Finding the best 3D printer doesn't need to be a chore. The technology behind 3D printers is constantly being improved, and now you don't have to be are large industrial business to own a 3D printer.
There are many that are compact and affordable enough to bring 3D printing to businesses of any size - and are even suitable for home use.
Because of the range of 3D printers on the market, and the relative newness of the technology, buying the best 3D printer for your needs can be confusing, which is why we've put together this list of the very best 3D printers money can buy.
1. MakerBot Replicator+
The best all-round 3D printer
Print technology: Fused Deposition Modeling | Camera resolution: 640 x 480 | Minimum layer resolution: 100 microns | Maximum layer resolution: 400 microns | Dimensions: 528 x 441 x 410 mm | Weight: 22.8kg
The MakerBot Replicator+ is the successor to the popular MakerBot Replicator 3D printer, and the new version has brought improvements to nearly every part of the Replicator. This means the Replicator+ is faster and quieter than the previous version, while maintaining its excellent design and safety features. This desktop 3D printer is expensive, but it offers excellent print quality, and uses 1.75mm polylactic acid (PLA) filament. It's also user-friendly enough for home users and hobbyists to use - as long as your budget can stretch to the high asking price.
2. XYZprinting da Vinci Mini
Best budget 3D printer
Print technology: Fused Filament Fabrication | Minimum layer resolution: 100 microns | Maximum layer resolution: 400 microns | Dimensions: 390 x 335 x 360 mm | Weight: 10kg
If you're looking for a budget 3D printer, then there really is no better option than the XYZprinting da Vinci Mini. It remains one of the most affordable ways to get into 3D printing, and also the easiest, thanks to an easy-to-use interface. Just because it's a budget model, doesn't mean it doesn't produce good results, and the 3D printed objects it creates are very impressive considering the price - and size - of this 3D printer. Speaking of size, the XYZprinting da Vinci Mini is an impressively compact printer that makes it easy to store in an office or on a desk.
3. Ultimaker 2+
The best professional 3D printer
Print technology: Fused Deposition Modeling | Minimum layer resolution: 20 microns | Maximum layer resolution: 600 microns | Dimensions: 342 x 493 x 588 mm | Weight: 11.3kg
The Ultimaker 2+ is a 3D printer that offers amazing print quality, making it one of the best 3D printers for professional use. It is incredibly reliable when it comes to producing 3D models, and the accuracy of the 3D replications is incredibly impressive. If you need a 3D printer that can reliably reproduce many 3D objects accurately, this is a fantastic choice. However, it is expensive, and the fact that it is aimed at professional environments means it's less beginner-friendly than some of the other 3D printers here. Home users are better off looking elsewhere.
4. Formlabs Form 2
An excellent enthusiast 3D printer
Print technology: Stereolithography | Minimum layer resolution: 25 microns | Maximum layer resolution: 100 microns | Dimensions: 350 x 330 x 520 mm | Weight: 13kg
The Formlabs Form 2 is an excellent 3D printer for enthusiasts who don't mind paying extra to get the very best print quality. It's a beautifully-designed 3D printer, and can be connected to PCs via USB, Wi-Fi and Ethernet. It doesn't quite have the print reliability of the Ultimaker 2+, but the print quality more than makes up for a few errors.
5. M3D Micro 3D Printer
The best 3D printer for beginners
Print technology: Fused Filament Fabrication | Minimum layer resolution: 50 microns | Maximum layer resolution: 350 microns | Dimensions: 185 x 185 x 185 mm | Weight: 1kg
The M3D Micro 3D Printer is an excellent 3D printer for beginners. Its low price means you're not investing lots of money if you're not entirely sure 3D printing is for you, while the compact, cube, design means it can be easily placed within the home or office. It looks good, and is impressively quiet when in use. The print quality isn't the best, however, and it is only able to make small models (not too surprising, considering the diminutive size). However, if you're looking for your first 3D printer, this is an excellent choice.
6. FlashForge Creator Pro 2017
A great mid-range 3D printer
Print technology: Fused deposition modeling | Minimum layer resolution: 100 microns | Maximum layer resolution: 500 microns | Dimensions: 526 x 360 x 389 mm
The FlashForge Creator Pro 2017 is the best 3D printer that sits between budget 3D printers and expensive professional models. It's a lot cheaper than pro models, though it maintains the build quality and reliability that you'd come to expect from a professional 3D printer. It's not quite as cheap as the budget and beginner models in this list, but it offers greater accuracy when printing 3D models. It is a tad noisy in use, however.
7. LulzBot Mini
Another great 3D printer for beginners
Print technology: Fused deposition modeling | Minimum layer resolution: 50 microns | Maximum layer resolution: 500 microns | Dimensions: 435 mm x 340 mm x 385 mm | Weight: 11.33kg
If you're looking for a first 3D printer to learn the ropes with, then the LulzBot Mini is another excellent choice. It's got a decent price, and is easy to use, though the print speed is quite slow. The hardware is open source, which means it has a flexibility that propitiatory hardware lacks, as a committed community of makers can work together to create add-ons for the printer.
8. CubePro Trio
Best for three-colour, three-material printing at an incredible price
Print technology: Fused deposition modeling | Minimum layer resolution: 70 microns | Maximum layer resolution: 300 microns | Dimensions: 578 mm x 591 mm x 578 mm | Weight: 41kg
The bulk of home 3D printers are limited to one- or two-colour printing, but the CubePro Trio has the capability to print three different materials in one session. This can be especially useful if you want to create an enclosed mechanism: nylon can be used for the gears, ABS for the surround and PLA for the support structure that can then be dissolved with caustic soda. The CubePro is an ideal solution for modellers and engineers who need to create 3D prints with moving parts.
9. BEEVERYCREATIVE – BEETHEFIRST
One for work and home
Print technology: Fused filament fabrication | Minimum layer resolution: 50 microns | Maximum layer resolution: 300 microns | Dimensions: 400 x 140 x 400 mm | Weight: 10.5kg
In general terms 3D printers are designed as boxes with purpose, however BeeTheFirst has created a printer with both quality of print and actual design in mind – this is a machine that really wouldn't look out of place in a modern living room. BeeTheFirst has also thought about how and where people will be wanting to use their printers – at work, home or both – and has incorporated a thin design with a handle that enables the printer to be easily transported.
10. Lulzbot Taz 6
A brilliant update to the formidable Taz
Print technology: Fused Deposition Modeling | Minimum layer resolution: 75 microns | Maximum layer resolution: 300 microns | Dimensions: 660 x 520 x 350 mm | Weight: 19.5kg
Initially you might be hard pressed to see the differences between the Taz 5 and 6; both feature a solid open frame build, large print base and ease of use.
However take a closer look at the refinements in design and improvements in usability and the upgrades quickly stand out. Features such as the auto leveling base has evolved from the one featured on the Luzbot Mini and works just as well on this larger scale, and the slight changes to frame layout and control panel are all welcome.
The Taz 6 is a big machine with an impressive print area of 280mm x 280mm x 250mm, with a 0.5mm nozzle capable of a minimum layer height of 75 microns and takes 2.85mm filament.