The 10 Best 3D Printers

Updated November 09, 2017 by Lydia Chipman

10 Best 3D Printers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 34 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. No longer confined to the realm of the super-rich, 3D printers are poised to disrupt the global economy, as they bring small-scale rapid prototyping and manufacturing capabilities within the reach of individuals and small businesses. From open-source DIY kits to production-ready proprietary systems, units like these can help you develop cost-effective models, spare parts and much more. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best 3d printer on Amazon.

10. Eris by SeeMeCNC

The preassembled Eris by SeeMeCNC makes the singular experience of working with a delta system inexpensive and portable enough to compete with the Cartesian devices that generally dominate the marketplace, but its open frame and unheated bed won't work with ABS filaments.
  • automatic calibration and leveling
  • glass build plate
  • standalone controller not included
Brand SeeMeCNC
Model 86099
Weight 14 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Prusa i3

The iconic Prusa i3 is the torchbearer for the RepRap movement that's driven desktop prototyping innovation for over a decade. In the years since it was originally developed, the classic DIY kit has continued to inspire makers to try out new ideas and designs at home.
  • works with various filaments
  • dual extrusion supported
  • kit requires complicated assembly
Brand Reprap Guru
Model pending
Weight 22.6 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Robo R2

The proudly open-source Robo R2 boasts a heated build platform and a fully enclosed chamber for compatibility with more than 30 material types. An adjustable layer height ranging from 300 to 20 microns enables you to prioritize higher speed or resolution for each project.
  • 8 x 8 x 10-inch print volume
  • color touchscreen interface
  • lackluster service and support
Brand ROBO 3D
Model R2
Weight 52 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Stanley Model 1

The Stanley Model 1 lives up to its brand's longstanding reputation for quality, ease of use and reliability. Guided bed leveling and automatic spool loading take the pain and suffering out of setup, and its performance is backed by a 12-month manufacturer's warranty.
  • multiple connectivity options
  • remote monitoring via mobile app
  • limited filament compatibility
Brand Stanley
Model MODEL1-3DP
Weight 45.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Raise3D N2

While it's not the cheapest model available, the Raise3D N2 offers substantial value for the price, including a large, fully enclosed build area with a heated platform, automatic pause-and-resume in the event of power loss, dual extrusion and an all-metal hotend.
  • reliable high-precision output
  • touchscreen display for ease of use
  • compatible with numerous filaments
Brand Raise3D
Model 00100202
Weight 116.8 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. MakerBot Replicator Mini+

Getting started with the MakerBot Replicator Mini+ is as simple as unpacking it and clicking the magnetically attached build plate and extruder into place. Automatic jam detection and filament depletion monitoring make it an even more attractive mid-range option.
  • guided setup via mobile app
  • grip surface for better bed adhesion
  • automatic calibration
Brand MakerBot
Model MP07925EU
Weight 26.9 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

4. LulzBot Taz 6

Readily customizable with all of the latest advances in desktop prototyping technology, the LulzBot Taz 6 by Aleph Objects is a virtuous homage to libre innovation, featuring a generous build area and modular design that's versatile and easy to use right out of the box.
  • superb build quality and reliability
  • 50-micron maximum layer resolution
  • uses experimental materials
Brand LulzBot
Model 817752017954
Weight 42.6 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

3. Qidi X-one2

An updated and improved version of Makerbot's previously open-source design, the Qidi X-one2 is popular for its affordability and ease of use, but it's also backed by solid customer service, making it a great choice for newbies and budget-conscious users.
  • heated aluminum build platform
  • comes preassembled and calibrated
  • 10mm guide rod for z-axis precision
Brand Qidi Technology
Model QDXO2016-07
Weight 45 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Sindoh 3DWOX DP200

The Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 is a prime example of the benefits of well-designed closed systems, incorporating a user-friendly LCD touchscreen interface with assisted bed leveling and easy-to-load proprietary filament cartridges for a straightforward setup and prototyping.
  • plug-and-play simplicity
  • standby bed heating
  • enclosed build plate
Brand Sindoh
Model DP200
Weight 46.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. FlashForge Creator Pro

With dual extruders, an enclosed chamber and a 10-millimeter guide rod to prevent warping and deformation, the FlashForge Creator Pro is well known in the open-source community for its build accuracy, quality and overall performance with a variety of filament materials.
  • works particularly well with abs
  • quiet enough for home office use
  • replacement parts readily available
Brand FlashForge
Model 709652463538
Weight 45.9 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Creating Depth And Innovation

Printing has made keeping records and two-dimensional visualizations possible. It also removes the difficulty experienced when trying to interpret a person's handwriting. Printing allows for the transfer of photographs and documents from a computer screen to a sheet of paper for archiving and presenting. With the exception of the small amount of toner transferred to paper, a two-dimensional printer cannot create depth or height to whatever is being represented. Depending on your profession, what if you require a printer to do more than just transfer text to paper? A 3D printer gives you the ability to construct a 3D model based on a design concept through the use of different materials, which is something your traditional laser printer cannot accomplish on its own. Think of a 3D printer as a form of technology that brings ideas as well as digital prototypes and models into tangible form.

In the technical sense, a 3D printer leverages a computer-controlled process for synthesizing and constructing an object using multiple layers of different materials to do so. This process is also referred to as additive manufacturing, meaning that material layers are added successively by the printer. These layers are thinly-sliced, horizontal cross-sections of the intended object.

In order to create a 3D object, one needs a blueprint or virtual design of the object. A virtual design takes the form of a computer-aided design file (CAD). The CAD file is created by using 3D modeling software to generate a structural model of the object you want the printer to create. In other words, think of this modeling software as a digital road map that your printer will follow to produce your object. A 3D scanner can also be used to analyze a real object, convert it into an image, and turn that image into a 3D model to be interpreted by your printer.

Once the model is complete, it must then be prepared for your printer. This preparation process is called slicing because the model is being divided (or sliced) into thousands of horizontal, two-dimensional layers that the printer will assemble to create the 3D object that you're after. Once the model has been sliced, its data can then be fed into your printer for construction using a USB stick, SD card, or through your wireless network connection.

Depending on the specific printer you have, several different types of construction methods may be used to produce a 3D object. The difference between these methods is determined by the way in which the individual layers of material are assembled. For example, some production methods use melting or softening of materials to produce these layers, such as fused deposition modeling (FDM). Fused deposition modeling is one of the most common printing methods. Through this method, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) or another type of thermoplastic material is melted and deposited in layers through a heated extrusion nozzle to build a 3D object. By contrast, the stereolithography method does not melt materials. Instead, this process focuses an ultraviolet (UV) laser onto a vat of photopolymer resin using a computer-aided design (CAD) file as a guide.

A photopolymer is a large molecule whose properties change when exposed to light. The UV laser is used to draw a pre-programmed design onto the surface of the photopolymer vat. The photopolymer then solidifies wherever the UV light beam touches it, allowing the light to print an object layer by layer. The construction methods and materials used depend on the type of printer you've chosen. Thermoplastics and metal alloys are the most common materials used by 3D printers to produce objects.

A Brief History Of 3D Printers

The earliest 3D printing apparatuses were introduced in the 1980s during a time when this technology was referred to as rapid prototyping. Charles W. Hull invented the first 3D printer in 1986 using the stereolithography method of object creation. Hull also co-founded 3D Systems Corporation, which still innovates and distributes professional 3D printer technology today.

By the middle of the 1990s, new techniques for material deposition by these printers were invented, including micro casting and spraying materials. Throughout the 2000s, additive manufacturing processes continued to mature with a growing focus on the home consumer market and lower costs for the printer technology. Since 2010, the average cost of a 3D printer has decreased considerably, allowing hobbyists to fulfill their dreams of owning the technology. The RepRap project has also encouraged the placement of this technology into more hands with personal interests instead of being restricted to just industrial or medical applications.

Possibilities Abound

Aside from rapid prototyping and quickly turning ideas into tangible objects, 3D printers offer a huge number of advantages across a variety of industries. The medical industry is definitely a big one, considering that medical professionals can use this technology to develop prosthetic devices. For the budding artist or architect, the printer can produce concept models for buildings and sculptures. For the automotive industry, this technology can be used to fabricate extra parts. Even if you're an archaeologist, this type of printer can be a big help to you for reconstructing fossils and artifacts.

On a practical level, things to consider when making this investment include the size of objects you'll need. A printer with a large building space will be necessary, particularly if you need concept models of a certain height for presentations.

Some of the best 3D printers offer compatibility across various operating systems and come with their own software for developing 3D models.

One must be sure to invest in a printer with parts that are relatively easy to replace or service. After all, the technology is a substantial investment with many moving parts.

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Last updated on November 09, 2017 by Lydia Chipman

An itinerant wordsmith with an alphabet-soup of credentials to her name, Lydia has turned iconoclasm into a livelihood of sorts, throwing herself into a broad constellation of interests. From antithetical cultural analysis to interdisciplinary combat training, she bears the scars and stripes of an uncommon diversity of experience. Reading, biking and exploring are favorite pastimes, but – with the notable exceptions of joining a religious order (not on speaking terms with a higher power) and becoming an artist (can’t even draw a respectable stick-figure) – she’d try almost anything once.

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