If you’re looking for a 3D printer, we’ve got you covered — no matter your budget.
Like any hobby, there can be a lot of jargon and advertising snake oil. Today I’ll cover some good machine choices. But if you’re not sure of the technical details, make sure to read our 3D printing beginner’s guide to get up to speed.
Stating “the best” 3D printer is a little subjective. It’s like saying “my mom is the best in the world”. Everybody knows my mom is the best, and there can only be one. Anyway, I’ll cover several different models for varying budgets and skill levels.
There are so many factors that influence a decision like this, as well as thousands of different models, that it is impossible to cover every single one. Let me know in the comments below what you think is the best machine!
The Best 3D Printer: RepRap Prusa I3 MK2
The best 3D printer you can buy right now is the RepRap Prusa I3 (DIY kit available at Amazon for $350). Not just any Prusa though, you want the Original Prusa i3 MK2 by Prusa Research. This costs $845/739€ in kit form or $1,088/999€ fully assembled. This may seem like a lot of money, especially when this design can be purchased for a lot less money elsewhere, but trust me, this is one seriously good machine.
Josef Prusa designed the original RepRap Prusa, and he continues to improve the design with many useful features.
Automatic mesh bed leveling — This printer can figure out how skewed each axis is, and correct the print accordingly. This means it does not matter if your initial calibration was incorrect!
Multi-material upgrade — Many printers allow you to print with two or more materials. Prusa Research developed a new and unique technique that greatly simplifies the process.
Heat bed with cold corners compensation — A heated bed is required for printing with many materials. The Prusa takes things one step further by compensating for corners being colder than the middle.
In addition to these amazing features, this machine comes with all the tools needed, along with the configuration files needed to get started. This helps you avoid a lot of problems and is something all manufacturers should do. Prusa Research also provides an online manual and excellent support.
If you’re just getting into 3D printing, or want a machine that “just works,” then buy this one! No 3D printer requires no maintenance or comes without problems. Even so, the Prusa is as good as they get. If you’re not convinced, take a look at this multi-material upgrade video:
Best Budget Machine: Wanhao Duplicator i3 V2
3D printing on a budget can be very frustrating. Sure, many machines can be purchased for very reasonable prices, but these can sometimes cause more trouble than they are worth. Yes, you can get good results with a cheap machine, but they often require advanced tinkering and component upgrades. This does not often justify the low cost if you are a beginner.
The Wanhao Duplicator i3 V2 is an excellent low budget machine. It can be purchased for $425/495€. Like the RepRap above, This is a Prusa I3 design. Not only are there various modifications and enhancements available for the I3 design, but this particular printer is well made, reliable, and has a large support community.
Heated Bed — A feature so necessary that every printer should have one.
High Precision — You can get exceptional quality prints from this machine.
Many Support Groups — A good support community makes all the difference when things go wrong.
Pre-assembled — No need to worry about assembly or troubleshooting — this machine arrives almost ready to go.
Fastest Machine: DeltaWASP Turbo
3D printing is not a fast process. Having to print the same shape hundreds or even thousands of times slows the process down a lot. That said, there are some designs available that can print much faster than others. The DeltaWASP Turbo is one of them. This machine can print models seriously fast — 600mm per second! For comparison, the RepRaps listed above would be doing well to reach 100mm per second.
In addition to the speed, here are some top features:
Print resurrection — Resume a print after a power failure. Very handy!
Print height — Print objects up to 400mm tall. Many printers stop at 200mm.
Different extruders — Change the extruder to print unusual materials such as clay or porcelain.
Priced at $3,299/3,325€, it’s certainly not cheap. Ask yourself: do you really need to print six times faster than anybody else?
Take a look at it in action printing clay:
Smallest Machine: M3D Micro
If you’re looking for a tiny machine, maybe to tuck away in your house or take to work, then the M3D Micro is what you want. Not only is this printer absolutely tiny at 185mm cubed, but it’s also very competitively priced at $300/300€. Naturally, some sacrifices had to be made to keep the size and price this low. You are limited to printing smaller objects, and it does have a reduced plastic (“filament”) capacity.
The M3D Micro does come in a variety of colors, and a whole range of spares are available via their online website, which is good, as no matter how much you know, or how good a printer is, something will break eventually.
Small — 185mm cubed!
Check out our review of the M3D Micro below.
Quietest Machine: MOD-t
3D printers are noisy, there’s no escaping that. There are many tricks you can do to reduce the noise, but should you really need to? The MOD-t by New Matter is easy to use, cheap, and very quiet. Priced at a very reasonable $399/400€, you get some very cool features, that many machines twice the price do not.
Web-connected — You can control this machine from anywhere, on any device.
Ready to use — Comes ready to use straight out the box, and comes with everything you need to start.
Easy to use — A simple setup process and guide will help you get started.
In addition to these features, take a look at the machine — it’s not just another RepRap, but a unique design:
After Buying the Best 3D Printer
Once you have decided on a 3D printer, you are ready to take on some of our cool 3D printing projects. Why not print and build an electronic D20, or some custom shortcut buttons. How about some tabletop fantasy RPG figures.
If you’re looking for a simpler project, why not make your own tablet stand?
What 3D printer do you own? Have you purchased any on this list? What machines do you think we should have included? Let us know in the comments below!
Image Credits: Denis Ronin/Shutterstock