What's the best 3D printer of 2017? Read our guide to the 20 best 3D printers you can buy today, together with in-depth 3D printer reviews.
Are you shopping around for a desktop 3D printer? Wondering where to start and what to buy? We hear you. There’s a huge range of machines out there on the market, and for first-timers, it can be hard to tell which from which.
The simplest approach is to first identify your budget. The next thing to do is research important criteria like ease-of-use, features, supporting documentation, and customer care. Now pick the best 3D printer that fits within that budget.
A distinction to be aware of is whether the desktop 3D printer is based on Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Stereolithography (SLA) technology. They’re quite different, and each provides their own set of advantages and disadvantages to the user.
Something else to look for is whether the hardware and software are proprietary or open-source. The differences are not just philosophical; they can impact operational costs, too. If the machine is not compatible with 3rd party filament, for example, you’re locked into buying future supplies direct from the manufacturer.
The one thing you absolutely should not do is buy a 3D printer on the basis of brand name recognition. Just because you’ve seen or heard about a particular make on the TV is by no means a guarantee of quality.
Without further ado, here are our suggestions for the best 3D printers you can buy today. Did we miss any of your favorites? Tell us your suggestion for the best 3D printer in the comments and we’ll consider it for a future update.
|3D Printer||Tech||Build Volume (mm)||Category||Market Price ($)||Check Price|
|Monoprice MP Select Mini V2||FDM||120 x 120 x 120||Budget||220|
|Anet A8||FDM||220 x 220 x 240||Budget||254|
|Creality CR-10||FDM||300 x 300 x 400||Budget||360|
|Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus||FDM||200 x 200 x 180||Budget||359|
|Original Prusa i3 MK2S||FDM||250 x 210 x 200||Budget||845|
|Lulzbot Mini||FDM||152 x 152 x 158||Plug & Play||1250|
|Tiertime UP Mini 2||FDM||120 x 120 x 120||Plug & Play||600|
|CEL RoboxDual||FDM||150 x 210 x 100||Plug & Play||2000|
|Robo R2||FDM||203.2 x 203.2 x 254||Plug & Play||1553|
|CraftBot PLUS||FDM||250 x 200 x 200 mm||Plug & Play||1099|
|Lulzbot Taz 6||FDM||280 x 280 x 250||Workhorse||2500|
|BCN3D Sigma R17||FDM||210 x 297 x 210||Workhorse||2,695|
|Printrbot Simple Pro||FDM||200 x 150 x 200||Workhorse||999|
|MakerGear M3||FDM||203 X 254 X 203||Workhorse||2350|
|FlashForge Creator Pro||FDM||145 x 225 x 150||Workhorse||899|
|Ultimaker 3||FDM||197 x 215 x 200||Prosumer||3495|
|Formlabs Form 2||SLA||145 × 145 × 175||Prosumer||3499|
|Zortrax M200||FDM||200 x 200 x 185||Prosumer||2100|
|Ultimaker 2+||FDM||230 x 225 x 205||Prosumer||2499|
|Markforged Mark Two||FDM||320 x 132 x 154||Prosumer||13500|
For those folks on a budget, the best 3D printer is one that hits the sweet spot between value and features. These machines offer good print quality for the money, together with a supportive community. They’re also reasonably reliable, but some closer supervision might be required.
The cheapest best 3D printer on this list is the Monoprice MP Select Mini, an impressive machine with a smart, compact design that’s retailing for an unbelievable price.
It has a quick release steel gear filament feeder, a nozzle cooling fan, a color LCD, a heated build plate, plus microSD and USB connectivity.
Best 3D Printer Review: Monoprice Select Mini Review: The Best Budget 3D Printer
The heated build plate and wide extruder temperature range are incredibly good value here because it means it can work with most types of filaments; from basic filaments like ABS and PLA to more exotic materials like wood and metal composites.
For those brave folks who are unconcerned about voiding their warranty — and at this price why would you be? — the unit is also easy to hack for upgrades like a new hot-end, glass bed, and wi-fi connectivity.
But there’s a limitation with the print dimensions, which are ridiculously small at 120 x 120 x 120 mm. This small size will be keenly felt as your printing ambitions grow.
This is recommended as a best 3D printer in 2017 with some very strong caveats. It’s a cheap DIY kit that you have to assemble yourself, so that involves a fair amount of elbow grease before you even get round to printing anything. The other thing to keep in mind is that you’re going to have to get busy printing add-ons and upgrades to bring the machine up to an acceptable standard.
Best 3D Printer Review: Anet A8 Review: The Best 3D Printer for Modders
If you can look past these two hurdles, however, you’ll find that the Anet A8 is capable of some excellent quality prints. Not only is the print performance highly satisfying, but the best part about assembling this printer yourself is that potential problems are easily solvable. Don’t skip implementing the upgrades, though!
Best 3D Printer Features: Anet A8
It might not look like much, but the Creality CR-10 is causing a bit of a stir in the wider 3D printing community. The key metric that brings it home is the price-to-volume ratio. As in, this is a budget FDM machine with a massive build space of 300 x 300 x 400. Further upgrades can push out the capacity to 500 x 500 x 500mm. That’s half a meter squared!
Best 3D Printer Review: Creality CR-10 Review: A 3D Printer Worth The Hype
The Creality CR-10 is rather basic, with an open-face frame with a heated bed, SD card reader, and LCD controls. At the end of our testing, we became quite fond of this machine. There’s something so intoxicatingly alluring about the possibilities that a big print volume presents. And when that kind of excitement is backed up by a printer that outputs high-quality prints, well that’s just pretty darn special.
Best 3D Printer Features: Creality CR-10
The Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is a solidly constructed derivative of the open source Prusa i3 design. Topline features are a generous build volume of 200 x 200 x 180 mm, a metal frame for rigidity, a full-sized SD card slot, and a touchscreen control interface.
Best 3D Printer Features: Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus
The Original Prusa i3 MK2S is a proven open source design with a huge international user base. This unit was engineered by Josef Průša himself, and whether you buy it in kit form or ready assembled, it’s probably the best 3D printer you can buy in 2017.
Best 3D Printer Review: Original Prusa i3 MK2 Review: It Doesn't Get Any Better
Topline features of the Original Prusa i3 MK2S are a new MK42 heatbed, a PEI print surface, integrated leadscrew Z axis, full mesh bed auto-leveling, improved construction, faster printing and more materials with an E3D V6 hotend. All that, plus improved firmware and printer self-test.
Best 3D Printer Features: Original Prusa i3 MK2S
The best plug and play 3D printer is one that makes user-friendliness the highest priority. The best 3D printer in this category is one that’s capable of printing out of the box with minimal setup, has consistent print quality and great customer support. In most cases, however, you may have limited options to poke around under the hood and modify the hardware.
The Lulzbot Mini is the smallest machine offered by Aleph Objects, with a six-inch square build volume. The benefits are that the printing process is much easier when it comes to warping. And the print head can move and accelerate faster, which means it will finish faster, and give you cleaner results on the rim of a part with pointy corners.
Best 3D Printer Review: LulzBot Mini Review: This Mighty 3D Printer Does the Job
Other reasons why it’s considered a “best 3D printer” is its reliability, easy setup, and the lively community surrounding the company. Overall, the Lulzbot Mini is proof positive that an open source philosophy and a great user experience don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Best 3D Printer Features: Lulzbot Mini
The UP mini 2 is a “best 3D printer” thanks to some impressive high-end features.
Best 3D Printer Review: UP mini 2 Review: Compact 3D Printer Puts Safety First
For starters, there’s touchscreen controls and wifi connectivity. But even more attractive are safety-conscious features like power failure protection — so the print can resume after an abrupt stop — and built-in HEPA air filtration to maintain a healthy working environment.
There’s also automatic nozzle height detection, and a separate, enclosed spool container to prevent the filament from spoiling from exposure to moisture in the air. Overall a very tidy package. The only drawback is that the 120 x 120 x 120 mm build volume is rather puny.
Best 3D Printer Features: UP Mini 2
The CEL RoboxDual has a closed build chamber with a heated print-bed and automatic bed-leveling, plus dual nozzles and a proprietary extrusion system for fast printing with consistent quality.
Best 3D Printer Review: CEL RoboxDual 3D Printer Review: Dual Extrusion Redefined
Moreover, the RoboxDual is potentially the best 3D printer for future-proofing, thanks to a set of modular upgrades to enable more powerful features when you need them. With this eye on continuous development and easy accessibility, it’s a true plug and play machine.
If you’re looking for an experience that is a whole lot easier than other, more bare-bones 3D printers, then you’re probably going to have a good time with the CEL RoboxDual.
Best 3D Printer Features: CEL RoboxDual
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the new Robo R2 (and baby brother Robo C2) have been available to the broader public for a while now. Early responses have been very positive, with users impressed by the print quality, cutting-edge features, and impressive industrial design. It’s a significant advance the original Robo R1, which itself was no slouch in the printing stakes.
Topline features are Wi-Fi connectivity, automatic self-leveling, speedy printing, and a Robo smartphone app that allows you to manage everything from afar. The build quality is especially stunning. ALL3DP has both the R2 and C2 in our workshop and are currently putting them through their paces. Stay tuned for an in-depth 3D printer review in the very near future.
Best 3D Printer Features: Robo R2
Hungarian company CraftUnique has a great range of printers to cover most needs, but their entry level CraftBot PLUS is perhaps the best 3D printer of the bunch.
This is a solidly constructed machine that’s easy to use and delivers consistent results. It has a generous build volume and a heated platform which enables it to print in different FDM materials like ABS and PLA. The Plug & Play experience is enhanced by the interface of the CraftBot PLUS, featuring a colorful touch screen that’s responsive and easy to navigate.
Prepping models for printing is managed with CraftWare, a proprietary slicing software. We’d be grousing about this, were it not for the fact that it comfortably caters to both beginner and expert needs, and is capable of delivering objects at 50 microns quality (still a rare commodity at this price point). And you can at least bring your own third-party filaments to the party.
Best 3D Printer Features: CraftBot PLUS
A workhorse category best 3D printer can operate around the clock with minimal print failure. These are machines designed with reliability in mind — keeping frustration to a minimum — but they’re also open to modifications and tinkering.
There’s no getting around it, the Lulzbot Taz 6 is gigantic. It’s massive. It’s humongous. A small child could probably sit inside its frame. But don’t be intimated by the size. Because this machine is actually a B.F.P. (Big Friendly Printer).
Best 3D Printer Review: Lulzbot TAZ 6 Review: Bigger, Better, Stronger
The Lulzbot Taz 6 has a brilliant auto-leveling feature which, together with solid print quality and straightforward setup, makes it the single best 3D printer you’ll ever want to use. There’s no calibration or guesswork, it all simply functions as it should.
The Taz 6 is also open source and carefully documented, with scope for additional upgrades like the Flexystruder (optimized for printing flexible materials), dual extrusion, and the MOARstruder (for printing large objects with fat layers).
Best 3D Printer Features: Lulzbot Taz 6
Dual extrusion doesn’t have to be a pain in the ass. That’s the starting proposition with the BCN3D Sigma R17, and with the IDEX (Independent Dual Extruder) system it admirably proves its point. The build space is generous, the operation is simple, and the industrial design is unique. This makes it the best 3D printer for dual extrusion.
But the BCN3D Sigma R17 also works exceedingly well in single extrusion mode, providing quality 3D prints that are frankly spectacular.
Minor niggles are that it doesn’t have wireless connectivity; the firmware has a few teething troubles; and frugal makers may be troubled by the waste product generated by dual extrusion. But these are trivial in comparison to the versatility and performance of the BCN3D Sigma R17.
Best 3D Printer Features: BCN3D Sigma R17
The Printrbot Simple Pro is a substantial upgrade to the original Simple.
As before it carries over the same open design that shows the printer functioning from every angle. And it remains compact and portable, with a sturdy metal construction to withstand dings and dents. Where it differs is the addition of a built-in color touch screen, plus wifi connectivity and a free optional cloud service to simplify the printing experience.
The Simple Pro is also powered by a 32-bit motherboard that provides a smooth and speedy motion. Remarkably, with all these advanced features, this best 3D printer is available for a low price tag of $999.
Best 3D Printer Features: Printrbot Simple Pro
Fresh to the market is the MakerGear M3, a desktop 3D printer pitching itself as the “ultimate workhorse”. The topline features include wireless control, automatic file preparation, precision cooling, and a 12 month warranty.
Looking beyond that, there are features carried over from previous models; a solid metal chassis, a heated print bed, and interchangeable nozzles and dual-extruder upgrade.
Customers can also buy a bundle including a preconfigured tablet and Simplify3D slicing software, so you should have everything you need for a complete 3D printing workflow. Perhaps it’s too soon to call it a best 3D printer, but based on the company pedigree this is unlikely to be a step backwards.
Best 3D Printer Features: MakerGear M3
Manufactured in China, the FlashForge Creator Pro closely resembles the classic Makerbot Replicator 2X. It comes with dual extruders, a metal frame, and an enclosed chassis.
Other features include a platform-leveling system with a metal build plate and guide rod to help with stabilization and durability.
With nearly 800 customer reviews on Amazon, this machine is easily one of the most popular on the market. But is it the best 3D printer you can buy…? That’s hard to say when the design, feature spec and cost has since been eclipsed by other machines.
Best 3D Printer Features: FlashForge Creator Pro
Are you a creative professional? Do you need a 3D printer with exceptional build quality which can reliably produce high quality parts? Then you might just be a prosumer. This category of the best 3D printer is suitable for professional designers and small businesses, and these advanced desktop machines are suitable for a variety of applications.
This is the flagship of the Ultimaker empire, a refined machine that’s packed to the rafters with cutting-edge technology. It’s got dual extrusion, swappable “cores” for quickly changing print heads, wireless connectivity, and much more besides.
Best 3D Printer Review: Ultimaker 3 Review: Revolutionary Dual Extrusion 3D Printer
On the software side, the Cura slicing engine is optimized for use in tandem with the Ultimaker 3, with a smooth interface to manage the print job with the minimum of fuss. A regular update schedule ensures that innovations and improvements are shared with users on a timely basis. Thanks to printer management software “Cura Connect”, you can start your own printer farm.
If money is no object, then the Ultimaker 3 is undoubtedly the best 3D printer for your workspace, studio, or office. With a solid design, tidy operation and excellent customer support, it’s practically the Rolls-Royce of 3D printing.
The Formlabs Form 2 is underpinned with stereolithographic (SLA) technology and is perhaps the very best 3D printer in its category and price bracket. SLA works by curing resin in a tank with a high powered laser that draws each layer, providing solid objects with exceptional levels of detail.
Best 3D Printer Review: Formlabs Form 2 Review: The SLA 3D Printer Benchmark
This premium device is equipped with a peeling mechanism, a heated tank, a touchscreen display, wireless controls, and an automated resin system. It also has some cleverly designed software to make fabricating models as painless as possible, and the customer support is well established.
Printed objects will require some post-processing, however, and the resin tanks are consumable components that must be replaced regularly.
Best 3D Printer Features: Formlabs Form 2
Zortrax is one of the enduring successes of the desktop 3D printing revolution, and justifiably so. Constructed from sturdy aluminum, the Zortrax M200 can 3D print out of the box with very little setup, and it produces reliable and consistent results.
Best 3D Printer Review: Zortrax M200 Review: Easy to Use, Great Quality
The Zortrax M200 has automated bed leveling, which makes calibration precise and simple, and a build area with a perforated platform to mitigate warping. This bed is a key feature and makes it the absolute best 3D printer for working with ABS material.
There’s also a growing range of additional materials from Zortrax providing different mechanical properties, plus optional perspex panels to enclose the build space and provide additional protection from atmospheric changes.
Best 3D Printer Features: Zortrax M200
Now look, just because Ultimaker have released a third generation unit with all the latest bells and whistles, that doesn’t mean you should overlook its older brother. The 2+ is still a very fine machine and one that is perfectly useable if you don’t need features like dual extrusion or network connectivity.
Best 3D Printer Review: Ultimaker 2+ Review: The Best Ultimaker So Far
What makes the Ultimaker 2+ a best 3D printer is the way it iterates on the design of previous Ultimakers, bringing in refinements on key areas to dramatically improve the overall experience. As always, the Cura software slicer is there to help tweak and optimize each individual project to your satisfaction. And lest we forget, the core experience of using an Ultimaker is still one of ease of use and, yes, even delight.
Best 3D Printer Features: Ultimaker 2+
Markforged Mark Two is a specialist 3D printer. This FDM machine is made for printing the strongest FDM materials available – that’s reflected in its suggested retail price of $13,500. But if have the budget to buy a Markforged Mark Two, you get probably the best 3D printer for composite fiber materials.
You can print with Nylon, Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass, even Kevlar – most of the other machines can’t handle these materials straight out of the box (if at all). You also can embed continuous strands of Carbon Fiber to make a part that has the strength of Aluminum. Ths size of the print bed should be sufficient for most projects.
Unfortunately, you have to resort to the materials provided by Markforged.
If you need really strong objects for engineering purposes, then the Markforged Mark Two is the best 3D printer for your lab. Be aware that the running costs are pretty high.
Best 3D Printer Features: Markforged Mark Two