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The Best of the Best

Best 3D Printer in Spring 2018 – 16 Award Categories

Picture of Anatol Locker
by Anatol Locker
Apr 29, 2018

Looking for the best 3D printer for the home, office, workshop and more? Here are the best 3D printers you can buy in Spring 2018, together with detailed 3D printer reviews, a buyer’s guide and explanations of terminology.

Want to get the best 3D printer model for your money? Wondering where to start and what to buy? We hear you. There’s a huge range of machines on the market, and for first-timers, it can be hard to tell one from another. Looking for the best 3D printer in a specific category makes things even more complicated.

We’re here to help. After countless hours spent printing and tinkering with a large selection of desktop printers — and no small amount of haggling and debating — the ALL3DP team presents their awards for the best 3D printers you can buy in Spring 2018.

To make your decision easier, the following selections constitute a set of awards. Each best 3D printer accolade is our honest recommendation for their category and/or price bracket. If you want to know how we reviewed these best 3D printers, here’s an overview on our testing methodology.

We’ve also prepared a short guide on how to find the best 3D printer for your needs. If you are not sure about terminology, please consult our glossary.

Without further ado, these are our recommendations for the best 3D printers in Spring 2018.

Best 3D Printer in Spring 2018 – 16 Award Categories

Category Winner Check Price
Best 3D Printer Prusa i3 MK3
Most Popular 3D Printer Anet A8
Best 3D Printer Kit Original Prusa i3 MK3 Kit
Best 3D Printer Under $300 Monoprice Maker Select V2
Best 3D Printer Under $500 Creality CR-10
Best 3D Printer Under $1000 Original Prusa i3 MK3 Kit
Best 3D Printer Workhorse LulzBot TAZ 6
Best 3D Printer for Beginners UP mini 2
Best Large Format 3D Printer Zortrax M300
Best SLA/DLP 3D Printer Formlabs Form 2
Best Desktop SLS 3D Printer Sinterit Lisa
Best 3D Printer for Schools MakerBot Replicator+
Editor's Choice Lulzbot Mini
Outlook for Desktop SLS 3D Printing Formlabs Fuse 1
Outlook for Affordable SLA/DLP 3D Printing Sparkmaker
Outlook for Affordable Delta 3D Printing Monoprice Delta Pro
1

Original Prusa i3 MK3 Best 3D Printer

Image of Original Prusa i3 MK3: Best 3D Printer
Original Prusa i3 MK3

And the Best 3D Printer is… the Original Prusa i3 MK3

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 250 x 210 x 210
  • Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity USB, SD Card
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter -
  • Open Source Hardware & Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: If you want the closest thing to desktop FDM perfection, the Prusa i3 MK3 is the machine you should get.

Why you should buy it: Because it is fun to work with. If you opt for the kit, the assembly is a joy. And if you pick one up pre-assembled, this highly versatile FDM/FFF printer delivers excellent prints right out of the box.

How much you’ll pay: $999 (VAT not included)

Why we picked the Prusa i3 MK3 as Best 3D Printer: 

Can a Maker’s machine really be the Best 3D Printer overall? We think so. For starters, the Prusa i3 MK3 offers unparalleled value and quality for the money. And its technological prowess is such that it would easily outclass a 3D printer at three times the price.

At All3DP, we found it became our go-to machine to get a print job done without any hassle. It’s quiet, it’s fast, and a pleasure to use. The removable print bed is something we didn’t know we needed so badly.

And you won’t run into problems if you throw notoriously difficult materials in its direction – this machine just delivers every time.

Thanks to its open-source philosophy, the printer also is highly hackable, making it the ideal machine for experimentation and customization. The Prusa Control slicer has some nice tricks up its sleeve and is constantly updated with new improvements. A multi-material extrusion upgrade from Prusa is also available for pre-order.

The temptation was strong to score the Original Prusa i3 MK3 with a perfect 10 in our review. The only problem we encountered was with the filament runout sensor, which performed inconsistently with translucent filament – but you can expect the problem to be corrected in future revisions.

Best 3D Printer Review: Original Prusa i3 MK3 Review: Damn Near Perfect 3D Printer

Best 3D Printer
Product image of Original Prusa i3 MK3

Original Prusa i3 MK3

Apart from its excellent performance, this 3D printer kit is easy to assemble thanks to its extremely detailed instructions.

Alternative to the Best 3D Printer: Ultimaker 3

The Ultimaker is known to be the “Rolls-Royce of 3D printing”: It’s pricey, but you will get unparalleled comfort, joy, and quality out of it. The flagship model of the Ultimaker empire is packed to the rafters with cutting-edge technology. It’s got dual extrusion, swappable “cores” for quick nozzle changes, wireless connectivity, print cam and much more besides. Thanks to Cura Connect software, you can start building a printer farm with it. It’s the ultimate pro machine for professional FDM 3D printing – with a price tag to match, though.

3D Printer Review: Ultimaker 3 Review: The Best 3D Printer 2017

3

Original Prusa i3 MK3 Best 3D Printer Kit

Image of Original Prusa i3 MK3: Best 3D Printer Kit

And the Best 3D Printer Kit is… the Original Prusa i3 MK3

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 250 x 210 x 200
  • Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity USB, SD card
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75mm
  • Open Source Hardware & Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: Curious folks who want to learn everything they can about the wonderful world of 3D printing, down to the nitty-gritty of every single nut and bolt.

Why you should buy it: This is the best 3D printer kit on the market, with super-detailed assembly instructions and a manageable build-time.

How much you’ll pay: In kit form, this printer should cost in the region of $749.

Why we picked the Original Prusa i3 MK3 as Best 3D Printer Kit: 

Oh-ho! Our pick for the Best 3D Printer Kit also happens to be the same as our pick for the Best 3D Printer under $1000 and Best 3D Printer 2018.

How’d that happen? Well, based on our experiences with building the MK3 in kit form, together with the Prusa pedigree for careful, iterative design…  Well, this is an easy selection to make.

When building a kit printer, the tantamount consideration is the quality of the supporting documentation. You require clear, consistent, annotated step-by-step guidance. And when something goes wrong, you need to know where to turn and who to ask.

On that front, the Original Prusa i3 series has been outstanding. The assembly instructions are available in 7 languages, with clear pictures and diagrams, together with How-To guides and support questions addressed in the community forum. Oh, and not forgetting the gummy bears Mr. Prusa throws in every kit sweetens the deal.

Best 3D Printer Review: Original Prusa i3 MK3 Review: Damn Near Perfect 3D Printer

Best 3D Printer Kit
Product image of Original Prusa i3 MK3

Original Prusa i3 MK3

Apart from its excellent performance, this 3D printer kit is easy to assemble thanks to its extremely detailed instructions.

Alternative to the Best 3D Printer Kit: Peopoly Moai

Our alternative to this year’s winner of the category Best 3D Printer Kit isn’t an FDM printer, but an SLA machine. Starting out as a Kickstarter campaign, the Peopoly Moai offers great quality SLA prints for a very competitive price. The assembly process is easy, well documented, and painless even for DIY beginners. We also liked that the Peopoly Moai is open to 3rd party resins. If you are looking for an affordable SLA machine, the Moai should be on your shortlist.

3D Printer Review: Peopoly Moai SLA 3D Printer Review: Raises Bar, Lowers Price

Product image of Peopoly Moai

Peopoly Moai

4

Monoprice Maker Select V2 Best 3D Printer Under $300

Image of Monoprice Maker Select V2: Best 3D Printer Under $300

And the Best 3D Printer under $300 is… the
Monoprice Maker Select V2

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 200 x 200 x 180
  • Materials ABS, PLA, Exotic
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 100
  • Connectivity SD Card, USB
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75 mm
  • Open Source Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed 55 mm/s

Who it’s for: Folks on a tight budget who are curious about 3D printing.

Why you should buy it: You’ll get a compact, sturdy machine with a narrow set of features, but within those parameters, it performs exceedingly well.

How much you’ll pay: $300.

Why we picked the Monoprice Maker Select V2 as Best 3D Printer Under $300: 

In 2017, the Best 3D Printer under $300 category became quite crowded. Sure, there’s no shortage of decent Chinese Prusa i3 clones – and some are very reasonably priced. Still, if you are looking for the best 3D printer in the low budget category, you want a machine that balances the drawbacks of affordable components with printing quality and reliability.

Thankfully, US-based seller Monoprice offers some great 3D printers in this category. For the Winter 2017 award in this category, we picked the Monoprice Select Mini V2, which costs only $250. For only $50 more, you’ll get an even better machine with a much bigger printing bed volume – the Monoprice Maker Select V2. It is based on the same blueprints as the Wanhao Duplicator i3. Like the Mini, it comes preassembled.

The heated build plate and wide extruder temperature range (up to 250 Celsius) 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. The only drawback is the low 3D printing speed.

Alternative to the Best 3D Printer Under $300: Creality Ender 2

The Creality Ender 2 comes as a box full of bits and pieces you will need to assemble yourself. This brings the costs down to an insanely low price. Sure, the printing bed is tiny and the components aren’t top notch – but you only pay $180 for this little printer. Overall, the Creality Ender 2 is a small, simple and cheap 3D printer, exactly what you’re looking for in a starter or even a secondary 3D printer.

5

Creality CR-10 Best 3D Printer Under $500

Image of Creality CR-10: Best 3D Printer Under $500

And the Best 3D Printer under $500 is… the
Creality CR-10

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 300 x 300 x 400
  • Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity USB, SD Card, Wifi
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75 mm
  • Open Source Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: Folks looking for the absolute most bang for their buck, and who are not afraid to tinker.

Why you should buy it: This machine stormed the category Best 3D Printer under $500 in 2017. It offers a surprisingly large build volume, good print quality for the money, is reasonably reliable, and has a supportive community sharing ideas for modifications.

How much you’ll pay: Prices start at $487, though flash sales and promo codes can bring the cost even lower.

Why we picked the Creality CR-10 as Best 3D Printer under $500: 

It might not look like much, but the Creality CR-10 has caused 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 cubed! That alone makes it worth an award for the Best 3D Printer under $500.

The Creality CR-10 is rather basic, with an open-face frame with a heated bed, SD card reader, and LCD controls with an external power brick. At the end of our testing, we became quite fond of this machine. There’s something 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 Review: Creality CR-10 Review – The Best 3D Printer Under $500

Alternative to the Best 3D Printer under $500: Anycubic i3 Mega

An interesting alternative for the Best 3D Printer under $500 is the Anycubic i3 Mega. It comes pre-built, delivers good quality prints and offers some nice features (filament sensor, heated bed, sturdy full metal frame) that are usually to be found in higher-priced machines — but it comes with a smaller build volume than the CR-10. Still, a printer to watch.

3D Printer Review: Anycubic i3 Mega Review: A Highly Affordable 3D Printer

Don’t miss: 7 Best Creality CR-10 3D Printer Clones (You Can Buy)

6

Original Prusa i3 MK3 Best 3D Printer Under $1000

Image of Original Prusa i3 MK3: Best 3D Printer Under $1000
Original Prusa i3 MK3

And the Best 3D Printer under $1000 is… the Original Prusa i3 MK3

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 250 x 210 x 200
  • Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity USB, SD card
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75mm
  • Open Source Hardware & Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: Self-sufficient folks who like their hardware and software totally free of restrictions, without paying for a premium.

Why you should buy it: This is the current reigning champion of the independent, open-source RepRap movement, with kickass quality and reliability.

How much you’ll pay: For a fully-assembled unit expect to pay around $1,000. The DIY kit is currently priced at $750 (excl. tax).

Why we picked the Original Prusa i3 MK3 as Best 3D Printer under $1000: 

The Original Prusa i3 MK3 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 a fantastic printer.

In Winter 2017, its predecessor Prusa i3 MK2S already won our “Best 3D Printer Kit” and “Best 3D Printer under $1000” awards. It‘s still a great, reliable and versatile 3D printer. But the development team added several features to the MK3 we don‘t want to miss anymore. Like the removable magnetic metal print bed that lets you pluck your prints off the bed with ease; a rebuilt extruder, filament sensor, improved frame stability, and a power failure recovery system.

It still has the full mesh bed auto-leveling, improved construction, faster printing, and an excellent E3D V6 hotend. All that, plus improved firmware and printer self-test. Průša is also known to constantly evolve the printer, its software and even the hardware.

Best 3D Printer Review: Original Prusa i3 MK3 Review: Damn Near Perfect 3D Printer

Best 3D Printer Under $1000
Product image of Original Prusa i3 MK3

Original Prusa i3 MK3

Apart from its excellent performance, this 3D printer kit is easy to assemble thanks to its extremely detailed instructions.

Alternative to the Best 3D Printer under $1000: Robo C2

It is hard to compete with one of the most popular 3D printers worldwide. The only model that can stand up in the category of the Best 3D Printer under $1000 is the Robo C2. It is well-built and delivers great quality prints. Also, if offers interesting comfort features (Wi-Fi printing, smartphone app) that make working with the printer a breeze.

7

LulzBot TAZ 6 Best 3D Printer Workhorse

Image of LulzBot TAZ 6: Best 3D Printer Workhorse

And the Best 3D Printer Workhorse is… the
LulzBot TAZ 6

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 280 x 280 x 250
  • Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity USB, SD Card
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 3.00 mm
  • Open Source Hardware & Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed 200 mm/s

Who it’s for: Folks who want a versatile and reliable machine they can trust. They just want to set it and forget it.

Why you should buy it: Whatever you throw at it, the Lulzbot TAZ 6 delivers consistent print quality. This is another champion of the open source movement in 3D printing.

How much you’ll pay: Prices start at $2,500, though seasonal discounts happen a few times a year.

Why we picked the LulzBot TAZ 6 as Best 3D Printer Workhorse: 

The Lulzbot TAZ 6 is made for labs, workshops and maker spaces. This big, bold machine has a brilliant auto-leveling feature which, together with solid print quality and straightforward setup, makes it the single workhorse 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). If you are looking for a workhorse 3D printer you can trust, look no further.

Best 3D Printer Review: Lulzbot TAZ 6 Review: Bigger, Better, Stronger

Alternative to the Best 3D Printer Workhorse: Zortrax M200

If you aren’t concerned with closed hardware or proprietary software and materials, the Zortrax M200 is the machine you‘ve been looking for. It’s a perfect match if you want a workhorse 3D printer that delivers quality prints. It 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 that makes it the absolute best 3D printer for working with ABS material (or “Z-ULTRAT”, as the company puts it).

3D Printer Review: Zortrax M200 Review: The Best 3D Printer Workhorse 2017

8

UP mini 2 Best 3D Printer for Beginners

Image of UP mini 2: Best 3D Printer for Beginners

And the Best 3D Printer for Beginners is… the
UP mini 2

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 120 x 120 x 120
  • Materials PLA, ABS, Flexible
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 150
  • Connectivity USB, Wifi
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75 mm
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: If you’ve heard nasty rumors about toxic emissions from desktop 3D printing, then the built-in HEPA filter should put your mind at rest.

Why you should buy it: Looking for the best 3D printer for beginners? You could do a lot worse than the UP mini 2, which has some extraordinary features of genuine value.

How much you’ll pay: Expect to pay around $539.

Why we picked the Tiertime UP mini 2 as Best 3D Printer for Beginners: 

The UP mini 2 is the best 3D printer for beginners thanks to some impressive high-end features.

For starters, there’s touchscreen controls, a closed build room, 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 Review: UP mini 2 Review: Compact 3D Printer Puts Safety First

Alternative to the Best 3D Printer for Beginners: Flashforge Finder

There are many companies claiming to have the “best 3D printer for beginners” — but only few can deliver. Flashforge, on the other hand, offers a great package that’s capable of giving you quality prints and enough room for improvement if you’re getting deeper into 3D printing. The ease of use makes the Flashforge Finder one of the best 3D printers for beginners.

3D Printer Review: Flashforge Finder 3D Printer Review: (Almost) For Beginners

9

Zortrax M300 Best Large Format 3D Printer

Image of Zortrax M300: Best Large Format 3D Printer

And the Best Large Format 3D Printer is… the
Zortrax M300

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 300 x 300 x 300
  • Materials Z-PLA Pro, Z-ASA Pro, Z-ESD, Z-HIPS, Z-GLASS, Z-PETG
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 90
  • Connectivity SD Card
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 1.75mm
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes, but voids warranty.
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed 200mm/sec

Who it’s for: Folks who have grand ambitions and want to print big. Like, REALLY BIG.

Why you should buy it: Because the Zortrax M300 combines user-friendliness with large capacity 3D printing.

How much you’ll pay: $3,000

Why we picked the Zortrax M300 as Best Large Format 3D Printer: 

There’s no getting around it, the Zortrax M300 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).

Constructed from sturdy aluminum, the Zortrax M300 can 3D print out of the box with very little setup, and it produces reliable and consistent results (as does its little brother, the M200).

Temperature management is crucial for large format 3D printers. The Zortrax M300 addresses this in two ways.

First, it offers a build area with a perforated platform to mitigate warping. This bed is a key feature that makes it the absolute best 3D printer for working with ABS material (or “Z-ULTRAT”, as the company puts it). There’s also a growing range of additional materials from Zortrax providing different mechanical properties. The company states that for best results you should use only their materials, but you can start printing with 3rd party materials also (by voiding the warranty, though).

The other temperature management solution is the perspex panels to enclose the build space and provide additional protection from atmospheric changes.

Alternative to the Best Large Format 3D Printer: Creality CR-10 5S

Want to print half a cubic meter? Meet the Creality CR-10 5S. It is probably the most affordable large-format 3D printer you can buy on the market – and compared to the enormous build volume of 500 x 500 x 500mm, it is relatively cheap. Sure, you will have to experiment more as it misses most comfort features of the Zortrax M300, but it comes at a fraction of the price.

10

Formlabs Form 2 Best SLA/DLP 3D Printer

Image of Formlabs Form 2: Best SLA/DLP 3D Printer

And the Best SLA/DLP 3D Printer is… the
Formlabs Form 2

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 145 x 145 x 175
  • Materials Resin
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 25
  • Connectivity USB, Wifi, Ethernet
  • Technology SLA
  • Filament Diameter -
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: You need to 3D print items with absolute precision and detail, for example, jewelry, figurines, or dental fixtures.

Why you should buy it: This is the first desktop printer to bring stereolithography to the masses, and with a growing ecosystem of materials with different properties, it’s still pretty much the leader in its class.

How much you’ll pay: Prices start at $3,379, though the finishing kits and post-processing devices can push the price higher.

Why we picked the Formlabs Form 2 as Best SLA/DLP 3D Printer: 

The Formlabs Form 2 is underpinned by 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.

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, the user experience is unparalleled, 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 Review: Formlabs Form 2 Review: The SLA 3D Printer Benchmark

Best SLA 3D Printer
Product image of Formlabs Form 2

Formlabs Form 2

This SLA 3D printer delivers high-resolution prints with stunning detail. There's a growing ecosystem of specialized resins for specific tasks, and it’s relatively easy to use.

Alternative to the Best SLA/DLP 3D Printer: Anycubic Photon

No, the Anycubic Photon cannot compete with Formlabs’ professional approach to resin printing. But if you want to get your feet wet in DLP 3D printing, it doesn‘t get any cheaper than $500. If you only want to print small objects, check out this Best Resin 3D printer alternative.

3D Printer Review: Anycubic Photon Review: A Great DLP 3D Printer Under $500

11

Lisa Sinterit Best Desktop SLS 3D Printer

Image of Lisa Sinterit: Best Desktop SLS 3D Printer

And the Best SLS 3D Printer is… the
Sinterit Lisa

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 90 x 110 x 130 mm
  • Materials Polyamide (Nylon), PA12, Flexible
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 75
  • Connectivity USB, Wifi
  • Technology SLS
  • Filament Diameter -
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material No
  • Heated Platform -
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: Professionals that want the SLS quality, but don’t want to invest in a $200.000 dollar machine.

Why you should buy it: The Sinterit Lisa benchtop SLS 3D printer is made for labs, workshops, and professional designers.

How much you’ll pay: Prices start at $6990. The full package, which includes a sandblasting station and powder sieve, costs an additional $2,000.

Why we picked the Sinterit Lisa 2 as Best Desktop SLS 3D Printer: 

The SLS technology offers several benefits over FFF/FDM printing: Machines like these deliver stunning results, let you use a variety of standard industrial materials, don’t need any support structures, print multiple parts at once, and give you total freedom of form while designing. Therefore, SLS printers are the natural choice for Additive Manufacturing professionals.

The Sinterit Lisa also delivers industrial-grade performance for a great price. The compact Polish powerhouse is capable of 3D printing functional prototypes and end-use parts. Be aware that despite the low cost and intuitive interface, the Sinterit Lisa still requires more work and production-savvy skills than your average FDM printer.

Overall, we found the Sinterit Lisa to be one of the most accessible and affordable benchtop SLS printers on the market.

Best Printer Review: Sinterit Lisa Review: Hands-on with the Desktop SLS 3D Printer

Best Desktop SLS 3D
Product image of Sinterit Lisa

Sinterit Lisa

The Sinterit Lisa is a desktop SLS 3D printer that is both extremely affordable and easy to use. This industrial-grade, compact Polish powerhouse is capable of 3D printing functional prototypes and end-use parts. 

Alternative to the Best Desktop SLS 3D Printer: Sintratec Kit

The market for desktop SLS 3D printers still is relatively small. As soon as Formlabs starts delivering their Fuse 1, another interesting competitor will enter the market (more in the “Outlook” section). Until then, the Sintratec S1, priced at more than $24.000, is certainly a great choice for professionals wanting a pro SLS desktop machine.
Also, the Sintratec Kit lets you dive into the technology for a relatively low price of $5.800. You’ll have to assemble the machine first, which will take you up to four days.

12

MakerBot Replicator+ Best 3D Printer for Schools

Image of MakerBot Replicator+: Best 3D Printer for Schools

And the Best 3D Printer for Schools is… the
MakerBot Replicator+

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 295 x 195 x 165
  • Materials PLA
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 100
  • Connectivity USB, Wifi, Ethernet
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter -
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material No
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed -

Who it’s for: Best 3D Printer for Schools concept for teachers, educators, workshop organizers, and students of all ages.

Why you should buy it: The MakerBot Replicator+ is a full ecosystem for 3D printing — spanning apps, materials, and hardware — to make printing as effortless as possible.

How much you’ll pay: Prices start $2,499, although educational discounts are available.

Why we picked the MakerBot Replicator+ as Best 3D Printer for Schools: 

The best 3D printer for schools is the MakerBot Replicator+. That’s because no other 3D printing manufacturer has invested so heavily in building a dedicated ecosystem for the education space.

Taking the printer in isolation, we have a device with safety features optimized for the classroom. There’s a removable flexible bed that isn’t heated; an extruder where the hot-end is out of reach of curious fingers; and a semi-enclosed build-space that protects the build area from foreign objects.

Moreover, there’s a cloud-based slicing option, where a model can be selected on Thingiverse and sent directly to the Replicator via a dedicated smartphone app. Everything can be monitored on your smartphone.

But the icing on the cake are the tools around it; a dedicated education space on Thingiverse, with STEM projects to make learning fun, plus an educator’s handbook to help teachers with core concepts around 3D modeling and printing. The company will even help you find grants to fund a MakerBot in your classroom.

Alternative to the Best 3D Printer for Schools: Dremel Idea Builder

Together with Makerbot and Ultimaker, the Dremel Idea Builder made it to the top list of our Best 3D Printer for School Awards. What got us convinced was easy setup and “Dremel Dreams”, a curriculum for teachers and students on STEM education and 3D printing.

13

Lulzbot Mini Editor's Choice

Image of Lulzbot Mini: Editor's Choice

And the Editor’s Choice is… the Lulzbot Mini

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 152 x 152 x 158
  • Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity USB
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter 2.85 mm
  • Open Source Hardware & Software
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform Yes
  • Printing Speed 275 mm/s

Who it’s for: People who just want to get printing with the minimum of fuss; throw any kind of filament at the Lulzbot Mini, and the results are usually pretty fine.

Why you should buy it: This is the stock printer in the ALL3DP workshop. When we’re not busy testing other printers, this is the one we use on a regular basis.

How much you’ll pay: Prices start at $1,250, though seasonal discounts happen a few times a year.

Why we picked the Lulzbot Mini as Editor’s Choice: 

The Lulzbot Mini is the smallest machine offered by Aleph Objects, with a six cubic inch build area. 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.

Other reasons why it’s our editor’s choice for the best 3D printer: 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 Review: LulzBot Mini Review: This Mighty 3D Printer Does the Job

Alternative to the Editor’s Choice: Prusa Mk2S

It’s not easy finding a printer that you come back to every time you want to get the job done. Still, the Prusa Mk2S is our second pick after the Lulzbot Mini. It is fun to print with, handles notoriously difficult filaments with ease and is — although an older model — one of the finest printer kits available.

Product image of Original Prusa i3 MK2S

Original Prusa i3 MK2S

14

Formlabs Fuse 1 Outlook for Desktop SLS 3D Printing

Image of Formlabs Fuse 1: Outlook for Desktop SLS 3D Printing

For Desktop SLS 3D printing we are looking forward to… the Formlabs Fuse 1

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 165 x 165 x 320
  • Materials Nylon
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 100
  • Connectivity -
  • Technology SLS
  • Filament Diameter -
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material No
  • Heated Platform -
  • Printing Speed 10 mm / hour

Why is it important: Selective laser sintering is the choice of additive manufacturing professionals. With lapsing patents aplenty, benchtop SLS is the next technology frontier for 3D printing hobbyists and makers. In the next years, SLS desktop machines will become more commonplace – and the Formlabs Fuse 1 could become the printer that will start it all.

Why you should buy it: If you need to 3D print more than one item in medium-size batches, from quality nylon material with decent detailing.

How much you’ll pay: In the region of $20,000.

Why we picked the Formlabs Fuse 1: 

We’re pretty excited about the new Fuse 1 from Formlabs. Bringing the same level of finesse and sophistication to selective laser sintering they’re already achieved with stereolithography, this is a company with an impressive vision for 3D printing in the 21st century.

The Fuse 1 can fabricate objects in strong and flexible nylon. It also features a removable chamber, allowing for continuous printing. Another feature of this benchtop SLS printer is a live video feed, meaning you can monitor the entire printing process.

Non-beta Fuse 1 printers are expected to begin shipping in the fall of 2018. The full package is also available for $19,999. It includes a post-processing station, an extra build chamber for continuous usage, and an initial material load.

Product image of Formlabs Fuse 1

Formlabs Fuse 1

15

Sparkmaker Outlook for Affordable SLA/DLP 3D Printing

Image of Sparkmaker: Outlook for Affordable SLA/DLP 3D Printing

For Affordable SLA/DLP 3D Printing we are looking forward to… the Sparkmaker

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 98 x 55 x 125 mm
  • Materials Resin
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 10
  • Connectivity -
  • Technology SLA
  • Filament Diameter -
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform -
  • Printing Speed -

Why is it important: Because this 3D printer could make SLA printing extremely affordable and popular.

Why you should buy it: SLA machines are the right choice if you want detailed prints.

How much you’ll pay: $249

Why we picked the Sparkmaker: 

The Sparkmaker is a good example that SLA 3D printers don’t have to be expensive. Sure, the Sparkmaker has a tiny build plate. Also, the choice of resins is somewhat limited. But an SLA machine for under $300 could be a game changer in the SLA sector.

We're Excited
Product image of Sparkmaker

Sparkmaker

Unlike other SLA 3D printers that require a computer connection, SparkMaker supports offline printing and has the ability to print in higher resolution compared to DLP 3D printers.

16

Monoprice Delta Pro Outlook for Affordable Delta 3D Printing

Image of Monoprice Delta Pro: Outlook for Affordable Delta 3D Printing

For Affordable Delta 3D Printing we are looking forward to… the Monoprice Delta Pro

Features

  • Build Volume (mm) 270 x 270 x 320
  • Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, PETG, Nylon, Exotics
  • Min Layer Height (microns) 50
  • Connectivity -
  • Technology FDM
  • Filament Diameter -
  • Open Source No
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material Yes
  • Heated Platform -
  • Printing Speed N/A

Why is it important: Delta 3D printers use three arms on rails that move up and down independently to move the print head. They are known to be very efficient, and, they can print taller with ease. Their main benefit is speed, as their light print head move around quicker than other 3D printers.

Why you should buy it: Monoprice achieves the remarkable feat of finding inexpensive yet quality 3D printers, and making them palatable to a wider audience – and the large Delta Pro won’t be an exception.

How much you’ll pay: Under $1500.

Why we picked the Monoprice Delta Pro: 

Delta printers are somewhat neglected in FDM 3D printing – and to be honest, we can‘t really understand why. They are fast, versatile and fun to print with. If you ever had the chance to see a WASP Delta 2040 turbo in action, you’ll understand.

Monoprice already offered a $150 Delta Mini 3D printer. It was too small to grab the attention of 3D printing enthusiasts — but this might change with the Delta Pro. It offers a 270 x 320mm build volume, silent drivers, touchscreen, auto bed leveling and Wifi connectivity.

Further to this, a spec sheet sent to All3DP confirms the Delta Pro will also come with a brass 0.4mm nozzle on a hot end operating between 160 – 270 degrees Celsius and will be capable of layer resolutions as fine as 0.05mm. The Delta Pro will also feature a heated bed with an operational range of 50 – 110 degrees Celsius.

How to Select the Best 3D Printer for Your Needs

How to buy the best 3D printer

Selecting the best 3D printer for your needs is not an easy task. We want to make the process it a little bit easier with the Best 3D Printer Awards.

Finding the Best 3D Printer for Beginners

If you are a newcomer to 3D printing, things can get overwhelming. Specifications and terminology may sound gibberish and intimidating. So you best resort to a dedicated printer for beginners, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There are four traps you can fall into.

1. There are some printers on the market that claim to be “best 3D printers for beginners”. While they come prebuilt, you will pay extra by paying for overpriced filament, get frustrated with poor build quality, and get dubious printing results. To avoid this, better check some independent reviews the chosen model.

2. Don’t buy too cheap. When looking for the best 3D printer for your money, the worst thing you can do is to waste it on a cheap, untested no-name printer. Don’t get us wrong, we don‘t want to talk you into spending more of your hard earned money – but there’s a huge difference between a cheap printer and the Best 3D Printer under $250 or $500. Again, reviews matter to get the best 3D printer available.

3. Also, there’s a legion of the Prusa i3 clones. They come in different brands, variations, and fittings. While some are actually really good, others offer inferior quality and are way too complicated to handle. Most of the Prusa clones come as a kit, which complicates things. If you want to go for one, make sure the machine has a good, readable documentation and an active community, so you have someone to ask if you are running into trouble.

4. So why not buy on Kickstarter? In our opinion, Kickstarter and Indiegogo are not the best places to buy 3D printers. You can get ripped off intentionally (like with the $99 Peachy Printer), leave empty-handed (like with the Tiko 3D) or get your printer much later than promised (which happens to most Kickstarter projects).

After so much advice, we recommend you to take a look at the categories Best 3D Printer under $300, Best 3D Printer under $500, and — of course — Best 3D Printer for Beginners. Surely, you’ll find the best 3D printer for you in these categories.

Finding the Best 3D Printer for Makers

If you consider yourself a tinkerer or maker who wants to tap into 3D printing, you won’t need the most expensive and flashy model available on the market. 
The good part is that you can save a significant sum by buying a DIY kit. You’ll also learn a lot by assembling the machine yourself.

The market for the 3D printing hobbyist is heavily populated, so you have a great choice of machines to choose from. The most difficult part is finding the best 3D printer for your needs.

If you want to make sure to get the best 3D printer, we recommend you take a look at the categories Best 3D Printer under $1000, Best 3D Printer under $500 and Best 3D Printer under $300. These will give you the best bang for the buck.

Finding the Best 3D Printer for Enthusiasts

If you are already experienced in 3D printing and consider yourself a 3D printing enthusiast, you already have an opinion on the best 3D printer brands and their machines. You need some alternatives, not general advice.

The categories Best 3D Printer, Best 3D Printer under $500, Best 3D Printer under $1000, Best 3D Printer Kit, Best 3D Printer Workhorse and Editor’s Choice are most likely to meet your needs.

The Best 3D Printers for Professional Use

If you are a professional that just wants to get the job done by 3D printing, you don’t care too much about brands. You need your prototype without having to tweak dubious settings. You need a 3D printer something that works out of the box, that gives you hassle-free and reliable results. Also, the materials you can print with matter to you.

If you feel you belong in this category, please check the Best 3D Printer and Best 3D Printer Workhorse. If you need high-quality details, you should also check our award for Best SLA/DLP 3D Printer.

How We Test

To properly test the various 3D printers we receive for review, we have a baseline selection of objects to fabricate.

First and foremost is 3DBenchy, the jolly 3D printing torture test. It’s specifically designed to be a calibration model — while also being cute as hell — and our workshop is drowning in them. Secondly is the V29 super loud whistle. Thirdly is a side-release buckle for rucksacks and bags.

Taken together, these three objects cover just about everything that a 3D printer is required to do effectively; sloping surfaces, dimensional accuracy, bridging, overhangs, supports, fine details, and more. If a printer fails to passably print any one of these objects, then it’s unlikely to rank as a best 3D printer.

After that, we will print more objects that specifically address the individual capabilities of the machine. If we have a large-volume printer, for example, we’ll be printing a — surprise — very large object. If it’s an SLA printer, then we’ll make fine detail models to take advantage of this particular production technique.

Other points of consideration for a best 3D printer; ease-of-use, supporting software, and repair options. If something goes wrong, how easy is it to fix the machine? Does the documentation or customer service provide adequate information? Does the software suite have regular update cycles?

We strive to answer all these questions and more in our quest to find the best 3D printer for you.

Glossary of Terms

When choosing your best 3D printer, you run into terminology that may be confusing. Here are explanations the most important terms.

  • ABS: Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, otherwise known as ABS, is a thermoplastic commonly used as the build material or ‘filament’ in FDM printers. It’s fairly strong, but it’s also a bit tricky to work with (and can give off nasty odors when melted).
  • FDM: Fused deposition modeling, otherwise known as FDM, is a 3D printing process that extrudes heated thermoplastic material through a computer-controlled nozzle to build an object layer by layer. FDM is actually a trademarked term, which led to the RepRap open-source community to coin the alternative term “fused filament fabrication” (FFF), but the two are interchangeable.
  • Filament: Filament is the base material that’s used to 3D print objects via FDM. Filament is usually a thermoplastic — such as ABS or PLA — that’s fed to a print head as a solid, then heated to melting point for extrusion through a small nozzle. Filament is commonly available in spools of either 1.75mm and 3 mm diameter widths.
  • G-Code: G-code is the language used to instruct your 3D printer to perform operations. In common usage, this is almost exclusively generated by software and is not written by hand. G-codes control specific actions like motion, speed, rotation, depth, and other related switches and sensors used in the operation of a machine.
  • Heated bed: This is a build plate which is heated so that the few layers of extruded plastic are prevented from cooling too quickly and then warping. A heated bed is essential for working with ABS  or PETG materials, but not so much with PLA.
  • Hot end: This is the heated nozzle that molten plastic filament is extruded through in an FDM/FFF printer.
  • PLA: Polylactic Acid, otherwise known as PLA, is a bio-degradable plastic that’s used as the build material or ‘filament’ in FDM printers. This material is easier to work with than ABS, and the smell is not so unpleasant, but the trade-off is that PLA is structurally more brittle.
  • SLA: Stereolithography is a 3D printing technology that works via a process called vat photopolymerization. Objects are built in layers using a Stereolithographic Apparatus, or SLA for short. This works using a laser beam to trace out and solidify each successive layer of an object on the surface (or base) of a vat of liquid photopolymer.
  • Slicer: 3D printing works by building an object layer by layer. A slicer is the software package used to divide a 3D model into flat layers, which are then printed one at a time. The output of a slicer is G-code that controls the path, speed, and temperature of the printer. Slicer software packages are available in both open-source and proprietary programmes, and they’re an essential tool for successful 3D printing.
  • SLS: Selective Laser Sintering, or SLS for short, is a technology commonly employed by 3D printing services for metallic objects. SLS is a powder bed fusion 3D printing technique that uses a laser to selectively fuse — or sinter — together with the granules of successive layers of powder.
  • STL: STL is the most popular file format for 3D printing. The STL file format represents a 3D object by describing the surface as a series of triangles. Strangely enough, information about what the letters STL actually stand for has been lost to the mists of time. Backronyms posited as an answer include ‘standard tessellation language’ and ‘standard triangle language’.

License: The text of "Best 3D Printer in Spring 2018 – 16 Award Categories" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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