3D printing is a big part of the future we’re already living in. With many applications ranging from design to medical fields, the world of 3D printing is slowly connecting with our homes. Use it to create your own little designs and print them out, or create something useful, like a new phone case, handles and other objects which may serve you indoors. These 3d printers can now use more than just plastics, making them the best choice for those creative enough to want to express their imagination in a full 3D design.
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What is a 3D Printer?
A 3D printer is a machine which can take a material, usually in a solid state – something like plastic – heat it up, and then extrude it in a pattern to form a specific shape. Most 3D printers out there are connected to your PC and you’ll get the chance to feed it the design you want and the printer will then create it. This is basically the same functionality as a regular paper printer has, but the 3D printer, as the name suggests, prints in full 3 dimensions.
The materials used can range wildly, from plastics which are the most common ones, to wood paste, some metals and even glass and organic matter. This offers the world of 3D printing a huge array of applications which can benefit mankind immensely. No wonder some people consider the invention and commercial availability of the 3D printer akin to the invention of the printing press.
Buyer’s Guide for 3D Printers
First off, you need to determine what kind of a 3D printer you want or need. There are a lot of types of different technologies used in printers. Some use either a heated or completely melted material which can then easily harden as it is placed in layers to create the 3D models. Other take a chunk of material and cut out the extra bits in order to get to the desired design. Some even use photopolymers which harden under certain types of light, meaning they don’t use any sort of heating whatsoever. This is less important when buying your printer, as the end result is basically the same all around – and some of these options aren’t even commercially available due to their low viability for long and heavy use.
What you will want to look for is what kind of materials your printer uses. If you’re only looking to create plastic items, then you’ll be happy to know that most 3D printers work with PLA and ABS materials. It gets tricky when you want to incorporate wood, metal or other materials in your designs, as temperatures for some of these may vary by quite a lot. Which brings us to the third things you need to keep in mind: the maximum temperature the printer is able to hit during operation. This can allow for metal design printing as well, so if you’re looking for that type of printing, then you need something with a high temperature capability.
Build volume and filament capacity are also important, as they can allow you to create larger projects with little to no intervention other than feeding the machine the original design. What’s more, features like self-leveling, tethered or non-tethered printing can also help a lot in reducing the time you waste adjusting the machine in-between projects. Self-cleaning is another thing to keep an eye out for if you’re looking for an easy to maintain machine. Also, make sure that you’re running software which is compatible with the machine you’re opting for – not all machine support all the types of file formats 3D design software can produce.
Top 10 Best 3D Printers in 2017 Reviews
Taking these things into consideration, in this list there’s the best 3D printer in 2017 for your specific needs. Browse through it at your own pace and find the features that you’re looking for to help with your own planned projects.
#1. LulzBot Taz 6
The LulzBot Taz 6 is a very interesting and potent piece of machinery. This 3D printer offers some key technologies right off the bat. The self-cleaning feature is definitely something worth looking into if you’re squeamish about having to deal with material remains after each printing project. It can get to temperatures of up to 572°F, which means a huge range of materials can be used with it.
It also uses tetherless printing technology which allows for designs being fed via an SD card, and the self-leveling and integrated power supply make this printer basically run on its own. Simply feed it the design and watch it start working on creating whatever your imagination conjured up into a real-life 3D object.
The LulzBot Taz 6 supports 3mm diameter filament, and the later thickness ranges from 0.05mm to 0.50mm (0.002in – 0.020in). Total build volume is 280mm x 280mm x 250mm (11.02in x 11.02in x 9.8in). You get 1 year warranty on the machine, along with 1 year of tech support. But this machine is definitely built to last, from the aluminum frame, to the power supply, it’s clear the manufacturer did their best to come up with a reliable, adaptable machine for beginner and home use.
#2. Zortrax M200
This printer, while more affordable, features the popular Zortrax M200 3D printer for desktops and also the Zortrax M200 side covers which offer it a unique, stylish yet minimalistic design. It can incorporate very well in most settings, allowing for seamless integration in both home and small office environments.
This is a plug and play desktop 3D printer, meaning you just have to connect it to a computer, power source, power it up and it works. No more necessary adjustments have to be made, and it only requires a valid STL file which will tell it what the design it needs to print is. The side covers don’t only enhance its looks, but also improve performance and safety. With a total build volume of 200x200x185mm and a layer resolution of 90 microns, this is a great starter 3D printer which doesn’t compromise on quality. Materials available for this printer are: Z-ABS, Z-ULTRAT, Z-Glass, and Z-HIPS. It does not offer support for PLA filament at this point. It also comes with a SD card from which you can feed it the design files.
#3. MakerGear M2
Made in the US, the MakerGear M2 is one of the best machines when it comes to cost/performance. With a total build envelope of 8″ x 10″ x 8″ (XYZ), placed on a rigid steel frame, the MakerGear comes ready out of the box for hard, constant use. It’s built to last and its design shows that from the start. All of its electronics and the firmware the machine uses are open source, meaning there’s a lot of support and many resources online for it and its customization based on your specific needs.
The machine comes with ABS, PLA, PET, flexible and other material support, and featuring a 0.35mm brass nozzle. Several other brass and steel nozzles are available for purchase from the manufacturer. The hot end reaches up to 300 degrees Celsius, and the print surface is replaceable as it will get worn out with each project. There are also two fans, one for the hot end, and one to cool off the plastic as it comes out. Best printing quality is at a speed between 80 and 200 mm per second, but it goes up to 450 mm per second. All filament used is 1.75 mm and it comes with a 6-month limited warranty. The machine is crafted in Beachwood, Ohio.
Considering the wide range of available materials, you can use on this machine, along with its open source policy in both electronics and firmware, you know this machine can and will last for a very long time as its parts are easily replaceable, and the firmware is highly customizable and intuitive. Works easily with CAD programs and STL files. They also offer great customer support for the machine.
#4. QIDI TECH I
The QIDI Technology 3DP-QDA16-01 Dual Extruder Desktop 3D Printer QIDI TECH I is the first machine on this list that comes out of the box with dual extruders. This means that you get to finish projects faster, and the machine uses two separate extruders to use simultaneously. Each extruder is 4mm in diameter and use 1.75mm filament – the most common filament diameter, meaning you don’t have trouble buying the right kind. What’s more, this 3D printer works with both PLA and ABS materials and includes in the box 2 free filaments for you to use right away.
But probably the first thing you’ll notice about this machine is its price. Unlike others on this list, this is a very decently-priced machine for what it can do. It has full CE,FCC, RoHS certification, and it’s constructed with aviation-level aluminum, meaning it won’t warp at all during the construction process and under high heat. You also get 24-hour customer support for the printer, which is always a plus with machines like these.
As far as the software goes, it supports Simplify 3D/Replicator G/Makerware. All of these software options are easy to use, intuitive and allow you to properly operate the printer and manipulate your 3D design easily. The printer connects through a USB cable with your computer, or can use an SD card. It features a heated bed for the printing surface and a layer resolution of 100 microns. The build size is 8.8×5.9×5.9 inches. The technology under which it operates is FDM – fused deposition modeling.
#5. FlashForge Finder
Going even further down in terms of price, we have the home-friendly, best suited for newcomers into the 3D printing world, FlashForge Finder. This little machine looks great from a design point of view, and its colors will blend in well in modern homes and fit well on even the most crowded desktop.
As far as what it can do, the FlashForge Finder is a 3D printer which only used PLA materials. The extruder takes in the common 1.75 mm filament, and the nozzle diameter is 0.4mm. Precision count is between 100 and 500 microns, and the positioning precision is 11 microns on X and Y axis and 2.5 microns on Z axis. The total build volume is 40L x 140W x 140H mm, while the technology it runs under is the FDM – fused deposition modeling.
As far as software goes, it’s run by FlashRpint which comes on the USB stick which you get with the printer. The printer itself runs with OBJ and STL files, and it can print via Wi-Fi, USB cable and USB stick. It supports both English and Chinese languages. All in all, this is the perfect, affordable starter 3D printer.
#6. Ultimaker 2 Extended
This Ultimaker 2 Extended is a 3D printer which is basically the new and improved version of its previous counterpart. That means it has new technologies implemented into it, it features new customization options and faster print speeds, along with a general better reliability.
This printer looks great, with a smooth chrome and aluminum finish. The interchangeable nozzle offers a 20-micron layer resolution and a 12.5-micron XY precision, and 5-micron Z precision. All these make the Ultimaker 2 a very precise, very fast machine overall. The nozzles that can be used are 0.25, 0.4, 0.6, and 0.8 mm, offering you a great deal of detail customization by changing them.
The overall travel speed ranges from 30-300mm/s, and it supports PLA, ABS and CPE materials. There’s only one extruder on this model, and the designs accepted come in STL, OBJ and DAE formats. You can connect the machine via an USB cable to get the latest firmware updates, and there’s an SD card slot for feeding it the design files. The print technology is FDM and it has a heated build platform which allows the ABS material to be used, along with offering a more stable build overall. The manufacturer offers a year warranty on the machine as well.
#7. LulzBot Mini
Between expensive and cheap, you get the LulzBot Mini Desktop 3D Printer. This cute little device is clearly meant for people who are not very serious about overusing it day and day out, but instead want to try out what a good machine is capable of doing. And don’t get fooled by its name – while it may be small in size and build volume compared to other printers, it definitely tops the bill in terms of capability at this price.
Featuring auto-bed leveling, auto-cleaning technology, and a PEI print surface (a reusable print surface which can be cleaned instead of replaced) make the LulzBot Mini Desktop 3D Printer an amazingly low-maintenance printer. It is capable of creating 50-micron layers at a maximum temperature of 300°C (572°F) on the hot head.
Another great feature of this nifty little machine is its open-source policy on hardware and software. This means you can use different nozzles for this printer to accommodate a wide range of materials which may require different temperatures or nozzle diameters. The machine can inherently print ABS, polycarbonate, polyester and nylon filaments, along with materials which are mixed with stone, metal or wood for different textures. It can even print with translucent materials.
Built in Loveland, Colorado, the LolzBot Mini is a great machine for those looking to get a great idea on what 3D printing can do for them. It looks great, takes up just a small space on your desktop and works out of the box with no serious prior experience in 3D printing needed.
#8. Sindoh DP200 3D Wox
The main feature of Sindoh’s DP200 3DWOX 3D Printer is its capability to load and unload filament itself. The filament for this machine comes in cartridges which you load into it, and then let it do the rest, without you having to interfere in the printing process by constantly changing and replacing the material based on what color you need, for example.
Aside from that, it has an integrated assisted leveling system for the printing bed, and a LCD display for menu items and instruction displaying. What’s more, you can connect this machine via Wi-Fi, USB cable, Ethernet port and flash drives, making it very versatile in terms of connectivity options when compared to other models on this list.
All its accessibility options and the automatic filament changing technology make this probably the best beginner 3D printer on this list. Its price is pretty reasonable considering the sturdy built and functionality, and the instructions, assistance and guides the machine comes with out of the box make it especially user-friendly.
#9. UP! Plus 2
Nearing the end of our list, we have a very basic 3D printer, the UP! Plus 2. This is a fully-assembled 3D printer ready for use once it lands on your doorstep. It has a maximum resolution of 0.15mm, and is ABS and PLA compliant. The maximum build dimensions this machine offers are 5.3″x5.5″x5.5″. It uses STL files to read the design and you need to keep in mind that the PLA filament is sold separately for this unit, it only includes ABS filament.
The machine has platform-level calibration and nozzle-height detection technology which allows for a smooth control of operations. Weighing at a total of nearly 10 pounds, this machine is a bit lighter, a bit smaller than its counterparts in this list and the cost reflects that directly.
#10. ROBO 3D R1 Plus
Last on our list, we have yet another open source machine, the ROBO 3D R1 Plus. This machine uses the common and popular 1.75 filament diameter and supports various materials like ABS, PLA, t-glase, lay wood, flexible filament and HIPS (high impact polystyrene). What’s really cool about this machine is that it comes at a very affordable price, and this while featuring auto calibration technology. It can print on a total volume size of 720 cubic inches, or 10x9x8 inches (D x W x H).
It has a heated print bed, and an all-metal hot end for precise, long-lasting print quality. This also shows in the materials used to construct the body of this printer as well – it’s clearly meant to last long and be dependable. And the 24/7 customer support, the full 6-month warranty on part replacement, along with the free printing software you can use immediately for it, this printer is amazing out of the box and will remain so for a very long time in your home.
The best 3D printer in 2017 is the machine you need for your specific goals, this is the main idea you should take before choosing an item from this list. Each of the printers above serve specific purposes for specific tasks – there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all approach in this field. So weigh in the benefits versus some of the cons in this list and decide which types of compromises you’re willing to make in order to get the exact type of functionality you’re looking for. With those ideas in mind, browse through the list above for a complete overview of the 10 best 3D printers in 2017.