The emergence of 3D printers has created massive new opportunities for creators, engineers, and anyone else with a curious mind and a touch for technology. Recently, 3D printers have been used to create protective gear and medical devices concerning the coronavirus pandemic. 3D printers are quickly finding their ways into homes, workshops, classrooms, and offices, and their presence is likely to increase.
The range of opportunities created by 3D printing technology has created a diverse market for 3D printers with varying purposes, designs, and capabilities. Prices vary as well: some 3D printers are offered for a few hundred dollars, while others cost thousands. Creatives and hobbyists, therefore, are unlikely to use the same model printer as engineers, technicians, and prototypers.
Tom’s Guide provides a list of the best 3D printers of 2020 for an expansive range of users. This guide will highlight the 5 best printers based on price, speed, and intended use.
Best Introductory Printer for the Right Price
Features: High quality printing, quick printing speed
Price Range: $450 – $600
The Monoprice Voxel is the best 3D printer for those looking to get started in 3D printing without breaking the bank. The printing tray slides, making print removal easy, and the printer itself is enclosed to protect the print space from dust and foreign objects, making it ideal for office spaces, classrooms, and home workstations.
The Voxel is astonishingly speedy, reflective of 3D printers far beyond its price range, meaning that mistakes and adjustments are not detrimental to the workday. This and its other features make the Voxel the best printer for learning the craft. Find it here on Amazon.
LulzBot Mini 2
Best for Those Who Want to Step Up Their Game
Features: Quiet, lightning-fast printing from a range of printing materials
A step up from its predecessor, the Mini 2 does everything performed by the older model at a faster rate, without sacrificing print quality. The Mini 2 also accepts a wide range of materials for 3D printing.
This is a step up from printers like the Monoprice Voxel, and with that comes a significant price jump. The Mini 2 is admittedly more expensive than comparable models, but the printer is able to back up its price tag with extremely high quality prints. Look to buy the LulzBot Mini 2 to create noticeably improved prints. Find it here on Amazon.
XYZ da Vinci Nano
The 3D Printer for Bargain Hunters
Features: Simple, easy to use design
The XYZ da Vinci Nano is the best 3D printer for those looking to spend as little as possible. At just under $200, the Nano is unquestionably the highest-quality 3D printer for the lowest price. The compact size of the printer makes it especially useful for teachers and office workers looking to utilize 3D printing technology in an enclosed space.
The print area is closed off by a door to block out some of the noise, but know that opening the door does not halt the printing process. The Nano is slow to print, and falls short alongside its more expensive competition when it comes to speed, but its price and quality of print make it a go-to for small-scale operations. Find it here on Amazon.
The Printer for Enthusiasts
Features: High quality prints, supports a range of printing materials, easy-to-use software
The Ultimaker 3 is the printer for the creative pro-designer and the 3D printing enthusiast. While you’ll reach deep into your pockets for this one, its capabilities make it worth it.
The Ultimaker sports a large print area, with an option for an extended model with an even larger space. Its print quality is excellent, and its speed is reasonable. The software is simple to use and manage multiple prints, and allows for multi-colored printing with multiple printing materials. Designers looking to make something unique or niche should seriously consider investing in the Ultimaker 3 for high-quality complex designs. Find it here on Dynamism.
Toybox 3D Printer
The Printer for Casual Makers
Features: Prints toys and gadgets quickly, easy-to-use setup and software
Price: $469 (currently on sale at Toybox for $369)
The Toybox 3D Printer is the device for kids to flex their creative thinking and design skills for a decent price. Coming in at a lower price than comparable models, the Toybox is perfect for those looking for non-sophisticated, simple, and quick prints.
Prints are limited to about 3 inches on each side, making this printer design-specific to toys and small gadgets. But, this printer is easy to operate even when modifying existing designs or creating your own.
It is worth noting that the Toybox has exposed heated and moving parts that, if touched, could cause harm to the user and/or to the print. Still, with supervision for children and a careful touch, the Toybox is the best printer for making small devices and toys for kids. Find it here at the retailer’s site.
As previously mentioned, the market for 3D printers is massive and always expanding to cater to creators finding new ways to utilize the technology. As the market grows, 3D printers are very likely to become more and more common in everyday spaces as users find new ways to build, design, and create. We have already seen how 3D printers are aiding the fight against the coronavirus pandemic; it is almost certain that improvements in 3D printing technology have the power to revolutionize how things are produced both at home and on mass-production scales.