3D Printer Guide

3D Printer Guide

2016

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The guide is based on

5350
reviews
638
hours of writing
3962
years of experience
714300
3D prints made on reviewed printers

Which 3D Printer should I buy? is one of the most common questions we get asked at 3D Hubs.

To answer this, we reached out to our global community of Hubs to learn from their experiences and find out more about the 3D Printers they own.

With reviews from over 5,350 verified 3D Printer owners with a collective 3962 years of 3D Printing experience coupled with 714,300 prints completed on 441 different 3D Printer models, the result of our research is the 2016 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, ease-of-use, build quality, reliability, failure rate, customer service, community, running expenses, software, and value.

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 Enthusiast, Plug 'n' Play, Kit/DIY, Budget, and of course, Resin 3D printers. In total, 20 models made it on our Top 3D Printers list for 2016, and each of these printers has a minimum of 20 in-depth reviews from experienced 3D printer owners that contributed to their standing on the list.

Additionally, our extensive Printer Index includes all 126 3D printers that didn't make it to the top of their categories. Only printers with five reviews or more have been added to the Index.

Last but not least, we'd like to extend a huge thank you to our international 3D Hubs community. Without you, the 2016 3D Printer Guide wouldn't be possible.

Do you want to be the first to get updates?

Weights for the Enthusiast category

Printers in our Enthusiasts category are for users looking for a reliable machine that can consistently produce high-quality prints. These are straightforward machines that often allow for flexible upgrades and various modifications. Additionally, the printers in this category have an active community ready to help for when your tinkering goes astray. Printers in this category are best-suited for hobbyists, designers, and some small businesses. With five high-scoring printers within a very short range of each other, this is by far our largest 3D printer category.

* 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 openness, upgradeability, print quality, and community for this category.

Makergear

Makergear M2

9.1

The Makergear M2 is a well-designed and reliable 3D printer that our community has ranked as the top 3D printer for enthusiasts for two consecutive years now. Founded in 2009, Makergear manufactures its 3rd generation M2 3D printers in Beachwood, Ohio.

The M2 printer is built on a solid steel chassis – a detail that gives it a reliable and sturdy structure. Thanks to the solid construction, Makergear owners unanimously praise the solid engineering and have called it “bulletproof” or “built like a tank” thanks to high precision rails and quality components.

Equipped with a heated platform for using PLA or ABS filaments within a 203 × 254 × 203 mm build volume, the M2 is also a versatile 3D Printer that comes pre-assembled. Users can further tweak the machine to their liking with onboard controls, interchangeable nozzles, and dual-extruder upgrade. The printer is not plug 'n' play, however, and some previous experience in 3D printing comes in handy to take advantage of the printer's full potential.

Once calibrated, though, the M2 is capable of producing high quality prints consistently and at a high speed. Many of our hubs have been using the printer (or multiple printers) for years without serious issues – a detail that reflects the M2's solid construction and reliability.

Makergear recommends the use of Simplify3D software, but thanks to the open structure, users have the opportunity to choose their favorite software. If any issues do arise, the Makergear customer support team has been reported as top notch and was rated as one of the top 3 manufacturers in the customer support category. Additionally, an abundance of online tutorials and an active community are available for users who intend to get to know their printer inside and out and down to the last screw.

The downsides? There's a slight learning curve and the M2 is not the easiest-to-use machine. Just like most printers in the enthusiast category, the M2 is relatively noisy and the open chassis is not ideal for all environments. Additionally, wireless connectivity is also high on the wish list of current owners.

The Makergear M2 is one of the best printers on the market for someone with minimal 3D printing experience while also offering value for experienced users as well. From our reviews, an impressive 96% of current owners would recommend the M2 to both professionals as well as tinkerers and makers. The fully assembled version of the M2 sells for $1825, which makes the M2 “a steal for the price” according to one of our reviewers.

Makergear M2
Starting at
$1,825.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

Build area (mm)
254 × 203 × 203
Materials
ABS, PLA
Min. layer height
20 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Build quality
  • Reliability
  • Precision
  • Value

Cons

  • Ease of use
  • Noise level
  • Connectivity
Available from these sellers
LulzBot

LulzBot TAZ 5

8.8

LulzBot's TAZ is already at its 5th generation model, and even though the looks remain largely unchanged, users will find tons of updates under the hood. LulzBot, who are famous for being a huge proponent of open-source innovation, are constantly building and improving upon their 3D printers together with their community.

Designed with a sturdy metal frame and the 298mm x 275mm x 250mm build volume, the TAZ 5 is a real workhouse and is one of the largest of any printers in our guide this year. This beast of a printer comes with a built-in heated bed, an exchangeable extruder system, and options for customization – if so desired. Additionally, the new all-metal hot ends allow users to print a variety of materials – including ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, wood, bronze, copper, polyester, nylon, conductive and more – with relative ease. Adventurous users will likely appreciate the ability to switch the extruders from single to dual – a feature that allows experimentation with two different types of materials at the same time. LulzBot owners “really appreciate the thought that was put into the design of this machine”, and describe the printer as being “sturdy and robust”. The TAZ 5 is best suited for printing large objects quickly, rather than small intricate prints.

LulzBot has a vast community that's continually working on improving the machine. On top of that, customer service is always prompt and reliable, rated among the top 3 of all printer manufacturers.

While most TAZ owners believe that assembly and tinkering are the best way to learn the ins and outs of the machine, this might scare away some of our beginner users. The TAZ 5 is certainly not a plug 'n' play machine; technical knowledge is recommended to take advantage of its full potential and to identify and cope with occasional issues as they arise.

The LulzBot TAZ 5 is best suited for consumers who want more than a plug 'n' play experience and are looking to progress together with their 3D printer. With 94% approval rate, our Hubs recommend the TAZ 5 to professionals and makers, along with users who have at least intermediate experience or an engineering background. For $2200, buyers get a well-constructed printer with a large build volume and seemingly limitless upgradeability.

LulzBot TAZ 5
Starting at
$2,200.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

Build area (mm)
298 × 275 × 250
Materials
ABS, PLA, Exotics
Min. layer height
50 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Build volume
  • Maintenance
  • Dual extruder
  • Community

Cons

  • Print quality
  • Noise level
  • Ease of use
Available from these sellers
WASP

DeltaWASP

8.8

Introducing the Ferrari of 3D printers, straight from the heart of Italy. The DeltaWASP is a gorgeously designed machine that uses a Delta style robot system instead of the traditional Cartesian style system used by most other FDM 3D printers. This sleek design offers a high printing speed and increased positioning accuracy, which results in smoother curves.

With its stunning looks, the WASP could be the crown jewel of any design studio. However, it's not afraid to get its hands dirty, either; the DeltaWASP is equipped with a changeable extruder and can print with a wide range of materials including ABS, PLA, PET, Nylon, Flex, Polystyrene, Laywood and experimental materials such as clay and porcelain. Print resolution is down to 50 micron and maximum print speed is around 300mm/s – both of which are at the top of their leagues.

Owners of the DeltaWASP praise its design and build, as one reviewer states: “the machine is an industrial build, but with all the open-source qualities. Rock solid in printing reliability and very high and constant in quality.”

The combination of usability and flexibility to experiment with new materials is certainly one of the selling points of the DeltaWASP. Additionally, features such as a “resurrection system”, allow users to continue printing in the event of a power failure. Additionally, the closed chamber provides a safe printing environment for the wide range of experimental materials.

Just like a Ferrari though, this Italian beauty doesn't come cheap.

The $2,550 price tag might scare some away, but those who purchase one can expect to receive a true example of Italian craftsmanship. It should also be noted that just like a high-octane sports car, the DeltaWASP is not a quiet machine, and it's been advised to have “a separate room to run in”.

Overall, the DeltaWASP is well-suited for a wide range of audiences; it's easy to use and offers many added functionalities that will appeal to enthusiasts and experts. Our community recommends the DeltaWASP for designers, working professionals, as well as the most demanding makers. Needless to say, it's hard to go wrong with this beauty – and 100% of current owners would vouch for it.

DeltaWASP
Starting at
$3,999.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

Build area (mm)
200 × 200 × 400
Materials
ABS, PLA, Exotics
Min. layer height
50 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Design
  • Precision
  • Build volume
  • Speed

Cons

  • Price
  • Connectivity
  • Community
Available from these sellers
FF3DP

FlashForge Creator Pro

8.7

The Flashforge Creator Pro is a solid enthusiast 3D printer with a full range of features for a great value. It is a step up from the original entry level Flashforge Creator, but it comes with a more sturdy metal frame and an enclosed chassis. Other Pro features include the upgraded platform leveling system, metal build plate, and guide rod to help with stabilization and durability.

Current owners have unanimously described their Creator Pro as the “absolute best value for the money” thanks in no small part to the setup and plug 'n' play user experience. Print quality has been reported as top tier, and the Flashforge is considered to be very reliable and consistent with good precision and countless possibilities.

The Creator Pro comes with dual extruders, and it can be tuned to print with a wide range of experimental materials. Maintenance is straightforward and spare parts are readily available. Over the years, Flashforge has proven itself as an established manufacturer and their customer support is very supportive.

Common complaints include issues with the bed levelling and noise, so it might not be the ideal desktop 3D printer for your home or office. The bundled software leaves much to be desired, and many users recommend using open source software or Simplify3D instead. Additionally, the build volume is average, and the Creator Pro has some quirks that require fine tuning and tinkering to work out to live up to its full potential.

And… here comes the major selling point: the printer costs just $1199. This price point is hard to beat considering all of the included features.

The Creator Pro has been recommended for “anyone who isn't afraid to tinker and wants to get their feet wet for under $2000 while still maintaining a lot of room for growth”.

FlashForge Creator Pro
Starting at
$1,199.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

Build area (mm)
225 × 145 × 150
Materials
ABS, PLA, Exotics
Min. layer height
100 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Reliability
  • Heated platform
  • Dual extruder
  • Value

Cons

  • Noise level
  • Connectivity
  • Software
Available from these sellers
Ultimaker

Ultimaker 2

8.6

With a white box design featuring a well-lit open front and semi-translucent sides, the unmistakable Ultimaker 2 is the flagship 3D printer from Geldermalsen, Netherlands-based Ultimaker. Exterior design elements aside, it is also one of the desired 3D printers for its balance of price and printing abilities, too.

Considered by many to be one of the most solid all-around 3D printers on the market, the Ultimaker 2 is capable of printing at an accuracy of up to 20 microns, a resolution that makes it one of the most precise FDM 3D printers in existence.

As to be expected based on years of positive reviews across the entire 3D printing industry, Ultimaker has done an exceptional job to ensure that the user experience has remained top-notch heading into 2016. Among other considerations, these include the ability to print from the moment the printer is removed from its box, intuitive software for intelligently preparing designs for printing, a radial scroll wheel for adjusting heat and speed while printing and a reliable heated print bed that rarely needs calibration.

Although the printer is not without its shortcomings and customer requests – such as a lack of dual extruder support, a more reliable feeder system, more powerful software and auto bed levelling – it does have a very active community and discussion forum. Content found in the community ranges from tips and tricks to tutorials, advanced modifications and workaround support from expert 3D printer users.

Of course, a 3D printing ecosystem like the one offered by Ultimaker doesn't come cheap; $2500 to be exact. Despite the high price tag, though, nearly 96% of those who reviewed the Ultimaker 2 said that they would recommend their 3D printer to somebody else – beginners through experts.

If you're looking for a robust solution to enter the world of 3D printing with, the Ultimaker 2 is one of the most reliable and loved 3D printers on the market today.

Ultimaker 2
Starting at
$1,999.00
Recommended for
Everyone

Specifications

Build area (mm)
230 × 225 × 205
Materials
ABS, PLA, Exotics
Min. layer height
20 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Precision
  • Ease of use
  • Speed
  • Software
  • Community

Cons

  • No dual extruder
  • Connectivity
  • Price
Available from these sellers
bq

Witbox

8.6

Designed and manufactured in Spain by BQ, a company previously known for their ebook readers and smartphones, the Witbox is a well-built and reliable 3D printer that also happens to offer the largest build volume in its class. Perhaps most notably, the Witbox is a fully-enclosed 3D printer that provides a stable and safe printing environment for schools (child-safe!) and workplaces.

Featuring a build volume of 297 x 210 x 200 mm, the Witbox also has one of the largest build volumes on the market for creating large models or multiple parts at the same time. Our reviewers also rated the Witbox as one of the best 3D printers regarding build quality and reliability – with many praising its innovative design, ease of use, and ability to easily produce large prints or multiple parts.

With layer resolutions of up to 50 microns, the print quality of the Witbox is among the highest in its class. Additionally, the open source hardware design and software capabilities allow users to expand the capabilities of the Witbox to meet any number of printing demands. Current Witbox owners also rate the company's customer service as being extremely positive and helpful. As one owner simply puts it: “I love it.”

Although the Witbox has many benefits, it is also not without its fair share of drawbacks, too. Among others, these include noise issues due to fans, the lack of a heated bed, and no options for dual extruder support. Additionally, the relatively small community might deter some new users as well.

Despite these shortcomings, the Witbox is still an excellent choice 3D printer for both beginner and expert users. While the large build volume makes it ideal for professionals and classrooms who are looking to print large or multiple parts, the ease of use and high print quality make it a reliable printer for designers and architects, too. None of our reviewers regretted purchasing the Witbox, and 100% of them would recommend it to prospective buyers.

The Witbox comes with three different color options, a full range of accessories, and a very generous 24-month warranty for $1,999.

Witbox
Starting at
$1,659.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates

Specifications

Build area (mm)
297 × 210 × 200
Materials
PLA
Min. layer height
50 microns
Open source
Only software

Pros

  • Build quality
  • Build volume
  • Reliability
  • Customer support

Cons

  • No heated platform
  • Noise level
  • Community
Available from these sellers
Weights for the Plug 'n' print category

The printers in our Plug 'n' Play category are considered to be the easiest to use and are capable of being used straight out of the box. Characterized by their reliable print qualities, low failure rates, and great customer support, this group is perfect for quality-conscious beginners and those with light 3D printing needs. The trade-offs of a Plug 'n' Play 3D printer include limited modification capabilities 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 and increased weight on customer support.

Zortrax

Zortrax M200

9.0

Are you looking for a desktop 3D printer with the reliability of an industrial machine? Polish manufacturer Zortrax prides themselves at manufacturing one of our community's absolute top choices in 3D printers available today. After launching on Kickstarter in 2013, the company's M200 delivered on its original campaign promise of combining ease of use with professional quality.

Made from sturdy aluminum, the M200 is capable of printing straight out of the box with very little setup. Thanks to an automated platform leveling system, calibrating is precise and easy. With a 200 x 200 x 185 mm build area that includes a perforated build platform for mitigating the material's tendency to warp, the printer is optimized for those who wish to print with ABS.

Of all of the 3D printers surveyed, our Hubs rated the Zortrax M200 the highest overall regarding print quality, reliability and value for the price. One of our reviewers even went as far as comparing the print quality as such: “If my pickup lines were like Zortrax prints, I'd have fathered a thousand kids.” Print quality aside, the reliability and consistent printing capabilities were also critical factors that set the M200 apart from other desktop machines this year.

While the controlled ecosystem is one of the main reasons the M200 fares so well overall, the closed-source nature of the printer offers less to those interested in tinkering and experimenting with their machine. Although our reviewers noted that the company actively listens to user needs with consistent software updates and new material options (currently at 5), the lack of temperature control leaves barely any room for experimenting with other (lower-cost) materials. Current owners also wish for more connectivity options, improved customer support, and dual extruder support.

However, Zortrax owners also reported the fewest failed prints on our list – less than 7% – and some users even reported that they were able to regularly complete 60-hour prints without any failure – a factor that we're only used to seeing on industrial-grade machines. Build quality is over the top, and the M200 requires little or no maintenance. Overall, these features make the Zortrax a great printer for those who want high-quality 3D prints without significant setup.

All in all, the Zortrax M200 is an easy to use, real prosumer 3D printer that produces reliable and accurate prints without the need to dive deeply into multiple control settings. With a staggering 98% recommendation level from current owners, the M200 is well-suited for beginners and experts alike. It is also a great value – as it comes assembled with a full range of accessories for just under $2000.

Zortrax M200
Starting at
$1,950.00
Recommended for
Everyone

Specifications

Build area (mm)
200 × 200 × 185
Materials
ABS, HIPS, ULTRAT
Min. layer height
90 microns
Open source
No

Pros

  • Print quality
  • Build quality
  • Precision
  • Ease of use

Cons

  • Material availability
  • Connectivity
  • Not open source
Available from these sellers
CEL

CEL Robox

9.0

Originating from a Kickstarter campaign, the CEL Robox was successfully funded (£280.891 raised on a £100.000 goal) on December 21st, 2013. Located in Portishead, U.K., CEL manufactures their award winning FDM printer with features like an interchangeable print head, a heated build plate and auto-leveling, to name a few.

Our community praises CEL for their astonishing customer service, which is fair, considering that CEL offers a best in class two-year warranty on their flagship 3D printer. In the words of one particular owner, “the customer support is excellent, and the team is committed to creating one of the best, mid-priced printers you can buy. Would I buy another Yes!”

Starting at $1,299 it’s not cheap, but the Robox is still considered to be a great value for the money. Inside the stylish closed build chamber, it is equipped with dual nozzles and proprietary extrusion system for fast extrusion and consistent print quality. The Robox is a also true Plug 'n' Play machine. In addition to the generous warranty, 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 category and the company has recently teamed up with the filament manufacturer colorFabb, to further expand the material range. Overall, this closed system gives users the tools they need to get the most out of the whole printer ecosystem without a steep learning curve.

However, this closed system is also one of the things that our users find to be as one of the Robox's shortcomings; the fact that the printer is not open source is the biggest flaw, in their opinion. Build volume is more in the mid-range and with only 100mm in height, the Robox won’t be a champion of tall prints.

Ultimately, CEL has done a remarkable job launching such a decent and highly-praised first printer. Needless to say, the Robox is a great all-around 3D printer, and 100% of the reviewers surveyed said that they would recommend the Robox to anyone who isn't on a tight budget.

CEL Robox
Starting at
€ 1 249,00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates

Specifications

Build area (mm)
210 × 150 × 100
Materials
ABS, PLA, Exotics
Min. layer height
20 microns
Open source
No

Pros

  • Design
  • Printer size
  • Ease of use
  • Value

Cons

  • Build volume
  • Reliability
  • Connectivity
Available from these sellers
Beeverycreative

BEETHEFIRST

8.9

Although they're still one of the youngest 3D printer manufacturers in the industry, Portugal-based BEEVERYCREATIVE has proven for two years in a row that they are capable of delivering a quality 3D printing experience in the form of their BEETHEFIRST FDM 3D Printer.

The printer, which features a modern and enclosed design for carrying like a briefcase between printing locations, is considered by many to be one of the most user-friendly designs on the market. Among other reasons, this is because the printer was designed to be used directly out of the box with the ability to print within minutes.

Of course, a 3D printer designed for portability is not without its downsides, too. Particularly, these include a smaller-than-average maximum build area – 190 x 135 x 125 mm (7.68 x 5.32 x 4.92 in) – and the use of proprietary filament that is specially-designed to fit unobtrusively into the small printer body. With that said, these are relatively minor downsides for those who aren't in need of larger 3D prints or care for materials other than PLA – the standard material for BEETHEFIRST 3D printers.

For users looking for a true plug 'n' play 3D printer, such as educators or professionals, the BEETHEFIRST is certainly one of the best options available today. While most of the users surveyed were professional product designers who used the printer for developing prototypes, the printer would be right at home for any user who is looking for quality, high-resolution 3D prints with a user-friendly design and price tag.

Ultimately, if you don't have plans to print objects larger than the size of a large grapefruit and want the easiest 3D printing experience available for less than $1,550, it's difficult to argue that the BEETHEFIRST is the best 3D printer option for you.

Beeverycreative BEETHEFIRST
Starting at
$1,699.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates

Specifications

Build area (mm)
190 × 135 × 125
Materials
PLA
Min. layer height
50 microns
Open source
Only software

Pros

  • Build quality
  • Design
  • Ease of use

Cons

  • Build volume
  • No heated platform
  • Value
Available from these sellers
LulzBot

LulzBot Mini

8.9

The LulzBot Mini is the latest addition from the stables of Aleph Objects in Loveland, Colorado. The Mini serves as an entry level FDM printer both in price as well as the level of expertise required. Equipped with smart features including an auto-leveling bed, a self-cleaning nozzle, and an all metal hot-end, this printer has received the most positive feedback from our community overall and is very user-friendly for those just getting started in 3D printing.

“The Mini is a great printer for someone just starting with 3D printing,” explained one of our reviewers. “The ease of use and large online community makes most issues quickly resolvable. The open source software and open hardware of the machine is an added bonus because you can keep up with the latest technology within this industry as it advances.”

If the large online community can't solve your problem, then the highly-regarded LulzBot Customer Support is there for you. How good is their customer support? Simply put, it was rated the best in its category. In addition to earning high marks in the customer service department, the LulzBot Mini has also been rated the most affordable printer in terms of running costs! Ultimately, the Mini – running on a custom version of Cura – is an easy to use, reliable open source printer that's friendly to maintain and easy on the wallet.

Of course, not every printer is without its downsides, though. The LulzBot Mini is reportedly a noisy little machine, however, one of our users deemed it to be 'fixable with some stepper motor damper'. Another issue that could become problematic for some users is that the printer requires a constant connection to a computer to complete prints successfully. As to be expected, this can be quite cumbersome, but some users solved this issue by hooking up a Raspberry Pi and running Octoprint on it.

All in all, the LulzBot Mini is a great choice for anybody with an interest in learning more about 3D Printing. Unsurprisingly, all of the current LulzBot users that participated in our review would recommend this machine to someone else – a factor that proves it delivers on its promises. Aside from some of the more demanding users and advanced designers, our community thinks that the LulzBot is suitable for just about anyone.

LulzBot Mini
Starting at
$1,250.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates

Specifications

Build area (mm)
152 × 152 × 158
Materials
ABS, PLA, Exotics
Min. layer height
50 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Reliability
  • Ease of use
  • Community
  • Material availability

Cons

  • Build volume
  • Design
  • Connectivity
Available from these sellers
Weights for the Budget category

Have you been considering getting into 3D printing but don't want to break the bank? Whether you’re a student, just getting started in 3D printing, or simply don’t want to build from scratch, the 3D printers in our Budget category are the best 3D printers for penny-pinchers.

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

CraftUnique

Craftbot

8.8

Based in Budapest, Hungary; CraftUnique is one of the newest manufacturers on the market. The company launched their first printer, the Craftbot, on Indiegogo in August 2014 and smashed their campaign goal by 614% after raising $245,547 during their funding period. The goal was simple: create an easy-to-use and affordable 3D printer. According to our reviewers, CraftUnique impressively managed to execute both of these factors quite successfully with their first 3D printer.

The CraftBot is a low-cost FDM printer with a relatively large 250 x 200 x 200 build volume. It prints with PLA, ABS and HIPS materials with a maximum resolution of 100 microns. The printer's design is rather clean with a cut steel frame, see-through side panels and a user interface sporting a 2.8-inch color touchscreen. The printer ships with the proprietary CraftWare slicer software, providing detailed layer-by-layer visualization.

Even though the company is young, they managed to hit the nail on the head when it comes to build quality; our Hubs chose the CraftBot #1 in the category of all 3D printers surveyed. Since we're talking about a budget printer against more expensive machines, this is quite an impressive feat.

The CraftBot also placed amongst the top printers in ease of use and print quality. Current owners praised it for the large print volume compared to the relatively compact size. Once calibrated, the Craftbot prints reliably and consistently on an ongoing basis. If issues arise, our reviewers noted that both CraftUnique's customer support and their growing community were great at lending a helping hand when needed.

On the downside, it's not always easy for a new product to navigate the market and the CraftBot is no exception. Despite being an exceptional 3D printer, the CraftBot is not without its flaws. The first version of the printer had a hard time heating up the bed to the required temperature causing warping for ABS prints, an issue which has been amended in the new Plus model. Additionally, dual-extruder support has been promised by the company but has not yet been made available. For those looking to connect wirelessly, the CraftBot is currently limited to a USB. Finally, the price has doubled since the Indiegogo release: from $499 to $999.

Overall, CraftUnique has put together a remarkable printer that's a great choice for students, educators, and certain professionals. With a 96% recommendation rate from current owners and a price tag that sits below $1000, the CraftBot is an easy to use printer with a great pack of features and offers a great value.

Craftbot
Starting at
$1,249.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates

Specifications

Build area (mm)
250 × 200 × 200
Materials
ABS, PLA
Min. layer height
100 microns
Open source
No

Pros

  • Build quality
  • Build volume
  • Design
  • Software

Cons

  • Speed
  • Material availability
  • Connectivity
Available from these sellers
Printrbot

Printrbot Simple Metal

8.6

As one of the earliest pioneers of desktop 3D printing, California-based Printrbot began their journey as a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2011 and were among the first companies to bring the promise of affordable 3D printing to reality with their award-winning Printrbot Simple 3D printer.

The Simple Metal is the company's upgraded version of their entry-level Printrbot Simple and comes with a sturdy powder-coated steel frame and aluminium extruder. Featuring an auto-leveling probe that simplifies the calibration process, the printer also has a respectable maximum build volume of 150 x 150 x 150 mm. Although the standard printer is only capable of printing with PLA, users looking for more material options can upgrade to a Mic 6 aluminum print bed that works well for ABS, too.

Regarding build quality and overall printer performance, our reviewers praised the Simple Metal's great print quality and reliable metal frame design. One user, in particular, described the printer as a “no frills, working class bot. It's tough, and the print quality is phenomenal for the money”.

As an open source 3D printer, the Simple Metal is a great 3D printer for those who wish to tweak and upgrade their printer with a wide array fo add-ons and open source software. Thanks to the active Printrbot community, users are easily able to find support for advanced modifications and or answers in the company's existing forum and guides.

Similar to most other open source 3D printers, the Metal Simple is not the easiest printer to use for those just getting started in 3D printing. Among other reasons, 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 reported minor issues including nozzle and feeder jams.

Despite its minor shortcomings, the Printrbot Simple Metal still received a 95% recommendation rating from current users. 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 outstanding platform for getting started.

Ultimately, at just $649, the Simple Metal offers a great pack of features, and our community chose it as one of the top 3D printers in terms of value.

Printrbot Simple Metal
Starting at
$599.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates

Specifications

Build area (mm)
150 × 150 × 150
Materials
ABS (optional), PLA, Exotics
Min. layer height
100 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Printer size
  • Reliability
  • Maintenance
  • Price

Cons

  • Speed
  • Noise level
  • No heated platform
Available from these sellers
UP3D

UP Mini

8.4

For users on a budget who are looking to enter the world of 3D printing with a simple and straightforward 3D printer option, the UP! Mini from China's UP3D is certainly one of the best values on the market for under $1000.

Despite the relatively small 120 x 120 x 120 mm build volume, the UP! Mini more than makes up for its small size by consistently producing quality prints – thanks largely to its closed enclosure design and a perforated heated build plate. With both ABS and PLA compatibility, the UP Mini is also a flexible option for those who may want to experiment with different filaments.

However, the closed source nature of the platform may be a turn-off for some of the more experienced 3D printer users. Alternatively, the lack of customization options makes it a great and easy-to-use 3D printer for users with zero interest in modifying the printer to their exact specifications.

“I was completely new to 3D printing a year ago, and the UP! Mini was solid enough to take my mistakes and keep on pumping out prints” explains one reviewer. “Additionally, it doesn't require any more maintenance than any other FDM printers on the market.”

With a reported 89% print success rate and consistently updated software, it's easy to see why so many users who are new to 3D printing enjoy using their UP Mini. For users looking for additional assistance with 3D printing, the company is known for having a great support network and community.

Needless to say, if your budget is less than $1,000 and you're looking for a reliable out-of-the-box user experience, the UP Mini is an excellent and reliable gateway choice for entering the wonderful world of 3D printing.

UP mini
Starting at
$566.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates

Specifications

Build area (mm)
120 × 120 × 120
Materials
ABS, PLA
Min. layer height
200 microns
Open source
No

Pros

  • Ease of use
  • Reliability
  • Software
  • Price

Cons

  • Build volume
  • Proprietary materials
  • No heated platform
Available from these sellers
FF3DP

FlashForge Creator

8.2

Considered by some to be the perfect combination of a beginner machine and an expandable offering for Maker/Hackers, the Flashforge Creator is a modified version of MakerBot's original open source Replicator 3D printer.

Despite featuring a frame made from laser cut wood, the prints that come off of the Creator are comparable to those that come off of machines that are considerably more expensive and refined. With a build volume of 225 x 145 x 150 mm, a heated build plate, dual extruders and onboard controls, the Creator is perfectly suited for common 3D printing applications. Among other objects that are reviewers have printed on their Creators include prototypes, useful home objects, and even small manufacturing orders.

Although the Creator is considered by many to be a good entry-level 3D printer, many of our reviewers found it much more valuable with the addition of some extra parts or modifications – such as those that can make the printer quieter and more accurate. Ultimately, if you're not comfortable with the idea of having to do at least a little bit of tweaking at some point, this might not be the best 3D printer for you.

“With the Flashforge Creator, you get what you pay for… and much more than that” explains one reviewer. “Like many other 3D printers, there is no magic solution, and you'll experience failed prints for sure – but rarely because of the printer itself. This printer is worth every penny and I recommend using the updates – such as replacing blue tape with a glass bed.”

At under $1000, the Flashforge Creator is a great value for those looking for a reliable 3D printer that's expandable, but don't necessarily want to build their 3D printers from scratch.

FlashForge Creator
Starting at
$1,059.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates

Specifications

Build area (mm)
225 × 145 × 150
Materials
ABS, PLA, Exotics
Min. layer height
100 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Heated platform
  • Dual extruder
  • Running costs
  • Value

Cons

  • Precision
  • Build quality
  • Design
Available from these sellers
Weights for the Kit/DIY category

Not for the fainthearted, those interested in tinkering and getting their hands dirty will find the most satisfaction from the 3D printers in our Kit / DIY category. Born out of fab labs, maker spaces and garages around the world, the open source community forms the thriving backbone of these DIY-friendly machines. Although they can be difficult to assemble and calibrate, the print quality is on-par with non-DIY machines and there is much to be gained from adding upgrades or making modifications.

* Rating weights: When reviewing printers in this category, we put less emphasis on ease of use and more emphasis on the community aspect.

SeeMeCNC

Rostock MAX

9.1

This Delta 3D printer kit originally started as a campaign on Indiegogo in 2012 and raised an impressive 777% of its initial target goal of $10,000. Since then, the Rostock MAX has only increased in popularity, and it's without a doubt one of the coolest looking machines out there with its insect-like structure.

The main selling point of the Rostock is certainly the Delta style robot system instead of the traditional Cartesian style used by most other desktop 3D printers. This design offers a far higher printing speed and positioning accuracy than other machines, a factor that results in smoother curves on finished prints.

The build volume is one of the largest of any desktop printers (assuming that you can place the one-meter-tall printer on your desktop) with 270 mm in diameter and 375 mm in height.

Due to the more intricate nature of the design, the Rostock requires quite some time to set up and calibrate: 30+ hours according to our users. However, once the printer is up and running, the high-quality components ensure that it can print consistently and reliably. Additionally, the print quality is among the best in the Kit category.

“I've had people stop and tell me that the quality of prints they see coming off of my printer rivals that of some more professional printers,” added one reviewer.

With expandable and upgradable 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 3 of all 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 noted that the design could be improved to allow for a shielded build chamber for more reliable ABS/Nylon printing. Additionally, some users feel as though the most common upgrades should be a part of the original kit by now.

Overall, the Rostock Max makes for a great kit for both intermediate and experienced users. It is well-suited for tinkerers, makers or anyone who'd like to learn the ins and outs of 3D printing. At just $999, the Rostock Max is a (literally) huge bang for the buck and is without a doubt one of the best printer offerings in its category.

RepRap Rostock MAX
Starting at
$999.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

Build area (Cylindrical)
Ø 280mm, h 375mm
Materials
ABS, PLA
Min. layer height
20 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Build volume
  • Speed
  • Open source
  • Value

Cons

  • Precision
  • Ease of use
  • Noise level
  • No dual extruder
Available from these sellers
RepRap

Prusa Steel

9.1

The open source Prusa Steel was originally designed as a remix of Twelvepro's redesign of Josef Prusa's i3. It was first presented as a prototype named Leonardo by Irobri in April 2013 after having attended a Maker show in Zaragoza, Spain. Made from 3mm laser cut steel for added durability, the Prusa Steel has several advantages over the standard (non-steel) Prusa i3.

In addition to a simple assembly design that eliminates the need for unnecessary parts, the use of structural steel reduces the price of fabrication by up to ten times when compared to aluminium. Additionally, since steel is significantly heavier than aluminium, the heavier frame of the printer prevents unpredictable vibrations that can compromise the final quality of 3D prints.

“The Prusa Steel is a huge improvement over the normal Prusa i3,” explains one reviewer. “Since it is so heavy, it is very stable while printing – which also leads to less failed prints. Additionally, it is also easier to assemble than the original Prusa i3 design and has very low maintenance; we calibrated it two years ago and haven't had to calibrate it since. If you are into DIY, this is your printer.”

While experienced Makers tout the Prusa Steel as a very reliable 3D printer for their needs, other users are quick to add that it's a perfect 3D printer for those looking to learn and grow in the field of 3D printing, too. Among other reasons, the open source community makes it easy to overcome challenges and upgrade your Prusa Steel as needed.

“This printer was fun to build and easy to set up due to it being fabricated from laser cut parts” added another reviewer. “Anybody can build and use as long as they learn a little bit more about firmware and software but on the hardware and structure side it is almost flawless. Definitely worth considering as a great machine and investment.”

With most reviewers stating that they use their Prusa Steel for hobby-related purposes, it's clear that this 3D printer is a solid offering that's better-suited for those with the time to spend learning their hardware and software inside and out.

Craftbot
Starting at
€ 521,00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

Build area (Cylindrical)
200 × 200 × 180
Materials
ABS, PLA, Exotics
Min. layer height
100 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Community
  • Maintenance
  • Open source
  • Price

Cons

  • Precision
  • Speed
  • Noise level
Available from these sellers
RepRap

Mendel90

8.9

Designed by RepRap Community member N0phead, the Mendel90 is an improved version of the Mendel Prusa, which is arguably the world's first consumer 3D printer. As a RepRap project, the Mendel90 is a great 3D printer option for those wanting to learn more about the technology behind 3D printing and feel comfortable with building their printer from scratch.

The Mendel90 packs quite a punch for its price, starting with a heated print bed that makes it possible for users to experiment with various materials that are otherwise prone to warping. It is also a significant step up from the Mendel Prusa – particularly regarding print quality and a large supportive community.

“The Mendel90 is a very reliable machine with a clean design, a sturdy frame and flat cables,” says one user. “These are two big advantages over the Prusa or other RepRap printers. Overall, the print quality is excellent.”

Although 95% of current owners of the Mendel90 would recommend it, it is still recommended that only those who are familiar with 3D printing technology pursue building this kit. Among other reasons, basic electronic skills – such as soldering – are needed for even getting the basics of the kit setup. Additionally, two different types of open source software are also required to get started (Slic3r & Pronterface). This level of complexity can be off-putting to those who want a simpler setup and print process.

For its $785 price point, the basic Mendel90 kit is a surprisingly feature-rich 3D printer and has a very supportive community of fellow hobbyists behind it. With a high degree of upgrade options, this machine can also evolve along with your needs – a trait that makes a great machine for all skill levels that are comfortable with building their 3D printer from scratch.

Mendel90
Starting at
$1,100
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

Build area (mm)
200 × 200 × 200
Materials
ABS, PLA, Exotics
Min. layer height
50 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Design
  • Material availability
  • Heated platform

Cons

  • Ease of use
  • Noise level
  • Connectivity
Ultimaker

Ultimaker Original+

8.8

Originally released in 2011, the Ultimaker is one of the most well-known and widely-respected players in desktop 3D printing. The new Original+ – the most updated version of their flagship 3D printer model – comes equipped with a glass heated bed and is sold as a kit. Many of our Hubs have been using their Ultimaker since it was first released and are still satisfied with their purchase four years later. While its age is beginning to show in a market that's since been flooded with new models, the Ultimaker Original+ is still a great option for those looking for a solid all-around 3D Printer.

The Ultimaker Original+ has a maximum build volume of 210 x 210 x 205 mm; the resolution can go up to 20 microns, and its biggest strength is in its upgradeability through modding. For those considering this printer, an engineering background or technical affinity will certainly come in handy as the Original+ does require some considerable assembly. While Kits aren't for everyone, they do lower the cost of entry and building a printer part by part is a great learning experience for those who wish to know their printer inside and out. For those who do choose to purchase the Ultimaker Original+, you'll also be joining one of the largest and most active 3D printing communities in the industry in case you get stuck. This community is so great in fact that belonging to it is widely regarded by users as one of Ultimaker's key benefits.

Like other kits, one common complaint of current owners of the Original+ is that it runs noisily. The reliability of the Ultimaker also falls in the middle of the pack; the amount of tinkering required to get the printer up to speed can be off-putting to those who want a turnkey solution without trouble.

If you're willing to dive deeper into some of the technical details involved with building a 3D printer from scratch, the Ultimaker Original+ is an excellent choice. This machine is great for intermediates looking to experiment, tinker and step up from the standard plug 'n' play. With a 92% recommendation rating from over 200 current owners, it's safe to say that the Ultimaker Original+ is a quality piece of Kit.

Ultimaker 1
Starting at
$1,225
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

Build area (mm)
210 × 210 × 205
Materials
ABS, PLA, Exotics
Min. layer height
20 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Precision
  • Software
  • Community
  • Open Source

Cons

  • Ease of use
  • Design
  • Noise level
  • Price
Available from these sellers
Weights for the Resin category

Similar to James Bond, resin-based printers have a unique way of getting from A to B. The technology used for 3D printers in the Resin category use an optical power source to cure liquid resin into a solid object. While these printers are more expensive and require additional post-processing work for creating your models, the print quality and precision are unmatched when compared to other desktop 3D printers. Resin-based 3D printers are ideal for professionals and serious hobbyists who need high-resolution parts for accurate prototyping needs or model making purposes.

* Rating weights: For the Resin printers, we put more emphasis on the Ease of Use and Machine Reliability. Since resin-based printers require working with hazardous materials, ease of use and reliability were considered highly important factors.

Formlabs

Form 1+

8.4

Formlabs is without a doubt the most successful manufacturer of resin-based desktop 3D printers. The company disrupted the scene in 2012 with the launch of the original Form 1 on Kickstarter. The Form 1+ came soon after, with refined components. Among others, these included a faster and more powerful laser for curing liquid resin through the stereolithography additive manufacturing process. The resulting prints that come off of the Form 1+ have consistently been among the highest quality objects to come off of any desktop 3D printer, ever.

With an iconic orange enclosure and metal base design, it's clear why the Form 1+ is on the wishlist of so many 3D printing enthusiasts; it's one of the few 3D printer offerings that looks as good as the objects it produces.

Unsurprisingly, the feedback from our reviewers has been positive overall. PreForm, the proprietary software used with Formlabs 3D printers, is among the best in the industry and is consistently updated to meet the needs of today's heaviest users. Additionally, the customer service network is one of the best in the industry.

The Form 1+ is one of the most well-reviewed and highly-recommended 3D printers on the market for a wide variety of users ranging from hobbyists to professionals. “The Form 1+ is an excellent 3D printer; the quality is mind-blowing, and the software is unimaginably easy to use,” says one reviewer. “As a company that has used several 3D printers, the Form 1+ is absolutely superior to standard extruder printers in every category. The limited color selection of printing materials is the only downside to a printer that otherwise blows away its nearest competition.”

Despite everything that the Form 1+ has going for it, though, the SLA-produced objects that come off of it require more finishing work to get a 3D print to a desirable final stage. For those who are used to picking a 3D printed object up directly off of a print bed, this attribute may be a turn-off. Additionally, print failures are not uncommon, and the running costs are very high as the liquid resin used for printing is priced at $149 for a liter. For those who are new to resin-based 3D printing and aren't prepared to spend time learning the ins and outs of their 3D printer, the Form 1+ might be a poor fit for their needs.

The company announced its new Form 2 in October 2015, offering larger build volume, new peeling mechanism and integrated resin system (less messy!). With that, the price of the 1+ has been decreased to $2799, which is still slightly more than most FDM 3D printer offerings, but users looking for a solution for professional prototyping or model making will find more than a few reasons to justify the purchase.

Formlabs Form 1+
Starting at
$2,799
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

Build area (mm)
125 × 125 × 165
Materials
Resin
Min. layer height
25 microns
Open source
No

Pros

  • Print quality
  • Build quality
  • Precision
  • Ease of use

Cons

  • Material availability
  • Running costs
  • Price
Available from these sellers
B9Creations

B9Creator

8.1

Just as the Form 1, the B9Creator also started on Kickstarter when it was launched by B9 Creations; amassing almost $800,000 in two successful crowdfunding campaigns between 2012 and 2013. This 3D printer uses a video projector to project slices as images on a vat of UV curable resin to create its model – a process known as digital light processing (DLP).

The B9 Creator – now on version 1.2 – comes with a Full HD projector for ultra-high resolution printing at up to 5-microns. The printing quality is considered by many to be impeccable, with one of our Hubs declaring it to be “comparable to my 80k professional DLP printer”.

Since the build volume is quite limited and dependent on the resolution with a maximum build volume of 104 x 75.6 mm, it is best used for small and detailed prints. This year's B9 reviewers also listed build quality and software amongst the strengths of the B9.

With the 1.2 update, B9 Creations has eliminated most of the problems that users found in the previous versions of the B9 – such as inconsistent quality and the lack of documentation. Nevertheless, reviewers did give the B9 Creator a low score on 'Ease of Use' because of the printer's steep learning curve, the tedious initial calibration, and the complexities involved with maintenance. However, these hurdles were reported to be overcome easily with help from the friendly B9 Creator community – which also happens to share First Place this year for 'Best Community' along with the Prusa Steel.

With a price tag starting at $3490 (for the Kit), the B9 is aimed at professional users. Specifically, this champion of high-detail 3D prints can be a valuable asset to jewelry makers and digital sculptors alike, and more than 94% of our reviewers would recommend it to other professionals.

One factor that potential buyers should keep in mind is that the B9 Creator's material choices are limited to castable or high-strength resin in Cherry, Red, Black, Emerald and Yellow.

B9Creations B9Creator
Starting at
$3,490
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

Build area (mm)
104 × 76 × 203
Materials
Resin
Min. layer height
5 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Print quality
  • Precision
  • Speed
  • Value

Cons

  • Design
  • Ease of use
  • Reliability