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Best 3D Printers 2022: FDM, Resin and Sub-$250 Models

Best 3D Printers
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

There's never been a better time to join the world of 3D printing or, for experienced makers, to upgrade. With the right printer, you can make models, toys, hooks, stands, replacement parts for electronics or a new case for your Raspberry Pi. You can get one of the best 3D printers and plenty of material for well under $300 in 2022, so consider what you’ll be making with it and read on to learn more. 

The two most common types of home 3D printers are resin MSLA (Masked Stereolithography) and filament FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling). The best 3D printers for beginners or those with children, FDM printers use reels full of plastic filament that is fed into a hot nozzle and extruded out layer-by-layer to form a solid model. MSLA printers use a UV-cured resin material to form a model layer-by-layer as it rises from a vat of liquid that requires very careful handling.

There are several factors to consider before buying the best 3D printer for you, so be sure to consider the questions before making a choice.

Shopping Tips for Best 3D Printers 

  • Resin MSLA or Filament FDM? The two most popular styles of desktop 3D printing, resin MSLA and filament FDM 3D printers offer various strengths and weaknesses, and choosing the style more suited for your application will help you get better results. For many , especially beginners, filament 3D printers are a better choice because they are easier to use and offer a wide variety of colors. They are also far safer for anyone with children or pets around.

    Resin 3D printers can provide a bit more detail, so they are popular among folks printing out game pieces. However, you need to handle toxic chemicals and wear a mask when setting up a print and, after the printing is over, you must wash and cure your prints. We have some resin printers on this list but also maintain a more detailed article where we name all of the best resin 3D printers.
  • How much build volume do you need? If you want to print out large parts in a single print, you’ll need a printer with ample build volume. This is usually directly tied to the price of the machine, so a larger printer is going to cost more money. Printers with a 100mm cubed or less build volume are on the smaller side, 150 to 220mm cubed are average, and 250mm inch cubed and above are considered large format.
  • Manual or automatic bed leveling? Leveling the bed of a 3D printer is an important but very annoying part of the process. Many printers have auto-leveling capability, which saves you most of the work.
  • What materials are you printing with? If you're buying an FDM printer, you'll want to use one of the best filaments for 3D printing so you can get good models. However, some substances require higher temperatures that not every printer can achieve. PLA filament, the most common type, can print on anything but more durable or flexible plastics such as PETG or TPU need extruders that can hit 220 to 230 degrees Celsius while ABS and Nylon require 240 or 250-degree heat.  Resin printers have fewer material choices.

Best 3D Printers You Can Buy Today

Model by Trilobyte3D (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best 3D Printer Overall

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 220mm x 220mm x 270mm
Build Platform: PEI Spring Steel Sheet, heated
Interface: Color Touch Screen
Bed Leveling: CR Touch
Connectivity: SD Card, Type-C USB

Reasons to buy

+
Easy assembly
+
Great print quality
+
Direct drive
+
All-metal hotend
+
Auto bed leveling

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey for an Ender
-
Mediocre UI

Creality’s Ender 3 S1 Pro is the latest, and most impressive, iteration of the popular Ender 3 line. Not a cheap DIY 3D printer in need of upgrades like its predecessors, the $479 S1 Pro arrives fully loaded, delivering an out-of-the-box experience that’s simple for beginners and powerful for experienced makers

The Ender 3 S1 Pro comes mostly assembled and only took us about 15 minutes and a handful of bolts to put together. Bed leveling – the bane of makers new to the hobby – is no longer a worry with Creality’s CR Touch probe. This is by far one of the easiest auto leveling systems we’ve tested. 

The list of improvements the Ender 3 S1 Pro has over the humble Ender 3 is massive. It has a Sprite direct drive with an all metal hotend, a PEI coated steel flex plate, a color touch screen, tension knobs, a storage drawer, a light kit and even a better spool holder. The S1 Pro also comes with a swappable tool head, allowing you to add the optional laser module for engraving.

But all of its bells and whistles wouldn’t land the Ender 3 S1 Pro at the top of our best 3D printers list if it didn’t also provide amazing output. When we printed a variety of detailed models such as a toy dolphin, a vase and a beckoning cat, prints were extremely sharp, with fine lines and little-to-no stringing. In addition to the great models we printed with PLA filament, we got really strong results when we worked with TPU and PETG filaments. Some green TPU produced life-like leaves on a potted plant model.

More: Creality Ender 3 S1 Pro Review


(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best Budget Resin 3D Printer

Specifications

Technology: Resin
Build Volume: 129 x 80 x 160 mm
LCD Resolution: 1620 x 2560 px
LCD Size: 6.08-inch
XY Resolution: .05mm
Interface: Color touch screen
Connectivity: USB

Reasons to buy

+
Spring-loaded self-leveling build platform
+
Integrated air filtration system

Reasons to avoid

-
Build volume can feel limited 

If you’re getting into resin 3D printing for the first time, you have an overwhelming number of options and price points. The good news for beginners is you don’t have to sacrifice your budget for quality. You can find the easy-to-use Mars 2 Pro on sale for as little as $200. 

Its smaller build volume is perfect for gaming miniatures and trinkets but not larger models. And though its 2k resolution may not be the most detailed among resin printers, it is miles ahead of the quality you can achieve with a filament-based machine.

The Mars 2 Pro comes with a built-in filter system that I found really helps with fumes associated with resin printing. Its spring-loaded self-leveling build platforms is hands down the easiest system we’ve ever used.

More: Elegoo Mars 2 Pro 3D Printer Review


Clockspring’s Illusionist Vase (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best Budget FDM 3D Printer

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 220 x 220 x 250 mm
Build Platform: PEI Spring Steel Sheet, heated
Interface: 2.4 inch color LCD with knob
Bed Leveling: Inductive Auto Leveling
Connectivity: MicroSD/USB

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable price
+
Quality prints
+
Auto bed leveling

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires some assembly 

The Anycubic Kobra Go is the perfect budget 3D printer for new makers wanting to learn the craft as well as seasoned pros who want a trouble free second (or third) machine. Sure, it doesn’t have a fancy touch screen, but it does have two features that make life easy: auto bed leveling and a PEI coated flex plate.

Anycubic kept the cost low – a remarkable $219 – by making this version a DIY Kit with a cheaper Bowden style extruder. Its tiny knob controlled screen might seem like a step backwards, but it’s so easy to navigate I didn’t even mind. The extra half hour or so spent assembling the printer is well worth the $100 dollars you’re saving when compared to the standard Kobra or the similarly kitted out Creality Ender 3v2 Neo (opens in new tab).

I’ve seen a lot of cheap printers, and usually they’re just machines way past their prime being clearanced out of the warehouse. This is not the case for the Kobra Go, which is a no nonsense version of the 5-month-old Kobra. You’re not buying old tech, but a modern printer with quiet fans, a 32 bit board, silent stepper drivers and built in belt tensioners.

More: Anycubic Kobra Go Review


Model by Keetah (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best 3D Printer for Beginners

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 220 x 220 x 250 mm
Build Platform: PEI Spring Steel, Heated
Interface: 4.3-inch Color LCD Touch Screen
Bed Leveling: Inductive Auto Leveling
Connectivity: MicroSD/USB

Reasons to buy

+
Quality prints
+
Direct drive
+
Auto bed leveling 
+
Easy assembly

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult to upgrade
-
Tool head hard to maintain

If you’re looking for a 3D printer that delivers excellent quality while also being easy to operate, the Anycubic Kobra is for you. a fun hobby.  

It’s so easy to assemble, you’ll be printing within 30 minutes of unboxing. It has an easy to load direct drive and an auto bed leveling system that takes the headache out of achieving a perfect first layer. The print surface is a magnetic plate with a PEI coating that grips while hot and magically releases when cool.

Be sure to add a roll of filament to your cart when buying the Anycubic Kobra because you’ll be printing up a storm on its generous 220 X 220 X 250 print volume.

More: Anycubic Kobra Review


(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best High-End 3D Printer

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 250mm x 210mm x 210mm
Build Platform: Magnetic Heatbed with removable PEI spring steel sheets
Interface: 3.4-inch Mono LCD and click wheel
Bed Leveling: Automatic
Connectivity: SD Card, USB

Reasons to buy

+
PrusaSlicer provides best-in-class model slicing
+
Swappable flexible build platforms make switching materials easy
+
Automatic bed leveling sensor is fast and accurate
+
Stealth Mode enables a nearly silent printing experience

Reasons to avoid

-
Assembled printer is pricey
-
Monochrome interface feels outdated

Considered the best 3D printer overall by many aficionados, the Prusa MK3S+ has received countless industry accolades and awards, and with good reason. The MK3S+ is a powerhouse 3D printer that combines reliable hardware, feature-rich software, and a support channel that makes the Prusa signature black and orange hardware a common sight in 3D printing farms. The MK3S+ is based on the i3 platform and has benefitted from several generations of incremental upgrades which have resulted in one of the best 3D printers on the market.

Silent stepper drivers, removable textured build platforms, automatic bed leveling probe and more; the list of features that come stock on the Prusa MK3S+ is certainly impressive, but that’s only part of the story with the MK3S+. Prusa has developed their own slicer app, PrusaSlicer, for processing 3D models and is actively adding new features requested by the community. Features like the ability to paint-on support material, create variable layer heights and generate custom printer profiles are examples of how PrusaSlicer enables the MK3S+ to leap ahead of the competition.

At a price point of $999 for an assembled printer and $749 for a DIY kit, the MK3S+ is one of the most expensive machines on this list. That price may raise some eyebrows among 3D printing enthusiasts who have become accustomed to printers in the sub-$300 price range, but for power users who need uncompromising performance and industry-leading documentation and support, the MK3S+ is at the top of the list. 

More: Prusa MK3S+ 3D Printer Review


Models by Wekster, Loubie3D (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best Ultra High Resolution 3D Printer

Specifications

Technology: MSLA
Build Volume: 165 mm x 72mm x 180 mm
LCD Resolution: 7500 x 3240
LCD Size: 7.1 inch
XY Axis Resolution: 0.022mm
Connectivity: USB Thumb Drive

Reasons to buy

+
Highest resolution on the market
+
Pre-built, unbox, calibrate and go 
+
Laser etched build plate for superior adhesion

Reasons to avoid

-
Twice the price of competitors with similar build volume
-
Build plate difficult to clean

If you’re looking for the most precise prints around, the Phrozen Sonic Mini 8K is your best choice. This MSLA resin 3D printer sports a 7.1-inch mono LCD screen that operates at 7500 x 3240, which results in a show-stopping 0.22mm XY resolution, the highest on the market. It comes fully assembled and is easy to use, just calibrate and go. 

It also boasts native integration with both the ChituBox and Lychee Slicer apps. Combine the Sonic Mini 8K with Phrozen’s Aqua Gray 8K resin and you’ll see smoother prints with more crispy details than ever before.

The Phrozen Sonic Mini 8K has a sturdy metal build, dual rails and an all-metal vat with feet that prevent the FEP sheet from touching your work surface. The build plate is laser etched for amazing adhesion.

Selling for a retail price of $599.99 the Phrozen Sonic Mini 8K is targeted towards miniature makers and jewelry designers who are ready to level up their prints. For beginners looking for a high-resolution machine at a lower cost, the Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K offers .035mm XY with the same speed and precision for $349.00.

More: Phrozen Sonic Mini 8K Review 


Model by Bugman140 (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best Compact 3D Printer

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 165 x 165 x 180 mm
Build Platform: Textured Magnet on a heated bed
Interface: LED screen with Control Knob
Bed Leveling: Manual
Connectivity: Micro SD, Micro USB

Reasons to buy

+
Quality Prints
+
Easy to assemble
+
Small footprint
+
Silent stepper motors

Reasons to avoid

-
No assisted leveling
-
Tiny build volume

If you’re looking for your first 3D printer and don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Ender 2 Pro is a great choice. The machine retails for $169, but can often be found on sale for much less (we bought it for just $129 at Micro Center). Many printers at this price point are novelties built of cheap plastic, but the Ender 2 Pro is a solid workhorse (or perhaps pony) that shares many parts with its big brothers of the Ender 3 line. 

In our tests, the Ender 2 Pro delivered great print quality when used with decement filament and a slicer. Our prints of 3D Benchy (a model of a boat people often for testing) and a crystal dragon looked fabulous. 

Need to move the printer around the house? The Ender 2 Pro is a compact machine that weighs under 10 pounds. Its top mounted handle makes it portable enough to be stashed in a closet when not in use – perfect for the weekend hobbyist. The main trade-off is that the 165 x 165 x 180mm build volume is tiny compared to most printers.

Putting together the Ender 2 Pro was a breeze for us. It comes 90% assembled – screw in a few bolts and the machine is ready for use. It has silent stepper drivers and quiet cooling fans, making it a pleasant office companion. The flexible textured bed holds models tight while printing and peels right off when finished. 

The Ender 2 Pro can be easily upgraded with 3rd party hotends and more durable bed surfaces, making this a machine that can grow with you.

More: Creality Ender 2 Pro Review


Model by DrLex0 (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best Large Format FDM 3D Printer

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 300 x 300 x 350 mm
Build Platform: Carborundum coated glass
Interface: Color touch screen
Bed Leveling: Automatic resistance strain gauge
Connectivity: microSD card, Micro USB

Reasons to buy

+
Large build size
+
Accurate auto bed leveling
+
Build plate releases when cool

Reasons to avoid

-
No profile in Cura 

When you want a little more elbow room than the average 3D printer, the Anycubic Kobra Plus has your back. With a generous 300 x 300 x 350mm build volume and a near perfect auto bed leveling system, the Kobra Plus is the perfect tool for big projects.

Competitively priced at $499, the Kobra Plus has a lightweight Bowden extruder paired with a Volcano-style hotend for faster printing. Big glass beds can be a problem on some printers, but Anycubic’s formula for carborundum coating is just right. When it was heated up, we found the Kobra Plus bed to be tacky to the touch, which really grabbed onto the prints. If you allow the bed to cool thoroughly, prints release easily and only need a tiny bit of persuasion from a scraper. 

The Kobra Plus is a great all around machine. We were able to print string-free TPU models and it handled PETG as easily as PLA. Our only problem with this printer was having to manually create a profile in Cura as it was not included. However, if you only have room for one printer in your workshop, this is the one.

More: Anycubic Kobra Plus Review


(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best High-Temperature 3D Printer

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 220mm x 220mm x 240mm
Build Platform: Heated PEI Magnetic Plate
Interface: 4.3-inch color, non-touch screen
Bed Leveling: Manual
Connectivity: microSD card, USB cable (direct to PC)

Reasons to buy

+
Can print high-temp materials such as nylon
+
Flexible magnetic build plate
+
Affordable price

Reasons to avoid

-
Manual bed leveling

If you want to print with PLA filament, any competent FDM printer can get the job done. ABS and PETG materials are a bit more demanding, but still usable on a high-quality machine. But if you want to use more exotic materials such as nylon or carbon fiber, you’ll need a printer that can get much hotter than the 240-degree cap we see on popular models like the Creality Ender 3 Pro.

Able to reach up to 300 degree temperatures thanks to its aluminum nozzle, the Voxelab Aquila S2 can produce gorgeous prints with filaments that other models can’t handle. In our tests, it produced a highly-detailed print of “benchy,” a boat commonly used as a test model, in nylon. It also provided strong output when we tried a detailed bust of Groot with PLA.

Aquila S2’s magnetic build plate is flexible, with both a textured side and a smooth side. The open-air printer is fairly easy to set up and uses a 4.3-inch display with a dial as its interface. It  comes with two different slicer apps: Ultimaker Cura and VoxelMaker, though the former is the industry standard and the one you’ll most likely want to use. The biggest downside to Voxelab’s printer is that it requires manual bed leveling so you’ll need to do that work if you want to ensure you get a good first layer.

More: Voxelab Aquila S2 Review 


(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best 3D Printer for a Print Farm

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 245mm x 245mm x 260mm
Build Platform: Heated Textured Flexible Removable Platform
Interface: 4.3-inch Color Touchscreen LCD
Bed Leveling: Automatic
Connectivity: SD Card, USB

Reasons to buy

+
Automatic bed leveling system
+
High print speeds
+
Advanced cooling design

Reasons to avoid

-
Included Cura profile needs optimizing
-
Kickstater-style launch may turn off some users

The Anycubic Vyper is designed for high-throughput 3D printing, and impressed us with its rock-solid build construction and impressive list of features. Silent stepper drivers, dual Z threaded rods and a high-airflow part cooling system are just a few of the many features that make the Vyper an easy choice for anyone interested in printing out large quantities of parts.

The strain-gauge bed leveling system allows the Vyper to quickly and accurately complete an automatic mesh bed calibration. This form of calibration is ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to spend a lot of time tweaking or calibrating the printer, and it worked well during testing and didn’t require any further adjustments to get an even first layer. 

The Vyper isn’t the cheapest printer on this list, but it earned its place by providing a fast setup and trouble-free operation throughout our testing. The Vyper was designed with an impressive level of attention to detail, and the various areas on a 3D printer that would require adjustment (extruder, X/Y belts, etc.) are all easily accessible and adjustable. The included Cura slicer app is easy to use, but the printer profile that ships with the machine might require some tweaking that beginning users may struggle with. 

More: Anycubic Vyper Review 


(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best 3D Printer for Miniatures

Specifications

Technology: MSLA
Build Volume: 132mm x 74mm x 120mm
Connectivity: USB Thumb Drive

Reasons to buy

+
4K resolution gives highly detailed XY accuracy
+
Native integration with ChituBox app

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult bed leveling process
-
Review unit had some machining issues

If you’re interested in printing models with lots of fine detail, the Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K should be on your short list. Using a 4K mono LCD screen, the Sonic Mini 4K is capable of printing high resolution models with a per-layer cure time of just over 2 seconds per layer. This translates to high detail and high speed, but you’ll pay for it in the difference in cost between the Sonic Mini 4K and other MSLA 3D printers like the Anycubic Photon.

In our testing, we found the Sonic Mini 4K’s ability to produce fine features to be as-advertised, so printing table-top gaming miniatures and small sculptures is something this printer excels at. In addition to the high XY accuracy, the Z-stepping is barely visible even at a standard 50-micron layer height due to the software-enabled anti-aliasing provided by the ChituBox app.

Leveling the build platform on the Sonic Mini 4K was a little tricky, and the conflicting information provided by Phrozen can make the process intimidating for a first-time user. The quality of a print can depend heavily on the initial build platform calibration, so be prepared to spend some time getting this printer dialed in.

More: Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K Review 


Model by Galactic Armory (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best 3D Printer for Props and Cosplay

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 400 x 400 x 450 mm
Build Platform: Carborundum coated glass
Bed Leveling: Automatic resistance strain gauge
Interface: Color touch screen
Connectivity: microSD card, Micro USB

Reasons to buy

+
Massive build size
+
Accurate auto bed leveling
+
Build plate releases when cool

Reasons to avoid

-
Massive footprin
-
No profile in Cura

Do you want to print helmets, props and large pieces of cosplay armor – but you don’t want to slice them up into a jigsaw puzzle? Then the Anycubic Kobra Max is your dream machine. It has an enormous 400 x 400 x 450 mm build volume that can only be beat by the endless CR-30 belt printer. 

Warning – this is a beast of a machine that needs three square feet of operating space. We had some trouble finding a good spot for it, because it was too big for our workshop counter. The Kobra Mas makes up for it’s gigantic footprint by being incredibly easy to assemble. It comes as a mostly assembled modular kit, and after placing a few bolts and screws, we had it unboxed and printing in about 30 minutes. 

Available at $569, the Kobra Max pumps out smooth prints with the help of a Volcano-style hotend and dual gear extruder. The bed is carborundum coated glass that gets tacky when heated. It has excellent adhesion while hot and if you listen closely as it cools down you can actually hear the prints crackle as the glass releases it’s grip.

Giant beds like the one on the Kobra Max would be difficult to level by hand. Thankfully, Anycubic’s system makes it easy with a hard mounted bed and an auto leveling sensor built right into the hotend. The nozzle physically taps the glass surface to make a very accurate mesh – we only had to tweak the Z height to adjust for the difference in filament types.

The one significant fault on the Kobra Max is the lack of an included profile in Cura, leaving us to manually plug in dimensions and puzzle out the perfect settings. We feel that Anycubic’s suggestion to use Cura defaults moves the heavy print bed way too fast so we borrowed settings from a Creality CR10s profile and then got perfect prints.

More:  Anycubic Kobra Max  Review 


(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best Large Format Resin 3D Printer

Specifications

Technology: MSLA
Build Volume: 192mm x 120mm x 200mm
Connectivity: USB, Ethernet

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptionally large build-volume-to-price ratio
+
Rigid dual-Z linear rail system

Reasons to avoid

-
Difficult to find in stock

The Elegoo Saturn is the counterpart to the smaller Elegoo Mars series of printers, which offer solid build quality for a reasonable price. The Saturn takes this formula to the extreme by offering a large 7.55 x 4.72 x 7.87-inch build volume while simultaneously increasing the resolution of the masking LCD. This, combined with the 2.5-second per-layer cure time from the Mono LCD, means that the Saturn can print more parts in the same amount of time as the smaller format Mars series of printers. 

Elegoo has developed a two-bolt bed leveling solution for the Saturn that makes the leveling process a quick and painless process. This, combined with the native integration with the Chitubox slicer app, makes setting up and using the Saturn a simple process that is ideal for both beginners as well as experienced users. 

The Saturn has a build volume of 280.46 cubic inches, a dramatic increase from the 100.81 cubic inch build volume of the smaller Elegoo Mars 2 Pro. If you’re looking for a resin printer that offers a large build volume but you don’t want to compromise with a lower quality print, the Saturn is an ideal solution but you might have to check Amazon several times before you can find one.

More: Elegoo Saturn Review


Model by Wekster (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best 3D Printer for Kids

Specifications

Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 175mm x 175mm x 165mm
Build Platform: PC Coated Steel Flex Sheet, heated
Interface: Color Touch Screen
Bed Leveling: CR Touch
Connectivity: SD Card, WiFi

Reasons to buy

+
Plug and play
+
Factory leveled bed
+
Built-in camera
+
Child safety features

Reasons to avoid

-
Tiny build size
-
Pricey WiFi has to use Creality Cloud

Creality’s Sermoon V1 Pro is a plug-and-play 3D printer with safety options useful for families, schools and libraries. Unlike cheap “toy” printers aimed at young makers, this $539 deluxe machine delivers quality results with a simple-to-use interface.

The build volume is smaller than average, but it makes up for it with a direct drive, flex plate, heated bed and built-in camera. It also arrives pre-leveled from the factory, something we rarely see. It’s a great machine for beginners who only need to unbox it, load up filament and start printing. Our test machine went from box to first print in under 20 minutes. 

The Sermoon V1 Pro is fully enclosed in a white case with several windows, making it look more like a counter top appliance than any DIY kit. The case serves to hide all it’s moving parts, while also keeping the print area warm and draft free. The door has a sensor that pauses the printer – further protecting curious children from moving parts. 

Its Core XY design keeps the print head at the top of the machine while the bed slowly lowers downward. Combined with its lightweight direct drive, the Sermoon provides smoother, string free prints than a typical bed slinger while also keeping the hot nozzle in a difficult to reach area. We found output quality impressive, whether we were printing a sample Spaceman print or a set of Maker Coins with the St. Louis arch on them. We were even able to print a translucent wallet using TPU filament. 

Our only complaint is the need to use a phone app – the Creality Cloud – to take advantage of the built-in camera and Wi-Fi capabilities. The machine also works with a full sized SD card for offline use.

More: Creality Sermoon V1 Pro Review

Andrew Sink
3D Printing Writer

Andrew Sink first used a 3D printer in 2012, and has been enthusiastically involved in the 3D printing industry ever since. Having printed everything from a scan of his own brain to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he continues to dive ever more deeply into the endless applications of additive technology. He is always working on new experiments, designs, and reviews and sharing his results on Tom's Hardware, YouTube, and more.

  • Thatoneguy7
    Recommending the Ender 3 Pro instead of the Ender 3 v2 in a list of the best printers in 2021 is silly.
    Reply
  • LolaGT
    The differences between the base non-pro 3 to the v2 is convenience(faster warm up, quieter running). There is not one bit of difference in print quality. There are literally dozens of comparisons and results videos online for the E3 line.
    The thing to determine is what one is willing to pay for the added convenience, quieter running, etc.
    I found a E3 Pro X(glass bed option included in the box, extra nozzles) for 200 bucks to my door. A v2 would be pushing well over 250 to my door.
    That is three kilos of good PLA for me for the same money, which is what I went with(pro x and the PLA).
    Regardless, the best printer is the one that fits one's needs, wallet, and makes them happy.
    If money was really tight the base plain non-pro Ender 3 is the best buy at 150 bucks right now. One can get a glass bed for a few bucks, and look up videos for the endless (basically free) mods for it and they would be good to go for a long time.


    Thatoneguy7 said:
    Recommending the Ender 3 Pro instead of the Ender 3 v2 in a list of the best printers in 2021 is silly.
    Reply
  • thisisaname
    Would have been better if you had included the price of them in the article.
    Reply
  • Mk 3D
    I have to say I'm concerned when I see superficial articles like this that don't really have nuance. There is a ton more nuance to FDM vs SLA printers. Like mSLA tends to be faster since it exposes a layer at a time. Or that mSLA printers are generally easier to fix due to less moving parts. Or that FDM prints tend to be a lot less brittle SLA resins. Or that print orientation affects physical properties of FDM but has less effects on SLA. Or SLA is more brittle. Etc. Also there are water washable resins that don't need alcohol for cleaning. Like either you assume people are experts and don't bring up the differences or assume people are beginners and give enough information for them to make an informed decision. This is in some no man's land in between.
    Reply
  • durahl
    A little bit of a wall of text... I guess? 😉

    So far, I've owned two Formlabs SLA 3D Printers ( a Form² and a Form³ ) a Prusa i3 MK3S with a MMU2S attached to it and as of recently a 350 sized Voron 2.4 that is planned to replace the i3 entirely once I built the Voron EnragedRabbit equivalent of the Prusa MMU2S.

    I never owned an mSLA 3D printer but from what I read about them, despite their ability to print faster than the SLA ones AND being a lot cheaper, I still wouldn't trade my two Forms in for one... Especially not the Form³ with the practically nonexistent suction force it has allowing for much greater flexibility in the parts selection - Everything works and with resins you bet you want things to work on the first try considering the mess you'll be dealing with when it doesn't. You'll also definitely want to buy an automated washing station - You'll never get a resin part as clean by hand than you'll with a washing station - Why I pull my washed parts out of the IPA bath they're almost ready to work with - Just some fanning with like a Hairdryer and you're done.

    Now as for the i3... It served me well as a workhorse - No doubt about that - But since owning a Voron 2.4 I honestly got to say that the i3 is a royal <Mod Edit> pain in the ass to do maintenance on. I already knew of that when I assembled my i3 but with it having been, at the time, my only DIY 3D Printer I couldn't compare it to anything, but boy did I have a 2nd awakening when working with the Voron 2.4.

    Toolhead disassembly for maintenance on the V2.4 is a 2min thing... Maybe less if you use power tools. Remove 1 screw to remove the Toolhead Cable Connectors Cover for disconnecting the Heater and Thermistor Cables, remove another 4 easily accessible screws to remove the Toolhead holding the Hotend for easier servicing at a more convenient location while the bulk of the 3D Printer remains at it work location and depending on Hotend another 2-4 screws to remove the Hotend from the Toolhead should that be necessary for a more in-depth servicing.

    On the i3... May the makers mercy on your poor soul. If the Hotend has an issue you'll basically have to disassemble the entire E and X-Axis plus free up the entire umbilical of cables coming from the control board to the E-Axis - It's at least a 30min job - Most likely 1h - to fix any problem related to the Hotend.

    3D printing all the ABS parts for my Voron on my i3 I practically melted the Hotend area and had to rebuild it ( i3 printed the parts for the Voron and the Voron printed the parts for the i3... what irony ) due to the elevated temperatures and PETG being used in the fabrication of the i3 forced me to go through the entire procedure ending up with a weird error where the recalibration wizard would tell me there being an error with the X-Axis - What error exactly? To long? To short? No idea... Everyone and the Manual told me to ensure the ZipTies around the Umbilical being tight enough for them not to collide during homing - I pretty much finished an art degree on ZipTie Bondage that day to no success until some random passerby told me to loosen the screws holding the E-Axis to the X-Axis - Almost having the entire Extruder just dangling around basically - Success!? Turns out the Linear Rails are super finnicky with pressure and the Limitswitchless Homing interprets the slightest bit of resistance during calibration as having reached the end of the rail causing the problem - This, IMHO, is bad design.

    I also noticed that the i3 has gotten a LOT louder over the years despite Stealth Mode being on - Probably the Bearings kicking the bucket - Again... Royal <Mod Edit> pain in the ass to do maintenance on them due to how the entire i3 is being assembled.

    Quite honestly, If you have the money for an i3 I'd rather recommend spending it on a Voron ( the Trident seems interesting ) - You can use the same PrusaSlicer AND you'll most likely learn a lot more about 3D Printing with FDM than the spoon-fed method of going with an i3 arriving with all the preset profiles - which you can still use if you want! - and your cap of how fast you can 3D print will also raise significantly - Just don't expect to go much past 300mm/s as someone who just built their first Voron and has never before used anything but an i3 / Ender. Those Videos about Vorons pushing 400-1000mm/s you'll not be doing anytime soon but printing 2-3x faster than on an i3 - Oh yes... It'll take a week or two of time to find the perfect recipe of Temperatures, Accelerations, Speeds, etc... but that you can do.
    Reply
  • Sophia John
    Nice Article. Very helpful for newbies looking for 3d printers online.
    Reply
  • samiup
    Umm... no. I bought into the hype and got an Ender 3 V2, and it works... that is if you are ready to spend 45mn calibrating it before every single print...
    The experience was frustrating at best, till the point where I decided it is actually useless and returned it.
    Reply
  • grrmisfit
    samiup said:
    Umm... no. I bought into the hype and got an Ender 3 V2, and it works... that is if you are ready to spend 45mn calibrating it before every single print...
    The experience was frustrating at best, till the point where I decided it is actually useless and returned it.

    a few minutes of research and one would see updating the firmware to a custom one and doing some minor maintenance makes it easier to maintain a proper bed level, one of the big selling points was the open source and modding of this printer so installing a custom firmware should come to no surprise. manual mesh available with that firmware helps alot. the ender has its quirks but some google foo goes along way.

    tho the artilce should mention the v2 now as its solves most of the cons listed with the pro
    Reply
  • comedichistorian
    You need to change "2021" to "2022" in that first big paragraph. Also, is the article about the best sub-$250 printers like the opening sentence states or is it a general list of the best 3d printers like the title of the article states? If it's the former then there shouldn't be two $450 printers on the list and if it's the latter, well, I don't know where to begin.
    Reply
  • comedichistorian
    grrmisfit said:
    tho the artilce should mention the v2 now as its solves most of the cons listed with the pro

    Hey you joined on my birthday 12 years ago. Is that fact interesting to anyone but myself and softheads? No. But I'm drunk and felt the need to point it out. Have a lovely evening!

    Also....if your birthday is June 26 I'll fill my pants.

    Also also....holy cats we've got the same number of points as well! WHAT IS HAPPENING?!
    Reply