Want to get the best 3D printer model for your money? Wondering where to start and what to buy? We hear you. There’s a huge range of machines on the market, and for first-timers, it can be hard to tell which from which. Looking for the best 3D printer in a dedicated category makes things even more complicated.
We’re here to help. 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 awards for the best 3D printers you can buy today.
To make your decision easier, this selection constitutes a set of awards. Each best 3D printer is our honest recommendation for their category or price bracket. If you want to know how we reviewed these best 3D printers, here’s how we tested them.
Without further ado, these are our recommendations for the best 3D printers in 2018.
Who it’s for: Professional designers and small businesses looking for a machine with exceptional build quality that can produce high-quality parts, reliably. It’s also versatile enough to work with nearly any 3D printing material you throw at it.
Why you should buy it: This is a highly advanced FDM/FFF printer suitable for a variety of applications.
How much you’ll pay: $3,495.
Why we picked the Ultimaker 3 as Best 3D Printer:
On the software side, the Cura slicing engine is optimized for use in tandem with the Ultimaker 3. It has a smooth interface to manage your print job with the minimum of fuss. Plus, a regular update schedule ensures that innovations and improvements are shared with users on a timely basis.
Currently, it is also the best 3D printer if you want to start a printer farm: Thanks to Cura Connect, it’s easy to set up a network of several Ultimaker 3.
If money is no object, then the Ultimaker 3 is undoubtedly the best 3D printer for your workspace, studio, or office. With a solid design, tidy operation and excellent customer support, it’s practically the Rolls-Royce of desktop 3D printing.
Best 3D Printer Review: Ultimaker 3 Review: The Best 3D Printer Right Now
It’s not easy finding an alternative to the Ultimaker 3, but in our opinion, the Lulzbot TAZ 6 comes very close. It is one of the best 3D printers for engineers, designers, and educators. The TAZ 6 can be heavily modified; and thanks to its open-source philosophy, there are interesting upgrades and hacks. All in all, it’s a big, versatile, reliable and fun machine to 3D print with.
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 $730.
Why we picked the Original Prusa i3 MK2S as Best 3D Printer Kit:
How’d that happen? Well, based on our experiences with building the MK2S 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.
Best 3D Printer Features: Original Prusa i3 MK2S Kit
Our alternative to this year’s winner of the category Best 3D Printer Kit isn’t a clone of the original Prusa i3. If you are looking for a kit printer that delivers great quality prints and offers a great build volume also, the Rostock MAX v3 should be your choice. This delta printer has a huge build envelope and can 3D print almost every material.
Who it’s for: Folks on a tight budget who are curious about 3D printing.
Why you should buy it: Our best 3D printer under $250 is a compact, sturdy machine with a narrow set of features, but within those parameters, it performs exceedingly well.
How much you’ll pay: Prices range from $180 to $220.
Why we picked the Monoprice MP Select Mini V2 as Best 3D Printer Under $250:
Most machines in this category come as a kit. The Select Mini, on the other hand, comes preassembled. It has a quick release steel gear filament feeder, a nozzle cooling fan, a color LCD, a heated build plate, plus microSD and USB connectivity.
The heated build plate and wide extruder temperature range are incredibly good value here because it means it can work with most types of filaments; from basic filaments like ABS and PLA to more exotic materials like wood and metal composites. We found the temperature management to be a bit wonky, but still within limits.
For those brave folks who are unconcerned about voiding their warranty — and at this price why would you be? — the unit is also easy to hack for upgrades like a new hot-end, glass bed, and wi-fi connectivity.
But there’s a limitation with the print dimensions, which are ridiculously small at 120 x 120 x 120 mm. This small size will be keenly felt as your printing ambitions grow. Still: This is the best 3D printer you can find under $250.
Best 3D Printer Review: Monoprice MP Select Mini Review: The Best 3D Printer under $250.
Though similar in look to the Select Mini, the E180 Mini comes from Chinese company Geeetech. Though relatively new to the market, it’s already received a fair amount of positive feedback. Users comment on its ease-of-use right out of the box, labeling it an ideal machine for beginners. Just note that, depending on where you buy, this budget device might fall a few dollars above the category of Best 3D Printer under $250. (Sorry!)
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 big 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 $487, 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:
The Creality CR-10 is rather basic, with an open-face frame with a heated bed, SD card reader, and LCD controls. 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: Creality CR-10 Review – The Best 3D Printer under $500
Best 3D Printer Features: Creality CR-10
An interesting alternative for the best 3D printer under $500 is the Monoprice MP Maker Select Plus — especially if you don’t want to build a DIY kit. The Maker Select Plus takes the blueprints of the highly praised Zortrax M-200 (also a winner of All3DP’s Best 3D Printer Awards in the category Best 3D Printer Workhorse) and delivers most of its features in a low-cost package.
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 $730.
Why we picked the Original Prusa i3 MK2S as Best 3D Printer under $1000:
Topline features of the Original Prusa i3 MK2S are an MK42 heatbed, a PEI print surface, integrated leadscrew Z axis, 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 and its software.
But of course, there’s an MK3 that’s already released into the wild. We’ll update this list once we’ve had a chance to put one through its paces. Maybe it will unthrone the model MK2S as Best 3D Printer under $1000.
Best 3D Printer Features: Original Prusa i3 MK2S
It is hard to compete with one of the most popular 3D printers worldwide. The only model that can stand up in the category of the Best 3D Printer under $1000 is the Printrbot Simple Pro. Printerbot’s machines are famous for being extremely well-built, reliable and deliver great quality prints.
Who it’s for: You need to 3D print items with absolute precision and detail, for example, jewelry 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 higher.
Why we picked the Formlabs Form 2 as Best SLA 3D Printer:
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: The SLA 3D Printer Benchmark
Best 3D Printer Features: Formlabs Form 2
The Peopoly Moai comes as a DIY kit. Don’t let the DIY approach fool you: It uses the same technology as the Best SLA Printer, but it’s much more affordable. Although the workflow is less polished and the variety of materials can’t compete with the Form 2 so far, we managed to get some excellent prints out of it.
Who it’s for: Users who aren’t concerned with closed hardware or proprietary software and materials. They just want to set it and forget it.
Why you should buy it: The Zortrax M200 is stupidly easy to use and characterized by consistent print quality and a decent selection of materials.
How much you’ll pay: $2,100
Why we picked the Zortrax M200 as Best 3D Printer Workhorse:
The Zortrax M200 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).
There’s also a growing range of additional materials from Zortrax providing different mechanical properties, plus optional perspex panels to enclose the build space and provide additional protection from atmospheric changes.
Best 3D Printer Review: Zortrax M200 Review: The Best 3D Printer Workhorse
Best 3D Printer Features: Zortrax M200
There are some alternatives that could claim the title Best 3D Printer Workhorse, but in our opinion, the Makergear M3 really is worth a look. It is the update of the award-winning M2. It prints everything you throw at it, delivers reliable results and makes a great printer for any lab, enthusiast, or start-up.
Who it’s for: Folks who have grand ambitions and want to print big. Like, REALLY BIG.
Why you should buy it: This is another champion of the open source movement in 3D printing, but with a different set of priorities; user-friendliness and large capacity 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 Large Format 3D Printer:
The Lulzbot Taz 6 has a brilliant auto-leveling feature which, together with solid print quality and straightforward setup, makes it the single best large format 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 the best large format printer available, look no further.
Best 3D Printer Review: Lulzbot TAZ 6 Review: Bigger, Better, Stronger
Best 3D Printer Features: Lulzbot Taz 6
If you buy a Zortrax M300, be prepared to make some room for it: This a big, bold, black machine takes a significant chunk of space on a desk or in a lab. For a better temperature management (extremely important to large-format printers), it comes with an enclosure. It delivers only its best quality when used with Zortrax’s proprietary materials, which keeps it from a best 3D printer award. Still an excellent choice if you are looking for build volume.
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 Tiertime 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:
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: Compact 3D Printer Puts Safety First
Best 3D Printer Features: UP Mini 2
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 Finder one of the best 3D printers for beginners.
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:
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.
Best 3D Printer Features: MakerBot Replicator+
Together with Makerbot and Ultimaker, the Dremel Idea Builder made it to the top list of our Best 3D Printer for School Awards. What got us convinced was easy setup and “Dremel Dreams”, a curriculum for teachers and students on STEM education and 3D printing.
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:
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.
Best 3D Printer Review: LulzBot Mini Review: This Mighty 3D Printer Does the Job
Best 3D Printer Features: Lulzbot Mini
It’s not easy finding a printer that you come back to every time you want to get the job done. Still, the Ultimaker 2+ is our second pick after the TAZ Mini. It is fun to print with, handles notoriously difficult filaments with ease and is — although an older model — one of the finest printer models available.
Who it’s for: If you need to 3D print more than one item in medium-size batches, from quality nylon material with decent detailing.
Why you should buy it: With lapsing patents aplenty, benchtop SLS is the next technology frontier for 3D printing hobbyists and makers.
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.
Best 3D Printer Features: Formlabs Fuse 1
Selecting the best 3D printer for your needs is not an easy task. We want to make the process it a little bit easier with the Best 3D Printer Awards.
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 $250 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 $250, 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.
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 $250. These will give you the best bang for the buck.
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.
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.
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.
When choosing your best 3D printer, you run into terminology that may be confusing. Here are explanations the most important terms.
License: The text of "The Best 3D Printers in 2018 (Awards in 12 Categories)" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.