The 15 Best 3D Printers of 2017

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Best 3D Printer for Beginners
Best Cheap 3D Printer
Best Expensive 3D Printer
Best 3D Printer for the Money
Best 3D Printer Kit
Best Budget 3D Printer
Best Small 3D Printer

We are living in the age of rapid development of technology and a shining example of that are 3D printers. Under computer control, successive layers of material are forged to create a three-dimensional object. All these processes used in the synthesis of an object are governed by a device called a 3D printer. That is the basic idea of 3d printing. The industry behind this concept has been improving at an astounding pace and it’s finally ready to be embraced by the masses.

Nowadays this industry is really starting to take off and these devices are becoming more and more affordable that even basic consumers with a hobby in this area can start 3D printing. It’s no longer a technology reserved for big corporations or factories. A community project called RepRap sparked an open-source revolution when it started promoting the idea of making freely available 3D printers for the benefit of everyone. After an increase in affordability, these products became viable to be used by all sorts of professionals such as engineers, designers, educators and even people with a passion for the amazing potential of this technology.

If you feel like 3D printing would be a tempting endeavor for you then you can easily find yourself in a tight spot because of the different options and prices. You have to do some serious research because although it’s true that 3D printers are now cheaper than ever, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to treat it like a big investment. Before you go hunting for great deals, the first step is deciding what exactly do you need it for, what kind of printing do you intend to make. 3D printers are designed with a certain user in mind and can sometimes address some very specific needs so you’ve got to sit back and think a bit about this aspect carefully before making a decision.

This list has been designed to include the best 3D printers when it comes to value for the money. There are lots of good choices out there but finding the best can be tough. I prefer to use as an essential factor when determining if a printer is worth buying, the best balance between what you spend and what you actually get. So if you’re looking to buy a 3D printer these days make sure to check these top printers in their respective categories.

Also, I wrote two articles about CNC routers, drivers, and stepper motors and the best laser cutters and engravers, so you might want to check those out too.

1. FlashForge 3d Printer Creator Pro

The next step after the original entry level FlashForge Creator, the Creator Pro is a very affordable 3D printer with multiple capabilities for manufacturing 3D objects. It’s intended for a more advanced user, like an intermediate level and it has some great overall features that make this printer one you shouldn’t miss if you’re in the market for one.

It’s built in a solid metal frame with an enclosed chassis. To help with stabilization and durability, it provides a z-axis guide rod and it features an upgraded platform leveling system. FlashForge learned from past mistakes on the previous models and so the new metal chassis is more silent, keeps vibrations to a minimum and to ensure the best precision of the print heads, it traps the heat in. This is a very nice improvement that adds much-needed stiffness considering the old wooden chassis and the alarming leaking of heat and noise. The printer also has a better build plate design to permit higher print speeds and to limit the number of errors and project failures. For more firmness, the manufacturer included small rubber feet to keep the printer stable and again, to reduce as much as possible the chances of project failures.

The all black design of the printer looks clean and professional, very smoothly finished. In the front of the device there is a clear and sleek acrylic panel that fills it, and inside there is a blue LED light which helps to get a better view of your project during printing. An observer can thus watch the process of turning raw ABS or PLA plastic into an object directly, making the process seem more cool and interesting. It’s a pretty neat little feature that adds to the experience of 3D printing. The FlashForge Creator Pro possesses a control interface on a shiny LCD panel to be able to see the state of the current operation. You can find it just below the acrylic panel together with a bunch of buttons for easy manipulation. We’ll talk about the software side for a bit but before that, let’s look at the actual manufacturing potential of this 3D printer.

With a reasonably generous size, the Creator Pro has enough space to build anything from prototypes to replacement components. The fabrication delivery mechanism is compatible with the two most popular thermoplastics used in the industry: ABS short for Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and PLA or Polylactic acid. The layering process is fairly precise, the materials can be loaded on spools and then directed through the dual-extruder at a decent 30-160 mm per second. The deposits of 100-300 Micron thick are achieved by a high-quality system of guides and rods and thanks to a flat aluminum plate. This plate along with the steel chassis and dual-spool feeds allows for a quick and efficient way to remove any excess heat which grants the device the ability to produce high-quality objects in a short amount of time.

The machine’s software is very versatile and compatible with all the popular operating systems including Linux so no issues there as most people should be covered. The operations are realized through the open source Replicator G or MakerWare software. Some of the input file types supported are STL and gcode. For connectivity, there is an SD card slot and also printing can be done over a wired USB cable.

With so much potential for creativity and such efficient print chamber operations, the FlashForge Creator Pro has all the features to make the list of best 3D printers. With a more than fair price given its reliability and the high-quality standards for its construction and ease of use, this is a solid winner in case you are looking for an efficient 3D printer with a strong value for money ratio.

Specifications list:

  • PRINTER TYPE: FDM
  • MATERIAL: ABS, PLA, Exotics
  • BUILD VOLUME: 22.5 x 14.5 x 15 cm
  • MIN LAYER HEIGHT: 100 microns
  • MAX LAYER HEIGHT: 500 microns
  • EXTRUDER HEAD: 2
  • XY PRECISION: 11 microns
  • PRINTING SPEED: 40-100 mm/s
  • OPEN SOURCE: Hardware & software
  • CAN YOU USE 3RD PARTY MATERIAL? Yes
  • HEATED PLATFORM: Yes
  • FILAMENT DIAMETER: 1.75
  • ON-PRINTER CONTROLS: Yes
  • CONNECTIVITY: USB SD card

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Best 3D Printer for Beginners

2. LulzBot Mini Desktop 3D Printer

The LulzBot Mini is a great machine for users who are just starting to get into 3D printers. It comes with the great ability of printing right out of the box. All you need to do is install the software and you’re pretty much good to go. No tedious, time-consuming tweaking required to be able to produce high-quality prints successfully. The price of the device is more than adequate considering all the amazing features of what I’d consider the easiest-to-use consumer-level 3D printer currently on the market.

First, let’s take a look at the design of this 3D printer. The LulzBot Mini has a black steel frame which is open without any door, sides or top. The construction is very sturdy and the overall design is simple and industrial. Both the extruder assembly and the print bed are placed on moving beds, a design which seems to work well for this model as even taller items can be printed without issues. You can find the red power switch on the front along with the USB port. There are no physical controls or an SD Card slot and the Mini has to be tethered to a PC constantly for it to be able to print – this could be a slight disadvantage for some people but it’s not really a dealbreaker.

The LulzBot Mini offers support for an impressive array of printing materials beyond the familiar ABS and PLA typically used in 3D printing. You can use a bunch of other options including the new, lightweight HIPS (high-impact polystyrene) filament which Aleph Objects, the company behind Lulzbot, actually recommends specifically for this printer. On its website, you can find downloadable software settings for more exotic filaments supported.

One of the most important characteristics is, of course, the print quality and reliability and in that regard, the Lulzbot Mini has some great features to prove its worth. It can hit a thickness of only 0.05 mm with the right settings. The printed objects come out looking very clean with smooth sides and a rich level of detail. Although the layers of the print can be very noticeable they are in fact less pronounced than other printers in this price range and it’s a fairly normal thing to happen with most 3D printers. The printing speed is top notch for an FDM type with top print speeds of around 275 mm/sec at 0.18 layer height. If you’re not the patient kind, the Mini will surely satisfy you.

Regarding the print area, this machine is well, as expected from the name, more oriented towards printing small things which can be nice if that’s what you’re looking for. While the smaller print area may discourage some, the Mini it’s still very much worth it for its other great qualities like the ease-of-use, the flawless print quality, and reliability. In fact, that’s a very strong point of the Mini, as it can pump out quality prints for long periods of time with no failures.

The Cura software the Lulzbot uses is clear and intuitive and makes for a consistent and simple printing process. Loading 3D models is pretty straightforward in its logical interface as well as editing or changing certain details although Cura is not a 3D modeling program. If you want to use the full settings you will be required to set the z-axis home by calibrating the printer. The ease-of-use of this software is a great strength of the Mini and one of the main reason this printer is more geared towards beginners.

In conclusion, the LulzBot Mini is a well-designed, entry level machine powerful enough to match more expensive 3D printers when it comes to print quality and speed. Coupled with the fact that it’s so easy to setup, use and maintain and given its flexibility, its ability to handle such a wide range of materials and its amazing no-nonsense approach to printing thanks to a mature software, this 3D printer possesses the ideal qualities you should expect in such a machine.

Specifications list:

  • PRINTER TYPE: FDM
  • MATERIAL: ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, Bronze, Copper, Wood, Polyester (Tritan), PETT, Polycarbonate, Nylon, PETG, conductive PLA and ABS, UV luminescent filaments, PCTPE, PC-ABS, Alloy 910
  • BUILD VOLUME: 15.2 x 15.2 x 15.8 cm
  • MIN LAYER HEIGHT: 50 microns
  • MAX LAYER HEIGHT: 500 microns
  • EXTRUDER HEAD: 1
  • PRINTING SPEED : 275mm/sec
  • OPEN SOURCE: Hardware & software
  • CAN YOU USE 3RD PARTY MATERIAL? Yes
  • HEATED PLATFORM: Yes
  • FILAMENT DIAMETER: 3.00
  • ON-PRINTER CONTROLS: No
  • CONNECTIVITY: USB

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Best Cheap 3D Printer

3. Flash Forge Finder 3D Printer

Considered the perfect starter 3D printer, The FlashForge Finder really has a lot to offer for a considerably low cost. Combined with the straightforward „plug & play” approach to printing, this is really the definitive choice for amateurs, hobbyists and 3D printing enthusiasts who love to experiment at home.

The body of this device is just like in the picture, square shaped like a box but with rounded corners and edges. It is compact with a minimalistic design, nothing too flashy or complicated. Despite the general plastic feel of the frame, the printer seems to be sturdy enough for all your printing experiments. The print bed also acts as a sliding tray which can be inserted and removed without much effort.

To make an intuitive user interface, FlashForge installed a colorful LCD panel where you can toggle different options like loading and unloading the filament or if you’d like to level the print bed automatically. This feature works great to simplify the calibrating process of the printer bed and setting the best resolutions for your printer by correcting any warping issues or imperfections which can occur on the PLA parts.

With this printer, you don’t have many options material-wise as this machine only accepts one type of filament, 1.75 mm PLA. This is perfectly safe and great around kids too because it’s completely non-toxic. The simplifying process goes further this way as the Finder does not require a heated print bed for more toxic materials such as ABS. The speed of the printing is fairly average, oscillating between 40 to 200 mm per second. One great feature of this 3D printer is the MK 10 brass nozzle combined with a thermal barrier guide tube which helps tremendously to make a more efficient extrusion process. No big issues with the noise level were detected which was going as low as 50 dB.

Connectivity for this device is also possible through Wi-Fi besides USB and that’s quite convenient if you intend to manage the FlashForge Finder over your local network. The onboard memory is 4 GB, spacious enough to transfer files using an USB cable and then simply untether the printer from the PC. Worth mentioning the fact that the special Flash Print the machine comes with is easy to use, designed for maximum accessibility.

The printing quality is on par with the reasonable pricing of this model which should not exceed any casual 3D printing enthusiast’s budget. It’s very clear that FlashForge made a lot of effort to simplify the printing operations and overall I’d say it was a successful attempt. To conclude, basically this printer has some promising qualities, an excellent value for your money and it’s highly recommended for any projects.

Specifications list:

  • PRINTER TYPE: FDM
  • MATERIAL: PLA, ABS
  • BUILD VOLUME: 14 x 14 x 14 cm
  • MIN LAYER HEIGHT: 50
  • EXTRUDER HEAD: 1
  • CONNECTIVITY: USB WiFi

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Best Expensive 3D Printer

4. MakerGear M2 Desktop 3D Printer

MakerGear M2 is the product of Ohio-based company MakerGear and it was originally released in 2012. Since then, MakerGear made some improvements and this is currently the fifth revision generation of the M2 series. What makes this 3D printer stand above many others in the industry can be most accurately summed up in one word: quality. But extremely high-quality standards also come with a price, literally. It’s a bit expensive for a more casual user, but for those who seek to enhance their professional projects with the best the industry has to offer, should not pass this solid deal.

When you decide to make a big investment, the one aspect you’re probably most concerned about is reliability. Can this product stand the test of time and deliver a constant level of quality and precision for demanding projects? With this in mind let’s see the M2’s potential in this regard. The printer has a robust steel frame and a machined cast aluminum construction to which it owes its precision print quality. This printer has the ability to print layers even thinner than a single sheet of paper. Thanks to its stable frame and high tolerance parts, the machine is able to keep making quality prints without the fear of misalignment and the need for constant tweaking. It features a heated platform capable of printing in both standard types of filaments ABS and PLA. Of course, you’re not only limited to these materials. Additionally, you can implement in your projects from the more common thermoplastics to Flexibles, Nylons, Polycarbonate and others. It has large build envelope of 8″ x 10″ x 8″and due to its open chassis, you will notice that this printer can get quite noisy at times.

Designed to be as low maintenance as possible, the M2’s printer carriage contains circulating ball bearings used to create a reliable and accurate linear motion. The X and Y linear rails are strong and precise, the axis mounts are made of black anodized aluminum. Showcasing a firm aluminum build plate and polished stainless steel shafts, this 3D printer is definitely an example of beautiful modern engineering. No matter what you throw at it, the M2 will keep plugging away beautiful prints without failure.

Thanks to its top mounted direct filament drive and the increased stability of its thick metal frame, the printing speed is very impressive, easily surpassing other printers. This, of course, depends on the complexity and quality of the project but still, a very good result nonetheless. Speed is one aspect but a 3D printer has to be precise in order to accurately bring to life a digital design. The user selectable Z layer precision can get as low as 0.0025 mm although the recommendation is to keep it somewhere between 0.1 and 0.25 mm. The nozzle size of 0.35 helps to achieve that extra crisp detail.

Taking a look at the software side for this printer you can rest assured that you’re in good hands. There is a step-by-step guide and tutorial video that, according to MakerGear, will take you through your first projects. To provide versatility and flexibility the M2’s software is open-source but some more advanced users may experience a slight lack of user-friendliness at times and so for achieving the maximum potential of this printer you will probably need to acquire a more professional software such as Simplify3D.

At a slightly higher price than other competitors, the MakerGear M2 justifies this cost through its outstanding construction, reliable operation, and overall high-quality printing. If this seems like what you’re looking for, you won’t be disappointed with this investment as the amount of successfully printed projects will certainly ameliorate the cost in time. Manufactured to appeal to both professionals and hobbyists by offering superior reliability and precision, the M2 is all in all an exceptional deal.

Specifications:

  • PRINTER TYPE: FDM
  • MATERIAL: ABS, PLA, PET, Nylon, Flexibles and more
  • BUILD VOLUME: 25.4 x 20.3 x 20.3 cm
  • MIN LAYER HEIGHT: 25 microns
  • EXTRUDER HEAD: 1
  • PRINTING SPEED: 80-200 mm/s
  • OPEN SOURCE: Hardware & software
  • CAN YOU USE 3RD PARTY MATERIAL? Yes
  • HEATED PLATFORM: Yes
  • FILAMENT DIAMETER: 1.75
  • ON-PRINTER CONTROLS: Optional
  • CONNECTIVITY: USB, Ethernet

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5. LulzBot TAZ 6 3D Printer

Aiming for an ever-expanding market, Aleph Objects, the company behind LulzBot tries to bridge the gap between machines intended for professional users and those oriented towards a more casual segment of hobbyists. Their TAZ line of products has now reached the 6th generation and is being developed precisely to help growing small businesses and various professionals.

Equally versatile and highly productive, the TAZ 6 from LulzBot will get the job done with sustained effort keeping pace with industrial-level project demands. It’s quite obvious there have been a few sacrifices regarding aesthetics but the device operates with utilitarianism in mind making up for its looks with efficiency and quality printing. One thing the TAZ 6 improves over the past versions is the addition of automated features that ensure a much smoother pre-printing process. Coming now with an automated bed leveling means that setting up and calibrating the TAZ is now easier than ever. There’s also a small felt pad which takes care of cleaning the extruder of any remaining filament bits before a print that can potentially ruin a model. With a large build envelope of 280mm x 280mm x 250mm, you have a lot of space for your projects. The amount of space the TAZ offers is one of the biggest in its price range for the consumer sector which is a big plus. There is a very wide range of materials available to be used with the TAZ 6 from the classic ABS and PLA to some more sophisticated filaments such as conductive PLA and ABS, Nylon, Alloy 910 and Polycarbonates.

In order to deliver great quality prints and a fast print speed, it’s necessary to implement a sturdy frame with strong enough axis and linear bearing and that’s exactly what LulzBot went for when designing this machine. If I were trying to put into words this printer’s construction as accurately as possible I could probably say that it’s built like a tank, with a rock solid metal body that will sure impress any experimented user with its sturdiness. Does this actually translate into quality printing capabilities? In terms of finished quality, the LulzBot creates very detailed prints for an FDM printer and you can be pleasantly surprised to see how amazing some objects come out. The speed is also on par with competitors at around 200mm/s but this depends on some factors and usually, users may prefer quality over speed.

Where the TAZ 6 truly exceeds all expectations is reliability, which ultimately should be considered the most pressing issue that modern 3D printers face these days. Two aspects have to be taken into account when evaluating a printer’s reliability. One is the consistency, to be able to print high-quality items constantly and the second one is the failure rate for a print. According to LulzBot, they claim that the TAZ 6 is the most reliable consumer 3D printer on the market, a statement backed by the fact that they’re running 24/7 their printers at their headquarters based in Colorado. This claim is impressively accurate as the machine can run virtually nonstop without any major trouble delivering constant quality. This is definitely a product built to last.

Being loaded with so many premium features, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the TAZ 6 is currently the best 3D printer money can buy. If you have the budget required, this is certainly more reliable and easier to use than its predecessors. All in all, this is hands down the best investment you can make in a consumer 3D printer.

Specifications list:

  • PRINTER TYPE: FDM
  • MATERIAL: ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, Bronze, and much more.
  • BUILD VOLUME: 28 x 28 x 25 cm
  • MIN LAYER HEIGHT: 50 microns
  • MAX LAYER HEIGHT: 500 microns
  • EXTRUDER HEAD: 1, 2 (optional)
  • PRINTING SPEED: 200mm/sec
  • OPEN SOURCE: Hardware & software
  • CAN YOU USE 3RD PARTY MATERIAL? Yes
  • HEATED PLATFORM: Yes
  • FILAMENT DIAMETER: 3.00
  • ON-PRINTER CONTROLS: No
  • CONNECTIVITY: SD card

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Best 3D Printer for the Money

6. Sindoh DP200 3DWOX 3D Printer

Specializing in 2D printers and copiers since 1960, the Korean based company Sindoh has attracted attention in the 3D printing industry with a sleek, feature-rich printer called DP200 3DWOX. The device is built with accessibility in mind, aimed at consumers looking for that kind of plug-and-print experience you would expect from 2D printers but with the cool functions of a 3D one.

At a first glance, you can notice that this printer looks like it would fit well in a living room thanks to its black futuristic design that makes an elegant impression and gives it a dignified feel. Its enclosed structure helps to maintain a consistent temperature and keeps all the moving parts inside for safe operation while also reducing the noise level for a more pleasant print experience. The 3Dwox has a rather modest build area but it makes up for it in other aspects.

A welcomed feature is the filament autoloading. Changing the filament manually can become a difficult procedure but with the 3Dwox all you have to do is insert the cartridge and the printer does the work for you. It can use either ABS or PLA filaments and thanks to the automated leveling system there is no longer a need for manual calibration. Making sure the print bed is perfectly level can also prove a challenge with some printers but no issues with this one. Printing effortlessly is further improved by continuous heating of the build platform which makes for a quick startup. Despite using a setting of high speed/low quality, the prints can turn out unexpectedly smooth and with promising minute details. Huge props for Sindoh, the print quality is very satisfying.

To complement well the meticulous internal layout of the machine, there is a 5” touch screen panel designed to be very intuitive to control the printer. You can preview an image of your project being printed and monitor the progress of the print. There is also an interesting feature regarding the monitoring of your print. Sindoh implemented a camera and LED lighting for remote monitoring, so you’re able to see your item getting printed on the screen of your tablet or smartphone. This is pretty convenient considering the long duration of some projects. Besides the simple user interface, you will be delighted to find several options for connectivity. The 3Dwox can be connected directly to a PC through the included USB cable or using Ethernet or Wi-Fi and a USB Flash Drive for projects on-the-go.

The price of this 3D printer is relatively low considering all these powerful abilities and especially if you take into account how easy is to use. Hardcore, DIY kit building tinkerers may look elsewhere as this remarkable printer fits best in the hands of more casual 3D printing enthusiasts. The Sindoh DP200 3DWOX 3D Printer is a well-balanced device with an appeal to a certain segment for those who prefer a more minimalistic, sleek design and heavy assistance for efficient and quality printing. If you buy it you can be sure you’ll be impressed.

Specifications list:

  • Print Technology: FFF
  • Print head: Single Nozzle
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm
  • Max Build size (WxDxH): 210 x 200 x 195mm (8”x8”x8“)
  • Material: PLA, ABS
  • Connectivity: USB Flash Drive, Ethernet, WiFi, USB Cable
  • Layer Thickness: 0.05 ~ 0.4 mm
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75mm
  • User Interface: 5” color touch screen
  • Leveling: Auto Leveling Measurement + Manual Adjustment
  • Auto-loading Cartridge: Automatically loads filament to nozzle
  • Operating System: Window 7 or above, Mac OSX 10.10 above

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Best 3D Printer Kit

7. DIY RepRap Guru Prusa I3 3D Printer Kit

Geared towards creative hobbyists, the Prusa I3 3D printer is arguably the most popular 3D printer in the world. And there are some very strong reasons for that. The main one would be the fact that it’s fully open source being developed for the RepRap project and anyone knowledgeable and determined enough can build a printer for a very accessible price. Most RepRap DIY kits can be acquired for less than $500 which is indeed very affordable for a 3D printer.

Building a printer from zero can be a challenging task as you need to gather lots of parts individually and the cost can easily add up. Thankfully, the Prusa I3 kit exists precisely to simplify this endeavor. The actual work you have to do to assemble the components depends on how much knowledge you have and despite the initial impression, the guides are very comprehensive and in a few days, you can have a printer that you built yourself. It’s good for beginners and if you’re on a budget, but there are also other advantages to buying a DIY kit like the Prusa I3.

One aspect you should consider is the way you gain a very intimate knowledge of how all parts interact and function together. If you really have a passion for the amazing engineering behind the workings of these machines is definitely worth the time to get accustomed to the process of bringing a 3D printer to life. If you’re new to 3D printing this is the way to go if you just want to test out the technology without spending thousands of dollars. There is also the possibility of upgrading and modifying the printer although you can get decent prints without necessarily doing that but it’s nice to know that you have this option.

If you think you have what it takes to embark on the journey of assembling your own 3D printer then the RepRap Guru Prusa I3 is definitely one of the best choices on the market right now. The kit is flawlessly prepared for you, it doesn’t require altering, drilling or cutting anything. All the hard work is done and they even include all the necessary wires and the 8″ x 8″ Borosilicate Heat Bed Glass Solder which is missing from other kits. Also, if you’re worried about the tinkering and setting it up right, there is a great deal of information available on the Internet and a welcoming community to get you started.

There is hardly anything else to add, this is an affordable kit, a bit difficult at times to assemble but after some learning, you will discover that it’s impeccable, the parts are of very high quality and because of that it holds out very well and using it can actually be a fun experience. The chances of failure are low for printing and the results are usually excellent and even without the rigidity of the more expensive and commercially available machines, it does not disappoint. To summarize, this kit offers a lot for its price and it has some massive creative potential for those who are just starting to get into 3D printers.

Specifications list:

  • PRINTER TYPE: FDM
  • MATERIAL: ABS, PLA
  • BUILD VOLUME: 20 x 20 x 18 cm
  • MIN LAYER HEIGHT: 50 microns
  • EXTRUDER HEAD: 1
  • OPEN SOURCE: Hardware & software
  • CAN YOU USE 3RD PARTY MATERIAL? Yes
  • HEATED PLATFORM: Yes
  • ON-PRINTER CONTROLS: Optional
  • CONNECTIVITY: USB

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Best Budget 3D Printer

8. QIDI TECHNOLOGY 3DP-QDA16-01 Dual Extruder Desktop 3D Printer

Based on the MakerBot Replicator 2X, Qidi Technology offers similar features but for a much lower price. No matter the desired use, whether you’re more or less knowledgeable about 3D printers, this machine can satisfy your needs.

The feature that stands the most and which is right there in the title is the Dual Extruder ability of this printer but that’s not all. This device comes incorporated in a full metal frame with spray paint technology for extra stabilization during the printing process thanks to its added strength. It provides a fully enclosed constant temperature for the best results especially when printing with ABS filament. The build size is more than adequate and the printer bed is heated. What I liked, in particular, was the way the plate is constructed using aviation grade aluminum to prevent warping from high temperatures.

Out of the box, the printer comes nearly fully assembled and for any calibration and setting up you need to do there are lots of easy to follow instructions and some helpful Youtube videos to show you the basics. After you’re done and start making interesting projects you will likely be reasonably satisfied with the quality of your prints. This printer receives your designs through the SD card or by connecting it to a PC. The recommended software for this product called MakerBot Replicator needs to be downloaded after purchase and it should be compatible with your operating system. It’s very simple to use and you can get the hang of it in no time, you can even play around with it before your shipment arrives to check all the customization of your 3D models beforehand.

If any problems arise with your 3D printer, you can rest assured that QIDI’s Customer Service is very fast in resolving them and you should not hesitate to contact them as they can provide all the support you need. They are surprisingly responsive and helpful. The price of this printer is a very attractive one especially if you need a professional machine like for a small business for example but don’t wish to spend a fortune. The dual extruder is efficient, the printer’s structure is robust and solid and the print quality is decent, the QIDI seems more and more like one of the best value for money printers out there. I personally think the design gives too much of an industrial vibe but some people prefer utility over elegance.

Specifications list

  • PRINTER TYPE: FDM
  • MATERIAL: ABS, PLA
  • BUILD SIZE: 8.8 x 5.9 x 5.9 inch
  • LAYER RESOLUTION: 100 microns
  • EXTRUDER HEAD: 2
  • HEATED BED: Yes
  • FILAMENT DIAMETER: 0.4mm/1.75mm
  • CONNECTIVITY: SD card/USB Cable
  • SOFTWARE SUPPORTED: Simplify3D/Replicator G/Makerware

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9. Dremel Idea Builder 3D Printer

The Dremel Idea Builder is a 3D printer manufactured by the US-based company Dremel, an established brand of power tools. Although it only prints using PLA filaments this isn’t as bad as it seems because the device comes with some interesting features over its competitors that make this printer worth to check out.

Idea Builder is a great entry-level printer designed to produce quality prints in the most simple and efficient way possible. It promises to deliver a plug and play experience so let’s take a closer look at its ease of use first. Setting it up out of the box is a piece of cake and just like that, you can start printing immediately. After the first time you boot the printer you are greeted by a nice user interface on an easy to navigate touchscreen which will guide you through the loading and unloading process of the filament. The steps to begin printing are thus quite straightforward: plug it in, level the build platform, install the filament and choose a model. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. What’s interesting to mention is that the Idea Builder comes preloaded with lots of objects on the included SD card ranging from functional to structural pieces that can get printed before you even install the software.

The ease of use is one strong point of this 3D printer but what can be said about its structural design choices? As you can observe from the picture, the device is fully enclosed with panels on each side that you can remove and a front window that stays closed with the help of two little magnets. This way, the printer can operate more quietly and if this is not enough, it also comes with a top cover. There is programmable LED lighting inside the printer that adds a nice touch to the design. With a detachable build platform comes the added convenience of removing your finished project with more ease. Overall, the design of this machine is simple and easy to maintain clean and its size fitting for a home 3D printer if that would be your intended use.

There is no heated build platform but this shouldn’t be a big deal as the Idea Builder only uses PLA filament which remains a great option for everyday printing. The printer can hit standard resolutions around 100 microns so you won’t have any issues in terms of quality compared to similarly-priced printers. It can achieve fairly average printing speeds, up to 150mm/s which is decent enough. You are not going to use a printer at very high speeds anyway because of the degrading of the quality. Known for making quality power tools, Dremel took special care with the reliability of this 3D printer. It ranks very high because of the small chance of project failures. The printer acts like a powerful workhorse and deals with any arising problem efficiently. For example, if you run out of filament during a printing you can simply load a new one and the machine just goes back to work without having to start over or other complications. The reliability of the Idea Builder has great potential to exceed your expectations so keep this aspect in mind if you’re finding it difficult to make a purchase decision.

Dremel’s Idea Builder offers top-quality hardware at a very reasonable price perfect for those enthusiasts who are already familiar with the basics of 3D printing but also friendly enough to those new to 3D printing. The support options for this printer should cover all your needs through helpful tutorials and a comprehensive manual. This level of accessibility when it comes to getting the printer up and running make from the Ideal Builder a great budget option for any professional or home setting.

Specifications list

  • PRINTER TYPE: FDM
  • MATERIAL: PLA
  • BUILD VOLUME: 23 x 15 x 14 cm
  • MIN LAYER HEIGHT: 100 microns
  • EXTRUDER HEAD: 1
  • OPEN SOURCE: No
  • CAN YOU USE 3RD PARTY MATERIAL?: No
  • HEATED PLATFORM: No
  • FILAMENT DIAMETER: 1.75
  • ON-PRINTER CONTROLS: Yes
  • CONNECTIVITY: USB SD card

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10. Makerbot Replicator+

Designed to please a very professional audience, the Replicator+ from Makerbot is the considerably improved version of the old Replicator in terms of build volume, speed and noise levels. To find out if the Replicator+ is a worthy successor keep reading the review below. Makerbot has been busy trying to fix several issues and to add certain upgrades to its 3D printing technology and their claims are quite impressive. The Replicator+ can now print 30% faster than its predecessor and boasts a 25% larger build volume. To further enhance its reliability and precision, Makerbot worked on redesigning the machine’s gantry and z-stage rails.

The changes in design are not that noticeable despite the increase in build size. It has an open frame to permit easy viewing of your projects and facilitate the access to the print bed. Regarding its looks, it’s nice to see that Makerbot kept the same cool design style combining the gray plastic over a solid metal skeleton. Despite the big size, it can fit well in any environment giving off a sleek premium feel.

The key aspect when glancing over its list of features is the Smart Extruder+, a part that delivers superior performance by melting and pushing the filament out to form the print. While in the past there have been some reliability issues as the mechanism would sometimes jam and fail, this time around it looks more promising thanks to more rigorous testing done by Makerbot and a double warranty. The Smart Extruder+ has some powerful tech under the hood, coming with its own processor and an advanced sensor system used to communicate with Makerbot’s Desktop application (for OS X or Windows) or its smartphone app (available for iOS or Android). If you run out of filament, it can pause the ongoing process automatically so you can load a new one and not have to scrap the print. Speaking of filaments, the Replicator+ can only work with their proprietary PLA but it also supports the stronger Tough PLA filament, a new composite by Makerbot which is a great choice for engineers or those who prefer more durability while also maintaining decent levels of flexibility.

How well does the Replicator+ handle the user interface? There is an LCD on top of the device where you can follow the instructions to operate the printer and with the help of the combination dial and button, controlling any feature becomes very straightforward. For all your connectivity needs there is an USB port present along with Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections to join a local network in case you want to print directly from PCs, Macs or mobile devices. An onboard camera grants you the ability to remotely monitor your print progress from the convenience of your living room. This printer uses Makerbot Print, the company’s own software which you can use to import .stl files and manipulate models during the preparation stage for a print. Also, check out this forum thread on how to convert gcode back into STL 

The print quality of Makerbot Replicator+ is decent enough, creating layers from 100 to 400 microns in size but it very much depends on the resolution you’re using as the accuracy goes down along with it. The speed is where the machine shines as it can produce prints faster than most of its competitors. You might find yourself in the situation to struggle a bit to remove the finished print from the print bed and sometimes you will be required to remove the print bed altogether. A nice detail you might appreciate is the quieter overall printing experience the Replicator+ offers over its predecessors.

To summarize, the Makerbot Replicator+ is a strong player in the professional market of 3D printers, a worthy successor in the Replicator line. The price is a bit high but quite adequate considering the quality of this 3D printer which seems to focus on convenience and reliability above all. The impressive Smart Extruder+ and the overall advanced technology used to fabricate this machine definitely make from Replicator+ a great deal that shouldn’t be missed.

Specifications list:

  • PRINTER TYPE: FDM
  • MATERIAL: PLA
  • BUILD VOLUME: 29.5 x 19.5 x 16.5 cm
  • MIN LAYER HEIGHT: 100
  • OPEN SOURCE: No
  • CAN YOU USE 3RD PARTY MATERIAL? No
  • HEATED PLATFORM: Yes
  • ON-PRINTER CONTROLS Yes
  • CONNECTIVITY USB WiFi Ethernet

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11. Zortrax M200 Pro 3D Printer

Where other manufacturers in the 3D printing industry struggle to find the perfect recipe for the ideal 3D printer, just the right balance between design, printing abilities and reliability, Zortrax built a name for itself and established superior quality standards with its flagship machine called M200. The M200 project gained traction through a Kickstarter campaign when it became famous by piquing Dell’s interest with an impressive order of 5000 units. Zortrax promises a lot for the M200, from great plug & play capabilities to outstanding print quality and reliability to how easy it is to use this printer.

Similar to the design seen on the Ultimaker 2 series of printers, the design is based on a movable X, Y direct feed print-head completed by a vertical Z plane build platform. What sets the M200 apart from other printers though is the sturdy build of aluminum, the perforated auto-levelling build platform and the generally high quality of its parts. The extremely low failure rate of this printer is mostly due to these great qualities. This one truly has the potential to be the most durable and reliable 3D printer at the consumer level ever produced.

One of the most interesting aspects of the M200 and a real game changer, in my opinion, is its ease-of-use. It doesn’t matter if you are a complete beginner when it comes to 3D printing, as this device requires no skills whatsoever to be able to get it up and running. Most of the settings for material, speed, plate temperature and such don’t need any modifications so basically anyone can start printing high-quality items right away. In less than 30-40 minutes after unboxing, the Zortrax M200 can already start working on the first print. For added convenience, there is an auto-leveling for the print bed and the M200 also features an automatic system for loading and unloading the filament. Z-Suite, the software the machine works with is by far one of the easiest to use in the world of 3D printing.

I feel like there is a need to mention that Zortrax printers are optimized for their own proprietary filament and this means there is a very controlled ecosystem as opposed to open source alternatives. While this can be a drawback for those who love to experiment with more materials, for most users this doesn’t represent an issue. The company is very engaging with its rapidly expanding community offering new filament options in time.

The print quality is easily on par with some industrial-grade machines. The M200 hardly ever struggles to produce high-quality prints. With resolutions as high as 25 microns obtained through more advanced settings, the projects look fantastic. This is not a very capable printer when it comes to fast printing as it reaches maximum speeds of 100mm/s which is far from impressive but this not very relevant if you value quality prints as you need to slow down anyways. Therefore, the M200 makes up for this problem by producing items of excellent quality.

If you are trying to come to a decision for a 3D printer purchase and you are looking for that one machine that has it all and at a perfectly affordable price then the Zortrax M200 will fit you like a glove. There are hardly more balanced printers on the market right now, with such amazing reliability, ease of use, build and print quality and precision. A great choice for beginners and experts alike, the Zortrax M200 sets the bar quite high for consumer-level modern 3D printers.

Specifications list:

  • PRINTER TYPE: FDM
  • MATERIAL: ABS, HIPS, ULTRAT
  • BUILD VOLUME: 20 x 20 x 18.5 cm
  • MIN LAYER HEIGHT: 90 microns
  • MAX LAYER HEIGHT: 400 microns
  • EXTRUDER HEAD: 1
  • XY PRECISION: 1.5 microns
  • PRINTING SPEED: 100 mm/s
  • OPEN SOURCE: No
  • CAN YOU USE 3RD PARTY MATERIAL? Yes
  • HEATED PLATFORM: Yes
  • FILAMENT DIAMETER: 1.75
  • ON-PRINTER CONTROLS: Yes
  • CONNECTIVITY: USB SD card

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12. Flashforge Dreamer 3d Printer

Created by the Chinese manufacturer FlashForge which has proven themselves to be the leaders when it comes to good value entry level printers geared towards hobbyists and enthusiasts. Their newest addition in the world of 3D printing is called Dreamer and featuring a dual extruder and the same affordable price and robust design of their other models, this machine looks very promising.

The frame of the Dreamer is made from plastic/alloy and the fully enclosed design gives the printer at a first impression, the look of a microwave oven. Despite this fact, the construction is very rigid and the external aesthetics don’t seem so bad on further inspection, but actually, they can be considered fitting for a 3D printer. It supports with ease ABS and PLA thanks to ventilated side panels and a removable lid and to watch your project take shape FlashForge equipped the printer with 12-LEDs that illuminates the print chamber in various colors. Don’t let the plastic feel deceive you, this is a very high-quality product. A slightly sturdier steel exterior would have been perhaps preferred but considering the price and the high precision of the interior and the quality of the parts I’d say this decision was justified.

Setting up this printer is a breeze. Just a few simple steps, some calibration and after you are finished loading the filament you can start printing. You will most likely find the print quality to your liking as the Dreamer works flawlessly on a level comparable to more expensive printers. The dual extruders make a huge difference because they allow the printer to design additional material acting as support that’s completely separate from the base material used for the rest of the printed item. Having dual extruders also means that you have the option to print multiple colored objects so this is a great plus if you want your projects to seem more alive. This feature of the Dreamer is actually quite a big selling point, you will hardly wish to ever go back to a printer with only a single extruder once you try this feature out.

One challenging aspect for some printers can be the use of its software which is often complicated and requires time-consuming effort until you get the hang of it. The Flash Print, the Dreamer’s software is surprisingly very simple to use. To be able to print something from Thingiverse, for example, you just complete a few easy steps like you load the object, adjust a few settings and then hit print. Of course, you can also just use the basic default settings which for simple projects can be more than enough. To better control the printer there is a 3.5” IPS LCD touchscreen display and for connectivity, you have loads of options like USB, SD Card, and Wi-Fi.

If you are looking for a practical and reliable 3D printer, the FlashForge Dreamer is more than a decent option to keep an eye on. A rich featured package for a reasonable cost, this 3D printer has enough potential to make this list of best 3D printers on the market and capture the interest of amateurs and professionals alike.

Specifications list

  • PRINTER TYPE: FDM
  • MATERIAL: ABS, PLA
  • BUILD VOLUME: 23 x 15 x 14 cm
  • MIN LAYER HEIGHT: 100 microns
  • MAX LAYER HEIGHT: 500 microns
  • EXTRUDER HEAD: 2
  • XY PRECISION: 11 microns
  • PRINTING SPEED: 30-200 mm/s
  • OPEN SOURCE: No
  • CAN YOU USE 3RD PARTY MATERIAL? Yes
  • HEATED PLATFORM: Yes
  • FILAMENT DIAMETER: 1.75
  • ON-PRINTER CONTROLS: Yes
  • CONNECTIVITY: USB SD card WiFi

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Best Small 3D Printer

13. MakerBot Replicator Mini+ 3D Printer

The MakerBot Replicator Mini+ represents an improved version of the last Mini which was designed to be more manageable in size than the big Replicator 2. The Mini+ is supposedly much faster, quieter and able to handle larger prints than the older version. With an attractive feature and the quality, we’ve come to expect from MakerBot this 3D printer seems capable enough to handle the spot as a reliable desktop 3D printer.

Coming with a bigger build volume than the old Mini, you can now print bigger models, something like 28% larger ones according to MakerBot. The portability hasn’t been affected though as the printer is small enough to be moved with ease between offices or classrooms. The sleek design will surely find its place comfortable inside any professional environment and into your home. There have been quite a few improvements hardware-wise like improved filament routing, a refined gantry and a redesigned Z-stage which should impact positively the reliability and precision factors of the machine. The build plate comes pre-leveled from the factory to simplify the printing process and thanks to the new Grip Surface prints now have better adherence to reduce warping and curling. Speaking of simplifying things let’s see how well this printer manages the road from set-up to printing the first project and how accessible is overall.

Makerbot Replicator Mini+ succeeds well regarding its ease of use. Out of the box, the printer is assembled almost completely. There is a bit of work involving the attachment of the extruder and the printing plate but there are magnets that snap in place together with the parts, a neat little thing that helps to guide you. The setup procedure is facilitated wirelessly via the MakerBot mobile app. With careful guidance, it takes you step-by-step to the point where you can start printing without the need to connect the Mini+ to a PC. Another great feature is the remote monitoring ability, made possible by the printer’s onboard camera, handy if you wish to visualize your print jobs even when you’re away. Something also worth mentioning about this printer that might interest you is the Cloud feature which allows you to control and manage the printer over the cloud through the included MakerBot Print software or the mobile app.

Like all the other MakerBot models, this printer uses a proprietary filament specially optimized to produce the best quality possible. You can only use PLA as a material but that should cover your needs easily if you aren’t some hardcore experimenter who likes to try different and often more toxic filaments. At the default resolution of 100 microns the print quality is very satisfying and thanks to the flexible plate, getting the model off was simpler than expected. The Smart Extruder+ by MakerBot offers powerful technology to make your life less complicated when printing. The noise levels are apparently lower for the Mini+ than its predecessor (58% quieter according to MakerBot) but it’s still not recommended to keep it too close to your work space.

Due to the extensive printer and subsystem testing (380.000+ hours), the Replicator Mini+ has the performance to resist intense usage over long periods of time and complete tough projects in the most efficient way possible. Considering the reliability of this 3D printer and taking into account the pricing which is adapted in a reasonable way to this printer’s functionality and design, I recommend this printer especially for those who need it for schools or small businesses. All in all the Makerbot Replicator Mini+ has quite a targeted approach, ideal for those who would love to own a portable 3D printer and who prefer great quality and efficient ease of use with for their 3D printing machines.

Specifications list

  • PRINTER TYPE: FDM
  • MATERIAL: PLA
  • BUILD VOLUME: 4 L x 5 W x 5 H in
  • BUILD SURFACE: Grip Surface
  • MIN LAYER HEIGHT: 100 microns
  • EXTRUDER HEAD: 1
  • XY PRECISION: 11 microns
  • FILAMENT DIAMETER: 1.75 mm
  • CONNECTIVITY: USB, WiFi

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14. Formlabs Form 1+

What sets the Formlabs Form 1+ apart from most consumer 3D printers is the different technology used to print. While the most common printer type is FDM short for fused deposition modeling, this machine is based on SLA (stereolithography) which means it doesn’t squirt molten plastic in layers when creating a model, but instead, it prints it using resin and lasers. Admittedly, that sounds way cooler but what does this mean in terms of quality and reliability for an avid 3D printer enthusiast?

One advantage that the Form 1+ brings to the table is the much higher precision and better accuracy of its SLA technology when compared to the typical thermoplastic extrusion machines in the industry. By laying full layers of resin one layer at a time and cured by a UV light, the details of the finished prints will be considerably better and the objects will turn out smoother than the FDM method of printing. Despite the widespread availability and the increased affordability, FDM still doesn’t quite match the professional quality of an SLA machine like the Formlabs Form 1+. This seems enough to convince anyone to switch over from FDM 3D printers to this type, but before you decide to do that there are some things to consider.

First, the build area is pretty small (5 x 5 x 6.5 in), so if you are looking to print some really big models, this is not the machine for you but if you are more enthusiastic about printing intricately detailed small objects then Form 1+ is more up your alley. In fact, the focus on print quality is so powerful when it comes to this machine that really all the other features are nothing particularly impressive to rave about. Before we move on to anything else, let’s talk a bit more in-depth about how good is the Formlabs Form 1+ at printing. It can reach a layer thickness of 25 microns which is amazingly small. Even at the default 50 microns thickness the Form 1+ stands above pretty much any FDM printer, even the best ones when you analyze the accuracy of details and the finish quality of the models. The printing speed is a bit lower than other printers but that’s understandable given the extra details which need more time to be processed. One aspect that also needs more attention is the finishing procedure after the model is printed which will take considerably longer than on the more conventional FDM printers. This is not such a big deal as it seems. Thankfully, Formlabs will, in fact, provide you with all the necessary items including a special kit for finishing your printed objects.

Form 1+ is a quiet printer thanks to the use of a silent laser instead of the mechanical moving back and forth of the print head and print platform. The design of the machine is minimalistic but beautiful and portable enough, weighing just 28 lbs. A solid gray cube acts as a container for the optics, mechanics, and electronics and placed above it there is a transparent orange hood for protecting the print platform. Setting up the printer is simple enough, the software Form 1+ uses called PreForm is incredibly straightforward to get you printing immediately offering a very pleasant experience through its varied options for manipulating your models.

The Formlabs Form 1+ exceed any expectations when it comes to printing quality but it’s definitely not intended for small budgets as it’s fairly expensive and also the operating costs are quite high. So keep in mind that if you decide to buy one, the resin tanks are pricey. If you desire the best you have to pay a premium but that’s to be expected, judging by the superb level of quality of this machine. Even if the Form 1+ it’s not without its flaws, if the only thing that matters to you is mind-blowing print quality, then you won’t find a better value for your money elsewhere.

Specifications list

  • PRINTER TYPE: SLA + DLP
  • MATERIAL: Resin
  • BUILD VOLUME: 5 x 5 x 6.5 in
  • MIN LAYER HEIGHT: 25 microns
  • MAX LAYER HEIGHT: 100 microns
  • OPEN SOURCE: No
  • CAN YOU USE 3RD PARTY MATERIAL? No
  • ON-PRINTER CONTROLS: Yes
  • CONNECTIVITY: USB

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15. Ultimaker 2+ 3D Printer

One of the best brands in the 3D printing business, Ultimaker continues to grow in this field thanks to constant improvements and focused engineering efforts to respond to current market demands. One such model who went through a slow but steady process of revamping is the Ultimaker 2+, a sleek and stylish printer ready for industrial-level printing challenges and to meet the most stringent expectations when it comes to the quality of the finished models. The price of this machine is not exactly something you would call cheap but the printer is loaded with enough features to justify a high cost.

Ultimaker 3D printers are often praised for their elegant design and this machine is not an exception. The white attractive frame is almost identical in appearance to the previous model, the Ultimaker 2. The interior is nicely decorated with strings of lights and the sides are translucent with an open front. The build area is decent for its price, not very big, but not small either. The 2+ uses a sheet of glass as a build platform, heated to prevent corners of ABS plastic items from warping and ruining a model.

The Ultimaker 2+ is shipped fully assembled packaged with every tool you will need to set up the printer. The process is easy enough, a breeze for any experimented users but not difficult for beginners either. Providing clear documentations and simple to follow instructions, Ultimaker doesn’t mess around when it comes to creating the best user experience possible. There is a display on the front panel and a dial handy for controlling the crucial aspects before a print like leveling the build plate and correcting the placement of the extruder. With the help of the free Cura software, tweaking various options and taking care of all the important details becomes an effortless job even if you are a novice. It gives you plenty of flexibility to print at the speed or definition that works best for you. A small drawback is a limited connectivity, only possible through SD cards inserted in the designated slot. But getting used to loading your projects on the card and then printing directly from them doesn’t take long. A 4GB SD card is also included.

Performance-wise, the printer is equipped with a geared feeder for extra reliability when pulling the filament into the extruder and gives the ability to switch with ease the filament nozzles for greater control of the quality and the speed of a printing. The Ultimaker 2+ uses an open filament system to be able to use any materials you prefer to achieve the right consistency besides the most common PLA or ABS. Where the printer shines is the quality and speed of its printing. Under default resolution settings, the Ultimaker trumps most other 3D printers in terms of quality. The machine prints very accurate objects and gives them a smooth finish with unrivaled efficiency. Of course, if you increase the speed settings the quality of the items will have to suffer but it comes down to personal preference whether you wish for more detailing or you don’t have the time to wait the extra hours. The noise levels during the printing process are kept pretty lower when compared to similar products but you need to be careful because of the open-frame design, to keep it from the reach of children to avoid touching the hot extruder.

In conclusion, the Ultimaker 2+ has taken a few steps forward ahead of its predecessors thanks to new hardware and design improvements. If you need a new machine for your business or you are an engineer interested in prototyping or an educator wishing for a powerful and reliable 3D printer to showcase the 3D printing technology to your students, then this is the right choice. If the budget allows you, you will get an excellent, quiet and fast printer with a sleek design and very easy to use.

Specifications list

  • PRINTER TYPE: FDM
  • MATERIAL: ABS, PLA
  • BUILD VOLUME: 22.3 x 22.3 x 20.5 cm
  • MIN LAYER HEIGHT: 20 microns
  • EXTRUDER HEAD: 1
  • XY PRECISION: 12.5
  • OPEN SOURCE: Yes
  • CAN YOU USE 3RD PARTY MATERIAL? Yes
  • HEATED PLATFORM: Yes
  • FILAMENT DIAMETER: 2.75
  • ON-PRINTER CONTROLS: Yes
  • CONNECTIVITY: SD card

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If you would like to know more about 3D Printers you can check out my articles: What do you need to know about 3D printing? and How 3D Printers Work? A complete guide or The economics of 3D Printers.