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#1 Creality Ender3 V2

The Creality Ender 3V2 is the best beginner 3D printer. This should be a top choice if you have a limited budget. Unlike the ‘mini’ models on the 3D printing marketplace, this is practically full size and can produce a respectable 100 microns resolution. It’s easy to set up and you’ll get good print quality out of the box. It's a great 3D printer for under $300!


#2 Flashforge Finder Lite

3D printing is affordable and you can have a solid experience without spending a lot. In fact, the Flashforge Finder Lite costs just $250—very nearly an impulse buy. You’re not going to get a large build deck or the most versatile 3D printing for this price, and in fact the build volume is a pretty cramped 5.5×5.5×5.5 inches. FlashForge may have made this printer more accessible for kids by claiming that it is small enough. However, there are two important caveats. First, it’s perfectly serviceable for adults who want to explore 3D printing on a budget, and second, there’s little about this printer that seems especially kid-friendly. A parent will almost certainly be required to assist with setup, calibration, and routine printing.

Case in point: It has a bed leveling feature, but it’s far from automated. Adjusting the level requires tightening and loosening of screws. A level sensor attempts to locate the build plate and an audio alert informs you when everything has been adjusted. The Finder Lite, on the other hand comes fully assembled. It’s a cube-shaped, mostly enclosed printer that doesn’t take a huge amount of desk space, and it is operated from a color LCD touchscreen on top. The FlashForge Finder is more expensive and allows you to send prints to it via Wi-Fi, SD card, and USB. However, the Lite model can only be used with SD cards. We love the fact that it’s quiet and safe; you have to go out of your way to burn yourself on the hot end of this printer, and it only prints PLA, which is a non-toxic and relatively benign plastic filament.

#3 Dremel DigiLab 3D45

Unlike most 3D printing companies, Dremel has a long and storied history before the rise of 3D printing—you doubtless know the brand from its line of tools for creators and hobbyists. The DigiLab 3D45 is Dremel’s latest 3D printer, and it is an impressive device that works great by safely and reliably making high-quality prints, along with special features that should appeal to teachers and schools. The only problem? At more than $2000, it’s among the pricier printers you can buy in this class.

This printer is great for educators. First and foremost, it’s compatible with a wide range of printing materials. You don't have to use PLA; you can also use Dremel-branded ABS, Nylon, and PETG. Dremel has an RFID tag attached to each filament spool. This RFID tag tells the printer the material so it can optimize the bed temperature and hot end temperatures. Dremel also includes a carbon filter that reduces odors when printing in a lab or classroom. Additionally, Dremel provides educational curriculum that can be used by all ages, from kindergarten through college. The printer comes with a variety of lesson plans that can be adapted by teachers. It also includes an online, self-paced training program that allows instructors to earn up to four professional development credits.

It is important to mention the printer itself. The printer has an enclosed design (although you can open it while printing), with a print volume that measures 10x6x6.7 inch. It features an intelligent auto-leveling feature for its print bed, and wireless printing via Wi-Fi. In every way, it feels like it’s worth the money.

#4 Anycubic Photon Mono X Resin 3D Printer

While most consumer-level 3D printers use fused deposition modeling, or FDM, to melt tiny amounts of a plastic filament and use it to build a model one layer at a time, that’s hardly the only kind of 3D printer available. Stereo lithography (or SLA) is also very popular. This printer uses a photopolymerization process to harden liquid resin. The technical details aren’t as important as this: SLA printers (also called resin printers) seemingly pull completed 3D models out of a pool of liquid resin as if by magic. These models are often of a very high standard, often with a higher resolution than FDM printers that use filament.

That’s a long preamble to explain that the Anycubic Photon Mono X Resin 3D Printer is a fundamentally different beast than the other printers in this list, and is, on balance, likely the best value in SLA printers today. Let's start with the basics. It has a build volume that measures 7.5×4.7×9.7inches. The prints are made using an 8.9-inch 4K monochrome LCD monitor. The maximum print speed of the resin printer is 60mm per hour. This is about 2-3 times faster than other resin printers. The process of leveling the build plate is a manual one, which is a necessity for resin printers. However, it's quite easy. But printing is a snap—it takes mere minutes to put the printer together after taking it out of the box. Level the build plate, pour resin into the vat, pull your print file off a USB flash drive, and you’re in business. There’s also a Wi-Fi antenna you can use to monitor your build on your phone, but it’s fiddly and probably not worth the effort.

Like with any resin printer, completed prints need to be washed in isopropyl alcohol, and Anycubic sells a complementary Wash and Cure appliance for under $300. With their translucent yellow hoods, they look great paired together.

The bottom line is that the Photon Mono X is an excellent resin printer—a significant step up from filament-based printing, for sure. SLA is messy (Anycubic even includes gloves in their box to help you handle the resin) and requires a greater commitment than FFDM. The results are well worth the effort if you have the time.

#5 Monoprice Voxel

A lot of 3D printers try to be beginner friendly, but Monoprice’s Voxel does a great job of being ready to go right out of the box and insulating new users from a lot of the complexity of 3D printing. This fully enclosed design comes fully assembled and doesn’t require much setup; there’s an automatic bed leveling feature that even beginners can power through. Monoprice allows you to change the printnozzle quickly and without any tools, even though you may not use it often. That’s cool, and it ‘s too bad it’s such a rare feature among printers. The touchscreen control panel is located at the front of the printer and can be used to receive print jobs via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. It also works with a cloud service.

The printer isn’t enormous; it has 6x6x6 inches of print volume, which is just a bit bigger than what you get in the similarly priced Flashforge Finder. The Voxel can also handle ABS filament, which is non-toxic and easy to work with. The Voxel also has a built in camera that allows you to monitor your prints.

#6 FlashForge Creator Pro2

FlashForge’s Creator Pro2 does something no other printer in this list can pull off: It can print two objects at once, or print one object in two different colors. That’s thanks to its IDEX—independent dual extrusion—system. The Creator Pro2 boasts two separate print heads and nozzles, which opens up new creative possibilities. If that’s the only thing the Pro2 could offer, it would probably still be worth the price of admission.

The Creator Pro2 printer is great in many ways. It’s not perfect, of course; the fully enclosed design has a pretty modest print volume, just around 8x6x6 inches. The print bed is also fixed in place—you can’t remove it to ease the task of separating your completed print. You will need to manually level the bed, but the software will help you. FlashForge slicing software is included. It’s not bad, but you might miss a more robust app like Cura.

The Creator Pro2 is an excellent printer, despite these objections. After a few minutes of assembly, this enclosed printer produces excellent prints every time, job after job. It can handle a variety of materials such as PLA, ABS, PETG, and TPU. 

#7 Qidi Tech i-Mate S

Whereas almost all the best 3D printers in this price range require assembly and come as a kit, the Qidi Tech i-Mate S — the successor to the very popular X-Pro — comes fully assembled and ready to plug in and start up. 

It’s fully enclosed, making it much better for ABS 3D printing as you can more effectively maintain the temperature within your print area, and has a sturdy and strong metal frame for minimizing vibrations and other factors.

The i-Mate S includes a 0.2mm nozzle. It also comes standard with a 0.4mm nozzle. This is ideal to print intricate 3D models, such as miniatures or figurines. Qidi Tech designed it for this purpose.

You can print using Qidi Tech’s QidiPrint 3D slicer, which they say improves efficiency and part quality, or stick with Cura or Simplify3D if you’re used to one of these.