When 3D printing and additive manufacturing first came onto the scene in the late 1980s, it was an expensive, industrial process. With 30 years of technological advances however, 3D printers are as effective and more affordable than ever. Therefore, we evaluated hundreds of 3D printers available to purchase today to find the best 3D printer for each price range.
Criteria examined to make these conclusions include print quality, build volume, reliability, price-performance ratio, and more. We have divided this into four sections: Best 3D printer under $1,000; under $3,000; under $50,00; and over $10,000.
- 1 Best 3D Printer Under $1000
- 2 Best 3D Printer under $3000 ($1000-$3000 range)
- 3 Best 3D Printer under $5000 ($3000-$5000 range)
- 4 Best Industrial 3D Printer (Over $10,000)
Best 3D Printer Under $1000
For new and experienced makers alike, finding the best 3D printer without breaking the bank is important. Therefore, we worked to create our first ranking of the best printers under $1,000.
Flashforge Finder / Adventurer 3
Flashforge are a Chinese 3D printer manufacturer who build some of the best 3D printers costing under $1,000. Their newest model, the Adventurer 3, features WiFi connectivity, and a removable print bed which is heated to allow for ABS printing. Moreover, the printer has a 0.05mm minimum layer thickness, which is pretty decent considering the price.
The Adventurer 3 can’t print massive parts, though for under $500 you can’t expect the world. With printing dimensions of up to 150 x 150 x 150 mm, this should be enough for most makers who aren’t creating anything huge. All this for $499 makes the Flashforge Adventurer 3 a pretty solid low-cost 3D printer.
The Creality CR-10 is well-known among makers as one of the best 3D printer machines to ever release in its price range. The CR-10, manufactured by Chinese company Creality 3D, comes in a variety of sizes, and can be assembled in just 45 minutes! (I’d know, I myself have assembled one).
At just $370, the Creality CR-10 offers very good quality and a 0.05mm minimum layer thickness. The turning knob and easy-to-use screen make the CR-10 a great starter printer as well as seasoned makers. The Creality CR-10 has a print volume of 300 x 300 x 400 mm, making it one of the best 3D printer sizes for the price. Overall, it’s a perfect beginner 3D printer – though it can smell for the first few prints.
The Up Mini is the latest in a long line of desktop FDM 3D printers created by Chinese company TierTime. The Up Mini is a beautifully designed machine, and looks like it should be in an Apple store rather than printing. It can be easily operated via WiFi, and has a minimum layer thickness of 0.15mm.
Focusing on the consumer market as a cheap 3D printer, the Up Mini has a limited build volume. At 120 x 120 x 120 mm, it’s one of the smallest on this list, though if you only need to create small parts this isn’t an issue. At just $599, the Up Mini is great for people who like sleekly-designed machinery who only need smaller parts.
Prusa i3 MK2S
This RepRap-originated 3D printer is so good that it got its creator into Forbes. Czech CEO Josef Prusa went from being a 3D printing fan to being one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 and selling over 100,000 3D printers worldwide! Known as the best 3D printer ever to emerge from the RepRap movement, the Prusa i3 weighs around 6.35kg, and is compatible with SD cards and USB drives.
Josef Prusa now uses a farm of over 300 of his own printers… to print more of his printers… to be used to print more of his printers! This is necessary to keep up with the incredible demand. You can buy your own Prusa 3D printer online for $999 for a ready-made printer, or the parts to assemble yourself for slightly less.
Flashforge Creator Pro
Though not quite as inexpensive as its little brother, the Adventurer 3, the Flashforge Creator Pro is still one of the best 3D printers on the market for its price. Featuring a dual extruder, the Flashforge Creator Pro is perfect for those who want a low-cost 3D printer that can print multiple materials concurrently.
With a minimum layer thickness of 0.1mm, the Creator Pro is pretty accurate for the price. Moreover, with its 225 x 145 x 150 mm build volume, the Creator Pro should be able to handle anything you need to 3D print. At just $1,000 the Flashforge Creator Pro is a solid, low-cost 3D printer.
Best 3D Printer under $3000 ($1000-$3000 range)
Whereas a number of brands that originally followed the opensource idea abandoned it when they grew larger, American 3D printer manufacturer Lulzbot stayed true to the opensource community. Their current cheapest 3D printer, the Lulzbot Mini, was so highly-rated that it cemented Lulzbot’s reputation as one of the best 3D printer companies in the world. This printer featured a heated platform, USB connectivity, and up to 50 micron accuracy. This is very promising considering the printer costs just $1,250.
The Lulzbot Mini has a fairly decent build volume of 152 x 152 x 168 mm. Moreover, the printer is fairly fast, printing at a speed of 275mm/s. What really stands about this and makes it one of the best 3D printers in its price range however is that it can print certain metals. These include bronze and copper, which is virtually unheard of among desktop 3D printers.
Zortrax are Polish company known for creating some of the best 3D printer machines in the world. Created back in 2013, Zortrax famously setup a Kickstarter campaign which was quickly followed by Dell’s alleged purchase of 5,000 of their printers (later found to be false). The Zortrax M200 is known for its reliability, fantastic print quality (up to 25 micron minimum layer heights), whilst remaining easy to use.
The Zortrax M200 is moderately priced, at $2,100, though this does come with a number of neat features including a heated print bed and an auto-leveling platform. The M200 has a pretty decent maximum print volume, at 200 x 200 x 185 mm, and is an all-round great 3D printer for makers to toy with.
Makerbot Replicator 2X
Makerbot are one of the undisputed kings of desktop 3D printing, and have released some of the best 3D printers in the last few years. The Makerbot Replicator series are no exception, receiving almost universal praise and gaining an army of loyal fans. The Replicator 2X is accurate up to 100 microns, and can print via USB or SD card. The printer is however somewhat limited in that it only prints PLA.
The Makerbot Replicator 2X has one of the best 3D printer build dimensions in its price range, with a maximum build volume of 285 x 153 x 155 mm. Retailing at $2,599/£2,400, the Replicator 2X is a fantastic printer for prosumers and makers who want a consistent printer that they can trust to get the job done. The printer is fairly light, weighing in at around 11.5kg.
Lulzbot Taz 6
The Lulzbot Taz 6 is the bigger brother of Lulzbot’s lower-end machine, the Lulzbot Mini. Available to be adapted into a dual extruder 3D printer, the Taz 6 is slightly slower at printing than the Mini, at 200mm/s (compared to 275mm/s). The Taz 6 is however compatible with SD cards, and is the more workhorse-esque of the two machines.
The Taz 6 is slightly more expensive than the Lulzbot Mini, starting at a minimum of around $2,000. The price is however fairly reasonable when considering that the print quality is among the best 3D printers, its consistency, and opensource nature. The Taz 6 also has a considerably larger print volume, at 280 x 280 x 250 mm.
Robo R2 stormed back onto the market recently after the release of two desktop FDM 3D printers, the Robo C2 and Robo R2. San Diego-based company Robo 3D have clearly focused on sleek design and creating a simple-to-use 3D printer for consumers and makers alike. Able to be operated by WiFi or USB, the Robo R2 can be navigated easily via the touchscreen, even for those who may be new to 3D printing.
The Robo R2 offers a 0.02mm minimum layer thickness, along with a build volume of 203.2 x 203.2 x 254 mm, which is quite impressive for the price. Retailing at around $1,299, the R2 offers a perfect solution for newcomers to 3D printing.
Best 3D Printer under $5000 ($3000-$5000 range)
Ultimaker are a Dutch fused deposition modeling 3D printer brand who have created some of the best 3D printers to be released in the last few years. With a dual extruder and accuracy up to 20 microns, the Ultimaker 3 is a great 3D printer for accurate prototypes in any sector, as well as makers worldwide.
In addition the Ultimaker 3 has a very decent 197 x 215 x 200 mm build volume, and includes a built-in camera to monitor your prints remotely. You can connect to the printer via WiFi, USB or Ethernet very simply. Moreover, the Ultimaker 3 has an auto leveling system for prints to make sure printing goes smoothly. If you’re looking for the best 3D printer in terms of speed, accuracy, simple to use, and equipment, and don’t mind spending $3,499, the Ultimaker 3 is the printer for you.
Formlabs Form 2
Most of the printers on our list of the best 3D printers 2018 are FDM 3D printers, though Formlabs’ Form 2 is so excellent that it had to be included too. Since American startup Formlabs launched their range of low-cost resin SLA 3D printers, the company has ballooned and now employs over 400 people across North America and Europe. There’s a reason for this success: Formlabs’ Form 2 is one of the best 3D printers on the market.
Due to utilizing stereolithography rather than FDM tech, the Form 2 prints more accurately, at up to 30 micron accuracy. This, coupled with its 145 x 145 x 175 mm build volume, make it perfect for creating multiple parts for use in the dental, hearing aid, and medical industry concurrently. The Form 2 has revolutionized low-cost SLA 3D printing, and therefore thoroughly deserves its place on our list as a fantastic 3D printer. The Form 2 retails at around $3,499.
One of only two SLS 3D printer machines on the list, the Sintratec S1 is one of two printers made by Swiss company Sintratec (the other being a kit). Sintratec have made steps towards democratizing SLS 3D printing with two of the best 3D printer machines that use selective laser sintering technology.
The Sintratec S1 has a minimum layer thickness of 0.1mm, which is fairly decent for an SLS 3D printer. It however suffers from the same problem as most selective laser sintering printers face when printing, a limited build volume. At 130 x 130 x 180 mm, this should still be enough for most jobs, but may limit others.
Raise3D N2 Plus
Raise3D are a Chinese 3D printer manufacturer who have won a variety of awards for their N2 Plus machine. The N2 Plus is so good, that well-known 3D printing service Voodoo Manufacturing recently bought a large amount of these printers to offer larger parts. The N2 Plus also comes with the option of a dual extruder, allowing for multiple colors and materials to be printed simultaneously.
The main selling point that makes this one of the best 3D printers for the price is the N2 Plus’ build volume. Offering 305 x 305 x 610 mm maximum dimensions, large parts can be created that cannot be created on most other printers. In addition, offering a 0.01mm minimum layer thickness along with an easy-to-use 7 inch touchscreen, the printer is perfect for industry. Though not cheap, the $3,299 price tag is fairly reasonable for what the Raise3D N2 Plus 3D printer offers.
Best Industrial 3D Printer (Over $10,000)
Markforged Mark Two
The most industrial 3D printer on this list, the Mark Two has revolutionized 3D printing due to its carbon fiber printing. Somerville, Massachusetts-based startup Markforged creates 3D printers which print composite parts with materials such as carbon fiber, fiberglass, Kevlar, and Nylon. This is done through dual extruders which are used to reinforce the composites whilst printing.
The Markforged Mark Two has a minimum layer thickness of 0.1mm, along with a decent build volume of 320 x 132 x 154 mm. This means fairly large carbon fiber-reinforced parts can be created for use in industry. The printer isn’t cheap however, retailing at around $13,499. This is far cheaper than Markforged’s first metal 3D printer, the Metal X, which costs $100,000. This is however still cheap for an industrial metal 3D printer, which can run into the millions of $.
Formlabs Fuse 1
Though known mostly for taking over the low-cost SLA 3D printer market, Formlabs forayed into the selective laser sintering market more recently. Offering a 10mm/s speed and 100µm layer thickness, the Fuse 1 is a consistent workhorse SLS 3D printing solution.
Designed to be simple to operate, the Formlabs Fuse 1 can be used via Ethernet or WiFi, and has a fairly decent printing volume of 165 x 165 x 320 mm. It’s a heavy beast, weighing around, so it’s not exactly portable. It’s not cheap either, retailing at around €12,000. The Form 1 is however one of the best 3D printer solutions for SLS, furthering Formlabs’ excellent reputation.