3D printing is one of the terms that do not readily come to mind, it’s almost like talking about virtual reality which is always something relevant to the trending topic of discussion, but has not exactly been the craze of the decade. The 3D creative concept has toyed with a lot of times and I know you movie lovers can relate to it, but printing with a 3D printer? At home? Now that’s something a lot of people do not think about. But you’re thinking about it now, aren’t you?
Like every other person whose curiosity, 3D Printing became something I wanted to toy around with. Just so I could understand how it works. Guess what? Now I can’t do without it. I took it upon myself to do a personalized hunt for the best 3D printers out there, especially when we compare and contrast printers that are low cost, cost-effective, top-shelf one of it’s kind that could end up producing a professional level quality for print prototyping.
So what we have below is a range of printers that are low-cost and don’t be fooled! They’re power-packed and these printers were tested in CNET Labs and compared close-ups of the test print, which is a bust of Abraham Lincoln. Usually, every 3D print needs smoothing and filing plus a hobby to give you its very best, you can always tweak each print, fill in the gaps with filler compound and all that, but this is right off the print bed, no touch-ups after printing whatsoever.
There are printers that I have not tested yet but have been able to get a lot of good feedback about them and there is in fact, a large community of persons who are of the opinion that it’s a really good 3D printer. The flipside to this coin is that a bit of assembling is needed to print with these brands than other makes.
In the event of what to print and how to kick off 3D printing, this follows from the materials of top quality to print with (between using polylactic acid vs ABS plastic) and 3D printing technology and software, you can check out my latest nuggets of wisdom for 3D printing. It is likely that CNET will get a portion of the revenue from the sales of products featured here.
A lot of 3D printer parts can be 3D printed. That is one major objective the RepRap project had since its early beginnings – to create a 3D printer that can reproduce itself. And many modern-day 3D printers are based at least partly on that technology.
But there are key points, one of the obvious ones is the extruder that filament-based printers make use of. They function by melting the filament and squeezing it through the extruder. Think of it as getting toothpaste out of the tube.
It follows that the extruder itself needs to be so hard, and have a melting temperature so high that it cannot be affected by the temperature of the filament coursing through it. So the question that would pop up would be, how do you print the extruder itself? Now slow down so you can catch this: If you feed a roll of filament that is constituted of the same material used for the extruder, and then heat the printer up to a high enough temperature to melt and extrude the filament, it will also melt the extruder that you’re using for the extruding process. Instead of two extruders, you end up with none, a really sad proposition. If in doubt of what I just said, read again.
What is 3D printer?
A 3D Printer is a sort of material design printer. It majorly designs and builds 3-dimensional models and products of devices and the necessary components using an additive manufacturing process. Think of it as a high powered printer that takes what you want to replicate, creates a life-like version (or close) and then dishes it back to you. It creates it by building them through Computer-Aided Design (CAD) or software-created 3D design figures and patterns. They can also be called fabrication printers, or additive manufacturing printers. Simply put, it builds and enables prototyping of 3-dimensional objects and structures. The good part? It takes out the need to trim and cut away, so there’s no wastage. Your final piece is built in cool 3D mode, with zero waste.
Can a 3D printer print another 3D printer?
A really smart question to be honest! Well, it depends on how you look at it, from one angle, you can kick off your new printer by printing a set of spare parts first. Then you can proceed to; if you want, upgrade the machine to a large extent by printing more items, and if you’re feeling really creative, print some of the parts for a new printer, or a bigger one as the single component parts are smaller than the whole machine. However, it is key to note that you cannot print metal or wiring or switches or motors, you do have to buy or machine out these parts but you can actually print a major part of your new printer.
On the other hand, 3D printers have been proclaimed downright atrocious by certain individuals who belong to the school of thought that it’s a ‘stupid machine’ that prints more ‘stupid machines’ made out of plastic. Horrible plastic, in their opinion. Some might be right, as using your 3D printer to make art or functional products are quite the feat. But using it for the sole purpose of printing upgrades for your printer is not exactly the smartest thing to do.
How Does 3D Printing work?
Think of the way a 3D printer works like your regular, everyday Inkjet printer that is operated by a computer. Only in this case, it builds up a three-dimensional model (3D) one layer at a time. And it works from the bottom up, by replicating the same print process over the same area in a method that is referred to as Fused Depositional Modeling, it does all of this automatically creating a model within hours by taking a 3D CAD and makes it 2D cross-sectional layers, separate 2D prints that sit one on top of the other but without any paper holders. Instead of ink, it deposits layers of molten plastic or powder and fuses them together with adhesive or ultraviolet light.
What can one print with a 3D printer?
Now that’s a really long list. Let’s see. What can we print with a 3D Printer?
Measuring Spoons: For those who love baking and cooking, plus there’s always the option to customize them and gift them to someone.
Bookmarks/Paper Clips: This works for parties and school events.
Desk Paper Tray and Organizer: Did your eyes just widen? Yes, you can print your own three-tier desk paper tray, a perfect tool for your workspace.
Guitars: Yes, I just made your eyes widen again. Acoustic guitars, electric guitars, it’s definitely possible with 3D printing.
And the list goes on, dresses, shoes, cardholders, organizers, tableware. You name it!
Top 10 Best 3D Printers 2020
1. Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer V2 – Best 3D Printers Monoprice 2020
This 3D printer checks out in the affordability department with its heated build plate and a wide range of extruder temperatures that allow it work with any type of filament, from ABS and PLA to even more advanced materials. Compact, low-cost and already assembled and ready to print those designs!
They just saved you the time and stress of having to put it together yourself, you do not have to worry about the calibration as that has been done already, add a MicroSDTM card with preinstalled models, means you can start printing as soon as you get it out of the box. And it’s compatible with both PC and Mac. So you’re welcome!
- Value for money
- Pre-calibrated and assembled so you get straight to printing
- Poor monoprice support
- Firmware update required
- Cannot handle everyday printing
2. Flashforge Adventurer 3 3D Printer – Expensive 3D Printer 2020
Here comes another powerhouse. Weighing over 22 pounds, forged from the mountains of polycarbonate. This 3D printer is top of the shelf when it comes to price. This big titan also comes ready to use, with its patented extruder structure, and a buckle design removable nozzle, convenience comes into the big picture.
Removable and heatable plate, and a filament detection function with an auto suspension setup when the filament is broken or used up. Talk about convenience and class within the same build. Plus, let’s not forget about the file backups and sharing on the cloud, cloud slicing, and the social sharing functions.
- Prints in no time at all
- Amazing customer support
- Reasonable cost for certain individuals who value effectiveness more
- No sensors
- Bed leveling at certain times, which is close to impossible
- Bed moves easily, which could mess up the prints
3. ANYCUBIC Photon UV LCD 3D Printer – Best 3D Printer for Home 2020
If there’s one thing Anycubic tried to ensure while putting this work of art together, it is the ease of usage, with its easy setup, and relatively simple to use the software, only 4 major settings that need adjustment compared to other models. Anycubic hits the sweet spot in user convenience.
The resolution on it is incredible and the tiny parts were made with amazing accuracy, smoother detail and quality than the usual everyday printer, that rolls out in 3D. Taking out the time to give it a smooth, satin finish, it’s just a gorgeous sight to behold.
- Amazing print quality
- Low Cost
- Easy to use
- Solid mechanics
- Anycubic resin works well with the printer
- Buggy firmware
- Slow tech support
- Horrendous cleaning process
- Difficult maintenance
4. Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer – Best 3D Printer for Kids 2020
In addition to the affordability that is accorded to 3D printers such as the Creality Ender 3 PRO, this product provides 360-degree protection to your printer build plate. Especially with the maintenance of a steady temperature through the build surface, so balance and easy usability come first here.
It is designed in such a way to make the removal of print models easy after cooling. And what’s awesome here is the safe power supply, which ensures that the printer is not affected by unexpected power surges that could heat the hotbed to 110oC in just 5 minutes!
- Small, but powerful
- Affordable price
- Thoughtful design for ease of usage
- Outstanding print quality
- Non-mechanical or electrically inclined people might find it hard to setup.
- Slightly difficult bed leveling
5. QIDI TECH 3D Printer – Small Affordable 3D Printer 2020
It just wasn’t enough to be a part of the fun, QIDI decided to spice this up by making it an X-Plus intelligent industrial-grade 3D printer that can dish out prints in nylon, carbon fiber, and very high precision printing. And it comes with two different types of the extruder assembly.
The first extruder has already been installed on the printer, so once you set up you can go straight to work. And it works amazingly well with its maximum printing temperature at 300C, latest slicer software 5.0, ventilative printing and a double-z-axis so your print more precisely, they came prepared!
- Top shelf quality
- Easy to use
- Sturdily built
- Fast leveling function
- Software needs improvements
- Printing via Wi-Fi can be a bit worrisome
- Touchscreen interface slightly confusing
6. Official Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer – Best Professional 3d printer 2020
The Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer shows a step up when it comes to a power supply, aluminum extrusion, and a magnetic build surface plate. This entails that it’s been carefully put together with beginners in mind. So it’s easy to use, it does require you to do a bit of assembling.
The safe power supply ensures you won’t have any power issues or surges, and for a DIY 3D printer, the Ender 3 Pro does a good job of carving out a niche of its own. With improved mechanical properties, it’s been designed for a sturdy extrusion. This helps the overall balance of the print surface.
- Easy to use for beginners
- Good budget printer under $500
- Level bed
- Slow technical support
- Slightly noisy
- Firmware issues
7. ELEGOO Mars 3D Printer – Best 3D Printer on Amazon 2020
So Elegoo. If there’s one thing I can tell you about these guys is that they sure know how to give their users the experience. The slicing software takes record time to load up, and the 3.5-inch color touch screen makes it practically foolproof to use, especially for off-line printing.
Balanced enough for you to start printing within 5 minutes, high precision, and it lets you hollow out your model before slicing which saves your resin amazingly during the photocuring process. Equipped with 40W UV lights and Elegoo resin which ensures you get better printing results, you’ve got yourself a deal here!
- Easy to set up and use
- Less finicky
- Incredible detail and resolution
- Good support
- Low maintenance
- Slightly slow
- Slightly messy
8. QIDI TECHNOLOGY 3D Printer – Best 3D Printers for Beginners 2020
So here’s what they thought: why don’t have ourselves a professional 3D slicing software that adopts an intelligent model of segmentation technology, powerful functions, make it easy for our customers to use, and ensure that our printed product stays delicate and smooth? And there you have it, absolute total class!
With its single extruder and injection mold of 3D printing make it high precision and a good ventilation effect and even heating with platforms supporting ABS and PLA filament. It’s really hard not to look at this beauty when she winks at you. She’s pretty enough to call “my precious”.
- Amazing printer for that price
- Sturdy and well built
- Easy to setup
- Filament might jam up
- Slow technical support
- Filament might clog the extruder
9. FlashForge Finder 3D Printers – 3D Printers for Miniatures 2020
The Flasforge goes a step further in its quest to stand out from the competition with its slide-in build plate that allows printed objects to be removed easily, its full-color touchscreen with icons helps any user operate it with flawless ease. The build plate is non-heated, it gets better.
Throw in Wi-Fi, USB and flash drive connectivity and positioning, and you’re well on your way to becoming a 3D print connoisseur. The calibration is more precise and easier, the intuitive calibrating system helps you know when you’ve got it set upright. And it’s quiet, with a stable wireless connection.
- Easy to use
- Sturdy build
- Intuitive icons for a great print experience
- The precision print is impressive
- Bad technical support
- Lots of stringing
- Prints might not stick well
10. Dremel Digilab 3D45 3D Printer – The most expensive 3D Printer 2020
Of everyone on this list, this work of art tops the list in terms of price. Going for close to $1,899 on the market. This beast grabbed the PCMAG 2018 Editor’s Choice Award and its easy to see why. With its easily removable glass build plate and compatibility for both Windows and Mac.
With a 5-inch full-color touch screen with intuitive icons for easy setup and operation. Sturdy with a carbon filter and a particulate filer, wifi connectivity, built-in HD camera, and remote printing software so you can print from wherever you are, I think it’s safe to say this hits the spot!
- Easy to get parts off
- Easy to clean
- Heated bed enables Nylong and Eco-ABS print
- Print time on par with many of the best 3D printers
- Semi-auto leveling
- LED-backlit touch screen
- Does not accept aftermarket filament spools
- Slow technical support
- Extruder might become clogged
And for my pick of the day (can we have the drum roll please?) my money would be on: Elegoo Mars Uv Photocuring LCD 3D Printer, Yes, it’s messy and who would not expect a bit of that especially when you’re engaged in 3D printing, and yes, it’s a bit slow, well for good print quality, it’s supposed to be a bit slow. All in all, its ease of usage, and the attention that is paid to detail in ensuring your prints come out smooth, and with a nice finish is really important to consider when looking at what 3D printer to invest in.
Add the touchscreen which is large by the way, and easy to navigate and you’ve got yourself a winner that you’d definitely want to get down to business with any time of the week, and with its low maintenance, it means I don’t have to break the bank when something goes wrong. That is definitely a prize clincher for me, and why should it not be one for you? A downright beauty.
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