Open source previously meant users had permission to use and modify a software’s code, and improve it however they wished. Nowadays, the open source philosophy and community has grown immensely to include physical products, and open source software is now in billions of devices worldwide.
Open source 3D printers are the backbone that formed the affordable 3D printer range we have now, starting from the RepRap movement more than a decade ago. Therefore, we ranked our favorite open source 3D printers, with links to the source files and where to buy them.
What is open source?
Open source encourages collaboration and the sharing of improvements with the community, leading to faster innovation and better technology for everyone. Without any IP holding people back from experimenting and improving 3D printers, fantastic new developments can occur.
- A number of open source software feature in our best free 3D software guide.
- Open source software also feature in our best 3D CAD software ranking.
How can open source improve 3D printers?
An example of this is the development of the Olsson Block. Anders Olsson, in trying to get his Ultimaker 3D printer to print boron carbide, accidentally created a block that made switching a 3D printer’s nozzle far quicker. Now, Olsson Blocks are used by thousands of 3D printers to reduce nozzle switching time.
Best Open Source 3D Printers for all price ranges
|Name||Build Volume (mm)||Price||Best price available at:||Alternative purchase option:|
|Monoprice Mini Delta||110 x 110 x 120||$175||Amazon here|
|Anet A8||220 x 220 x 240||$180-220||Gearbest here||Amazon here|
|Creality CR-10S||300 x 300 x 400||$539-599||Amazon here||3DJake UK & Europe here|
|Prusa i3||250 x 210 x 200||$749 or $999|
|BCN3D Sigma R19||210 x 297 x 210||$2,995||Dynamism Store here|
|Ultimaker 3||215 x 215 x 210||$3,499||Dynamism Store here|
|BCN3D Sigmax R19||420 x 297 x 210||$4,299||Dynamism Store here|
At the start of the consumer printing revolution, courtesy of RepRap 3D printers, open source 3D printers were the norm. Passionate makers across the world modified existing designs or created their own for others to improve. They were effective yet cheap, costing just a few hundred dollars back when an equivalent 3D printer would cost thousands.
Open Source vs Closed Source 3D Printers
Makerbot, Printrbot, Lulzbot (by Aleph Objects), Ultimaker, BCN3D and several other 3D printer companies were formed championing the open source 3D printer movement. However, some have since struggled.
Printrbot closed down in July 2018 citing low sales, while Lulzbot laid off the majority of their stuff in October 2019, facing closure before they were rescued and bought out. Makerbot, perhaps the most successful 3D printer company to emerge from the DIY 3D printer revolution, famously ruined their back on the open source philosophy, and now their 3D printers are closed source and IP-protected. The company was acquired for $400M by Stratasys.
However, some open source 3D printer companies continue to show strong growth and prove that open source is not only well-loved, but also a profitable strategy. BCN3D continue to produce high-quality printers including the Sigma R19, Sigmax R19 and Espilon, while Ultimaker have grown to become one of the most respected 3D printer companies in the world.
We have a full list of open source 3D printers at the end of this article. First however, we have our recommendations of the best open source 3D printers with links for purchasing, and links to the company’s GitHub.
Part 1: Best Desktop Open Source 3D Printers
Monoprice Mini Delta
- Price: $175 — Available on Amazon here
- Maximum print volume: 110 x 110 x 120 mm
- Accuracy: up to 50 microns
The Monoprice Mini Delta is known for being one of the best budget 3D printers around, with great precision (up to 50 microns), speed (up to 150 mm/s), and it’s open source.
An open source delta 3D printer, this differing type of 3D printer allows for the speed, as with less weight on the print head, faster speeds and quicker acceleration can occur without the threat of overshooting. Higher print speeds can therefore be maintained without any loss of accuracy.
Unlike many delta printers, the Monoprice Mini Delta comes fully assembled, so you can get printing in less than an hour from opening the box. The heated bed means you can print ABS and other trickier 3D printer filaments, and you can print via WiFi as well as by USB or SD card. The sturdy metal frame improves part print quality by anchoring the printer down so external factors like vibrations don’t impact quality, and overall it’s a fantastic open source 3D printer for a low price.
Anet A8 – Low cost open source 3D printer
- Price: $160+ — Best price on Gearbest here / Available on Amazon here
- Size: 220 x 220 x 240 mm
- Minimum layer thickness: 100 microns
A low-cost open source 3D printer, the Anet A8 is a 3D printer kit that you will have to build yourself. It will take a few hours (up to six, actually), but once it’s up and running, not only will you be able to print magnificent 3D models, but you’ll also feel accomplished and appreciate it more having built it yourself.
Since it requires some tech know-how, this may not be the ideal 3D printer for beginners. But for those with the experience or any maker proficient enough to handle any issues and who can modify their open source 3D printer based on what they want to print, it’s fantastic for such a low price.
Once it’s up and running, it’s a fairly large 3D printer, able to print 220 x 220 x 240 mm parts without many issues. It can print standard PLA and ABS, as well as wood-filled filaments and others including Nylon.
Overall, it’s reasonably reliable, accurate and does everything you could possibly expect for such an affordable 3D printer. And with the open source firmware you can unleash your creativity and change anything you want to improve.
Creality CR-10 V2
- Price: $539-$599 — Available on Amazon here / Available on 3DJake UK & Europe here
- Build volume: 300 x 300 x 400 mm
- Minimum layer thickness: 100 microns
The Creality CR-10 has been one of the best-selling and highest rated 3D printers under $500 of the last few years, with many iterations and updates continuing to build on the original CR-10’s success.
The original CR-10 is now fully open source, with Creality 3D having released all the files on their GitHub for anyone to view. Though this CR-10 is being phased out in favor of the newer CR-10 V2 models, many 3D printer parts will be identical across models, and the CR-10 V2 files are also available.
The open printing area means there is no protection from unpleasant fumes, and this open source 3D printer can also be fairly noisy, so you may want to keep it in a separate room to the one where you work or relax in. The quality and reliability of the Creality CR-10 however shines through, and is the main reason for its popularity. We include the Creality CR-10 in our best 3D printer ranking, as well as several of our other 3D printer guides.
- Price: $999 pre-assembled, $749 as a kit
- Build volume: 250 x 210 x 200 mm
- Precision: 50 microns
Whereas some desktop 3D printer brands have turned their backs on open source, Prusa is still committed to the open source 3D printer philosophy, and you can access everything you need on their GitHub.
Known as one of the best 3D printer kits ever made, Prusa 3D printers have won boatloads of awards. Solid printing speed, accuracy, great reliability and compatibility with a variety of filaments (especially with the Multi-Material 2.0 upgrade) make it competitive with printers costing far more.
Designed with saving you hassle and time, the Prusa i3 printers will save your current progress in the event of a power outage so you can resume where you left off, it will pause in the event of filament running out so the print doesn’t fail, and can even detect when filament is clogging. Overall, it’s a fantastic open source 3D printer and we highly recommend it.
Part 2: Prrofessional Open Source 3D Printers
BCN3D Sigma R19
- Price: $2,995 — Available on Dynamism Store here
- Build volume: 210 x 297 x 210 mm
Barcelona, Spain-based BCN3D remain committed to open source 3D printing since their inception in 2012. All their printers have the open source 3D printer files for firmware, process, software and more published on the BCN3D GitHub.
BCN3D printers are known for their reliability, and the Sigma R19, their lowest cost printer, is no different. Featuring their signature IDEX dual extruder system which can print in two special modes, Mirror and Duplication, each extruder can function separately, as either a multi color 3D printer, or for printing with a soluble filament for supports that can be easily removed.
Whereas the Sigmax R19 has a completely closed, enclosed build chamber, the Sigma is semi-open. It’s easy to use, reliable, durable with its high quality frame, and prints very consistently and accurately, so any keen makers or small businesses looking to print fun projects or accurate plastic prototypes, that is also open source, may find the Sigma R19 the perfect 3D printer for you.
- Price: $3,499 — Available on Dynamism Store here
- Build volume: 215 x 215 x 210 mm
12 months after the Ultimaker 3’s release, the Dutch company released the hardware source files for both the Ultimaker 3 and Ultimaker 3 Extended here. This was no surprise; Ultimaker had previously released the files to other printers including the Ultimaker 2 Go, leading to innovation breakthroughs such as the Olsson Block. Ultimaker also develop Cura, the popular and open source 3D slicer.
Known as one of the best 3D printers of its generation, the Ultimaker 3 is incredibly accurate, and widely adopted for rapid prototyping precise plastic parts. It comes fully assembled and almost ready to print; you can get it all started within just a few minutes.
It works with Ultimaker’s open source 3D printer software, Cura, and features a built-in camera for monitoring your print’s progress remotely. It’s not the fastest, but prints with flawless accuracy for an FDM 3D printer, and the dual extruder also adds to its offering.
There are not currently (as of May 2020) any source files for the Ultimaker S5 or S3, but some of the parts are near identical to the Ultimaker 3.
BCN3D Sigmax R19
- Price: $4,299 — Available on Dynamism Store here
- Build volume: 420 x 297 x 210 mm
Featuring on our large format 3D printer ranking also, the BCN3D Sigmax is capable of printing massive parts (but still not as big as the BCN3D Epsilon!).
The closed enclosure adds a premium touch, filtering out any unpleasant fumes and reducing noise, with a strong and robust frame for stable and accurate 3D printing. BCN3D sell their version of the enclosure or you can also build your own to save a few hundred dollars.
Connectable by SD card or USB stick and compatible with BCN3D’s version of Cura, even beginners will find the Sigmax R19 simple to use. It is versatile, able to print with PETG, Nylon, TPU, PVA, ABS and a variety of other filaments. The IDEX dual extruder system is ideal for parts with complex supports, and for models that would gain from being printer in two different colors.
For those looking for a professional open source 3D printer that is reliable, doesn’t cause any hassle though repeated errors, prints accurately, and comes fully assembled and ready to print, we recommend the Sigmax R19.