3D printing technology has been around for decades. But 3D printers used to be bulky, expensive, and ill-suited for the general public—up until today.
With the latest improvements in their make and build, it’s now a piece of cake to get into 3D printing. The best 3D printer can unlock limitless creative possibilities, no matter if it’s entry-level or a high-end model.
We’ve compiled a list of the top-rated 3D printers in 2020 that you can choose from. Whatever your needs may be—as an artist, a hobbyist, a skilled engineer, or a business owner—there’s sure to be a 3D printer that caters to your skill level, and your budget to boot.
- Original Prusa i3 MK3S
- LulzBot Mini 2
- XYZ da Vinci Nano
- Formlabs Form 3
- Ultimaker S5
- Creality Ender 3
- Monoprice Voxel
- Dremel DigiLab 3D45 3D Printer
- MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer
- Flashforge Finder 3D Printer
Top 3D Printers
3D printers can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. This guide compares different sizes, types, and features, and functionalities to help you pick the best 3D printer for your needs.
Best all-around printer
The Prusa i3 MK3S combines its staple features with powerful enhancements that boost overall performance. Equipped with a new EINSY RAMBo motherboard, Trinamic2130 drivers, and a Noctua fan, among other things, the MK3S prints faster and quieter than ever before.
This build is also more reliable. An upgraded motherboard identifies any instances of skipping steps and layer shifting during production. Sensors can also detect power interruptions and recover from power outages, keeping any work in progress intact.
Since the MK3S is available as a kit and an expert build, it is suitable for hobbyists and businesses alike. If you’re looking to upgrade your entry-level printer, the MK3S is a viable choice, allowing you to print with an array of materials for a reasonable price.
- Fast printing speed
- Exceptional quality
- Automatic bed leveling
- Open frame design
Best for small workplaces
A portable, scalable, and easy-to-use 3D printer, the LulzBot Mini 2 is ideal for beginners. You can use it in classrooms, workshops, and offices.
This second iteration features multiple upgrades that allow it to print faster, but also print quieter. It can work with flexible and rigid materials and print a maximum of 6.30 by 6.30 by 7.08 inches. On top of that, you can use its Graphical LCD Controller to enable tetherless operations.
Featuring open-source hardware, this 3D printer gives you the freedom and flexibility to customize, unlike proprietary hardware. Take advantage of this by collaborating with a community of makers to install new add-ons to your printer as you see fit.
- Self-cleaning and self-leveling technology
- Plug-and-play functionality
- Whisper-quiet printing
- Expensive price
Best for kids
The XYZ da Vinci Nano printer has a lightweight, compact, and fully enclosed design with a maximum build volume of 4.7 by 4.7 by 4.7 inches. It comes with a non-heated removable print bed, making it safer and easier to take out your models after each build.
Purchasing an XYZ printer gives you FREE CAD and slicing software that help young learners with modeling and printing. You also get complimentary access to 3D STEM projects on the XYZprinting Education Site, which you can use as a resource for collaborative learning and problem-solving for kids and K-12 students.
The da Vinci Nano uses XYZprinting filaments, which can save you a lot of time given that you won’t have to readjust material settings for each build. The printer also has an auto-calibration function that makes it easy for newbies or beginners to start printing right away.
- PLA filaments are heavy metal-free
- Has a relatively large online community of passionate designers
- Can use PLA, tough PLA, and PETG materials
- Only compatible with XYZprinting filament
Best SLA printer
The Form 3, a resin-based printer, has the most compact build-out of all FormLabs printers. Even so, it can deliver affordable industrial-quality prints for a fraction of the price of a standard industrial printer.
The Form 3 has an intuitive touchscreen display on which users can send prints via Wi-Fi, reprint previous models, and manage queues. It uses a custom-made Light Processing Unit (LPU), consisting of a system of lenses and mirrors, to achieve accurate and uniform print quality.
Thanks to its optical sensors, the Form 3 can maintain optimal printing conditions with minimal intervention. The sensors also notify you about the condition of your machine.
- User-replaceable components
- Plug-and-print functionality
- Requires minimal intervention and maintenance
- Prints need to go through a post-process
Best for product developers
Powerful, versatile, and easy to set up, the Ultimaker S5 is built with professionals and entrepreneurs in mind. Boasting a build volume of 13 by 9.40 by 11.80 inches, the printer has ample space for larger designs or multiple parts, allowing product developers to maximize their printing efficiency.
Perhaps the best thing about this printer is that it’s composite-ready. It’s compatible with advanced filaments such as glass and carbon fiber composites.
With the Ultimaker S5, users can take their 3D printing workflow to new heights by upgrading to the Pro Bundle. It includes 24/7 automated material handling, humidity control, and air filtration.
- Award-winning 4.7-inch touchscreen interface
- Supports high-strength glass and carbon filter filaments
- EPA filter and build chamber removes 95% of ultrafine particles
Best on a budget
The Creality Ender 3 is one of the latest top-rated 3D printers within the $200 range. It has a fully open-source design and a growing community of developers who bring new enhancements and upgrades to the printer every day.
A high-watt hotbed and a branded power supply ensure fast heating and printing. It can reach about 110°C in five minutes. Unlike other budget printers, it is capable of high-precision printing.
The Ender 3’s affordable price makes it a worthwhile investment for beginners looking to learn more about 3D printing. Most of its parts come pre-assembled, and it takes about two hours to set up the printer as a whole. Built with V-shaped wheels, you can move it around smoothly and quietly.
- Safety-protected power supply
- Upgraded extruder technology
- Resume printing function
- Manual calibration required
Best for home use
The Monoprice Voxel comes fully assembled and calibrated, ready to print out of the box. It uses ABS filaments and renders high-quality output. Taking your finished product out of the printer is a piece of cake, too, thanks to a removable and flexible build plate.
For beginners or hobbyists, this printer offers only the utmost convenience. Where replacing the nozzle can take up to 20-40 minutes on other 3D printers, this machine lets you do it in seconds and without tools. On top of that, loading and monitoring filaments are fast and hassle-free. The Voxel’s built-in sensor will automatically alert users once filaments start to run low, pausing any ongoing work to let you reload the filaments with ease.
With a fully enclosed design, the Voxel is safe to use at home or in classrooms. This printer is also Polar Cloud-enabled, which means you can control it from anywhere via the internet.
- 2.8-inch touchscreen
- 8GB of internal memory
- 60 millimeters per second printing speed
- The software could use an upgrade
Best for pros
The DigiLab 3D45 is Dremel’s third-generation flagship printer. It has 800+ hours of rigorous internal safety and performance tests to its name, and it is also third-party tested by UL, a global safety certification company.
Dremel’s printer is built for heavy usage. It features a 10 by 6 by 6.7-inch heated build plate that can work with PLA, ECO-ABS, PETG, and Nylon filaments. It also has a high-powered all-metal extruder that ensures fast and clog-free printing.
Equipped with easy-to-use features and a quick-start guide, you can start printing right after unboxing.
- Built-in leveling sensor
- Allows remote monitoring
- 4.5-inch full-color intuitive touchscreen
- Not budget-friendly
Best for offices
A fifth-generation machine, the MakerBot Replicator stands out because of its easy setup, fast printing speeds, large build volume, and remote monitoring. It has a 100-micron layer resolution, allowing users to print complex models and professional-quality prototypes from their desk.
The MakerBot Replicator also comes with its own 3D Ecosystem, which has an ever-growing pool of products, software, materials, and content that you can seamlessly integrate into your printer.
MakerBot uses PLA plastic exclusively to build with. Loading filaments is simple and fuss-free. Just make sure to use MakerBot filaments over third-party alternatives to keep your warranty.
- Can print complex, high-resolution 3D objects
- Large build volume
- Easy to set up
- Limited filament usage
Best for hobbyists
Featuring a 3.5-inch full-color touchscreen, the Flashforge Finder 3D makes printing easy for first-time users. It also comes with a slide-in build plate that lets you remove your output with ease and minimizes damage to the build plate.
Aside from being beginner-friendly, this printer is home-friendly as it operates at 50 dB. It makes barely any sound while printing. It’s also budget-friendly. You won’t have to break the bank to pursue 3D printing as a hobby.
- Assisted leveling system
- Supports 3D Cloud function
- Wi-Fi and USB connectivity
- Small build volume
Types of 3D Printers
Every 3D printer is equipped with a specific type of printing technology. While there are several types of technologies, the FDM and SLA printing methods, featured below, are most commonly used in home 3D printers.
Fused Deposition Modeling
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), also called Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), is a 3D printing method that involves a continuous filament made from thermoplastic materials such as polylactic acid (PLA), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
In FDM, a motor pushes the filament through the extrusion head then onto a nozzle, making it melt. Thin strands of melted materials are deposited layer after layer on a build platform. The materials then cool down and harden to form a solid object. Built-in fans are often used to speed up the cooling process.
Stereolithography apparatus (SLA or SL), one of the oldest 3D printing methods, is still in use today. SLA produces 3D parts by exposing layers of photosensitive liquid resin to an ultraviolet (UV) laser beam. This liquid then cools down to form hardened 3D creations.
Similar to FFF printing, SLA applies each layer of resin on top of a previously hardened layer to form a 3D-printed object. The final output needs to be rinsed after printing. Often, you’ll have to pop it in a UV oven as well to finish the process.
How to Choose a 3D Printer
Take note of the following key features and specifications. These varying factors can help you determine the best 3D printer for your needs.
If you’re new to 3D printing, you can start with a standard FDM or SLA printer.
SLA printers are ideal for creating sturdy industrial-use objects that need intricate detailing and high-quality surface finishes. Professionals and businesses often prefer SLA.
FDM is best for consumer-level use. FDM printers also allow you to work with a wider selection of materials and colors.
What materials do you want to print with?
Different printers use different materials. FDM printers use plastic filaments such as ABS and PLA. Other materials that you can use include wood, bronze, nylon, and UV-luminescent filaments.
Since printing materials have varying melting points, using exotic filaments may require custom or specially designed 3D printers. However, you can also use these filaments on certain printers if you have software that lets you control the extruder temperature.
SLA and resin-based printers don’t have the same range as FDM. Most brands of SLA printers can print using only four or five types of resin or resin-based material. Color options are limited too, with clear, black, white, gray, and gold being the most commonly available.
It’s also important to note that some printers require you to use materials made by the same company, while others yet have no such restrictions.
Your machine’s build area determines the build volume or the maximum size it can print. This build area can be filled with multiple small parts or one huge part during printing. However, if a specific part is larger than your printer’s build volume, you’ll have to print it in multiple parts instead, after which you can assemble the full model manually.
Remember that the build volume influences how much each 3D printer costs. The larger the build volume, the higher the price.
Speed and quality
Unlike paper printing, building 3D models takes a while. A three- to four-inch object, for example, can take anywhere from six to 12 hours to print, depending on your preferred quality. If your design requires thick layers, your 3D printer will be able to render it faster, but this may result in lower quality.
Some of the top 3D printers can help you find the right balance between speed and quality. Look for multiple printing settings that allow you to build your 3D models the way you want.
3D printers aren't as expensive as they used to be. If you're a hobbyist, you can get entry-level printers for about $300 or less. However, if you're a creative professional who needs to build at heavy volumes, you’ll have to invest in a reliable printer that may cost a few thousand bucks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best home 3D printer?
Home 3D printers usually have whisper-quiet operations, advanced safety features, and fully enclosed designs to protect you from ultrafine particles. The Monoprice Voxel and Flashforge Finder are a few examples of 3D printers safe for home use.
What is the best 3D printer for beginners?
Creality Ender 3 is a fully open-source 3D printer suitable for beginners on a budget. Although it requires manual calibration, it’s easy to assemble. The XYZ da Vinci Nano is best for kids and students learning 3D printing.
What is the most common 3D printer?
FDM printers are the most common for consumer-level use. They are usually cheaper and easier to work with and allow for plenty of materials and colors to choose from.
What is the best budget 3D printer?
The XYZ da Vinci Nano, Flashforge Finder, and Creality Ender 3 are some of the best budget-friendly 3D printers available.
Are cheap 3D printers any good?
Not all budget printers are made equal. It’s all about finding the right printer that fits your needs, so you can get the best bang for your buck.
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