Looking for a large 3D printer for your small business? Here are the best large format / large scale 3D printers for your needs.
In the wake of 3D printing technology becoming affordable for the consumer market, new development stages like rapid prototyping have become feasible for small businesses. This is thanks to newly emerging market for large build volume 3D printers at fraction of the cost the long-established companies charge.
You have probably heard and seen large-scale 3D printers, one of the most popular being the Big Rep. The following article assembles some of the best large 3D printers that are particularly suitable for small business due to their relatively modest price tags. We provide the raw technical data, our own judgement and insights to help you to come to an informed decision on which large 3D printer to choose.
We divided the large 3D printers into two categories:
Anything beyond that price cap we don’t consider within the financial means of small businesses.
|Creality 3D CR-10||$1,199||ABS, PLA, Exotics||500 ✕ 500 ✕ 500 mm|
|Zortrax M300||$4,354||ABS, HIPS, ULTRAT||300 ✕ 300 ✕ 300 mm|
|Fusion 3 F400-S||$4,499||PLA, ABS, ASA, PETG, Polycarbonate, PC-ABS, Flexible, Polyesters, Acrylic, Soluble||355 ✕ 355 ✕ 320 mm|
|Fouche Cheetah 3.1||$7,735||ABS, PLA, EVA||1000 ✕ 1000 ✕ 1000 mm|
|Zilla3D DeltaZilla||$7,995||PLA, ABS, PETG||750 ✕ 750 ✕ 1220 mm|
|Gigabot XLT 900||$16,995||PLA, ABS, and others||590 ✕ 760 ✕ 900 mm|
|Delta WASP 3MT||$18,000 (Est.)||PLA, PETG, Polystyrene, Ceramics||1000 mm diameter ✕ 3000 mm (Z axis)|
|Builder Extreme 2000||$18,995||PLA, PVA, Flexible, Woodfill, Bronzefill, PET||700 ✕ 700 ✕ 1820 mm|
|BigRep ONE v3||$39,000||PLA, ProHT, PETG, PVA||1005 ✕ 1005 ✕ 1005 mm|
|German RepRap X1000||$50,000 (Est.)||ABS, PLA, PVA, PET-G, Laywood, Laybrick, ASA, PC and others||1000 ✕ 800 ✕ 600 mm|
Since its release in the summer of 2016, Creality’s 3D CR-10 has created something of a stir in the 3D printing community. As we have expounded in our recent review, the hype surrounding this large 3D printer is totally justified. Firstly, there is the impressive build volume of 500 ✕ 500 ✕ 500 mm.
For those with smaller pockets and 3D printing ambition, Creality offers a version with a build volume of 300 ✕ 300 ✕ 400 mm. Therefore, even the smallest model dwarfs many other 3D printers of its price category.
But the size doesn’t come at the cost of print quality, as the CR-10 is capable of exceptional prints. The printer ships as a kit that can be easily assembled by anyone with a reasonable understanding of FDM 3D printers.
The downside of the Creality CR-10 is the awkward arrangement of its components that make a large 3D printer into a bulky one. While a heated bed is certainly a welcome feature to work with heat-reliant materials, the open design of the 3D printer as a whole is not suitable to print off ABS.
For this reason our verdict is ambivalent: you will not find a larger 3D printer for this price tag for small businesses. Hence this is in our list of the best large 3D printers. On the other hand, the printer requires some additional work on your side to make good on its promise of 3D printing heat-reliant materials.
3D Printer Review: Creality CR-10 Review: A 3D Printer Worth The Hype
In 2016, Zortrax released the big brother of the M200 on whose proven and award-winning design it is based. The company responded to its customer’s request for a large 3D printer that would enable printing designs in one piece without the need to split it and then assemble it. As the name indicates, the larger hull yields an impressive build volume of 300 ✕ 300 ✕ 300 mm.
The heated build platform allows you to print with sturdy ABS. If your printer goes big, then so must your spool. Zortrax made a logical decision when it upgraded the material supply to 2kg heavy filament spools. The redesigned spools facilitate the workflow by including indicators to see how much material is left. As in the M200, files are transferred from the desktop computer to the printer via SD cards.
Another upgrade has immediate effects on the quality of the prints made with the large 3D printer M300. Unlike the M200, the M300 ships with side covers that help maintain a constant temperature to avoid the undesirable effects that sudden changes of temperature in the surrounding air can have.
If you want a machine that works out of the box with very little setup, and that produces reliable and consistent results, then the Zortrax M300 is the best large 3D printer for your small business.
Fusion 3 set itself the goal to make the quality of industrial 3D printing affordable for the consumer market. Until we have tested one of their printers ourselves, we can only judge from the specs that are very encouraging: The build space of the Fusion 3 400-S is completely enclosed, that means it can control the internal temperature to create a consistent quality of production and handle high-temperature filaments like ABS and Polycarbonate.
The hardened steel nozzles built into the printer can withstand even abrasive materials like metal, ceramic, and carbon fiber. The built-in auto bed-levelling harnesses infrared light to adjust the bed along the Z axis in real time. Users control the large 3D printer either by the 4.7” color touchscreen or remotely via a web interface. Customers of the Fusion 3 400-S receive one license of the slicer software Simplify3D free of charge.
More importantly, the large 3D printer is highly flexible in terms of compatible materials. The manufacturer continually tests new materials and regularly publishes print profiles. This means customers are not locked into a proprietary environment. Instead, they can choose from a wide array of filament manufacturers that meet their standards of quality and their budget. For workshops that lack air ventilation, Fusion offers a filter system upgrade that reduces smells and poisonous vapors while printing.
In case you want speed rather than high quality, Fusion offers a variation of this large 3D printer: The Fusion 3 F400-HFR that was designed with high-throughput in mind. It prints 50% faster than the F400-S, but the downside is that you loose print detail.
The inventor Hans Fouche began marketing his large 3D printer, the Cheetah, that helped make him famous in 2015. Fouche famously printed a lawn mower, a guitar, pairs of shoes and a vacuum cleaner that can double as a flower vase. This remarkable machine is able to print large objects at the fraction of the time other printers are capable of.
However, the tradeoff for speed is that the Cheetah’s prints exhibit a lower print resolution: The minimum layer height of this large 3D printer is 3mm! Apart from the speed, another perk of this large 3D printer is its capability to extrude plastic pellets that cost substantially less than filament spools used by most commercial 3D printers.
Fouche acknowledges that the Cheetah is not equipped to handle small designs and urges his customers to use it for its intended purpose: Creating large, functional products. If you value speed and low cost above print quality, there is no better large 3D printer for your small business at this size on the market.
Next in the list of the best large 3D printers is DeltaZilla, a professional 3D printer that uses an open source operating system and parts. It boasts a whopping build space of 750 x 750 x 1220 mm. What stands out from the competing large 3D printers are the extruder connections that can detect filament using built-in sensors.
You can sleep easy while the DeltaZilla prints off your 3D files, since the integrated smoke Detector will shut-off the 3D printer in case of a fire hazard. Due to the open frame design of the large 3D printer, we anticipate that it might prove difficult to print materials like ABS without warping.
Zilla3D offers a broad range optional features that extend the feature set of the DeltaZilla. For instance, you can add 2 additional extruders, attachments for laser etching, light carving and circuit board etching. The most interesting upgrade is the Octoprint Raspberry Pi that comes with a 5” screen, a camera and a WiFi controller to remotely control the DeltaZilla.
For the future, Zilla3D is planning to add a paste extruder to expand its range of applications. This large 3D printer ships with two big spools (3kg each) of filament: white PLA and black ABS.
Jumpstarted by two famously successful Kickstarter campaigns, re:3D has a well-earned reputation for large 3D printers. Its self-imposed goal is to democratize affordable industrial-grade 3D printing, basing the first generation of the Gigabot on open software and hardware, like Arduino chips. The most recent incarnation of the Gigabot is called the XLT 900, enabling 3D prints with a mindboggling build volume of 590 x 760 x 900 mm. This large 3D printer is 300mm higher than the Gigabot XL 3+.
Although scaling up the build volume with every iteration has been at the heart of re:3D’s agenda from the start, the XLT 900 brings some technical improvements to the table as well. Every Gigabot is shipped with 5 lbs of PLA and a toolkit for routine 3D printer maintenance.
The initial project of a large 3D printer was partly inspired by the lead designers work for engineers without borders, during which they observed the negative effects of plastic trash while realizing its potential, as recycling this material to make new filament could be the key to gain full control of a small business’s supply chain. For this reason, the Gigabot can deal with about any kind of thermoplastics that melts below 350°C.
The slightly smaller base model, Gigabot 3+, is available as a kit and assembled printer. In addition, the manufacturer offers retrofit upgrades to enhance print precision, usability, and endurance without having to buy an all-new large 3D printer.
The manufacturer of the Delta WASP 3MT has made its name with its projects geared at solving social issues plaguing the world, like its full scale house printer. The Delta WASP 3MT operates on a smaller scale allowing users to print objects the size of furniture. What makes this large 3D printer unique is the diverse array of tools that can be installed: It can be a pellet extruder, a fluid-dense extruder, a milling machine, and a spitfire extruder.
A word of caution, this large 3D printer ships as kit, that weighs some 374 lbs – so, you may find it useful to keep a forklift at hand when it is delivered. One drawback of the 3MT is its inability to retract the filament into the nozzle. This will become an issue once you print chairs or other furniture that has legs and requires the printer to pause the extrusion and move to the next leg. So be warned of stringing!
Its ability to print objects up to three meters highs, catapults the Delta WASP 3MT into its own league. The company behind this large 3D printer promises to put the revenue back into R&D. Its large 3D printers are envisioned as part of a plan (“Maker Economy”) that will put consumers in control of production to reduce material wastage and develop self-sustaining communities. Whether or not you share in the manufacturer’s ideas, there is no larger 3D printer for this price tag, making it an invaluable asset for small businesses.
The next one in our list of large 3D printers is Extreme 2000. This 3D printer by the Dutch manufacturer Builder trumps with a staggering build volume of 700 x 700 x 1820 mm. Thanks to fully encased build space and heated bed, users can control the conditions within the build chamber to perfection.
But what really makes this particular company’s large 3D printers stand out is its advanced solution to mix filaments: It feeds two different through one nozzle enabling subtle color gradients. The color mixing is controlled using Builder’s proprietary “Color Mix Tool” software.
More importantly, Builder maintains that its “Dual-Feed” technology eliminates disadvantages like leaking that users face when operating a dual nozzle 3D printer. Another advantage of this approach is that prints don’t need by paused when filament spools run out – as they inevitably will once you print human scale objects.
Impressively, the manufacturer claims that its large 3D printer can operate continuously for up to 800 hours – That’s more than a month! In case you have other things to do during that time, you can always stay in control by tuning into the built-in camera. The WiFi connector even lets you control the entire large 3D printer remotely. For faster prints you can switch to larger nozzle diameters.
Our list of the best large 3D printers would be incomplete without BigRep. In 2016, BigRep launched the third iteration of its large 3D printer, the BigRep ONE v3. With a build space of 1005 ✕ 1005 ✕ 1005 mm, it is capable of producing full-size furniture in one print. It was designed to fill the gap between small-scale 3D printers that are even today affordable for consumers and large-scale industrial 3D printers costing upward from $250,000. The $39,000 price tag is geared at the coffers of universities that want to prepare their students for an industrial setting, but it is also a viable option for small businesses that want to print their prototypes true to scale.
Let’s delve into some technicalities. The BigRep ONE modular print head solution is a nifty piece of engineering, since this means you can replace print heads quickly and effortlessly without even so much as opening your toolbox. Its encased spool holder can hold up to four 10kg rolls of filament, protecting them from moisture. What is more to this large 3D printer, the auto-filament system allows refilling material during the printing process.
The BigRep ONE’s convenient web interface enables the user to control the large 3D printer from the comfort of his desktop PC. One drawback is a direct effect of the enormous scale: The large 3D printer ships fully assembled and doesn’t fit through many regular doors. If you don’t feel the need to rebuild your office, but don’t want to miss out on quality 3D printing engineering made in Germany, then you can scale down your ambition to the BigRep Studio. This 3D printer offers the same high 3D printing quality as the BigRep ONE and still brings a sizeable 500 cm3 build volume to the table.
Yet another large 3D printer is the latest step in the evolution of the RepRap 3D printer project: the X1000. It takes the open source technology to the field of industrial grade production. An amazing feat that few would have though possible when the project began twelve years ago. The company behind this large 3D printer has even taken the name “German RepRap” to advertise the origin of the built-in technology in the famous open source project.
German RepRap has integrated a host of useful features that make this large 3D printer an ideal asset for small businesses. Via Repetier Server users can upload their 3D printing files and control individual components of the X1000. The X1000’s build platform is made from ceramic and can be heated quickly to ensure object adhesion. The build space is enclosed to protect printed parts from the negative effects of temperature changes and air currents.
Also, the X1000 will signal when you need to refill the spools, using two sensors that keep track of how much filament is left. German RepRap even added industrial grade safety features to improve the overall safety. This includes an automatic door lock preventing injuries during printing. If that doesn’t put your mind to rest, this large 3D printer can be upgraded with a carbon dioxide fire extinguishing system.
First, let us consider whether you need a large 3D printer for your small business at all, or you should rather use an online 3D printing service.
Assess your needs. What kind of 3D prints are you likely to create on average for your small business? Do you need visual models that merely look like the real thing to display them in marketing campaigns? Do you want to print off rapid prototypes that have to perform like the finished product in functional testing?
Or, do you want to use your prints as tools in injection molding to produce a small series of your product? The answer to these questions determine what kind of 3D printer you should buy.
To learn more about the many applications of 3D printing for rapid prototyping read:
If time is of the essence, there are other factors to consider. FDM is known to be a relatively slow processes. The printing speed increases when you set out to print off human-scale objects like furniture. In fact, the Builder Extreme 2000 is able to print continuously for a month!
There are ways to tweak the length of time it takes to finish a printing job, like increasing the layer-height or decreasing the infill. However, these modifications will have immediate effects on the quality of the finished part. The Cheetah by Hans Fouche famously forgoes print quality in favor of speed.
What size are your 3D prints? The 3D printing technologies FDM, and SLA use only the material needed for the actual print (PLUS supports).
Other technologies, like SLS, use the entire print bed of powder regardless of the size of printed goods. For this reason, 3D printing services automatically arrange the content of build tray to save the precious powder that cannot be reused without some effort.
In what material do you want to print? In this article, we cover FFF / FDM 3D printers (Fused Deposition Modeling). Mostly they are used to 3D print thermoplastics like ABS or PLA, this includes exotic filaments (wood and metal). Some large 3D printers like the Delta Wasp 3MT can also print materials that are suitable for extrusion like ceramics.
In general, we don’t recommend buying 3D metal printers, since they are the most expensive large 3D printers of all. The prices of the machines themselves start from $250,000. And that is without material, electricity or maintenance that will be substantial items on your small business’s bill.
Also, please note that some materials like Titanium are fickle to handle, the powder needs to be handled with utmost care as it explosive in its raw form. For this reason, we recommend using a 3D printing service to build your metal objects.
Learn all there is to know about metal 3D printing and other 3D printing materials not covered in this article:
Enlisting the help of an online 3D printing service has the additional advantage that your 3D files are processed by trained professionals who are able to print them off to perfection.
Using a 3D printer is not as straightforward as working with a 2D printer. When you set up a print, you need to deal with leveling build plates and other factors most consumers never considered before.
It goes without saying that training your own staff to operate a new, large 3D printer will cost time, money and you might end up producing scrap before the prints are good enough for your small business.
Find out all you ever wanted to know about online 3D printing services: