Archives April 2020

Fusion 360 vs Inventor Compared [Aug 2020]: Which is Best?

Fusion 360 vs Inventor Autodesk

Having a high-quality computer-aided drafting solution is critical for design, manufacturing, learning, and much more. Whether you’re a student or a professional, you need a tool like Fusion 360 vs Inventor that enables you to do the work you need to do.

As a hobbyist or a small business on a budget, you may also need a solution that is feature-rich without the cost, or you may need something that is compatible with your 3D printer and all of the other tools you use at home.

Fusion 360 and Inventor are two software programs commonly used for 3D printing (3D modeling software). They’re computer-aided drafting (CAD) software solutions made by Autodesk, but they’re both very different.

Autodesk Fusion takes an updated approach to CAD with other integrated tools and collaboration abilities that are useful for the modern designer. Inventor is an old system with recent upgrades that make it useful for traditional designers and large corporate manufacturing.

Bottom Line Up Front: For almost every user the more approachable, flexible and cost effective solution is going to be Fusion 360 here (free trial available). That said, if you are a commercial enterprise with manufacturing applications, Inventor is the ideal choice here (free trial available here)

Main Differences Between Fusion 360 vs Inventor

These are the main differences between Fusion 360 vsInventor are:

  • While Fusion 360 is a complete CAD, CAM, and CAE tool, Inventor is a traditional CAD software solution
  • While Fusion 360 comes with integrations allowing for commenting, revision histories, online and offline use, and much more, Inventory does not
  • Inventor does not have revolutionary collaboration capabilities, whereas the Fusion 360 does
  • Inventor only works on Microsoft operating systems, whereas the Fusion 360 is compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS

Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is an innovative CAD product that also incorporates CAM and CAE tools to bring your design software into the future. It was reimagined by the team at Autodesk after asking one simple question. If you could design a revolutionary CAD tool from scratch with everything you want, what would you build?

The result is Fusion 360. It keeps solid design tools from your existing CAD software, ditches everything you don’t need, and adds to the package everything that seems to be missing thus far. Fusion 360 also aids in the design and engineering process from beginning to end.

It enables collaborative development and intends to be the next generation Product Innovation Platform everyone will want to use. There are plenty of things that set it apart from other CAD software, so let’s take a look at why it’s so compelling.

Fusion 360 Features

Fusion 360 Features

Fusion 360 features ensure that the platform is integrated, connected, and accessible.

Designing

3D modeling and concept design are made possible by a top-down approach to your workflow. Using a single-model environment, you can create all unique parts and assemblies with existing library file format options. That means you can link your current design and make global changes of standard parts.

You can also start with an existing design and build it up or create designs from scratch because it incorporates direct and parametric modelling. Using a history-free mode gives you the ability to make simple edits when you don’t know what the final design looks like.

With history captured direct modelling, you can make direct edits to the design history or import CAD files (CAD file formats) from other vendors and make changes without using the native history of the original model.

Fusion 360 Prototyping

You can prepare prototypes or final parts with the 3D print preparation environment integrated into Fusion 360. Once you have a final design, you can program your design for 2-axis, 2.5-axis, or 3-axis CAM, all within the software. You can also create traditional drawings directly inside the platform.

Directly link all of your 3D print models, drawings, and CAM paths to your 3D model. When you update your model, everything updates at the same time, so last-minute changes aren’t a problem.

Integrated Simulation

The Fusion 360 model allows for the simulation of your design as you near completion, so you know the printed model will function properly. You can verify your design and minimize the number of physical mistakes you make, which saves you time and money, especially when you’re on a budget.

You can use any of the integrated rendering and FEA tools, motion studies, and assembly modeling to analyze your product design (advanced analytics methods and data collection) and make sure it works before you make it.

Furthermore, you can generate modal frequencies, static stress, thermal stress, structural buckling, and event simulation. Or do shape optimization studies without paying for the extra simulation software.

Fusion 360 Simulation

Document Management

If you work alone, you may not need to collaborate with others, but you can still take advantage of the onboard document management that Fusion 360 offers. It’s built into the platform and backed up to the cloud.

Every time you save your project, it creates a new version, so you have an audit trail and a history of changes. You can control all file permissions and track your project with renaming or restructuring at any time.

Create a project team and give them access to the files uploaded using the Fusion 360 document management web service. This includes markup, live review, and commenting. You can also give access to non CAD system users, and their access won’t be restricted or limited by the software they use.

This behavioral data management eliminates the need for database maintenance or checking in and out. You get complete permission control, version tracking, comments, linked documents, and everything else you need in a seamlessly controlled and coordinated environment.

Compatibility

Autodesk Fusion 360 runs on Windows, macOS, and your web browser. You can also download apps for both Android and iOS. Just choose the platform that works best for your design needs, or use multiple options for work, home, and on-the-go.

Because you can use Fusion 360 on your local device ID and on the cloud, you can run it conveniently from wherever you are. It works with or without an internet connection. However, connecting to the internet allows for support from the cloud with processor-intensive tasks, so you get the most performance out of your local hardware.

Fusion 360 vs Inventor

Signing Up

As with any other software program, you have to pay for it. The great thing about Fusion 360 is that there are no barriers to entry for a lot of people. However, it’s geared toward students and companies rather than individuals.

It’s free for students, startups, and companies that have less than $100,000 in revenue per year. Almost anyone can have access to high-quality tools for nothing if you fall into one of these categories.

For everyone else, you can have a 30 day trial of Fusion 360 just to see if you like it. After that, rental licenses are available on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. If you have an existing Autodesk account, this process is even easier.

After you sign up for Autodesk, you can download the software and begin using it right away. Enter the necessary information to get access to your trial or approval for a free subscription.

Running Fusion 360 requires minimal hardware and processing power, especially when you make use of the cloud support for backing up and storing files. You don’t need to purchase expensive hardware to run it.

You’ll always get a better user experience if you increase your memory or update your graphics card. Having a dedicated graphics card is always a good thing when you’re dealing with design software.

Summing Up Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is a revolutionary CAD tool that gives you the freedom to control every aspect of your design. From creating designs from scratch or manipulating imported files to running simulations and verifying the design before printing, you have everything you need in one place.

Take advantage of collaboration tools and cloud backups so you can manage all of your data without complicated database or server management. While it’s a program geared toward companies, individuals may find it useful as well, especially if you’re a student.

With the integrated tools, connectivity, and accessibility that Fusion 360 gives you, you’ll have all of the tools you need in a premium CAD software program that will serve you well into the future.

Inventor

Autodesk is known for providing great depth and functionality in their software programs, and Inventor is no different. You’ll get a lot of solutions that feature the ability to control your design and engineering experience all the way through simulation and manufacturing.

AutoDesk Inventor Features

Inventor Features

With Inventor, you’ll experience frequent updates, so your software is always up-to-date, giving you easier access to all of the tools you need. You’ll get new feature refreshes, feature testing, and updated user interfaces to make it easier.

Autodesk Inventor Upgrades

The inventor has the benefit of being around a long time, so it’s perfected its features over time, Autodesk has plenty of experience poured into this software solution, but with frequent redesigns, you still get a modern-looking platform.

Mobile compatibility is an upgraded feature of today, and the Inventor handles it with ease. You can work on your local hardware or take advantage of the mobile workstation and features. They’ve also introduced a light mode because sometimes the dark mode is too hard to see.

The sweep functionality allows you to sweep a solid along any path, giving you a major upgrade over sweeping a 2D profile. You can sweep 3D geometric forms as well. This gives you the ability to model complex linear or rotary mechanisms and maintain form.

A 3D form driving feature allows you to create objects with the functionality you want while a panel approach allows you to switch back and forth between your sketch and a feature without exiting any operations.

Autodesk Inventor User Experience

The user interface provides additional support for monitor setups so you can customize your desktop workflow the way you need it. You can drag your Inventor frames onto other monitors or expand the frame to span it across monitors, depending on your preferences.

By dragging to other monitors, you can have more than one file open at once for simultaneous design work and easy switching back and forth from one project to another.

Designing

The inventor provides tools for both solid and surface modelling. They also have an increasing set of tools for surface style, free-form, and sub-divisional modelling. You can also create and edit these forms with ease using Inventor tools.

What Inventor does better than a lot of other CAD tools is to offer an unwrapping tool so you can estimate blank size and form along with the ability to fold parts. You can select continuous faces, lock edges, and mark edges as rigid. You’re left with a convenient profile design you can use in other downstream applications

Autodesk Inventor Design Automation

Compatibility

Performance is always a concern when dealing with large file types. Inventor is releasing improvements in 2020 that will speed up load times. Their focus is on improving operations and actions that make it run leaner and more efficiently.

That also means that you’ll see an improvement in your workflow because operations and actions will be easier for you, involving fewer clicks to get where you need to be. Every project follows a similar path, from 2D and 3D modeling sketches to a more intricate framework.

You can establish standard forms or use forms you’ve already created as a base for your project, or you can start your design from scratch.

To use Inventor, you need the Microsoft machine. It doesn’t work on macOS, so it’s geared more toward traditional designers using older technologies. However, it does integrate with the Autodesk online app for backup storage and collaboration.

Signing Up

You need to sign up for Autodesk in order to download Inventor. However, signing up for an Autodesk account if you don’t already have one is easy and free. The inventor comes with a 30 day free trial for anyone who likes to try it before they buy it.

After your trial, you can subscribe for a monthly or yearly plan, or you can pay for a three-year subscription. You can also bundle your Inventor software with other useful tools like AutoCAD, Inventor CAM, and Inventor Nastran.

There are no free subscriptions for students, startups, or small businesses, but Inventor isn’t as expensive as a lot of other CAD software solutions, so the subscription cost is a bit more manageable.

Inventor Designs

Summing Up Autodesk Inventor

The inventor doesn’t have a lot of the feature-rich collaboration tools that Fusion 360 does. It’s an older system that’s been continually upgraded over time. The new 2020 release will implement some great usability and workflows with upgraded tools that a lot of designers need.

The inventor has more traditional engineering and manufacturing tools with deeper, more mature functionality. It’s a system meant for heavy commercial design and manufacturing. What you’ll find in recent upgrades are new efficiencies, workflow consolidation, and evolving tools that make it well worth purchasing.

More So than expensive brand new technologies, Inventor provides increased efficiencies and redesigned workflows to make your work much faster and easier to do. You also might be able to take advantage of some bundles that give you both systems and several others for an excellent value.

You can empower your workflows with much more than the feature-rich Inventor and also take advantage of some evolutionary features with Fusion 360 at the same time when bundling your purchase.

Autodesk Inventor vs Fusion 360 Comparison Chart

Here are some of the direct comparisons that may help you make a decision when purchasing your next CAD software solution

 

Fusion 360

Inventor

Compatibility

Windows, macOS, Android, iOS

Windows

Mobility

   

Bundle

No

Yes, with Fusion 360, AutoCAD, Inventor Nastram, and Inventor CAM

Manufacturer

Autodesk

Autodesk

Import from other CAD platforms

Yes

Yes

Collaborate with other users

Yes

Yes, but other tool integrations required

Subscriptions

Monthly, quarterly, yearly

Monthly, yearly, every three years

Price

Starts at $60 monthly, free for students, startups, and small businesses

Starts at $250 monthly

Free trial

30 days

30 days

Designing from scratch

Yes

Yes

Designing from form libraries

Yes

Yes

Product simulation

Yes

Yes

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about these two software platforms and how they work.

Will Fusion 360 replace Inventor?

Fusion 360 is Autodesk’s flagship CAD tool. They pulled out all the stops to create something more versatile and modern. It has the mobility and compatibility features that most need to do their work. Not to mention, it’s perfect for students or small businesses on a limited income.

The goal is for Fusion 360 to replace the Inventor eventually. However, a lot of traditional designers aren’t ready to move to the cloud-based platform offered by Fusion 360. They prefer the deeper, richer tools that Inventory has to offer.

Is Inventor better than AutoCAD?

The inventor has tools that are built for computer-aided design. You can create Inventor drawings as DWG files that you can edit in AutoCAD, so it increases your collaboration potential with users who have AutoCAD software.

However, the Inventor eliminates the need for AutoCAD, especially with choosing the bundle that includes a subscription to AutoCAD as well. You certainly don’t need both, but if you like to have both, you can bundle them for additional savings.

Is Fusion 360 still free for hobbyists?

Fusion 360 offers a free subscription for up to three years for students and up to one year for small businesses. This includes hobbyists. You don’t have to own a business to use Fusion 360 for free, but it’s not free forever.

What is Autodesk Inventor used for?

Inventor allows you to create 3D mechanical designs. You can also enable design communication and collaboration as well as product simulation. It’s a 3D mechanical solid modelling design software used to create 3D digital prototypes for CAD user applications. It’s generally used on a commercial or professional scale and isn’t a great solution for hobbyists.

The Verdict: Fusion 360 or Inventor?

While Fusion 360 and Inventor are both made by Autodesk (Autodesk product family), they’re used for very different modeling things. Fusion 360 is a feature-rich, modern software solution that’s compatible with several operating systems. It revolutionizes the way you collaborate on files and has the ability to work both offline on your local hardware or online for cloud backup.

Fusion 360 is great for students, hobbyists (3D printing specifically), and small businesses. The price point makes it more accessible to all, and it is intended to replace the Autdodesk Inventor software someday.

The inventor has deeper, richer tools that are preferred by traditional designers, but it doesn’t have the same hardware compatibility or mobile design solutions as Fusion 360. Inventor is typically used for commercial manufacturing purposes.

It’s more expensive, but the depth of the Autodesk software platform is needed for intensive design on a large business scale. However, it offers bundles to give you better value, and you can purchase Inventor with Fusion 360 and other integrations that make it more versatile and increase your usability.

Bottom Line: For almost every user the more approachable, flexible and cost effective solution is going to be Fusion 360 here (free trial available). That said, if you are a commercial enterprise with manufacturing applications, Inventor is the ideal choice here (free trial available here)

Fusion 360 and Inventor are both great solutions to your CAD program modeling needs, but make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for and exactly what you need before you make an investment.

Further Research on 3D CAD Tools & 3D Generative Design

If you enjoyed this comparison, you might also like to see our take on:

Best 3D Printer for Cosplay [2020]: Cosplay 3D Printer Guide

Cosplayers are a passionate bunch. They are willing to spend a lot of money to come up with bigger, better, more elaborate, and more intricate costumes at every cosplay event. Money.com reports that some enthusiasts spend more than $1,000 on one costume alone. What’s more, around three out of four cosplayers buy anywhere from one to four costumes a year.

The thing is, it is rather challenging to find cosplay costumes at retailers.  For some people, they have the option to buy from a costume or props maker. Others prefer to use 3D printing for their cosplay needs. And with all the choices out there, we can understand how daunting choosing a 3D printer can be.

How to find the best 3D printer for cosplay?

You will need to consider the building capacity, filaments supported, and price of different 3D printers for you to decide on the best one for your needs.

If you’re new to cosplaying or 3D printing, don’t worry, we will lay it all down for you to easily understand what you need to look for.

These are the best 3D printers for cosplay in 2020:

  1. Ultimaker 2 3D Printer [Best Overall]
  2. Monoprice Maker Select Plus [Best Affordable]
  3. Ultimaker s5 3D Printer [Best Large Format]
  4. Raise3D Pro2 Plus [Best Dual Extruder]
  5. Dremel Digilab 3D20 Idea Builder [Best Fully Enclosed]
  6. Anycubic Photon [Best Small Format Highly Detailed]

But First, What Are You Printing?

3d printer

The first rule of any purchase is to know what you’re going to do with it. With 3D printers, it helps to know what kind of items you intend to create. You should be able to answer these questions:

  • How big is the design?
  • How durable should it be?
  • Where are you going to use it?

Once you have a clear idea of the things that you are going to print, you can then check out what types of 3D printers you will need for your cosplay costumes and props. To choose the best one for your needs, you will need to consider the building capacity, the filaments that the printer supports, and the price.

Build Capacity: The Size of Prints You Can Produce on a 3D Printer

Cosplay costumes are wearable, so you probably need a 3D printer that has a large build volume (print volume). Unfortunately, most home 3D printers can only handle smaller build sizes. Buying a 3D printer with big build sizes means that you have fewer welds in your cosplay costume. The fewer welds that you have, the more durable your costume or props will be.

There are, however, some options, such as the ADIMLab Updated Gantry Pro 3D Printer, which can handle maximum build sizes of 12.2 by 12.2 by 16.1 inches. The ADIMLab 3D printer has a lattice glass platform and comes almost wholly assembled. It can handle different kinds of plastic, soft rubber, metal, and other types of materials.

People who own this 3D printer likes the fast build times, the affordable price, and the excellent print quality. The technical and customer support is also a plus, while others note that it is easy to use. This printer sells for less than $400, making it one of the most affordable 3D printers that can handle big builds.

You can also consider the Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 3D Printer, which sells for significantly more at around $1,300. This printer, however, has a smaller build size at 7.9 by 7.9 by 7.3 inches. What makes it pricier are the advanced features like the embedded camera that allows you to view what is being printed from your laptop, smart devices, or PC. It also has a touch screen menu as well as WiFi connectivity.

Another option you have is the Creality CR-10 V2 3D Printer, which sells for less than $550. It can handle build volumes of up to 11.8 by 11.8 by 15.7 inches. This easy to use 3D printer has a user-friendly interface and has rapid prototyping features. It’s tough and durable with its all-metal frame plus it has excellent print quality.

Small Build Capacity for Details

However, if you are planning to use your 3D printer for the fine details, check out the home 3D printers that can do the job but are generally more affordable. For example, there’s the ELEGOO Mars 3D Printer Liquid Resin which sells for less than $300.

Even at that price, you can create intricate and elaborate designs with your prints. The printer has a 2,560 by 1,440 2K high-definition layer resolution. It’s also quite fast, printing at 22.5 millimetres per hour. That’s equivalent to printing a 30-megabyte STL 3D model in just one minute. You can print objects as large as 4.7 by 2.7 by 6.1 inches.

The 3D printer uses an industrial steel ball design that makes it easy for you to use. It also features a large touch screen that allows for easy and quick operation. Some of the designs you can pull off with this 3D printer are found in this video:

Another 3D printer that you can buy is the ANYCUBIC Photon UV LCD 3D Printer, which is highly praised for its superior print quality. This printer is best for small builds up to 4.5 by 2.6 by 6.1 inches (also available with liquid resin additive manufacturing capability).

If you have any need for highly detailed costume parts, you would want this printer’s high accuracy, smoother quality, and speed. You can also print several models on one build plate without taking up too much time.

How much detail is possible with the Anycubic Photon to 3D print cosplay? See it for yourself:

Filament Type

When creating a 3D printed cosplay costume or prop, you would probably need to print in different colours and filament types to achieve the look that you want. The type of filament you use is going to affect the durability or strength of your cosplay costume, parts, props, or armour.

Filament Type PLA ABS PETT TPE Nylon PC
Strength High High High Medium High Very
Flexibility Low Medium Medium Very High Medium
Durability Medium High High Very High Very High
Easy to use Yes Medium Yes Yes Medium Medium
Print temperature range (°C) 180 – 230 210 – 250 220 – 250 210 – 230 240 – 260 270 – 310
Print bed temperature range (°C) 20 – 60 80 – 110 50 – 75 30 – 60 70 – 100 90 – 110
Shrinkage/warping Minimal Yes Minimal Minimal Yes Yes
Soluble No Yes No No No No

From this table, you will find that only ABS plastic is soluble: you can dissolve it in acetone, ester, or ketone. If you need the cosplay prop to be very durable, use polycarbonate filament.

If you are going to use TPE, make sure to consider that the finished print may not be as durable as when you use other materials. On the other hand, you can use TPE if you need your print to be flexible, whereas PLA filaments often produce stiff prints. Furthermore, some filaments might be easier to use than others. Now let’s take a look at each filament type more closely.

PLA

hatchbox

Polylactic acid is a very popular filament for 3D printing enthusiasts. It’s easier to print and it needs a low printing temperature. Plus, it does not need a heating bed and also does not emit bad odours when you print.

PLA is available in a wide variety of colours. It is also biodegradable. However, PLA can be quite brittle, so you should not use it for movable cosplay parts, or those that might be dropped or twisted. PLA also deforms when temperatures rise to at least 60 °C.

These types of filaments have a very attractive price. For instance, the HATCHBOX PLA 3D Printer Filament sells for around $23 and you get one kilogram of odour-free 3D printing material that doesn’t warp as much as other materials.

ABS

abs filament

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is another widely used filament for 3D printing, and it’s better than PLA in some ways. This material is used for LEGO bricks and some bicycle helmets.

ABS prints are very durable and they can withstand hot temperatures. The downsides of this are that you will need to print on a heated bed so that it doesn’t warp during cooling. Print with ABS filaments can also be a problem because it emits a very bad odour.

You can buy these HATCHBOX PLA 3D Printer Filament for less than $25 and get 12 different colours and an 80 stencil ebook. All in all, you have 240 linear feet of a filament made only from the finest and premium grade material.

HATCHBOX PLA 3D Printer Filament
$18.99
The HATCHBOX PLA 3D Printer Filament offers one kilogram of odour-free 3D printing material that doesn't warp as much as other materials at a great price!
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/31/2020 11:10 am UTC

PETG

overture

Polyethylene terephthalate is better known as polymer and is widely used in the manufacture of water bottles. A type of PET, called PETG, is now used for 3D printing.

PETG, where the G stands for glycol-modified, can absorb moisture from the air. This property means that if you don’t print in a dry and cool place, the quality of your print might now be as good as you hoped it to be. It also scratches easily.

Overture Clear PETG Filament sells for less than $25 and you get a kilogram of the material. It’s clog-free and bubble-free and doesn’t tangle as much.

Overture Clear PETG Filament
$19.99
Overture Clear PETG Filament is a TOP fillament Option. You get a kilogram of the material, and it's clog-free and bubble-free, plus, doesn't tangle as much.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/31/2020 10:10 pm UTC

TPE

priline

Thermoplastic elastomers are very flexible because of their rubber-like characteristics. They are also very durable and have been used for household appliances, shoes, and medical supplies.

TPE filaments are soft and easy to stretch. If you need something flexible for your cosplay costume, this is the filament to use. However, TPE can be more challenging to extrude and might be a bit harder to control. Printing with TPE may also take longer than when you use other filaments.

You can also use thermoplastic polyurethane, such as the Priline Yellow TPU Filament, which is both elastic and soft. The rubber-like characteristics make it ideal for flexible props. This product is harder than TPE, which makes it easier to extrude.

Priline Yellow TPU Filament
$24.99
The Priline Yellow TPU Filament is not only a very soft and elastic filament but also its rubber-like construction is PERFECT for flexible creations.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/31/2020 10:10 pm UTC

Nylon

dremel nylon

You should use nylon filaments for printing parts that require flexibility, durability, and strength. Another benefit of using nylon is that you don’t have to buy different varieties for your cosplay costumes: you can just dye each one before you print.

However, it does absorb moisture from the air, which means you will need to print in a cool and dry area for you to make sure that your costumes are in the best possible quality. Further, nylon filaments tend to be more expensive than other types of filament.

Check out the Dremel Nylon 3D Printer Filament. This filament has very minimal rough edges when printed and can have a very durable and stable print. It promises flexibility and durability, more than what you can get from other filaments.

Dremel Nylon 3D Printer Filament
$34.99
The Dremel Nylon 3D Printer Filament has the flexibility your creation needs but promising a very durable quality with very minimal rough edges when printed.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/31/2020 09:10 pm UTC

Polycarbonate

polymaker pc-max

You can also use polycarbonate filaments, which is probably the strongest in this list. It’s resistant to heat and impact. Polycarbonate can withstand high temperatures up to 100 degrees Celsius.

This is a very strong and durable filament, with medium flexibility. Polycarbonate is transparent, which is why it’s widely used in bulletproof glass and scuba masks. Polycarbonate, however, absorbs moisture from the air. It can also be somewhat difficult to use, too, and it’s not as flexible as TPU.

A product like the Polymaker PC-Max 3D Printer Filament allows you to have stronger, harder, and easier prints.

Aside from these filaments, there are also special types that give your prints a different look. There are wood-filled PLA filaments that have wood fibres in them. You can also check out metal filaments such as gold or bronze. There are also biodegradable filaments for those who are environmentally conscious and conductive ones for electronic projects.

Polymaker PC-Max 3D Printer Filament
The Polymaker PC-Max 3D Printer Filament is one of the strongest materials in the Market. GREAT for the hardest pieces.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

So what are the best

Which 3D Printers Should You Buy

monoprice maker

Different 3D printers support different kinds of filaments. Choose one that supports the type of filament that you want and, if possible, choose a 3D printer that can support several types of filaments.

The Monoprice Maker Ultimate 2 3D Printer works with just about any filament. You can use PLA, PLA Plus, ABS, ABS Plus, TPU, PET, TPE, metal, and wood fill filaments with this 3D printer. It also has an auto-levelling bed that guarantees that the first few layers of your prints stick together. It also has a removable glass build plate and filament detector (sometimes referred to as a filament sensor). It costs around $550.

If that price point is too much for your budget, then you can check out the Monoprice MP10 Mini 3D Printer, with its assisted levelling bed and resume printing function. It works with PLA, ABS, PETG, nylon, wood and metal fill.

Monoprice Maker Select Plus
$389.99

The large heated bed, LCD touchscreen, and MicroSD card loaded with printable models make the Monoprice Maker Select Plus a worthwhile purchase.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/31/2020 10:09 pm UTC

Price

As you have noticed, most of the 3D printers we have recommended so far are priced moderately. However, there are cosplayers who are working under a tight budget. Some beginners might also like to test out 3D printers first before committing to a more expensive one. Check out the XYZprinting da Vinci miniMaker 3D Printer, which sells for less than $200.

Even at that price, it has everything you’d want in a 3D printer. It’s easy to use and can handle PLA, PETG, and tough PLA. You can buy an optional extruder so that you can print with carbon fibre and metallic PLA. It also features an auto-levelling bed and printing speeds of up to 120 millimetres per second.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are professional custom makers that will want the convenience of getting a 3D printer that can print large objects while also having other nifty features. It has a sizable build capacity at 22.3 by 22.3k by k20.5 inches.

The Ultimaker 2+ 3D Printer sells with a whopping $2,500 price tag. It offers four different nozzle sizes from 0.25 to 0.80 millimetres that you can swap out to obtain better details with a speedy print. It also has a resolution of 20 microns.

Other Things You Should Look for

There are some other technical features that you should consider. For example, you want a 3D printer with high print resolutions and fast print speed. You will also want to choose an auto-levelling print bed for your 3D printer. If you plan to use different filaments, you should choose a 3D printer that has a higher maximum temperature for the bed and nozzle.

Easy to Use

Another criterion for the best 3D printer for cosplayers to buy is how easy it is to use. The good news is that there are a lot of printers out there that are quite intuitive to use so there’s not much of a learning curve for you. There are some basics that you should know, however, such as how to control the temperature, filament consumption, and print speed.

Expect to have a bit of challenging first days: you can’t be expected to have perfect prints the first time around.

FAQ’s About 3D Printers

What is the best 3D printer for cosplay?

The best 3D printer for cosplay would largely depend on what you need. If you need one that can handle large builds, then get the ADIMLab Updated Gantry Pro 3D Printer or the Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 3D Printer. Or you can splurge on industrial-grade 3D printers.

For those who are sticklers for details, get the ELEGOO Mars 3D Printer or the ANYCUBIC Photon UV LCD 3D Printer. Both of these 3D printers have very high accuracy and speed. The prints they make have a good level of detail.

For those who make their own costumes, it helps to have a 3D printer that is compatible with a lot of different filament types. The Monoprice Maker Ultimate 2 3D Printer is ideal for this purpose.

What size 3D printer do I need?

According to Tom’s Guide, you should choose a 3D printer with a build area of 5 x 5 x 5 inches. This size is good enough for most prints that you have to make.

However, if you are planning to build armours and larger pieces, buy something with a bigger build capacity.

Can you 3D print an armour?

Yes. And here are some tutorials to help you do it.

How much does it cost to 3D print a helmet?

It depends on the type of filament you use, and whether you already have a 3D printer at home. According to several enthusiasts, you can expect to spend anywhere from $750 to $2,000 to 3D print a helmet.

The more important question, however, is whether it’s a good idea to 3D print a helmet. The answer seems to be leaning towards a “no” because of the prohibitive costs, the need for a 3D printer with large print areas, and how the helmet might be too brittle for frequent wear.

Looking for the Best 3D Printer for Cosplay Is Now Easier

Having a clear budget and knowing what you’re planning to print will help you choose the best 3D printer. Fortunately, there are now several products available that you can choose the best one for you.

After choosing the best 3D printer that supports the filaments you want to use and falls within your budget, you should also look at how easy it is to use. And then finally, look at the technical details to figure out if it has the print resolution and printing speed you want.

Recommended Reads:

Autocad vs Revit [2020]: Which Is The Right Choice?

Autodesk’s two powerhouse design programs, AutoCAD and Revit, are on their way to conquering the design world.

AutoCAD is the broadly applicable geometry-driven traditional drafting program that’s grown a lot since its 1982 beginnings; Revit is the powerhouse 3D modeler that gives you real-world information about your design before you build a stick of it. 

Bottom Line Up Front Summary: Overall, AutoCAD is the better program as it combines both the 2D and 3D functionality as well as the compatibility across various platforms that Revit doesn’t have. You can sign up for a free AutoCAD trial here.

But how do they compare to each other? 

Main Differences Between AutoCAD vs Revit

The Main Differences Between AutoCAD and Revit are:

  • AutoCAD has a geometric CAD approach, whereas Revit has a 3D modeling CAD approach.
  • AutoCAD covers a lot of industry functions, whereas Revit focuses on building design industries.
  • AutoCAD gives you data based on your design objects, whereas Revit gives you data on the construction of your models.
  • AutoCAD is considered best for 2D drawing, whereas Revit is better for modeling and getting cost estimates
  • AutoCAD is more flexible to use, whereas the Revit platform is more rigid.
  • Autocad is available on both Windows and Mac computers as well as mobile devices, whereas Revit is only available on Windows operating systems
  • AutoCAD is more difficult and time-consuming for modification of projects, whereas Rivet makes it easy.
Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

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AutoCAD: The Basics

If you’ve done any education or professional industrial design work, chances are you’ve used AutoCAD. It was released in 1982 as the first computer-aided drafting tool available for home computers, which created a surge in accessibility for design software.

With a concentration on 2D drafting, its functionalities have grown with technology advances and user needs to add 3D components such as 3D capabilities, industry-specific modules, and ways to enhance teamwork. 

autocad review

Type of CAD Geometry driven models
Type of Design 2D driven but also capable of 3D 
Computer Operating System Compatibility Windows, Mac
Price Subscription-based: $210 per month, $1,690 per year, or $4,565 per three years
File Extension .dwg, .dxf 
Industry Usage Architectural design, electrical engineering, civil planning, mechanical design, graphic design
Supports mobile? Yes

AutoCAD: The Advantages

  • Precise line work for 2D geometries. If you want a computer-aided drafting tool that gives you complete control over 2D drawing, Autodesk AutoCAD remains the first and best choice. Its extensive number of ways to manipulate geometries means you can use it to design anything you want, which makes it great for anyone that’s an architect (or anyone else) who is starting from the beginnings of an idea. This amount of detail users have is often pointed out as the feature that makes AutoCAD so intimidating to learn, but once you’ve got a solid grasp of it, you’ll be rewarded with all the tools you need and more. 
  • Flexibility for 3D objects. Although it started as a 2D program, AutoCAD has added a solid (pun intended) 3D component to its design features as well. And just like with its original use, AutoCAD puts a large amount of control into your hands when you’re designing in 3D. Its surface, mesh, and solid tools let you customize your 3D CAD models beyond strict confines of the parameters with which you started. That’s the beauty of AutoCAD’s reliance on geometries – because you use them as pure shapes, there are no preconceived usage limits, which means you can let your imagination go as wild as it wants while you design.   
  • Workspace customization. Users always complain that AutoCAD’s steep learning curve comes from its huge array of tools and features, and although they’re not wrong, much of that can be cleared up as soon as you figure out what you need for a job. To keep your workspace manageable without compromising its comprehensiveness, AutoCAD lets you create customized tool ribbons and work areas. You do need to have a working knowledge of what’s available as well as what your specific job entails, but once you’ve figured that out it’s super easy to jump right in.  
  • Integration of PDF files and cloud viewing for sharing. Taking a design all the way to the finish line often requires a team – sometimes of people working halfway across the world from each other, with different time zones and computer accessibilities. Fortunately, AutoCAD has a number of options to keep coworkers in sync. One of their big steps forward is AutoCAD’s ability to change PDF files into their proprietary .dwg file type, so that if original designs need to be tweaked or referenced, their PDF versions can be read and edited by AutoCAD users. This is great for accessing archives and keeping versions locked until they get to the right person to edit. AutoCAD also offers a cloud-based viewing feature, which lets more than one user view a CAD file at the same time. Although group same-time editing isn’t possible, being able to study and discuss a draft at the same time is a vital preparation step in making your design the same kind of flawless that everyone agrees on.  

autocad vs revit

AutoCAD: The Disadvantages 

Some of Autodesk AutoCAD’s advantages can be flipped around to become inconveniences depending on what you’re using the software for; however, there are a few flaws in the system that affect most of the design jobs you’ll be doing.

  • Steep learning curve. Yes, you can customize the tools and feature ribbons you see when you open AutoCAD; yes, that makes it less intimidating than the full scope of its offerings. But before you know which ones you need to curate, you’ll need to climb AutoCAD’s notoriously steep learning curve to find out how everything works to see what will suit you best. It’s not easy, and if you don’t have the right teacher or guiding material, it can get enormously frustrating. However, since this is a universal issue for AutoCAD users, there are a lot of self-pacing courses and training packages you can find around the internet, whether from Autodesk’s own training site, its AutoCAD user community, or an outside CAD educator. Connecting with someone who can show you around will make all the difference as you learn.
  • Unsynced layering. AutoCAD’s layer system is great for tending to every detail needed while designing new parts. Unfortunately, that layering feature does not automatically sync edits or changes to all of the design, requiring users to manually make sure it’s replicated everywhere it should be for the full effect. Teams especially have to be super vigilant and 100% updated across the board so one individual’s work on the wrong draft doesn’t cost the rest of the group time or money needed for painstaking corrections.
  • Manual entry of component information. The empty geometries you work within AutoCAD are blank slates, which means they could be anything you want them to be. Great for the imagination, terrible for consistent component information across your designs. You have to manually type in specifics for each part even if they represent aspects or measurements you work with on a regular basis. You can mitigate this somewhat by buying one of AutoCAD’s industry-specific modules, but even then, you won’t be completely covered, and if you’re not designing in one of their represented industries, you’re still out of luck. 
Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

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Revit: The Basics

Revit is a different type of CAD software. It’s called a Building Information Modeling program, and that means it creates a 3D model of a building complete with details about the physical properties and how each component interacts with each other.

Because of the wealth of information it automatically generates, this type of CAD software is very popular in architecture, construction, and city planning industries – making it a fairly direct competitor to AutoCAD, even though Revit is also issued by Autodesk. 

Revit Review

Type of CAD Building information modeling (BIM)
Type of Design 3D modeling
Computer Operating System Compatibility Windows only
Price Subscription-based: $305 per month, $2,425 per year, or $6,550 per three years
File Extension RVT, RFA, RTE, RFT (Revit native); DGN, DWF, DWG, DXF, IFC, SAT, and SKP (CAD); BMP, PNG, JPG, JPEG, and TIF (image); ODBC, HTML, TXT, and gbXML (other)
Industry Usage Architecture, civil planning, construction
Supports mobile? No

Revit: The Advantages

Revit software represents a powerful new stage in CAD programs. It’s got a number of BIM features that make it a favorite of users who are involved in structure management. 

  • All model information integrated. Unlike AutoCAD, Revit does not require a user to work in separate layers for each component of a design. Revit lets you work on a 3D model while automatically generating multiple viewpoints, translating changes across all aspects, and allowing multiple users to work on the same design at once. These behind-the-scene tools let you concentrate on creating without worrying whether the rest of your design will catch up. It’s also a great teamwork feature since all the changes and information are contained in the live Revit model file rather than separate layers. 
  • Extensive automatic building information. Speaking of important information, Revit automatically generates information about your design as you’re making it that you can easily leverage into price estimates, material amounts you’ll need in the real world, and how those materials will hold up with each other. And if any of these get changed at any point in the design process, so will this information. It’s like you’re building a Revit model with real materials, which takes away a lot of the guesswork and the compensations for that guesswork when you move into the next phase. 
  • Simplifies maintenance and upgrades. Because of the dynamic way changes are automatically integrated across a design, plus its wealth of building info, Revit makes keeping up building and structures easy as well. As a user, you have access to its design archives feature, which means you can store plans in the cloud and grab them whenever they’re needed to update or reference. All that information will be right there waiting for you whenever you need it.
  • Performance analysis. Revit also gives users access to performance analyses of their designs in real-world conditions. In addition to testing how a model works as a general building – how it holds together under stress, how its materials age together, etc – you can use this information for testing the environmental friendliness of your design. Power efficiencies and other measurements can directly lead to construction that is better for both the builders and the earth, which lets everybody win. 
  • Easier to learn. According to users, Revit is easier to learn than AutoCAD because of its cleaner interface. Revit’s automated integration of processes that are separate in AutoCAD also makes it simpler to jump right into its processes.

autocad vs revit comparison

Revit: The Disadvantages

Although Revit has been advertised as more powerful than AutoCAD, it does have its drawbacks. Here are the details on a few that you should know about before investing in Revit.

  • Operates on Windows only. Revit’s OS limitation makes it harder to share designs that are inherently going to need a lot of teamwork. If your coworkers, investors, or anyone working from your Revit designs use a Mac, they’re going to have to find a computer with Windows to view your plans. While that may not be a breaking point for you, it’s definitely worth knowing before you buy to make sure it won’t interfere with your workflow.
  • Higher price. Compared to AutoCAD, subscriptions to Revit are uniformly more expensive. Its three-year plan is still the best option, but it’s going to run you about $1,000 more than AutoCAD’s. Do the calculations to see if you can handle that kind of up-front cost before you make your final decision. 
  • Narrower industry focus. Revit’s biggest drawback is its narrow industry focus. Although it displays an amazing array of functions for architecture, city planning, and other construction-based design areas, it gives subpar if any coverage for industries that aren’t connected to those. It’s a very specialized software compared to AutoCAD, and as such it doesn’t have nearly the occupational reach. If you’re not sure what area of design you want to go in, it might suit you better to learn a more general program first. 

Exploring Autocad and Revit Features

autocad

Both Autocad and Revit have many similar features. If you are using either of these pieces of software to create models, designs, and concepts, these are the key functions that you will find.

Drawing and design

Creating drawings and models is the main purpose of using software such as Autocad and Revit. These models are then ultimately used as plans for real-life engineering and construction drawings and can also be used for things such as 3D printing as well.

Autocad is very similar to drawing on a piece of paper in that it is mainly used for 2D lines and you have a lot of freedom over the designs you draw. It allows for a number of methods in which you can manipulate geometrics and create accurate drawings.

So if you need a tool that allows for free form drawing Autocad is perfect. It also has 3D functionality. Even though this is not what it was originally intended for, Autocad has evolved over the years to incorporate the design of 3D models.

Revit is a bit different in that it doesn’t have the same freeform creativity as Autocad. Revit is more focused on what is known as building information modeling or BIM. This is where you use tools to create 3D models of buildings and other concepts which are mainly used in construction.

It doesn’t offer the same free form drawing and freedom as Autocad but it offers real-time information. For example, if modeling a building on Revit software you will get data on materials needed, how they interact with each other, and price estimates too.

Workflow

The workflow and the way in which each design phase is linked is different with Autocad and Revit too. When working with a small or large team on a project, keeping the workflow open and collaboration easy is important.

Autocad’s setup means that you will need to draw each part of your design separate so the workflow is a bit more disjointed. It is a form of free drawing because each section isn’t linked to one another. Essentially you need to work in separate layers for your design with Autocad.

Revit has a different workflow. With Revit, each stage of the design that you make is automatically linked to the previous one to create a more consistent and joined-up approach to modeling and drawing. It relies less on ‘stages’ of the workflow process and more on creating a joined-up and connected design.

autodesk revit

Modifications

Modifying designs, models and certain parts within a drawing is pretty common with these types of tools and both allow for modifications.

Modifications with Autocad can be pretty difficult or rather it is massively time-consuming. This is because each part has to be modified individually. There is also the issue that modifications to designs don’t update automatically across all views on Autocad. If one part of the model is changed then it generally has to be manually updated across different teams that are working on it.

Revit provides a much easier and straightforward way to make modifications. If something is changed on Revit it will update automatically across all existing views so there isn’t the need for manual updating. This is related to the workflow. As Revit considers the design as a ‘whole’ whereas Autocad has a more disjointed approach, anything that is modified in Revit will be reflected across the board.

Platforms

Companies and individuals that use this type of software are not just operating it on the one platform all the time. You may need to use modeling software on different operating systems or access it on the move.

The great thing about Autocad is that it can be used on several different platforms such as Windows and Mac devices. It also has a mobile app as well. This is one area where Autocad really excels and it is a lot more accessible across various platforms. You can get cloud storage available as well.

Revit platform is only available on Windows operating systems. It makes it a bit more restrictive in this sense as you don’t have as many options for using this on different OS or on a mobile device. However, you can also get cloud storage with Revit if you need to access designs at another location.

Comparing Autocad vs Revit Pricing

Both of these pieces of software offer 30-day free trial options which can help you get to grips with the software and they also offer monthly, yearly, or 3 yearly subscription options.

Autocad costs $1690 for a yearly subscription per user license. You can also choose to buy a monthly license for $210 per month or get a license to use Autocad for 3 years which costs $4565 in total. When you purchase Autocad, you also get a range of other tools such as AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD MEP, AutoCAD Plant 3D, and AutoCAD Raster Design. You can also use Autocad via their mobile app.

Revit is more expensive than Autocad and the cost of a yearly subscription is $2425 for a standalone license. You can also take out a monthly subscription for Revit that costs $305 while there is the option of a 3 yearly license as well which costs $6550. Revit is only available on Windows operating systems so there isn’t a mobile app or Mac version.

If you are a student it is possible to get free access to both Autocad and Revit, however, commercial and professional organizations have to pay the license fee.

Autocad vs Revit ease of use

house

Neither Autocad or Revit is really ‘straight out the box’ pieces of software that someone with no experience in design, modeling, or drawing is going to pick up and be able to use straight away. However, for people who do have some experience with this field, there are differences in the usability between the two products.

Autocad can be a bit harder to use as the interface isn’t as straightforward and the fact that it is designed with separate processes means it is more difficult to get to grips with initially. You don’t necessarily need to have years of experience to grasp its functionality but it can appear very confusing at the start.

The one big advantage Autocad has is its Custom User Interface Editor. This means you can customize the workspace within Autocad so you have it the way you want which can make using the program much easier once you get to grips with the basics.

Revit is a much more data-intensive program which can make it harder for some people. That being said, the interface looks cleaner and because processes and the workflow aren’t separate like it is in Autocad, it is generally accepted that it is easier to use tools overall. You probably won’t have a steep learning curve with Revit as you will with Autocad.

Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

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Are there any alternatives?

Fusion 360

fusion 360

Fusion 360 is a well-known CAD product that is actually free for individuals and startups who make less than $100k per year. It also works solely off the cloud which means files aren’t locally stored.

This can have benefits in that you can access your files everywhere and drawbacks because you need constant internet access. It does let you dabble in modeling and drawing although highly complex objects do test its processing power.

Fusion 360 is a decent alternative if you are looking for a cost-effective solution to Autocad and Revit, but just in case, check the full comparison between Fusion 360 vs AutoCAD before reaching out a verdict.

Solidworks

solidworks

Solidworks is another product that we have compared to Autocad in the past. It is a computer-aided drafting software that deals with 3D modeling and it also has 2D functionality as well. Solidworks is also more expensive than both Autocad and Revit however it is a one-off payment so it may work out cheaper in the long run.

Like Revit, you can only use it on Windows operating systems. However, it is another option to consider for computer-aided design software and it has a loyal following since it was released back in 1995.

Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

AutoCAD vs Revit: Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use AuotCAD and Revit interchangeably? 

In some design situations, such as architecture, you can use either program for design. However, AutoCAD and Revit have different functions for the type of tasks for which you can use either, so depending on the type of documentation or workflow you need, you may not be able to use them interchangeably for the tasks that overlap.

Do AutoCAD and Revit have free trials I can use to test each one?

AutoCAD and Revit both have Autodesk’s option for a thirty-day free trial. We recommend taking advantage of these so you can test features out for yourself in your specific design situations.

Do AutoCAD and Revit have mobile apps?

AutoCAD has introduced a smartphone app you can use to carry your designs with you even where you don’t have access to a computer. Unfortunately, Revit does not have an app, which makes it a slightly less portable option. 

Are AutoCAD and Revit directly competing for software?

Since AutoCAD and Revit are both from Autodesk, they are not directly competing for products. Autodesk likes to refer to them as complementary to each other since they cover a lot of the same ground but enhance each other’s usefulness. 

Can I customize either of these programs?

Autocad is the most customizable out of the two. It features a Custom User Interface Editor which means you can have the interface the way you want it by displaying/hiding tools as you wish.

Can I use these programs for 3D printing?

Yes, both Autocad and Revit can export STL files which are used in 3D printing technology so they are ideal as 3D printing software.

What support is available?

Both Autocad and Rivet are Autodesk Software tools so you get the same level of support for both. There is a Learning Section that features guides, videos, and tutorials while you can visit the online forum. You can also contact Autodesk through their website if you need help.

Conclusion: Revit or AutoCAD?

Both Autocad and Revit are very powerful design tools that if used properly are highly effective in what they do.

They do have overlapping features that are often used with a different focus. For example, Revit is generally used within the construction industry. Autocad tends to be the software to use for more prices 2D drawings however it also brings in 3D functionality as well which is a bonus.

The big difference in how these programs work is through their modifications and workflow. Revit has a more joined-up approach to both with better workflow and modifications can be updated right away. Many users also comment that Revit is a bit easier to get the hang of over Autocad although Autocad has a lot more customizable options so you can make the interface the way you want it to be.

Which one should you use?

Autocad is better as a drawing and drafting program whereas Revit is more geared towards parametric object-based design.

Bottom Line Summary: Overall, AutoCAD is the better program as it combines both the 2D and 3D functionality as well as the compatibility across various platforms that Revit doesn’t have. You can sign up for a free AutoCAD trial here.

Not only that but even though both are available through Autodesk, Autocad has been an industry standard for decades and is one of the best design programs available.

Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Further Reading on Autodesk Product Software Packages:

Ultimaker 3 vs Lulzbot Taz 6: Which Should You Choose?

The Ultimaker 3 and the Lulzbot Taz 6 are two of the best 3D printers on the market. They both provide consistent print quality, ease of use, and accessibility to both beginners and experts. While they have many similarities, they contain different features that make them unique.

Main Differences Between Ultimaker 3 vs Lulzbot Taz 6

The main differences between Ultimaker 3 and Lulzbot Taz 6 are:

  • The Ultimaker 3 features two extruders for more versatile printing, whereas the Lulzbot Taz 6 does not.
  • The Ultimaker 3 does not support a wide variety of speciality filament types, whereas the Lulzbot Taz 6 does.
  • The Ultimaker 3 has strings of lights running along the inside of the frame to make the print job more visible, whereas the Lulzbot Taz 6 does not.
  • The Ultimaker 3 has an open design providing a view of your print job from all angles, whereas the Ultimaker 3 print jobs are only visible from the front and sides.

Ultimaker 3

ultimaker

The inclusion of two extruders on the Ultimaker 3 means it’s more versatile and flexible than other 3D printers, even its predecessor, the Ultimaker 2+. You can print using two different filament types or colours for more dynamic printing results.

The print quality has also improved and it offers some of the best calibre prints from a fused filament fabrication 3D printer. Of course, all improvements come at a price and you’ll pay considerably more for this upgrade.

That being said, this printer is a lot easier to use than complex 3D printers of even higher quality and it uses the conventional plastic filament rather than liquid resin, which can be much harder to handle.

Design and features

The dual extruders make the Ultimaker 3 much more versatile. Other than that, you also have filament feeders, reducing the risk of clogs and jams. Plus, the spool holder is big enough for two filament spools at the same time.

The open front and top with translucent white sides make it easy to check on your progress, although it does require more caution to ensure you don’t touch extremely hot components. The interior has a string of lights extending down each side of the front inside edges, lighting your print space, and making it easier to see.

Dimensions are 23.1 x 19.9 x 13.3 inches and it weighs 23.3 pounds. It’s about the same weight as the Ultimaker 2+, but with more features, which is surprising.

The build area isn’t huge, but it’s a decent size at 7.8 x 8.5 x 8.5 inches. The print bed is made of a sheet of glass that automatically heats before each job. You can also automatically level the bed upon startup from the maintenance menu or choose another interval that works for you.

Setup

Setup isn’t too difficult, but there are a few steps you need to follow to get it up and running. Run the cable from an NFC socket and the filament spool holder. Putting the build plate in place requires fastening it to the platform with the clips provided.

Next, attach the power cable, turn on the printer, and follow the instructions on the display. The five-line display is controlled with the adjacent dial.

While one extruder comes already installed, you have to add the second one yourself if you want it. It’s easy to add and the printer comes with instructions for how to do this.

Loading filament spools on the spool holder is the last step. There is a hole at the bottom of a filament feed gearbox where you need to feed the end of the filament. A gear will grab a hold of the filament and pull it through a long tube to the extruder. The extruder melts it and it comes out of the nozzle.

Repeat this process with a second filament spool into the other gearbox to complete the setup.

Software

The Cura software should be downloaded from the Ultimaker website onto your printer once you get it completely set up. This is open-source software for 3D printers, which means you’ll have access to other print plans that other people create for it.

Ultimaker has created iterations of Cura that are specially tailored for all of the printers it manufactures. What you’ll find is that the software is open-source, but still designed just right for your 3D printer.

There are different versions of Cura, so make sure you choose the one labelled for the Ultimaker 3. It’s easy to set up and use, which makes it great for beginners, but versatile and advanced enough for experts.

Beginners can choose basic settings while experts may want to play around with some more advanced settings to tweak the printer how they like it.

Filament

ultimaker 3 printer

While the Ultimaker 3 takes common filament types like PLA and ABS, they also provide support for other options like nylon, PVA, and CPE. This gives you a wide variety of options to choose from so you can pick the one that’s right for your particular job.

Most 3D printers use a plastic filament of 1.75mm thick, but the Ultimaker 3 has enabled the extrusion of their filament to be 2.85mm. The result is better quality print jobs.

PLA, ABS, and CPE come in a huge variety of colours, and nylon is available in black or transparent. All filament spools for the Ultimaker 3 have an NFC chip, which is a really nice feature that allows your printer to automatically detect the colour and type of your filament without you programming or changing any settings.

It will use this information to select the correct temperature profile for that particular filament, which again, results in higher quality print jobs.

While you can use third-party filaments in the Ultimaker 3, you will have to set the temperatures by hand in Cura. While this may not be something you want to do, it’s a great option for saving money on filament spools.

The Ultimaker 3 has two types of print cores. It comes preinstalled with an AA print core that’s compatible with nylon, PLA, ABS, and CPE. However, it comes with a second AA-type print core and a BB core, either of which you can choose to use for two-colour print jobs. The BB core will only print supports with PVA.

Connectivity and printing

Setup Wi-Fi on your Ultimaker 3 for easy transfer of print jobs. If you don’t have access to Wi-Fi, you can hook it up to an Ethernet connection and send jobs that way. You can also use files that are stored on a USB drive.

The Ultimaker 3 comes with detailed instructions on how to print using any of these methods. This is a nice upgrade from the Ultimaker 2+, which could only print from an SD card.

There are four resolution settings on the Ultimaker 3. High-resolution prints at 60 microns, normal is 100 microns, fast is 150 microns, and draft mode prints at 200 microns.

Even at the draft resolution, your prints will look better than on most other FFF 3D printers. It only gets better at every resolution setting after that. However, keep in mind that the better resolutions take much longer to print.

The normal resolution takes about twice as long as the draft resolution. While there may be times when you need higher quality prints and are willing to wait for them, the draft resolution is pretty close to what most other 3D printers come with standard, and it’s a fine quality for most things.

While the Ultimaker 3 is equipped to handle dual-extruder printing, before you do that, you need to use the maintenance menu to run a calibration on the XY offset and make sure your print cores are in sync. You can print some test patterns to determine where they line up and then enter those values for the X and Y axes on the display. The printer will then calibrate the cores to ensure they’re aligned on your next print job.

Pros:

  • Excellent print quality and resolution
  • Easy to use
  • Accurate printing without mistakes
  • Two extruders for multicolour printing
  • Quiet operation

Cons:

  • Long print times at higher resolutions
  • Expensive

Read Some Ultimaker 3 Comparisons here:

Why Go With the Ultimaker 3?

I'll be honest, the Ultimaker 3 is one of my FAVORITE 3D Printers of all time. Not trying to hype it, but it's still the go-to for reliable performance and durability over time. It actually gets BETTER the MORE you use it... Weird!

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Lulzbot Taz 6

lulzbot taz 6

The Lulzbot Taz 6 is a bit cheaper than the Ultimaker 3, but it’s still at the upper end of the 3D printer marker. It’s another 3D printer that’s easy to use and reliable. It also has a relatively large build size, making it a really popular machine for both individuals and professionals.

Design and features

The design of the Lulzbot Taz 6 is relatively minimalistic. It has a black coating over metal, making it sturdy, with steel rods and self-lubricating bushing. The components are made of a lime green material to add a bit of flash.

It’s a huge printer with a huge print area, so it’s nice to see a minimalistic frame that’s not too overwhelming. You can also see your print job from any angle because there aren’t any extra components getting in the way. There is a user interface at the top left corner of the printer so it’s easy to access but it’s not in the way. It only adds to the sleek, sturdy, simple design.

With a huge print volume of 280 x 280 x 250mm, it’s larger than the Ultimaker 3. The print bed is made of glass with PEI film. The print bed is heated, so before printing, it will automatically warm to the correct temperature. You’ll also enjoy automatic bed leveling.

The Lulzbot Taz 6 is compatible with filament types PLA, PVA, ABS, HIPS, nylon, PETG, polycarbonate, UV luminescent, and plenty of other specialty filaments. The filament diameter is 3mm. To print with the Lulzbot Taz 6, you can use either a USB drive or an SD card. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have Wi-Fi or a wired Ethernet connection, so you have to have your files saved on a physical device.

Setup

The Lulzbot Taz 6 comes completely assembled, so the box is on the large size, but it comes with everything you need to get it setup. Upon opening the box, you’ll find these items in addition to the fully assembled Lulzbot Taz 6:

  • Quick setup guide
  • Hexagon-shaped hot end tool head
  • 4GB SD card
  • Filament feed tube
  • Toolkit bag
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Ruler
  • Precision knife
  • Clam knife
  • Tweezers
  • Dental pick

Although it comes with a lot of extra tools, there really is no physical setup required. Just snap all of the pieces into place and begin calibrating.

The documentation included in the box will guide you through all of this setup step by step. Images accompany all instructions so you’ll be clear on what to do. It should only take about 30 minutes to get it ready.

Although you do need to mount the Y-axis assembly with screws, connect all of the cables, and mount the tool head, they’ve made it easy and intuitive with all of the detailed guides. The last step is snapping the filament guide tube onto the side bracket and you’re ready to print.

Software

Lulzbot Taz 6 also uses open-source Cura software, so it’s both easy to use and expansive. It’s accessible to beginners but has plenty of advanced settings for those who have a bit more experience and really want to take this 3D printer on a ride.

The software will recommend printing profiles and filaments based on your job, but you can always customize or override these with your own settings.

The Cura Lulzbot Edition software allows complete user control over infill, print speed, shell, cooling, and a lot more. You can even modify some of these settings mid-print.

Connectivity and printing

lulzbot taz 6 printing

The one downside to the Lulzbot Taz 6 is that it doesn’t have any internet connectivity options. There’s no Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection port, so you have to use a USB drive or an SD card to transfer your print jobs to the device.

However, you can print using three modes including standard, high quality, and high speed. The standard model offers 0.25mm prints, which is even higher quality than the normal mode on the Ultimaker 3.

High-speed prints have a lesser quality of 0.38mm, which is slightly worse than the 150 microns offered on the fast mode of the Ultimaker 3. The difference between the Lulzbot Taz 6 standard and high-speed modes will be visibly apparent in your finished products.

Pros:

  • Large build volume
  • Consistent performance
  • Easy setup and use
  • Minimalistic design

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Noisy operation

Read Our Lulzbot Taz 6 Full Review Here.

FAQs About the Ultimaker 3 and Lulzbot Taz 6

Is the Ultimaker 3 worth it?

People frequently ask if this or that product is worth the money, and the answer is always the same. You have to make that decision for yourself. It depends on your needs and your budget.

However, the Ultimaker 3 is, without a doubt, a very high-quality 3D printer with some excellent features that make it worth the price if those are the things you’re looking for. It’s an easy system to use and its performance and reliability are excellent.

Did Lulzbot go out of business?

Surprisingly, this frequently asked question is poignant at this particular time. Despite their superior quality and dedication to customer support, Lulzbot decided to close their doors back in October of 2019.

While they may not be making any new printers going forward, you can still find excellent quality from previous products, and it shouldn’t be a reason not to purchase them or give them a try.

What is the best 3D printer?

Both the Ultimaker 3 and the Lulzbot Taz 6 top most lists of the best 3D printers out there. In fact, there are other Ultimaker and Lulzbot models that top most lists, too. They’re excellent brands of superior quality, and you can count on any of them to do the job right.

The Verdict

Both the Ultimaker 3 and the Lulzbot Taz 6 are reliable 3D printers of excellent quality and consistency. They use the same software that’s easy to set up and use, and they’re both great for beginners and experts alike.

The benefit of the Ultimaker 3 is the dual print cores allowing for more versatility in your print jobs. Its normal print mode produces super high-quality prints, but the build volume is slightly smaller than the Lulzbot Taz 6.

The price point of the Lulzbot Taz 6 is more accessible but still high. The benefit to this design is that it’s minimalistic and open, so while the Ultimaker 3 does make it easy to monitor your print job from the front and the sides, the Taz 6 makes it easy to see all the way around.

The Ultimaker 3 also can’t compare to the number of filament types supported with the Lulzbot Taz 6, so if you need more options there, the Taz 6 is a better choice.

Recommended Reads:

How to Find the Best 3D Printer for Schools [2020]

Is 3D printing fun for you? Do you find excitement in the idea of taking some basic materials and turning them into an object you can use? If so, can you imagine how much more joy something so special can bring to children?

3D printing is an amazing and creative market, and every child should have a chance to watch an object come to life at once during their childhood. And 3D printing continues to expand and grow. Today it is a part of several industries, including healthcare, architecture, and many others.

So no matter what field your child is interested in, there’s a good chance 3D printing can have an application. 3D printing in school allows them to explore what this new technology is capable of doing and the impact it has on the world around us.

But which ones are the best ones for schools and how do you find the right 3D printer? Here are a few of the best 3D printers you can purchase for your classroom.

Flashforge Finder 3D Printer – Best Overall for Classroom Use

Best Overall
Why Go With the Flashforge Finder?
$299.00

The Flashforge Finder is the perfect combination of approachability and reliability to be a great classroom performer. Not too big or complicated to overwhelm, but also consistent with no "open source" finicky customizations.

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10/31/2020 11:10 am UTC

The Flashforge Finder is a really good starter 3D printer for students with potential for the more advanced students. It packs some really nice features and offers a lot out of the box.

Because of its focus on ease of use and simple interface and software, it is the perfect printer to get you started with 3D printing.

I personally love the proprietary filament management system. The filament is contained inside a cartridge that slides into the back of the printer with an automatic filament sensor, working just as easily as a traditional printer. This makes filament management a breeze; extremely approachable for students.

The other standout feature is the auto-leveling print bed 3D technology. This is a feature mostly found on expensive printers that allow the user to precisely calibrate the distance between the nozzle and the build plate. It uses a sensor on the print head as well as very informative messages on the touchscreen to allow the user to quickly and easily calibrate the printer.

All in all, the Finder really takes the common friction points out of 3D printing (additive manufacturing). Students can focus on be creatively engaged vs troubleshooting.

Further Reading: Full Flashforge Finder Review.

Lulzbot Taz 6 – Best for Older Students

LulzBot TAZ 6 3D Printer

If you’re teaching older high school or college students, the Lulzbot Taz 6 FDM printer might be the 3D printer you need. While this Lulzbot Printer is one of the bigger 3D printers available on the market, its large build volume (print volume) allows you and your students to print off more than one object at a time.

Setting up the Taz 6 will take you a little longer than it will with the Dremel, but you can probably get it done in less than an hour. Once you get everything figured out, it’ll make much more sense and become second nature. Check our full Taz 6 Review here.

For your students, the Taz 6 ships with software which helps them learn how 3D printing works. More advanced students can jump right into the settings where they print almost anything they want.

With an LCD display, students can see exactly how much progress has been made on the current print job, along with how long they can expect to wait until it is completed. The Taz 6 is a little noisier than other enclosed 3D printers, so be aware of that if you plan on starting a print and then teaching a lesson.

The Taz 6 offers an all-around high-quality printer that lets you automate your 3D printing sessions. This 3D printer gives high school and college-aged students a leg up as they get ready to enter the workforce Learning about 3D printing may wind up serving them well.

Monoprice Select Mini – Best for the Budget-Minded

Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer V2

Even though the Monoprice Select Mini is a budget-friendly FDM 3D printer unit, you may be impressed by how well it’s built. Moving parts within the printer are hidden from sight, which means you don’t need to worry about little fingers finding their way into an area where they might get hurt.

On the front of the printer is an LCD screen so you can view helpful information such as the overall health of your printer and the progress of the current print job. The LCD also allows you to find files so you can locate exactly what you want to print.

The printer comes fully assembled, which is nice if you don’t want to mess with a lot of set up. However, you will have to calibrate the printing bed, which shouldn’t take too long. Otherwise, you’re up and printing 3D objects before you know it.

Monoprice is known as a company that builds quality 3D printers, so you know you’ll be getting a reliable 3D printer without breaking the bank. However, there isn’t really such thing as a “cheap” 3D printer, so keep in mind that you’re going to spend quite a bit.

With that in mind, the Mini 3D printing machine is NOT cost-prohibitive and does make it possible for some schools to have multiple 3D printers. If you’re on a budget, the Monoprice Mini should be your first choice when it comes to 3D printers.

Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer
The Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer is a HIGH quality and budget-friendly option printer, that is very safe to use around children.
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Dremel 3D40 – Best Large Format Classroom Use

Dremel 3D40

The Dremel 3D40 tops our list of best 3D printers for classrooms because it literally comes with lesson plans. There are 30 lessons included with the printer, and they can be used for third graders or high school seniors.

Every lesson included has a 3D model that comes with it. That means students have the ability to modify and adjust the object before they print it off.

With this printer, your students can learn the fundamentals of 3D printing while gaining the confidence needed to become comfortable with the device. The 3D40 is designed to be easy to use and safe in a classroom setting.

The printer isn’t very noisy, so you can start a print session at the beginning of class and let it run without worrying about the need to talk over it. Plus, the object may be done printing by the time class is over.

3D Printing Experience in Schools

This is why it’s so important that we bring 3D printing to our schools. We want our children to stay abreast of the latest technologies and how to use them safely. Teaching our children how to use 3D printers while they’re young opens the door to many opportunities as they move forward.

As more and more 3D printers enter into classrooms, more and more children are discovering the fun and excitement they provide. But these devices aren’t only for engineers and architects. There are uses for 3D printers in biology and music.

3D printing encourages creativity and innovation as our children consider the blank piece of paper before them and imagine a real-life object they could create in only a few short hours.

That doesn’t mean 3D printers are only for students. Teachers can use them as well to create educational tools as opposed to spending their hard-earned money on them. This means that instead of spending money on educational aids for all their students, a teacher could use a 3D printer and spend that money elsewhere.

Best 3D Printer for Schools

Use Cases for 3D Printers in a Classroom

As we’ve discussed, there is a wide range of use cases for 3D printers in the classroom. Whether you want to add it to your already existing curriculum or build something brand new, there’s a good chance you can find a way to incorporate 3D printing.

Here’s a list of areas where you can implement 3D printing to show your students how it works and drive them to adopt this technology while being enthusiastic about its possibilities.

3D Printing

If you have a 3D printer in your school, why wouldn’t you use it for a 3D printing class? You can educate your children all about the technology behind 3D printing. Students could learn more about two distinct aspects of 3D printing:

  1. First, they could learn about the core functions of 3D printing. This involved understanding how to control a 3D printer and the right materials to use when creating a 3D printed object.
  2. Second is understanding the key features of the 3D printer. This includes what the features are, how they work, and why they’re important.

This provides students with a way to learn more about the mechanical aspects of the 3D printer. I don’t know about you, but I usually learn something much easier when I’m doing it myself. Having a 3D printer in the school lets students see and learn up close and personal.

Engineering

Of course, when it comes to 3D printing, you almost have to throw engineering into the mix. Before 3D printing, it was difficult for teachers to find a way for their students to view their model in real life. Having a 3D printer would help solve this problem.

With 3D printing technology, teachers have the ability to teach their students many different engineering concepts. One example could be having students improve upon an already 3D printed model, then see how they turn out.

Engineering 3d printing

Biology

How can you use a 3D printer to enhance biology class? One way is through the use of printed anatomic models. Teachers can download these models online and print them off and use them as objects with which their students can study.

Having a physical representation of an organ will help students have a better understanding of the object they’re studying. It can also allow them to show that they understand the object from a practical perspective.

Art

3D printing has long been considered a part of the art industry as it allows students to create 3D versions of their artwork. This helps to promote innovation and creativity among children while showing them the flexibility of these devices.

Math

It can be difficult to engage students in math, no matter what level you’re teaching. Having a 3D printer can make this subject come to life. This could be in the form of using 3D printed objects to show percentages or learn 3D shapes like cones or pyramids.

With physical shapes and objects, students become more engaged and open to learning, which leads to an overall better experience for both the teacher and the pupil.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways an educational institution could benefit from owning a 3D printer. But what should these schools look for when considering a 3d Printer? Let’s take a closer look.

What to Consider?

If your school is ready to purchase a 3D printer, then there are a few things you’ll want to consider before making the final decision. Buying a 3D printer for your classroom is similar to buying one for your home.

That said, there are a few factors you may want to give serious consideration to so you can make an informed decision.

Setup

When it comes to set up, you’ll want something that simple, straightforward, and easy. Fortunately, there are a handful of 3D printers available that don’t require much in regard to setup. A printer that’s easy to set up means you take it out of the box, load the filament into the printer and get started (PLA filament, PETG filament, ABS filament, and more..).

Note: With every year, more diverse filaments and filament types come on the market, including wood, resin (and special resin 3D printers), and even carbon filament. Be sure to check your 3D printer specifications to ensure it’s compatible and/or upgrade nozzles / extruders if available.

There are also some that require a little bit of work during setup, but nothing too complicated. While these may require a bit more effort to get them up and running, they’ll also save you some money. So if you’re on a budget, you might consider going this route.

Size

When considering size for your 3D printer, you’ll want to think about two things. First, the physical size of the printer itself. How much room do you have in your classroom to dedicate to a 3D printer? This will help you determine what size printer to purchase.

Most classrooms are probably best suited to a desktop 3D printer, but even this generalizations contains MANY nuances including whether or not it fills an entire desk, has a dual extruder, etc….

Second, size refers to the build volume of your 3D printer. Many people believe that the more print build volume they have, the better off they’ll be. While this might be true for commercial 3D print businesses, it won’t make much sense for use in an educational environment.

This is because large volume printers are going to take much longer to print an object. Instead of waiting an hour or two for a single object, you may be waiting an entire day. Plus, you’re going to go through your materials much faster when using large volume 3D printers.

school 3d printers

Cost

Even though the print quality of 3D printers has gone up recently, the price has dropped, making it easier than ever to find a good printer at a reasonable price. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a 3D printer for nearly any budget.

Keep in mind that if you’re on a strict budget, you may have to make a few sacrifices to find something in your price range.

Print Quality

As the 3D printing process continues to improve, so too does the physical design and print quality of 3D printers. However, just because you have a high-quality 3D printer doesn’t mean you can leave it on at all hours of the day.

Quality 3D printers are made with great components, which means they’ll be reliable when it comes to printing objects for you and your students. Usually, these types of printers also use high-grade filament as well.

Speed

The reality is that most 3D printers won’t be able to complete a printing session during your class period. While today’s printers are much faster, it can still take the better part of an hour to print off a small object.

Unfortunately, some 3D printers are on the slower side. If possible, try to avoid these for your classroom. You’re not helping your class learn about 3D printing if it takes a few days for something to print.

Material

The vast majority of 3D printers you’ll find will use one of two material types: PLA or ABS. Most people prefer PLA since its biodegradable and is a natural source and doesn’t have any toxic byproducts. It’s probably your best bet for use in a classroom setting.

While ABS is in and of itself great material for 3D printing, it does give off toxic fumes, which can eventually lead to health problems. No matter which material you choose, make sure your room has plenty of ventilation and ensure children maintain their distance while a print is in session.

FAQs

Here are a few of the more commonly asked questions about 3D printers for schools.

How much time does it take for a 3D print to complete?

This really depends on what you’re 3D printing. Printing a 3D object can range from 30 minutes to a week. There are many factors that determine how long it takes, including the size and complexity of the object, the quality and speed of your printer, and much more.

How much electricity do 3D printers use?

Today’s standard color printers are used by most people in their homes and use around 0.05 kilowatt-hours of electricity for every house they print. This is a pretty low amount. By comparison, a 3D printer will use roughly 50 watts of electricity for every hour you’re printing.

What are some of the benefits of 3D printing?

There are plenty of benefits to using a 3D printer. These include ways 3D printing is revolutionizing and combining certain industries. Hospitals and health care professionals use 3D printed items to save lives. 3D printed items help to reduce the cost of items we use on an everyday basis.

With 3D printers, we can customize objects and devices for specific uses and rapidly create prototypes without wasting a lot of hours and resources.

Opportunities Abound: 3D Printers for Schools

Having a 3D printer in your classroom has significant benefits for the school, the teacher, and the students. It provides a way for students to learn more about 3D printing, while enhancing subjects like Biology, Math, and Art.

Additionally, allowing students to learn about 3D printing open doors into areas of learning they may have never previously considered. Or it may spark an interest in a subject they otherwise dreaded.

There are countless opportunities that come with having a 3D printer in your school, and you shouldn’t have much trouble finding the right one now that you know what to look for. So what are you waiting for? Head out and get a 3D printer for your school!

Further Reading on 3D Printers:

Prusa i3 MK3 vs Ultimaker 3 [2020]: Which is Best?

Today we’re pitting two 3D printers against each other to see who really earns their spot on the top of “best of” lists.

Both the Prusa i3 MK3 and the Ultimaker 3 have earned accolades from trade publications (including this one!), both have already made waves with their new iterations in 2019, and both are touted as great mid-price options for those who are looking to upgrade from their beginner rigs.

Their constructions and features vary but are similar enough to compete for the same builder dollars, so let’s get into the details to see who will come out on top.

Why Go With the Ultimaker 3?

I'll be honest, the Ultimaker 3 is one of my FAVORITE 3D Printers of all time. Not trying to hype it, but it's still the go-to for reliable performance and durability over time. It actually gets BETTER the MORE you use it... Weird!

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What is the Prusa i3 MK3?

Prusa i3 MK3

Prusa Research is 3D printing company started by Josef Prusa in 2009 when he spun his own printing business off from the RepRap project. The company based in the Czech Republic, which means all their models meet European Union standards, and they ship their products around the world.

In 2018, they developed the Prusa i3 MK3. They wanted to be able to offer a 3D printer that is more accessible through a lower price point and simplified build from their higher end models but still exhibits the superior quality of both the printer and the printed objects.

One way to do this is to make a 3D printer kit, so the user does not absorb the cost of professional assembly; Prusa took the i3 MK3 in that direction to catch the attention of more beginning and hobbyist level 3D printer users without sacrificing the quality of their higher end machines.

What are the tech specs of the Prusa i3 MK3?

Price

$749 unassembled, $999 assembled

Build volume

25 cm x 21 cm x 20 cm

Filament size

1.75 mm

Max extruder temperature

300 degrees Celsius

Max bed temperature

120 degrees Celsius

Connectivity

SD card, wifi

Operating systems supported

Mac, Windows, Linux

Software

GNU GPLv3 (open source)

What are the advantages of the Prusa i3 MK3?

  • You have a choice to buy a kit or fully assembled. Our personal experiences with 3D printer kits vary all across the range of quality, ease, and printing output, with a lot of our judgment resting on how many times the assembly process makes us want to throw our wrenches across the workshop. Prusa can get you past this with the i3 MK3 – if you’re willing to spend another $150 or so.
  • Easy assembly process. If you’re on the fence about whether to get the kit to save money or the fully assembled machine to save time, know that building the i3 MK3 is one of the smoothest 3D printer assembly processes you can find. It’s not perfect, but it’s darn near close: the parts are fully organized and packaged in stages, you can find the instructions either online or in a physical book from the box, and actually putting everything together takes way less time than you are probably assuming based on your experience with other kits. This kit is next level, so don’t let a reluctance to build stop you from trying this one.
  • Great support and documentation. Even if you choose to buy the fully assembled i3 MK3, you’re going to have questions, and you’re going to need help. That’s where Prusa’s ultra thorough documentation comes in handy. It’s all there and clearly laid out, so you can follow the instructions from beginning to end or choose which steps you need help with and go directly there without having to wade through previous steps for context. There’s also a thriving online community that’s always willing to add their two cents – that’s why we personally like using the electronic instructions better because you can see notes other users have made on that one.
  • Stiff frame. Prusa doesn’t let its i3 MK3 fall into the common kit trap of sending cheap, flimsy materials to save money. Whether you assemble it yourself or buy it pre-fabricated, the i3 MK3’s frame is sturdy, pure steel that minimizes any wiggle motion that extruder movement may cause. And it keeps everything steady while keeping the frame open for X and Y axis movements that may go outside the build zone.
  • Crash detection. 3D printing is a painstaking process that requires everything going exactly as it’s supposed to the whole way through. Realistically, we know that’s not possible all of the time, but with the i3 MK3’s crash detection, you can pretend it is. If your computer crashes, if the power blinks out, if a velociraptor chases your dog and you have to go rescue it – basically, if you have to stop printing for any reason, the i3 MK3 will have your back and pick up right where you left off.
  • Power failure backup. This goes with crash detection like peanut butter and jelly. A steady power supply is at the mercy of both Mother Nature and human hands, and Prusa understands that. If you’re in the middle of a print and your lights go out, the i3 MK3 will keep printing using its backup power source so you don’t have to throw away hours of work because of something you couldn’t control.
  • Removable magnetic printing bed. 3D printer beds are vital to your print quality. Pursa has made its i3 MK3’s bed easy to attach and easy to remove with one neat quality – magnets. This makes adjustments a breeze, as well as cleanup.
  • Autocalibration. No need to fiddle with axes controls for a couple of hours before printing, only to find out afterward that your calculations came out wrong so that your Rubik’s cube is now a Rubik’s quadrangle. The i3 MK3 auto calibrates its printer bed and extruders, so you don’t have to after every print or accidental jostling.
  • Open source software. Prusa uses their own 3D printing software under a GNU GPLv3 usage license, which means it’s free to modify for yourself and share with others in its original form. That has built a thriving fanbase of users who love sharing their hacks online with anyone else who wants to know. If you have an issue you’re trying to puzzle out; there’s a great chance someone has posted the solution – or would love to see yours once you finish it.

 What are the disadvantages of the Prusa i3 MK3?

  • Printed parts needed for assembly. With all the hype about the i3 MK3’s easy assembly, we don’t want to give the impression that it’s absolutely flawless. One thing that makes it not quite uniformly awesome across the board is that if you do get the kit to assemble yourself, be prepared to print a lot of parts. The instructions are detailed, and the fits are excellent, but you will need to be aware of the tasks ahead of you before you get to the building part.
  • It is getting the frame squared. Another small issue in the assembly process is getting the frame squared as the foundation of the rest of the machine. It’s another instance of good documentation for something that maybe should have been solved before it got to you.
  • Price. Many 3D printer users look to kits for a way to save money. For the i3 MK3, this will only be true in relation to its own pre-assembled sibling; $749 is one of the most expensive 3D printing kits you will find, and $999 is not a steal for a ready-made machine, either. Those prices will, unfortunately, steer away a lot of people who just can’t fit that into their budget, no matter how good the quality of the final result.  

What is the Ultimaker 3?

ultimaker 3

Ultimaker is a 3D printing company that’s been around for about ten years. It’s got offices in the United States, the Netherlands, and Singapore, so they ship around the world just like Prusa. They made their first Ultimaker prototype in 2010, and since then, they’ve made continuous improvements on the model for those who are looking for the upper level of desktop 3D printing.

The Ultimaker 3 is a pre-assembled dual-extruder first introduced in 2017, and its 2019 upgrade has already been celebrated as one of the best of the year. It’s meant to give a bigger, more complex 3D printing experience while keeping the machinery compact and simple enough for desktop use.

Why Go With the Ultimaker 3?

I'll be honest, the Ultimaker 3 is one of my FAVORITE 3D Printers of all time. Not trying to hype it, but it's still the go-to for reliable performance and durability over time. It actually gets BETTER the MORE you use it... Weird!

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

What are the tech specs of the Ultimaker 3?

Price

$3,495 (Check out the latest rates here)

Build volume

21.5 cm x 21.5 cm x 20 cm single extruder, 19.7 cm x 21.5 cm x 20 cm dual extruder

Filament size

2.85 mm

Max extruder temperature

280 degrees Celsius

Max bed temperature

100 degrees Celsius

Connectivity

WiFi, Lan, USB

Operating systems supported

Mac, Windows, Linux

Software

Ultimaker Cura

What are the advantages of the Ultimaker 3?

  • Dual extruders. If you’re wondering why dual extruders are special enough to warrant a shout out in a list of a 3D printer’s best parts, it’s all about the quality. The Ultimaker retains the same excellent print quality whether you’re using either or both of its print nozzles, and the only way dual extruder use will be obvious in a finished product is if you use different colors in each. Ultimaker has figured out the perfect waltz to get the most out of both without any of the literal bumps that often come from using two.
  • Hot-swappable print cores. This is the practice of swapping out the core printer components without shutting down or rebooting the machine. You may recognize this as a thing that most tech people will tell you to avoid like the plague so nothing gets erased or fried in the process. But the Ultimaker 3 has you covered on this, and it’s not playing around when it comes to customizability. Their print cores are ways for you to swap out printing properties and material details without re-calibrating your entire setup. It’s a great innovation that lets you take originality to the next level. Additionally, this is a well-thought out and smooth process, not just an idea someone had to tack on at the last minute, so you’ll be able to use this feature without the usual hitches of many first-time features.
  • Tougher filament possibilities. Because of the varying temperature ranges possible from the different printer cores, the Ultimaker 3 gives you a wider variety of materials to work with. Filaments that need higher extrusion temperatures usually require a different machine than those that require lower ones, but not anymore – you can stick with your basic PLA or go crazy with the nylon, metal, or other exotic mixtures without the need of another printer.
  • Print quality. Not to be outshined by all the bells and whistles around it, the overall print quality of the Ultimaker 3 is definitely a feature worth mentioning. It’s so unassumingly good that it might get lost amongst the more flashy features done well here, but keep in mind none of the extra stuff would work if the basics weren’t flawless.

What are the disadvantages of the Ultimaker 3?

  • Price. We understand that 3D printing technology is hugely intricate and involves a lot of top-notch innovation; we also understand that none of that comes cheap. And don’t misunderstand, the Ultimaker 3 is great quality and gives you a lot for you money. At the same time, once again we’ve found an excellent machine that isn’t going to be easy for people on a budget to use. Good quality 3D printing can be had for less, sometimes much less – take a look at our other reviews and roundups for ideas – and it’s just the tiniest bit disappointing that doesn’t apply here.
  • Print speed. All of the Ultimaker 3’s perfection in its print quality comes at the cost of printing speed. This machine will not get in a hurry – and that’s something we don’t blame it for, considering the intricacies of dual extruder printing and how easy that is to misalign. But be prepared to wait for up to four times longer than other 3D printers for your creation to be complete.
  • Placement of spool holder. This is a design detail that seems insignificant until you experience a problem that drags it front and center. Which is exactly where the filament holder should be on the Ultimaker 3 in a perfect world, but instead it’s hidden around back and difficult to reach unless you have unfettered access to all sides of your printer at all times.

What’s the verdict between the Prusa i3 MK3 and the Ultimaker 3?

Bottom Line: The Ultimaker 3 comes out ahead in this comparison for the sheer amount of shininess it brings to the table – plus the fact that said shininess holds up to practical testing and actually enhances usage instead of clogging up the machine with gimicks.

This isn’t to say the Prusa i3 MK3 is bad, though; it also deserves all its hype, and with its lower price points even for the fully assembled version, it may be a better bet for you.

However, we can’t resist a smooth dual extruder print, and we’re ready to see what both Prusa and Ultimaker have in store for the future.

Why Go With the Ultimaker 3?

I'll be honest, the Ultimaker 3 is one of my FAVORITE 3D Printers of all time. Not trying to hype it, but it's still the go-to for reliable performance and durability over time. It actually gets BETTER the MORE you use it... Weird!

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Further Reads

Up Mini 2 Review [2020]: A Good 3D Printer?

Up Mini 2 Review

Ever notice how a lot of 3D printers are big, bulky, loud, machines with really no visually pleasing features? I was showing a friend a certain printer the other day and they told me it looked like a microwave. Pretty spot on if you ask me. Luckily, not all 3D printers can be mistaken for a kitchen appliance.

Designers are changing it up a bit, and one way they are changing the classic design of 3D printers is by changing the size. I mean not everyone wants a massive machine sitting in their room or office. One 3D printer we really like for the change of size is the Up Mini 2.

Brought to us by Tiertime and manufactured in China is a small but efficient 3D printer. It is the newest generation of their previously adored Up Plus model. The Up Mini 2 embodies the saying, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.

While it is a small 3D printer, it holds its own when it comes to print quality, durability, and features.

Also, it carries a price tag that fits its small size. Another great option for the budget-friendly printing fanatic.

The days of paying large amounts of money for high quality results seems to be coming to an end. Below, we will detail all the best features and some of the not so good stuff the Up Mini 2 offers. If you need an inexpensive, small, but powerful 3D printer this might be just what you’re looking for.

Check out the rest of the Up Mini 2 review and let us know what you think of this mini 3D printer in the comments.

Why Go With the UP Mini 2?

Reliability and print quality. It's not the biggest 3D printer by volume, but it's an incredibly accurate and consistent printer with a true desktop footprint.

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Core Features of the Up Mini 2

Mini 2 ES LCD Touchscreen:

Touchscreen controls are becoming quite the norm on 3D printers these days. The one on the Up Mini 2 is a great, easy to use and very functional control panel. The touchscreen allows you to control many different parts of the printer including Wi-Fi, nozzle height, initializing the machine, calibration, load and print 3D models, set material type, and a few other settings.
Up Mini 2 Opened
You can also see the print status, temperature, and connectivity status on the screen. The screen also helps pause/play and save the print progress if the door is ever opened during a print or if you lose power.

Sleek Design

From packaging to fully the assembled printer, we are big fans of how it looks. Foam sections protected and secured the most important pieces from moving around during shipping. It’s not much, but it does show the company cares about their product and has high standards. In the box, among other things, you get a printer and Tiertime’s fila station (filament caddy), or filament spool holder (separate spool container), which adds to the overall sleekness of the design.

The all-plastic black and white shell of both the printer and the fila station make the whole machine feel a little cheap, but the all metal frame on the inside of the casing adds to the sturdiness of the printer and extruder. A clear door and LED lighting inside the case allow you to observe the entire printing process. The aluminum handle adds a nice touch to the overall visual look of the printer.

Mini Auto Bed Leveling

The Up Mini 2 cuts back on a lot of the little tedious bits of 3D printing that we hate. One of those things being leveling the bed in-between prints. Luckily, this printer comes with the technology to level the bed for you automatically.

While it doesn’t do this on its own before each print as some others do, it is easy to tell the machine to level the bed using the touch screen. Reports are that the auto bed leveling seems to work well and multiple users are very happy to have this feature.

Small Footprint and Portable:

The name doesn’t lie. This really is a “mini” printer measuring at 10” x 14.4” x 15” (WxHxD) overall dimensions. You will barely notice this machine in your room. Due to the small size of the printer, it only takes 2 and a half minutes to heat up and begin printing.

Moving your printer to another room, house, or office is as easy as extending the solid aluminum handle and carrying it to where ever you need it. It only weighs 20 pounds so you should have no probably getting this printer to where it needs to be.

Mini 2 Fully Assembled:

Less time messing around with small parts means more time printing, which is what we all want, isn’t it? The creators of the Up Mini 2 kept this in mind as they give us a printer fully assembled in its packaging. The set-up of the machine is quick easy if you follow along with the Quick Start Guide.

The only part that requires “assembly” is attaching the print head, which is nice to see how it’s done so you can easily remove and clean this piece as necessary. Besides that, just remove any foam packaging, download, and install the software and you are ready to start printing.

Mini 2Key Specifications

Here are the key specs of the Up Mini 2 3D printer:

Build Area4.7” x 4.7” x 4.7”
Print SpeedNA
Level ControlAutomatic
Filament Types ABS, PLA
Layer Resolution150 – 350 microns
Number of ExtrudersSingle
Nozzle Diameter0.4 mm
Open / Closed SystemClosed
Warranty1 year manufacturers
PriceStarting at $577.00 (check current price)

Pros of the Up Mini 2

Now let’s talk about some of the best features the Up Mini 2 offers.

Enclosed Environment: An enclosed print area is a safe print area (build volume). By trapping the heat in the printing area, you can maintain the temperature throughout the process. This is essential when using filament that requires high heat such as ABS filament.

An enclosed area prevents cool drafts and damp air from taking a toll on your creation and warping the printed object. As well, it adds an extra layer of safety by preventing any unwanted objects, hands, fingers, animals, from getting too close to the machine while it is working.

Small Desk Space: We mentioned above how this printer has a very small footprint. Less than a foot wide and just over a foot deep, you will barely notice a difference in desk space when this machine is setup. Compared to some other printers on the market which require a separate table or desk for them to sit on we are very excited about the functional size of this printer.

HEPA Air Filter: Ever get sick of the melting plastic smell your 3D printer puts off while it is printing? We sure do. And obviously so did the team who designed the Up Mini 2 as it comes with a HEPA air filtration system. This small filter hidden at the bottom of the machine is not a common find in 3D printers at this price range.

Mini 2 WiFi Connectivity Options: We are big fans of having multiple connectivity options that work well. The Up Mini 2 is a prime example of this. You can connect via USB cable or via Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi option works flawlessly. You can access the printers remotely if you are on the same connection as the printer. Easily send files to the printer from your computer even if the two are not near each other. You can also access multiple Up Mini 2s from one computer.

If Wi-Fi connectivity isn’t for you then you can still connect with a USB cable and print directly from the software on your computer and utilize partial tethering. If you need to move your computer once the print process has begun simply unplug the cable and the print will continue running without interruption. These options give you a little more freedom when controlling, accessing, and using your printer, which is a small but convenient feature.

Cons of the Up Mini 2

The Tiertime Up Mini has few flaws, but we still need to talk about those a little bit too.

Small Build Area: The most obvious flaw is the overall print area. But what do you expect when you are buying a “mini” printer? Small area or not the print still creates great objects. To adjust to the size of the print area all you must do is scale down your 3D model or print them in pieces and glue the pieces together to create larger objects.

This printer is impractical if you are looking for something to complete a wide variety of projects in terms of what you are printing. But if you just want to create smaller objects or are a hobbyist printer then you shouldn’t really have an issue with the size of the build area.

Slow Print Speed: Users noted the printer is a little slow when you are going for a high-quality print. There are ways around this slow speed by printing larger layers and changing the print quality setting of the printer. However, if you aren’t in a rush when it comes to creating beautiful objects then this isn’t a major concern for you.

Up Mini 2 Alternatives to Consider

If you like the size of this printer and are interested in a “mini” 3D printer, but aren’t sold on this one, you can still find the perfect printer for you. Another printer you may be interested in is the LulzBot Mini.

The LulzBot Mini is an extremely impressive 3D printer. It has a slightly larger build area, footprint, and much larger price tag than the Up Mini 2. But this machine prints fast at 275 mm/s and has an impressive quality as it can reach layer heights of only 50 microns. It is also a little more versatile machine as it is open-sourced and prints with many different filament types.

Another option to consider is the XYZprinting Da Vinci Mini, which is similar to small (also a great printer for kids).

Finally, the Printrbot Play is a great open frame alternative at a similar scale.

Final Take: Is the Mini 2 Worth it?

What it lacks in print speed it makes up for with quality. While you can find faster printers, the Up Mini 3D printer can hold its own when it comes to the overall quality of the finished object.

Although the layer resolution specs are just slightly less than other printers (150 microns compared to 100 microns for other models), we can’t notice a visible difference and are impressed with the results of the Up Mini 2.

This is an excellent printer for the home use hobbyist who wants to experiment with 3D printing. It’s easy to use, reliable, and consistent with its print quality and has an extremely small footprint. If you want an inexpensive printer to create smaller but beautiful objects than the Up Mini 2 might just be the printer of your dreams.

Why Go With the UP Mini 2?

Reliability and print quality. It's not the biggest 3D printer by volume, but it's an incredibly accurate and consistent printer with a true desktop footprint.

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If you liked our review on Up Mini 2 3D Printer here’s something else you can read:

Flashforge Inventor 2 Review [Aug 2020]

Flashforge intended to target education with their Inventor 2 3D printer, so if you’re looking for a solid plug and play option for your school, this may be one of the best choices. This upgrade to the now-retired Flashforge Finder is said to be as intuitive as using your smartphone.

With fully-enclosed components, a plethora of safety features, and modern connectivity features, everyone will have fun learning how to use it. It’s a high-quality 3D Printer solution for today’s classrooms.

Why go with the Inventor 2?
$699.00

The Inventor 2 is a great pick for KIDS or beginners looking to get familair with 3D printing in a lower stress environment. A great buy for schools, libraries or STEM encouraging parents!

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10/31/2020 05:09 pm UTC

About Makers Empire

The Flashforge Inventor 2 is made by Makers Empire, an Australian company focused on design education and providing custom tools and solutions to schools. Their goal is to assist educators in harnessing the power of 3D technology.

With this technology, they can teach design thinking, STEM sciences, and project-based learning. They develop simple tools that take the guesswork out of using the printer and put the focus back in learning how to implement the concepts.

The company is only five years old, but they’ve already penetrated forty countries around the globe to reach over one million students with their vision to empower children to become creators and problem solvers.

They believe every child should have access to 3D technology. The team is comprised of experienced business managers, developers, and educators. Most of them have children of their own and believe in the power of education.

They all want to make a difference by reinforcing values like learning, inspiring, empathizing, and innovating.

About the Flashforge Inventor 2

flashforge invertor 2The Flashforge Inventor 2 was made to be simple and intuitive. The design is attractive and the features make it safe for kids.

Getting Started with the Flashforge Inventor 2

This plug and play 3D printer comes with everything you need to set it up and get started right away. Everything is self-contained. Simply plug it in and you’re ready to go. It’s compatible with Wi-Fi so you don’t need a wired connection.

Start printing in just four clicks on the touchscreen.

If you do choose to forego Wi-Fi, you can connect it to any computer with just a USB cable. It’s compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. Plus, downloading the smartphone app means you can connect to it from wherever you are.

Flashforge Inventor 2 Design

The entire printer is self-contained. It has an attractive cube design of white and blue. All components are hidden rather than exposed. This prevents damage to the printer itself when being used by multiple inexperienced people and it protects children from touching incredibly hot components.

The touchscreen design is intuitive, much like your smartphone. It’s an important addition to a 3D printer for kids because they catch on so quickly to technology that it makes the transition from a smartphone or computer to the 3D printer much easier and more seamless.

The removable print bed makes it easier to remove printed objects from the printer when they’re done, without having to reach inside the unit and risk damage to the components or the printed item.

The only problem with the all-in-one design and the hidden components is that it makes maintenance on the extruder and any other moving parts much more difficult. If you’re one who likes to service your technology on your own, this one is harder to take apart than others.

Flashforge Inventor 2 Specs

The Flashforge Inventor 2 has a build volume of 150mm x 140mm x 100mm, which is much bigger than the previous model. The single extruder is compatible with PET, PLA, and TPU, but you can also turn the built-in filament guide off so you can use other materials.

Using biodegradable PLA filament is recommended for indoor use in the classroom, and it also has a high-quality 50-400 micron layer resolution for detailed build designs.

Here are some additional specs for those who like to keep track:

  • Printing technology: Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)
  • XY positioning precision: 11 microns
  • Z layer resolution: 2.5 microns
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm
  • Filament diameter: 1.75mm
  • Frame and body: Plastic alloy
  • Printer dimensions: 420mm x 420mm x 570mm
  • Extruder quantity: Single
  • Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi, SD card
  • File input type: .stl, .obj, .3mf, .ffp
  • File output type: .g/.gx
  • OS compatibility: Windows XP or newer, Linux, OSX

This 3D printer is on the more expensive end of the spectrum, but it’s also much safer and worth every penny for the education of students. It’s sleek and high quality with plenty of built-in features that make it easy to use.

Flashforge Inventor 2 Software

Flashprint is Flashforge’s proprietary slicing software. It comes standard on the Inventor 2 and contains both linear and tree support. It enables you to split models into several different parts for printing in different stages.

Flashforge Inventor 2 Features

flashforge invertor 2 3d printer

Features like built-in software, a touchscreen, and Wi-Fi make this 3D printer insanely easy to use. It also includes a door sensor, and will automatically pause your print job if the door is open to the chamber. Once the door is closed, printing automatically resumes.

Safety features like this make it one of the best choices for the classroom and for children.

In addition to that, you’ll also notice that it’s one of the quieter 3D printers available, so you can run it in the background while still conducting a lecture or a class session.

The Happy 3D mobile app allows all users to create models on their smartphone and then send them to the printer. You don’t have to have a connected computer in class for your students to easily queue their builds. The only requirement is that you lift that in-class cell phone ban so they can get to work.

The touchscreen displays the model before printing so you can confirm accuracy before beginning.

Automatic calibration also takes the fuss out of bed levelling. Because this is done automatically, your students can focus on learning the design process rather than fiddling with the technology.

The onboard camera sends up to date footage to your app so you can monitor your build from anywhere. It doesn’t require babysitting or being close by.

Flashforge Inventor 2 Alternatives

If you’re a beginner or you’re looking for a quality 3D printer for the classroom, here are some other options that may interest you.

Flashforge Finder

flashforge finder 3D printer

This is the previous Flashforge model. It’s smaller than the Inventor 2, but it’s also less expensive. In fact, it’s about half the price. It comes in red and black, and the Finder Lite comes in yellow and black.

Other than size, price, and colour, the only difference you might find is the lack of a mobile app. It’s still built with the same touchscreen and safety features. It’s also very quiet. If you can deal with a smaller size and you want the cheaper price, this is a great solution.

Why go with the Inventor 2?
$699.00

The Inventor 2 is a great pick for KIDS or beginners looking to get familair with 3D printing in a lower stress environment. A great buy for schools, libraries or STEM encouraging parents!

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10/31/2020 05:09 pm UTC

Read More:

QIDI Tech X-Maker

qidi technology 3d printer

Here’s another plug and play option right out of the box. It was also built with children and education in mind. It has automatic bed leveling, a touchscreen, built-in software, Wi-Fi, an internal camera for monitoring progress, and a completely enclosed design.

The primary difference is the build volume. On the QIDI, it’s 170mm x 150mm x 160, so it’s slightly larger than the Inventor 2. For the price, you’re better off getting a QIDI Tech X-Maker, but you will be giving up the mobile app and exotic filament choices.

Monoprice Voxel

monoprice voxel

Despite its enclosed design, nozzle changes on the Monoprice Voxel are very easy. While other enclosed 3D printers take around half an hour to change nozzles, this one doesn’t.

It also includes auto-leveling, but the cool thing about this one is that it comes enabled with cloud services right out of the box. Set it up quickly and you can control and print from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.

FAQ

The world of 3D printers is confusing to some, and if you’re a beginner or you want to use one for education, here are some frequently asked questions that may have you wondering.

Can kids use 3D printers?

It is safe for kids to use select 3D printers, and always with supervision. Companies like Makers Empire are intentionally building 3D printers designed with the classroom in mind.

However, not all 3D printers are right for all kids. 3D printers have very hot components and very complicated mechanisms. Until the child learns how to use it appropriately, it’s important that an adult is there to help.

Any of the 3D printers listed in this review are safe to a certain extent. They’re enclosed and made with certain safety features that do what they can to protect little hands.

Safety should always be your first concern when getting a 3D printer for children to use, so do your research and choose wisely.

What is the best 3D printer for a beginner?

Flashforge makes some of the best 3D printers for beginners, including the Finder, the Inventor 2, the Adventurer, and the Dreamer. Not only that, but they’re backed by a company who has a heart for education and designs their printers with that in mind.

Outside of the Makers Empire models, you’ll find great beginner 3D printers in a lot of different places. Monoprice and QIDI are just a few of the other options.

Can you make toys with a 3D printer?

Speaking of children, many people want to know if they can print toys in their 3D printer. Since many toys are made of plastic, it’s natural that you might want to design your own if you have a 3D printer, and you can.

You can create your own designs or download models from the internet and create them at home. It’s easy to make almost anything with a 3D printer. The sky’s the limit, toys included.

Is PLA kid-safe?

If you’re going to be letting kids use the 3D printer, you may wonder if the filament is safe for them as well. PLA is bioplastic, so it’s non-toxic. It’s the safest material for kids to learn to print with. While there are 3D printers out there for kids that have interchangeable filaments, most come standard with PLA, which is the best option.

The Verdict: Flashforge Inventor 2 Review

Beginners, students, and teachers alike will find that the Flashforge Inventor 2 is one of the best 3D printers for kids to learn. It’s geared toward education and built with the safety of children in mind.

It’s easy setup and quiet printing make it ideal for the classroom. The build volume is larger than its predecessor, but it’s also more expensive. This may turn some people off, but it’s well worth it for the safety features.

It also includes a mobile app and a camera to monitor progress remotely, so even if the class is over before the build is done, your students can keep tabs on their projects. If you’re in the market for a beginner 3D printer for kids, this is one of the better options available.

Why go with the Inventor 2?
$699.00

The Inventor 2 is a great pick for KIDS or beginners looking to get familair with 3D printing in a lower stress environment. A great buy for schools, libraries or STEM encouraging parents!

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/31/2020 05:09 pm UTC

Recommended Reads:

Fusion 360 vs AutoCAD [Sep 2020]: Which CAD Software Is Best?

fusion 360 vs autocad

While 3D printers are capable of doing many great things, you need the right modeling software. And today we’ll be taking a look at Fusion 360 v AutoCAD and comparing them to find out which software is better for creating models for 3D printing.

We should preface by saying that they are both very popular products, used across the world for 3D modeling. While there are alternative pieces of software out there, Fusion 360 and AutoCAD (both Autodesk products) are consistently amongst the top two or three.

Both of these programs have been developed for people who do have some experience in drafting models on computers. They haven’t been designed in a way that you need to spend years studying to understand them, but you will have to put some work into researching terms and concepts if you have little experience working in this field.

Before we get into the specifications and features for each product, let’s take a look at what are the main differences between the two.

Bottom Line Up Front: Here’s my TL;DR for how to decide…

Main Differences Between the Fusion 360 vs AutoCAD

The main differences between Fusion 360 and AutoCAD are:

  • Fusion 360 has an emphasis on freeform models, whereas AutoCAD focuses on geometry-driven models
  • AutoCAD works with local and network-based files, whereas Fusion 360 is based on cloud technology
  • The AutoCAD interface is able to command with a command line, whereas the Fusion 360 does not
  • Fusion 360 is a pure 3D tool, whereas AutoCAD has 2D drafting functionality alongside the 3D model capability

System requirements for Fusion 360

Operating System

Apple® macOS™ Mojave v10.14; Apple® macOS™ High Sierra v10.13; Apple® macOS™ Sierra v10.12

 

Microsoft® Windows® 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 (64-bit only)

CPU Type

64-bit processor (32-bit not supported)

Memory

3GB RAM (4GB or more recommended)

Graphics Card

512MB GDDR RAM or more, except Intel GMA X3100 cards

Disk Space

2.5 GB

Pointing Device

Microsoft-compliant mouse, Apple Mouse, Magic Mouse, MacBook Pro trackpad

Core Features of the Fusion 360

fusion 360

Fusion 360 is the first pure 3D CAD, CAM, and CAE tool that is available to a wide audience.

It features a wide range of drawing, modeling and rendering tools that will allow you to create 3D models. You will also be able to create surfaces and sheet metal parts with this software. Fusion 360 differs from some other computer-aided design software in that it utilizes cloud technology.

Many CAD programs use a huge amount of processing power and resources and actions such as thermal analysis or rendering can make a computer useless for anything else for a long time. Fusion 360 uses cloud as a ‘resource multiplier’ so this means that the actions involved in rendering and creating 3D models are sent there rather than slowing down your computer.

You will be able to do other tasks and the cloud will handle the calculations and other actions. It results in a short iteration cycle. There are also many courses you can go on to learn more about Fusion 306 but how does it rate as CAD software?

Usability

Fusion 360 is a fairly easy to use program and if you have some experience of CAD software then you shouldn’t have too many problems here.

You also have the possibility of doing customizations with Fusion 360. This is very handy because it means you can suit it to your own specifications and what you are using it for. It isn’t difficult to make any customizations either to the program. 

Reliability

As Fusion 360 is based on cloud technology, I have come across several people who have concerns over its reliability. While AutoCAD (which we’ll look in-depth below) works off local and network-based files and issues with connectivity can be resolved in an hour, Fusion 360 is different.

They have put a lot of work and effort into ensuring that using cloud technology doesn’t impact on the reliability of the program. I haven’t come across many issues with Fusion 360 and its use of the cloud. They do tend to do updates during the night at the weekend which may impact you if you work these hours.

Installation

It is very easy to get set up with Fusion 360.

You simply log into your Autodesk account, select Fusion 360 for your device and download the files to your computer. All the storage for files is done via cloud technology and you do require a connection to the internet for updates and security fixes.

Compatibility with 3D printing software

Fusion 360 exports objects as either an OBJ or STL file. These two types of files are compatible with most of the software that 3D printers use to print from. With Fusion 360 you should be able to export these files and print them onto a 3D printer without any problems. Pretty much every 3D printer will be able to print off an object created with this software.

Support

This is a crucial factor in deciding which software to go with. If something goes wrong and it doesn’t work correctly then you want the problem to be rectified as soon as possible. This is especially true with Fusion 360 as it uses cloud technology.

Luckily the support on offer with Fusion 360 is great.

They have a section of their website dedicated to supporting with many frequent issues that you can search through. If you do need to speak to someone then they can be contacted either by email or by phone and have quick response times. The support team at Fusion 360 is among the best I have come across.

Fusion 360 Pros and Cons

fushion 360 logo

Pros

  • A powerful software that doesn’t require you to carry out any intense drawings to ensure that you have quality 3D models
  • Easy to use so even if you don’t have a lot of experience working with this kind of software you can learn your way around it fairly quick
  • Plenty of online materials and courses to ensure that you expand your skills with using this software
  • Uses cloud technology so you can move from one computer to another and pick straight up where you left off. It means you don’t need to worry about moving files around with you
  • Has parametric modeling as well as organic modelling and offers a historic timeline of changes

Cons

  • While using cloud technology has its benefits it can hamper your work if it goes down or there are any issues with it
  • Can get a bit sluggish when you start drawing complex models
  • Needs a fast internet connection due to using the cloud

AutoCAD System Specifications

Operating System

Microsoft® Windows® 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 (64-bit only)

 

There is a Mac version but it doesn’t have the full functionality of the Windows program

CPU Type

2.5 GHz (3+ GHz recommended)

Memory

8 GB (16GB recommended)

Graphics Card

1 GB GPU with 29 GB/s Bandwidth and DirectX 11 compliant

 

Recommended: 4 GB GPU with 106 GB/s Bandwidth and DirectX 11 compliant

Disk Space

6.0 GB

Pointing Device

MS-Mouse compliant

Core Features of the AutoCAD

autocad

You might have heard of AutoCAD before even if you have no or very little prior experience of drawing objects on a computer.

AutoCAD first appeared way back in 1982 and it changed the way we do things. Being able to work on multiple drawings at the one time and many other features over the past four decades have propelled it to the most used design software.

We’ve compared AutoCAD to other design software previously. While AutoCAD is mostly used for 2D drawings and modeling, it has the functionality to design 3D models. It is a very powerful software that allows you to import data from PDF files, attach notations in addition to extracting data to tables and other formats.

Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

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How does AutoCAD perform with its usability, reliability, installation and its system of support?

Usability

How easy AutoCAD is to use really depends on how much experience you have with design software.

For those who have some experience with design software and who have perhaps seen AutoCAD before, it is fairly user-friendly. I have used AutoCAD many times in the past and haven’t had any significant issues. The UI is very good and the really cool thing about this is that it is so versatile.

You can customize AutoCAD to your specifications and it can be used for a wide range of disciplines such as structural, industrial and architecture. It might take a bit of practice to get comfortable with the layout and what it can do but once you get there it is easy to crack on with some great drawings.

Reliability

Unlike Fusion 360 which uses cloud technology, AutoCAD works off local and network-based files. This is perhaps the major difference between the two different programs.

It can mean that AutoCAD is actually more reliable in that it doesn’t necessarily depend on an internet connection to work which can be a real bonus. Whereas Fusion 360 needs internet connectivity, AutoCAD can work off files directly on your computer or on the network at your work so even if the internet is down you can still use AutoCAD.

One drawback here is that you won’t be able to move files around with you as easily as using the cloud but it does mean that reliability is better with AutoCAD. That being said, there are cloud services available with AutoCAD if you want to add these onto your subscription.

I have never really had any problems with the software in the past and any issues tend to be a local problem with the computer rather than with the AutoCAD software itself.

Installation

It is straightforward to get AutoCAD on your computer and if you have installed a program before then you can do this without any issues.

You simply log into the Autodesk website, select AutoCAD to download and then install it onto your machine. I haven’t come across anyone who has had any major issues with the installation process before but as we’ll see they have a very good support team on hand if anything goes wrong.

Compatibility with 3D printing software

With AutoCAD, you can export your files into an STL file which will work with 3D printing software.

Even though AutoCAD isn’t a pure 3D modeling software it does work for creating 3D objects which can then be printed using most if not all of the 3D printer devices that are available.

Support

I’ve also found the support with AutoCAD really quick and any problems have always been resolved. Not that I’ve had many issues with this software but any time I have encountered a problem the solution was sent over right away.

As AutoCAD is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) design system out there at the minute, there is a ton of different guides, help, and support that you can find online. You can even find a whole bunch of great tutorials by carrying out a simple search.

If you do run into problems you can contact support via email, phone and they have an online help center too.

AutoCAD Pros and Cons

autocad modelling

Pros

  • Professional design software that can be customized to suit your needs
  • Has been the industry-standard software for decades
  • Plenty of online guides and a good system of support if you run into any problems
  • Created for 2D design but has the capability for 3D modeling too
  • Uses local and network files so don’t need the internet and cloud technology to work properly
  • Can add on cloud storage to your subscription if you need it

Cons

  • Mainly a 2D design program and the main focus is on this instead of 3D
  • Can take a while to learn and use properly especially if you are new to drafting and modeling
  • Predominantly a Windows program. Has a Mac version but does not come with the same functionality
  • Requires more computer power than Fusion 360
Why Go With AutoCAD LT?

The Gold Standard for industrial CAD, AutoCAD LT can flexibly adapt to 2D or 3D projects, while using local network drives if connection speeds are limited. Most additive manufacturing speaks AutoCAD.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

FAQ’s About Fusion 360 vs AutoCAD

Is Fusion 360 free?

Fusion 360 is free for individuals and for startups who generate less than $100K per year, whereas there are paid plans is for companies who generate more income and it costs $310 per year, and it can be paid on monthly basis.

How can I switch from 2D to 3D on AutoCad?

If you are accustomed to working with 2D only, there are a few steps in order to switch to 3D modeling, and this includes clicking the Workspace Switch Button and opting for Drafting and Annotation.

What is the difference between 2D and 3D modeling?

2D models are made for projects that include working on a flat surface (screens and walls included), whereas 3D modeling is for more complex projects which include a real look and three-dimensional modeling.

Our Verdict: Fusion 360 or AutoCAD?

Both Fusion 360 and AutoCAD are a popular design and drafting software that is used by many people. However, if you’re still unsure as to which option to get then you should consider the following when deciding which 3D printing software to buy:

Hopefully, you have found this Fusion 360 v AutoCAD comparison guide worthwhile and it has helped you to make an informed choice about these two pieces of software.

Additionally, you can check out our comparison of Fusion 360 vs Solidworks and AutoCAD vs Autodesk Inventor, if you are still not quite settled on a solution.

Recommended Reads:

ABS vs PETG 3D Printing Filament: Which Filament is Best?

ABS vs PETG 3D Filament

One of the biggest factors in the adoption rate of new technology is how easily people can adapt to it.

Users are much more likely to be drawn to something that is easy to understand and straightforward as the quicker they can master it the more they can enjoy it.

Unfortunately, 3D printing is not the easiest to understand or the most straightforward concept, but that’s okay — we’ll make it easy for you here, which is why we are comparing these two filaments: ABS vs PETG 3D, so you can decide which is best to 3D print with.

The Main Differences Between ABS vs PETG 3D

The main differences between ABS vs PETG 3D are:

  • ABS is not a sustainable, environmentally friendly filament, whereas PETG is recyclable
  • ABS is extremely an extremely durable, lightweight filament, whereas PETG absorbs moisture, so you have to store properly
  • ABS requires a heated bed, whereas PETG does not required a heated bed
  • ABS is a thermoplastic polymer typically used in lego building blocks, whereas PETG is a glycol modification material typically used in plastic water bottles

A Little About 3D Printing

Not only do you have hundreds of choices of 3D printers that all seem very similar to the naked eye, but you also need to understand the filament you are using.

The filament for a 3D printer as is important as the jelly in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You can’t have the printer without the filament (3D printing material). These days there are a ton of different filament types for printing. And who really knows the differences between them all. Aren’t they all just spools of plastic?

While some are spools of plastics, they each have very different characteristics. Some are hard, some are soft, some are flexible, some are strong. You get the point. Filament alone can take days upon days of reading and research to just begin to understand some of the basics. Luckily for you, we can do much of the research for you.

Just as anything else, there are some types that are more popular than others. Without a doubt, PLA is the uncontested champion of the 3D printing world. It’s great for all skill levels. It is super easy to use and has a low melting point. It is just an all-around pretty awesome filament. But we aren’t here to talk PLA all day. Let’s discuss some other filaments.

What are ABS and PETG?

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), is a thermoplastic polymer, and it is the second most popular 3D printing filament right behind PLA (polylactic acid ). ABS is popular as it is extremely durable (ideal for mechanical parts with mechanical properties), very lightweight, and relatively cheap to produce and purchase.

You can associate ABS as the material used for LEGO bricks, as well as other consumer goods. It is a very popular material to be used for injection molding.

There are some drawbacks to this filament. It requires high temperatures to reach the ideal melting point (225C). This means you will need to have an extruder that can reach these temperatures (heat resistance) and a heated chamber print bed to avoid warping.

A good ventilation system (e.g. a cooling fan) will help the melted material set and strengthen as it requires such high printing temperatures. As well, ABS puts off a strong, unpleasant odor that can become toxic to humans and pets if too much is inhaled.

Another downfall of ABS is the negative environmental impact. ABS is not a sustainable filament. It is not made of recycled material nor biodegradable material. Any bad prints and unused/unwanted filament will most likely live on for ages in the town dump. Be sure to get your settings dialed in to limit the amount of waste you produce when printing with ABS.

The other filament is an up-and-coming filament that I quickly becoming a favorite of many 3D printing enthusiasts. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the base material with the G representing a glycol modification. This modification adds a lot of durability to PET.  PET is most commonly known as the material used for plastic water bottles.

PETG material maintains a reputation as the best of both worlds for 3D printing’s most popular filaments. It has the tensile strength, temperature resistance, and durability of ABS. Those are combined with the ease of printing PLA and you can understand why PETG is quickly becoming so popular.

Some of the more noteworthy aspects of PETG are that the 3D printer filament is recyclable. It is not the most sustainable material, but it is better than sending PETG print misfires straight to the dump.

Also, PETG is food safe if you want to make any storage containers for edible treats. And this filament does not require a heated bed in order to print without warping (can work on heated or not heated surface plates).

While PETG is quite impressive as a filament, it still has its pitfalls. For example, PETG is a hygroscopic material, which means it easily can absorb moisture. If PETG is not stored in a dry place to keep humidity and moisture from it, the dampened filament will not print how you want it to.

Pelican cases make a great storage box/dry box for PETG. Also, this filament does not do well in UV light. This isn’t the end of the world unless you wanted to print something that would be used outdoors often. The little makes the material become brittle and breaks apart easily.

What makes it popular?

ABS’s strength and durability make it a great choice for a wide range of products and industries. It withstands heat and stress without cracking or weakening, and it is one of the strongest plastic filaments you can buy. The finished product will hide scratches and is highly resistant to chemicals (chemical resistance) and lights. This makes it a great material for finishing polishes, paints, glues, and other post-manufacturing processes.

3d printing abs

ABS will print very smoothly as long as you have your printer settings dialed in. As mentioned before, it has a very high melting point so you will need to ensure you can reach and sustain temperatures throughout the duration of the print. It is recommended you use an enclosed printer as this will make it easier to maintain the temperatures.

PETG, on the other hand, is also known for being a tough and durable filament. A plus-side of this one is it is odorless when melted. While tough and durable, it is also maintained soft and flexible characteristics. This makes it great for prints such as cases, bumpers, and protective pieces. However, this is not the ideal filament for structural or stiff pieces.

Best Practices

It is no secret that filaments can be very tricky to print with. If your printer is dialed in exactly to where you need it, you can end up with a sloppy, stringy, mess of plastic. Nobody wants that. This is why it is very important to pay attention to the specific traits for whichever material you choose.

PETG happens to be one of the more particular filaments and much less forgiving than some other types. Just remember to be patient and check the box on all the details before you rush into a print.

Depending on your extruder and extrusion settings, PETG needs to be printed between 220-245C. While not necessary, a bed temperature around 75C is ideal. You don’t need to get fancy with your bed adhesion. Blue painter’s tape works just as well here as it will for most other filaments.

3D PRINT

Unlike some filaments, PETG doesn’t smear onto each layer from the extruder. Instead, it lays down better on top of each layer. Because of this, you need to leave slightly more room, about 3mm, between the print bed and the nozzle. It is a little tricky to get your printer and nozzle dialed perfectly, but once you get it there, it is nothing but smooth sailing with this filament.

ABS, can also be painful to work with if you don’t take your time (specifically the nozzle modifications). This filament should not be used with an open-framed printer as a lower printing temperature can cause the filament to cool quickly. The rapid cooling will lead to warping and weakening the final print. If you only have an open-framed printer, you can try using plastic wrap to simulate an enclosed printer. Creating a perimeter around your printer will allow you to maintain some of the heat and block unwanted drafts and cool air.

ABS also needs to be used with a high-temperature extruder and a heated bed for best results. After the first few layers have been laid down, you can lower the temperature of the heated print bed. But you want it to be hot at the start to prevent rapid cooling.

ABS vs PETG Price Difference

For ABS 3D Printing Filamentyou are looking at about $20.00 for a decent spool of filament. The PETG Filament is slightly higher at $27.00 per spool.

Both materials are right on par with most other generic types of filament, which float around $20 to $30. Of course, there are specialty spools that can run you anywhere from $50 all the way up to $100.

Also, be aware of where you are purchasing your filament. Some websites will appear to offer legit filament only to send you the bottom of the barrel filament, which does nothing but cause headaches when trying to print. Be sure you are purchasing from a legit supplier. It is always better to spend a little extra to be assured you are receiving a high-quality filament.

Where to Buy PETG Filament?

Just like your classic printers, brands may guage you on their own “custom” filament. They tend to push THEIR brand, regardless of the many suitable (if not even better) alternatives. 

My top recommended filament source is definitely Matterhackers PRO series PETG filament here. It works with all of the top 3D printers, with higher reliability and often a lower price.

Where to Buy ABS Filament?

Similarly, the Matterhackers ABS filament here is second to none. 

Final Takes: PETG or ABS?

We know PLA is the most popular, but a close second is ABS. Just because something is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best.

Depending on who you talk to, a lot of people will argue ABS is the best, and some will even state their case for PETG. Both ABS and PETG are making a name for themselves among 3D printing enthusiast.

While ABS and PETG are quite similar, they each are different and have their unique qualities. Test your settings, and give each a try to determine which is the best for you.

While some will choose one side or the other, many people will find ways to incorporate both filaments into their designs.

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