Do you love crafting and creating? Don’t just stick to boring old 2D — take your creations into a whole new dimension with a 3D printer!
We’ve compiled this guide to the best 3D printer reviews that we’ve tested so far during 2018.
Which one is best for you?
Here’s a sneak peek at our top 3 results:
|Print Size (inches)||5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9||10 x 6.7 x 6||11.8 x 11.8 x 15.7|
|Comes Ready to Use?||Yes||No||No|
|Filaments||PLA only||PLA, ECO ABS, Nylon, PETG and more||PLA, TPU, metal, wood and more|
Read on to find out more…
- 1 What is a 3D Printer?
- 2 How Do 3D Printers Work?
- 3 Best 3D Printer Reviews of 2018
- 3.1 Dremel Digilab 3D45 3D Printer Idea Builder
- 3.2 FlashForge 3D Printer: Finder
- 3.3 da Vinci mini Wireless 3D Printer
- 3.4 QIDI TECHNOLOGY New Generation 3D Printer: X-one2
- 3.5 FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro
- 3.6 REPRAPGURU DIY RepRap Prusa I3 V2 Black 3D Printer Kit
- 3.7 HICTOP Creality CR-10 3D Printer Prusa I3 DIY Kit
- 3.8 Robo R2 Smart Assembled 3D Printer
- 3.9 Monoprice Maker Ultimate 3D Printer – MK11
- 3.10 BIBO 3D Printer Dual Extruder
- 3.11 Flashforge Dreamer 3d Printer
What is a 3D Printer?
There are various different 3D printing technologies and materials you can print with, but all work on the same basic principle.
Put most simply, 3D printing is the process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file by adding printing material layer by layer, and to do this you’re going to need a 3D printer.
It’s possible to print with plastic, metal, wood — in some cases, even food!
The opportunities for creating are are endless —sculptures, machinery parts, toys, pots and vases — it’s all up to you and your imagination.
How Do 3D Printers Work?
So how does it all work?
Here’s a handy video introduction to start off with:
It may sound like something from science fiction, but in actual fact the process of 3D printing is pretty simple.
Firstly, you need to create a 3 dimensional digital image of the object you want to print on your computer using appropriate 3D software.
You can either create a design from scratch in your software or, if you have access to a 3D scanner, simply take a scan of the object you want to recreate.
Once your 3D digital image file is ready, it will need to be sliced into incredibly thin layers by a different ‘slicing’ software — this cuts your digital model into thousands of 2D images that are then layered one on top of each other to create a 3D object.
The next step is the physical printing process.
Once the sliced file is sent to the 3D printer (by Wi-Fi, USB, SD card or Bluetooth connection), it’s here that the magic happens.
Thin filament — most commonly a thermoplastic — is fed into the printer, where it is heated to the point where it starts to melt.
This makes it pliable enough to be extruded through a thin nozzle which moves around to trace out the pattern of each layer identified by the slicing software.
The layers are assembled one on top of the other on a flat bed or platform at the base of the machine.
Once all the layers have been printed (which may take a few hours depending on the size and complexity of the design) and the printing material has cooled — voilà!
The finished 3D object is finished and ready to be removed from the 3D printer.
Best 3D Printer Reviews of 2018
3D printers for the home are getting better and better as the 3D technology improves, and there are now some pretty decent machines available at reasonably wallet friendly prices.
Here’s our shortlist of the 11 of the best 3D printers that make the grade…
Dremel are well known for making tools and products that hobbyists love, and now they’ve brought us their very own 3D printer.
One of the best all-round 3D printers on the market, the Dremel Digilab 3D45 3D Printer Idea Builder can print with an impressive array of different filament types, including ECO ABS thermoplastic, Nylon, and PETG and PLA thermoplastics.
This is a pretty sturdy and hefty 3D printer which is capable of printing objects up to 6.7 by 10 by 6 inches in size.
An intuitive 5 inch touchscreen controls all the functions of this 3D printer, and it will automatically detect the type of filament you are using and adjust its print settings accordingly.
Designs can be effortlessly transferred to the machine from your computer via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or USB.
The silver and blue casing can be completely enclosed to keep operations safe, and layers of filament are printed onto a heated glass print bed which helps keep your objects stable as they print, and which can be completely removed, making it much easier to remove your finished creations.
- Excellent print quality
- Easy to set up and use
- Safe design
- Runs quietly
- Prints multiple filament types
- Good connectivity, both wired and wireless
- Only compatible with Dremel filaments
This budget 3D printer from FlashForge is simple but effective.
The striking black and red design looks good and is capable of printing objects up to 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches onto a non heated glass build bed, which limits the print filament options to just PLA, but as this is a non-toxic, biodegradable plastic, it is a good choice for the home environment.
The bed is removable, and the fact that it is not heated means that this 3D printer is safe for even kids to use.
A 3.5 inch touchscreen acts as the control panel, and printing is easy, taking only a few steps to start the printing process.
Connectivity on the FlashForge Finder is good too, with Wi-Fi, USB and flash drive file transfer, and the printer is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems.
Set up is hassle free as this 3D printer is ready right out of the box.
- Affordable price
- Easy to set up and use
- Removable build bed
- Quiet when in use
- Safe for kids
- Filament is easy to install
- Only prints PLA filament
- Small print size
Cute as a button, the da Vinci mini Wireless 3D Printer from XYZ printing may be small but despite its size can still print objects with dimensions of up to 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches.
This is a super low cost machine, but it gives great performance for the price.
It produces decent quality prints using non toxic PLA filament at a reasonable speed, although high quality, more intricate prints can be a lot slower to produce.
A cheerful bright orange color, the da Vinci Mini is sure to brighten up any home office or workshop.
The case is open sided, so it’s easy to check on your print to see how it is developing, but there is also a plastic protective case.
Lacking a touchscreen, everything is controlled via the XYZ operating software available as a free download for Windows and Mac.
- Fantastic low price
- Small footprint
- Calibrates automatically
- Not noisy when running
- Reasonable print results for price
- Quick printing at lower quality settings
- Only prints with PLA filament
- Not so good for complex designs
Competitively priced, the New Generation X-one2 3D Printer from Qidi Technology features a sturdy metal frame to ensure it stays stable during printing, and a fully enclosed print area capable of handling prints up to 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches in size.
The heated build bed means that this mini mean machine can print with multiple filament types including ABS, PLA, PVA, and TPU.
The touchscreen controls are super easy to use, and Windows or MAC files can be loaded to the printer via USB or SD card.
Valuing function over fashion, the visual aesthetic of the X-one2 isn’t going to turn many heads, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in durability and high quality printing capability.
- Comes with 6 month warranty
- Pre-calibrated and ready to use
- Great print quality
- Easy to use even for kids and beginners
- Stable and durable
- Heavy weight
- No Wi-Fi connectivity
Another heavy duty metal framed machine, the FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro is built to last.
Featuring a dual head, this 3D printer can knock out designs using a wide variety of filaments including ABS, PLA, wood, metal and more to a maximum size of 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches.
This versatile machine also benefits from a hi tech build bed which is designed to be able to withstand high heating temperatures without warping the end product, and a clever lid design allows for even more efficient temperature regulation.
The build chamber is enclosed, being accessible via a window in the front of the unit, and lit up with a handy LED light so you can see clearly how your print is building.
Compatible with Windows and MAC OS, files can be transferred to the printer either by USB or SD card.
- Robust build quality
- Very versatile – can use wide variety of filament types
- Excellent print quality
- Good customer support
- Easy to use
- Requires some assembly and calibration
- Can be noisy
Open to the elements, the REPRAPGURU DIY RepRap Prusa I3 V2 Black 3D Printer doesn’t have a protective case, instead the working elements are exposed and everything is easy to access.
Despite its low price and simple design there are some great features on this 3D printer, including a heated build bed, an LCD touchscreen control panel, 8GB of internal storage (meaning you can just upload your designs via USB or SD card and then disconnect and the printer will continue to get on with printing), is capable of printing objects up to a sizeable 8 x 8 x 7 inches, and boasts a pretty decent printing speed and quality.
The main drawback of this unit is that it requires assembly and calibration which can be a lengthy process which may leave those less technically inclined a little bewildered — however the trade off for that is a whole bunch of quality features that are normally only found on higher end machines.
The RepRap Prusa I3 V2 can handle printing with filaments of ABS, PLA, Nylon, wood, and more.
- Reasonable build size
- Good print quality
- Easy to use
- Prints with a wide range of filaments
- Can be modified and upgraded
- Great customer service
- Requires assembly and calibration
- Acrylic frame is less durable than metal
For seriously sizeable prints, one of the best 3D home printers is the HICTOP Creality CR-10 3D Printer.
This baby can produce 3D objects with a maximum size of a generous 11.8 x 11.8 x 15.7 inches using a wide range of filaments including PLA, TPU, metal, and wood filament.
Files are uploaded using either USB or micro SD card, and the strong metal frame and heated glass build bed make it capable of printing detailed, high quality designs.
Like the RepRap Prusa I3 V2 this is an unenclosed design which requires a small amount of self assembly an calibration, but which shouldn’t be too complicated to put together.
The print bed is removable, and the the control box comes complete with an easily navigable 3 inch LCD screen with control wheel for print preparation and fine-tuning calibration.
- Excellent quality prints
- Prints impressively large objects
- Relatively easy assembly
- Compatible with many different software programs
- Great value for money
- Can print continuously for over 100 hours without overheating
- Large footprint
- Print bed is slow to heat up
Possibly one of the best looking 3D printers out there, the sleek and futuristic Robo R2 boasts an automatic leveling print bed, an internal camera so you can keep your eye on the printing process remotely, and a 5-inch color touch screen control panel which incorporates its own slicing software.
This solid 3D printer can print objects of up to 10 x 8 x 8 inches on the super adhesive heated build platform, and is mainly enclosed for added safety with access being via a door to the front of the machine.
Over 30 different types of filament are compatible with the Robo R2, including ABS, PLA, flexible, nylon, and wood, can run work with MAC, Windows, and Linux, plus it can be connected for file download using Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or USB.
Another interesting positive to the Robo R2 is the possibility to add an additional extrusion head (at additional cost) and print two materials or two different colors simultaneously.
- Great print quality
- Can be upgraded with add ons
- Can connect to your Wi-Fi network from your mobile device
- Supports a large range of filament types
- Spacious maximum build size
- Simple to set up and use
- Classy design
- Can be quite noisy
- Printing can be slow, depending on complexity of design
Boasting a heated aluminum print bed, a respectable maximum build size of 7.9 7.9 x 6.9 inches, the option to print with a wide range of filament types including thermoplastics, metal and wood with anti-jam filament feed — plus a neat and stylish enclosed design constructed with a robust metal frame, assisted bed leveling, and adjustable LED lighting — the mid-range Monoprice Maker Ultimate 3D Printer Mk2 has a lot to offer.
Capable of high resolution printing, this 3D printer uses USB and Micro SD connections and is compatible with MAC, Linux and Windows.
This 3D printer comes supplied completely assembled and ready to go.
- Stable and durable construction
- Sleek, simple design
- Comes with 1 year warranty
- Ready assembled
- Very quiet when in use
- Cooling fans can be inefficient
- Customer support could be improved
The dual extruders of the BIBO 3D Printer made it possible to print in two colors or to print two objects in 3D simultaneously, which seriously cuts down on print time.
The self contained unit benefits from a robust aluminum frame and a heated glass printing bed allowing various different types of filaments to be used including, PLA, ABS, flexible, nylon, wood, PETG, conductive, and carbon.
Should you run out of filament during printing the BIBO 3D printer automatically pauses to give you the time to load a fresh spool.
But this isn’t just a great 3D printer — it also doubles up as an engraving machines with uses lasers to safely engrave your 2D designs onto materials such as wood, metal, leather, and more.
Everything is controlled using the easy to use touchscreen. Connectable via Wi-Fi, SD card or USB, this 3D printer works with PC, Mac, and Linux.
- Also features a laser engraver
- Automatic filament detection
- Great customer service
- Can print two colors or two objects at the same time
- Gives good quality results
- Very versatile
- Requires some assembly
- Heated build plate can be tricky to calibrate
FlashForge’s most advanced 3D printer yet, the FlashForge Dreamer has a sleek, contemporary look with a totally enclosed printing chamber with tough metal/plastic alloy frame that is capable of printing objects up to 9.1 x 5.9 x 5.5 inches in size onto the heated build plate.
Dual extruders print filaments such as ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, Nylon and more in two different colors, using two different types of filament, or for printing at double quick speeds.
It features a built in Wi-Fi connection to upload files to the machine, as well as USB and SD connectivity, and the Dreamer is compatible with both Windows and MAC.
The 3.5 inch color touchscreen is intuitive and easy to use.
- Fantastic print quality
- Very well constructed
- Excellent customer service
- Easy to use
- Great connectivity
- Filament can sometimes get jammed
- Fairly small choice of compatible software
Which do you think is the best 3D printer?
Featured image is by Jonathan Juursema (CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)