There's never been a better time to join the world of 3D printing or, for experienced makers, to upgrade to a new model. With the right 3D printer, you can make toys, table-top models, stands, hooks, replacement parts for plastic devices or a new case for your Raspberry Pi. You can get one of the best 3D printers and plenty of material for less than $250 (sometimes even less than $200) or you could spend a bit more for special features such a larger build volume, higher resolution or faster output.
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 toxic liquid that requires very careful handling and post-processing.
Shopping Tips for Best 3D Printers
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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.
- 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 work with a wide variety of materials. 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 and, considering that you can now find printers with this feature for less than $250, you should consider it a must-have.
- 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. Also, note that if you want to print in TPU (a flexible material), you should get an FDM printer with a direct drive system that pushes the filament more directly through the extruder. Resin printers have fewer material choices.
Best 3D Printers You Can Buy Today
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
If you feel the need for speed when it comes to your print builds, then the Bambu Lab P1P is just the 3D printer for you. Capable of hitting incredible print speeds of 500mm/s, it is the fastest printer that we have tested thus far, beating the AnkerMake M5's record by 2x. It also costs $100 less than the M5 which makes it an even better value and investment for you.
The Bambu Lab P1P is ready to go out-of-the-box and includes an automatic bed leveling feature so you don't need to go through the cumbersome process of adjusting the z height or offsets before you start your prints. It also has a 256 x 256 x 256 build volume and includes premium features such as a direct drive extruder, PEI coated flex plate, input shaping and WiFi.
The machine is shipped barebones so you can customize and design your own side panels and make it your own. Such a great treat for any hobbyist to flex their creativity and add their personal touch to their 3D printer.
And if you want to make multi-color prints, you have the option to add-on the AMS (automatic material system) that uses four different colors of filament at once for $349.
More: Bambu Lab P1P Review
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
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.
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
We've seen a few 3D printers that double as laser engravers, but most of these products live up to the phrase "jack of all trades, master of none." The SnapMaker Artisan 3-in-1 does three different things really well: laser engraving, CNC carving and 3D printing. You'll pay a large premium of $2,899 for this product and you'll need a huge table to accommodate its 508 x 620 x 634 mm (20 x 24.4 x 24.9 inches) frame. However, if you want the features it provides, the Artisan 3-in-1 is a great choice.
When it operates as a 3D printer, the SnapMaker Artisan 3-in-1 delivers huge, detailed prints, thanks to a generous 400 x 400mm build volume. It also has a dual hot end, with two extruders that each can connect to a different spool of filament, allowing for dual color or dual-material prints. When we printed a black jar with red hearts on it, the output was sharp, and there was no bleeding or blurriness between the colors.
The Artisan had no problem printing a very tough RC car part in ABS, but flexible prints might be its Achilles heel. A TPU model of a bunny came out a little stringy.
The printer also has a number of premium 3D printing features, including built-in Wi-Fi, a build plate that's PEI glass on one side and plain glass on another, and automating bed leveling. Its dual extruders use direct drive.
The Artisan 3-in-1 comes with a large enclosure you can place it inside, which is good not only for working with difficult filaments but for protecting your eyes from damage when you are laser engraving with it. The laser can cut leather, wood, fabric or paper and engrave onto copper, aluminum, glass, stone and dark acrylic. We tested the laser and used it to create a model of a ruler and protractor that were burned into a 5mm sheet of plywood and found that the lines were clean and the marks and numbers on the ruler were sharp.
The CNC function works for carving wood, acrylic, soft stone, carbon fiber and even PCB. We used it to create a "Luban Lock," a 3D puzzle that the machine carved out of a piece of MDF (Medium Density Fiber) board. The model looked really good and only took 36 minutes to complete.
Read: SnapMaker Artisan 3-in-1 Review
If you want a printer that can output models as big as your imagination, the Elegoo Neptune 3 Max is a great choice. Thanks to a massive build volume of 420 x 420 x 500mm, it can output the large pieces you need to build cosplay helmets and props. We were able to print a very detailed, 450mm Skyrim dagger by rotating it on the build plate and, in Inland Silver PLA+ filament, it looked good enough to bring to battle. We also outputted a 500mm tall purple dragon that would dominate anyone’s display case or mantle.
Like its little sibling, the Neptune 3 Pro, the Neptune 3 Max features a Direct Drive system that allows it to handle complex filaments such as TPU. In fact, using vase mode, we were able to output a flexible, translucent green TPU trash can. The textured PEI build platform did a great job of holding prints in place without the need for glue and yet made removing them easy.
Assembling the Neptune 3 Max is a breeze as we only had to screw in a few bolts to put the machine together and attach the touch screen base to the side. Leveling the bed is pretty easy, though you will have to start by manually leveling the surface, after which there’s a 63-point auto leveling feature.
The most difficult part of working with the Neptune 3 Max is that it takes up a lot of space. We had to sit it on our air hockey table and you may need to get a large table to house it. But that’s an inconvenience that’s inevitable when you want huge prints at excellent quality.
More: Elegoo Neptune 3 Max Review
We have a bone to pick with so-called experts who recommend cheap, unassembled kit printers to raw beginners. The theory is that building a printer from scratch is the only way to learn about their new machine. The truth is that kits can be frustrating to build, and bare-boned machines are a pain to get working correctly.
Instead, we’re recommending that beginners pick up the Neptune 3 Pro, a 3D printer that is reasonably priced, quick to assemble and easy to level. Anyone can have this machine up and running in less than an hour and have beautiful prints the same day.
Even better, the Neptune 3 Pro comes with a direct drive, a simple to use, 36-point auto bed leveling system and flexible PEI steel sheet that made removing prints a breeze during our testing. It even has a built-in task light.
Whether we were working with PLA or PETG filament, the Neptune 3 Pro delivered gorgeous, detailed prints. Where other 3D printers in the sub-$300 price range, including the original Neptune 3, have a hard time handling flexible filament, the Neptune 3 Pro and its 260-degree hotend had no problem with TPU in our tests, outputting a beautiful TPU Christmas tree model in just under 5 hours.
More: Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro Review
The Anycubic Photon Mono 2 is a great and affordable option for anyone who is new to or want to get started with resin 3D printing. This printer is compact and light-weight so it won't take up a lot of space and can easily be stored away. It's shipped mostly assembled which makes setup a snap.
But don't let the size of this printer fool you, the Photon Mono 2 has a 20% larger build volume than its predecessor. In our testing, we were able to fit six presupported minuatures on the build plate at once.
This printer delivers very detailed 4K print quality, is great for miniatures and small models, and comes with its own custom slicer, the Photon Workshop V3.
More: Anycubic Photon Mono 2 Review
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
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
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
The Elegoo Neptune 3 Plus is a game-changing 3D printer that brings large format printing to a new price point without compromising on the user experience. It offers a 320mm x 320mm x 400mm build volume, a direct drive extruder, automatic build platform leveling, and only requires a few bolts to fully assemble.
In our tests, the Neptune 3 Plus's direct drive allowed it to print a squeezable model of a Pokemon Snorlax using flexible TPU filament. Many printers in this price range use bowden-style extruders that can't handle TPU.
The large build volume and flexible PEI sheet are ideal for printing models that have a wide, flat base that would be otherwise difficult to remove from a glass or other rigid platform. During our testing, we found the automatic build platform leveling probe worked perfectly and produced a clean and even first layer, even when printing on the outer edges of the platform.
If you’re looking for a large format machine on a budget, it would be hard to find a better machine than the Neptune 3 Plus. For under $400, the feature set of the Neptune 3 Plus is unmatched and the quality-of-life features like the stabilizing rods and integrated LED light bar make it an even more attractive machine.
More: Elegoo Neptune 3 Plus 3D Printer Review
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
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
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
MORE: Best Resin 3D Printers
MORE: Best Filaments for 3D Printing
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.
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.
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
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?!