For many of us 3D printing is a new technology only just arising, but it has been around since 1984. Also known as additive manufacturing processing, this technology is used to produce 3D objects. Like most printers, 3D printers work with help from a computer, except they create objects by forming layers of materials, usually ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and PLA (polylactic acid or polylactide). However, there are other materials used, such as nylon, porcelain and metals, and every day the list grows longer. The advancement in technology also allowed these printing machines to print models of almost everything, from meticulous food designs to metallic figures.
Several factors should be considered when choosing a 3D printer. Quality of printing, presence of a 3D scanner and the capability of printing using multiple materials should hold our attention. Price comes second, because 3D printers are on the more expensive spectrum of gadgets.
Please note that the order on our list does not indicate a ranking of these wonderful gizmos. Without further ado, we present the best 3D printers in 2016.
1. UP Mini
The most affordable 3D printer in this list is also the easiest one to use. UP Mini is a Chinese product that screams value for money, when you compare its price and its specs. In a way, this can be your gateway to the amazing world of 3D printers. UP Mini ensures straightforward use, yet a reliable printing experience.
Due to its enclosed design and perforated heat blade, UP Mini consistently produces quality prints. It has a build volume area of 120 x 120 x 120 mm and a minimum layer height of 200 microns. This 3D printer uses ABS and PLA as materials, so you can experiment and create your own prototypes. This also requires little to no maintenance, thanks to its sturdy build. Its manufacturing firm is known for having good customer support if you need technical assistance.
However, the build volume area is too small, so you won’t be able to print large objects. It is also not an open source 3D printer, so customizability is not its strongest trait. Yet, it also means that its mechanisms are preset and its software can be updated. Users are satisfied with UP Mini’s solid performance, which makes it an excellent introduction to 3D printing.
2. LulzBot Taz 5
This 3D printer is a product of open source innovation and LulzBot Taz’ commitment to improve their gizmos with every generation. The firm also never fails to communicate with its user community for suggestions in helping them upgrade their products.
Taz 5 boasts a sturdy metal frame that is considered as one of biggest 3D printers today. Unsurprisingly, the build volume measures at 298 x 275 x 250 mm and has a minimum layer height of 50 microns. Taz 5 also comes with an exchangeable extruder system and a built-in heater bed. Users can also opt for additional customizability, if they prefer. Moreover, this beast of a printer utilizes a wide variety of materials in 3D prints, aside from PLA and ABS. You can also use bronze, nylon, wood and other inputs, without much difficulty. You might find the exchangeable extruder system really convenient, because you can use two different materials in 3D printing. Granted the gargantuan volume size, Taz 5 is best used for large objects rather than for printing minute and detailed ones. It has also an active online community that is always on the go for helping new users.
Nonetheless, Taz 5 might fend off enthusiastic newcomers, because of its maze-like assembly. This 3D printer does not come in one piece upon purchase. In case you plan to buy it, conducting initial research is imperative. The noise level is also high, which is quite understandable for powerhouses like Taz 5. Lastly, your mileage might vary with its print quality. This is the best for users who are already acquainted with 3D printing and want to go hand-in-hand with updates of manufacturers. Aficionados and tech geeks will surely love this set up.
3. Delta Wasp
Hailing from Italy, Delta Wasp is the prettiest 3D printer in the list. The hourglass shaped frame design of this gizmo uses a Delta robot system, as opposed to the normal Cartesian plane style of most 3D printers. But the design is not all about the looks, it also facilitates high speed printing and precision. Cast your fears aside about tainting its design, because Delta Wasp is also configured to do heavy lifting. This printer also has a changeable extruder, to print using a wide variety of materials, including clay and porcelain. It can print figures with volumes as much as 300 mm and layers as thin as 50 microns. Delta Wasp is also the easiest 3D printer to use when it comes to powerhouses.
The right combination of stunning design and usage makes Delta Wasp a winner as far as 3D printers go. Additional features, like the resurrection system, allow users to finish printing a 3D object even in case of power failure. Printing quality is reliable and speedy. The closed chamber also provides safety while using Delta Wasp. However, this is the most expensive 3D printer in the list. The noise it produces is so loud you will need a separate room for it.
In the end, the cons are minute if you can shell out more cash and tolerate the noise levels. The ease of use and practical functionalities are suited not just for professionals.
4. Zortrax M200
This 3D printer is a marvel that came out on Kickstarter in 2013. Marketed as a 3D printer for everyone, Zortrax M200 can be your gateway to the amazing world of 3D printing. This gizmo is your desktop printer that works like a factory machine – only that it produces 3D models. It lived up to the hype of delivering great printing quality and ease of use.
M200’s build is quite sturdy too, thanks to its aluminum body. It has a 200 x 200 x 185 mm build area and prints with a minimum layer height of 90 microns. Its perforated platform lessens the tendency of your 3D model to warp. Unfortunately, it only uses ABS in actual printing, due to the lack of temperature control. The print quality is also single handedly praised and its reliability won users all over the internet. The predetermined settings proved practical when using M200 in mass 3D printing.
Nonetheless, its control system is a double blade. M200 is not an open source 3D printer, meaning you will not be able to tweak its settings for your preference. Zortrax regularly listens to improvement suggestions and incorporates these into their next generation of M200 as countermeasures. However, the lack of temperature adjustment renders limited usage of materials. Customer support, connectivity and lack of an additional extruder are its other flaws.
Yet, you might want to look past these shortcomings, at least for M200’s insane level of responsiveness. It reports one of the smallest fail rates and can print continuously for 60 hours straight. Also, you will not have to worry about maintenance, as it requires little to none. For the last bonus? These can be done without delving complex control buttons.
Portugal’s BEEVERYCREATIVE may be a newcomer in the 3D printing industry, but they’ve cemented themselves as a force to reckon with, thanks to the BEETHEFIRST 3D printer. This is a commendable entry for both beginners and professionals who desire portability while maintaining great printing quality.
BEETHEFIRST looks like a briefcase, thanks to its enclosed design. The aesthetics alone shows that this is one of the most user friendly 3D printers currently available. You will not have to do meticulous quirks before using it. Just connect the plug and commence with whatever you are doing. It has a build volume of 190 x 135 x 125 mm and a minimum layer height of 90 microns. It has proprietary filaments designed to fit right into its body. Print quality is also good, though it only utilizes PLA as materials for 3D models.
The portability of BEETHEFIRST also comes with noticeable shortcomings. The build volume area is noticeably smaller than that of a normal 3D printer. There is also an absence of the heating platform, which limits the kind of material you use for printing. Tinkering with BEETHEFIRST is not possible, as its software is the only thing that’s open sourced in its case. Nonetheless, the cons are forgivable if you are not keen on printing things larger than a fruit and can overlook the lack of changeability.
You will not have to break your wallet to purchase a good 3D printer. Though a neophyte in this industry, Craftunique prides itself in balancing budget price and amazing specs. Craftbot is also a product of a funding project that amassed over $450,000. Users were quite impressed with its relative ease of use.
The slick design of Craftbot can go hand in hand with its more expensive counterparts. Its clean aesthetics is due to a cut steel frame, transparent panels and the touchscreen for controls. Craftunique boasts its patented software, called Craftware, in this gizmo. It provides detailed execution as far as 3D printing is concerned. The build area measures about 250 x 200 x 200 mm and has a minimum layer height of 100 microns. You will also be pleasantly surprised with its relatively large build volume. Print quality and reliability are outstanding, despite its budget friendly price tag. Craftbot uses PLA and ABS in printing.
Craftunique has strong customer support and a growing online community to fix issues when these arise. This printer is not without noticeable flaws, though. Its first version takes too long before it reaches the right temperature. There is also a delay in releasing an upgraded version of this gizmo, which includes a dual extruder. Wireless connectivity and open source platform are not available at the moment.
Nonetheless, these are minor quips when you use Craftbot. This is a bang for the buck gadget as far as 3D printers are concerned.
7. Printrbot Simple Metal
The firm that brought 3D printing in prominence is also present in our list. Launched as a Kickstarter project in 2011, they created the very much criticized Printrbot Simple 3D. However, they came back with another entry level gadget, which works as an upgrade.
The design looks sturdier this time, thanks to its powder coated steel frame and aluminum extruder. Not only that, this is also easy to maintain. Simple Metal works with PLA, but the extruder is exchangeable, so you can use another material if you want. The build volume is respectable, with 150 x 150 x 150 mm platform and minimum layer height of 100 microns. Calibration is easy, due to an auto leveling probe. Users praise its design and reliable print quality.
You can also tweak its contents, because Simple Metal is an open source 3D printer. This boasts many add-ons and open software. Online communities are also flourishing and are willing to assist in complex modifications. They can also answer your questions about the use of Simple Metal. Nonetheless, open source 3D printers have their notorious weakness – the ease of use.
This printer is certainly not for beginners. The initial setup and calibration take hours, and these test the patience of the newly acquainted to these gizmos. It produces noise during printing and jams are reported by some users. Ultimately, this is a steal for money, given what it can do for this price.
8. Makergear M2
Makergear M2 is probably one of the best 3D printers right now, for intermediate users. The price tag might be hefty, but its specs scream value for money. The product was built by Makergear, and M2 is its third generation. It seems this company hits the stride again.
The build quality of M2 is simply topnotch, as its frame is made from solid steel. Its aesthetics alone is a stunner, with an elegant black design. In addition, the solid construction makes M2 bulletproof, because of its quality components. Its high precision rails also give this gizmo a tank-like mechanism. Similar to other 3D printers, the heated platform uses ABS or PLA. M2 prints objects having volumes up to 203 x 254 x 203 mm and creates layers as small as 20 microns, which is the finest in the list. Users can manipulate the machine depending on their preferences, using onboard controls, interchangeable nozzles and upgrades on its dual-extender. M2 also comes pre-assembled, so you will not have to worry about building it from separate components. Once you are done with tweaking it, it wows you with high quality and speedy printing. Reliability is also reassuring, since M2 can be used for years while giving you a consistent performance. An added bonus is its responsive customer service in case issues in using this machine arise.
One major drawback of using M2 is its complexity with new users. Learning its quirks might take a while. Lastly, the absence of wireless connectivity is a flaw that keeps M2 in the all-around 3D printer category. Nonetheless, these cons are far too minor, if you take a look at this 3D printer’s winning traits. If you have some experience in 3D printing, buying M2 is a must.
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