The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022
While we’d hesitate to call 3D printing a mature technology, you might say it has reached its teenage years. Through their first decade-and-change, 3D printers have come down in price, grown easier to set up and operate, and become more reliable. And you may pay less than you expect: Many once-high-end features have migrated down to inexpensive models.
PC Labs has been reviewing 3D printers since 2013. Today, the state of 3D printing is strong, but that wasn’t always the case. For the first several years, it was often an adventure getting one of these printers up and running, let alone successfully through our testing regimen. Issues with filament-based—aka fused filament fabrication (FFF) or fused deposition modeling (FDM)—printers were abundant.
Filament feeders had to be coaxed into delivering filament from the spool to the extruder. Print beds had to be manually aligned. The extruder or hot end had to be positioned just right to minimize the gap between the nozzle and the build plate (the flat surface on which the object is printed). Objects frequently stuck to the build plate, and required careful, sometimes unsuccessful, efforts to pry them off. These and other issues required painstaking effort to resolve, often combined with calls to tech support.
Not so much anymore. While they can still be rebellious at times, 3D printers have grown up a lot, and achieving the 3D printer basics has gotten a lot less likely to end in a shouting match over small things. And they’ve gotten a lot more affordable, too, for curious DIY-ers and hobbyists to try.
If you’re in the market for a beginner or low-cost 3D printer, it’s important to know how lower-end models differ. Read on for mini-reviews of the top budget 3D printers we’ve tested. After that, we go into more detail on understanding the 3D printer specs and tech relevant to beginning buyers. Ready to take the plunge? Read on.
Original Prusa Mini
Best Overall Budget 3D Printer
It requires assembly and calibration care (plus shipping from the Czech Republic), but the Original Prusa Mini is a compact, open-frame 3D printer that consistently produces superb-quality output for a great price.
- Top-notch object quality
- Supports a variety of filament types
- Useful, professionally printed user guide
- Great support resources
- Versatile, user-friendly software
- First-layer calibration can be tricky
- Only includes starter packets of filament
- Requires monitoring if young children or pets are around
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Read Our Original Prusa Mini Review
XYZprinting da Vinci Mini
Best Budget 3D Printer for Schools, Community Centers
The XYZprinting da Vinci Mini is a consumer-oriented 3D printer that provides a winning combination of low price, ease of setup and use, solid print quality, and smooth, misprint-free operation.
- Very low price.
- Reasonably priced filament.
- Good print quality.
- No misprints in testing.
- Easy setup and operation.
- Prints over a USB or Wi-Fi connection.
- Occasional problems in trying to launch prints.
- Removing printed objects from the print bed is sometimes tricky.
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Read Our XYZprinting da Vinci Mini Review
Toybox 3D Printer
Best Budget 3D Printer for Children
The Toybox 3D Printer works well as a model designed for children, offering reliable printing from a browser or mobile device and a few thousand toys to print, plus creative options to output drawings or photos. Just bear in mind the tiny build area.
- Reliable, misprint-free printing
- Easy setup
- One-touch operation
- Well-composed help resources
- Access to more than 2,000 printable toys and projects
- Lets you create your own printable designs
- Tiny build area
- Not ideal for importing 3D files created elsewhere
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Read Our Toybox 3D Printer Review
Monoprice Mini Delta V2 3D Printer
Best Budget 3D Printer for Beginners, Non-Techies
3D printing gurus will be intrigued by the Monoprice Mini Delta V2’s use of the delta rather than Cartesian coordinate system, but beginners will just enjoy its low price, ease of use, and speedy printing.
- Sub-$200 price
- Quick, nearly misprint-free printing
- Easy setup and operation
- Sturdy steel-and-aluminum frame
- Supports multiple filament types
- Tiny build area
- So-so print quality
- Mere one-year warranty
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Read Our Monoprice Mini Delta V2 3D Printer Review
Anycubic i3 Mega S
Best Budget 3D Printer With an Open Design, Big Build Area
The Anycubic i3 Mega S, an inexpensive open-frame 3D printer, produced decent-quality prints in our testing. To get the most out of it, though, may require precise calibration.
- Modestly priced
- Large build area for an inexpensive printer
- Supports a variety of filament types
- Generally solid print quality
- Uses well-known Cura software
- Finicky print-platform alignment
- Supported coils of filament are small
- Poorly placed spool holder
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Read Our Anycubic i3 Mega S Review
Best Budget 3D Printer for the Biggest Build Area Possible
Anycubic’s modestly priced Vyper whips up large 3D prints on its open-frame design, and provides automatic print-bed leveling. Just know that some minor assembly is required—and printed objects may require a bit of cleanup.
- Relatively large build area
- Automatic bed leveling
- Simple assembly
- Short (one-year) warranty
- Includes only a small starter filament coil
- Using Cura software with the Vyper requires tweaking a couple of settings
- Test prints showed some «hairy» filament residue
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Read Our Anycubic Vyper Review
Creality Ender-3 V2
Best Budget 3D Printer for Tinkerers and DIY Types
Hands-on tweaking defines Creality’s budget-price Ender-3 V2, an open-frame 3D printer that you build from a kit. It produces generally above-par prints, but its print bed can be tricky to keep leveled.
- Slightly above-average print quality
- Good-size build area for its price
- Supports several filament types
- Manual print-bed leveling can be tricky
- Setup instructions could be deeper, more legible
- Questionable quality control on some parts
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Read Our Creality Ender-3 V2 Review
Flashforge Finder 3D Printer
Best 3D Printer for the Very Tightest Budgets
The Flashforge Finder 3D Printer is moderately priced and offers good print quality, but it proved tricky to get up and running in our tests.
- Good print quality.
- Connects via USB 2.0 cable, USB thumb drive, or Wi-Fi.
- Reasonably priced.
- Some objects pulled off the platform during testing.
- Poor documentation.
- Modest build volume.
- Limited to printing with polylactic acid filament (PLA).
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Read Our Flashforge Finder 3D Printer Review
Polaroid PlaySmart 3D Printer
Best Budget 3D Printer for Dabbling in Small Objects
3. 5 Good
The Polaroid PlaySmart 3D Printer is a compact, stylish 3D printer with above-par overall print quality, but, alas, a tiny build area for the money.
- Small, lightweight for a desktop 3D printer.
- Easy to set up and use.
- Supports PLA, PETG, and wood composite filaments.
- Multiple-color support.
- Wi-Fi camera monitors print jobs.
- Prints from USB drives, SD cards, or mobile devices.
- High price for its capabilities.
- Small build area.
- Too-brief warranty.
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Read Our Polaroid PlaySmart 3D Printer Review
XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro
Best Budget 3D Printer With Closed Design, Roomy Build Area
3. 5 Good
The XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro is a moderately priced closed-frame 3D printer with a large build volume and overall good performance, but a potentially balky filament-feeding system.
- Spacious build area
- Works with third-party filaments
- Self-leveling print bed
- Build plate is not heated
- Limited to PLA- and PETG-based filaments
- Guide tube is prone to detaching
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Read Our XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro Review
Monoprice Voxel 3D Printer
Best Budget 3D Printer for Cheap Filament
3. 0 Average
The Monoprice Voxel is an under-$400 3D printer that’s easy to set up and use. It exhibits generally good print quality, but it was unable to print two of our test objects.
- Easy to set up and use.
- Budget price for printer and filament spools.
- Supports PLA, ABS, and several composite filament types.
- Versatile software.
- Prints over Ethernet or Wi-Fi, or from a USB thumb drive.
- Frequent misprints on certain test objects.
- Slightly balky touch screen.
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Read Our Monoprice Voxel 3D Printer Review
Buying Guide: The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022
How to Buy a Cheap 3D Printer
The biggest changes to 3D printers over the last few years have come to the cheaper models. Nowadays, many of those classic, ornery 3D-printing issues have been resolved (most of the time, anyway), even for consumer and bargain-priced 3D printers. Automatic print-bed leveling is the norm, and you can usually remove 3D-printed objects from heated and/or flexible build plates with a minimum of coaxing. And most 3D printer manufacturers have either developed and refined their own software, or have adapted an open-source printing platform such as Cura(Opens in a new window).
(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)
What separates more expensive 3D printers from cheap ones («cheap» defined as $500 or less, for the purposes of this article) is often a select group of features. These include the build volume, the type of frame, the varieties of supported filament, the software, and the connectivity mix. Let’s run through those in turn.
What’s the Right Build Volume for a 3D Printer?
A 3D printer’s build volume is the maximum dimensions (HWD) of a part that it can print. (We say “a part” because a 3D-printed object can consist of multiple parts that are printed, then glued or otherwise pieced together.) While the smallest build volume of any 3D printer we have tested is 3.9 by 3.9 by 4.9 inches, we consider any build volume smaller than 6 by 6 by 6 inches to be small, any between that and 10 by 10 by 10 inches as medium, and any printer with at least one build dimension of more than 10 inches as having a large build volume.
(Credit: Molly Flores)
As a general rule, inexpensive 3D printers have small build volumes, while more expensive ones have larger build volumes. This depends in part on the type of printer. Closed-frame 3D printers—and most semi-open models, which have a rigid top, base, and sides but are open in front and, often, back—tend to have small build volumes, while open-frame printers, lacking as rigid a physical structure, often have relatively large build volumes for the price. You’ll want to weigh the build volume against the kinds of objects you will print.
Should I Get an Open-Frame or Closed-Frame 3D Printer?
Which brings us to the frame «form factor» question: open-frame versus closed-frame. Closed-frame 3D printers are boxlike devices, with a rigid base, walls (with a see-through door in front), and top. Among their advantages? They muffle the operating noise, as well as reduce the odor from melted filament (which is potentially an issue with ABS plastic), and they provide some protection for people or pets who might inadvertently touch the hot extruder. A downside: They tend to have smaller build volumes than open-frame 3D printers, which have fewer (often, no) walls to constrict them.
(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)
Low-cost 3D printers include both open-frame and closed-frame models, as well as a few stereolithography printers. If a relatively large build volume is a priority, you’re likely to get more bang for the buck with an open-frame model. Open-frames do have some clear downsides by definition: They tend to be noisy, emit odors when certain plastics are melted, and provide little protection for someone who might touch the hot extruder.
(Credit: Molly Flores)
Also, recognize some potential negatives of open frames, depending on the model. Some require assembly, being essentially kits, and most require more setup care than a closed-frame printer, plus more maintenance to keep them running smoothly. Still, these very traits should not deter—and may even appeal to—hobbyists and DIY folks.
What Should I Look for in 3D Printer Software and Connectivity?
Gone are the days when tinkerers had to cobble together several different programs to get a 3D printer to run. Manufacturers either include their own 3D printing program or modify an existing platform such as the open-source Cura.
3D printing software performs three main functions: processing an object file (resizing, moving, rotating, and in some cases duplicating it), slicing it (into virtual layers, based on your chosen resolution), and printing it. These are almost universally combined into a seamless process. Some high-end printers have software that supports a wider range of settings you can tweak, but even the basic suites work at least reasonably well.
More likely to vary among the cheaper set is the array of connection options from model to model. Nearly all have a USB Type-A port to fit a thumb drive for printing from document files. Most also have a USB Type-B port for connecting directly to a computer, and some offer Wi-Fi, too (or as an alternative), while a handful let you connect via Ethernet to share the printer across a local network.
Some printers support storing 3D files on an SD or microSD card (which may also contain the printer’s system files). Most 3D printer manufacturers (even the discount ones) have a mobile app to launch and monitor print jobs, and a few provide access to cloud services from which you can print.
While high-end 3D printers tend to have an abundance of connection choices, discount models vary widely in their choices. Some are generous and some are basic, so it pays to assess what a given model offers.
What Should I Look for in Filament Support?
Filament support tends to be a key area that separates the cheaper models from the higher-end ones. (See our guide to understanding 3D printing filaments for more particulars.) Inexpensive 3D printers tend to support a limited number of plastic filament types, some of them only PLA and/or ABS.
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3D Printing: What You Need to Know
3D Printer Filaments Explained
(Credit: Molly Flores)
PLA (polylactic acid) is a biodegradable, plant-based polymer, while ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is the same tough plastic that Legos are made from. Objects printed from ABS are durable and nontoxic, though the material can be tricky to work with. ABS can emit an acrid, unpleasant odor during printing, and the bottom corners of objects being printed with it have a tendency to curl upward a bit, especially if you are using a non-heated print bed. This can lead to unsightly prints, and/or prints prematurely pulling off the build plate, ruining them.
Many entry-level and low-price 3D printers stick exclusively to PLA. If you want to experiment with a larger variety of filaments—which include water-soluble filament, wood- and metal-laced composites, and both tough and flexible varieties—you may have to pay more, although a few discount models support a wide range of materials.
Should I Consider a 3D Printing Pen Instead?
Although they aren’t printers per se, inexpensive 3D pens are close kin to 3D printers—using the same filament types and a similar extrusion system—and we include them in the 3D printing category. Rather than tracing out a programmed pattern, you use the 3D pen much like a normal pen, except that you draw with molten plastic. You can trace a pattern or draw freehand, and even draw in three dimensions as the plastic quickly solidifies and hardens once extruded.
Most 3D pens cost less than $100, and some cost $50 or less. At a glance, 3D pens may appear to be toys, but some artists and craftspeople have taken to them, as it is possible to make quite complicated and beautiful objects with them. If your aim in 3D printing is something closer to freehand design and free expression than computer-centric, structured, and repeatable output, you might give one a try.
So, What Is the Best Cheap 3D Printer to Buy?
Buying a budget 3D printer needn’t mean a world of sacrifice. Plenty of capable and reliable models sell at less than $500, and while they may not be as feature-rich as their more expensive cousins, there’s no sense in paying for things you don’t need.
Many casual 3D-printing experimenters will be fine with printing over a USB cable or from a thumb drive, and sticking to PLA may be the best choice for a starter 3D printer. If you focus just on the features you want, you may be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Below, check out a spec breakdown of the best under-$500 3D printers we have reviewed, paralleling our picks above. Also, for a look at the broader market, see our guide to our favorite 3D printers overall.
Best 3D Printer for 2022
In this article:
- What to consider before buying a 3D printer
- Best 3D printers
- Best 3D printers for beginners
- Midrange 3D printers
- High-end and professional 3D printers
- 3D scanners
- 3D printing FAQs
In the last few years, 3D printing has become much more commonplace and accessible for hopeful hobbyists. No longer do you have to make a trip to your local university or library to print out 3D objects as inexpensive machines have started to offer fantastic results straight out of the box.
Because 3D printing technology has come a long way in recent years, I’ve doubled down on being creative and gotten into 3D scanning and laser cutting as well, which lets you sculpt real-world designs from leather and wood. Advanced makers are also using resin machines that create amazingly detailed prints.
Current 3D printers, which range from affordable (under $300) to high-end (over $4,000), are great gifts for a creative person in your life. Even better, they’re great for you to craft your own personalized designs if you’re looking to open an Etsy shop or something similar.
These models by Fotis Mint are extremely detailed.
We’ve taken a deep dive into many of the best 3D printers available today. This list includes both small and large 3D printers, with attention paid to print speed, the size of the build plate, the cost of PLA filament, the kind of print head included and other important details. And once you’ve decided to take the plunge into additive manufacturing — that’s what 3D printing essentially is — there’s an FAQ below.
What to consider before buying a 3D printer
Purchasing your first 3D printer can be nerve-wracking but don’t worry; we are here to help. There are a few main areas that you should consider when choosing the best 3D printer and we have them covered here.
What am I 3D printing?
When deciding on what 3D printer to buy you first have to know what type of things you want it to print. Resin 3D printing is good for highly detailed models such as character busts, dental work or tabletop miniatures. Even jewelry can be made using a resin 3D printer.
For almost every other application, an FDM, aka filament, 3D printer is likely the best choice. Filament 3D printing is versatile in the types of material you can use and offers much larger build volumes to work on models. Cosplay armor and helmets, practical parts and large-scale models are best printed on an FDM printer.
Read more: What Is 3D Printing?
What is build volume?
Build volume is the amount of space a printer has to produce a model. Often calculated in millimeters cubed, it is the combination of the width, height and depth that your printer’s nozzle can reach. This is not always the same as the internal volume of a 3D printer because the wiring and other mechanical parts can get in the way of the nozzle, reducing the area available.
Most FDM printers have a build area of around 220 by 220 by 250mm, though some of the best 3D printers have larger and a few of the best budget 3D printers have smaller. I think the 220 by 220mm build plate is a good size for starting out as it has room for large, practical pieces or several smaller models at once.
Should I wait for a deal to buy a 3D printer?
3D printers are often available throughout the year at a discount price. Special days like Prime Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great occasions to pick yourself up a new machine, but there are still plenty of deals to be had on a normal day. Make sure you stay fluid and choose your 3D printer deal based on the availability of the machine and what your research has told you is the best.
Best 3D printers
Creality Ender-3 S1
Best 3D printer for beginners
I’d avoided Ender-3 printers for a long while, because they came in kit form and required many hours of assembly, setup and fine-tuning to use. For just a little more than the kit versions, the newer Ender-3 S1 comes nearly fully preassembled, and with high-end features like a direct drive extruder and self-leveling bed.
Print quality even out-of-the-box was excellent, although a lot of that comes down to having good models to work from. I’d love it to have a touchscreen and Wi-Fi, but apart form those missing features, this is a great way to get polished results from a $400 3D printer.
Read our Creality Ender-3 S1 review.
$399 at Amazon
$340 at Creality3d
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Prusa Mk3S Plus
The standard candle for home 3D printing
No best 3D printer list is really complete without the Prusa MK3S Plus. For nearly a decade it has dominated the market and continues to be the go-to printer for anyone looking to make a business from 3D printing. It is fast and creates quality prints every time. I can count the number of print fails from MK3 on one hand, and I have had it for nearly seven years. If you have the $800, you should buy one of these.
$800 at Prusa Research
Speed and quality combined
The AnkerMake M5 is a new breed of 3D printer. Its speed is unrivaled on this list and the quality of the end product is on par with anything I’ve seen. When you can get this quality level in a 3D print job in around half the time of its closest competitor, it’s hard to recommend anything else for someone with the money to buy one.
Read our AnkerMake 5 review.
$799 at AnkerMake
Best for out-of-the-box printing
The Anycubic Vyper FDM printer attempts to be both an affordable 3D printer and easy to use. It’s a tricky needle to thread. Plenty of 3D printers offer automatic bed leveling and calibration to make sure prints come out even and firmly anchored to the print bed. This, however, is the first time I’ve seen a 3D printer run its bed leveling once, with zero manual input from me, and be totally good to go. I printed a 3D test file from the included SD card within minutes of powering on, and I’ve never seen a first print from a 3D printer come out so perfectly.
Read our Anycubic Vyper review.
$359 at Anycubic
Anycubic Kobra Max
Best to make big projects easily
The Anycubic Kobra Max earned a 9 out of 10 in our recent review, in large part because it’s one of the most enjoyable printers I’ve used in years. The build area is large enough to print entire helmets for cosplay, and the auto-bed-leveling system makes setting the machine up a breeze. The Kobra Max is the best choice for a large build area printer, bar none.
Read our Anycubic Kobra Max review.
$529 at Anycubic
Best 3D printers for beginners
These 3D printers are excellent for anyone just starting out in 3D printing. Check out our expanded list of the best budget 3D printers for more in this category.
Prusa Mini Plus
Small but mighty
The Mini Plus is one of the best small-footprint printers you can buy. It has everything you would expect from a Prusa machine: Auto bed leveling, crash detection and great print quality, all for under $450. Building it with my son gave us a lot of good insights into how a 3D printer works, and potentially how to fix one.
$429 at Prusa Research
Best inexpensive resin 3D printer
Resin printers are the next step up in rapid prototyping design technology when you want your printing to look as high quality as possible. Just be warned: The liquid resin is harder to work with, and it requires both good ventilation and a portable UV light to properly cure. This model is extremely popular with board game hobbyists who want to print pro-looking miniatures, and sometimes you’ll see it fall in price. Note that you can save $20 at Amazon by activating the instant coupon on the product page.
$250 at Amazon
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Monoprice Mini Delta V2
Best for tiny desks
I had high hopes for this dirt-cheap 3D printer with a tiny footprint. It’s usually under $200 and requires no additional assembly. And I do like it, but it’s for a specific audience. This is not the great low-cost entry-level printer I was hoping for. It required some tweaking and troubleshooting to get up and running. The included microSD card was so cheap and corrupted it never worked, the built-in Wi-Fi was never able to connect to my network, and the machine’s arms got caught on some poorly installed plastic wire covers (I just ripped the paper-thin covers off).
But once I had all the problems ironed out, it was a reliable little machine for quick jobs. It would make a great second 3D printer, or if you need to fit one into a small space. I especially liked the auto-leveling, which worked well, and the color touchscreen, which is a feature that often gets chopped from low-cost models. If you’re willing to put a little effort into getting it set up correctly, it’s a great printer for the price.
$180 at Amazon
Midrange 3D printers
Elegoo Saturn 2
The best resin experience right now
The Elegoo Saturn 2 is an almost perfect upgrade from the original Saturn. It is bigger and more powerful, with better quality prints than its predecessor and my No. 1 choice for a midrange resin 3D printer. If you are looking to print serious details or a lot of tiny models, this is simply the best choice. It’s $671 on Amazon, but you can get it for $60 off when you apply a coupon at checkout.
$671 at Amazon
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Flashforge Adventurer 4
Best 3D printer for ease of use
The Flashforge Adventurer 3 has long been one of CNET’s favorite midprice 3D printers. The updated Adventurer 4 brings a handful of iterative improvements that make for a winning evolution. The Adventurer 4 is a fully enclosed unit, which helps control the temperature and block drafts. The build area is 220 by 200 by 250mm, and it has a system for easily swapping out nozzles — all good features to have in a mid-level to high-end printer.
$1,088 at Walmart
$749 at Amazon
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High-end and professional 3D printers
Best for small biz or pro cosplayers
A word of warning; the CR-30 is not for the beginners out there. It is a complicated machine, and you will need some 3D-printing knowledge to really get the hang of it. It’s also a very different beast, and instead of printing on a static-sized build plate, it uses a conveyor belt to create an «endless Z-axis.» That lets you print very long things or lots of things over and over again.
If you are a cosplayer looking to make weapons or large armor pieces, the CR-30 gives you a lot of room to create. I’ve managed to print Squall’s Gunblade from Final Fantasy VIII as well as the Whisper of the Worm from Destiny 2 (both were printed in two halves and attached together). It’s great for small businesses looking to mass-produce small parts, and with just two CR-30s you could create a small empire on Etsy or Shopify. —James Bricknell
$982 at Amazon
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Glowforge 3D Laser Cutter
Best for woodworkers
I can’t begin to tell you how much I love the Glowforge. Laser cutters can create projects from wood, leather, lucite and other materials, making it an interesting creation alternative to filament-based 3D printers. Even better, what would take a 3D printer hours to do takes just minutes in the Glowforge.
With it, I’ve created laser-etched LED lights, birch wood tool caddies, and even a three-tier box for my Nespresso sleeves. There’s a robust community of makers creating and sharing files, but pretty much any line drawing you can create in something like Adobe Illustrator can be turned into a project.
The software is all cloud-based, which adds a layer of complication (you need internet service to use it), but the ability to create amazing gifts and more from simple 0.125-inch or 0.25-inch cheap plywood is pretty empowering.
See some of my laser cutter projects (and download my SVG files) here.
$3,995 at Glowforge (Glowforge Basic)
$4,995 at Glowforge (Glowforge Plus)
Revopoint Pop 2
While the software has a pretty steep learning curve, the end result is extremely detailed. I’ve really enjoyed using the handheld version to scan larger models while the included turntable makes scanning smaller objects a breeze. If you are looking for a professional-grade scanner and can spend some time on the software, the Pop 2 is a great choice.
$689 at Amazon
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SOL Desktop Laser 3D Scanner
Best 3D scanner for easy replicas
Recreate pretty much anything by putting it on this 3D scanner, where a rotating base and built-in camera create a 360-degree copy, which is then editable in any 3D program and printable on your 3D printer. Simply scan the object, import the scan into your slicing software for cleanup, and print. The included software alerts you of next steps in the printing process with either sound or texts. Scan quality and print resolution are great, and setup is easy, although you might want to clean up your 3D model a bit in a 3D software app after.
$799 at Amazon
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3D printing FAQs
What material should I use to print with?
Most home 3D printers use PLA or ABS plastic. Professional printers can use all sorts of materials, from metal to organic filament. Some printers use a liquid resin, which is much more difficult to handle. As a beginner, use PLA. It’s nontoxic, made mostly of cornstarch and sugarcane, handles easily and is inexpensive. However, it’s more sensitive to heat, so don’t leave your 3D prints on the dashboard of a car on a hot day.
Which brand of PLA is best?
Generally speaking, Hatchbox has never let me down and runs about $25 for a full 1kg spool on Amazon. Some of the printers I tested only accommodate narrower 0.5kg spools. In those cases, I sometimes used a larger Hatchbox roll with a separate spool-holder. Other times, I had good luck with AIO Robotics 0.5kg spools, which are a little more expensive, at $14 for 0.5kg. Amazon Basics and Monoprice can also be good, but for any brand, weird colors like metallic or glow-in-the-dark filament can be hit-or-miss. Note that a 1kg roll prints a lot of stuff.
What settings should I use?
Most 3D printers include or link to recommended software, which can handle converting 3D STL or other files into formats supported by the printer. Stick with the suggested presets to start, with one exception. I’ve started adding a raft, or bottom layer of filament, to nearly everything I print. It has cut down dramatically on prints that don’t adhere to the bed properly, which is a common issue. If you continue to have problems, rub a standard glue stick on the print bed right before printing.
What are supports?
Your 3D models probably need some help to print properly, as these printers don’t do well with big overhangs — for example, an arm sticking out from a figure. Your 3D printer software can usually automatically calculate and add supports, meaning little stands that hold up all those sticking-out parts of the model. After the print is done, clip the supports off with micro cutters and file down any nubs or rough edges with hobby files.
Where do I find things to print?
Thingiverse.com is a huge online repository of 3D files for anything and everything you can think of. Pokemon chess set? It’s there. Dyson vacuum wall mount? You bet.
When you’re ready to create your own designs, there are a ton of software packages to choose from, but it’s easiest to start with the browser-based free TinkerCad app from Autodesk.
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Best 3D Printers of 2022 | Rating of TOP models of 3D printers for printing
The modern market of additive equipment offers many options for 3D printing equipment designed to solve various problems. Devices are in demand in engineering and design, architecture, medicine, industry, education, entertainment, engineering and many other areas.
Let’s talk about what you should pay attention to when choosing a 3D printer, and also consider the rating of the best equipment models for amateurs and professionals in 2022.
How to choose the right 3D printer
There are a number of basic parameters that you need to pay attention to when choosing a printer for bulk printing. Let’s briefly consider each of them.
According to the ISO / ASTM 52900: 2021 standard, approved by the International Organization for Standardization, 3D printers are divided into several categories depending on the characteristics of the printing process (for convenience, we will duplicate the trade names for each category):
- DED (SLS, MJF) — deposition and melting of material using a directed electron or laser beam.
- BJT (CJP, NPJT) — selective jet application of a binder composition to the powder for its sintering.
- MJT (MJP) — layer-by-layer inkjet application of photopolymer resin.
- MEX (FDM, FFF, PJP) — layer-by-layer application of the consumable through a heated nozzle (extrusion).
- VPP (SLA, DLP, LCD, CDLP) — photopolymerization, selective curing of a liquid photopolymer in a bath under the influence of a light source. nine0018
- SHL (LOM, Composite Lamination) — gluing (lamination) of sheets of material.
- PBF (SLM, DMLS, EBM) — fusion of certain areas of the powder layer under the influence of thermal energy.
This parameter largely depends on the printing technology and is standardly described in the vertical and horizontal planes (Z and XY, respectively).
The Z resolution is the height/thickness of the layer. The thinner the layer, the more accurate and detailed the model will be. XY resolution is the smallest possible movement of the print head, which cannot be less than the diameter of the nozzle or laser beam.
The highest resolution is provided by photopolymer 3D printers.
The choice of consumable depends on the 3D printing technology used. FDM printers use special thermoplastics in the form of filaments (PLA, HIPS, ABS, PET, PETG, Wood, Flex, etc.), while photopolymer printers use various light-sensitive liquid resins. Sintering technology devices are designed to use engineering thermoplastics or metals in powder form.
Many professional printers work with special purpose materials — composites (glass-filled materials, carbon fiber, etc.), metals, wood, concrete, ceramics, dental photopolymers, wax, etc.
Print platform (desktop, build platform)
This is the plate on which objects are printed. A high-quality platform ensures reliable adhesion of models to the surface (adhesion) during printing and at the same time makes it easy to separate them at the end of the process.
Typically, the print bed is made of glass, but other materials can also be used. To improve the contact of the material with the platform, special sprays and adhesives increase adhesion (Adhesion). Professional models of 3D printers usually have features that increase the resistance of printing to failures:
- flexible, removable or magnetic platform;
- automatic print area alignment system;
- heated platform for handling high temperature materials. nine0018
3D printing can be associated with some risks even when all safety regulations are followed. For example, high-temperature printing increases the risk of burns, and some powder materials or photopolymer resins are harmful to the skin.
To reduce the risk of exposure to toxic substances, some printers recommend the use of protective chambers, air filtration and ventilation systems, protective gloves, and goggles. There are also models of 3D printers designed to be serviced exclusively by trained personnel.
Noise level and motor drivers
Drivers and stepper motors directly affect the noise level during equipment operation. More advanced and expensive drivers, coupled with high-quality stepper motors, contribute to a significant reduction in the noise level during the printing process.
Most manufacturers offer additive devices that are ready to go. But some models of 3D printers are presented as self-assembly kits (DIY kits). When buying, you need to consider that assembling such a device can cause certain difficulties, especially for the first time.
The choice of the area of the working area of the equipment depends on the dimensions of the parts that are planned to be printed on a 3D printer. For a home, it is enough to purchase a device with parameters up to 200x250x200 (WxHxD). This is enough to solve most problems. For more serious tasks, we recommend considering models with a working area of at least 306x306x610 (WxHxD), such a print volume will allow you to print large objects without subsequent gluing with the same print quality and resolution.
Let’s take a closer look at the main technologies used in the field of 3D printing:
- FDM is a method of layer-by-layer deposition of plastic filament threads. Ideal for creating functional prototypes and parts from high-strength industrial plastics.
- DLP — layer-by-layer curing of photopolymer resins using LED projectors. Allows you to produce ultra-precise, highly detailed objects with a high-quality surface. nine0018
- SLA — curing layers of liquid photopolymer using a laser beam. Suitable for printing very precise products with complex geometry and fine details.
There are modifications of printers that support the function of printing in two or more colors. Most of these FDM devices are equipped with two presses filled with threads of different colors. A separate file is used to print each color, and sections of different colors are combined with each other like a three-dimensional puzzle. There are also color powder printing technologies, such as CJP or MJM, but the range of their application is limited to simple layout or prototyping.
The surface quality of finished models depends on both the technology used and the print resolution. If necessary, the products are easily amenable to post-processing.
Volumetric printers are available in an open or closed case. Open type devices are cheaper, but may have print quality issues and shrinkage of ABS products due to temperature differences. Enclosed printers have a more rigid, stable design and deliver high quality builds because their print surface is protected from dust and other unwanted particles. In addition, they have a low noise level and are safer to operate.
The majority of modern 3D printers have built-in memory, a port for USB flash drives or are equipped with SD memory cards, which allows you to continue the 3D printing process without a permanent connection to a PC. Some devices may also support wireless technology (Wi-Fi or P2P) or connect via Ethernet. Recently, more and more manufacturers include in their devices the possibility of forming 3D printing farms from a cluster of devices connected by one local network.
Additive technology comes with special software or is compatible with open-source programs that can be downloaded, for example, from the manufacturer’s website. As a rule, the software runs on Windows, Linux or MacOS. The software package may include modules for optimizing 3D models, building automatic supports (supports), controlling the movement of the printing block and desktop, and advanced preparation of layers for printing.
3D printer models
Consider the different models of amateur and professional 3D printers recognized as the best in 2022.
Self-assembly kits (DIY) are the most budgetary and popular variant of FDM/FFF/PJP 3D printers in Russia. The use of such kits allows you to independently assemble, configure, reconfigure and upgrade printing devices to suit your needs.
The most popular DIY kits in 2022:
Creality Ender 3
Thoughtfully designed home 3D printer with open chamber, large build area (WxHxD: 220x250x220mm) and high print quality at speeds up to 180mm/s. Works great with PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU, Wood and other plastics. Equipped with a single extruder, a heated worktable, a compact display that shows the main parameters, and an active cooling system. Suitable for printing small functional items, prototypes or decorative figurines. Connects via USB or microSD.
Flying Bear Ghost 5
Equipment for semi-professional use, equipped with an open chamber with dimensions of 255x210x210 mm. Due to the uniform supply of the filament, it allows you to produce high-resolution parts at a speed of up to 150 mm / s and an accuracy of up to 0.01 mm. The model is equipped with one extruder, a heated table, options for adjusting speed and temperature, an active cooling system and a convenient TFT color display. Compatible with HIPS, ABS, Wood, PLA, etc. Reliable, quiet operation. Connects via Usb, SD, Wi-Fi.
Creality Ender 5 Plus
A printer with a large working area (350x350x400 mm), one extruder and a filament sensor that prevents printing errors due to tangles or broken threads. It has a magnetic platform with heating up to 100 degrees in 10 minutes, a rigid, reinforced cubic frame and a reliable power supply with overheat protection. Provides fast, high-precision, stable printing with an adjustable layer thickness of 0.1-0.4mm.
Creality Ender 6
Equipment with a closed plastic case, one extruder with a heating temperature of up to 260 degrees, a color touch screen and a build area of 250x250x400 mm. Ideal for small batch production and prototyping. The printer is equipped with a heated bed, connects via SD and is compatible with most of the available filaments. The layer height is 0.1-0.4 mm.
Budget 3D printers
This category includes inexpensive, ready-to-use FDM/FFF 3D printers designed for beginners — ordinary users, students in robotics circles, schools, etc. The devices are endowed with additional options that allow you to achieve excellent results with simple, understandable operation.
The best budget models of 2022:
Anycubic Mega S
Functional equipment with a working space of 210x210x205 mm and the possibility of resuming the work process after a power outage. The device has a color touchscreen, a heated platform with Ultrabase coating, connects via data cable or SD and prints at speeds up to 100 mm/sec. Layer height — 0.05-0.3 mm.
FlashForge Adventurer 4
A good option for children or teenagers who are fond of 3D modeling. The printer has a working area of 200x200x250 mm, a heated platform, a color touch screen and is connected via USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Construction speed — up to 150 mm / sec. Layer thickness — 0.1-0.4 mm. The model is also equipped with a built-in webcam, a filament end sensor, an auto-calibration function and the possibility of remote control through the application.
Voxelab Aries STEM
A printer with a full range of modern functions, designed to create objects of standard sizes (200x200x200 mm). Prints at speeds up to 80 mm/sec. and a layer thickness of 0.1-0.4 mm. Connection — Usb, SD, Wi-Fi.
QIDI i-Mate S
A device with a working space of 260x200x200 mm, connected via Usb, LAN or Wi-Fi. Layer thickness — 0.05-0.2 mm, construction speed — up to 80 mm/sec. Great for prototyping simple objects.
Budget Large Format 3D Printers
Devices designed to create a large number of small products in one go or to print large objects. These printers are equipped with a capacious platform and have increased reliability and stability.
The most popular low-cost large-format FDM 3D printers in 2022:
A model with an improved component base and mechanics, updated electronics, a redesigned feed mechanism, a heated platform and two extruders. Construction area — 500x500x500 mm. Layer thickness — 0.1-0.4 mm, build speed — up to 150 mm/sec. Connection — Wi-Fi, MicroSD.
Creality Ender 5 Plus
Apparatus with dimensions of the working area 350x350x400 mm. It has a robust construction with a reinforced structural profile frame and a heated platform. Provides the most accurate, stable printing and smooth, stable movement along the axes. Connected via SD. The layer height is 0.1-0.4 mm.
Creality CR-10S Pro V2
A 3D printer that delivers high performance and exceptional print stability. Ideal for creating print trusses that produce large runs of the same type of parts. Construction volume — 300x300x400 mm. Print speed — up to 180 mm / sec. (recommended speed is up to 60 mm/s). Layer height — 0.1-0.4 mm. Connection — SD.
Professional 3D printers
Professional-grade printers are designed to produce complex objects using high-temperature engineering plastics and other consumables. Such equipment has a closed chamber to maintain a certain temperature and ensure stable printing.
Best Professional FDM 3D Printers of 2022:
FlashForge Creator Pro 2
Technique with two independent extruders for simultaneous printing of two identical products. The second extruder can be used to create soluble supports for the production of complex models with a quality surface. Construction area — 200x148x150 mm. Layer height — 0.1-0.4 mm, build speed — up to 100 mm/sec. Connection — Usb, SD.
Picaso Designer Classic
A printer designed to solve a wide range of tasks. It has built-in profiles for different types of plastic, which makes it easy to start printing. Chamber size — 200x200x210 mm. Work speed — up to 100 cm3 / h, layer thickness — from 0.01 mm. Connection — Usb, Ethernet.
Anycubic 4Max Pro 2.0
Advantages of the model: dual drive extruder for working with soft, flexible plastics, filament end sensor, silent drivers, color display. The device provides the most accurate, stable printing at speeds up to 150 mm/sec. Camera dimensions — 270x210x190 mm. Layer thickness — 0.05-0.3 mm. Types of connection — Usb, SD.
QIDI Tech X-Plus
A printer with a capacious working chamber (270x200x200 mm), one extruder with a heating temperature of up to 300 degrees and a build speed of up to 150 mm/sec. Equipped with a heated platform, connects via Wi-Fi, Usb or LAN, the layer height is 0.05-0.2mm.
Professional single extruder 3D printers
Additive equipment of this kind is designed to solve various problems, from relatively simple to complex.
The most popular models of professional FDM/FFF 3D printers with one print head:
Picaso Designer X S2 (Series 2)
The main difference of this modification is the heating of the extruder up to 430 degrees, which allows working with a wide range of plastics, including engineering ones (ABS, PETG, PLA, PEEK, Nylon, Flex, etc. ). Dimensions of the working chamber — 201x201x210 mm. Connection — Usb, Ethernet. Speed - up to 150 mm / s. Layer thickness — from 10-250 microns. The printer is equipped with a heated bed.
A 3D printer with a large printable area (300x250x300 mm) and a wide range of useful features. It has a robust design with a strong double Z-rail, a heated platform with a double-sided coating for working with different types of plastic and a 5-inch touch screen. The extruder heats up to 300 degrees. Compatible filaments — PLA, ABS, PETG, PC, Carbon, Nylon, Flex, etc. Connection type — USB storage, LAN, Wi-Fi. Working speed – up to 150 mm/sec. Layer height — 0.05-0.2 mm.
Picaso Designer XL S2
The model is designed for printing with engineering and refractory materials, as the print head heats up to 430 degrees. Robust aluminum body with steel frame guarantees reliability and no vibration during operation. Chamber size — 360x360x610 mm. Speed - up to 130 cm3 / h. Layer thickness — 10-250 microns. Connection type — USB-drive, Ethernet.
It is equipped with three separate extruders for working with different materials (low-temperature, high-temperature, standard), as well as various interchangeable platforms (smooth, perforated, glass). Supports print queue for different users. Dimensions of the working area — 205x255x225 mm, layer height — 0.05-0.4 mm. Connection — Usb, LAN, Wi-Fi.
An updated version of the Bizon 2 model. Layer thickness — 0.02 — 0.65 mm. Print area size: 300x300x400mm. Print speed: up to 160 mm/s. Layer height: from 0.02 to 0.65 mm. Connection type: USB, SD card.
Mid-range large format 3D printers
This category includes models for universities, specialized colleges and offices of medium-sized companies.
The best mid-range large format FDM 3D printers in 2022:
Raise3D Pro3 Plus
Equipment with a transparent body and two extruders equipped with a lifting mechanism, well-thought-out kinematics, interchangeable nozzles of different diameters and a convenient 7-inch color touch screen. Other options: Low Filament Sensor, Print Resume System, RaiseCloud Firmware, Webcam, IdeaMaker Slicer, RaiseCloud Cloud Service. Printed volume: 300x300x605 mm (for one extruder), 255x300x605 mm (for two extruders). Connection — Wi-Fi, Usb, LAN. Speed – up to 150 mm/sec. Layer thickness — from 0.01 mm.
Flash Forge Creator 4
High-performance, accurate 3D printer with a system of two independent extruders and an advanced thermal management system inside the chamber (to protect against cracking and deformation of engineering plastics). Robust steel body prevents vibration. Print area — 400x350x500 mm. Speed – up to 200 mm/sec. Layer height — from 0.01 mm. Connection — Usb, Wi-Fi, LAN.
Picaso Designer XL Pro S2
Large-format model with a working area of 360x360x610 mm, a heated platform and two extruders with a heating temperature of up to 430 degrees. The device has a simple automatic calibration, a built-in material spool drying mode and a plastic feed control system. Layer thickness — 0.01 mm, speed — up to 130 cm3/h. Connection type — Usb, Ethernet.
CreatBot D600 Pro
The printer with the largest print area is 600x600x600 mm. Equipped with two extruders with heating up to 260 and 420 degrees respectively (for working with standard or engineering plastics). Other features: heated chamber, platform and compartments, speed — up to 120 mm/s, layer thickness — from 0.05 mm. Connection type — Usb.
Professional Dual Extruder 3D Printers
Professional FDM printers with two extruders are designed to solve the most complex tasks. This technique is equipped with a fully functional slicer and a reliable nozzle lift mechanism or independent extruders.
The most popular professional grade dual extruder 3D printers:
Raise3D Pro2 Plus
The flagship model of the manufacturer, endowed with a full range of useful features. The equipment, enclosed in a transparent case, is connected via Usb, Wi-Fi or LAN and is distinguished by quiet operation. Equipped with an extruder lifting mechanism, a 7-inch color touch screen, a filament end sensor, and a print resume system. Includes RaiseCloud software, webcam, replacement nozzles. Print volume — 305x305x605 mm (for 1 extruder), 280x305x605 mm (for 2 extruders). Speed – up to 150 mm/sec. Layer height — from 0.01 mm. Connection — Usb, Wi-Fi, LAN.
Picaso Designer X Pro S2
A compact device with dimensions of the construction area of 201x201x210 mm, providing excellent print quality. It has a high temperature mode with heating up to 430 degrees for printing with complex filaments. Speed - up to 130 cm3 / h, layer thickness — from 0.01 mm. Connection — Usb, Ethernet.
High-performance 3D printer with two independent print heads (IDEX system), heated platform and print speed up to 150 mm/sec. A built-in step-by-step video instruction for site calibration is provided. Layer thickness — 0.02-0.25 mm. Connection — Usb port, Wi-Fi, LAN. Print volume — 330x240x240 mm (1 printhead), 295x240x240 mm (2 extruders).
FlashForge Creator 3 Pro
Model with a large chamber (300x250x200 mm), HEPA filter, built-in webcam, color screen and the ability to install hardened nozzles with a material melting point of up to 320 degrees. The heating speed of the working platform is up to 120 degrees in 3 minutes. Print speed — up to 150 mm / sec. Layer thickness — 0.05-0.4 mm. Connection type — Usb, Ethernet, Wi-Fi.
CreatBot F430 PEEK
3D printer ideal for PEEK and other filaments. Equipped with a closed chamber with temperature support and two printheads with heating up to 260 and 420 degrees, respectively. Construction area — 400x300x300 mm. Layer height — from 0.02 mm. Speed – up to 180 mm/sec. Connection — Usb.
An easy-to-use device that prints with threads of non-standard diameter — 2.85 mm. The size of the working area is 330x240x300 mm. Layer thickness — from 0.02 mm. Speed - 24 mm3 / sec. Connection type — Usb, Ethernet, Wi-Fi.
Photopolymer desktop 3D printers
Modern models of 3D printing devices using photopolymers are equipped with monochrome displays with a resolution of up to 8K, which provide high speed and quality of building objects of any geometry.
Best photopolymer 3D printers of 2022:
Phrozen Sonic Mini 8K
A compact budget LCD printer with over 2000 hours of uninterrupted operation. Equipped with 8K 7.1” Mono LCD display. Print volume — 165x72x180 mm. Layer height — 0.01-0.3 mm. Resolution along the XY axis — 22 microns.
Phrozen Sonic 4K 2022
Equipment for permanent loads, ideal for dental laboratories and dental clinics. It has a heated chamber 134x75x200 mm with an odor filter and a Mono 4K 6.1” LCD display. Layer thickness — 0.01-0.3 mm.
Formlabs Form 3+
LFS printer with an intuitive interface and many special settings. The light source is a 250 mW laser. The size of the working area is 145x145x185 mm. Layer thickness — 0.025-0.3 mm.
Anycubic Mono X 6K
3D printer with a working chamber 197x122x245 mm and a high-quality Mono 6K 9.25” LCD screen. Layer height — 0.01-0.15 mm.
XYZ Part Pro 150
Equipped with a 5 inch LCD touch screen. Illumination source: 405 nm UV laser. Print area size: 150x150x200 mm. Layer thickness: 25 to 200 microns (0.025 — 0.2 mm).
Best Large Format Desktop Resin 3D Printers
Phrozen Sonic Mega 8K
The best 3D printer in its segment, capable of solving tasks that usually only an entire farm can handle. Suitable for both mass production of small detailed products, and for printing huge objects and dioramas. It is equipped with a 15-inch Mono 8K LCD display and has a working area of 330x185x400 mm. Resolution — less than 50 microns, layer height — 0.01-0.3 mm.
Formlabs Form 3L
LFS-technique with a construction area of 335x200x300 mm, creating high-precision details using a 2×250 mW laser with a spot diameter of 85 microns. It is possible to install two cartridges at the same time for uninterrupted printing of large models. Layer thickness — from 0.025 mm.
All 3D printers reviewed have been rigorously tested in practice and tested by experienced engineers. Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages, therefore, when choosing a model, it is necessary to focus, first of all, on the expected result, equipment functionality and budget.
If you find it difficult to make a choice, please contact 3DTool. Our experts will help you choose the right 3D equipment and consumables for you.
8 nuances worth paying attention to
Sooner or later, everyone will learn about 3D printing. And only a few lucky people, imbued with the opportunities that 3D printing opens up, catch themselves thinking that they want to purchase a 3D printer. The desire gradually develops into a serious decision and the search for the right option begins. And here the potential buyer is faced with the fact that he does not fully understand what to choose among the whole variety of 3D printers. We will try to answer this question in as much detail as possible. What to look for, and how to make a choice? We want to offer a small checklist of the nuances that you need to pay attention to when choosing a 3D printer. You need to decide for yourself for what tasks you will use this technique? What features should a 3D printer have to solve your problems? nine0003
Tip 1 : Decide on 3D printing technology
The first step is to decide on the technology of 3D printing. There are two main paths here. If you are faced with the task of manufacturing high-precision and miniature products, such as jewelry, then 3D printers using SLA or DLP technology are suitable for you. Such printers are specially designed for the manufacture of high-precision models. 3D printing in these printers occurs using a laser beam that illuminates the photopolymer resin. Hence the accuracy of the models. Prominent representatives of this segment: Form 2 3D printer or B9 3D printercreator
If you are faced with a wider range of tasks, and functionality, part size, and low manufacturing cost are more important, then an FDM printer will suit you. 3D printing on this equipment involves layer-by-layer melting of plastic. If according to SLA printers everything is clear. The scope of their application is jewelry, dentistry, high-precision prototypes of small parts. Then we will dwell on FDM printers in more detail. There is a lot more variety of different options for implementing printers.
Nuance 2: Evaluate your needs
Of course, you always want to get all the best and with maximum opportunities. Do you need all this to solve your current problems? What can be cited as an example? For example, the size of the working area of the FDM 3D printer. There are printers on the market with a large print area (1m x 1m x 1m), and with a very small one (100mm x 100mm x100mm). But for most tasks, a certain standard has already developed. This is the printable area within 200 x 200 x 200 mm. With slight fluctuations in size in one direction or another. Most 3D printers have exactly this size of the working area. This volume is enough to solve 95% of any tasks. But options are possible … If you plan to manufacture small parts, then a smaller size will probably be enough for you. But if your work will be related to manufacturing, for example, a master model for casting, or large prototypes, then only then it makes sense to pay attention to a printer with a large print area. In other cases, the size of the print area larger than the standard is nothing more than a nice bonus. But as they say, you have to pay for everything. Therefore, most often it makes sense to focus on the “standard” print area. And even if the part you need to print is larger than the working area of your 3D printer, you can always cut it in a special editor, and then print 2 parts of the model and glue them together. nine0003
Nuance 3 : Decide on the complexity of the products
You should decide for yourself how complex models you will print on a 3D printer. If you plan to manufacture complex prototypes, or complex art models, then you need a 3D printer that can print with two materials. This is necessary so that your printer can print supports from soluble material. If the models are not the most complex, then you can get by with one extruder and save the budget. A complex model is a model with a large number of elements suspended in the air, or a model whose elements have angles of more than 30 degrees.
Point 4: Decide on the list of materials to be used.
Another important point. You must immediately determine for yourself a list of possible materials with which you are going to print. This primarily applies to materials with a high degree of shrinkage, such as ABS and Nylon. In order to print with such materials, a heated table is clearly required in a 3D printer. And it is very desirable to have a closed case to provide a thermal circuit around the model. If you plan to print only with PLA plastic. You don’t need a heated table. But still it is better that the printer has a heated table. Now the difference in the cost of printers with a heated table is practically the same as the cost without it. But you get a universal solution with which you can perform the full range of tasks facing a 3D printer. One more moment. Ability to print with flexible materials Quite a number of 3D printers face the problem of printing with flexible materials. Of course, printing with various Flexes and Rubbers is very interesting at first glance. But the use of these materials in life is not very common. Usually, for most people, this happens like this: A couple of models are printed, and the understanding comes that this is not a fast and rather complicated process. And this is where the acquaintance with flexible materials ends. Therefore, it makes sense to demand such an opportunity from the printer if printing with such materials is very necessary.
Nuance 5: Structure and kinematics
Next, you need to pay attention to the design of the 3D printer. Even if you are not a great specialist in technology, you can immediately see that some printers have an open design. And others are closed. As they like to be called in the Russian-speaking community «cubes». What does the appearance say? Printers with an open design, usually have kinematics with a horizontally moving table (based on Prusa 3D printers). This kinematics has some inherent flaws. Such as, not the highest print speed and possible print quality problems associated with the complexity of the settings. First of all, this is the so-called wobble. Also, the lack of a closed case can cause print quality problems with high shrinkage plastics (ABS, Nylon). The main advantage of printers of this design is their price. It is usually lower. But as you know, you have to pay for everything. In this case, the worst performance. The so-called «cubes» today, is the main design, which is represented by leading manufacturers on the market. Such printers are built according to the lifting table scheme. And they lack most of the shortcomings that are inherent in printers from the previous group. “Cubes” usually have a closed body, which allows the highest quality printing with plastics with a high degree of shrinkage. Closed case printers are more rigid. This results in better quality printing. The kinematics of moving the print head is represented by various designs. They have their pros and cons. But most of them have advantages over moving table printer circuits.
Nuance 6: Diameter and changeable nozzle
Most 3D printers on the market come with 0. 3-0.4mm nozzles. This is enough to solve the vast majority of tasks facing a 3D printer. Some of the printers have the ability to install a nozzle of a different diameter, others do not. As we wrote above, the need to print with nozzles with a diameter other than 0.3-0.4 mm arises very infrequently. This mainly concerns, or personal experiments, or some very specific tasks. If you do not plan to do this, then this opportunity is not so necessary. What do we mean by specific tasks? This is especially true for printing large items, where it is very important to reduce the printing time. This can be achieved by using large diameter nozzles. For example, with a diameter of 0.6-0.8 mm, or even a diameter of 1 mm. For printers with a large printable area, the ability to change nozzles is already a vital necessity. Therefore, here, as in the case of a heated table, the ability to change nozzles is a good bonus. It is not mandatory, but very useful if you do not have to pay extra for it. nine0003
Nuance 7: Print thickness
It is important to understand that most models on a 3D printer are printed with a layer of 0. 1-0.2 mm. These are the optimal values that allow you to achieve quality and acceptable print speed. There are a certain number of printers that allow you to print with a layer of less than 0.05 mm, and get very high quality prints. But then there is the problem of a sharp increase in print time. And if such print quality is important to you, then it probably makes sense to turn your attention to 3D printers, which we talked about at the very beginning of the article. These are 3D printers using SLA or DLP technology. nine0003
Nuance 8: Extruder type
Today there are two main types of extruder. This is a direct extruder in which the bar feed motor is located in the printhead itself. And the so-called Bowden extruder, where the plastic feed motor is located on the body. And the plastic itself is fed to the extruder through a fluoroplastic tube. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of extruder? Bowden extruder, due to the lack of a motor on the print head, has less weight. And therefore, it has greater positioning accuracy, which affects the print quality. And a higher speed of movement, which, accordingly, has a positive effect on the speed of printing. But it has one drawback. It is usually difficult to print with flexible plastics on a Bowden extruder. Such as Rubber or Flex. All its positive features, this extruder reveals when using plastic with a diameter of 2.85-3.00 mm. But this type of plastic is less common than the now standard plastic with a diameter of 1.75 mm. And therefore, users of printers with such plastic are often deprived of the opportunity to use new types of materials. Which are primarily produced in the most common form factor of 1.75mm. The direct extruder usually doesn’t have such big problems with flexible plastics. Easier to set up, but due to the greater mass of the print head, it is inferior to the Bowden extruder in terms of speed and positioning accuracy. What to prefer? This is the user’s choice. We just wanted to talk about the pros and cons of these extruder types. Of course, there are many more nuances when choosing a 3D printer. But we think that even our small list will force you to look and study some points that you may not have thought about more closely. And it will save you time and money when choosing a 3D printer. 3Dtool company has extensive experience in the 3D equipment market. We work with leading Russian and foreign manufacturers, offering high-quality equipment for a reasonable price. Our service center is staffed by highly qualified specialists who are able to solve any problem in the shortest possible time, and all offered 3D printers come with a 1-year warranty.
In our assortment you can always find 3D printers for your tasks:
1) Budget 3D printers
2) 3D printers for business
3) Large area 3D printers
4) SLA and DLP 3D printers
Do you have any questions?
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