In my quest for the perfect 3D printer, I embarked on a thorough and methodical journey of research and review. The world of 3D printing is vast, with an array of options tailored to different needs and budgets, so I wanted to ensure I made an informed decision. To start, I began my exploration by conducting extensive online searches using search terms like “Best 3D Printers,” “Best 3D Printers for beginners,” “Best budget 3D printers,” and “Best 3D printer for home use.” These keywords served as my guiding compass, leading me to websites, forums, and expert reviews.
Websites such as Make: Magazine, All3DP, and 3D Insider provided comprehensive reviews and rankings, which I meticulously compared. These reviews offered insights into the top 3D printers on the market, evaluating factors like print quality, ease of use, and reliability. In parallel, I ventured into 3D printing enthusiast communities on platforms like Reddit, where individuals openly shared their personal experiences with various 3D printers. Communities like r/buyitforlife, r/3Dprinters, and r/printers became a treasure trove of real-world user perspectives, which proved invaluable in assessing the practicality and longevity of the machines.
As I dived deeper into the world of 3D printing, I diligently took notes, cross-referencing recommendations and concerns from both experts and fellow enthusiasts. I was particularly interested in finding the best options for beginners, individuals working within a budget, and those looking for a 3D printer tailored for home use. After sifting through a wealth of information and considering various factors, I compiled a well-rounded list of the top 3D printers that encompassed different user profiles and preferences. This exhaustive research and review process allowed me to make a confident and informed choice when selecting the 3D printer that best suited my specific needs and expectations.
Best 3D Printers
Original Prusa i3 MK3S+
- Consistently high-quality prints
- No misprints in our testing
- Easy-to-use, yet powerful, software
- Supports multiple filament types
- Includes a 1-kilogram PLA spool
- Professionally printed user guide and great support resources
- Build volume a bit small for the price
The Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ is the flagship model in Prusa Research’s lineup of 3D printers, representing the culmination of a decade of continuous improvements and fine-tuning. This open-frame 3D printer is exceptionally refined, showcasing a meticulous design with no apparent shortcomings. It enjoys robust community support and provides an extensive array of helpful resources. Unlike many 3D printer manuals, the i3 MK3S+ includes a beautifully printed guide that covers both the preassembled version, which we evaluated, and the DIY kit option.
Throughout our testing, the printer exhibited seamless operation, delivering flawless prints without any misprints, consistently achieving above-average print quality. The i3 MK3S+ is compatible with various filament types, and it even includes a 1-kilo spool, making it versatile in its printing capabilities.
The preassembled i3 MK3S+ is suitable for a wide range of users, from complete beginners to seasoned 3D printing enthusiasts. It’s also an excellent addition to educational environments like classrooms and community centers. For those looking to save some money, the kit version is an option, though it may require at least an afternoon for assembly and is better suited for experienced users and tinkerers.
Anycubic Kobra 2
- Prints fast and accurately
- Easy to assemble
- Very noisy fans
- Leveling software is inconsistent
- Can get worryingly hot
In our evaluation of entry-level 3D printers, we prioritize factors such as affordability, user-friendly setup and operation, reliable performance, and quality prints. The Anycubic Kobra 2 impressively meets all of these criteria and stands out as one of the swiftest 3D printers we’ve assessed. With an attractive price tag of just $279, it offers exceptional value. What sets it apart is its user-friendly design, featuring a unique extruder optimized for speedy printing. In terms of software compatibility, it seamlessly integrates with the popular open-source Cura program commonly used with various 3D printers. Additionally, it provides access to the Prusa Slicer app, which offers a plethora of editing options catering to both novice and experienced users.
For newcomers to the world of 3D printing, the Anycubic Kobra 2 is an excellent choice due to its cost-effectiveness, straightforward setup process, and impressive speed. Although our testing revealed minimal printing issues, the print quality, while satisfactory, may not be the most outstanding, particularly for intermediate or advanced users seeking intricate detailing. Nevertheless, as a low-cost, low-risk entry point into 3D printing, it serves as an ideal platform for beginners looking to explore this exciting technology.
Creality Ender-3 S1 Pro
- Easy assembly
- Supports many filament types
- Generated nicely detailed test prints
- Auto-leveling program could be more accurate, may require slight adjustments
The Creality Ender-3 S1 Pro offers excellent value among open-frame 3D printers, boasting a spacious print area relative to its price point. While it comes in kit form, it’s mostly preassembled, making assembly manageable even for those with limited technical expertise. In our tests, it consistently delivered high-quality prints.
When it comes to software, users have the choice of using either Cura or Creality’s proprietary slicer. The Ender-3 S1 Pro is versatile, supporting a variety of filament types, including PLA, ABS, PETG, PA, wood composite, and TPU. The print-bed leveling process, a combination of manual and automatic routines, though slightly tricky, is still more user-friendly than what we’ve encountered with other Creality printers we’ve reviewed. Setup instructions could be more detailed, and the diagrams a bit more user-friendly, but thankfully, several third-party resources offer helpful videos and guides to assist users in getting started.
The Ender-3 S1 Pro is primarily designed for 3D printing newcomers who enjoy a hands-on, do-it-yourself approach and budget-conscious tinkerers. If you’re seeking a plug-and-play 3D printer for a quick start, you might want to explore other options, as bed leveling may pose a challenge. Nevertheless, assembling this kit, even for beginners, provides a valuable learning experience about the inner workings of 3D printers.
- High-quality prints
- Fast standard print speed
- Filament holder can be mounted vertically or horizontally
- Print bed offers large print volume and easy print removal
- Quick assembly, using extra-handy bundled toolkit
- Nifty time-lapse recording feature
- Somewhat expensive
- So-so documentation
- Undocumented error alerts