The 3D printer market is growing at an explosive rate, with new brands and styles of printing making an appearance each year. Where many 3D printers used to be huge, expensive machines, developments in technology and production now mean that many of the best options you can buy are increasingly affordable, and able to sit on a desk in your home without the need for workshop space.
Naturally, this means there's now a huge choice of 3D printers out there that cater to all kinds of user needs and budgets. While this choice is great, it can make picking the best 3D printer for your specific needs more difficult. However, this guide can help, as we pick some brilliant 3D printers for all kinds of uses and budgets, with clear buying advice to help you determine which one you should buy.
Printing hardware has really taken off in recent years, so while a handful of filament printers (otherwise known as FDM printers) were all that was once available, there's now a wide variety of different styles to suit your needs across a range of budgets.
Unlike office-style printers that just print ink onto paper, 3D printers turn digital models into real-world objects made from materials like plastic, metal and wood. FDM printers now come in all shapes and sizes and are well suited to prototyping and crafting larger objects, while resin-based (SLA, MSLA and DLP) allow for much greater detail, typically at a smaller scale which makes them a fantastic buy for anyone looking to design jewellery or create tabletop miniatures.
You can use 3D printers to build complete products, make spare parts, or simply create things you’ll find useful for your home, office, and workshop. And, since 3D printing technology (opens in new tab) is within grasp of just about anyone, you don’t have to utilize one to your advantage.
Whether you’re just getting your feet wet or are an expert, here are the best 3D printers range to consider. Our picks wildly vary in price, size, functionality, and use case so there should be something for you whatever it is you’re looking for. Just remember that the more expensive choices are better suited for professionals while the best cheap 3D printers (opens in new tab) are ideal for those just starting out.
The best 3D printers
This affordable open-frame 3D printer is small enough to sit on your desk and easy enough to assemble yourself without expertise. It comes in kit form and uses FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) to turn popular modeling materials such as PLA, PETG, ASA, ABS and Flex into accurate printed products. There’s a Network LAN port and USB port for simple connectivity and a user-friendly interface. This entry-level printer should be the first choice for crafters, modelers and engineering enthusiasts. The Original Prusa MINI+ is a replacement for the Original Prusa MINI (minus the plus) the key advantage being that is now comes with a superPINDA sensor, which is not temperature dependent allowing the first layer calibration to be faster and more reliable.
Read the full review: Original Prusa MINI (opens in new tab)
If you’re looking for a professional 3D printer for fairly large and complex projects, this elegant delta design should get your attention. It uses FDM technology to build 3D models from rolls of filament, but instead of the more common cartesian printers, the TRILAB DeltiQ 2 has a fixed round build plate with the extruder suspended between three arms that move the print head along three axis. It gives this model a fairly small footprint, while its high tower design ensures it is able to print some quite large pieces.
And unlike most 3D printers, it has two extruder options, one for standard PLA and PETG and the other for flexibles. It just requires a little retooling to swap between them. The TRILAB DeltiQ 2 uses some of the best components available in its construction and the interface is a smartphone running a dedicated app. This is a handsome, high-end workshop printer that would sit well in any laboratory, studio or classroom.
Read our full TRILAB DeltiQ 2 review (opens in new tab).
FormLabs has been instrumental in advancing resin-based SLA 3D printing and the Form 3L is the first wide format printer. It uses what it calls low force stereolithography to achieve high detail and high speed the far surpasses FDM printers in quality. As with all SLA printers, a liquid resin is used rather than a solid filament so more time is needed in the preparation and finishing of prints. However, the wider choice of raw materials available makes the Form 3L one of the most versatile 3D printers on the market, ideal for producing prototypes for fairly large engine parts, or any other project requiring accurate detail.
Prusa Research revolutionized the FDM 3D printer market and this model looks set to do the same for SLA printers. While this printer uses stereolithography technology, it's in fact a slight variant, known as MSLA. This uses a monochrome LCD and UV LED to expose the resin which is a cheaper than using precision lasers but just as accurate. The SL1S SPEED replaces the outgoing SL1 and as you might have guessed from that model name, it’s faster – around ten times faster and with a vastly improved print quality. With support from the excellent PrusaSlicer software and a huge open source community, the speedy new model looks set to lead the SLA market.
Read our full Original Prusa SL1S 3D printer review (opens in new tab).
If the world of 3D printing ever seemed too intimidating for you, look no further than the AnyCubic Vyper. While perfect for beginners with its auto-leveling feature and minimal assembly, seasoned printing hobbyists will also appreciate what it can offer, albeit with a few adjustments.
As the 'automatic leveling' might imply, the AnyCubic Vyper removes the need to manually align your build plate should you want to move the machine to a different location. It's fast and accurate which saves time when setting up your first print, which makes setting up and getting started a breeze.
Read our full AnyCubic Vyper review.
3D printing has truly come of age and machines like the Raise3D E2 bring high-end FFF printing to the home, education and business. This dual extrusion printer goes head-to-head with the RoboxPro and will fulfil most companies' design and development needs with slick business and network integration. Home and educational users will benefit from a simple interface and near faultless reliability. The only drawback of this machine is the size and weight.
Read the full Raise3D E review (opens in new tab).
The Anycubic Photon M3 is the ideal entry-level resin printer to introduce you to the world of 3D printing. It’s relatively easy to set up and operate and the box includes everything you need to get started, except for the UV resin. This model is compact, which means it will fit easily on your desk in a well-ventilated room, though the build volume is somewhat limited at 180 x 163.9 x 102.4mm or 7 x 6.5 x 4-inches.
For printing small plastic parts or artistic pieces, this modest machine can turn out surprisingly detailed models. The interface is a 7.6-inch panel and software is included that will help you print your project and slice it. If you want to make larger models, you should consider one of Anycubic’s larger 3D printers, but for $299 (about £275 / AU$480) this is a great place to start.
Read our full Anycubic Photon M3 review (opens in new tab).
If you're looking for a first 3D printer to learn the ropes with, then the LulzBot Mini 2 is another excellent choice. It's available for a decent price and is easy to use, with version 2 improving on print speed and noise reduction. 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.
A true 3-in-1 machine makes sense, because 3D printers, CNC and Laser cutters all use the same basic mechanics and technology. The original Snapmaker has a dedicated following, so it is no surprise that the Snapmaker 2.0 builds on its predecessor's reputation and features. The A350 is the largest of three models and proves proficient at all disciplines. Swapping between the three heads and beds does take time to reconfigure and calibrate for the prince and features it's worth it.
Read the full Snapmaker 2.0 A350 review (opens in new tab).
CEL-UK is a leader in 3D Printer innovation, with the original Robox printers introducing many new features to the world of FDM 3D printers. The RoboxPro is Robox on a large scale with a feature set that reads like a 3D print wish list; auto filament loading, auto bed leveling, Wi-Fi, network printing and swappable tool heads. The main focus of the machine is quality and reliability, designed for anyone wanting a printer that can realize product ideas and get them to market. The enclosed design makes it an ideal choice for commercial and educational use.
Read the full CEL-UK RoboxPro review (opens in new tab).
Best 3D Printers: How did we test them?
3D printers are tested using a collection of bespoke benchmarks that help show the strengths and weaknesses of each model that after time can be compared against other products. These will differ depending on printer type, but a filament printer will be tested for stringing, bridging and speed, as well as additional commentary on detail achieved and noise levels.
This will be done fairly, with dues given to different materials and printer types, with resin printers being subject to smaller, more detailed models to replace the stringing test. Design, price and performance will be also be explored as sections within the reviews.
All our tests are conducted from the perspective of the printers target market where possible, so expect to see a lot of tabletop miniatures and figurines alongside the usual 'benchies' (test models that are also dubbed as 'torture tests' to see where a printer needs to be better optimized for future prints).
- We've also featured the best printers (opens in new tab)