2015 Best 3D Printers Guide

3D Printer Guide

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The guide is based on

2279
reviews
335
hours of writing
1623
years of experience
317000
3D prints made on reviewed printers

Which 3D Printer should I buy? is the most common question we at 3D Hubs are asked.

We reached out to our global community of Hubs to learn from their experience and see what they thought of the 3D Printers they own. The 2015 3D Printer Guide is based on the reviews of 2,279 verified 3D Printer owners. Their collective 1623 years of 3D Printing experience coupled with 317,000 prints completed on 235 different 3D Printer models, makes this the most comprehensive guide available.

Together with our community we explored the different aspects that make a great 3D Printer. We investigated the following parameters; print quality, ease-of-use, build quality, reliability, failure rate, customer service, community, running expenses, openness, software and value.

In this guide you’ll be able to find the top Printers for 5 different categories: Enthusiast Printers, Plug-n-Play Printers, Kit/DIY Printers, Budget Printers, and last but not least Resin Printers. In total 18 models made it to the top of our communities’ list. With reliability in mind, only printers with more than 10 reviews are included in the guide.

Our Printer Index includes all 67 3D Printers that didn’t make it to the top of their categories. Only Printers with more than 5 reviews are displayed in the Index.

A big thank you to our community. Without you, the 2015 3D Printer Guide would not be possible.

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Weights for the Enthusiast category

Printers in this category are for anyone looking for a reliable machine that consistently produces high quality prints. These are straightforward machines that allow for flexible upgrades and modifications. Here you’ll find an active community ready to help you troubleshoot when your tinkering goes astray. Printers in this category are best suited for hobbyists, designers, and even small businesses. This category is the largest as there were 5 high-scoring Printers within range of each other.

* Rating weights: Here we put less weight on ease of use, and more weight on openness, upgradeability, print quality and community.

Makergear

Makergear M2

9.0

The Makergear M2 is a well designed and reliable 3D printer and our community’s top choice for enthusiasts. Founded in 2009, Makergear’s US manufactured M2 is already on its 3rd generation of 3D Printers. The M2 highlights Makergear’s experience and expertise in the industry.

The M2 printer is built on a solid metal chassis, giving it a sturdy structure. This machine comes equipped with a heated platform which uses PLA or ABS to build objects of a maximum dimensions of 203 x 254 x 203 mm. It is a versatile 3D Printer that comes in either kit form or assembled. Users can also tweak the machine with on board controls and interchangeable nozzles.

Our community found the printer very well designed and built, thanks to the steel frame, high precision rails and quality components. Manufactured in Ohio, the M2 is well-calibrated and produces high quality prints right out of the box, although some experience comes in handy to take advantage of its full potential. Many of our hubs have been using the printer for 2 years without serious issues, which speaks to the M2’s 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 arise, Makergear customer support is extremely helpful, rated one of the top 3 manufacturers in this category. Abundant online tutorials and an active community is available for users who intend to get to know their printer down to the last screw.

The downsides? The M2 is not the easiest to use machine and just like most printers in the enthusiast category, its relatively noisy operation is not ideal for all environments. Makergear uses 3D printed parts on the M2, which have been known to cause minor issues. Dual extrusion is also high on the wishlist of current owners, though the company is expected to release upgrade kit in early 2015.

The Makergear M2 is one of the best printers on the market for someone with minimal 3D printing experience, but it has great potential for experienced users as well. Our community recommends the M2 to professionals as well as all tinkerers and makers. An impressive 100% of current owners would recommend the M2. The basic kit starts at $1475, while the fully assembled and calibrated version sells for $1775. According to one our users, “it’s worth every penny”.

Makergear M2
Starting at
$ 1,775
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

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

Pros

  • Precision
  • Print quality
  • Customer support
  • Build quality

Cons

  • Noise level
  • Lack of dual extruder support
  • Ease of use
FF3DP

FlashForge Creator Pro

8.7

The Flashforge Creator Pro is a step up from the original Flashforge Creator and can be best described as solid. The Creator Pro runs very similar to the entry level Flashforge Creator, but comes with a metal frame and enclosed chassis. Other new features include the upgraded platform leveling system and metal build plate and guide rod to help with stabilization and durability.

Current owners unanimously describe their Creator Pros as the “Absolutely best value for money”. It offers a great balance between ease of use and complexity. First, it’s easy to setup and printing with it is almost plug ‘n’ play. It is considered a very reliable and consistent printer with good precision and countless possibilities. The Creator Pro can be “tuned to various print situations” and it can print a whole range of experimental materials. The $1350 price tag is also a major selling point - especially when you consider that the Flashforge Creator Pro’s 9.5 rating on print quality beats many 3D Printers that have a price point over $2000.

The only common complaint is that the printer runs a bit loud, therefore it’s not the best choice for home or office use. Build volume is average and the Creator Pro has some quirks that require fine tuning and tinkering to work out in order to live up to its full potential.

The Flashforge Creator Pro is an excellent choice for a beginner or even an advanced user on a budget, 93% of the current owners would recommend it. At $1350, its hard to beat its value considering all the built-in features. As an added bonus, it ships surprisingly quick and the customer service is top notch.

FlashForge Creator Pro
Starting at
$ 1,199
Recommended for
Intermediates

Specifications

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

Pros

  • Heated platform
  • Dual extruder
  • Price

Cons

  • Noise level
Ultimaker

Ultimaker 2

8.6

The Ultimaker 2 is a multifunctional and robust desktop 3D printer. This versatile machine comes equipped with a heated bed and build plate and is among the most precise FDM printers with layer resolution going up to 20 micron.

Our community praises the Ultimaker 2’s balance between ease of use straight out of the box and its ability to set more advanced controls. The open source software and hardware offers a whole new world to those interested in tinkering and tweaking their machines. One of our users reviewed it as a “very well designed printer without frills, but with very high precision and reliability”. The active discussion forum, which has a variety of resources and tutorials, is a big reason for Ultimaker 2’s success. In addition, experts and power-users regularly contribute to the community and help those in need. The Ultimaker community is equally inviting to those who are looking to get started or those looking to custom fit their Ultimaker 2 with advanced modifications.

While you may have to look hard to find major drawbacks, many owners are still waiting eagerly for official dual extruder support. A more reliable feeder system and auto bed leveling are also on users’ wishlist.

Powerful features coupled with its easy to use software makes the Ultimaker 2 one of the most well rounded and accessible desktop 3D printers on the market. It is well suited for hobbyists, tinkerers, students and educators alike. While the $2500 price tag is high, 97% of current owners recommend this printer for a reason.

Ultimaker 2
Starting at
$ 2,499
Recommended for
Everyone

Specifications

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

Pros

  • Print quality
  • Heated platform
  • Build quality
  • Community

Cons

  • Lack of dual extruder support
  • Running costs
bq

Witbox

8.6

The Witbox is a well built and reliable 3D printer that offers best in class build volume. Made in Spain by bq, a company previously known for it’s ebook readers and smartphones, the Witbox has a full range of unique features.

Notably, the Witbox is fully enclosed to provide a stable and safe printing environment for schools (child-safe!) and workplaces. The reinforced chassis also let users stack more units on top of each other to easily create a grid of 3D printers. The Witbox has one of the largest build volumes on the market, with a 297mm x 210mm x 200mm print area for creating large models or multiple parts at the same time.

Our Hubs rated Witbox the best in overall build quality among all 3D printers and it finished in the top 3 in reliability. Owners praised its innovative design, ease of use, and its ability to produce large prints. Print quality is in the top segment, with layer resolutions up to 50 microns. The Witbox is open source, both hardware and software, so it can be used with a range of software tools including Slic3r, Cura, Pronterface and Repetier. If there are any problems along the way, current Witbox owners rate the customer service positive and helpful.

One of the Witbox’s biggest drawbacks is that it’s not versatile. It can only print with PLA, lacks a heated bed, and dual extruders are not an option. Our users also reported noisy operation due to the fans on the case. The relatively small community might deter new users as well.

The Witbox is a great choice for both beginner and expert users. The large build volume makes it ideal for working professionals, especially architects and designers. Its ease of use and high print quality make it a great choice for students and educators as well. None of the owners regret purchasing the Witbox - 100% of them would recommend it to prospective buyers. It comes in 3 colour options with a full range of accessories and a very generous 24 months of warranty for $1699.

Witbox
Starting at
$ 1,999
Recommended for
Everyone

Specifications

Build area (mm)
297 x 210 x 200
Materials
PLA
Min. layer height
50 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Build quality
  • Print quality
  • Design
  • Ease of use

Cons

  • No heated platform
  • Noise level
  • Lack of dual extruder support
Lulzbot

Lulzbot Taz 4

8.5

The 4th generation Lulzbot Taz is a real enthusiasts 3D printer. It is open source, comes with a built-in heated bed, has an exchangeable extruder system and options for a wide range of customisations. The 298mm x 275mm x 250mm build volume is one the largest build volumes of any printer in our guide.

The printer is designed with a sturdy metal frame and it is rated among the highest in terms of build quality. Owners of the Taz 4 found it the best for printing large objects quickly. It can use just about any filament, ranging from PLA to ABS, HIPS, Ninja Flex and more. The optional dual extruder makes experimenting with mixing different colors and materials an interesting possibility. If you run out of ideas, 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 is the best way to learn the ins and outs of the machine, it might scare away beginner users. Technical knowledge is recommended to take advantage of the printer’s full potential and to identify and cope with occasional issues. As mentioned before, the Taz 4 is more suitable for printing large objects and does not cope well with small intricate prints.

The Lulzbot Taz 4 is best suited for consumers who want more than a plug and play experience and want to understand the technology behind 3D printing. With 92% approval rate, our Hubs would recommend it to professionals and makers, along with users who have intermediate experience or an engineering background. For $2195, buyers get a well constructed printer with a large build volume and seemingly limitless upgradeability.

Lulzbot Taz 4
Starting at
$ 2,200
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

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

Pros

  • Build quality
  • Heated platform
  • Open source

Cons

  • Noise level
  • Ease of use
  • Precision
Weights for the Plug 'n' print category

These Printers are the easiest to use and work straight out of the box. Characterized by reliable print quality, low failure rates and great customer support, this group is perfect for quality conscious beginners. The trade-offs are limited modifications and room to experiment.

* 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

8.9

Looking for a well-built and reliable 3D printer? Zortrax’s M200 is among our community’s top choices for reliability. Launched on Kickstarter in 2013, the M200 delivered on its original campaign promise of combining ease of use with professional quality.

Our Hubs rated the M200 the highest overall in build quality and reliability of all 3D printers surveyed. The M200’s owners reported the fewest failed prints, barely 6% on average. Print quality is impeccable and one owner described it this way: “If my pickup lines were like Zortrax prints, I’d have fathered a thousand kids.” When problems do arise, the community usually has a quick fix. Despite being one of the newest manufacturers on the market, Zortrax already has a loyal user base. More than 96% of M200 owners would recommend their printer and 80% of them would only exchange it for the next version of the M200.

The M200 is made out of aluminium, giving it a rigid structure. It only prints with ABS, but the 200 x 200 x 185 build platform is perforated to mitigate the material’s tendency to warp. Auto platform leveling and a system of dual X and Y axises provide precise calibration and printing. These design decisions make it a great printer for those who want high quality prints without significant setup.

While most users praise its ease of use, the printer offers less to those interested in tinkering with their machine. The M200 is closed source, the software lacks user temperature control and ABS is the only material printable at the moment.

All and all, the Zortrax M200 is an easy to use 3D printer that produces reliable and accurate prints without the need to dive deeply into multiple control settings. It is also a great value, as it comes assembled with a full range of accessories for just under $2000.

Zortrax M200
Starting at
$ 1,990
Recommended for
Everyone

Specifications

Build area (mm)
200 x 200 x 185
Materials
ABS
Min. layer height
90 microns
Open source
No

Pros

  • Print quality
  • Precision
  • Build quality

Cons

  • Connectivity
  • Material availability
  • Lack of dual extruder support
Beeverycreative

BEETHEFIRST

8.9

While new to the 3D printing arena, Portuguese company BEEVERYCREATIVE has done a lot of things right with their first 3D printer: BEETHEFIRST. This sleekly designed machine doesn’t just look pretty, its easy to set up and prints well too.

It’s clear that BEETHEFIRST put customer experience at the top of their priority list. The setup for this machine has the straight out of the box and the print experience many beginners are looking for. You simply level and calibrate the bed, attach the filament, install the software and start printing. The instructions are clear and if you run into any problems with setup or afterwards our community rated the customer service the best of all manufacturers. Another key feature to note is BEETHEFIRST’s portability, its very easy to transport and won’t stand out at an office or home.

While a solid first generation model, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. The 190mm x 135mm x 125mm build volume is on the smaller side and customization is limited. It comes with a proprietary filament system, which means high running costs. Software and connectivity could use improvements as well.

Overall, BEETHEFIRST is a turn key solution, our community chose it easiest to use printer among all printers, while print quality is among the highest surveyed. It’s a completely hassle-free printer, ideal for professionals and use in education. Sadly, the price makes it out of reach for much of the beginner audience.

Beeverycreative BEETHEFIRST
Starting at
$ 1,549
Recommended for
Intermediates

Specifications

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

Pros

  • Design
  • Print quality
  • Ease of use

Cons

  • Price
  • Running costs
  • Print speed
  • Connectivity
PP3DP

UP Plus 2

8.8

Well known for its ease of use and value, the The UP Plus 2 is a great match for anyone who just wants to 3D print without any technical challenge. Also known as the Afinia H480 in the US market, the printers are produced by PP3DP in China.

The UP Plus 2 is a compact and lightweight printer that one can easily be carried around. It comes with a 140mm by 140mm heated platform and prints with both ABS and PLA with a minimum layer height of 150 microns. Two unique features differentiate it from most of the competitors: auto platform leveling and height calibration that uses a unique system of sensors and magnetic instruments to make what’s normally two of the biggest initial 3D printing challenges a straightforward and simple matter.

Owners of the UP Plus 2 unanimously acclaimed the printer’s plug and play capabilities. The software is among the most intuitive and it’s great at calculating support structures. On the other hand, it offers very limited controls for advanced settings like temperature control or feed rates. Besides ease of use, the printer was among the top 5 in print quality and print success rate, as on average 91% of the prints succeed. The UP Plus 2 is also among the most reliable printers on the market. Our users have reported little or no faults with years of constant running experience and in all other cases, customer service was found to be top notch.

While the UP Plus 2 is a well rounded 3D printer among the top in most categories, there are some negatives. Build volume is relatively small, the printing speed is on the slower side compared to other printers and the community is not the most active. The UP Plus 2 is not open source, therefore not upgradeable unless its firmware. The UP Plus 2 also utilizes proprietary filaments. Printing with generic filaments is not recommended, as the printer uses higher printing temperatures than competitors and the limitations of the software make it hard to calibrate for non-factory filaments.

The printer is a great choice for newcomers to 3D printing and users with intermediate experience. It’s well-suited for professionals as well as students and educators. 100% of current owners would recommend the UP Plus 2 and for $1299, it’s also one of the most affordable printers on the market.

PP3DP UP Plus 2
Starting at
$ 1,299
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates

Specifications

Build area (mm)
140 x 140 x 135
Materials
ABS, PLA
Min. layer height
150 microns
Open source
No

Pros

  • Ease of use
  • Reliability
  • Print quality

Cons

  • Value
  • Customer support
  • Small build platform
Weights for the Kit/DIY category

Not for the faint hearted, those interested in tinkering and getting their hands dirty will find the most satisfaction from a DIY or Kit Printer. Born out of fablabs, maker spaces and garages around the world, the open source community forms the backbone of these Printers. While difficult to assemble there is no loss on print quality, but much to be gained from adding upgrades or making modifications. This is a long term investment, expect the ups and downs of a committed relationship as you become accustomed to each others quirks.

* 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

9.0

This printer originally started as a campaign on Indiegogo, raising an impressive 777% of its initial target of $10,000. Since then this type of delta printer has increased in popularity and it’s without a doubt the coolest looking machine 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 others. This style offers a far higher printing speed and positioning accuracy than other machines, resulting in smoother curves. These strengths are reflected in our reviews, The Rostock MAX achieved an impressive 9.1 rating for print quality and a 93% customer satisfaction. including recommendations like the following. “By far the best printer I have ever had. If I ever need another printer, this would be my choice. I have had people state the quality they see on my printer rivals that of professional printers. A must buy for anyone.”

Due to the more intricate nature of the design this machine may require more time to set up and calibrate. Proportionally to the build volume the Rostock MAX is larger than most Cartesian type printers, which should be taken into consideration if space is tight.

Starting at $999, this makes for a great kit for both intermediate and experienced users who are looking for a precise machine with a large printing volume (270mm ø x 375mm). Just like any other Reprap projects there is an active community behind each project willing to help solve your printing troubles.

RepRap Rostock MAX
Starting at
$ 999
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

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

Pros

  • Print speed
  • Community
  • Heated platform

Cons

  • Noise level
  • Lack of dual extruder support
  • Calibration
RepRap

Mendel90

8.9

The Mendel90 is an improved version of the Mendel Prusa, which is arguably the first consumer 3D printer. This kit is great for people wanting to learn more about the technology behind 3D printing and don’t mind assembly. The Mendel90 is a RepRap project, so there’s a large online community to help get you started on tinkering and modding your machine.

The Mendel90 has a great deal to offer for its price, including a heated bed. This opens up plenty of possibilities to experiment with various materials which are prone to warping, such as ABS. It is also a big step up from the Mendel Prusa, greatly improving print quality. Our community has very good things to say about the Mendel90, such as: “ Very reliable machine and it has a very clean design with a sturdy frame and flat cables. These are 2 big advantages over the prusa or other reprap printers. Print quality is excellent.“. 91% of current owners of the Mendel90 would recommend it.

Unfortunately, like any other kit assembly some familiarity with the technology is recommended. Basic electronic skills, such as soldering, are needed for setup. Two different types of 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.

The basic Mendel90 kit is surprisingly feature rich for its $785 price point. The affordability and huge community behind it make it a great hobbyist printer. With a high degree of upgradeability, this machine can evolve along with your needs, making it a great machine to get started in 3D printing.

Mendel90
Starting at
$ 785
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

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

Pros

  • Heated platform
  • Design
  • Build quality

Cons

  • Noise level
  • Ease of use
  • Software
RepRap

Kossel

8.8

This machine originates from a RepRap project and was named after Albrecht Kossel, a German biochemist and pioneer in the study of genetics. It uses a Delta robot style which is more commonly used in packaging factories due to its high speed and accuracy.

This kit offers excellent value for your money, obtaining the third best for its price out of all the printers reviewed. This is partially due to the included auto-bed leveling feature which is still rare nowadays and should save you plenty of time when calibrating. Additionally, the whole project is open source with an active community behind it so you can be sure to stay at the cutting edge of FDM printing technology if you want to. “There is a very active community to provide support and there is a lot (I mean a LOT) of information, ideas and complete designs for upgrades, extensions and modifications.”

The biggest downside is that the heated bed is not included in the kit and combining this with the “openness” of the machine could cause some restrictions on the types of materials used. Secondly, the build plate measures a small 170mm in diameter with a height of 240mm so if you’re wanting to print big there might be a better machine out there for you.

Overall this is an excellent 3D printer. The fully automated bed level feature will save you lots of time, and though you may find the learning process to be a little steep to start with, you should soon see yourself mastering the art of FDM printing. 90% of Kossel owners would recommend this printer.

RepRap Kossel
Starting at
$ 399
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

Build area (Cylindrical)
Ø 170mm, h 240mm
Materials
ABS (optional), PLA
Min. layer height
30 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Print speed
  • Print quality
  • Design

Cons

  • Noise level
  • No heated platform
  • Small build volume
Ultimaker

Ultimaker Original+

8.8

Originally released in 2011, the original Ultimaker is one of the oldest players in desktop 3D printing. The new Original+ version is equipped with a glass heated bed and only sold as a kit. Many of our Hub’s have been using their Ultimaker since its release and are fully satisfied 3 years later. While its age is beginning to show, its still a great option if you’re looking for a solid all-around 3D Printer.

The Ultimaker Original+ can compete across the board with most of the newer printers. The max build volume is 210 x 210 x 205 mm, the resolution can go up to 20 micron and its biggest strength is its upgradeability through modding. The original Ultimaker is not a plug and play printer as assembly is required. While Kits aren’t for everyone, they lower the cost and building a printer part by part is a great learning experience. You’ll also have one of the largest and most active 3D printing communities to rely on if you get stuck. Community is widely regarded as one of Ultimaker’s key features.

One common complaint of current owners of the Original+ is that it runs noisy. The reliability of the Ultimaker is 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 turn key solution without trouble.

If you’re willing to dive deeper into some of the technical details, the Ultimaker Original+ is a good choice. This machine is great for intermediates looking to experiment, tinker and step up from the standard plug and play. 92% recommendation rate from more than a 100 current owners is a guarantee that you can’t go wrong.

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

Specifications

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

Pros

  • Software
  • Community
  • Build quality

Cons

  • Running costs
  • Reliability
  • Noise level
Weights for the Budget category

Want to get into 3D Printing without breaking the bank? You’ve come to the right place. Value for money is the name of the game and you’d be surprised by how feature rich these budget Printers are. Whether you’re a student, just getting started or don’t want to build from scratch, Printers in this category are for you.

* Rating weights: For these printers we only included those assembled by the manufacturers and sold for less than $1000. We put a high degree of emphasis on value for your money.

Printrbot

Printrbot Simple Metal

8.6

Printbot is one of the earliest pioneers of desktop 3D printing. Still one of the most successful 3D printer campaigns on Kickstarter, in 2011 the company was the first to bring the promise of affordable 3D printing to reality.

The new Simple Metal is the upgraded version of the entry level Printrbot Simple and comes with a powder-coated steel frame and an aluminium extruder. It features an auto-leveling probe that largely simplifies Z-axis calibration. The maximum build volume is a respectable 150mm x 150mm x 150mm. The standard version prints only with PLA, but the Simple Metal is upgradeable with a Mic 6 Aluminum, which works well for ABS too.

Our Hubs highlighted the great print quality and the new metal design. In terms of build quality, the Simple Metal leapfrogged its predecessor and finished in the top 10. One described it as a “no frills, working class bot. It’s tough and the print quality is phenomenal for the money”. The Simple Metal is open source and it’s one of the most tweakable and upgradeable 3D printers on the market. Users can choose from wide array of add-ons and open source softwares. Printrbot is also famous for its strong community. Whether it is technical support or advanced modifications, you can easily find answers on the company’s forum and guides.

On the downside, the Metal Simple is not the easiest printer to use. Initial setup and calibration takes a few hours and while documentation is thorough, some experience is beneficial. It’s not the most reliable printer either as several users experienced minor issues, including nozzle jams and feeder issues.

Endorsed by 92% of the current users, the Printrbot Simple Metal is a great first printer for all skill levels. For newcomers and students it's a great platform to start learning the different aspects of 3D printing. It’s upgradability makes it a perfect choice for tinkerers and makers as well. For a mere $599, the Simple Metal offers a great pack of features and our community chose it the top 3D printer in terms of value.

Printrbot Simple Metal
Starting at
$ 599
Recommended for
Everyone

Specifications

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

Pros

  • Build quality
  • Community
  • Print quality
  • Value

Cons

  • Print speed
  • Small print volume
Sharebot

Sharebot KIWI

8.6

Unknown to most outside Italy, Sharebot has delivered one of the finest 3D printers for those on a budget. Those outside the EU will soon have access though, as Arduino announced it will start selling a rebranded version of the Sharebot KIWI globally, branded as the Arduino Materia 101 printer.

The Sharebot KIWI is a compact FDM printer with powerful features. The printer itself only measures 310 x 330 x 350 mm, with the printing area measuring in at 140 x 100 x 100. Setup is straightforward and comes with config files for the popular open-source Slic3r engine. The default software Slic3r opens up the possibility of more advanced printer settings as well.

With a standout 9.3 rating in print quality, no other printer in the budget category comes close to matching the KIWI. Besides churning out high quality prints, the KIWI is also applauded for its above average reliability, great build quality and low failure rate. Our users reported that on average 92% of the their prints succeeded.

Although the KIWI's reliability and print quality are high, having such a small build volume is a major limitation. The absence of a heated bed further restricts what’s capable of being made.

Great quality and reliability make the the KIWI a solid choice for students, beginners and people that are new to 3D printing. 92% of the current owners would recommend it. It's a excellent machine that will teach you how 3D printers work and its $860 price tag won't hurt your wallet too much.

Sharebot KIWI
Starting at
$ 860
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates

Specifications

Build area (mm)
140 x 100 x 100
Materials
PLA
Min. layer height
100 microns
Open source
Hardware & software

Pros

  • Print quality
  • Running costs
  • Build quality

Cons

  • No heated platform
  • Print speed
  • Small build volume
FF3DP

FlashForge Creator

8.4

Many of our Hubs first foray into 3D printing started with a purchase of a Flashforge Creator. The printer is a modified version of the Makerbot’s original open source Replicator, repackaged in a laser cut wood frame. Build volume is 225 x 145 x 150 mm and the Creator comes with a heated build plate, dual extruder and on board controls.

Once calibrated, the Creator is capable of high quality prints on par with more expensive enthusiast printers. Print failures are quite rare, a mere 11%. Built quality is great, many have commented that their Creator is still going strong even after years of printing. Current owners praise its compatibility with open source softwares that are already on the market, known for their ease of use. Community is described as “very vibrant”. If any issues come up, one can expect a prompt answer, while detailed instructions give a guidance to anyone who wants to upgrade and mod their printer.

The Creator is not one of the shiny, easy to use printers, some say it’s a bit out “out of date” by now. It requires regular fine tuning and maintenance to keep up the print quality. There are newer designs on the market as well, if one is looking for more precision or speed.

If you’re comfortable with some lite tinkering, the Flashforge Creator is a great machine to start with. The $977 price tag along with the proven design and a full set of built in features propelled it in the top 3 in terms of value. A great choice for students and newcomers to experiment and get to know the art of FDM 3D printing. Just don’t plan on keeping it in your bedroom, it’s quite a noisy friend.

FlashForge Creator
Starting at
$ 977
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

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

Pros

  • Heated platform
  • Dual extruder
  • Material availability
  • Value

Cons

  • Calibration
  • Precision
  • Connectivity
PP3DP

UP mini

8.3

The UP Mini is a simple and straightforward entry level 3D printer that won’t break the bank. Made by PP3DP in China, this compact printer boasts a relatively small build volume of 120mm x 120mm x 120mm and has a few key features that make it stand out. Most important to note is its closed enclosure and the perforated heated build plate which provides both ABS and PLA compatibility.

Best described by one of our Hubs as a “great value for money, easy to use, personal home 3D printer,” the UP Mini is a (miniature) workhorse. Build quality is in the top tier, many users have been using it for more than a year without any issues and little maitenance is required. Print failures are rare, current owners reported a 89% print success, putting the Mini in the top 10 of this category. The heated build plate handles both ABS and PLA well and our users reported limited warping for bigger designs.

On the downside, build volume is limited due to the UP Mini’s compact size. Just like its “big brother” the UP Plus 2, the Mini is not open source and the software comes with no temperature control, making it hard to achieve good results with cheaper, non-OEM filaments. Small mods do exist, but they’re limited by the closed source nature of the printer. Additionally, customer support and community are not the UP’s main strengths.

One current user said it best, “The UP Mini is an excellent first 3D printer for anyone looking to get started; it produces good quality prints with minimal setup and tinkering.” Its ease of use and functionality makes it one of a kind machine in the less than $1,000 price range. This is a great choice if you want a personal fabricator at home.

UP mini
Starting at
$ 599
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates

Specifications

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

Pros

  • Print quality
  • Ease of use
  • Software

Cons

  • Small build volume
  • Noise level
  • Material availability
Weights for the Resin category

Similarly to James Bond, resin based Printers have a different way of working. These technologies use an optical power source to cure liquid resin into a solid object. While more expensive and extra handling care needs to be taken, the print quality and precision are unmatched. These type of Printers are ideal for professionals, for uses ranging from casting jewelry to device prototyping.

* Rating weights: For the Resin based printers we used the overall rating but put more emphasis on the Ease of Use and Machine Reliability. Since operators of Resin based printers are working with hazardous materials, ease of use and reliability are highly important factors.

Formlabs

Form 1+

8.4

After the Form 1’s successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2012, which raised almost 3 million dollars, Formlabs is back with their next generation 3D printer: the Form 1+. Equipped with a faster and more powerful laser, the printer uses stereolithography to produce highly detailed 3D prints out of liquid resin.

The feedback from our community is very positive overall. The Form1+ is just as beautifully designed as its predecessor and it produces high precision professional prints. The new version has improved immensely in terms of reliability. PreForm, Formlabs’ proprietary software is excellent and the firmware of the printer itself is easily brought up to date. Customer service is among the best for printer manufacturers and the Form 1+ has attracted a devoted and active community. We received reviews that described the Form 1+ as “An excellent desktop 3D Printer that provides professional quality output and is easy to use, looks good and never fails to amaze with the final result” and “This machine is the closest thing to the future that we've come across.”

The Form 1+ is not without it’s drawbacks. Post processing of the prints requires more work than a plain FDM print. The resin can get quite messy if not handled correctly and proper maintenance of this machine is required to keep it up and running. We’ve received mixed comments concerning the reliability and consistency of printing jobs - some users experience regular print failures. As the price of a liter of liquid resin starts at $149, printing can get quite costly. These issues and its higher price point make the Form 1+ a poor fit for beginners looking to get started with 3D printing.

The Form 1+ is a very powerful machine and is on the wishlist of many 3D printing enthusiasts. Our users would recommend it to professionals, designers and architects for uses ranging from industrial prototyping to detailed anatomy sculptures. The pricetag is rather hefty at $3299, but it’s still a bargain compared to some industrial printers that it can easily substitute.

Formlabs Form 1+
Starting at
$ 3,499
Recommended for
Intermediates, Pros

Specifications

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

Pros

  • Ease of use
  • Print quality
  • Design
  • Software
  • Precision

Cons

  • Running costs
  • Reliability
  • Material availability
  • Print speed
B9Creations

B9Creator

8.1

Just as the Form 1, the B9 Creator also started on Kickstarter, amassing almost $800,000 in two successful crowdfunding campaigns. This 3D printer uses a video projector to project slices as images on a vat of UV curable resin to create it’s model, a process known as digital light processing (DLP).

The B9Creator is now on version 1.2 and new updates have eliminated a lot of the problems that were found in the previous versions of the B9, such as inconsistent quality and the lack of documentation. The new version comes with an HD projector for even higher resolution prints. One of our hubs described their B9Creator as “comparable to my 80k professional DLP printer”. Build quality and the software are also among the strengths of the B9.

Our community did give the B9Creator the lowest score on ‘Ease to Use’ because the of its steep learning curve, beta software and the tedious initial calibration. However, these hurdles can be overcome with the help of a great community backing the newcomers with assembling and configuring this printer. This is reflected in the fact that the B9Creator shares first place for ‘Best Community’ with the Rostock MAX.

With a price tag of $3490, this printer is aimed at professional users. The B9 can be a valuable asset to jewelry makers and digital sculptors alike and more than 91% of current owners would recommend it. Something that potential buyers should keep in mind is that there are currently only two colors of material available on the B9Creator website, namely Red and Cherry. Cherry is tuned to make prints with 5 micron 'high' slices, so make sure you like red before purchasing this champion of detailed prints.

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

Specifications

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

Pros

  • Print quality
  • Community

Cons

  • Ease of use
  • Print speed
  • Running costs