3D Printer Guide 2017

Use the LEFT and RIGHT arrows to navigate
Use Left and Right arrows on your keyboard to navigate through the article

Categories

This guide is based on

8,624 reviews

915 hours of writing

4,982 years of experience

1,143,803 3D prints made on reviewed printers

With over 1,000 different 3D printer models available on the market today, “Which 3D Printer should I buy?” is one of the most common questions we are asked at 3D Hubs.

To answer this question, we reached out to our global community of 3D printing service providers to learn from their experiences and find out more about the 3D printers they own.

With reviews from over 8,624 verified 3D printer owners having a collective 4,982 years of 3D printing experience, coupled with 1.14 million prints completed on 513 different 3D printer models, the result of our research is the 2017 3D Printer Guide – the most comprehensive 3D printer guide available.

Together with our community, we investigated the following parameters to help measure the user experience of a range of 3D printers: print quality, build quality, reliability, ease of use, print failure rate, customer service, community, running cost, software, and value.

In our 3D printer index you can find an overview of all reviewed 3D printers.

In this guide, we've made it easy for you to find 3D printers for five of the most common categories of desktop 3D printing. These categories include Prosumer, Workhorse, Plug 'n' Play, Budget, and SLS (selective laser sintering) 3D printers. In total, 14 models made it on our Top 3D Printers list for 2017, and each of these printers has an average of 50 in-depth reviews from experienced 3D printer owners that contributed to their standing on this list.

To learn more about 3D printing applications, materials and technologies, please read our What is 3D Printing guide.

Last but not least, we'd like to extend a huge thank you to our international 3D Hubs community. Without you, the 2017 3D Printer Guide wouldn't be possible.

Do you want to be the first to get updates?

Printers in our Prosumer category are for professionals looking for a printer with exceptional build quality that can produce high quality parts, reliably. These are highly advanced desktop machines with a variety of applications. Printers in this category are best suited for professional designers and small businesses.

* Rating weights: Due to the needs of this target market, we've put less of an emphasis on ease of use and more of an emphasis on print quality and reliability.

Rating weights for the Prosumer category
Ultimaker

Ultimaker 2+

9.1

Ultimaker has made a name for itself since launching their eponymous Original 3D printer in 2011. Considered by many to be one of the most solid, all-around 3D printers on the market, the Ultimaker 2+ is our highest rated printer in the Prosumer category this year with a rating of 9.1. The Dutch headquartered company has also recently launched the Ultimaker 3.

Back with its white box design, the Ultimaker 2+ features a well-lit open front and semi-translucent sides similar, if not identical, to its predecessor, the Ultimaker 2. The Ultimaker 2+ improves upon the 2 and comes equipped with a new PT100 printhead, an upgraded heater cartridge and the ability to use different nozzle sizes. As a result, it can achieve a build speed volume of up to 24mm³/s with the 0.8mm nozzle.

The fan system is optimized as well, which makes for improved cooling and airflow. Ultimaker has also retained the modular nature of the printer, offering Ultimaker 2 owners an extruder upgrade to convert their Ultimaker 2 into an Ultimaker 2+.

Ultimaker is lauded by the community for implementing these upgrades based on feedback from owners of the previous model, with one reviewer saying “Superior build quality, precision engineering and a great support team, not to mention huge community are only some of the things that make the Ultimaker series of printers amazing! With community feedback taken seriously, the upgrade from Ultimaker 2 to 2+ basically fixed every known issue with the range so far, and with the upgrade also available as a kit for UM2 owners, this is simply perfection in customer service”.

Of course, a 3D printing ecosystem like the one offered by Ultimaker doesn't come cheap; $2,499 to be exact. Despite this price tag, a truly impressive 100% (!) of Ultimaker 2+ reviewers said that they would recommend their 3D printer to somebody else – beginners through experts.

Ultimaker 2+
Starting at
$2,499.00
Recommended for
Everyone
Build area (mm)
223 × 223 × 205
Materials
ABS, PLA, CPE
Min. layer height
20
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Build quality
  • Precision
  • Reliability
Cons
  • No dual extruder
  • Price
Formlabs

Form 2

9.0

As the most successful manufacturer of resin-based desktop 3D printers, Formlabs wins a spot in our Prosumer category this year with their Form 2 SLA 3D printer.

Formlabs is back with its iconic orange enclosure and metal base design, featuring a 40% larger build volume than the Form 1+, at 145mm × 175mm × 175mm. It uses a new sliding peel mechanism to gently remove the object from the print bed in preparation for the next print layer, while a self heating resin tank warms the resin to a consistent temperature. This ensures a reliable print process that maintains quality without sacrificing speed. The Form 2 also comes equipped with an automatic resin system that refills the tank with resin if levels are low.

New connectivity options have been added by Formlabs that now include Ethernet and WiFi, as well as a touchscreen interface, so you can print jobs or manage your print queue however you choose.

Feedback from our reviewers has been positive overall. The Form 2 scores extremely high for print quality, build quality, and precision, with one user describing their experience “I have owned the Form 1+ and the Form 2. Form 2 is fantastic. Print success has been over 99% (1 failed print out of 110 prints) (562 hours of printing so far). Excellent value for printing high resolution parts, whether functional or for models”.

It should be noted that SLA produced prints require a little more effort in terms of post-processing, but the pay off in quality is totally worth it. Form 2 owners have also reported that the printer’s running costs can slowly add up as their standard liquid resin used for printing is priced at $149 per liter.

The Form 2 is a well-received and high resolution 3D printer. While 96% of owners highly recommend this printer, it comes with a high price tag too. At $3,499, this might deter people from purchasing it, but as one reviewer wrote, “The Form 2 is one of the best printers I've ever had the pleasure of working with. The machine is expensive, and so is the resin for it, but it's reliability and precision make the cost more than worth it”.

Form 2
Available from these sellers
Starting at
$3,499.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros
Build area (mm)
145 × 145 × 175
Materials
Resin
Min. layer height
25
Open source
No
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Build quality
  • Precision
Cons
  • Build volume
  • Speed
  • Running costs
Zortrax

Zortrax M200

8.9

There’s a reason this machine has been featured in our 2015, 2016 and 2017 3D Printer Guide, debuting this year in the Prosumer category. The Polish manufacturer Zortrax prides themselves in producing one of our community's top choices in 3D printers available today. Zortrax found initial fame through its Kickstarter campaign in 2013, launching the M200 that promised ease of use matched with professional quality.

Manufactured out of sturdy aluminum, the M200 is capable of printing straight out of the box with very little time needed for calibration and could just as well been featured in our Plug 'n' Play category. Thanks to an automated platform leveling system, calibration is a breeze. Its perforated build platform and build area of 200mm × 200mm × 185mm mitigates the material's tendency to warp, making ABS the optimal material of choice for printing.

Of all of the 3D printers surveyed, our Hubs continue to rate the Zortrax M200 one of the highest overall for print quality, reliability and value for money. The professional standard of the Zortrax printer is really what made it rank so highly in the Prosumer category, paired with it’s reliability.

It’s important to note that Zortrax printers have a controlled ecosystem, that is, the printer is optimized for its own proprietary filament and leaves little room for tinkering. Reviewers did highlight though that the company actively listens to its rapidly expanding community with consistent software updates and new material options, currently at six. There are no temperature controls, leaving little room for experimenting with other (lower-cost) materials. Current owners outlined a need for more connectivity options, improved customer support, and dual extrusion options.

That being said, Zortrax owners continually reported that their lack of failed prints make up for the non-hackability of the machine. Being a flagship machine in the Prosumer category really showcases that the M200 demonstrates elements of print quality on par with industrial-grade machines. Overall, these features make the Zortrax a great printer for those who want high-quality 3D prints without significant setup.

Overall thanks to its ease of use, the Zortrax M200 is a real Prosumer 3D printer that produces reliable and accurate prints without the need to dive deep into multiple control settings. With a staggering 97% recommendation level from current owners, the M200 is well-suited for beginners and experts alike. It’s also affordable, coming fully assembled with a full range of accessories for just under $2,000.

Zortrax M200
Starting at
$1,789.00
Recommended for
Everyone
Build area (mm)
200 × 200 × 180
Materials
ABS, HIPS, ULTRAT
Min. layer height
90
Open source
No
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Build quality
  • Precision
  • Ease of use
  • Reliability
Cons
  • Material availability
  • Connectivity
  • Not open source
  • No dual extruder

Printers in our Workhorse category are for users looking for robust machines that can print nonstop with minimal print failure. These are printers manufactured with reliability in mind and are open to slight modifications and tinkering.

* Rating weights: For this category we put a lot of emphasis on the reliability and ease of use of the machines and increased weight on customer support.

Rating weights for the Workhorse category
Makergear

Makergear M2

9.2

The Makergear M2 is a precise and reliable 3D printer that our community has ranked highest in the Workhorse category. The M2, originally released in 2012, is now in its 5th generation of builds by Ohio based Makergear.

The M2 owes its reliability to a solid steel frame and aluminum construction, giving it precision print quality. With a build envelope of 254mm × 203mm × 203mm, it also features a heated platform for printing in both PLA and ABS. M2 owners also utilize a wide range of materials ranging from common thermoplastics to Flexibles, Nylons, Polycarbonate, and more. Additionally, open source electronics and firmware allow users to adjust and tweak this machine to their liking. Interchangeable nozzles and a swappable dual-extruder upgrade gives this printer its modular nature, also making maintenance easy.

Reviewers have praised the M2’s “hackability”, particularly with homing the axes, with one reviewer saying “The reliability and the ease of maintenance has made this printer worth every penny for me. This machine is a tank and keeps plugging away at everything I've thrown at it the past 18 months”.

There is, however, a slight learning curve to achieving this printer’s full potential with it lacking in terms of ease of use. Due to its open chassis, users have also noted that the M2 is isn’t the quitest of machines.

With 93% of current users recommending it, Makergear’s M2 has featured in our 3D Printer Guide for three years in a row, and for good reason: the M2 is engineered and manufactured to provide precision and reliability for both professionals and hobbyists. It’s easy to level, produces quality prints, and will print nonstop.

Makergear M2
Available from these sellers
Starting at
$1,825.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros
Build area (mm)
254 × 203 × 203
Materials
ABS, PLA, PET, Nylon, Flexibles
Min. layer height
25
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Build quality
  • Precision
  • Reliability
Cons
  • Ease of use
  • Noise level
  • No dual extruder
Aleph Objects

LulzBot TAZ 6

9.1

This is the sixth generation in the TAZ series by LulzBot. Manufacturer Aleph Objects have experience making 3D printers, and it shows. The LulzBot TAZ 6 has been available since May of this year and has made quite an impression since.

The LulzBot TAZ 6 scored very high for build quality and reliability, and that’s not surprising given the fact it received reviews describing it as “built like a tank” and “it’s metal body is rock solid.” Furthermore, users of the TAZ 6 have almost unanimously given it 5 stars for print quality.

Featuring self-leveling and self-cleaning mechanisms, along with a large build envelope of 280mm × 280mm × 250mm, the TAZ 6 is a workhorse printer that will print consistently and reliably. The TAZ 6 also comes equipped with the new v2 Hot End, capable of printing in a wide variety of materials ranging from general purpose plastics to conductive PLA and ABS, Nylon, Polycarbonates and Alloy 910.

An automatic bed leveling feature is also included in this model of the TAZ line, allowing the LulzBot to achieve its stellar print quality right out of the box.

One of our community reviewers said “Great experience, from opening the box, initial setup, documentation all excellent. Support is great too when you need it or have a question. This thing is a tank, and built extremely well. I also trust it to just work. I've done 70hr prints and left them unattended and they came out perfect”.

Priced at $2,500, early owners did communicate a want for dual extrusion. As a result, LulzBot does sell a dual extruder tool head separately.

The TAZ 6 is a strong Workhorse printer recommended for intermediates and professionals looking to increase their technical knowledge and tinkering capabilities. A staggering 100% of TAZ 6 users recommend their printer, and at its price point, you get a robust printer with upgradeability, large build volume, and reliability built into the foundation.

LulzBot TAZ 6
Starting at
$2,500.00
Recommended for
Everyone
Build area (mm)
280 × 280 × 250
Materials
ABS, PLA, HIPS (and more)
Min. layer height
50
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Build quality
  • Reliability
  • Customer support
  • Open source
Cons
  • Price
  • Noise level
  • No dual extruder
BCN3D Technologies

BCN3D Sigma

8.9

Designed and manufactured in Barcelona, BCN3D’s Sigma is a popular printer in the community, having been the top trending desktop printer for four straight months this year in our Trend Report. This dual extrusion 3D printer debuts in the Workhorse category for a combination of build quality, reliability, and print quality.

The Sigma has a sturdy, aluminum frame that boasts a large build area of 210mm × 297mm × 210mm. Its innovative IDEX (Independent Dual Extruder) system allows it to print parts with soluble support structures (using PVA), print dual color prints and even use multimaterial techniques. One happy Sigma owner reported “Great value for money. The 2 independent extruders work smoothly. Awesome reliability and prints.”

There are areas that the Sigma falls short in. The noise level is a subject often brought up by current owners, making it less suitable to install right on your desk next to your computer. The Sigma isn’t a petite machine either. With overall dimensions of 465mm × 440mm × 680mm, this desktop printer is massive in comparison to others in its category.

The BCN3D Sigma works remarkably well as an FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) printer and its IDEX system sets them apart as a dual extruder machine, reducing limitations in its capability. Though it may be a noisy printer and lumber over your workspace, it offers a generous build volume and solid build quality in order to print nonstop, reliably.

BCN3D Sigma
Available from these sellers
Starting at
$2,795.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros
Build area (mm)
210 × 297 × 210
Materials
PLA, ABS, PVA, HIPS, TPE
Min. layer height
50
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Build quality
  • Build volume
  • Dual extruder
Cons
  • Connectivity
  • Noise level
FlashForge

FlashForge Creator Pro

8.6

With a sturdy metal frame and an enclosed chassis, the FlashForge Creator Pro proves more stable than its predecessor and includes features like an upgraded platform leveling system, dual extruders, metal build plate, and guide rod to help with stabilization and durability, making it a winner in our Workhorse category.

Delivering on both print quality and reliability, it is a real workhorse machine, though it does need some extra work to get there. An open source platform offers the opportunity for tweaks, allowing owners to optimize their printer to its full potential and make use of the large support community.

The Creator Pro, though very affordable, can quickly get more expensive for beginners to 3D printing. Common complaints include issues with the second extruder creating unnecessary pains, among other small adjustments that might be needed along the way.

Summed up by one of its owners, “This is clearly the most reliable printer for the price. With a massive support community, many open source options, and parts from many vendors, it can provide a great printing experience for a long time.” All features taken into consideration and priced at $899, this 3D printer is unsurprisingly a big hit among its user base. Maintenance is straightforward and spare parts are readily available, accompanied by a supportive customer service.

Rated highly for reliability and print quality and coupled with a variety of filament options, the Creator Pro is a bargain for intermediates and professionals looking for a printer to tinker with that won’t quit.

FlashForge Creator Pro
Starting at
$899.00
Recommended for
Intermediates
Build area (mm)
225 × 145 × 150
Materials
ABS, PLA
Min. layer height
100
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Build quality
  • Reliability
  • Dual extruder
  • Value
Cons
  • Noise level
  • Connectivity

Printers in this category are all about value and bang for your buck. These machines offer good print quality for money along with a supportive community and are open to modifications and tinkering, with a reasonable degree of reliability.

* Rating weights: For these printers, we put a high degree of emphasis on value for money and only included 3D printers that are assembled by the manufacturers and sold for less than $1,000.

Rating weights for the Budget category
Prusa Research

Original Prusa i3 MK2

9.1

The highest rated printer in the Budget category this year is the only printer that has topped both Highest Rated Desktop Printers and Trending Printers lists in our Trend Report (Q3 2016): the Original Prusa i3 MK2.

Headquartered in Prague, the Original Prusa i3 design is completely open-source and the MK2 comes with a bunch of clever features that set it apart from similar printers in this price range.

The MK2 has a volume of 250mm × 210mm × 200mm, which is a little bigger than most desktop printers. One of the most impressive features of this printer is the MK42 heated bed, which has a lot more features than just heating up. It’s a thick, custom PCB (printed circuit board) heater with a thin PEI foil on top. This means it heats up and cools down quickly, has fantastic bed adhesion and also ends up as a very light y-axis setup. The bed also features calibration points that can compensate for a skewed axis. Combined with an inductive probe for automatic bed levelling, it makes calibration a breeze. The i3 MK2 comes with a silent mode in which power is reduced to the stepper motors resulting in a much quieter printing process. This unique feature is limited to prints under 400 grams.

Lauded by our community, users have rated it highly almost unanimously for print quality, build volume, reliability, its open source architecture and of course, its price. Starting at $699 in kit form, one reviewer proclaimed it “Best value for money out there”, with another saying, “As an engineer I would rather spend my time designing parts than adjusting my printer. The Prusa i3 Mk2 is easy to set up and prints consistently”.

As with any 3D printer, the MK2 falls short in a couple areas. Two issues consistently cited by our reviewers are the noise level and lack of a dual extruder. To mitigate the latter however, the printer’s namesake Josef Průša announced that he will be releasing a multimaterial upgrade for dual and quad extrusion towards the end of November 2016 for the MK2.

The Original Prusa i3 MK2 has made a big impression on the 3D printing community since it was launched. A Budget winner with great potential, it produces quality prints consistently straight out of the box with zero tuning.

Original Prusa i3 MK2
Starting at
$699
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates
Build area (mm)
250 × 210 × 200
Materials
PLA, ABS, PET (and more)
Min. layer height
50
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Precision
  • Build volume
  • Open source
  • Price
Cons
  • Noise level
  • No dual extruder
SeeMeCNC

Rostock MAX

8.8

Now in its v3 iteration, this Delta style 3D printer kit has increased in popularity since its Indiegogo campaign in 2012 is a delight to watch in action due its design.

A winner in our Budget category this year, Rostock MAX’s distinguishing feature is the Delta style robot system instead of the traditional Cartesian style employed by most other desktop 3D printers. This design offers increased printing speed and positioning accuracy over other machines, a factor that results in smoother curves on finished prints.

The build volume is one of the largest of any desktop printers. At slightly over 1 meter in height and measuring 270mm × 375mm, it combines at almost 21,000 cubic centimeters of build space.

The Rostock MAX does require some time to build and calibrate. Due its relatively intricate design, reviewers report spending up to 30 hours assembling this machine. However, once the printer is up and running, the high-quality components ensure that it can print consistently and reliably.

“Great printer, very reliable, and the SeeMeCNC support team is top notch! Good build volume and great print quality make this a fantastic printer out of the box, and the wealth of community information makes it a great buy”, as noted by one reviewer.

With modular capabilities, the Rostock lets owners easily keep their machine up to date as new technology develops. Additionally, the community has been rated in the top five of all reviewed 3D printers, and the acclaimed customer support team is considered to be one of the best in the industry.

Because of its Delta-style design, the Rostock MAX is larger than most Cartesian type printers – a factor that should be taken into consideration if space is tight. Some users note that reliable ABS/Nylon printing could be achieved by improving the design to allow for a shielded build chamber.

Overall, the Rostock MAX makes a great Budget printer for both intermediate and experienced users. Priced at $799, it is recommended for intermediates and professionals or anyone who'd like to learn the ins and outs of 3D printing.

Rostock MAX
Available from these sellers
Starting at
$799.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros
Build area (mm)
224 × 224 × 375
Materials
ABS, PLA, Exotics
Min. layer height
20
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Build volume
  • Speed
  • Community
  • Value
Cons
  • Precision
  • Ease of use
  • Noise level
  • No dual extruder
Printrbot

Printrbot Simple Metal

8.5

California-based Printrbot has their roots in desktop 3D printing as an early pioneer, having completed a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2011 and releasing their winning Printrbot Simple 3D printer. For the third straight year, the Printrbot Simple Metal is a winning printer in our Budget category.

Featuring an auto-leveling probe that simplifies the calibration process, the Simple Metal has a build envelope of 150mm × 150mm × 150mm contained by a solid, powder-coated steel frame and aluminum extruder. Although the standard printer is only capable of printing with PLA, users looking for more material options can upgrade to a heated print bed version for an additional $150 that works well for ABS, too.

Our reviewers praise the Simple Metal's print quality and reliable metal frame design, and in particular, the price and value of the machine. As one user notes, “The Printrbot Simple Metal is a powerhouse at a low price! For over a year, it has produced prints of excellent quality. A great budget printer!”.

Printrbot’s Simple Metal has an open source architecture and is a great stepping stone for enthusiasts that wish to tweak and upgrade their printer. Thanks to an active Printrbot community, users are able to easily troubleshoot and find support or answers alongside the company’s existing forum and guides.

Conversely, the Simple Metal also has a slight learning curve for novices to 3D printing. Reviewers cite that the initial setup and calibration process can take a few hours and the lack of a heated bed can make the printing process a challenge for those without previous printing experience. Additionally, some users mention that the machine is beginning to show signs of its age in terms of hardware and software support.

Despite its shortcomings, the Printrbot Simple Metal still received an impressive 93% recommendation rating from current users this year. For those interested in getting started with an open source 3D printer, the Simple Metal is one of the top choices for all skill levels – newcomers and students included. For tinkerers and makers who wish to expand their 3D printing capabilities through any number of upgrades, the Simple Metal provides an platform for getting started.

Ultimately, at just $599, the Simple Metal offers a great pack of features and our community chose it as one of the top Budget 3D printers.

Printrbot Simple Metal
Starting at
$599.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates
Build area (mm)
150 × 150 × 150
Materials
ABS, PLA, Exotics
Min. layer height
50
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Printer size
  • Maintenance
  • Community
  • Price
Cons
  • Speed
  • Noise level
  • No heated platform
  • No dual extruder

Printers in the Plug 'n' Play category are capable of printing straight out of the box with minimal setup. These are considered to be the easiest to use and are characterized by consistent print quality and great customer support. Trade offs include limited modification abilities and room to experiment with tinkering.

* Rating weights: For this category we put a lot of emphasis on the reliability and ease of use of the machines.

Rating weights for the Plug 'n' Play category
CraftUnique

CraftBot PLUS

9.1

CraftUnique’s printers aren’t newcomers to the 3D Printer Guide. The Hungarian company’s CraftBot 3D printer was a winner in the Budget category last year and are back again with the CraftBot PLUS. Scored highly for ease of use and build quality by our community, the PLUS features this year as a winning Plug 'n' Play printer.

“I have been supremely happy with the CraftBot PLUS. Many of the downsides of 3D printing that I researched just did not materialize with this printer. It worked out of the box with absolutely no tweaking required. Its metal body is rock solid. The CraftWare Software is among the easiest to use slicing softwares I've used.”

The CraftBot PLUS is a well built printer that is easy to use and is reliable in delivering consistent prints. The fact that the CraftBot PLUS comes with a heated platform also contributes to its reliability and gives this printer the ability to print in different FDM materials such as ABS and PLA.

Preparing your models for printing is a breeze with CraftWare, their proprietary slicing software that comes with the machine. It does all the work for beginners and offers a comprehensive experience to the expert that wants to control every aspect of the printing process. Once the model is sliced, the PLUS will start printing within minutes. The Plug 'n' Play experience is enhanced by the interface of the CraftBot PLUS, featuring a colorful touch screen that is responsive and easy to navigate.

Our reviewers have noted small issues with this printer. The noise level is higher than what our reviewers are used to and the lack of a dual nozzle system leaves something to be desired.

All things considered, the CraftBot PLUS is great value for its price tag and prints straight out of the box, delivering excellent FDM prints consistently.

CraftBot PLUS
Available from these sellers
Starting at
$1,099.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates
Build area (mm)
250 × 200 × 200
Materials
PLA, ABS, HIPS
Min. layer height
100
Open source
No
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Build quality
  • Build volume
  • Ease of use
Cons
  • Noise level
  • No dual extruder
Aleph Objects

LulzBot Mini

9.1

The LulzBot Mini makes its second appearance in the Plug 'n' Play category for a following year. Hailing from Loveland, Colorado, Aleph Objects has become a key player in the 3D printing industry with their line up of LulzBot 3D printers. The Mini serves as their entry level FDM printer thanks to its price as well as the level of expertise required to operate it. Equipped with intelligent features including an auto-leveling bed, a self-cleaning nozzle, and an all metal hot-end, this 3D printer continues to be a leading Plug 'n' Play machine.

One reviewer’s opinion on the machine: “As close to Plug n Play as it gets. You'll have it un-boxed and running within 15 minutes with standard profiles. Very well built and reliable and with some experience, you'll be printing outstanding prints in no time! Truly one of the best purchases I've made in years! I'm a very happy customer/user!”

Thanks in part to the open source ethos of Aleph Objects, they’ve fostered a large online community of hobbyists and professionals alike. If the large online community can’t solve your problem, then you can turn to LulzBot customer support, having been rated best in its category for the second year in a row.

The LulzBot Mini does however have its shortcomings. It requires a constant connection to a computer, as one reviewer noted the “Lack of a control interface on the printer. All prints must run tethered”. The community seems to have found a workaround though by connecting the Mini to a Raspberry Pi that runs Octoprint. Alongside connectivity, the noise level of this printer is an issue raised by our community but deemed “fixable with some stepper motor damper”.

In summary, the Lulzbot Mini is an excellent machine in its class, providing an easy way to get started in the world of 3D printing. Speaking volumes of its user experience is that every single one of our participating owners recommend the machine, showing that LulzBot deliver in ways that matter. Aside from more demanding users and advanced designers, our community thinks that the LulzBot Mini is suitable for everyone.

LulzBot Mini
Starting at
$1,250.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates
Build area (mm)
152 × 152 × 158
Materials
ABS, PLA, HIPS (and more)
Min. layer height
50
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Build quality
  • Ease of use
  • Material availability
  • Customer support
  • Open source
Cons
  • Build volume
  • Noise level
  • Connectivity
  • Price
CEL

CEL Robox

9.0

The UK based CEL Robox originated from a Kickstarter campaign, successfully raising £280,891 on a £100,000 goal. CEL manufactures their award winning Robox machine with leading features such as an interchangeable print head, a heated build plate and auto-leveling.

Our community praises CEL for their high level of customer service, in part thanks to its best in class two-year warranty. In the words of one particular owner, “Robox support is fantastic, and the company is constantly working to upgrade the printer. I can start a 30 hour print knowing it will be there when I come back.”

The CEL Robox starts at $1,500 and is considered good value for money at that price, according to our reviewers. Inside its closed build chamber, the Robox features dual nozzles and a proprietary extrusion system for fast extrusion and consistent print quality.

The Plug 'n' Play experience doesn’t stop with the hardware as the printer is equipped with an impressive material recognition system and its own proprietary software and slicing solution (CEL developed .ROBOX to supplement regular .gcode). CEL offers a wide variety of materials for the machine and the company has recently released its first dual material head for printing two materials in one print. The closed system creates an environment where you’re never too far away from the perfect print.

This printer does have drawbacks for the experienced user in two areas: the build volume and the closed system it operates.The build size is mid-range as its height maxes out at only 100mm, so don’t expect to print a model over 10cm just yet. The closed system does offer benefits to those looking for perfect prints but less to those looking to tweak their machines.

The CEL Robox remains CEL’s flagship machine and from the mounds of positive reviews, you can see why. Overall, it’s a great turnkey solution for anyone looking for a new 3D printer, with 92% of the reviewers surveyed saying that they would recommend the Robox to anyone who isn't on a tight budget.

CEL Robox
Starting at
$1,499.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates
Build area (mm)
210 × 150 × 100
Materials
ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, CO-PET, Nylon
Min. layer height
20
Open source
No
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Design
  • Ease of use
  • Customer support
Cons
  • Build volume
  • Reliability
  • Not open source
  • Connectivity

The most used industrial 3D printing technology on the 3D Hubs platform, SLS has been chosen as the final category for this year’s guide.

* Rating weights: For this category, we placed an emphasis on print quality, reliability and support over ease of use and value for money.

Rating weights for the SLS category
EOS

EOS P 396

8.2

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) uses a laser to melt and solidify layers of powdered material into finished objects. While desktop versions have already appeared on the market and the technology is expected to move further into the mainstream, the EOS P 396 wins the SLS category for the 2017 3D Printer Guide.

The EOS P 396 is a medium-sized, plastic industrial SLS 3D printer produced by German manufacturer EOS. EOS previously built SLA printers but moved to SLS technology in the early ‘90s. Since then, they have become one of the most popular manufacturers of SLS 3D printers in the world. A successor to the company’s EOSINT P 395 range, the EOS P 396 is an improvement on the technology in terms of efficiency and speed.

Featuring a total build size of 340mm × 340mm × 600mm, the P 396 prints 32% faster and consumes 38% less energy than its predecessor thanks to a new 70W CO₂ laser, according to EOS. A wide array of polyamide (PA) materials and thermoplastics are available to print with, including carbon fiber reinforced PA, flame retardant PA, and an aluminum PA blend. As a result of the material’s properties, versatility, and strength, the EOS P 396 is capable of producing high quality functional prototypes and components.

Owners of the machine have rated the printer highly for print quality, build volume, speed and reliability, which can be expected from an industrial grade printer priced upwards of $250,000. Conversely, the P 396 is very large, requires expertise to use and is costly. It’s important to also note that PA materials are limited in color; if you’re interested in full color prototyping, this industrial machine will not be suitable for you. However, the P 396 is well suited for medium sized prototype builds and parts with sophisticated geometries.

The EOS P 396 is rated highly in its class and has many applications for experts and professionals in the aerospace, automotive and industrial fields. With a wide variety of materials to print with, this industrial SLS printer is top of its class as the best rated machine for our 2nd most used technology after FDM.

EOS P 396
Starting at
$250,000.00
Recommended for
Pros
Build area (mm)
340 × 340 × 600
Materials
PA 2200, PrimePart® PLUS and more
Min. layer height
60
Open source
No
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Build volume
  • Speed
  • Reliability
Cons
  • Printer size
  • Ease of use
  • Running costs
  • Price