The best 3D printers you can buy (or build) in 2018

Little by little, 3D printers are getting cheaper, better and more accessible. In the early days, there were only a few models on the market, and most of them were clumsy, difficult to use and prohibitively expensive, but that is no longer the case. Today, there are 3D printers available in all sizes, shapes and configurations that you may want, and each month that passes are more affordable. But with so many 3D printers on the market, finding a good one can be a daunting task. To help you make the right decision, we gather this uncomplicated summary of the best 3D printers available at this time. Enjoy!

Our selection

Formlabs Form 2

  FormLabs Form 2 review
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

Why you should buy it: It makes incredibly accurate parts and it is very easy to operate.

For who it is: Product designers, engineers, anyone who wants high quality printed pieces

What they will pay for it: $ 3,500

Why we chose Formlabs Form 2: [19659013] Yes, it's very expensive, but with Form 2 it's like going from an old tube TV to 4K UHD. The quality of your prints eclipses other printers in this list.

At the end of the day, you will not find a 3D printer at the consumer level that makes more detailed, dimensionally accurate and structurally robust models than this one. But that is not the only reason why we chose it. It is also much easier to use than other printers in its class, and despite being extremely advanced, its interface is so simple that even beginners should have no problems using it.

It is worth noting that Form 2 is not cut from the same cloth as your average FDM printer. It is a completely different race. Instead of heating the plastic filament and blasting it through a nozzle to build objects layer by layer, Form 2 uses a laser projection system to "grow" objects from a group of UV curable resin. As the laser blinks on the resin tray, it causes a thin layer to solidify on the construction plate, which is drawn slowly upward as each new layer forms.

Now, to be clear, Form 2 is not the only 3D printer that uses this method, but it is definitely the easiest to use in the group. Formlabs filled it with a host of features that make resin-based printing less complicated, such as an auto-filled resin tray and an ingenious print function that makes objects easier to remove from the plate. building. There is even a web application that allows you to check the status of your print when you are not near the machine.

Our complete revision of Formlabs Form 2

Best for beginners

Lulzbot Mini


Why you should buy it: It is easy to use, but it provides a lot of space to learn and progress

For who it is: beginner and intermediate users who want a super versatile and very reliable printer

I will pay for it: $ 1,250

Why we chose the Lulzbot Mini:

There are many printers in the market that cater to beginners, but very few do it correctly. One thing that has become increasingly common among "beginner-friendly" printers is to eliminate the user's available options in favor of a diluted and oversimplified user interface. Often, you can only choose from three different resolution options (high, medium or low), and you will have zero access or control over "confusing" settings such as extrusion speed, fill density or hot end temperature. This lack of access makes the machine easier to operate, but also limits what you can do with your 3D printer in a big way. Basically it is the lazy way to make a printer "easy to use".

Lulzbot does not have this lazy approach. Instead of eliminating advanced options, the Lulzbot software allows you to choose your level of complexity and control. There is a basic interface for when you only need to adjust simple settings (temperature, speed, layer height, etc.), but also an Advanced tab that gives you more granular control over the printing parameters. This is ideal for beginners because it is simple and straightforward when you are still learning things, but it also does not prevent you from going deeper, increasing your knowledge and getting more out of your 3D printer.

In addition to its excellent user interface, Lulzbot Mini is also one of the most reliable and consistent FDM printers that has gone through the DT testing room. Sure, it does not have a huge construction envelope or it creates ridiculously high resolution prints, but pretty much everything else about this printer is fantastic. It has a heated bed, a heated Hexagon end that allows you to print with tons of different materials, and self-leveling software that makes it very easy to maintain. It is also highly updateable, so if you ever want to cheat your configuration, you can do it completely. We really like this printer!

The best economical 3D printer

Monoprice Mini Delta

  Mini Delta Monoprice Review "data-image-id =" 1287250
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

Why should I buy it: Despite being very cheap, it has a heated self-leveling bed, LCD screen and variable temperature.

For who it is: Budget buyers who do not mind a small construction envelope

What they will pay for it: $ 160

Why we chose Monoprice Mini Delta:

As far as we can see, the Monoprice Mini Delta is one of the cheapest 3D printers you can buy that is not a kit – but that is not the only reason why we chose it. In addition to being completely assembled and ready to print directly, this machine also comes with a heated bed, something that we believe is a crucial feature for FDM printers. This helps to avoid deformations and drastically reduces the potential for printing errors, and is usually only found on printers costing more than $ 1,000. This costs $ 200, which is incredible.

In addition to the warm bed, the Mini Delta also has a variable temperature hot end, which allows you to adjust the configuration and print with a wide range of different materials, including basic filaments such as ABS and PLA, to more advanced materials such as Conductive PLA, wood and metal compounds, or dissolvable PVA. In addition, the heated bed is also self-leveling, which means that you will never have to calibrate the machine manually before starting an impression.

Monoprice definitely gives you a lot of money here, but the Mini Delta is definitely not perfect. Novices should expect a fairly steep learning curve with this machine, and be prepared for a high-level problem solution that will probably be required when something inevitably goes wrong. The fact that it is cheap does not mean that it is a good option for beginners.

Our full review of Monoprice Mini Delta

Best for manufacturers

ZMorph 2.0 SX


Why you should buy it: Because it's not just a 3D printer; It is also a CNC router and a laser cutter.

is for: Intermediate and advanced users who want more versatility and a wider range of material options

What they will pay for it: $ 2,390 to $ 3,390

Why we chose ZMorph 2.0 SX: [19659013] 3D printing has come a long way in recent years, and the number of filament options is now broader than ever, but even with so many options for printing materials, it is bound to embark on some projects where additive manufacturing is not ideal. Sometimes, I would like to have a CNC mill or laser cutter, and for those situations, I would like to have a ZMorph.

Do you know those all-in-one printer / scanner / copier machines? ZMorph is basically the 3D version of that idea. It is a 3D printer, a CNC milling machine and a laser cutter, all in one. What that means is that, in addition to the ability to print virtually any object in plastic, you can also mill and laser cut elements of real wood, leather, glass or even PCB laminate.

This versatility is made possible by the ZMorph interchangeable tool head system, which allows you to choose between a hot end / extruder for 3D printing, a laser diode for cutting or a CNC tool head for milling. These heads can be exchanged in a matter of minutes, and changing the modes in the software only takes a few mouse clicks. So, if you're looking for a more capable manufacturing station, ZMorph should definitely be on your list.

The best 3D printer for less than $ 1,000

Monoprice Maker Select Plus

  Monoprice Maker Select Plus

Why you should buy it: It has all the important features you need in a filament-based 3D printer, and it sells for less than $ 500.

who is: Anyone looking to get the most out of their money.

What you'll pay for it: $ 399

Why we chose Monoprice Maker Select Plus:

Until Monoprice jumped into the field of 3D printing, it was very, very difficult to find a printer less than $ 1,000 that had a large construction area, a heated bed, a stable frame, and an extruder that could handle many different materials. Almost impossible, honestly. But now, there are many options in this price range, and the MP Maker Select Plus is possibly the best in the group, unless you are willing to buy a kit and build the printer yourself.

Most printers in the secondary market – The $ 1,000 price range has construction areas that do not measure more than 6 inches in length / width / height, but the MSP has a large construction envelope that measures 7.9 x 7.9 x 7.1 inches, which is not to be mocked. This means that not only can you print larger pieces, you can also place more small pieces on the building board, which reduces production times.

This building plate is also heated, which helps prevent the extruded filament from cooling and contracting. and deform the shape of your printed object. This feature is crucial (especially if you print with ABS), it drastically reduces the chances of a printing error and eliminates the need to print with a raft, which uses additional filament.

Our complete review of Monoprice Maker Select Plus

The best 3D printer kit built in-house

Prusa i3 MK2

Why you should buy it: It's a great printer for less than $ 700 – if you do not mind building it yourself [19659077] The best 3D printer Build-it-yourself

Prusa i3 MK2 3D printer

The Prusa i3 MK2 printer is an excellent printer kit that comes with a community of users gigantic to fall back on if you run into problems to build. 19659010] For whom: Types of DIY technology experts looking to save some money by assembling the printer themselves

What they will pay for it: $ 700 or less

Why we chose the Prusa i3 MK2:

There are many 3D printer kits, but none is as tested as the Russian P i3 MK2. Born from the open source project RepRap, the design of the printer was developed over years and years of testing, tuning and refinement of thousands of different 3D printing enthusiasts, making it a fairly solid small machine.

In terms of outstanding specifications and features, this man has a wide construction envelope of 9.84 "by 8.3" by 8 ", a variable variable temperature end that can handle a wide range of materials, and a leveling software Basically, this means that even if you ruin the construction in some way and it is not perfectly aligned, it will still be reliably printed for you.

However, the Prusa i3's greatest asset is its Massive user base Because this has long been one of the most popular RepRap compilations, there are more people using the i3 than almost any other 3D printer, so if you ever encounter a problem or need ask a question, it is practically guaranteed that you will find a solution in the many forums of i3 users.

How we tested

To test The various 3D printers that we receive for review, we print a set of carefully selected objects. This package includes 3DBenchy, ctrlV v3, warp test and some others. Together, these objects have almost everything printers usually struggle with: low-sloping surfaces, cantilevers, unsupported stretches, fine details and a lot more. If a printer is not good at something, these forms will highlight it.

After that, we usually print at least half a dozen more objects just in case. In general, they are quite random (only things DT staff want / need to print here in the office), which helps us avoid formulas in our tests and ensure that printers are subject to a wide range of different tasks before to evaluate them. [19659014] When all is said and done, we take a handful of our test impressions and take some high-resolution images, so you can see for yourself how they turned out. We also measure certain parts of the impression with a micrometer to see how accurate the physical model is compared to the digital one.

But, of course, resolution and precision are not everything. Once we finish printing things, we also evaluate the relative level of reparability and update capacity of the machine. Can you disarm and manipulate easily if something goes wrong? Can you update the printer components when new and better ones are available? Will it be obsolete in a few years? We understand everything for you.

Useful terms to know

  • FDM: Modeling of filament deposition. Also known as FFF or fused filament fabrication. It is the most common style of 3D printing and works by melting a thermoplastic filament, squirting it through a nozzle and depositing it layer by layer to form an object.
  • SLA: Shorthand for stereolithography. It is a 3D printing style that uses a laser projection system to "grow" objects from a group of UV curable resin.
  • Hot End: The heated nozzle through which the plastic filament is extruded in an FDM printer. 19659093] Bed with heating: This refers to a building plate that is heated, which prevents the first layers of extruded plastic from cooling and warping. If your project is deformed, it often leads to printing errors.
  • ABS: Means acyl nitrile butadiene styrene. An oil-based plastic that is commonly used as a 3D printing filament. It is a tough and resistant material that is commonly used to build things like plastic parts for cars, musical instruments and the ever popular Lego building blocks. ABS has a high melting point and may experience deformations if cooled during printing. Because of this, ABS objects must be printed on a heated surface, which is something that many home printers do not have.
  • PLA: Poly lactic acid is made of organic material, specifically corn starch and sugarcane. This makes the material easier and safer to use, while giving it a smoother and brighter appearance that is more aesthetically pleasing. However, although the PLA may seem like a better general option at first glance, it has a much lower melting point than ABS. This means that using parts printed with PLA for mechanical operations, or even storing them in high temperature locations, can cause the part to warp, crack or melt.

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