3D Printer Guide 2018

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This guide is based on

10,154 reviews

1,126 hours of writing

6,353 years of experience

1,482,614 3D prints made on reviewed printers

With thousands of different 3D printer models available on the market today and that number growing every day, “Which 3D Printer should I buy?” is one of the most common questions we are asked at 3D Hubs.

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

With total reviews from over 10,154 verified 3D printer owners having a collective 6,353 years of 3D printing experience, coupled with 1.48 million prints completed on 668 different 3D printer models, the result of our research is the 2018 3D Printer Guide – the most comprehensive 3D printer guide available.

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

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

In this guide, we’ve made it easy for you to find 3D printers for five of the most common categories of 3D printing. These categories include Prosumer, Workhorse, Plug ‘n’ Play, Budget, and SLS (selective laser sintering) 3D printers. In total, 14 models made it on our Top 3D Printers list for 2018, and each of these printers has an average of 50 in-depth reviews from experienced 3D printer owners that contributed to their standing on this list.

Looking to be inspired with real life case studies then check out the 3D Hubs Blog. Want quality articles for engineers and designers, read more on our Knowledge Base.

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Last but not least, we’d like to extend a huge thank you to our international 3D Hubs community. Without you, the 2018 3D Printer Guide wouldn't be possible.

Printers in our Prosumer category are for professionals looking for a 3D printer with exceptional build quality that can produce high quality parts, reliably. These are highly advanced desktop machines with a variety of applications. Printers in this category are best suited for professional designers and small businesses.

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

Rating weights for the Prosumer category
Ultimaker

Ultimaker 3 Extended

9.2

Once again Ultimaker finds itself at the top of our prosumer category with the Ultimaker 3 Extended, coming joint first with an overall rating of 9.2. Released in October 2016, the Ultimaker 3 Extended (UM3 Extended) gives users an extra 10cm build height over the Ultimaker 3 but offers the same functionality.

The UM3 Extended uses swappable “print cores” optimised for build or soluble support materials. This frees up the ability to print geometries that are not possible to print on single extrusion printers that use build material for support. The UM3 Extended also boasts a unique lift switch which raises the second nozzle when not in use so that it does not interfere with the print. Combine this with the auto-bed leveling, the UM3 Extended is a very reliable printer capable of running print after print with little to no maintenance. When maintenance is required, the Ultimaker guides and customer support, not to mention the huge Ultimaker community gets users printing again as soon as possible.

Using Ultimakers’ free Cura software users can slice models using optimised material profiles and send them to print wirelessly over wifi. After which users can watch their print live from the cura software using the UM3 Extended in-built camera.

As always with the Ultimaker printers, the UM3 Extended package comes in at a high cost of $4,295. Despite this, as with the Ultimaker 2+, 100% of Ultimaker 3 Extended reviewers said that they would recommend their 3D printer to somebody else – beginners through to experts.

In conclusion, Ultimaker has completely overhauled the printer since the Ultimaker 2+ with the UM3 offering auto-bed leveling, dual extrusion with soluble support, Wifi connectivity and more. As one user puts it “If you desire to design, click & print with ease, the Ultimaker 3 is for you.”

Ultimaker 3 Extended
Starting at
$4,295.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Experts
Build area (mm)
215 × 215 × 300
Materials
ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
Min. layer height
20
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Dual extruder
  • Precision
  • Reliability
  • Ease of use
Cons
  • Price
  • Speed
Raise3D

Raise3D N2

9.2

The first machine to be featured in the Best 3D Printer Guide for Raise3D, with the N2 making its mark in the Prosumer category. Rated at 9.2 by its users with a 100% of them recommending the machine to others.

Raise3D based out of Costa Mesa, California specializes in creating machines for professional users. All machines come with a fully enclosed design for improved safety when printing in materials such as ABS in an office environment. The N2 like other Raise3D machines comes with excellent build quality, a feature repeatedly highlighted by its users. The frame is made of aluminum with the enclosure comprised of ABS, Acrylic, and Polycarbonate.

Thanks to the enclosure and all metal hot-end you can create parts in PLA, ABS, PC, PET-G, Ninjaflex, T-glass, Alloy910 and much more. The all-metal hot-end and overall build quality has also meant that all users have heralded the N2’s precision and print quality. One veteran 3D printing business owner explains “The Raise3D N2 is an excellent printer, great quality, great precision and reliability. I have had it over a year it has been printing almost non stop and has required no maintenance”. If your print does fail or you have an unfortunate power outage you can utilize the machines print resume feature which will continue the print for you from where it left off.

Recommended by its users for Intermediates and experts, the N2 starts at just over $2,800 with a sizeable build volume of 305×305×305 mm. This large build volume means you can create big prototypes or multiple parts in one print. Build Volume was mentioned as a benefit of owning this machine by 84% of users.

As with most machines, users have some minor frustration points. The two predominant areas of concern addressed where the size of the machine and software. The first being somewhat of a given when you think that the build volume itself is considered to be a major advantage The latter of was highlighted by one of its users “it’s a great machine that meets every criterion of grading, though the touchscreen control panel can be erratic in operation.”

Overall the Raise3D N2 is a robust prosumer 3D printer that provides its users with excellent print quality and a high-quality build finish. It works straight out of the box and is a good choice for those looking to create engineering-grade prototypes or parts on a desktop machine.

Raise3D N2
Starting at
$2,799.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Experts
Build area (mm)
305 × 305 × 305
Materials
ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
Min. layer height
10
Open source
No
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Build volume
  • Build quality
  • Precision
Cons
  • Printer size
  • Price
  • Software
Formlabs

Form 2

8.8

For the second year in a row, Formlabs’ Form 2 wins a spot in our Prosumer category as one of the most popular resin-based desktop 3D printers, and for good reason. With its iconic orange enclosure and metal base design, featuring a 40% larger build volume than the Form 1+, at 145×145×175mm this machine remains the solution for users that require highly accurate 3D prints.

What made the Form 2 stand out is the fact that it uses a sliding peel mechanism to gently remove the object from the print bed in preparation for the next print layer, while a self-heating resin tank warms the resin to a consistent temperature. This ensures a reliable print process that maintains quality without sacrificing speed. The Form 2 also comes equipped with an automatic resin system that ensures that the amount of resin within the tank is always stable.

Feedback from our reviewers was extremely positive overall. The Form 2 scores really high on print quality, build quality, and precision. One Form 2 owner describing his experience “The Form 2 is my go-to machine. There are many variables to producing a perfect part, but once you become acclimated to this machine it's amazing. The cost of the machine and materials are not favorable, but at the end of the day, what kind of part do you want?  I personally prefer parts that look great and of a high quality. This machine serves that purpose well and my customers would agree!”

His feedback was shared amongst fellow reviewers. SLA produced prints do require a little more effort in terms of post-processing, but the pay off in quality they deem it completely worth it. The Form 2’s running costs can slowly add up as their standard liquid resin used for printing is priced at $149 per liter and the resin tank itself needs replacing about every 2 liters of printed resin.

Since last year’s review, Formlabs has been regularly releasing updates to their PreForm slicing software and the prints support material has become significantly easier to remove in comparison to earlier versions.

To conclude, the Form 2 with a price tag of $3,499 continues to be a reliable desktop SLA machine that is serious competition for its high-end industrial counterparts starting at $100,000.

Form 2
Starting at
$3,379.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Experts
Build area (mm)
145 × 145 × 175
Materials
Resin
Min. layer height
25
Open source
No
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Precision
  • Ease of use
  • Software
Cons
  • Build volume
  • Running costs
  • Price
Markforged

Mark Two

8.8

Markforged Mark Two is a unique desktop 3D printer that can fabricate plastic parts that are reinforced while printing with continuous composite fibers and have strength-to-weight ratio comparable to metal. It was universally recommended by all the users in our community and is ideal for creating functional engineering parts and prototypes at short lead times.

The Mark Two is equipped with a removable build plate with a build area of 320×132×154mm. It is designed for high precision and it achieved the highest score in the “build quality” category among all reviewed printers. The Mark Two can print parts from standard Nylon or Onyx, which is a high-quality, carbon-filled Nylon filament by Markforged. It comes with an easy-to-use, cloud-based software that can be accessed from a browser and that you can try for free on the Markforged website.

The unique feature of the Mark Two is its ability to reinforce the parts as they are printed with continuous carbon fibers, fiberglass or kevlar. These 3D printed composite parts are about 25x stronger and stiffer than standard ABS printed parts and have a strength-to-weight ratio better than aluminum 6061.

According to a reviewer, the Mark Two is “the best (or even only) affordable 3D printer on the market, delivering functional and strong carbon-reinforced parts in a desktop design, with a very user-friendly cloud-based software”. Another reviewer added that Mark Two “is the most reliable, high-quality FFF printer that [he has] encountered in the past 5 years.”

Mark Two is a high-end desktop printer mainly used for functional engineering parts. This 3D printer is priced at $13,499 and has the highest running cost amongst all desktop FFF printers, due to the high price of the filaments. It is also not open-source and has a small community (but good customer support). The parts produced with Mark Two may not have an as good visual appearance as other printers in this category, but, as a user wrote, “with some experience the surfaces become shiny and nice.”

In a nutshell, the Mark Two is a high-end prosumer desktop 3D printer that produces functional parts with excellent mechanical properties, suitable for engineering applications. It is most suited for intermediate to experienced users with an engineering background. The ability to create 3D printed composite parts makes it unique. As a reviewer noted: “the fiber makes it great!”

Mark Two
Starting at
$13,499.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Experts
Build area (mm)
320 × 132 × 154
Materials
Carbon-Fiber Reinforced Nylon, Kevlar-Fiber Reinforced Nylon, Fiberglass-Reinforced Nylon, Onyx
Min. layer height
100
Open source
No
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Reliability
  • Design
Cons
  • Running costs
  • Price

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

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

Rating weights for the Workhorse category
Prusa Research

Original Prusa i3 MK2S

9.3

The highest rated printer overall, making its debut in the Workhorse category this year with a 9.3. The Original Prusa i3 MK2S showed it’s quality rising to the top of the recent 3D Hubs Q4 Trend Report as the Highest Rated Desktop Printer overtaking its predecessor the MK2.

Prusa Research headquartered in Prague continue to build upon their Original Prusa i3 design that is completely open-source. The MK2S adds a bunch of useful features on top of the original design to keep the machine endlessly running. One user explained it’s workhorse attributes in a sentence “it’s a very reliable machine, I've used and abused it for almost a year and it still prints as good as the day I assembled it”.

Similar to the previous MK2, the MK2S has a build volume of 250×210mm×200mm, coming in slightly above average in size than most desktop printers. One of the most impressive features of this printer continues to be the MK42 heated bed, which has a lot more features than just heating up. It’s a thick, custom PCB (printed circuit board) heater with a thin PEI foil on top. This means it heats up and cools down quickly, has fantastic bed adhesion and also ends up as a very light y-axis setup. The bed also features calibration points that can compensate for a skewed axis. Combined with an improved inductive probe for automatic bed leveling, it makes calibration a breeze.

Last year users complainers about the noise level of the machine and highlighted it as one of the two main issues when the printer is in use. The MK2S introduced new hardware to combat this in the form of better bearings and rods. The bearings and rods are matched together so that when in use they run more smoothly and more quietly.

Overall praise by our community has come in thick and fast, with users rating it highly almost unanimously for print quality, build volume, reliability, its open source architecture and of course, its price. Starting at $724.79 in kit form, one reviewer proclaimed it “Splendid value for money”, with another saying, “This is by far the best printer I have had. It calibrates itself right after you assemble the printer and does everything for you. Really nice piece of technology!”

The Original Prusa i3 MK2 made a big impression, the MK2S an even bigger impression and with the MK3 now out it’ll be great to see how the community receives it. The MK2S is a true workhorse, with proof shown in the 200+ Prusa Research printers being used to create its printer parts at their HQ.

Original Prusa i3 MK2S
Starting at
$724.79
Recommended for
Everyone
Build area (mm)
250 × 210 × 200
Materials
ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
Min. layer height
50
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Reliability
  • Ease of use
  • Open source
  • Price
Cons
  • Noise level
  • No dual extruder
Makergear

Makergear M2

9.1

The Makergear M2 is a precise and reliable 3D printer that our community has ranked as one of the best in the Workhorse category for the second year running and has featured in our 3D Printer Guide for 4 years in a row giving testament to its Workhorse title. The M2, originally released in 2012, is now in its 5th generation of builds by Ohio based Makergear.

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

Reviewers have praised the M2’s reliability, particularly with homing the axes, with one reviewer saying “The Makergear M2 has remained largely unchanged for several years for a very good reason. Once you get the bed leveled, it stays level which is critical to printing. I've run the printer for several days nonstop and it continued to print as if it were brand new.”

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

Coming in at $1,825.00, the M2 is not a budget machine, with this being said, you pay for what you get and the M2 certainly delivers on reliability and quality.

Makergear M2
Available from these sellers
Starting at
$1,825.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Experts
Build area (mm)
254 × 203 × 203
Materials
ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
Min. layer height
25
Open source
Only software
Pros
  • Build quality
  • Precision
  • Speed
  • Reliability
Cons
  • Noise level
  • Price
Aleph Objects

LulzBot TAZ 6

9

Back for more! The Lulzbot TAZ 6 is once again one of our winners in the Workhorse category! This machine created by manufacturer Aleph Objects has been available since May of last year and has made a lasting impression.

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

Our reviewers were especially pleased with the automatic bed leveling functionality allowing the LulzBot to achieve its stellar print quality right out of the box.

To quote one of our reviewers: “I have owned my Lulzbot TAZ 6 for over a year, printing through over 50 rolls of filament and it still prints amazing. The price is higher than some but you do get a well-built machine with great customer service a huge print volume and a lot of options. If you have the funds, this printer should be on your list.”

Priced at $2,500, the price tag was listed as the main side note for this printer seeing as it’s definitely not the cheapest in its class.

To conclude, the TAZ 6 is a reliable machine recommended for intermediates and professionals looking to increase their technical knowledge and tinkering capabilities. Buying this machine gets you a robust printer with upgradeability, large build volume, and consistency built into the foundation.

LulzBot TAZ 6
Starting at
$2,500.00
Recommended for
Intermediates
Build area (mm)
280 × 280 × 250
Materials
ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
Min. layer height
50
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Build volume
  • Reliability
  • Community
  • Customer support
  • Open source
Cons
  • Noise level
  • Price

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

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

Rating weights for the Budget category
SeeMeCNC

Rostock MAX

8.7

Rostock Max has increased in popularity since its Indiegogo campaign in 2012, climbing to the top of the budget category in this year’s 3D Printer Guide. The 3rd iteration of this delta style 3D printer kit was released last summer and it is a delight to watch in action due to its design.

Rostock MAX’s distinguishing feature is the delta style robot system instead of the traditional cartesian style employed by most other desktop 3D printers. This design offers increased printing speed and positioning accuracy over other machines and results in smoother curves on finished prints.

Another benefit of the delta design is that it allows for a very large print volume. Rostock MAX boasts an impressive 265mm in diameter print area and can produce parts up to 400mm tall. The recommended layer height is between 0.1–0.4 mm and can achieve print speeds of up to 100mm/s.

Rostock MAX has a large community and the best customer service in the budget category. A lot of upgrade kits are available, including multi-material extrusion and support for alternative hotends, allowing the users to modify the printer to their liking.

Several users reported that they have printed for thousands of hours with their Rostock MAX and encountered no issues, highlighting the build quality and reliability of this machine. A reviewer wrote: “I can say with the utmost confidence that the Rostock MAX is the best $999 I have ever spent on a piece of tech, and have never had a doubt in my mind otherwise.” Another member of our community said: “Rostock MAX is the best printer I know, and I own 11 printers.”

The drawbacks of the delta printer design is the calibration time. A lot of users that bought the printer as a kit, reported that calibration can be cumbersome, but also noted that this process was an excellent learning experience and helped them understand their printer better. Pre-built and calibrated printers are also available for a premium price, reducing the setup time to less than an hour.

Overall, the Rostock MAX makes a great budget printer for intermediate users. It offers great value for its price and is recommended to anyone who wants to learn the ins and outs of 3D printing.

Rostock MAX
Starting at
$999.00
Recommended for
Intermediates, Experts
Build area (mm)
Ø 280mm, h 375mm
Materials
ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
Min. layer height
20
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Build volume
  • Community
  • Price
Cons
  • Printer size
  • Ease of use
  • Noise level
HICTOP

Creality CR-10

8.6

Released in 2016 the Creality CR-10 took the 3d printing community by storm, providing quality prints at a low cost, making it an ideal entry level machine.

Whilst the CR-10 is sold as a kit there is minimal assembly required (~30min) as most parts come pre-assembled. This is a considerably shorter assembly time than most other kit printers which can take upward of 3 hours to assemble. With a full metal frame, large build volume (300×300×400mm) and heated build-plate, the CR-10 provides printing capabilities of higher-end machines at a fraction of the cost.

Given the printer’s popularity, a strong community has built up around the printer where many users have shared their experience in setting up, troubleshooting and upgrading the printer. This community has now become a selling point for the printer, with many beginners being able to access multiple resources on operating the printer. The CR-10 itself is made from standard components making replacing and upgrading parts much simpler.

There was a very common theme throughout the user reviews, giving the CR-10 praise for its capabilities, price and community with one reviewer stating “The 3D printing market has been evolving a lot but it is rare to find a 3D printer with such capabilities, active community and an excellent price range.”

Whilst Creality are the designers of the CR-10, the printer can only be purchased through 3rd party suppliers and some users have had issues with shipping and backorders. This also means that users will get very little in the way of customer support from Creality in comparison to printers that can be purchased directly from the manufacturer.

Due to the open design of the CR-10, it does not run silently, creating a fair amount of noise whilst printing. In conclusion the CR-10 is a great entry level machine due to it’s low cost, minimal setup and strong community.

Creality CR-10
Starting at
$487.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates
Build area (mm)
300 × 300 × 400
Materials
ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
Min. layer height
50
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Build volume
  • Community
  • Price
  • Material availability
Cons
  • Speed
  • Noise level
  • Customer support
Monoprice

Monoprice MP Select Mini

8.6

Released in 2017, the Monoprice MP Select Mini is the cheapest of our budget line-up, starting at $219.99 yet does not compromise on features.

The Select Mini comes full assembled and is calibrated by the factory before shipping, this is very unlikely for printers in this price range, most other printers come as kits that can take upward of 3 hours to assemble. The printer also has the ability to print wirelessly via wifi which is another feature normally found in much higher end printers.

The Monoprice printers are very popular machines and the Select Mini is no exception, with all these features built in, a large community of users have developed that provide excellent resources on troubleshooting, operating and upgrading the printer. This combined with the monoprice customer service means that the Select mini makes a great entry level printer.

As with any printer, there are downsides to the Select Mini. First of all, as the name suggest, the printer is not big and has a small build volume (120×120×120mm), this limits the size of the parts that can be printed. Another issue is the print speed, the Select Mini prints at 55mm/s which is below average for an FDM printer, however as one user states “May not be blazing fast but gets the work done. The kind of printer you can leave overnight doing that super long job and forget about it.”

In conclusion the Monoprice MP Select Mini is a great entry level machine having little to no assembly and a very low price point.

Monoprice MP Select Mini
Starting at
$220.00
Recommended for
Beginners
Build area (mm)
120 × 120 × 120
Materials
ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
Min. layer height
100
Open source
No
Pros
  • Ease of use
  • Running costs
  • Community
Cons
  • Build volume
  • Speed
  • Not open source

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

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

Rating weights for the Plug 'n' Play category
CraftUnique

CraftBot PLUS

9.2

Once again, the Hungarian company’s CraftUnique made it to the 3D Printer Guide! This year, the Craftbot PLUS has taken the gold in the Plug ‘n’ Play category once again due to its ease of use and excellent slicing software.

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

The CraftBot PLUS has been excellently put together and has gained a reputation for delivering prints consistently. The fact that the CraftBot PLUS comes with a heated platform also contributes to its reliability and gives this printer the ability to print in more exotic FDM materials such as the metal or wood filled PLA’s.

Preparing your models for printing is a breeze with CraftWare, their proprietary slicing software that comes with the machine. It does all the work for beginners and offers a comprehensive experience to the expert that wants to control every aspect of the printing process that can be compared to the control offered by Simplify3D. Once the model is sliced, the PLUS will start printing within minutes. The Plug 'n' Play experience is enhanced by the interface of the CraftBot PLUS, featuring a color touch screen that is responsive and easy to navigate.

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

When support was required, the team at CraftUnique is known to respond fast and professionally. Offering to send parts for free with video tutorials to assist in the repairs. To conclude, the CraftBot PLUS is a machine that is excellent value for its price tag, for that a Plug ‘n’ Play experience.

CraftBot PLUS
Starting at
$1,099.00
Recommended for
Everyone
Build area (mm)
250 × 200 × 200
Materials
ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
Min. layer height
100
Open source
No
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Build quality
  • Ease of use
  • Reliability
Cons
  • Speed
  • Noise level
  • No dual extruder
Aleph Objects

LulzBot Mini

9.1

This is already the third time The LulzBot Mini makes its appearance in the Plug ‘n’ Play category. Hailing from Loveland, Colorado, Aleph Objects has firmly secured its place in the market of 3D printers with their range of LulzBot 3D printers. The Mini is their entry level FDM printer, thanks to its price as well as the low barrier to entry. Packed with smart features such as an auto-leveling bed, a self-cleaning nozzle, and an all-metal hot-end, this 3D printer continues to be a great Plug ‘n’ Play machine.

One reviewer’s take on the Mini: “It’s one of the easier to use printers, and doesn’t need a whole lot of knowledge about 3D printing to get going and to maintain. It’s a great starter printer, but it’s also a great printer for someone who loves to print but doesn’t want to deal with needing to fix their printer on a regular basis. Very reliable and it produces good quality.”

Lulzbot has grown a large online community, thanks in part to their open source approach. If the community can’t solve your problem, then there is always LulzBot excellent customer support, having been rated best in its category for the third year in a row.

The LulzBot Mini, however, is not without shortcomings. It needs a constant connection to a computer, as one reviewer noted the “Lack of a control interface on the printer. All prints must run tethered”. The community seems to have found a workaround though by connecting the Mini to a Raspberry Pi that runs Octoprint. Alongside connectivity, the noise level of this printer is an issue raised by our community but deemed “fixable with some stepper motor damper.”

To conclude, the Lulzbot Mini is a great machine in its class, offering an easy way to get started with 3D printing. Every single Lulzbot Mini owner who participated in this review recommended their machine, which proves that Aleph Objects delivers on every part of their promise. The Mini might not be for demanding users or advanced designers, but beside them, our community thinks it is suitable for everyone.

LulzBot Mini
Starting at
$1,250.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates
Build area (mm)
152 × 152 × 158
Materials
ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
Min. layer height
50
Open source
Hardware & Software
Pros
  • Ease of use
  • Open source
  • Customer support
  • Community
Cons
  • Build volume
  • Noise level
FlashForge

FlashForge Finder

9

A small but affordable machine, the Flashforge Finder is an introductory 3D printer targeted at new users and educators. Starting at only $399 it would be easy to place the Finder in the budget category, but based on the category weightings and user ratings it finds itself in the Plug ‘n’ Play category.

The Flashforge Finder was repeatedly described by its users as the epitome of Plug ‘n’ Play, as one user describes “I opened the box, plugged it in, calibrated it, and 15 minutes later I was printing. I haven’t even had to recalibrate the bed for 15 prints. Amazing machine, easy to use and a slick design.” One key feature that makes the Finder easy to use is the fact it only needs calibrating the first time you use it according to the manufacturer. This is thanks to the built-in distance sensor combined with the easy-to-follow guide instruction on the LCD touchscreen. Of course for optimal results re-calibration is recommended. One user highlighted “The Finder's auto bed leveling makes this printer a dream to use.”

Flashforge sports an open-frame design made of sturdy ABS, it has all its electronics built in with nothing sticking out or protruding from the machine. Its compact frame makes it easy to transport and stand out amongst other machines. Having a compact frame does come with its downsides of course, with users citing the build volume of 140×140×140mm as something that is one of the drawbacks of owning the printer. Alongside this, the other main concern was the lack of materials the machine can print with, as it can only print with PLA due to no heated bed.

For the price, it’s hard to find a better Plug ‘n’ Play printer that can continually produce quality PLA prints. A perfect beginners machine that eases you into the world of 3D printing.

FlashForge Finder
Starting at
$399.00
Recommended for
Beginners, Intermediates
Build area (mm)
140 × 140 × 140
Materials
PLA
Min. layer height
100
Open source
No
Pros
  • Ease of use
  • Design
  • Software
  • Price
Cons
  • Build volume
  • Material availability
  • No heated platform
Zortrax

Zortrax M200

9

Being featured in the 3D Printer Guide for four years in a row, the people behind Polish manufacturer Zortrax pride themselves in producing one of our community’s top choices in 3D printers currently available. Zortrax launched the Kickstarter campaign for the M200 in 2013, promising ease of use matched with professional quality. Four years later the M200 still delivers on that promise.

Built with strong aluminum, the M200 is able to print straight out of the box with almost no time needed for calibration, justifying its place in the Plug ‘n’ Play category. Calibration is a breeze, thanks to an automated platform leveling system. Its perforated build platform and build area of 200× 200×185mm mitigates the material's tendency to warp, making ABS the optimal material of choice for printing.

Of all of the 3D printers surveyed, our Hubs continue to rate the Zortrax M200 one of the highest overall for print quality, reliability and value for money. It’s important to note that in April of this year Zortrax opened up their previously closed off ecosystem to allow for third party materials. This is a great example that the company listens and adheres to the wishes of its community. Issues that could still be addressed are the need for more connectivity options, improved customer support, and dual extrusion options.

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

Overall thanks to its ease of use, the Zortrax M200 is a real Plug ‘n’ Play machine that produces reliable and accurate prints without the need to dive deep into multiple control settings. With an almost perfect 97% recommendation level from current owners, the M200 is great for beginners and experts alike. It’s also affordable, coming fully assembled with a full range of accessories for just over $2,000.

Zortrax M200
Starting at
$2,100.00
Recommended for
Everyone
Build area (mm)
200 × 200 × 180
Materials
Z-ULTRAT, Z-HIPS, Z-GLASS, Z-PETG, Z-PCABS, Z-ABS, Z-ESD, Z-ASA Pro, Z-PLA Pro
Min. layer height
90
Open source
No
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Ease of use
  • Reliability
  • Precision
Cons
  • Speed
  • Material availability
  • Not open source

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

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

Rating weights for the SLS category
EOS

Formiga P 110

8.3

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) uses a laser to fuse layers of powdered material together into finished objects. While desktop versions have already appeared on the market and the technology is expected to move further into the mainstream, the Formiga P 110 wins the SLS category for the 2018 3D Printer Guide.

The Formiga P 110 is a compact-class, plastic industrial SLS 3D printer produced by German manufacturer EOS. EOS previously built SLA printers but moved to SLS technology in the early ‘90s. Since then, they have become one of the most popular manufacturers of SLS 3D printers in the world. The Formiga P 110 is marketed for businesses entering the professional printing market with competitive pricing of $250,000 compared to the other EOS SLS machines.

Featuring a total build size of 200×250×330mm, the P 110 allows for more cost-effective low volume printing whilst keeping the quality standards top notch using the well optimised Laser sintering process by EOS. The most common polyamide (PA) materials are also chosen for their recyclability. As a result the running costs are reduced even further while still producing high quality functional prototypes and components.

Owners of the machine have rated the printer highly for print quality, reliability and running costs which seems to be exactly what the machine promises to deliver. Conversely, the P 110 is a little difficult to use, and is costly to repair. It’s important to also note that PA materials are limited in color; if you’re interested in full color prototyping, this industrial machine will not be suitable for you. However, the P 110 is well suited for medium sized prototype builds and parts with highly complex geometries.

The EOS P 110 is rated highly in its class and has many applications for experts and professionals in the aerospace, automotive and industrial fields. With the access to the most common polyamide (PA) materials this industrial SLS printer is top of its class as the highest rated machine.

Formiga P 110
Starting at
$175,000.00
Recommended for
Experts
Build area (mm)
200 × 250 × 330
Materials
PA 2200, PrimePart® PLUS and more
Min. layer height
6
Open source
No
Pros
  • Print quality
  • Build volume
  • Build quality
  • Reliability
Cons
  • Printer size
  • Ease of use
  • Running costs
  • Price