Fused deposition modeling is the simplest and most affordable 3D printing technology. Since being created in the late 1980s and commercialized in the 1990s by Stratasys, FDM 3D printers have advanced to become smaller and more affordable. No longer industrial machines the size of showers, you can now buy a desktop FDM 3D printer for just a couple of hundred dollars.
Therefore, we used our experience from working with these 3D printers to create our ranking of the ten best FDM 3D printers as of 2018. To be included in this ranking, the printers had to:
- Retail at less than $5,000.
- Use only fused deposition modeling technology.
- Be purchasable in USA & Europe.
- Have proven supply chains (no disappearing act Kickstarter campaigns).
10. Monoprice Maker Select
- Company based in: USA
- Price: $299
- Build volume: 200 x 200 x 180 mm.
- Fun Fact: Weighs just 20 pounds!
Monoprice are different to most FDM 3D printer manufacturers in that they aren’t new startups – they’ve been here since 2002. That extra time to research and create has clearly helped, as Monoprice have given us some of the best cheap 3D printers in recent times. This shows as their current dual extruder 3D printer, the Monoprice Maker Select, is a fantastic, low-cost 3D printer for beginners and experienced makers alike.
This Cartesian FDM 3D printer is accurate for the price, offering a minimum layer thickness of 100 microns. It’s portable too – weighing just 20 pounds so you can take it anywhere with you! In addition, the Maker Select can print in a wide variety of 3D printer materials, including ABS, PLA, HIPS, PET, PVA and more.
For just $299, it has a pretty large print volume too. Able to print up to 200 x 200 x 180 mm, the Maker Select should be able to handle anything required of it.
9. Makergear M2
- Company based in: USA.
- Price: $1,825.
- Build volume: 200 x 250 x 200 mm.
Makergear is an American 3D printer manufacturer based in Beachwood, Ohio, dedicated to creating high-quality FDM 3D printers. With a focus on local manufacturing, Makergear sources the majority its parts from within 25 miles of their factory. Their most successful FDM 3D printer is undoubtedly the Makergear M2, offering industrial level quality at an affordable price range.
Offering a 200 x 250 x 200 mm build volume, the Makergear M2 aims to be a one-stop solution to makers for their 3D printing needs. The Makergear M2 is an FDM 3D printer focused on quality, with layer thicknesses as accurate as 50 microns. In addition, the Makergear M2 can print many different materials, ranging from ABS, PLA, PET, and HIPS, to metal, carbon, and wood-filled composite materials. Costing $1,825, the Makergear M2 is a solid FDM 3D printer for the price.
8. Raise3D N2 Plus
- Company based: China.
- Price: $3,699.
- Build volume: 305 x 305 x 610 mm.
Also selected as one of our Best 3D printers of 2018, the N2 Plus is the definition of a workhorse 3D printer. Chinese FDM 3D printer manufacturer Raise3D built this printer for industry, which shows as Voodoo Manufacturing recently bought a load of these printers for their factory.
Offering a huge 305 x 305 x 610 mm print volume, the Raise3D N2 Plus also offers a dual extruder option for those who need to print multiple materials and colors. With its very accurate 0.01mm minimmum layer thickness, the N2 Plus proves large print sizes and accuracy can both be achieved simultaneously.
The Raise3D N2 Plus is also very simple to use, boasting an ergonomic 7 inch touchscreen to control the printer with. At $3,699, the N2 Plus is a solid industrial FDM 3D printer that can handle print after print after print with ease.
7. Lulzbot Taz 6
- Company based: USA.
- Price: $2,500.
- Build volume: 280 x 280 x 250 mm.
Lulzbot are an American FDM 3D printer manufacturer who believe completely in the opensource community and stuck with it as a number of manufacturers closed their systems. Lulzbot have made sure that every 3D printer they release is open for people to mod as they wish, actively encouraging this.
The big brother of the Lulzbot Mini, the Taz 6 can be fitted with a dual extruder, and can print many materials including wood and stainless steel-filled composite materials. Though more expensive than the Lulzbot Mini, the Taz 6 has a far larger print volume, at 280 x 280 x 250 mm. It’s also more expensive than the Mini, costing around $2,500.
6. Creality CR-10
- Company based: China.
- Price: $370.
- Build volume: 300 x 300 x 400.
The Creality CR-10 has an extremely strong reputation in the community as the best FDM 3D printer for its price. Manufactured by Chinese 3D printer manufacturer Creality, the CR-10 is a 3D printer kit that can be assembled within an hour. Retailing at $370, the Creality CR-10 offers far more than any other printer can offer within its price range.
With a minimum layer thickness of 0.05mm, the CR-10 keeps up with far more expensive FDM 3D printers. Though it looks basic, it has an easy-to-navigate screen and can be accessed via SD card. The Creality CR-10 has a fantastic build volume for the price, able to 3D print objects up to 300 x 300 x 400 mm in size. This makes it a great FDM 3D printer for beginners as well as veteran makers.
5. Zortrax M200
- Company based: Poland.
- Price: $2,100.
- Build volume: 200 x 200 x 185mm.
Zortrax are a Polish FDM 3D printer manufacturer who are well-reputed in the industry for high quality printers. Since their inception back in 2013, Zortrax funded their first 3D printer via a successful Kickstarter campaign, and have expanded worldwide since. Their most highly-rated FDM 3D printer, the M200, features impressive performance stats including accuracy up to 25 microns!
Featuring a heated print bed and auto-leveling platform, the Zortrax M200 is a reliable option as an FDM 3D printer. Moderately priced at $2,100, the M200’s 200 x 200 x 185 mm print volume means all but the largest parts can be printed without hesitation. Overall, the M200 is a solid option for makers to enjoy.
4. Lulzbot Mini
- Company based: USA.
- Price: $1,250.
- Build volume: 152 x 152 x 168 mm.
The second Lulzbot FDM 3D printer to make its way onto our ranking, the Lulzbot Mini is a fabulous printer. Focused on appealing to the opensource community, the Lulzbot Mini can be modded based on your needs and wants. Featuring a heated platform for ABS and other filament printing, and USB connectivity, the Mini is a fantastic all-rounder for makers and professionals.
Accurate up to 50 microns, the Lulzbot Mini competes effectively with industrial FDM 3D printers despite costing just $1,250. Though its build volume of 152 x 152 x 168 mm is smaller than most, this is still enough for most people. It’s also a fast printer achieving printing speeds of up to 275mm/s.
3. Prusa i3 MK2S
- Company based: Czechia.
- Price: $600-900.
- Build volume: 250 x 210 x 200 mm.
The undisputed champion 3D printer kit, Prusa 3D printers blow away the competition in almost every way. They’re so good, that they got Josef Prusa into Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for 2018! Known as the best FDM 3D printer from the RepRap movement, the Prusa i3 can be accessed via USB drive or SD card, and weighs 6.35kg.
With a very impressive build volume of 250 x 210 x 200 mm, the Prusa i3 MK2S can print almost any object within reason. With layer resolutions of up to 50 microns achievable, it is also one of the highest quality FDM 3D printers on the market. Morevoer, you can choose whether to buy own Prusa 3D printer pre-assembled or buy it in kit form. Overall, the Prusa i3 is a fantastic printer which outperforms most of its more expensive competitors outright. Its stats really don’t do it enough justice for how good this printer really is.
2. Makerbot Replicator 2X
- Company based: USA
- Price: ~$2,500
- Build volume: 285 x 153 x 155 mm.
American FDM 3D printer manufacturer Makerbot are one of kings of desktop 3D printing, with a reputation to show for it. This hard work led to a $400M acquisition by 3D printing giant Stratasys. Having released some of the most highly rated 3D printers of the last few years, Makerbot followed up with the release of their Replicator 2X dual extruder FDM 3D printer.
Accessible via an SD card or USB stick in addition to being accurate up to 100 microns, the Makerbot Replicator is another great all-round 3D printer. With a print volume large enough for almost anything (285 x 153 x 155 mm), it’s a perfect FDM 3D printer for makers and 3D printing enthusiasts. At around $2,500 (£2,400 ish), it’s not cheap, but worth the money in quality and reliability.
1. Ultimaker 3
- Company based: The Netherlands
- Price: $3,499
- Build volume: 197 x 215 x 200 mm.
At number 1, Dutch FDM 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker thoroughly deserve their position due to how excellent the Ultimaker 3 is. Featuring a dual extruder as well as being accurate up to an incredible 20 microns, the Ultimaker 3 is the perfect printer for prototyping, small business solutions, makers, and more.
Coming included with a camera for remotely monitoring your prints, the Ultimaker 3 also has a good build volume at 197 x 215 x 200 mm. This versatile FDM 3D printer can be connected to by USB stick, WiFi, or Ethernet, and is a designed to look sleek – it looks like it belongs in an Apple store! Though one of the more expensive options at $3,499, the Ultimaker 3 is a fantastic printer for those who prioritize reliability, consistency, and great quality. Overall, it is our number 1 FDM 3D printer of 2018.