If you want to buy the best 3D printer in 2018, you’ll need to consider something more than functionality and price. There are so many types of 3D printers on the market today; one cannot help but ask “How do I NOT get overwhelmed?”
It’s true that you have choices far more than you might be able to handle, but it’s also true that you can, in fact, buy the best one for yourself or your business without leaving burning a hole in your pocket.
Relax! If you have stumbled upon this article or came here by choice, we just want to let you know that you’re in good hands. You’ll also be happy to know that 3D printers are no longer ridiculously expensive pieces of hardware. These machines have not only become more accessible to the general population but can do fantastic things!
Today, your options are no longer limited to clunky and complicated models with a limited set of capabilities. 3D printers have become compact and come in every shape, size, and printing style you can imagine.
To prepare for this ultimate 3D printer guide, we spent a few hundred hours testing and evaluating various models. We categorized products according to their price range, similarities and differences in specs, and initial impression to find out the top performers.
We also reached out to a few manufacturers and influencers in this industry for their opinion on our choice of products. And guess what? Almost everyone agreed with us! We spent countless hours evaluating aspects such as price, build quality, quality of print, ease of use, running costs, print failure rate, etc. so that you don’t have to.
So, without further ado, let us dive right into reviewing the best products that we believe will rule in 2018.
Flashforge Finder: 3D Printer
The Flashforge Finder model can be best described as a compact desktop 3D printer for beginners. Marketed as “easy-to-use” and “pocket-friendly,” this printer promises to give you a seamless printing experience. But does this product live up to all its claims? To find out, we have to start by looking at the company’s background.
About the company
Founded in 2011, Flashforge was one of the very first brands that pioneered the movement of making 3D printers commercially available. With a passionate team of engineers and the drive to change the industry, this company created many innovative products that got both user and critical acclaim.
Over the years, this company has won numerous accolades, among which breaking into the Top 10 ranking of 3D Hub’s 3D Printer Guide in 2016 stand at the peak.
- The printer has a simplistic design with a plastic alloy frame build that offers both visual aesthetics and durable quality
- Makes very low noise (approximately 50 dB or lesser) unlike other 3D printers
- Comes almost fully assembled out of the box, so that you can start using it with just a few tweaks
- Unique features include 3.5-inch touchscreen, second generation Wi-Fi, system to detect filament drain, and a USB stick
- Incredibly easy to use and perfect for homes, schools, and for people who are novices in 3D printing
Is this worth buying?
Of course! The Flashforge Finder 3D Finder may not be ideal for enthusiasts, but it’s an excellent choice for those just getting into 3D printing. Aside from the fact that it makes very low noise, the body of this printer has also been designed to prevent heat coming in contact with your body. Pretty neat, right?
The cables have also been neatly tucked in, making the overall appearance cleaner and more sophisticated. The interface is intuitive, and the 3.5-inch touchscreen makes navigating through controls feel like a breeze. And the best feature? It’s the Flashprint tool that quickly converts 2D images to 3D.
- An incredible assortment of features that make 3D printing easy
- Super-simple to operate even for novices
- Comes at a pocket-friendly price
- Carries the brand value of Flashforge
- Good for only entry-level 3D printing tasks
da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro – 3D Printer
The da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro is a 3D printer designed for professionals who need a compact 3D printer without all of the bells and whistles that might be unnecessary to you. But does this product actually live up to its claims? For that, we’d need to learn more about the company itself.
About The Company
XYZ Printing is the world’s largest printer manufacturer, under the global electronics manufacturer, the New Kinpo Group. With a mission to provide affordable and accessible 3D printing to offices, schools, and homes, they’re focused on ensuring that there’s a 3D printer for everyone, whatever their needs are.
With over 8,500 engineers focused into building and creating the very best of 3D printers, they’ve created some of the best devices on the planet. With their own factories, they can use the latest in technology to develop the high quality industrial and consumer grade printers.
- The product is incredibly affordable, priced at a mere $348 on Amazon. This makes it useful for hobbyists who are looking to do some casual printing at home and teachers who want a printer for their classes.
- The solid build construction means that you don’t have to worry about the occasional nicks and scratches that happen during daily use.
- It fully supports third-party filaments. So using filaments made of polymers of different consistencies, like soft, rubbery, and so on, are no problem with this printer.
Is It Worth Buying?
If you’re looking for a basic printer as a hobbyist, or if you’re a teacher looking for one to help teach kids in the classroom, this is a solid choice. But other than that, it’s not the professional choice that it’s touted to be. It handles small tasks relatively easy, but objects stick a bit too tightly with the printer bed, something that XYZ Printing is unfortunately known for.
You’ll need to use masking tape on the printer bed to ensure that you can get your prints off the bed. One notable feature of the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 is that you can switch out the 3D print head for a laser engraver, allowing you to emboss small objects.
- Highly affordable, listed at $348
- Allows use of third-party filaments, so you don’t have to depend on first party filaments
- The print software is relatively simple and easy to use, making it excellent for beginners
- Print quality could be better. For now, it’s limited to only simple jobs. Complex prints won’t come out well
- Print bed is not glass or PEI, so printed objects will stick if you don’t use masking tape
Qidi Tech X-One 2
The Qidi Tech X-One 2 is an entry level printer that’s aimed at beginners looking to learn their way around 3D printing. Qidi’s website states that they’ve taken a look at other mainstream printers to make devices that regular consumers could approach 3D printing as an accessible and affordable hobby.
About The Company
Qidi is a Chinese company located in the city of Ruiang in the Zhejiang province. They’re entirely dedicated to developing and manufacturing 3D printers in China. They’re a relatively new company, having just 3 years in the business, but are learning to make up for the lack of experience by using open source hardware designs for their products, such as in the X-One 2.
- Using existing open source hardware design, the X-One 2 is a welcome addition to classrooms, providing decent print quality without being exorbitantly expensive.
- It uses TinkerCAD, so it’s easy to use, and doesn’t have much of a learning curve.
- The all-metal and multi-layered frame makes this extremely durable, so you don’t have to tiptoe around this printer.
- The touch panel is intuitive and informative. It provides you with a virtual model of your print before you begin printing.
Is It Worth Buying?
If you’re looking for an affordable and good quality 3D printer to start your printing experience with, this is a solid choice. The prints are relatively high-quality and make for an enjoyable printing experience. Although you won’t be doing very advanced printing tasks with this, it’s useful enough for basic hobbying and teaching students about 3D printing.
The solid and durable metal construction inspires confidence with the printer, and the included touch panel is a welcome addition. It provides all the necessary information about an ongoing print job and is intuitive and easy to use.
Another thing to note about the X-One 2 is that customer reviews on Amazon are generally favorable, with most having a great experience with the printer. This is inspiring to see if you’re someone who is just entering the world of 3D printing.
- Touch panel is useful and intuitive, providing all necessary information about an ongoing print job
- Print quality is decent for the price of the printer
- 3rd party filaments are usable on this printer, so you aren’t stuck to using first-party filaments
- The printer tends to get loud, which is amplified by the box frame
- The printer is prone to jamming, so there might be some frequent cleaning required.
ANYCUBIC Modular i3
The ANYCUBIC Modular i3 is an entry-level printer from the Chinese maker, ANYCUBIC. Based on the Prusa i3, this printer is targeted at mainstream consumers who are looking to make their first foray into 3D printing. You can find this printer for as low as 389 dollars. While that may not be affordable to some people, it’s about as cheap as 3D printing can get.
About The Company
ANYCUBIC is a company based out of China. In 2011, they started manufacturing 3D printers and worked on bringing them to different countries around the world. By 2016, they’ve made 5 models of printers aimed at different segments, from industrial purposes to general consumers.
They boast of producing up to 60% of their own parts in their factories, with their mainboard Trigorilla registered for a patent.
- The Acrylic frame provides a sturdy design while also being light in weight, so it is easy to carry around your workspace.
- The Modular i3 comes with an LCD display on the printer, providing necessary information about the current print job.
- The parts are pre-assembled, ensuring that you’re not spending too much time assembling the printer
- The ANYCUBIC’s Ultrabase platform ensures that prints don’t stick to the print bed, and thereby make for easy extraction.
Is It Worth Buying?
If you’re in the market for a basic printer that does small jobs, then this is worth looking at. While the acrylic construction doesn’t make the sturdiest printer, the light weight does make it easy to carry around if you constantly move your printer around the workspace.
The printer is packaged well, with all the components wrapped in foam, and ensuring that there’s foam protecting it during transit. The MK8 nozzle boasts of high precision extrusion so that you can get precision prints without too much wastage.
Another thing to note is that the print bed can be heated up to 100℃, making it easy for prints to be removed from the print bed. The ANYCUBIC Modular i3 generally has favorable reviews on Amazon, holding in at a solid 3.9 out of 5.
- Auto-leveling on the printer is easy. All you have to do is turn the thumbscrews at each end until you hear the beep.
- Print jobs are relatively good at this price point.
- The filament empty sensor doesn’t work all that well, and the instructions given in the box don’t help much in helping you understand.
The fan does tend to get somewhat noisy during operation.
RepRap Guru DIY Prusa i3 V1 3D Printer Kit
The RepRap Guru DIY Prusa i3 V1 3D Printer is a great choice if you’re looking for a 3D printer as a beginner and willing to do some tinkering here and there. Made from quality materials and solid construction to boot, it’s a joy working with this printer.
This is one of the most competitively priced 3D printers out there, priced at $279 on their website. At this price, this is something that I can wholeheartedly recommend.
About The Company
RepRap Guru is an American company based out of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. They’ve been especially known for having exceptional after-sales support for their products. They specialize in DIY printers, so you’re going to have to do some tinkering out of the box before you can get to printing.
This printer features a heated printer bed, so you can print ABS filament objects on this. Other than that, you might find that the acrylic mounted plate might warp at higher temperatures, so be wary of that.
- The software bundled with this printer is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux.
- The user-friendly construction makes this relatively easy to set up and get to printing.
- Exceptional customer support ensures that you’re never left in the dark if you’re faced with an issue
Is It Worth Buying?
This is definitely a product that you should buy if you’re interested in 3D printing and don’t mind setting up your printer beforehand. There may be some moments where you are frustrated, but all of that is a learning process that’s bound to come in hand later on.
Before you start using the product, ensure that you check all parts to see if they are damaged during transit. Being acrylic, there’s always a danger of that. If you find something is damaged, contact customer support and get a replacement. RepRap Guru has an excellent reputation for this, so you shouldn’t have any issues with them.
- The heated printer bed goes up to 240℃, so you shouldn’t face any issues whatsoever if you’re printing ABS filament objects.
- Very low maintenance, requiring only periodic cleaning and calibration.
- Customer support is brilliant and based out of USA.
- Acrylic frame is weak and easy to break, especially during transit
- No auto leveling, so you’ll have to level it manually
- No LCD display on the printer, although there is a slot provided if you want to attach one.
Geetech High-Quality MeCreator 2 Desktop FDM 3D Printer
The Geetech MeCreator 2 is an entry level 3D printer aimed at making 3D printer affordable and available to the masses. With a low price point, it aims to capture the market of entry-level 3D printers, arguably the most fought over segment, from a plethora of other competitors.
Priced at $385 on their website, it’s definitely not the cheapest printer out there, but it does satisfy the requirement for being entry level.
About The Company
Founded in 2011, Geetech is a Chinese company based in the Shenzhen province of China. They began as a manufacturer of spare parts for 3D printers and eventually invested in R&D for their own models. Their goal is to make 3D printing easy and affordable for people from all walks of life.
- Solid steel construction makes it highly durable for most workspaces.
- Excellent customer support from the company with prompt responses and quick resolutions for issues.
- Very simple bed leveling, with just three points required to level the bed.
- Option to make 3D prints without needing to be connected to a computer, because of the connected LCD display.
Is It Worth Buying?
For an entry-level printer, this product avoids the usual pitfalls from Chinese printers with excellent customer support, along with solid construction. If you’re in the market for an entry-level printer without the bells and whistles of a higher-end device, then you should definitely take a look at this.
Printing is fairly accurate to the models provided. There may be some issue with some complex models, but considering that this is an entry-level printer, it’s nothing to worry about for the occasional hobbyist or teacher.
- Solid steel construction is inspiring and holds up well
- Prints are accurate, built solidly, and don’t distort too much
- Excellent customer support, providing quick resolutions for most, if not all problems that customers face
- LCD display with SD card facility allows you to print models without needing to be connected to a computer at all times.
- Doesn’t require frequent calibration, so very minimal maintenance required.
- No feet on the base, so the metal does tend to sit on the table. Best to invest in something to protect your table
Somewhat loud, but this is more of a nitpick than a major issue since this is an entry-level printer.
Panowin F3CL 3D Printer
The Panowin F3CL is an entry-level 3D printer from Chinese maker, Panowin. This is a plug and play printer that requires no assembly out of the box. So, if you’re looking for something that can get you started into the world of 3D printing, this is an option that you can look into.
It’s got a few neat tricks and features that generally aren’t found in printers at this price range, like adjustable LED lights and a LED display that displays the temperature of the heated printer bed.
About The Company
Panowin Technologies was founded in 2013 in Fudan High-Tech Park, in Shanghai, China. It was started by people with over 15 years of experience in the field, so there is a lot of expertise that they’re bringing to the table. Their rapid prototyping methods ensure that new models are tested quickly and efficiently without having to worry about exorbitant R&D costs.
- Stable double-rail cross axis ensures that prints are smooth and uniform all the way around.
- Ability to stop and resume prints ensures that you can stop prints midway without having to throw away an incomplete print
- LED temperature display on the heat bed accurately shows you the temperature of the heated printer bed, so you aren’t guessing what temperature the bed is at.
Is It Worth Buying?
Although they are a relatively new company, Panowin has shown some prowess with the printers that they’ve brought to the market, and the Panowin F3CL is no exception. The printer is operable out of the box, so there’s no fiddling or assembly required. It’s also plug and play, so all you really need is a model, and you can get started right away.
This makes this printer an attractive option for beginners, and even teachers looking for something cheap for their students. Both STL and G Code files are supported, albeit, you’ll need to run Windows for this. It runs natively on Windows 7, but using it on Windows 10 shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
- Works out of the box, so there’s no fiddling or learning curve
- Fairly decent prints, with no warping, thanks to the stable double-rail cross axis
- Accepts both STL and G code files
- Durable build quality, at this price point, is especially welcome.
- Customer support for this might be a little tough since the company is based out of China.