A 3D printer is a printer that can do three-dimensional projects. It is used mainly to make miniature 3D models. Not only do these printers come in different price ranges but also different features and properties. We’ve curated a selection of the best 3d printers for beginners, pros, as well as secondary options.
Along with suggestions for a wide range of budget 3D printers in this article, we also have some buying considerations which will help you narrow down your search for these reliable printers.
- Hobbyist-grade Printers
- Commercial-grade Printers
- Second Printers
- Buying Considerations
- What Do You Want to Print?
- Commercial vs. Hobbyist Considerations
- What size objects are you interested in printing?
- What materials are you going to use?
- Printing in Multiple Colors?
- How High of a Resolution Do You Actually Need?
- What Surface Should You Build On?
- Do You Need a Closed Frame?
- How are you going to Connect to the Printer?
- What type of computer software will you need?
These 3D printers are a more affordable option; they are still quality 3D printers, though. Here are some 3D printer options for 3D printing enthusiasts!
Creality Ender 3 V2
Summary: This is a perfect printer for business start-ups. The 3-D Printing device offers a 32-bit mainboard, silent stepper motor drivers, and many more small improvements. It looks almost the same as the old original with some advanced materials and decent print volume.
- Easy to assemble
- Produces high-quality prints
- Safer and convenient as the power supply is concealed in the machine
- Has average QC
- No touch screen interference
- Glass beds are heavier
Artillery Sidewinder X1
Summary: This is a 3D printer with a high print speed with an aluminum frame. It weighs 14Kg and produces has extra features that make it better than its old version. This budget printer has a simple printing process which is easy, just like most other printers.
- Direct titan style volcano hotend so great for printing flexibles or getting high flow rates
- The cooling fan is at the bottom, so less noise
- Heats super fast
- Large build volume
- Cables come loose in this type of printer
- It has an awful filament holder
- Heat dissipation can be uneven
Creality CR-10S or V2/V3
Summary: Another best-selling 3D printer that is larger in size than Creality Ender 3 V2 is Creality CR-10S or V2/V3. It is also much more expensive than the other one. However, this desktop 3D printer is liked by many people as well.
- Easy to assemble as comes mostly assembled
- The printer is much more stable
- Has massive build space
- It has a removable glass bed
- Flexibles are difficult to build
- The heating time of printing bed is long
- Enormous, so it requires a lot of space
Original Prusa i3 MK3S+
Summary: This is a favorite of the 3D printing industry, although it is not part of low-cost 3D printers. If you are an expert, it gives high-quality prints and detailed models. There are two ways to buy it: an assembly 3D printer kit or an assembled version; of course, there is a slight variation in price between the two.
- Has power loss detection and recovery feature
- Made up of high-quality parts so the excellent print quality
- Can be paused or restarted while printing
- Removable and exchangeable print bed
- Might crash and is less reliable for long prints
- Some people had a rocky start, is a little difficult to operate
- Slight overhangs and fraying of filament
Original Prusa Mini+
Summary: This is one of the original 3D printers but a better version which is very affordable. It produces 3D objects just like other 3D printers. Since it is not part of expensive printers, it is great for beginners to practice 3D prints.
- Very easy to assemble even for beginners as it only has three parts
- Good build volume as well as quality
- It has an LCD screen where you can preview the 3D printing
- The heated bed is magnetic and flexible and has USB connectivity
- It has a very long lead time of 14 to 16 weeks
- Can’t print nylon or PCs
- First-layer calibration is tricky for some people
Original Prusa SL1
Summary: This resin printer has invisible resin and is one of the best 3D printers with a wide range of qualities out there. This is definitely not for beginners as it is an expensive model. It is used in laboratories and in making plastic models.
- Very high printing speed that can build a 150mm tall object in 2 hours
- It is very durable so can last for a long while
- Produces very detailed prints
- Anyone who uses it will have a hassle-free experience
- It is very expensive
- Lack of instructions in the manual
- Sometimes, disturbance in the control screen
These 3D printers are mostly used for businesses and are not simple. They are made in a way that the 3D printing process is easier to be used in a commercial sense. Let’s look at some good commercial-grade printers.
Lulzbot Taz Series
Summary: It is a desktop 3D printer that is both self-cleaning and self-leveling. Best used by engineers and designers. It can produce a wide array of prints, from small objects to large objects, and the finished product is only released when it’s cool.
- Very big build size
- Solid and study so reliable in printing objects
- PEI print surface
- Easy to use and set up as well
- Very expensive
- Noisy while in operation
- Slow to set up initially and limited user control
Summary: This company has 3D printers; they develop 3D printing software and also sell 3D printer materials. They have a wide array of 3D printers, even ones with a built-in camera.
- All the printers are built with high-quality materials
- Easy to use and clean
- Most of them come assembled
- Can be used via Wi-Fi, Lan, and USB port
- Difficult to print with ninja flex material
- Long printing time
Summary: It is a high-quality printer that comes with an Independent Dual Extruder system which is part of great 3D printing technologies. Experienced users in the industry love this printer. It is open-source that has good printer review all over.
- Simple to work with and has clear instruction
- It has two printing heads
- Can use both an SD card as well as a USB cable
- The build plate is magnetic
- It makes pretty loud noises during work
- Takes longer to complete work
- Lacks wireless connectivity
Just like the name suggests, these are 3D printers for people who are already experts in printers. The printers are better than the older 3D printers, with features like better 3D scanners that will improve the 3D printing experience.
Summary: This is a 3D printer that is a competitor to Duplicator 7, just a little better. It supports SLA and resin 3-D printing. It has a touch screen as well to monitor the printing process in real-time. It supports USB ports.
- Has super high-resolution prints
- Easy to setup
- Anycubic Photon Slicer Software, which is a good software
- Has easy instructions for cleaning and setting up
- It takes a lot of time while printing
- Resin 3D printers are not good for health and can also get messy
- Smaller installation space
Peopoly Phenom and Phrozen Transform
Summary: Unlike older printers, this one uses the LCD and LED (MSLA) approach to print the objects. This printer can last for 400 hours on average without any problem and produce the larger print. This is also a resin 3D printer.
- A very fast printer that finished products at a faster rate
- It has a very big print volume
- Produces very high-quality prints
- Uses Wi-Fi, USB, as well as LAN connectivity
- You have to purchase your own resin
- Very expensive
- It is very loud while operating
Summary: This printer is an SLA printer that uses Asura software. This can be used for both high-quality resins as well as low-cost resins like third-party resins. Mostly used by researchers and developers, so used by advanced users.
- Made up of solid and sturdy material
- Has high-quality prints
- Instructions on building it is very clear
- Easy to build
- Harder to understand the printing process
- Very small print chamber
- Does not have an air filter
Summary: It is a self-sourced printing company that requires you to build it. There are many different versions of this 3D printer available. Has a community of people dedicated to building their own printers
- Fun to build if you like building things
- Sturdy and can last for a long while
- It does not make a lot of noise, like most printers
- It is affordable for the advanced feature it has
- You have to have patience while building it
- There are a range of filaments that you can buy, which can end up costing more
Here are some buying considerations to keep in mind while looking for a printer. This is an especially useful guide for people purchasing their first 3D printer as printers for beginners will have features that make them easy to operate. A beginner will be looking for affordable machines which have all features that they need.
What Do You Want to Print?
Some people want a 3D printer to print small objects for hobbies or work while other need it to build a larger object, so what do you need it for? There are many things that can be built with a 3D printer; some of them are listed below:
- An acoustic guitar
- A camera lens
- Figurines from children’s drawings
- Medical models like a fetus
- iPhone cases as well as cardholders
- Furniture and toys
- A fully functioning gun (although this isn’t recommended)
Commercial vs. Hobbyist Considerations
The most important thing to keep in mind is whether you need it for work or for home. If you need a 3D printer that will affect your career, you will need a better quality one that is bigger and has WiFi connectivity and other such features. You will not be able to skip on high-quality 3D printing filaments or buy an unreliable printer.
However, if you need it as a hobby, you can start off small and maybe buy a good quality one in the future. Even when you buy a good quality one, you can still experiment by buying cheaper parts. Moreover, you can even buy a printer kit so you can create the printer from the ground up on your own if that is what you are into.
What size objects are you interested in printing?
The size of objects that you can print vary a lot as well. Some printers are good at building larger objects, while others are better at building smaller ones. For this, you need to check the printing volume as it states the maximum size of the object that a printer can print.
It is much harder to build small objects as they require more detail, which is hard to obtain. A 3D printer can usually build a thing that is 0.15 millimeters in size. A 3D printer can also build a 200 millimeters high object, so there is a lot of variation.
What materials are you going to use?
Many materials can be used to build objects in a 3D printer, but not every printer supports all materials. You have to decide beforehand the type of materials that you will work with so that the printer you buy supports it. Here are some materials that a 3D printer can work with.
- Plastics such as PLA, PVA, ABS, and PC
- Powdered materials like nylon and aluminide
- Resins like high-detailed resins, transparent resins, and paintable resins
- All types of metals like gold, steel, bronze, and titanium
- Graphite as well as graphene
Printing in Multiple Colors?
Printing can be done in black and white or by combining multiple colors. It depends on your needs again.
For multiple colors, the printer uses the base colors cyan, magenta, and black, though these three colors, a printer can achieve up to 16.7 million different combinations. These are useful when you want to build something with a lot of colors. If you need a printer with color, you should ask beforehand if a printer has the colors that can give you the result you want.
How High of a Resolution Do You Actually Need?
Professionals usually need higher resolution prints compared to a beginner. 3D printers come in many resolutions.
There are two resolutions in a 3D printer, the XY resolution, and the Y resolution. Make sure to check both before buying a 3D printer. A high-resolution printer is used by people who work on smaller objects that require a lot of details, as details in larger objects are pretty easy to obtain. A good 3D printer has 10 microns to 300 microns layer heights. The lower the micron height is, the better the printing quality. A printer that can form layers that are 0.05mm is considered a very good printer as well.
What Surface Should You Build On?
The surface plate is a plate on which your 3D model is built. It is essential to be flat for the edges to be clean, and the object should stick to it before you remove it. There are many different types of surfaces on which you can work.
- Glass: It is the most commonly used one and requires an adhesive like hairspray to stick objects printed.
- Aluminum PCB: On these, you can use various adhesives or materials to make the object stick.
- Kapton: It is a good insulator that distributes heat evenly and does not require an additional adhesive.
- PEI: These have to adhere to glass that has adhesive properties.
- Garolite: This is one the most uncommon materials used, and it is best used for nylon as it prevents warping.
- BuildTalk: Another adhesive sheet has to be applied on glass or flat surfaces to work.
- Acrylic: Some people use this as it has similar properties to other materials and doesn’t require external adhesives.
Do You Need a Closed Frame?
A closed frame is sometimes bought as an additional feature, or some printers even come with a closed frame. There are many reasons that closed frames are used while printing.
It is safer as a closed frame prevents children from touching the hot surface. It also prevents air and wind from entering, which can cause the warping of the printed object. Basically gives a consistent and clean finish to the object you are working on. If what you are building is for professional reasons, then having this could be a game-changer. However, just for a hobby, you don’t have to buy a closed frame printer as it costs much more than a normal one as well.
How are you going to Connect to the Printer?
There are three main ways of connecting a printer to a computer or laptop. For 3D printing, owning a laptop or computer is essential. Some printers have all three ports, but they have one or two ways of connecting to your computer. Here are three ways you can connect to the 3D printer.
- USB port
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Wirelessly through OctoPrint
What type of computer software will you need?
There is much software required to make a 3D printer work. Basically, you need a laptop or computer to load the image in and whatnot.
First of all, you need Cura or Slicer to send 3D prints to your 3D printer. Then you also need other software like Fusion 360 and Tinkercad to design the 3D prints; these are all the most popular software. However, you can find much other software for each function of a 3D printer; researching more to find the one that meets your needs is the best. The software used for 3D printings is usually very cheap if you know where to purchase them from.
In conclusion, make sure to do proper research before buying a 3D printer, regardless of the use you have for it. The best 3D printer for small businesses, for example, will require vastly different purchasing criteria than what you consider as a small-time hobbyist. Good luck in buying your next 3D printer!