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2020 Best 3D Printers (Winter Update)

Matthew Mensley
Jan 2, 2020

Check out our buyer's guide to find the best 3D printer for your needs. See what's great about the best 3D printers in 17 categories with printer reviews.

All3DP is an editorially independent publication. Editorial content, on principle, can not be bought or influenced. To keep All3DP free and independent, we finance ourselves through advertising and affiliate revenues. When you purchase using a shopping link on our site we earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
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After countless hours spent printing and tinkering with a large selection of desktop printers – and no small amount of haggling and debating among All3DP’s editorial team – we present our top picks for the best 3D printers of winter 2019.

Each best 3D printer top pick in a given category is our honest unbiased recommendation, but since there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, we also recommend a number of alternatives that are also fab for their own reasons.

Highlights

Here’s a whistle-stop tour of the highlights this season:

  • Taking the top billing this quarter (again) is the ever-present, effervescent orange RepRap to end all RepRaps, the Original Prusa i3 MK3S.
  • We continue to adore the Elegoo Mars — an LCD masking resin printer that offers insane value for money.
  • A cheap and cheerful new entry as one of our outsider Editor’s Choices is the Qidi Tech X-Pro.
  • The Dremel DigiLab 3D45 graduates to our education top pick; a safe and robust choice that offers material flexibility alongside all the bells and whistles.
  • And not forgetting the Creality Ender 5, which is now our top pick for those on a budget of $300 and $500 (yes, both.)

But that’s only part of the picture. Read on for the full breakdown of our most recommended 3D printers this season.

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Overview
CategoryWinnerCheck Price
(Commissions earned)
Best 3D PrinterOriginal Prusa i3 MK3S
Best 3D Printer Under $200Creality Ender 3 Pro
Best Budget Resin 3D PrinterElegoo Mars
Best 3D Printer Under $300Creality Ender 5
Best Resin 3D PrinterFormlabs Form 3
Editor's Choice: #1Elegoo Mars
Best Workhorse 3D PrinterTiertime UP300
Best Large Format 3D PrinterRaise3D Pro2 Plus
Best Dual Extruder 3D PrinterUltimaker S5
Editor's Choice: #2BCN3D Sigma R19
Best All-In-One 3D PrinterZMorph VX
Best 3D Printer for BeginnersTiertime UP mini 2 ES
Editor's Choice: #3Qidi Tech X-Pro
Best 3D Printer Under $500Creality Ender 5
Best 3D Printer Under $1,000Original Prusa i3 MK3S
Best 3D Printer for SchoolsDremel DigiLab 3D45
Best Kit 3D PrinterOriginal Prusa i3 MK3S
No matching records found.

How to Select the Best 3D Printer for Your Needs

How to buy the best 3D printer

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. Best to resort to a dedicated printer for beginners, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There are four traps you can fall into.

1. Careful with “beginner’s printers”: There are some printers on the market that claim to be suitable for beginners. While they come prebuilt, you will pay extra for the overpriced filament, get frustrated with poor build space, and get dubious printing results. To avoid this, it’s best to check some independent reviews of 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 no-name cheap printer and the Best 3D Printer Under $200 or $300. Again, reviews matter to get the best 3D printer available.

3. Kickstarter woes: So why not buy on Kickstarter? For starters, there isn’t really the option to ‘buy’ anything on Kickstarter. You are backing an idea, a vision. It’s putting money into the pot to help a company or person to try to achieve something. If a project is grossly mishandled and the money disappears, you get nothing in return. Should you back a product on a crowdfunding platform, you are likely receiving the first iteration of a product, which can often result in a buggy experience that is ironed out in subsequent production runs. It is basically gambling on the chance the receive an inferior version of a product before everyone else.

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. You’re sure to 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 news is you can save a significant sum by buying a decent, affordable machine. If you buy a kit printer, you can also learn a lot by assembling the machine yourself.

The market for the 3D printing hobbyist is heavily populated, so you have a great variety of machines. 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 confusing settings. You need a 3D printer; one 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 Resin 3D Printer.

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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 we print another torture test called the Kickstarter Autodesk test. Thirdly is a freely chosen STL file by the reviewer.

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.

Also, All3DP is an editorially independent publication. Reviews and other editorial pieces are strictly unbiased and are not for sale. Every recommendation you read here is the result of countless hours printing, tinkering, and research.

Part of our business model is to affiliate product links through which we receive a commission. For more details, please check out our Terms of Use.

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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’.
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License: The text of "2020 Best 3D Printers (Winter Update)" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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