According to an article published by Adorama, “In recent years, 3D printing has gone from a super niche market (due to its restrictive costs of operation, large space needed to accommodate the hardware, and a lack of available learning resources) to opening itself up to a wealth of possibility thanks to tinkerers, creators, and students looking to try something new with the technology.”

If you’re one of those bold creators and tinkerers ready to dive into the world 3D printing, below is a helpful guide compiled from expert opinions, user experiences, and professional reviews to start you off on your search.

ball-597523_1280Image:Pixabay

FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro

FlashForge 3D Printer Creator ProImage:FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro

Price: $1,099.00
Print Technique: FDM
Material Properties: ABS, PLA, exotic materials
Supported File Type: STL, gcode
Build Area: 225 × 145 × 150mm
Min. Layer Height: 100 microns
Open Source: software and hardware

Rated by users as the absolute best value for money, the FlashForge Creator Pro features an enclosed chassis, sturdy metal frame, top tier print quality, aviation level non-warping aluminum heating platform, and a 10mm guide rod for improved stabilization and precise Z axis movement.

Pros: affordability, durability, heated platform, dual extruder, material compatibility, open source versatility, plug-and-play

Cons: noise level,slow speed

Also see: Top 10 Best Color Laser Printers


AirWolf 3D HD2x

AirWolf 3D HD2xImage:AirWolf 3D HD2x

Price: $3,995.00
Print Technique: FDM
Material Properties: ABS, PLA and over 20 different materials
Supported File Type: gcode
Build Area: 11″ x 8″ X 12″
Min. Layer Height: 60 microns
Open Source: software

With a sprawling 11″ x 8″ X 12″ print area, the dual extruder AirWolf 3D HD2x is an ideal choice for product designers or engineers who are into larger scale prototyping. The chassis features a semi-enclosed structure, upgraded motors, durable nylon extruder gears, 2mm threaded Z rod, enhanced movement control speeds, and SD card support for autonomous printing without a computer.

Pros: build volume,SD card support, high speed, dual extruder, material compatibility, open source software support

Cons: price,durability


MakerBot Replicator 3D

MakerBot Replicator 3DImage:MakerBot Replicator 3D

Price: $2,329.00
Print Technique: FDM
Material Properties: PLA
Supported File Type: STL, OBJ, Thing, .makerbot
Build Area: 9.9” x 7.8” x 5.9”
Min. Layer Height: 100 microns
Open Source: No

Makerbot revolutionized the 3D printer market with its simple, stark designs and ease of use. Now on its fifth generation, the Replicator’s reliability, innovative doodads such as a 3.5 LCD display and camera, plus its huge Thingiverse community make this an ideal option for both school and home enthusiasts of every level.

Pros: community support,connectivity, LCD color monitor, onboard camera, ease of use, 100-micron high resolution, speed

Cons: price,no heated platform (PLA material only), single extruder, non-open source


LulzBot Mini 3D Printer

LulzBot Mini 3D PrinterImage:LulzBot Mini 3D Printer

Price: $1,250.00
Print Technique: FDM
Material Properties: ABS, PLA, Nylon, Polycarbonate, Polyester
Supported File Type: STL, gcode
Build Area: 6” x 6” x 6.2”
Min. Layer Height: 50 microns
Open Source: hardware and software

The Lulzbot Mini is rated by many users as the best entry-level 3D printer for both price and level of experience required. Renowned for being completely open source compliant, the LulzBot brand offers a large online community and excellent customer support. The Mini’s printing area of 6” x 6” x 6.2”, meanwhile, makes this an ideal desktop 3D printer for beginners starting out with smaller projects.

Pros: price, flexibility, 100% open source, material versatility, excellent community and customer support, speed, ease of use

Cons: single extruder, small print area, connectivity
Most Affordable SLA


XYZprinting Nobel 1.0

XYZprinting Nobel 1.0Image: XYZ printing Nobel 1.0

Price: $1,129.00
Print Technique: SLA
Material Properties: Photopolymer liquid resin
Supported File Type: STL, XYZ
Build Area: 11″ x 13.2″ x 23.2″
Min. Layer Height: 25 microns
Open Source: No

Featuring SLA technology that uses layers of resin cured by UV light instead of filament to print a 3D object, the Nobel 1.0 shrinks large-scale professional 3D printing techniques to desktop size. The resulting prints are of far greater detail than those produced by the (more common) FDM process.

Pros: greater print detail, price, plug-and-play connectivity, ease of use, enclosed and secure design

Cons: expensive and limited materials, slow speed, printed object requires cleaning and UV light curing to finish