Below is our recommendation for the best 3D printer in the budget, intermediate and enthusiast categories.
BEST BUDGET 3D PRINTER
The Printrbot Metal Simple fully assembled 3D fused-filament-fabrication printer has a black powder-coated all-metal construction with open platform for fabricating parts up to 6 x 6 x 6 inches (H x W x D) using 1.75-mm PLA thermoplastic filament (sold separately). The frame is made from steel and aluminum for durability, and it has a black powder-coated finish to protect against wear. The printer head moves on the Y (backward and forward) and Z (up and down) axes, while the print bed moves on the x (left to right) axis.
The steel and aluminum print bed is warp resistant and includes an auto-leveling probe that works with the user-chosen computer software to provide a level print surface. The hot end has a maximum resolution of 100 microns and includes a fan to help solidify the molten filament as it is extruded onto the print bed. The printer uses open source software and connects to the computer using the included mini-USB cable. Using an SD card (sold separately), the printer can be disconnected from the computer after initialization for untethered printing during long print jobs.
The guide rails have a 12-mm diameter for stability and have linear bearings for smooth vertical movement of the print head. The GT2 belt and aluminum pulley system facilitates precise movement of the print head. The NEMA 17 stepper motor meets the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) standard ICS 16-2001.
|Compatible filament material||PLA|
|Filament size||1.75 mm|
|Maximum hot-end temperature||270 degrees C (518 degrees F)|
|Maximum resolution||100 microns|
|Maximum build volume||216 cubic inches|
|Maximum build dimensions||6 x 6 x 6 inches (H x W x D)*|
|Heated or ambient bed||Ambient|
|Connection||Micro-USB (included), SD card (sold separately)|
|Untethered printing||Yes. Requires SD card and computer hookup to start print job before untethering.|
|Supported operating system(s)||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|Software||Open Source. Repetier-host and Slic3r recommended.|
|Input format||Stl, G-code|
|Nozzle diameter||0.4 mm|
|Power requirements||12V (60 watt) laptop power supply|
|Overall dimensions||15 x 11 x 12.5 inches (H x W x D)*|
*H is height, the vertical distance from the lowest to highest point; W is width, the horizontal distance from left to right; D is depth, the horizontal distance from front to back.
BEST INTERMEDIATE 3D PRINTER
The LulzBot Mini is a high performance desktop 3D printer engineered to be easy to use. Even better, the LulzBot Mini is Open Source Hardware, certified by the Free Software Foundation for respecting your freedom. Critics are raving too: PC Magazine gave the Mini their first ever “Editor’s Choice” award for mid-range 3D printers.
Computer World exclaimed, “Any serious maker should consider this machine because of its flexibility, accuracy and speed.”
BEST ENTHUSIAST 3D PRINTER
The TAZ 5 utilizes an open spool filament system and can print with numerous 3mm filament materials including, but not limited to: PLA, ABS, HIPS, PET (T-glaze), Polycarbonate, Nylon, Wood-filled PLA, Metal-filled PLA, Tritan Co-Polyester, and NinjaFlex/SemiFlex TPU (with optional Flexystruder tool head).
Compare the LulzBot 3D Printers
LulzBot TAZ 5
|Build Volume||152mm x 152mm x 158mm (6in x 6in x 6.2in)||298mm x 275mm x 250mm (11.7in x 10.8in x 9.8in)|
|Self Leveling and Nozzle Self Cleaning||✓||No|
|Tetherless Printing||Requires USB connection to computer||✓|
|Dual Extruder Compatible||No||✓|
|All-Metal LulzBot Hexagon Hot End, PEI Surface on Heated Bed||✓||✓|
|Filament Diameter / Nozzle Diameter||3mm / .50mm||3mm / .50mm|
|Layer Thickness (software configurable)||From 0.05mm to 0.50mm (0.002in – 0.020in)||From 0.05mm to 0.50mm (0.002in – 0.020in)|
|Free Software, Libre Innovation, & Open Source Hardware, Made in Colorado||✓||✓|
|Warranty & Support||1-Year with 1-year tech support||1-Year with 1-year tech support|
|Recommended Use||Beginner/Home Use, Commercial Prototyping, Education and Research||Professional, Industrial, and Commercial Prototyping and fabrication, Higher Education and Research|