Best 3D Printer Review of 2018

IMG Source: trinus3d

3D printers are powerful machines that allow you to exhaust your creativity and imagination by printing 3D objects. These come at different models, sizes and prices. You can always find one that fits your need whether you are a beginner, hobbyist or professional.

The 3D printer is the evolution of printers. It offers you three-dimensional objects. This device is the new trend today. It is interesting and very useful because it produces functional objects.

For instance, if you want an organizer, with a 3D printer you can create one for yourself. Moreover, these machines are versatile; it can manufacture simple objects to complicated ones including a working gun, car or a residential building.

With a 3D printer, almost anything you have in mind is possible. The only limitation is your imagination. If you want to know more about 3D printing machine, you are just on the right page.

Read more to get yourself familiar with this addicting hobby that will surely hook you up. At the end of this article, I will also give you a list of the top 3D printers on the market today.

3D Printer
PricePrice CheckRating
Weight
Build Volume
Print Speed
Max Resolution
Temp.
Nozzle
Filament Diameter
Print Method
Warranty
BQ Witbox$4.3/5
34 Kg (with box)
297x210x200 mm
200 mm/s
20 microns
15 ºC to 25 ºC
0.4mm
1.75 mm
FDM
24 months

Ultimaker 2
$$3.6/5
11 Kg
230 X 225 X 205 mm
300 mm/s
20 microns
15 ºC to 32 ºC
0.4mm
2.85 mm
FDM
12 months
Ultimaker 2+
$$4.3/5
11.3Kg
223x223x205 mm
300 mm/s
20 microns
15 ºC to 32 ºC
swappable 0.25, 0.4, 0.6 and 0.8 mm
2.85 mm
FDM
12 months
Zortrax M200
$$$3.9/5
16 Kg
200 x 200 x 185 mm
100 mm/s
90 microns
20 ºC to 35 ºC
0.4mm
1.75 mm
LPD
24 months
Makerbot Replicator
$$$3.8/5
16 kg
252 x 199 x 150 mm
Unlisted
100 microns
15 ºC to 26 ºC
0.4mm
1.75mm
FDM
6 months
Lulzbot Mini
$$$$4.5/5
8.55 Kg
152x152x158 mm
275 mm/s
50 microns
Up to 300 ºC
0.50 mm
3 mm
FDM
12 months
Flashforge Creator Pro
$$$$4.6/5
24.25 Lbs
225 x 145 x 150 mm 
100 mm/s
100 microns
Up to 260 ºC
0.4 mm
1.75 mm
FDM
90 days
Formlabs Form 2
$$$$$4.25 / 5
13 Kg
145x145x175 mm
1-3 cm/hour
25 microns
Auto-heats to 35 ºC
N/A
N/A
SLA
1 Year
M3d Micro 3D
$$$$$3.5/5
2 lbs
110x107x73.5 mm
55 mm/s
50 microns
ABS - Up to 265 ºC; PLA - Up to 210 ºC
0.35mm
1.75 mm
FFF
1 Year
Xyzprinting Da Vinci 1.0 3d Printer
$$$$$3.2/5
55 lbs
200x200x190 mm
150 mm/s
100 microns
Up to 210 ºC
0.4mm
1.75 mm
FDM
1 Year

What is a 3D Printer?

3d-printing-causes-harmful-health-effects-illinois-institute-of-technology_dezeen_ban (1)
IMG Source: dezeen.com

A 3D printer is the new evolution of printers. It’s the device used for 3D printing.

The old printers only print an object in two dimensions. You can see and touch it but you can’t feel its edges and curves. Two-dimensional objects are devoid of texture, weight and volume.

On the other hand, 3D printing machines produce things that you can touch and feel. It produces objects with texture, volume, and weight. More importantly, they are usable.

3D printing, on the other hand, is an additive manufacturing process that helps you realize a three-dimensional object from a two-dimensional digital design. It builds the three-dimensional physical object by dividing the digital model into layers. The 3D printing machine prints each layer and it piles up. As a new layer is added to the object it gains weight and volume.

If you can’t afford this, you can start 3D printing with 3d drawing pens.

Types of 3D Printers

There are two main types of 3D printers: the small and large.

Small 3D Printer – This type of printer is usually used to print small objects like mini figurines, cartoon characters, tools, utensils, shoes, gadget accessories, keychains, and more. These devices only have a small printing area and can even be placed on your desktop. Learn more about portable 3D printer here.

Large 3D Printer – This machine can print large objects like vehicle parts, music instruments, furniture, and even a house. Learn more about big 3D printing machines here.

Significance of a 3D Printer

If you are a businessman who wants to present a new project to your potential client, what’s the best thing to do than bring a prototype? Of course, you can present papers but bringing a model that your client can touch and feel is different. It is better, more convincing and effective.

Initially, if you want to build a model or prototype you have to carve it or sculpt it. The process is tedious and may take days. This is the reason why the overall process tends to be expensive. You have to pay for the raw material and labor, which could take days, weeks or months.

On the other hand, a 3D printer has the power to speed up the process and help you cut cost. With a 3D printer, you don’t need to wait for weeks to finish your prototype, deal with your workers’ inefficiency and pay for labor.

Getting a 3D printer saves you time and money. In addition, it keeps you from worries and gives you peace of mind.

3D Printer Parts

You have to be familiar with the printing machine’s main components to better understand how it operates.
By familiarizing a 3D printing machine, you will also be able to:

• Achieve better quality, strength and speed
• Easily maintain it
• Choose the right one that suits your needs
• Upgrade and modify a particular part for a specific applications

Here are the different parts of a 3D printer that you need to know.

Z Resolution – Layer Thickness
This refers to the minimum thickness of a layer printed down in a single pass. A high resolution 3d printer has a small number of layer thickness. The lesser the numeral, the smoother and more detailed the print is, but the slower the process.

Build Area
This is the maximum size of an object that you can create with the 3D printer. It is measured in XYZ dimension. If your 3D printing jobs are complicated and huge, you can split it into smaller parts and combine afterward.

Filament Diameter
The most used filament diameters are 1.75mm and 3mm. But this may depend on each individual’s preference.

Hot End
This is one of the most important parts of the 3D printer. It is where the plastic is melted and extruded in little tiny layers.
This is available in Peek Based Hot Ends with a maximum temperature of 230°C and All Metal Hot Ends with a maximum temperature of 320°C.

Extruder
This is the part that feeds the filament to the hot end. There are two types of extruder: Direct and Bowden.

Direct is when the filament is fed directly to the Hot End from the motor spindle. It is mounted on top of the hot end that allows for finer control over the extrusion. It is also easier to work with.

Bowden is when the filament is fed from a certain distance to the Hot End (the extruder is physically separated from the hot end). Due to the distance, the filament has to travel and it’s oozing more. Thus, this requires better extrusion and retraction calibration.

Cooling Fan
This is a must-have in every 3D printing machine because the process requires active cooling. It can dramatically improve overhanging features, crisp the sharp edges and result in good bridging capabilities.

Cooling fans are designed differently. There are 3D printers that use 25mm, others 40mm. Some are designed to blow at the mid hot end area while others focused at the tip of the nozzle. There are also fans with different shaped ducts.

Heated Bed
This is required for all high-temperature extrusion filaments like ABS, HIPS, Polycarbonate and Nylon. This is designed to keep the plastic warm during the printing process and prevent it from warping.

In addition, this ensures better adhesion between the layers that results in a better structural integrity of the printed part. The temperature in this area usually ranges between 40°C to 110°C.

Printed Bed
This is the surface of the 3D printer where a print head lays down the material after 3D printing. This needs to be level and flat.

LCD Display
This allows you to control the printer without the need for a computer or 3D printing software like Cura. It just needs an SD card to read the G-code instructions. The display also allows for more efficient space usage and it frees up your computer for others tasks.

Multiple Extruders
Multiple extruders allow you print in multiple colors or materials simultaneously by assigning each extruder specific material. There are printers that can be upgraded from single to multiple extruders.

The biggest benefit for this is that you can set the support structures with a different material that can be dissolved in water or other types of solvent.

3D Printers How They Work?

IMG Source:3ders.org
IMG Source:3ders.org

As mentioned, a good 3d printer produces a three-dimensional object. However, it does so in a different way.
For instance, if you do a miniature of your dream house, you will need to construct it similar to how you build a real home but with different materials.

For instance, you make replicas of the walls by cutting card and gluing them together. You make replicas of the window, paint it if necessary to follow your design and attach it to the structure you build.

While seeing a machine operating in this manner could be impressive, a 3D printer has a different approach. This is similar to an inkjet printer that is operated from a computer. However, it uses a different material in printing an object. Instead of using ink, a 3D printing machine uses layers of molten plastic or powder and fuses them together with an adhesive or ultraviolet light.

A 3D printer does not cut objects and glue it together to form a prototype. The 3D printing process divides the whole object into thousands of tiny slices and makes it from the bottom-up repeatedly printing over the same area in a method popularly known as fused depositional modeling (FDM).

Each layer can be very complex but a 3D printer can execute it. It creates moving parts like hinges and wheels. You could also print a ready-to-assemble bike, with handlebars, frame, wheels, brakes, pedals and chains without any tools.

The 3D printer works automatically and creates the model in just a matter of hours by turning a 3D CAD drawing into thousands of two-dimensional and cross-sectional layers and then sit one layer on top of another, this process is repeated until the object is done.

3D Printer Buying Guide

IMG Source: wired.co.uk
IMG Source: wired.co.uk

If you want to own one, you should know that choosing high quality 3d printer can be a daunting task especially that there are tons of manufacturers claiming to deliver the best 3d printer on the market.
There are tons of DIY and kits that you can find online.

If you want to save more, there are also used 3D printer for sale. If you are really keen on buying one, I suggest that you consider this buying guideline first to find the best quality 3d printer.

Price – 3D printer cost differs. There are affordable and expensive machines but its price is determined by its features and specifications. When it comes to price, you better consider your budget and the type of printer you need. You might also need to consider the timing when a brand offers a discount.

Materials – Determining your intended application and the material characteristic is a significant factor in selecting a 3D printer. For instance, for concept modeling applications, the physical properties of the object is not very significant. However, materials for rapid manufacturing applications need to be castable or should be high-temperature resistant. Thus, consider your application whether it is for concept models, verification models, pre-production applications or digital manufacturing.

The two most common materials are Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) but there are also ceramic, wooden, bronze and more. There are 3D printers that combine multiple technologies and can accommodate a number of materials, which adds to its flexibility.

Print Speed – This refers to the time required for printing a finite distance in the z-direction. 3D printers with higher vertical build speeds are preferable for concept modeling because it allows rapid production of different parts in the shortest time possible.

Second, print speed could also be the time required to print a specific part or volume of an object. This method is often applied to technologies that quickly print a single simple-geometry part but the process slows down when additional parts are added or when the complexity or size of the geometries being printed increases.

Overall, having a high print speed is always an advantage especially for concept modeling because it will allow you to quickly make an alternative of your model for comparison and improve it in a short span of time.

Part Cost – This performance attribute is determined by how much total material a 3D printer consumes to print a given set of parts. You can find the lowest part cost with powder-based 3D printing technologies like gypsum powder, where the unused powder is recycled and re-used.

Other plastic part technologies use consumable materials for printing the part and the support with less waste. However, other plastic part technologies separate the less expensive support that needs to be removed after 3D printing by melting, dissolving or blasting with pressurized water.

These technologies are expensive because they use a greater amount of material to print the support and may require special handling and disposal precautions. The water blasting method, for instance, requires a water source and drain that can add thousands to your preparation cost.

Be aware that some popular 3D printers blend expensive build material into support material during the 3D printing process to create support but this will increase your total cost of materials consumed. In addition, this produces more in-process material waste. So when choosing a 3D printer, learn how it operates before purchasing it or you might spend more when using it.

Detail Resolution – This 3D printer attribute is usually stated in dots per inch (DPI), Z-layer thickness, pixel size, beam spot size and bead diameter. You can double check the resolution by visual inspection. Use a digital microscope and examine the edge, corner definition and texture. If you need a 3D printer for verification testing, you need one with a great detail resolution because the printed parts need to follow the design accurately.

Accuracy – This attribute refers to the overall results. The entire process allows you to produce each part additively and you may have to deal with material shrinkage, which needs to be compensated to produce accurate results. Power-based 3D printers have the least shrink distortion and are generally accurate. Meanwhile, plastic 3D printing technologies that use heat, UV light or both are subject to more variables that can reduce its accuracy. Accuracy is critical for printing-specific measurement test parts.

3D Printer Reviews: What’s the Best 3D Printer?

IMG Source: flipboard.com
IMG Source: flipboard.com
Now that you have reached this part, perhaps you are already asking yourself “what is the best 3D printer”? We understand that choosing the perfect machine is challenging. To help you narrow down your choices, we created the best consumer 3d printer list that includes the trusted brands on the market.

#1 BQ Witbox 2

Is a Spanish professional 3d printer with reinforced chassis that allows stacking of multiple printers. This brand is the best 3D printer that you can find in the market. It is ready-to-use and is perfect for domestic and educational environments.

It comes with a new inductor sensor for maximum precision, an efficient extruder to print what you imagine and a new circuit board that offers better heat dissipation. All of these items contribute to give you extraordinary results.

Pros
  • Flawless results
  • New and more intuitive graphic LCD display with high resolution
  • Better user experience
  • Dedicated support service
Cons
  • Noisy
  • Sticks to the print bed without BuildTalk
  • Can only accommodate PLA

#2 Ultimaker 2

This may not be the fastest 3d printer but it is speedy and has a superior precision. In addition, it produces an impressively detailed product.

This 3D printing machine is perfect for anyone, regardless of his skill level. Ultimaker 2 comes with premium features and offers high-quality results.

Pros
  • Fast print speed
  • High resolution
  • Excellent build quality
  • Easy to maintain and repair
  • Perfect for anyone
Cons
  • More expensive compared to other brands
  • Noisier than Felix and Printrbot
  • No pre-heat function to speed up the process
  • Difficult to disassemble components for repair or maintenance

#3 Ultimaker 2+

What set this 3D printer apart from the rest is its ability to 3D print difficult tasks with ease. One of the benefits of these is the extensive research and development available.

This makes it excel at bridging and enables it to produce accurate details to realize the intricate shapes and sizes of your model. This commercial 3d printer
has an innovative feeder for easy swapping of filament and choosing of pressure.

It also offers an easy switch between 0.25, 0.4, 0.6 and 0.8 mm nozzles for greater detail and faster speed. Moreover, is comes with new fan caps to optimize airflow and enjoy smoother prints.

Pros
  • Open filament system (this means that you are able to use any kind of filament and combine different materials to get the exact finish that you wish)
  • Quieter than other 3D printers
  • Lifetime active support
  • Calibration card to build the plate
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Limited to printing from SD card
  • Sometimes misprints

#4 Zortrax m200

This 3D printer is popular due to its reliability, efficiency, and precision. It features an integrated system and comes with a wide selection of professional materials with a variety of qualities and colors.

With its dimensional accuracy and precise repeatability, Zortrax M200 will meet every inch of your expectation. Moreover, it is offered at a more reasonable price, which makes it one of the most competitive 3D printers on the market.

If you can’t decide what 3d printer to buy, take this in mind: Zortrax is the best 3d printer for price. 

Pros
  • Combines ease of use and professional quality
  • Requires little to no maintenance
  • Great print quality
  • Reliable
  • Best value for money
Cons
  • Material availability
  • Connectivity
  • Not open source

#5 Makerbot Replicator

Makerbot Replicator offers you the easiest and most versatile process of getting your 3D model to 3D print. It embodies the new standards of convenience, quality, and reliability with its smart extruder, motion controllers and gantry design.

Aside from this, it is equipped with Wi-Fi, USB and Ethernet connectivity for seamless production workflow. It also comes with an app, is cloud-enabled, has onboard camera and diagnostics, and has assisted build plate leveling.

If you want a convenient, easy to use and versatile 3D printing machine, Markerbot Replicator is the best 3d printer to buy

Pros
  • Uses MakerBot PLA filament which is uniformly round for consistent flow and smooth and even layers
  • Supported by MakerBot 3D Ecosystem that integrates seamlessly for a satisfying user experience.
  • Compatible with MakerBot Smart Extruder+
  • Perfect for educational and home use
  • Produces professional quality and high-resolution prototypes and models
  • Reliable Support – backed by an extensive Quality Assurance operation and technical support to ensure success when 3D printing
Cons
  • Overpriced compared to other brands like Zortrax M200
  • Extruders are critical but not reliable
  • Not easy to fix
  • Noisy

#6 LulzBot Mini

Is a high-quality and high-performance desktop 3D printer that works great for home use, designers, engineers, architects and anyone looking for an easy-to-use desktop 3D printer.

This quality 3D printer is very easy to operate. You can easily use it after unboxing, no assembly needed.

Moreover, it comes with straightforward software and easy to read and comprehensive documentation. You also need not worry, in case you encounter a problem because LulzBot has an army of enthusiasts that are eager and willing to help you to get started.

Pros
  • Small and compact design
  • Portable with easy to carry handle
  • Comes with excellent software
  • Quick print settings
  • Supports several materials
Cons
  • Requires computer connection during printing
  • Noisy with high-pitched whine
  • Some prints include stray material and needs cleaning

#7 FlashForge Creator Pro

This 3D printer has striking similarities with the Makerbot Replicator 2X. This model is a better version of the entry-level Flashforge Creator, only that it comes with a metal frame and enclosed chassis.

It also comes with an improved platform leveling system, metal build plate and a guide rod to help with stabilization and durability. Furthermore, it is more flexible than most 3D printers because it has dual extruders and can accommodate different printing materials including ABS, PLA, and PVA.

Pros
  • Uses MakerBot PLA filament which is uniformly round for consistent flow and smooth and even layers
  • Supported by MakerBot 3D Ecosystem that integrates seamlessly for a satisfying user experience.
  • Compatible with MakerBot Smart Extruder+
  • Perfect for educational and home use
  • Produces professional quality and high-resolution prototypes and models
  • Reliable Support – backed by an extensive Quality Assurance operation and technical support to ensure success when 3D printing
Cons
  • Overpriced compared to other brands like Zortrax M200
  • Extruders are critical but not reliable
  • Not easy to fix
  • Noisy

#8 Formlabs Form 2

This 3D printer offers you everything to get started with 3D printing. In fact, it offers more. Formlabs Form 2 has a powerful optical engine and automated resin system for bigger and better prints with less mess and longer tank life.

It is engineered with precision and is designed with your comfort in mind. It comes with a new touchscreen interface and wireless connectivity, so you can easily send prints over Wi-Fi, reprint your previous jobs and manage print queue wherever you are because you can access Form 2 anytime and anywhere.

Overall, this 3D printer is one of the best 3d printer in the world. It produces  laser-sharp prints with a stunning surface finish, not to mention the comfort and convenience it offers.

Pros
  • Auto-orient for optimal print
  • Auto-mesh repair
  • Auto-generation support
  • Produces high-resolution object with incredible details
  • Reliable materials that are developed for performance
  • Smart printer, keeps you informed
Cons
  • The 3D printer itself is costly
  • The process can be time-consuming, messy and expensive

#9 M3D Micro 3D Printer

For those looking for the best cheap 3D printer, this one is for you. M3D Micro 3D Printer is an affordable 3d printer that is great for beginners and hobbyists.

It looks like a toy but, it’s definitely functional. It has a super compact and cube-shaped design and is very easy to operate.

However, due to its cheap price, it also comes with a number of drawbacks. This 3D printer needs to be physically connected to a computer the whole time to be functional. In addition, it can only print small objects and does the job in a longer time because its print speed is slow.

If your budget is tight and you desperately need a 3D printing machine, this is a great starter kit.

Pros
  • Super Compact
  • Very Affordable
  • Very quiet
  • 14-day money back guarantee
Cons
  • Needs to be physically connected to the computer when used
  • Slow, printing even simple items take hours
  • Subpar quality

#10 XYZ Printing Da Vinci 1.0 3D Printer

This is another budget 3D printer that will surely impress you. It has a large-than-average print capacity compared to other 3D printers of the same price. In fact, you can print items nearly 8x8x8 inches in size using this 3D printer.

This product is a great choice for first time and young users who want to enjoy 3D printing but doesn’t want to spend too much for the device because it is worth every penny. XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.03d printer has a very large print area, a navigation screen and a full cartridge of filament. It also comes with a plug-and-play feature with very little installation and calibration required for setup.

Overall, XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 combines affordability and creativity, making it a wise choice for anyone who is on a budget but wants to get himself a functional and efficient 3D printer.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Great community support
  • Easy to operate
  • Self enclosed
  • LCD interface
  • Self-leveling bed
  • Large build envelope
Cons
  • Poor building quality compared to high-end 3D printers
  • Not as fast as the other 3D printers
  • Surface quality of part can still be improved.

Buying 3D Printers

All of the brands mentioned above are great 3D printers, but take in mind that it has different features, specifications, sizes, and prices. The best 3d printing machine for you is the one that fits your budget, requirements and need. Don’t worry as there is always one for you.

The 3D printer is a great investment especially for engineers and designers because it enables you to produce any 3d design you have in mind be it a small organizer, clothes for your fashion collection, a household tool, a vehicle or a building.

Yes, almost anything is possible with a 3D printer. This device also offers comfort, convenience, a faster operation at a lower cost. So, if you want to get one, don’t hold back because with a 3D printer the possibilities are infinite. Have you tried any of these 3D printers? Which among the 3D printers on the list is the best for you? If you are using another 3D printer that is not on the list, can you share it with us?

Where Can I Buy A 3D Printer

For those who are asking themselves this question “where can I find a 3d printer” or this “where can I get a 3d printer” the best place to buy 3D printer is by visiting the website of the brands, we mentioned above because they have a 3D printer for sale. They have customer service that is expert on their product, so you can guarantee their after-sales support.

You can also search for “3d printers for sale near me” to find 3D printers sellers near you. The good thing about buying the machine near you is that you can test it before your purchase.

You can also visit e-commerce corporations like eBay and Amazon as some retailers offer 3D printer kits on the site. The good thing about buying from these sites is that you can read a lot of reviews about the product prior to buying one, so you will be guided accordingly as to what particular model to purchase.

Conclusion

3D printers are very helpful as it allows you to bring anything you have in mind into usable objects. In addition, these come in different sizes, shapes and prices. You will always find one that suits your budget and requirements.

We hope that our list above will help you decide on choosing the best 3D printer for you. Always remember that this depends on your personal preference and the amount you are willing to spend for the machine.

If you know other great 3D printers that should be on the list, feel free to contact us and we will consider your suggestions. If you wish to learn more about 3D printing materials, you can visit our homepage.

 

Other sources:
3D printer filament types and uses
3D printing materials