These 3D Printers Will Unlock Your Next Wave of Creativity

·16 min read

Although it’s still in its infancy, 3D printing, along with virtual reality, has the potential to be one of the most transformative technologies of the 21st century. The promise of being able to take a digital schematic from a company and manufacture your own specialty parts (or maybe even an entire product someday) is a romantic vision that makes creators swoon. But for that to happen, one of the best 3D printers is required.

And while we’re still not quite at the point where home 3D printing has transcended hobbyists and prototyping, the technology continues to improve and these machines continue to be more and more capable with each successive generation. If you’re ready to take the leap, check out our list of the best 3D printers. If you’re still a little weary, try a 3D pen to get a taste of the technology.

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When it comes to the best 3D printers for home use, you will typically find printers that fall into one of two categories: FDM printers and SLA/MSLA printers.

  

The Best 3D Printers At a Glance

1. Best Overall: Monoprice MP Voxel 3D FDM Printer — $389.99 on Amazon

2. Runner Up: Dremel DigiLab 3D45 FDM 3D Printer — $1999.00 on Amazon

3. Editor’s Choice: Prusa i3 MK3S+ FDM 3D Printer  — $799.00 on Prusa.com

4. Best MSLA 3D Printer: Elegoo Mars 2 Pro MSLA 3D Printer — $180.99 on Amazon

5. Best SLA 3D Printer for Hobbyists: Anycubic Photon Mono X SLA 3D Printer — $449.99 on Amazon

6. Best 3D Printer for Beginners: Monoprice Select Mini FDM 3D Printer — $175.99 on Amazon

7. Best Large Format 3D Printer: Creality CR-10 V3 FDM 3D Printer — $459.00 on Amazon

8. Best 3D Printer for Education: MakerBot Replicator+ FDM 3D Printer — $1924.31 on Amazon

9. Best FDM 3D Printer for Professionals: Ultimaker S5 FDM 3D Printer — $6950.00 on Amazon 

10. Best SLA 3D Printer for Professionals: Formlabs Form 3 SLA 3D Printer — $3750.00 on Formlabs.com

  

What Are FDM 3D Printers?

FDM, short for fused deposit modeling, feeds plastic filaments (typically made of more accessible/affordable PLA or more heavy-duty ABS plastic) through an extruder and melts them down so that it can print your 3D model layer by layer.

This technology is typically the fastest and cheapest 3D printing technology around, though when it comes to detail and overall fit and finish, it has some room for improvement.

Read More: The Best Screen Printing Machines in 2022

  

What Are SLA 3D Printers?

SLA, short for stereolithography, is a 3D printing technology that uses resin liquid, an LCD filter and a quartz laser to build your 3D model layer by layer. By shining the laser through the LCD filter over a wet layer of resin, it will harden the thin layer of resin in the necessary shape.

After repeating this process thousands of times, you end up with a 3D model. MSLA, short for masked stereolithography, uses an LED light instead of a laser, and in some cases, a monochromatic LCD filter, which leads to cheaper printers and quicker print times.

  

FDM vs. SLA: Which Is Best?

Generally, for hobbyists and beginners, FDM printers are preferable since they are cheaper and easier to maintain, while SLA printers can give professionals the specificity they desire.

Professionals who are only using a 3D printer for rough prototypes will likely be fine with FDM, especially since higher-end models can support different types of filament material and even employ a dual-extruder design.

However, MSLA technology has become extremely affordable in recent years, and some may prefer the greater detail afforded by the technology, especially if you’re looking to show off 3D-printed models to clients or create something you can display on a shelf.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the best 3D printers you can buy in 2021. And whether you’re a beginner, a prosumer, an industrial wizard or a teacher, there’s a 3D printer here that is sure to suit your needs.

  

1. Monoprice MP Voxel 3D FDM 3D Printer

BEST 3D PRINTER

Best For: home tinkerers and 3D printing hobbyists

Why We Chose It: Monoprice’s MP Voxel 3D printer is a great price, easy to use and can perform at a high enough level to support a wide range of uses

If you’re a home tinkerer who mostly views 3D printing as a hobby, but is still skilled enough to create prototypes that serve an actual purpose, the Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer is the best 3D printer for you. This well-rounded, FDM 3D printer is versatile, able to use PLA or heavier-duty ABS filaments as the printing material. When it comes to performance, the MP Voxel has a respectable printing resolution that can get down to 50 microns and offers a build volume of 329 cubic inches (6.9 in. x 6.9 in x 6.9 in).

While the Monoprice MP Voxel is primarily designed to be used with its own user-friendly software, you can get this up and running with other modeling programs (like Ultimaker Cura and Simplify3D) with a few tweaks of your own. While there are 3D printers out there that are more technically capable, even by hobbyist standards, we love the combination of a relatively affordable price, solid performance and accessibility. This is why it’s our top pick for the best 3D printers.

Read More: The Best Wireless Printers for Fast and Reliable Printing 

monoprice mp voxel - best 3d printers
monoprice mp voxel - best 3d printers

Monoprice MP Voxel

Price: $389.99
Buy Now

  

2. Dremel DigiLab 3D45 FDM 3D Printer

RUNNER UP

Best For: educators and professionals or anyone who has some 3D printing experience

Why We Chose It: The Dremel DigiLab 3D45 Printer is loaded with easy to use features and is great for printing advanced materials

Whether you’re running an engineering or architecture firm, in charge of a STEM program at a school or just want to step up your home 3D printer game, the Dremel DigiLab 3D45 Printer is a great FDM upgrade for virtually anybody. With a 4.5-inch touchscreen and intuitive software based on Cura, and an enclosed chamber with a carbon filter to keep fumes from escaping, anyone can be safely printing 3D objects in a matter of minutes.

But there is also plenty of power and advanced functionality contained in the DigiLab 3D45. For starters, it’s optimized to handle four different types of filament plastic (nylon, PETG, Eco-ABS and PLA). It has a resolution that goes all the way down to 50 microns. And for the ambitious creators out there, it has a well-sized 402-cubic inch build volume (10 in. x 6 in. x 6.7 in.).

Dremel Digilab 3D45 - Best 3D Printers
Dremel Digilab 3D45 - Best 3D Printers

Dremel DigiLab 3D45

Price: $1,999.00
Buy Now

  

3. Prusa i3 MK3S+ FDM 3D Printer

EDITOR’S CHOICE

Best For: serious tinkerers on a budget

Why We Chose It: This Prusa 3D printer comes with all kinds of advanced settings at a lower price

If you’re looking for a 3D printer that can handle a more intense workload than the Monoprice MP Voxel, the Prusa i3 MK3S+ is an excellent FDM choice when it comes to the best 3D printers. The i3 MK3S+ uses PLA strands of thermoplastics and also an impressive set of specs. This includes resolution and accuracy to 50 microns, a spacious build volume of 678 cubic inches and a stealth mode for super quiet printing. Even better, they will sell you a disassembled version of the printer for $250 less. That not only saves you money but also gives you another building project to pass the time.

Read More: This Under-$50 Canon Printer is the Perfect Back to School Amazon Pickup

Prusa i3 MK3S+ FDM 3D Printer
Prusa i3 MK3S+ FDM 3D Printer

Prusa i3 MK3S+

Price: $799.00
Buy Now

  

4. Elegoo Mars 2 Pro MSLA 3D Printer

BEST MSLA 3D PRINTER

Best For: those who want to explore MSLA 3D printing or print more detailed objects

Why We Chose It: the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro is durable, reliable and comes at a great price

Resin-based SLA 3D printers (and MSLA 3D printers) are typically not favored by hobbyists due to the fact that they’re slower, more expensive in every regard. But if you want 3D models with more detail and a more polished final look, then you’re in the market for one of these printers. In recent years, a number of smaller MSLA models have popped up which greatly reduced the price and sped up printing times (the tradeoff, however, is a minor step down in printing resolution). Of this new wave of smaller MSLA devices, the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro is the best 3D Printer you can buy.

Like other MSLA 3D printers, the Mars 2 Pro shines a UV led through a monochromatic 2560×1440 LCD masking filter to generate the shape for each layer of the 3D model in 2K resolution and cure it in under two seconds. Furthermore, it has an excellent 50-micron resolution and a build volume of 101 cubic inches (5.08in x 3.15in x 6.30 in). All in all, the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro is great for a jewelry maker or toy modeler who is getting into 3D printing for the first time and perhaps wants to see what it’s about before moving onto a more expensive machine.

elegoo mars 2 pro - best 3d printers
elegoo mars 2 pro - best 3d printers

Elegoo Mars 2 Pro

Price: $225.99 (orig. $310.00) 27% OFF
Buy Now

  

5. Anycubic Photon Mono X SLA 3D Printer

BEST FOR HOBBYISTS

Best For: Experienced hobbyists

Why We Chose It: The Photon Mono X produces high-quality, detailed models and supports a high print volume

Those looking for one of the most capable SLA 3D printers that won’t break the bank should take a look at the Anycubic Photon Mono X 3D printer. Like the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro, this printer uses a monochromatic LCD during the printing process. This helps to reduce costs and speed up the curing process over traditional SLA 3D printers, such as Formlabs’ Form 3. But unlike the Mars 2 Pro, this LCD is 3840 x 2400 pixels, and instead of an LED-based UV light, this uses a matrix of UV quartz lasers to cure each layer. When combined with the 50-micron print accuracy and resin-based materials, you end up with hyper-detailed, high-quality 3D models.

Of course, the Photon Mono X will cost more than your average MSLA printer, but it’s a step up in quality and also has a considerably larger build volume of 165 cubic inches (9.8 in x 4.7 in x 3.6 in), which makes this a great 3D printer for the experienced prosumer who may not need a machine that costs thousands of dollars but still needs more than what a true hobbyist device can provide.

anycubic photon mono x - best 3d printers
anycubic photon mono x - best 3d printers

Anycubic Photon Mono X

Price: $449.99 (orig. $479.99) 6% OFF
Buy Now

  

6. Monoprice Select Mini FDM 3D Printer

BEST 3D PRINTER FOR BEGINNERS

Best For: people who are curious about 3D printers but have no experience

Why We Chose It: It arrives fully assembled and calibrated making it easy to use even for those who have never touched a 3D printer

While all of our picks up until now are great for those who have prior experience with 3D printing, most of them aren’t geared towards beginners, both in ease-of-use and price. The Monoprice Select Mini is one of the best 3D printers in both regards, letting you experiment with an easy-to-use FDM printer for less than $250. Not only does it have a surprisingly decent build volume of 104 cubic inches (4.7 in x 4.7 in x 4.7 in), but this 3D printer also works with PLA and ABS filaments, is compatible with popular modeling software such as Cura and Repetier and even comes pre-loaded with 3D models so that you can dive right in without much initial legwork.

monoprice select mini - best 3d printers
monoprice select mini - best 3d printers

Monoprice Select Mini

Price: $175.99
Buy Now

  

7. Creality CR-10 V3 FDM 3D Printer

BEST LARGE FORMAT 3D PRINTER

Best For: serious 3D printers who have a large space to work in

Why We Chose It: The Creality CR-20 V3 printer is the best 3D printer for creating massive models

The Crealty CR-10 V3 is an FDM 3D printer that offers a lot of power and flexibility thanks to its open frame design. But what really sets this printer apart is the massive build volume of 2186 cubic inches (11.8 in. x 11.8 in. x 15.8 in.). For the price, you won’t find a 3D printer that will let you 3D print objects this large. And when combined with a direct drive extruder, auto leveler, silent motherboard and support for the Cura and Simplify3D apps, this is easily one of the best 3D printers you can buy.

Creality CR-10 V3 - Best 3D Printers
Creality CR-10 V3 - Best 3D Printers

Creality CR-10 V3

Price: $459.00 (orig. $499.00) 8% OFF
Buy Now

  

8. MakerBot Replicator+ FDM 3D Printer

BEST 3D PRINTER FOR EDUCATION

Best For: STEM educators and students

Why We Chose It: The MakerBot Replicator+ comes with materials to support educational growth

If you are an educator with an interest in purchasing a 3D printer for STEM-related learning, or you’re simply a parent who wants to go all-in on a home curriculum, the MakerBot Replicator+ is the best 3D printer for classroom and educational environments. Offering a huge build volume of 573 cubic inches, this FDM printer comes with MakerBot’s Smart Extruder+ which is less prone to clogging and supports MakerBot’s own ToughMaterial filament as well as PLA.

But above and beyond all that, the user interface, software and overall experience are designed around education and the STEM experience, and as such, there are even lesson plans available for you to use with your kids. While there are many 3D printers that are up to the task on a technical level, you won’t find many that cater to learning quite like the Makerbot Replicator+.

MakerBot Replicator+ FDM 3D Printer
MakerBot Replicator+ FDM 3D Printer

MakerBot Replicator+

Price: $1,924.31
Buy Now

  

9. Ultimaker S5 FDM 3D Printer

BEST FDM 3D PRINTER FOR PROFESSIONALS

Best For: creative professionals who need to produce a wide range of protoypes

Why We Chose It: The Ultimaker S5 boasts advanced features and high build volume

If you are a designer, engineer or any other sort of creative professional who needs a serious machine for prototyping, the best 3D printers for hobbyists aren’t going to cut it. You need a professional-grade 3D printer, and the Ultimaker S5 3D Printer is a top FDM choice. The dual-extruder design not only allows you to use plastics of different colors at the same time, but the Ultimaker S5 also features multi-material support and quick filament spool loading, which allows you to get into some seriously technical prototyping. With a resolution of 20 microns, this 3D printer has some of the best surface quality you’ll find in an FDM printer. And for those who need versatility in the types of objects they can prototype, the S5 has a build volume of 1457 cu. In. (13 in. x 9.5 in. x 11.8 in).

Ultimaker S5 - best 3d printers
Ultimaker S5 - best 3d printers

Ultimaker S5 3D Printer

Price: $6,950.00
Buy Now

  

10. Formlabs Form 3 SLA 3D Printer

BEST SLA 3D PRINTER FOR PROFESSIONALS

Best For: professionals on a budget

Why We Chose It: The Formlabs Form 3 printer is uniquely equipped for team collaboration

If you want a smaller, slightly less expensive 3D printer that is still very much geared towards professional uses, Formlabs Form 3 is the best 3D printer. Like the Anycubic Photon Mono X, this is a resin-based SLA printer that is capable of highly-detailed 3D models that sacrifice little when it comes to quality. Formlabs were one of the first companies to make SLA printers available to the masses in 2014, so it should come as no surprise that they still lead the pack in 2021. Their software is finely tuned for collaboration and synchronization between employees, and multiple Form 3 printers are able to be linked together as a result.

In terms of performance, the Form 3 uses a 250 mW laser to cure each layer and has a print resolution that can go all the way down to 25 microns, which is better than any printer on this list. Furthermore, it has a generous build volume of 237 cubic inches, which hits a sweet spot between a small 3D printer for hobbyists, and an all-out industrial-grade 3D printer that would only fit in a workshop. As such, this is a great choice for any serious creative professional looking to take their 3D prototyping to the next level.

Read More: The Best Cheap Printers You Can Buy in 2022

Formlabs Form 3 - best 3d printers
Formlabs Form 3 - best 3d printers

Formlabs Form 3

Price: $3,499.00
Buy Now

  

Coming Soon: AnkerMake 3D Printer

AnkerMake, one of Anker’s brands, is coming out with a new 3D printer that will significantly lower the barrier of entry for the average consumer. Most 3D printers require a lot of technical know-how and carry a high price tag, but the AnkerMake M5 ED Printer will be much easier to use and relatively affordable. On top of that, Anker designed this to be the fastest 3D printer on the market.

We recently had a chance to preview this machine in action, and we can verify that it is fast. You’ll have to sign up at AnkerMake for updates, as we don’t have an official release date just yet. However, expect this to be an easy choice for the best 3D printer for beginners when it’s finally released.

Buy: Learn More About AnkerMake

  

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1. Anycubic Photon Mono 3D Printer

Compared to filament-based 3D printers, the resin-based Anycubic Photon Mono 3D printer uses MSLA technology to churn out 3D models that are more detailed and polished compared to your standard 3D printers. And considering that 3D printers which use resin are often more expensive, the Photon Mono is an incredible value for the performance it offers.

Pros: Resin-based SLA technology means 3D prints are detailed and smooth.

Cons: More ideal for people who care about quality over cost.

Buy: Anycubic Photon Mono 3D Printer

2. Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer

When it comes to the Monoprice MP Voxel, the combination of value, powerful features and accessibility, solid performance and accessibility is unrivaled. Able to use PLA or ABS filaments, this printer can produce impressively sized models with an even more impressive level of detail. Skilled hobbyists who still want to produce their own prototypes will love getting familiar with this printer.

Pros: Solid print resolution and build volume.

Cons: Professional makers may want a more powerful option.

monoprice mp voxel - best 3d printers
monoprice mp voxel - best 3d printers

Buy: Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer

3. Ultimaker S5 3D Printer

Designer, engineer or any other sort of serious maker require serious machines for prototyping, and a hobbyist rig won’t cut it. aren’t going to cut it. This industrial-grade 3D printer utilizes a dual-extruder design which allows you to work multiple colors or materials into your 3D model and save time by not having to swap the filaments out. It’s also big enough to let you print large scale models nearly a cubic foot in size.

Ultimaker S5 - best 3d printers
Ultimaker S5 - best 3d printers

Pros: Heavy-duty, large scale printing capabilities.

Cons: Beginners and amateurs may not have the budget or skill level for this 3D printer.

 

Buy: Ultimaker S5 3D Printer

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