Jul 23, 2018

14 Best 3D Printers of Summer 2018

Looking for the best 3D printer? Check out our summer 2018 buyer’s guide to the best 3D printers in 14 categories, including 3D printer reviews, and explanations of terminology.

Want to buy the best 3D printer model for your money? Wondering where to start and what to buy? We hear you. After countless hours spent printing and tinkering with a large selection of desktop printers — and no small amount of haggling and debating — the ALL3DP team presents their top picks for the best 3D printers of summer 2018.

To make your decision easier, the following selections constitute a set of awards. Each best 3D printer accolade is our honest recommendation for their category and/or price bracket. If you want to know how we reviewed these best 3D printers, here’s an overview on our testing methodology.

We’ve also prepared a short guide on how to find the best 3D printer for your needs. If you are not sure about terminology, please consult our glossary. Without further ado, these are our recommendations for the best 3D printers of summer 2018.

14 Best 3D Printers of Summer 2018

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1

Original Prusa i3 MK3 Best 3D Printer

Original Prusa i3 MK3

The Best 3D Printer of Summer 2018 is… the Original Prusa i3 MK3

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 250 x 210 x 210
  • Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity USB, SD Card
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75
  • Open Source Hardware & Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed 200 mm/s

Who it’s for: If you want the closest thing to desktop FDM perfection, the Prusa i3 MK3 is the machine you should get.

Why you should buy it: Because it is fun to work with. If you opt for the kit, the assembly is a joy. And if you pick one up pre-assembled, this highly versatile FDM/FFF printer delivers excellent prints right out of the box.

How much you’ll pay: $999 (VAT not included)

Why we picked the Prusa i3 MK3 as Best 3D Printer: 

Can a Maker’s machine really be the best 3D printer overall? We think so. For starters, the Prusa i3 MK3 offers unparalleled value and quality for the money. And its technological prowess is such that it would easily outclass a 3D printer at three times the price.

At All3DP, we found it became our go-to machine to get a print job done without any hassle. It’s quiet, it’s fast, and a pleasure to use. The removable print bed is something we didn’t know we needed so badly.

And you won’t run into problems if you throw notoriously difficult materials in its direction – this machine just delivers every time.

Thanks to its open-source philosophy, the printer also is highly hackable, making it the ideal machine for experimentation and customization. The Prusa Control slicer has some nice tricks up its sleeve and is constantly updated with new improvements. A multi-material extrusion upgrade from Prusa is also available for pre-order.

Best 3D Printer Review: 2018 Original Prusa i3 MK3 Review: Simply the Best 3D Printer

Original Prusa i3 MK3

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Alternative to the Best 3D Printer: Ultimaker 3

The Ultimaker is known to be the “Rolls-Royce of 3D printing”: It’s pricey, but you will get unparalleled comfort, joy, and quality out of it. The flagship model of the Ultimaker empire is packed to the rafters with cutting-edge technology. It’s got dual extrusion, swappable “cores” for quick nozzle changes, wireless connectivity, print cam and much more besides. Thanks to Cura Connect software, you can start building a printer farm with it. It’s the ultimate pro machine for professional FDM 3D printing – with a price tag to match, though.

3D Printer Review: Ultimaker 3 Review: Best Dual Extruder 3D Printer of 2018

Ultimaker 3

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2

Ender 3 Best 3D Printer Under $200

The Best 3D Printer Under $200 of Summer 2018 is… the Creality Ender 3

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 220 x 220 x 250mm
  • Materials PLA, ABS, PETG, PVA, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 100
  • Connectivity USB, SD Card
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75 mm
  • Open Source Hardware & Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed 200mm/s

Who it’s for: Folks who want to get their feet wet in 3D printing with a highly affordable, yet astonishingly good 3D printer.

Why you should buy it: Because it’s easy to use and costs less than three spools of filament. 

How much you’ll pay: $190.

Why we picked the Creality Ender 3 as Best 3D Printer Under $200: 

In 2017, you couldn’t buy a printer under $200 that wasn’t a kit consisting of 200 parts – not everybody likes to build kits. With the Ender 3, things have changed significantly. You can assemble the printer in under an hour, which makes it easy enough for 3D printing beginners.

Let’s not beat around the bush here. One of the most appealing features of the Creality Ender 3 is its incredibly low price point. Still, it has a heated bed, a decent user interface, a sturdy frame. On the downside, the Ender 3 only has a modest print area of 220 x 220 x 250mm.

Sure, there’s no shortage of decent Chinese Prusa i3 clones – and some are very reasonably priced. Still, if you are looking for the best 3D printer in the low budget category, you want a machine that balances the drawbacks of affordable components with printing quality and reliability.

Creality even decided to make the Ender 3 open source, so that everyone can hack and modify it to its full potential. We’re expecting a lot of Ender 3 goodness from the community in the months to come.

Best 3D Printer Review2018 Creality Ender 3 Review - Best 3D Printer Under $200

Creality Ender 3

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Alternative to the Best 3D Printer Under $200: Monoprice Select Mini V2

Monoprice was one of the first US-companies to offer an affordable 3D printer. With the second iteration of their surprise hit, the Monoprice Select Mini V2 has become even more reliable. Sure, the printing bed is tiny and the temperature management isn’t up to par with today’s printers – but you only pay $180 for this little beauty. Overall, the Select Mini V2 is a hackable, simple and cheap 3D printer, which makes it perfect as a secondary 3D printer. Just make sure the build volume isn’t too small for your needs.

Monoprice Select Mini

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See Also: Best Cheap 3D Printer 2018 - Priced Under $200/300/500/1000

3

Anycubic i3 Mega Best 3D Printer Under $300

Anycubic i3 Mega Mods & Upgrades – Light Bar

The Best 3D Printer Under $300 of Summer 2018 is… the Anycubic i3 Mega

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 210 x 210 x 205
  • Materials ABS, PLA, PETG, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity USB, SD Card
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75mm
  • Open Source Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed 150 mm/s

Who it’s for: Everyone who wants a hassle-free machine.

Why you should buy it: We found it to be very reliable while delivering constant quality prints. 

How much you’ll pay: If you look around a bit, you’ll find the Anycubic i3 Mega for under $300.

Why we picked the Anycubic i3 Mega as Best 3D Printer Under $300: 

There’s no shortage of decent Chinese Prusa i3 clones – and some are very reasonably priced. Still, if you are looking for a good budget 3D printer, you want a machine that balances the drawbacks of affordable components with printing quality and reliability. For us, the Anycubic i3 Mega is this machine.

It is a rare thing that we leave a 3D printer in our test lab once we’re reviewed it. But we didn’t want to part with the Anycubic i3 Mega and found ourselves coming back to it frequently.

The reason is simple: It is pretty much a Plug and Play machine. Load a spool of filament, start the print, and pluck it off the build plate once it’s ready. And that’s how it’s supposed to be, right?

Since the price of the Anycubic i3 Mega has come down roughly a third, the printer is even more interesting. If you’re mostly printing PLA and PET, this could be a machine for you. The Ultrabase 3D printing bed worked fine for us: When heated, the prints stick to the bed, once it‘s cold, you can remove the print without hassle.

The Anycubic i3 Mega comes pre-built with decent instructions and offers some nice features (filament sensor, heated bed, sturdy full metal frame) that are usually to be found in higher-priced machines. Careful with the filament sensor, though: We had occasions where it simply didn’t work.

Best 3D Printer Review2018 Anycubic i3 Mega Review - Best 3D Printer Under $300

Anycubic i3 Mega

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See Also: Best Cheap 3D Printer 2018 - Priced Under $200/300/500/1000

4

Creality CR-10 Best 3D Printer Under $500

The Best 3D Printer Under $500 of Summer 2018 is… the Creality CR-10

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 300 x 300 x 400
  • Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity USB, SD Card, Wifi
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75 mm
  • Open Source Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: Folks looking for the absolute most bang for their buck, and who are not afraid to tinker.

Why you should buy it: This machine stormed the category Best 3D Printer Under $500 in 2017. It offers a surprisingly large build volume, good print quality for the money, is reasonably reliable, and has a supportive community sharing ideas for modifications.

How much you’ll pay: Prices start at $390, though flash sales and promo codes can bring the cost even lower.

Why we picked the Creality CR-10 as Best 3D Printer Under $500: 

It might not look like much, but the Creality CR-10 has caused a bit of a stir in the wider 3D printing community. The key metric that brings it home is the price-to-volume ratio. As in, this is a budget FDM machine with a massive build space of 300 x 300 x 400. Further upgrades can push out the capacity to 500 x 500 x 500mm. That alone makes it worth an award for the Best 3D Printer Under $500.

The Creality CR-10 is rather basic, with an open-face frame with a heated bed, SD card reader, and LCD controls with an external power brick. At the end of our testing, we became quite fond of this machine. There’s something alluring about the possibilities that a big print volume presents. And when that kind of excitement is backed up by a printer that outputs high-quality prints, well that’s just pretty darn special.

Best 3D Printer Review: 2018 Creality CR-10 Review – Best 3D Printer Under $500

Creality CR-10

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Alternative to the Best 3D Printer Under $500: Anycubic Photon

At the first look, the Anycubic Photon has a particularly small build volume, but it provides enough space for you to accomplish most projects. Aside from that, at under $500, it’s hard to find reasons to discount the quality. Not only is this resin DLP 3D printer incredibly affordable, it also produces surprisingly high-resolution prints. However, it’s important not to overlook the sticky resin and post-processing chemicals that you’ll have to bring into your workshop.

3D Printer Review: 2018 Anycubic Photon Review - Best DLP 3D Printer Under $500

Anycubic Photon

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See Also: Best Cheap 3D Printer 2018 - Priced Under $200/300/500/1000

5

Original Prusa i3 MK3 Best 3D Printer Under $1000

Original Prusa i3 MK3

The Best 3D Printer Under $1000 of Summer 2018 is… the Original Prusa i3 MK3

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 250 x 210 x 200
  • Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity USB, SD card
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75mm
  • Open Source Hardware & Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed 200mm/s

Who it’s for: Self-sufficient folks who like their hardware and software totally free of restrictions, without paying for a premium.

Why you should buy it: This is the current reigning champion of the independent, open-source RepRap movement, with kickass quality and reliability.

How much you’ll pay: For a fully-assembled unit expect to pay around $1,000. The DIY kit is currently priced at $750 (excl. tax).

Why we picked the Original Prusa i3 MK3 as Best 3D Printer Under $1000: 

The Original Prusa i3 MK3 is a proven open source design with a huge international user base. This unit was engineered by Josef Průša himself, and whether you buy it in kit form or ready assembled, it’s a fantastic printer.

In Winter 2017, its predecessor Prusa i3 MK2S already won our “Best 3D Printer Kit” and “Best 3D Printer Under $1000” awards. It‘s still a great, reliable and versatile 3D printer. But the development team added several features to the MK3 we don‘t want to miss anymore. Like the removable magnetic metal print bed that lets you pluck your prints off the bed with ease; a rebuilt extruder, filament sensor, improved frame stability, and a power failure recovery system.

It still has the full mesh bed auto-leveling, improved construction, faster printing, and an excellent E3D V6 hotend. All that, plus improved firmware and printer self-test. Průša is also known to constantly evolve the printer, its software and even the hardware.

Best 3D Printer Review: 2018 Original Prusa i3 MK3 Review: Simply the Best 3D Printer

Original Prusa i3 MK3

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Alternative to the Best 3D Printer Under $1000: Prusa i3 MK2S

Yet another Prusa? Yes, and we stand firmly to our decision. The Prusa i3 MK2 is the machine most budget Chinese 3D printers are based upon – but you can’t beat the original. It is fast, sturdy, reliable and a joy to work with. If you don‘t need a magnetic bed and a filament runout sensor, this is the best alternative pick you’ll get under $1000.

Original Prusa i3 MK2S

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See Also: Best Cheap 3D Printer 2018 - Priced Under $200/300/500/1000

The Most Popular 3D Printer of Summer 2018 is… the Anet A8

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 220 x 220 x 240
  • Materials ABS, PLA, Exotic
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 100
  • Connectivity SD card
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75 mm
  • Open Source Hardware & Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: 3D printing enthusiasts, tinkerers, and hobbyists that already have some 3D printing knowledge.

Why you should buy it: Because you can hack the heck out of it. Think of the Anet A8 as the starting point of your 3D printing modding adventures.

How much you’ll pay: The market price is around $180.

Why you picked the Anet A8 as Most Popular 3D Printer: 

In search of the most popular 3D printers, we consulted an assortment of web search tracking tools to collate an accurate reflection of what people look for most.

Since its release in February 2016, the Anet A8 steadily climbed to the top of the 3D printer search results. Since early 2018, more than 70.000 people google the term “Anet A8” each month.

What makes the Anet A8 so popular? We think it’s the low price, its hackability, and compatibility with a plethora of materials that has budget makers swooning over this 3D printer. Also, a great, lively and helpful community has developed on Facebook, because overall the Anet A8 is more than a printer – it’s a hobby.

But beware: We don’t think the Anet A8 is a beginners’ or even a kids 3D printer. The assembly can be demanding, and you’ll run into a lot of dead ends while printing. But if you already have some experience, you can turn to these Anet A8 mods to make it an even better 3D printer.

3D Printer Review: 2018 Anet A8 Review – The Most Popular 3D Printer

Anet A8

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7

Original Prusa i3 MK3 Kit Best 3D Printer Kit

The Best 3D Printer Kit of Summer 2018 is… the Original Prusa i3 MK3 Kit

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 250 x 210 x 200
  • Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity USB, SD card
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75mm
  • Open Source Hardware & Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed 200 mm/s

Who it’s for: Curious folks who want to learn everything they can about the wonderful world of 3D printing, down to the nitty-gritty of every single nut and bolt.

Why you should buy it: This is the best 3D printer kit on the market, with super-detailed assembly instructions and a manageable build-time.

How much you’ll pay: In kit form, this printer should cost in the region of $750 (VAT not included).

Why we picked the Original Prusa i3 MK3 Kit as Best 3D Printer Kit: 

Oh-ho! Our pick for the Best 3D Printer Kit also happens to be the same as our pick for the Best 3D Printer Under $1000 and Best 3D Printer.

How’d that happen? Well, based on our experiences with building the MK3 in kit form, together with the Prusa pedigree for careful, iterative design…  Well, this is an easy selection to make.

When building a kit printer, the tantamount consideration is the quality of the supporting documentation. You require clear, consistent, annotated step-by-step guidance. And when something goes wrong, you need to know where to turn and who to ask.

On that front, the Original Prusa i3 series has been outstanding. The assembly instructions are available in 7 languages, with clear pictures and diagrams, together with How-To guides and support questions addressed in the community forum. Oh, and not forgetting the gummy bears Mr. Prusa throws in every kit sweetens the deal.

Best 3D Printer Review: 2018 Original Prusa i3 MK3 Review: Simply the Best 3D Printer

Original Prusa i3 MK3

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Alternative to the Best 3D Printer Kit: Peopoly Moai

Our alternative to the winner of the category “Best 3D Printer Kit” isn’t an FDM printer, but an SLA machine. Starting out as a Kickstarter campaign, the Peopoly Moai offers great quality SLA prints for a very competitive price. The assembly process is easy, well documented, and relatively painless even for DIY beginners. We also liked that the Peopoly Moai is open to 3rd party resins. If you are looking for an affordable SLA machine, the Moai should be on your shortlist.

3D Printer Review: 2018 Peopoly Moai Review – Best Value SLA 3D Printer

Peopoly Moai

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See Also: 15 Best Cheap DIY 3D Printer Kits of Summer 2018

8

Formlabs Form 2 Best SLA/DLP 3D Printer

The Best SLA/DLP 3D Printer of Summer 2018 is… the Formlabs Form 2

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 145 x 145 x 175
  • Materials Resin
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 25
  • Connectivity USB, Wifi, Ethernet
  • Technology SLA
  • Filament Diameter -
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: You need to 3D print items with absolute precision and detail, for example, jewelry, figurines, or dental fixtures.

Why you should buy it: This is the first desktop printer to bring stereolithography to the masses, and with a growing ecosystem of materials with different properties, it’s still pretty much the leader in its class.

How much you’ll pay: Prices start at $3,379, though the finishing kits and post-processing devices can push the price significantly higher.

Why we picked the Formlabs Form 2 as Best SLA/DLP 3D Printer: 

The Formlabs Form 2 is underpinned by stereolithographic (SLA) technology and is perhaps the very best 3D printer in its category and price bracket. SLA works by curing the resin in a tank with a high powered laser that draws each layer, providing solid objects with exceptional levels of detail.

This premium device is equipped with a peeling mechanism, a heated tank, a touchscreen display, wireless controls, and an automated resin system. It also has some cleverly designed software to make fabricating models as painless as possible, the user experience is unparalleled, and the customer support is well established.

Printed objects will require some post-processing, however, and the resin tanks are consumable components that must be replaced regularly.

Best 3D Printer Review: Formlabs Form 2 Review: Best SLA 3D Printer of Summer 2018

Formlabs Form 2

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Alternative to the Best SLA/DLP 3D Printer: Anycubic Photon

No, the Anycubic Photon cannot compete with Formlabs’ professional approach to resin printing. But if you just want to get your feet wet in DLP 3D printing, it doesn‘t get any cheaper than $500. If you just want to print small objects, check out this Best Resin 3D printer alternative.

3D Printer Review: 2018 Anycubic Photon Review - Best DLP 3D Printer Under $500

Anycubic Photon

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See Also: 25 Best Resin (DLP/SLA) 3D Printers of Summer 2018

9

Raise3D N2 Plus Best Large Format 3D Printer

The Best Large Format 3D Printer of Summer 2018 is… the Raise3D N2 Plus

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 305 x 305 x 610
  • Materials PLA, ABS, PC, PET-G, Flexible, TPU, HIPS, Exotics, Carbon, Metal Composites
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 10
  • Connectivity LAN, Wifi, USB, SD Card
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75mm
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed 300mm/sec

Who it’s for: Folks who have grand ambitions and want to print big. Like, REALLY BIG.

Why you should buy it: Because the Raise3D N2 Plus combines user-friendliness with large capacity 3D printing.

How much you’ll pay: $3,600 (VAT not included)

Why we picked the Raise3D N2 Plus as Best Large Format 3D Printer: 

There’s no getting around it, the Raise3D N2 Plus is gigantic. It’s massive. It’s humongous. A small child could probably sit inside its frame. But don’t be intimated by the size.

The Raise3D N2 Plus comes with a massive 305 x 305 x 610mm build area. The V2 hotend can deliver temperatures up to 300 C, and thanks to an enclosed chamber and a heated bed, this large-format 3D printer can print notoriously difficult materials and even metal composites (with the upgrade to a wear-resistant nozzle). Thanks to a 10 micron Z resolution and 12.5 micron X/Y step size you can achieve excellent and detailed models.

Of course, there’s a price tag attached – but if you need a smaller printer, there‘s still it’s smaller brother, the Raise3D N2. There is also a dual extruder version available, labeled the “Raise3D N2 Plus Dual”.

Raise3D N2 Plus

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Alternative to the Best Large Format 3D Printer: Creality CR-10 5S

Want to print half a cubic meter? Meet the Creality CR-10 5S. It is one of the most affordable large-format 3D printers you can buy on the market. Compared to its enormous build volume of 500 x 500 x 500mm, it is relatively cheap. Sure, you will have to experiment more as it misses most comfort features of the Raise3D printers, but it comes at a fraction of the price.

Creality CR-10 S5

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See Also: 20 Best Large 3D Printers of Summer 2018

10

LulzBot TAZ 6 Best Workhorse 3D Printer

The Best Workhorse 3D Printer of Summer 2018 is… the LulzBot TAZ 6

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 280 x 280 x 250
  • Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity USB, SD Card
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 3.00 mm
  • Open Source Hardware & Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed 200 mm/s

Who it’s for: Folks who want a versatile and reliable machine they can trust. They just want to set it and forget it.

Why you should buy it: Whatever you throw at it, the Lulzbot TAZ 6 delivers consistent print quality. This is another champion of the open source movement in 3D printing.

How much you’ll pay: Prices start at $2,500, though seasonal discounts happen a few times a year.

Why we picked the LulzBot TAZ 6 as Best Workhorse 3D Printer: 

The Lulzbot TAZ 6 is made for labs, workshops and maker spaces. This big, bold machine has a brilliant auto-leveling feature which, together with solid print quality and straightforward setup, makes it the single workhorse 3D printer you’ll ever want to use. There’s no calibration or guesswork, it all simply functions as it should.

The TAZ 6 is also open source and carefully documented, with scope for additional upgrades like the Flexystruder (optimized for printing flexible materials), dual extrusion, and the MOARstruder (for printing large objects with fat layers).

If you are looking for a workhorse 3D printer you can trust, look no further.

Best 3D Printer Review: 2018 Lulzbot TAZ 6 Review - Best Workhorse 3D Printer

LulzBot TAZ 6

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Alternative to the Best Workhorse 3D Printer: Zortrax M200

If you aren’t concerned with closed hardware or proprietary software and materials, the Zortrax M200 is the machine you‘ve been looking for. It’s a perfect match if you want a workhorse 3D printer that delivers quality prints. It has automated bed leveling, which makes calibration precise and simple, and a build area with a perforated platform to mitigate warping. This bed is a key feature that makes it the absolute best 3D printer for working with ABS material (or “Z-ULTRAT”, as the company puts it).

3D Printer Review: Zortrax M200 Review: The Best 3D Printer Workhorse 2017

Zortrax M200

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11

UP mini 2 Best 3D Printer for Beginners

The Best 3D Printer for Beginners of Summer 2018 is… the UP mini 2

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 120 x 120 x 120
  • Materials PLA, ABS, Flexible
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 150
  • Connectivity USB, Wifi
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75 mm
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: If you’ve heard nasty rumors about toxic emissions from desktop 3D printing, then the built-in HEPA filter should put your mind at rest.

Why you should buy it: Looking for the best 3D printer for beginners? You could do a lot worse than the UP mini 2, which has some extraordinary features of genuine value.

How much you’ll pay: Expect to pay around $539.

Why we picked the Tiertime UP mini 2 as Best 3D Printer for Beginners: 

The UP mini 2 is the best 3D printer for beginners thanks to some impressive high-end features.

For starters, there’s touchscreen controls, a closed build room, and wifi connectivity. But even more attractive are safety-conscious features like power failure protection — so the print can resume after an abrupt stop — and built-in HEPA air filtration to maintain a healthy working environment.

There’s also automatic nozzle height detection, and a separate, enclosed spool container to prevent the filament from spoiling from exposure to moisture in the air. Overall a very tidy package. The only drawback is that the 120 x 120 x 120 mm build volume is rather puny.

Best 3D Printer Review: UP mini 2 Review: Best 3D Printer for Beginners of Summer 2018

Best 3D Printer for Beginners

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Alternative to the Best 3D Printer for Beginners: Flashforge Finder

There are many companies claiming to have the “best 3D printer for beginners” — but only few can deliver. Flashforge, on the other hand, offers a great package that’s capable of giving you quality prints and enough room for improvement if you’re getting deeper into 3D printing. The ease of use makes the Flashforge Finder one of the best 3D printers for beginners.

3D Printer Review: Flashforge Finder 3D Printer Review: (Almost) For Beginners

Flashforge Finder

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12

MakerBot Replicator+ Best 3D Printer for Schools

The Best 3D Printer for Schools of Summer 2018 is… the MakerBot Replicator+

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 295 x 195 x 165
  • Materials PLA
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 100
  • Connectivity USB, Wifi, Ethernet
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter -
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material No
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: Best 3D Printer for Schools concept for teachers, educators, workshop organizers, and students of all ages.

Why you should buy it: The MakerBot Replicator+ is a full ecosystem for 3D printing — spanning apps, materials, and hardware — to make printing as effortless as possible.

How much you’ll pay: Prices start $2,499, although educational discounts are available.

Why we picked the MakerBot Replicator+ as Best 3D Printer for Schools: 

The best 3D printer for schools is the MakerBot Replicator+. That’s because no other 3D printing manufacturer has invested so heavily in building a dedicated ecosystem for the education space.

Taking the printer in isolation, we have a device with safety features optimized for the classroom. There’s a removable flexible bed that isn’t heated; an extruder where the hot-end is out of reach of curious fingers; and a semi-enclosed build-space that protects the build area from foreign objects.

Moreover, there’s a cloud-based slicing option, where a model can be selected on Thingiverse and sent directly to the Replicator via a dedicated smartphone app. Everything can be monitored on your smartphone.

But the icing on the cake are the tools around it; a dedicated education space on Thingiverse, with STEM projects to make learning fun, plus an educator’s handbook to help teachers with core concepts around 3D modeling and printing. The company will even help you find grants to fund a MakerBot in your classroom.

MakerBot Replicator +

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Alternative to the Best 3D Printer for Schools: Robo C2

Great connectivity ranging from Apps to Wifi-Hubs, a closed heated chamber, and hassle-free 3D printing: This printer is made for schools. Also, the company recently acquired MyStemKits, the world’s largest library of STEM curriculums. This allows you to stream lessons and 3D printable parts directly to the printer.

Robo C2

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See Also: 14 Best 3D Printer for Schools & Education of 2018

13

Lisa Sinterit Best Desktop SLS 3D Printer

The Best Desktop SLS 3D Printer of Summer 2018 is… the Sinterit Lisa

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 90 x 110 x 130 mm
  • Materials Polyamide (Nylon), PA12, Flexible
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 75
  • Connectivity USB, Wifi
  • Technology SLS
  • Filament Diameter -
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material No
  • Heated Platform -
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: Professionals that want the SLS quality, but don’t want to invest in a $200.000 dollar machine.

Why you should buy it: The Sinterit Lisa desktop SLS 3D printer is made for labs, workshops, and professional designers.

How much you’ll pay: Prices start at $6,990. The full package, which includes a sandblasting station and powder sieve, costs an additional $2,000.

Why we picked the Sinterit Lisa as Best Desktop SLS 3D Printer:

The SLS technology offers several benefits over FFF/FDM printing: Machines like these deliver stunning results, let you use a variety of standard industrial materials, don’t need any support structures, print multiple parts at once, and give you total freedom of form while designing. Therefore, SLS printers are the natural choice for Additive Manufacturing professionals.

The Sinterit Lisa also delivers industrial-grade performance for a great price. The compact Polish powerhouse is capable of 3D printing functional prototypes and end-use parts. Be aware that despite the low cost and intuitive interface, the Sinterit Lisa still requires more work and production-savvy skills than your average FDM printer.

Better yet, the manufacturer recently decide to upgrade the Sinterit Lisa to include a larger build volume, better temperature management, improved UX and easier maintenance. Overall, we found the Sinterit Lisa to be one of the most accessible and affordable benchtop SLS printers on the market.

In the near future, Sinterit will launch the Sinterit Lisa 2 Pro, a revised and improved version of the Lisa. We’ll keep you updated.

Best Printer Review: Sinterit Lisa Review: Hands-on with the Desktop SLS 3D Printer

Sinterit Lisa

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14

Lulzbot Mini Editor's Choice

The Editor’s Choice of Summer 2018 is… the Lulzbot Mini

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 152 x 152 x 158
  • Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity USB
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 2.85 mm
  • Open Source Hardware & Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed 275 mm/s

Who it’s for: People who just want to get printing with the minimum of fuss; throw any kind of filament at the Lulzbot Mini, and the results are usually pretty fine.

Why you should buy it: This is the stock printer in the ALL3DP workshop. When we’re not busy testing other printers, this is the one we use on a regular basis.

How much you’ll pay: Prices start at $1,250, though seasonal discounts happen a few times a year.

Why we picked the Lulzbot Mini as Editor’s Choice: 

The Lulzbot Mini is the smallest machine offered by Aleph Objects, with a six cubic inch build area. The benefits are that the printing process is much easier when it comes to warping. And the print head can move and accelerate faster, which means it will finish faster, and give you cleaner results on the rim of a part with pointy corners.

Other reasons why it’s our editor’s choice for the best 3D printer: its reliability, easy setup, and the lively community surrounding the company. Overall, the Lulzbot Mini is proof positive that an open source philosophy and a great user experience don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Lulzbot recently launched a version 2 of the Lulzbot Mini; which, at the time of writing, has arrived at All3DP’s test center. We’ll fill you in on the printer in the near future.

3D Printer Review: LulzBot Mini Review: This Mighty 3D Printer Does the Job

Lulzbot Mini

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Alternative to the Editor’s Choice: Prusa Mk3

It’s not easy finding a printer that you come back to every time you want to get the job done. Still, the Prusa Mk3 is our second pick after the Lulzbot Mini. It is fun to print with, handles notoriously difficult filaments with ease and is one of the finest printer kits available.

Original Prusa i3 MK3

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15

Formlabs Fuse 1 Potentially Most Disruptive 3D Printer

We are looking forward to… the Formlabs Fuse 1

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 165 x 165 x 320
  • Materials Nylon
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 100
  • Connectivity -
  • Technology SLS
  • Filament Diameter -
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material No
  • Heated Platform -
  • Printing Speed 10 mm / hour

Why is it important: Selective laser sintering is the choice of additive manufacturing professionals. With lapsing patents aplenty, benchtop SLS is the next technology frontier for 3D printing hobbyists and makers. In the next years, SLS desktop machines will become more commonplace – and the Formlabs Fuse 1 could become the printer that will start it all.

Why you should buy it: If you need to 3D print more than one item in medium-size batches, from quality nylon material with decent detailing.

How much you’ll pay: In the region of $20,000.

Why we picked the Formlabs Fuse 1: 

We’re pretty excited about the new Fuse 1 from Formlabs. Bringing the same level of finesse and sophistication to selective laser sintering they’re already achieved with stereolithography, this is a company with an impressive vision for 3D printing in the 21st century.

The Fuse 1 can fabricate objects in strong and flexible nylon. It also features a removable chamber, allowing for continuous printing. Another feature of this benchtop SLS printer is a live video feed, meaning you can monitor the entire printing process.

Non-beta Fuse 1 printers are expected to begin shipping in the fall of 2018. The full package is also available for $19,999. It includes a post-processing station, an extra build chamber for continuous usage, and an initial material load.

The printer will surface in the first months of 2019 earliest.

Formlabs Fuse 1

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How to Select the Best 3D Printer for Your Needs

Selecting the best 3D printer for your needs is not an easy task. We want to make the process it a little bit easier.

Finding the Best 3D Printer for Beginners

If you are a newcomer to 3D printing, things can get overwhelming. Specifications and terminology may sound gibberish and intimidating. So you best resort to a dedicated printer for beginners, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There are four traps you can fall into.

1. There are some printers on the market that claim to be “best 3D printers for beginners”. While they come prebuilt, you will pay extra by paying for overpriced filament, get frustrated with poor build quality, and get dubious printing results. To avoid this, better check some independent reviews the chosen model.

2. Don’t buy too cheap. When looking for the best 3D printer for your money, the worst thing you can do is to waste it on a cheap, untested no-name printer. Don’t get us wrong, we don‘t want to talk you into spending more of your hard earned money – but there’s a huge difference between a cheap printer and the Best 3D Printer Under $200 or $500. Again, reviews matter to get the best 3D printer available.

3. Also, there’s a legion of the Prusa i3 clones. They come in different brands, variations, and fittings. While some are actually really good, others offer inferior quality and are way too complicated to handle. Most of the Prusa clones come as a kit, which complicates things. If you want to go for one, make sure the machine has a good, readable documentation and an active community, so you have someone to ask if you are running into trouble.

4. So why not buy on Kickstarter? In our opinion, Kickstarter and Indiegogo are not the best places to buy 3D printers. You can get ripped off intentionally (like with the $99 Peachy Printer), leave empty-handed (like with the Tiko 3D) or get your printer much later than promised (which happens to most Kickstarter projects).

After so much advice, we recommend you to take a look at the categories Best 3D Printer Under $200Best 3D Printer Under $300, Best 3D Printer Under $500, and — of course — Best 3D Printer for Beginners. Surely, you’ll find the best 3D printer for you in these categories.

Finding the Best 3D Printer for Makers

If you consider yourself a tinkerer or maker who wants to tap into 3D printing, you won’t need the most expensive and flashy model available on the market. 
The good part is that you can save a significant sum by buying a DIY kit. You’ll also learn a lot by assembling the machine yourself.

The market for the 3D printing hobbyist is heavily populated, so you have a great choice of machines to choose from. The most difficult part is finding the best 3D printer for your needs.

If you want to make sure to get the best 3D printer, we recommend you take a look at the categories Best 3D Printer Under $1000, Best 3D Printer Under $500 and Best 3D Printer Under $300. These will give you the best bang for the buck.

Finding the Best 3D Printer for Enthusiasts

If you are already experienced in 3D printing and consider yourself a 3D printing enthusiast, you already have an opinion on the best 3D printer brands and their machines. You need some alternatives, not general advice.

The categories Best 3D Printer, Best 3D Printer Under $500, Best 3D Printer Under $1000, Best 3D Printer Kit, Best Workhorse 3D Printer and Editor’s Choice are most likely to meet your needs.

The Best 3D Printers for Professional Use

If you are a professional that just wants to get the job done by 3D printing, you don’t care too much about brands. You need your prototype without having to tweak dubious settings. You need a 3D printer something that works out of the box, that gives you hassle-free and reliable results. Also, the materials you can print with matter to you.

If you feel you belong in this category, please check the Best 3D Printer and Best Workhorse 3D Printer. If you need high-quality details, you should also check the Best SLA/DLP 3D Printer.

How We Test

To properly test the various 3D printers we receive for review, we have a baseline selection of objects to fabricate.

First and foremost is 3DBenchy, the jolly 3D printing torture test. It’s specifically designed to be a calibration model — while also being cute as hell — and our workshop is drowning in them. Secondly is the V29 super loud whistle. Thirdly is a side-release buckle for rucksacks and bags.

Taken together, these three objects cover just about everything that a 3D printer is required to do effectively; sloping surfaces, dimensional accuracy, bridging, overhangs, supports, fine details, and more. If a printer fails to passably print any one of these objects, then it’s unlikely to rank as a best 3D printer.

After that, we will print more objects that specifically address the individual capabilities of the machine. If we have a large-volume printer, for example, we’ll be printing a — surprise — very large object. If it’s an SLA printer, then we’ll make fine detail models to take advantage of this particular production technique.

Other points of consideration for a best 3D printer; ease-of-use, supporting software, and repair options. If something goes wrong, how easy is it to fix the machine? Does the documentation or customer service provide adequate information? Does the software suite have regular update cycles?

We strive to answer all these questions and more in our quest to find the best 3D printer for you.

Glossary of Terms

When choosing your best 3D printer, you run into terminology that may be confusing. Here are explanations the most important terms.

  • ABS: Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, otherwise known as ABS, is a thermoplastic commonly used as the build material or ‘filament’ in FDM printers. It’s fairly strong, but it’s also a bit tricky to work with (and can give off nasty odors when melted).
  • FDM: Fused deposition modeling, otherwise known as FDM, is a 3D printing process that extrudes heated thermoplastic material through a computer-controlled nozzle to build an object layer by layer. FDM is actually a trademarked term, which led to the RepRap open-source community to coin the alternative term “fused filament fabrication” (FFF), but the two are interchangeable.
  • Filament: Filament is the base material that’s used to 3D print objects via FDM. Filament is usually a thermoplastic — such as ABS or PLA — that’s fed to a print head as a solid, then heated to melting point for extrusion through a small nozzle. Filament is commonly available in spools of either 1.75mm and 3 mm diameter widths.
  • G-Code: G-code is the language used to instruct your 3D printer to perform operations. In common usage, this is almost exclusively generated by software and is not written by hand. G-codes control specific actions like motion, speed, rotation, depth, and other related switches and sensors used in the operation of a machine.
  • Heated bed: This is a build plate which is heated so that the few layers of extruded plastic are prevented from cooling too quickly and then warping. A heated bed is essential for working with ABS  or PETG materials, but not so much with PLA.
  • Hot end: This is the heated nozzle that molten plastic filament is extruded through in an FDM/FFF printer.
  • PLA: Polylactic Acid, otherwise known as PLA, is a bio-degradable plastic that’s used as the build material or ‘filament’ in FDM printers. This material is easier to work with than ABS, and the smell is not so unpleasant, but the trade-off is that PLA is structurally more brittle.
  • SLA: Stereolithography is a 3D printing technology that works via a process called vat photopolymerization. Objects are built in layers using a Stereolithographic Apparatus, or SLA for short. This works using a laser beam to trace out and solidify each successive layer of an object on the surface (or base) of a vat of liquid photopolymer.
  • Slicer: 3D printing works by building an object layer by layer. A slicer is the software package used to divide a 3D model into flat layers, which are then printed one at a time. The output of a slicer is G-code that controls the path, speed, and temperature of the printer. Slicer software packages are available in both open-source and proprietary programmes, and they’re an essential tool for successful 3D printing.
  • SLS: Selective Laser Sintering, or SLS for short, is a technology commonly employed by 3D printing services for metallic objects. SLS is a powder bed fusion 3D printing technique that uses a laser to selectively fuse — or sinter — together with the granules of successive layers of powder.
  • STL: STL is the most popular file format for 3D printing. The STL file format represents a 3D object by describing the surface as a series of triangles. Strangely enough, information about what the letters STL actually stand for has been lost to the mists of time. Backronyms posited as an answer include ‘standard tessellation language’ and ‘standard triangle language’.

License: The text of "14 Best 3D Printers of Summer 2018" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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