need to do bed levelling. Unlike some other machines, the Sonic Mini doesn’t offer automatic levelling, so you’ll need to do it yourself. The interface will guide you through the process, but you might need to do it a couple of times before you get it right. Basically, you unscrew a couple of screws, place the paper on the screen, let the bed lower all the way down, and tighten it up again. It’s simple but a bit annoying.
With Phrozen’s best 3D printer, under 500 layers can be printed out in about 16 minutes, which is definitely impressive. Of course, it’s not all about the speed. The Sonic Mini delivers unique quality that you don’t usually get in this price range. This is thanks to the company’s trademark ParaLED technology that ensures the utmost accuracy. The printer supports all types of LCD resin as well as the majority of DLP resin materials. It’s pretty nice that Phrozen doesn’t force you to use only its product.
One of the biggest downsides of this printer is definitely the small build area. With the best inexpensive 3D printer, you won’t be able to make any big objects, but it’s obviously a matter of quality triumphing over the quantity. You’ll just need to figure out if that’s what matters to you as well.
Anycubic performed a minor miracle by creating Photon – a compact 3D printer based on LCD technology that can offer incredible resolutions while still staying on the cheap side. The regular price of this machine is around $250, but there are some discounts that will lower the price to under $200. It might take you a while to get the hang of it, but you’ll soon discover why Photon is dubbed the best 3D printer for miniatures. Let’s take a look.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Anycubic Photon 3D printer is its retro-futuristic design. The yellow-tinted glass really gives off that vibe. Basically, it looks like a simplified and compact vending machine that you can put anywhere you want. The device has a closed frame, which offers an important level of protection from unpleasant odors that result from the printing process. Note that the printer comes assembled, so you won’t have to worry about doing it yourself.
Obviously, we have to talk about the little elephant in the room – the exceptionally small Anycubic Photon build volume. You won’t be able to craft big pieces of equipment or accessories, but if you plan on creating small figurines, this is the best 3D printer on the internet. Anycubic Photon DLP (digital light processing) ensures the premium quality of objects with a resolution as low as 25 microns. To show you just how much faith the company has in its system, one of the demo objects included in the printer is a lattice cube, which is notoriously difficult to print out. Anycubic even included its logo inside the cube.
The printer is operated through the color touchscreen at the bottom of the device. It contains helpful information and guides you through the manual bed levelling process. The best 3D printers that rely on resin need to include supports for the design, which is something you can easily add in the Anycubic Photon software slicer. Through the USB port on the side, you can add the designs you want and let the printer do its work.
Now, one thing you have to understand before you decide to give this printer a try is that it’s not the easiest thing in the world to use. There is a learning curve and a good chance you’ll mess up at least a couple of times. It’s all about getting used to the process and figuring out what minor tweaks might help. Only then will you see this as the best 3D printer for the money and starting making your amazing figurines.
Speaking of price, Anycubic offers some of the best deals on the market. Interestingly, there are various discounts and promotions where you might end up saving at least a couple of hundred bucks. If you’re seriously thinking about giving this printer a go, make sure you check the web for some special deals. Sometimes the best low-cost 3D printer can turn up even cheaper.
Original Prusa I3 MK3S
You won’t find a better recommendation than when a company uses its own product. It’s a true testament to its value. Original Prusa is a prolific 3D printer creator that uses the power of MK3S to create parts for its new products. Why? Because it’s a reliable, sturdy 3D printer with automatic bed levelling, print backup systems, and support for dozens of different materials. The price might be a bit steeper for casual users, but the company’s reputation and the high quality of the printer certainly justify it. Here’s our take on the product.
You can order Prusa’s best desktop 3D printer as the Original Prusa I3 MK3S kit or an already assembled machine. We would recommend you go with the former, as it’s not a difficult process and you can save around $200 that way. In many ways, the MK3S is not so much a new product as it is an evident improvement on the previous model. Many of the new features came to life as direct responses to users’ complaints and suggestions. It certainly shows how much Prusa values its community.
One of the biggest and most significant changes to the new model is the redesigned extruder. The new setup allows for better cooling, less resonance, and high-end print quality. Many users consider it the best 3D printer for cosplay because you can create large, highly detailed objects like pieces of armor or weapons, which is perfect for this industry. With the new hybrid filament sensor, Original Prusa I3 MK3S 3D printer has a constrained filament path, so it’s way more precise and reliable than its predecessor.
Prusa printers use some of the best features available on the market. E3D has provided its top-grade hotend nozzles and helped create custom-made heatbreaks. The MK3S uses automatic loading, which simplifies the sometimes complicated process, while reliable Bondtech drive gears inside the extruder ensure the steady flow of the filament. At the very end, Prusa’s best large-format 3D printer creates the object on an alloy spring sheet from which it can be easily removed. For most subpar printers, this might be the breaking point, but the MK3S offers smooth removal. If you need a bit more adhesion, you can also order a textured, powder-coated PEI option.
The MK3S is by no means a cheap machine. However, considering the quality you’re getting, the size of the printing area, and the support that only Original Prusa can offer, this is an exceptional deal. It is easily the best 3D printer under 1000 dollars and a true bargain if you assemble it yourself. There are plenty of YouTube videos you can turn to for guidance, or you can contact customer support for additional help from the makers themselves.
Best 3D Printer: Our Methodology
Before we can recommend you a new 3D printer, we have to make sure it’s the best the market has to offer. For that reason, we’ve come up with a unique selection of criteria that the products need to meet to make an appearance on our list. Here are the main factors we take into consideration.
Design of the Printer
3D printing technology has become such a trend in recent years that everyone wants to have one. Just like any piece of electronic equipment that’s in high demand, like speakers or controllers, there are hundreds of companies offering inferior products that can hardly survive shipping, let alone promise any longevity. In our 3D printer review, we assess the quality of the printers, how sturdy they are, what materials are used to make them, and whether they’re worth your money. Does the printer come assembled or do you have to do it yourself? Is it a closed- or open-frame model? Can you see the entire process or just the final product? If it’s going to take up a central position in your home, even aesthetics come into play.
Next up, we take a look at the printing methods and materials. Unlike ordinary color laser printers, materials for 3D printers are a tad more expensive. the The majority of commercial 3D printers nowadays use the FFF (fused filament fabrication) printing method, which is also known as FDM (fused deposition modeling). It’s the same process, just a different name. When it comes to materials, the best home 3D printers can use different options like ABS, PLA, PETT, PCTPE, and PVA. All of these differ in terms of quality, price, and melting point. Some printers support all of them, while others can only work with one. If you want professional quality along with higher prices, you can also try the SLA (stereolithography) method that uses resin and light beams to create detailed, durable objects. Naturally, our list features some mind-bogglingly affordable options.
Another essential factor that determines the quality of your printer is resolution. The level of detail your device is capable of making is usually measured in microns (0.001 mm). The lower the number, the higher the level of detail. The best budget 3D printers can easily create layers under 200 microns. Anything above that and you’re looking at a subpar product. Good quality FDM machines usually print at around 100 microns, while SLA printers go for 25. Note that some FDM printers can also create extra-thin layers at around 10 microns, but this type of technology is not capable of using it. These layers can end up looking worse than lower-resolution ones.
Besides resolution, you should also consider the build area of your printer. After all, this determines how big an object it can create. If the size of your newly acquired 3D printer takes up a significant portion of your space, maybe it’s more prudent to choose a 3d pen? Anyway, the best large 3D printer can be as big as 2 feet in all directions, but make sure you actually need that much space. Printers will usually list out all the dimensions of their build area because of its irregular shape. Most home 3D printers, however, can create objects in a space of around 50 square inches. Our reviews will tell you exactly what dimensions you have available so that you can do your own calculations. The most important thing is that the print size fits your specific needs.
The majority of today’s devices come with their own best 3D printer software that can be downloaded from the official website or installed using a disk. Depending on the printer model you choose, these programs can give you full or compartmentalized access to the printing process. There are some open-source options that can work with most printers and some that are exclusive to your product. Programs can also differ in proficiency level; some are focused on beginners, while others are better suited to professional users. In any case, we are not far away from the moment where 3D printer software will be ubiquitous and a part of Internet of Things.
Top 5 3D Printers
- Monoprice Voxel – best for home use
- Creality Ender 3 V2 – best budget fdm printer
- Phrozen Sonic Mini – best budget resin printer
- Anycubic Photon – best for miniatures
- Original Prusa i3 MK2S – best for cosplay
Is it worth buying a 3D printer?
It depends on what you plan to do with it. Even though most commercial 3D printers nowadays are quite affordable, they can be an unnecessary expense if you don’t have a particular business plan in mind. If you’re only a casual user, we recommend you find the best 3D printer under 200 dollars. At that price range you’ll get decent quality and won’t damage your household budget too much. If you want to use it professionally, you’ll need to set aside a larger amount. More often than not, you’ll find a slight difference in price equates to a huge difference in quality.
What is the best 3D printer for home use?
Monoprice Voxel is among the most popular 3D printers that you can find at an affordable price. Thanks to its closed frame design, it’s a safe choice for home use. In addition to that, the printer has a number of beginner-friendly functions and can be controlled remotely. The Easythreed Mini Toybox is the best 3D printer for kids toys, as it’s relatively cheap and simple. The printer uses PLA material, which is not toxic and doesn’t emit any bad smell when melted. That makes it a perfect option for home use, especially when you’re making toys for your children.
What is the best 3D printer for beginners?
If you’re only just starting out, your best bet might be the Anycubic i3 Mega. You’ll get exceptional quality for a modest price of just over $200 and possibly some additional discounts. It’s not difficult to assemble, the user interface is largely intuitive, and you’ll get low filament alerts whenever you need a refill. These are just some of the reasons why users call it the best 3D printer for beginners. A couple more great choices for rookies include the Creality Ender 3 Pro and the slightly more expensive FlashForge Finder. Both options are user-friendly and offer a number of great features.
Can you make money with a 3D printer?
As long as you create a detailed business plan and define your goals, yes, you can make money with your 3D printer. The easiest way to do so is to offer your printing services on popular freelancing platforms. Note that they take about 20% of every sale, so you might also consider some alternatives like making your own website. If you own the best 3D printer for 28 mm miniatures, you can sell figurines to wargaming enthusiasts and collectors. Due to the global pandemic, custom-made masks and accessories are becoming popular, so you can board that train as well. There are hundreds of ways you can use the machine to your advantage – the only limitation is your imagination.
How do I get the best quality 3D print?
Assuming you already own a high-quality 3D printer, there are a couple more steps you can take to ensure that your end product is high in quality. First up, you need to make sure that the printing bed is perfectly levelled and adjust the height of the nozzle. The instructions you receive when you buy the best 3D printer will tell you what’s the proper way to set it all up. Make sure the nozzle isn’t too hot because it can drastically affect the quality of the print. Handle the filaments carefully, as they shouldn’t get wet or damp. If there’s an option for it, lower the printing speed. It will yield better results.