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Best Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus Upgrades to Consider in 2020

Finding the best Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus upgrades can turn this already very competent 3D printer into a great machine.

The Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is a slightly different model than the Wanhao i3 that we have reviewed before.

We’ll go over what the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is, why adding upgrades can drastically improve its performance and finally, we’ll show you the best upgrades that you can buy.

What is the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus?

Manufactured by Wanhao which is a Chinese company, the Duplicator i3 Plus comes in at the budget end of the pricing scale. That being said, 3D printers have come away down in price in recent years so even though it is a cheaper printer, that doesn’t necessarily mean it has poor performance.

In fact, the Duplicator i3 Plus provides better print quality than many 3D printers that cost much more money.

The printer comes with a decent build volume of 200 X 200 X 180 mm so it is ideal for home use as well as small businesses. With an extruder temperature of 240°C to 260°C it can handle various types of filament and the print speed is good on this machine as well.

Overall the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is a budget printer that offers a high quality experience. You can pay a lot more money for a 3D printer that won’t produce the same results however that isn’t to say that it can’t be improved upon.

Duplicator i3 Plus

Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus specifications

  • Build Volume: 200 x 200 x 180 mm
  • Connectivity: USB, SD Card
  • Filament Size: 1.75mm
  • Hotend Temperature: 240°C – 260°C
  • Print Speed: 10-100mm/s
  • Materials Supported: PLA, ABS, PVA, Stainless Steel, NinjaFlex, Nylon, HIPS, Woodfill, LayBrick, CopperFILL, BronzeFILL, MOLDLAY, Conductive, Carbon Fiber, Polyurethane

Why do you need to add upgrades?

It isn’t that the i3 Plus is a bad printer at all but some choice upgrades can really make the difference in how your prints turn out.

You can certainly use the Duplicator i3 Plus straight out of the box and you will be able to print off high quality objects. Many people don’t upgrade or modify this 3D printer and have never had any problems.

That being said, there are some reasons why it is a good idea to buy some additional parts or upgrade existing components on this printer.

Better 3D printing

As we said, the print quality on this 3D printer is very good but it can always be improved.

By adding in some small upgrades to the i3 plus you will be able to get better and higher quality prints. Some owners will happily keep the stock components on this printer and that’s completely fine however a few upgrades can really take this printer to the next level.

Extra features

Aside from simply improving on the existing parts of the i3 plus, some upgrades can actually add to the overall functionality. This includes adding in additional features to your printer.

For example, adding a camera to keep an eye on your prints or even upgrading the machine so that it is able to connect via WiFi. Out of the box the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus has USB and SD card connectivity so adding to this is a good idea.

Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus Features

Improved reliability

Getting reliable and consistent prints is important as a print coming out in high quality. The i3 Plus does a good job at printing reliably however it can be improved upon.

With upgrades to the bed leveling system and the glass bed which we will have a look at later one, the overall performance of your printer will be much better. It means not only will you have high quality prints but you will have these prints on a consistent basis.

What parts of the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus can you upgrade?

The vast majority of components in a 3D printer can be upgraded or modified and this includes the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus.

Some are easier than others. The upgrades we have listed below are all fairly straightforward even if you happen to be new to 3D printers. While there are perhaps more complicated upgrades out there, we want to show you the best ones to get you off to a good start with this printer.

These are the main parts of the i3 Plus that most people tend to upgrade to improve print reliability, quality, and overall performance.

Z Braces

Adding a Z brace to the i3 Plus will improve its stability and make the printer more rigid.

What this means is that you should get more reliable prints on a frequent basis. Because there are several moving parts on the 3D printer, a Z brace stabilizes everything to ensure better quality prints. While this isn’t such a big problem on more recent versions of the Di3, it will ensure better stability to your printer overall.

Print Surface

Adding a glass bed to the print surface is something that a lot of people do to their 3D printer and it isn’t just an upgrade that is limited to the i3+. Most 3D printer owners end up adding on a glass bed at some point if their printer doesn’t have one.

It has several benefits including providing a smooth finish to your prints and an easy removal process of your models from the printer. The advantage glass has over other surfaces such as plastic is that it can withstand high temperatures. This means that it won’t warp or peel so it will rarely need to be replaced. Glass is also easier to clean before and after printing too.

wanhao duplicator i3 plus review

On-board computer

Another common upgrade on the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is the on-board computer.

There isn’t a ton wrong with what is provided with this 3D printer however adding something like a Raspberry Pi can improve its overall performance. It will also ensure that you get increased functionality as well with the 3D printer and can include things like WiFi and adding an on-board camera.

Belt Tension

The springs wirth the i3 Plus are known as having a few problems. This can cause issues with the print quality and a common upgrade is to increase the belt tension.

Doing this will mean that the X and Y belts are more secured which cuts down on movement and will mean better printed models and objects.

Cooling Fan

While there isn’t too much wrong with the stock fan provided, upgrading to a better one will improve this 3D printer overall.

With a better fan, you will notice improved bridges, overhangs, and needle points if you are printing with PLA and other materials. It is a fairly easy modification but one that will bring a lot of advantages.

Buying upgrades v printing upgrades

I’m going to show you the best upgrades you can get for the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus but before I do, I need to tell you about buying an upgraded part or printing an upgrading part.

The beauty of already having a 3D printer is that some parts you can actually print off yourself! While this isn’t true for everything – a new motherboard for example – some smaller parts can actually be made yourself.

On our list of best upgrades for the Duplicator i3+, there is a combination of parts that can be bought and parts that can also be printed.

Best upgrades for the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus

So, let’s find out the best upgrades you can get for your Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus.

#1 Z Braces

Adding Z braces to your Duplicator i3 Plus will improve its stability and add much-needed rigidity to the printer.

z braces i3 plus

This is actually one of the upgrades for the Duplicator i3 Plus that you can print off and attach yourself if you wish. In actual fact it is a fairly easy upgrade and you don’t need to drill any new holes although you do need to replace some short 3mm screws with 10mm screws.

#2 Wisamic Borosilicate Glass Plate Bed

Upgrading the print bed on the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus can make a world of difference to how your prints turn out. It can also make the whole process a bit easier as glass is a lot easier to clean prior to printing and also once your objects have been completed.

The Wisamic Borosilicate Glass Plate Bed is an ideal upgrade for your i3 Plus. It is made from 100% borosilicate glass which means it can cope with high temperatures that this 3D printer needs to reach its potential. You also won’t need to replace this anytime soon due to its durability while you’ll get a consistent heat across the build surface.

Getting your completed prints off the glass bed is a lot easier as well. Given its inexpensive cost and the advantages it brings to your Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus, this upgrade really is a no brainer.

#3 Belt Tensioners

This is another upgrade that you can print off yourself and it can have a positive impact on how your prints turn out.

The springs on the i3 Plus are known for not being particularly stable but some belt tensioners for the X Belt and the Y Belt will mean that everything is a bit more secure.

It is quite a simple fix for a problem that can plague this 3D printer. Even if you are a beginner with 3D printers, printing and installing belt tensioners is fairly straightforward and all the instructions are there to make sure you get it right.

#4 Raspberry Pi with Octoprint

Enhancing the power of your 3D printer while also adding in additional functionality is something that can be achieved with a Raspberry Pi upgrade. Especially when it comes to fairly budget 3D printers, upgrading its processing power and on-board computer can really allow it to reach its potential

By installing this onto your 3D printer and also using Octoprint which creates a web interface for your printer, you will find the i3 Plus easier to use too. With these additions, you can add WiFi functionality and control your 3D printer from another computer as well.

It is another modification that isn’t massively difficult either but will make a ton of difference to how your 3D printer functions.

#5 Raspberry Pi Camera Module

Adding in a camera will let you keep an eye on your prints as they are progressing and the Raspberry Pi Camera Module is a very useful addition.

Raspberry Pi Camera Module

This is another fairly inexpensive upgrade but something that will really add a big functionality boost to your 3D printer. You can also get a mounting arm for the camera as well which you are able to print off yourself.

Combined with the Raspberry Pi with Octoprint, this will greatly extend how your Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus operates and make things a lot easier when printing high quality objects,

#6 DC Brushless Sleeve-Bearing Cooling Blower Fan

The fan with the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus certainly isn’t the worst on the market but there are issues around the noise it makes. The stock fan shroud doesn’t work too well either so it is certainly worth looking into a new part.

This is why the DC Brushless Sleeve-Bearing Cooling Blower Fan is a recommended upgrade to provide better noise control and it will also help with improving bridges, overhangs, and needle points. You can also get a cooler mod for the i3 Plus which can make a huge difference too.

Installing a new fan onto this 3D printer isn’t a difficult job so you should be able to do this with ease.

#7 Filament Guide

The last upgrade that you should get for your Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is a filament guide.

This will help with feeding the filament into the 3D printer and should help towards higher quality and more consistent prints. This is an upgrade that you will be able to print off yourself too which is a bonus. Quite a small modification to your i3 Plus 3D printer but it is one that can make a world of difference to print quality and reliability.

Frequently Asked Questions and Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus Upgrades

Should I upgrade my Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus?

It is something you should seriously think about. The i3 Plus is a perfectly good printer out of the box and you will be able to print off good quality models. However, with the upgrades that we have listed here, you can take this 3D printer from being a good one to a great machine with new possibilities and potential.

Will upgrading my Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus improve print quality?

It should do. Even though the print quality is pretty good as standard you can increase the quality and reliability with these upgrades. For example, the Z braces, glass plate and filament guide will all help with more reliable outputs.

Is Wanhao a good 3D printer manufacturer?

This Chinese based company is known for producing good quality 3D printers for an affordable price. We have reviewed several of Wanhao’s 3D printers recently including the i3 and the D7.

Can I install these upgrades on my own?

Yes, you should be able to. None of these upgrades are particularly hard to install. Some will take a bit more work than others and if you are new to 3D printers it might take more time. However, you should be able to put these modifications onto your 3D printer on your own.

Do I need to spend a lot of money to upgrade my Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus?

Not necessarily. Most of these upgraded parts are all very inexpensive and some you can even print off yourself. Because the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is a reasonably inexpensive 3D printer you can buy some of these upgraded parts and it will still be cheaper than many other models on the market for the same quality.

Can I print some of these upgrades myself?

Yes. Some of the upgrades we have listed can be printed on your 3D printer and then installed. There are also guides as well as printing and installation instructions which will help you to get started.

Conclusion

For the most part, you should be able to print off high-quality objects on your Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus. If you are totally new to 3D printing or just a beginner, it can take a while to learn the basics and get consistently good prints.

The Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is a very good printer as it is and for the price, it really isn’t that expensive when you consider the quality you get. However, extending its functionality and ensuring that you get reliable prints on a consistent basis will actually save you time and money.

This is why these upgrades are important. They not only provide better-printed objects and models but they also improve the features of your printer as well.

The best upgrades for the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus are:

These upgrades for the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus Upgrades can turn your already well functioning printer into a powerful one without the huge cost.

Anycubic Photon vs Wanhao D7: Which One Should You Choose

Our Anycubic Photon vs Wanhao D7 comparison is going to put these two DLP resin 3D printers against each other.

These printers are a bit different than some of the other 3D printer models we have reviewed in the past. Resin DLP printers use liquid resin to produce detailed prints. They use a process called Vat Polymerization to print objects and the Anycubic Photon and Wanhao D7 are two popular printers in this category.

So, let’s find out how these 3D printers compare against each other and discover which one is the better 3D Printer to buy.

Main Differences Between Anycubic Photon vs Wanhao D7

The main differences between Anycubic Photon vs Wanhao D7 are:

  • Anycubic Photon has its own dedicated software, whereas Wanhao D7 does not have one.
  • Anycubic Photon has a build volume of 115 x 64 x 155mm, whereas Wanhao D7 has a build volume of 120 x 68 x 180mm.
  • Anycubic Photon has both USB and SD Card connectivity, whereas Wanhao D7 only has USB connectivity.
  • Anycubic Photon has a layer resolution of 25-100 microns, whereas Wanhao D7 has a layer resolution of 35 microns.

These two DLP 3D printers definitely fall into the budget category and you won’t be breaking the bank by purchasing either. How do they both shape up with their features?

Exploring Anycubic Photon and Wanhao D7 features

photon

Printing

Printing objects and designs with a DLP 3D printer is a bit different than using the FDM 3D printers that we often review. They don’t use filament. With these two 3D printers you use a liquid resin that is cured by light to create objects.

The Anycubic Photon has a build volume of 115 x 65 x 155mm and a laser resolution of 25-100 microns. The prints with the Photon are extremely good. Even with the well known 3DBenchy test – which we use for our FDM 3D printers – the results were fantastic.

The models came out to an extremely high quality and when you consider the cost of the Anycubic Photon, it represents real value for money. Even with complex layers on the print models, this printer was able to handle it with ease.

The Wanhao D7 offers similar results and it has a build volume of 120 x 68 x 180mm with a layer resolution of 35 microns. It uses the same technology to produce highly detailed prints and we also found that it handled the 3DBenchy test very well. There are a lot of printers that are much more expensive that don’t produce the high quality at the Wanhao D7 especially when it comes to complex models.

In terms of print quality, there isn’t much between these two printers. One thing to note is that because they are DLP 3D printers, the print time will generally be a good bit longer. This means they aren’t necessarily designed for mass-producing objects but given their cost, they are certainly ideal for home use.

Post-processing

Both of these printers are aimed at experienced people and they aren’t made or marketed at novices and beginners. This is due to the post-processing tasks that you need to carry out.

With many other affordable 3D printers that use a filament, they can often be a ‘plug and play’ device. While they take some getting used to, most hobbyists can get the basics and produce good prints in no time.

With both the Wanhao D7 and the Anycubic Photon, you need to do something called post-processing. This involves cleaning your printed objects with isopropyl alcohol and the resin that is used when printing the objects is hazardous as well. The post-processing is the same for both of these printers and it is something to keep in mind because it adds an extra task before your models are ready to go.

Cleaning

wanhao duplicator 7

These printers will require a bit more cleaning than many others due to the processes they use to create objects.

You need to clean the Wanhao D7 and the Anycubic Photon before and after you print. This can be a slightly arduous task. It involves pulling out the resin vat and removing any solid parts. The build plate needs to be cleaned each time too.

Both of these 3D printers require more cleaning than the majority of the FDM models. It is something to keep in mind because it does add to the time to print things off. It is also important that you wear all the required safety equipment when printing, post-processing, and cleaning.

Software

With the Anycubic Photon, you will get slicing software provided with your purchase. It is actually one of the easier pieces of software to use with these kinds of printers. It can be a bit limiting with the settings you can change – the adjustable settings including normal exposure time, layer thickness, off time, and bottom and exposure time – but there are preset settings available too. The software allows you to modify things such as scaling and rotating models and it works pretty quickly too.

One thing that is a bit of a downside is the fact that you don’t get much explanation or descriptions of the settings.

There is no dedicated software with the Wanhao D7 but you do get access to Creation Workshop. It isn’t that easy to find the actual download file and many people have complained that it isn’t readily available on their website. You can use other slicer software with this 3D printer but this is the one that you get access to with the product.

In many ways, the lack of a dedicated software with the Wanhao is more indicative of the lack of specialized software with DLP printers. There certainly aren’t as many good options as there are for the FDM 3D printers.

Specifications for Anycubic Photon and Wanhao D7

Anycubic Photon Wanhao D7
Build Volume: 115 x 65 x 155mm Build volume: 120 x 68 x 180mm
Software: Has its own dedicated slicing software Software: Doesn’t have its own slicing software. You get access to Creation Workshop
Connectivity: USB, SD Card Connectivity: USB
Layer Resolution: 25-100 microns Layer Resolution: 35 microns

Comparing Anycubic Photon and Wanhao D7 pricing

These two models of 3D printers certainly come in at the budget end of the spectrum and that is very much the market they are aimed at.

That isn’t to say that because you pay a budget price you get budget quality. As we’ve shown when looking at the printing features above, both produce great prints even with complex models.

So, how do they compare in cost?

The Anycubic Photon really isn’t expensive at all and even when you add in the cost of the resin, it is still coming in very cheap compared to many other models. You will need to add resin which will add to the cost (it is more expensive than filament) but overall it is still very cheap.

The Wanhao D7 3D printer is a bit more expensive. Like the Anycubic Photon, you’ll need to pay for resin as well to produce your prints. This is a bit more than filament so it is something to factor in when you are looking at these 3D printers. That being said, the cost of the Wanhao D7 is still a lot lower than many other models on the market. Even though it is pricier than the Anycubic Photon, it is still an inexpensive DLP 3D printer.

Anycubic Photon vs Wanhao D7 ease of use

Neither of these 3D printers are made for beginners. This is down to the fact that using DLP printers and working with resin is a lot more hazardous than using filament.

The toxic resins require you to use various safety products such as goggles, gloves, and masks. You really don’t want this stuff to touch your skin and even the post-processing and cleaning of the printer isn’t something for novices to do.

In terms of the actual printing of the objects, it is a bit trickier than other 3D printers and that goes for both the Anycubic Photon and the Wanhao D7. If you are a beginner or even if you have a bit of experience with 3D printing, you might find the process a bit cumbersome and long-winded.

That being said, the software isn’t that hard to use. The software with the Anycubic Photon is very easy to operate and the fact that it is dedicated software adds to this. The Wanhao D7 doesn’t have its own software and the one provided is fairly straightforward as well.

Overall, both of these printers are a bit more complex than your average model but that is as much down to the fact that they use resin than anything else.

What support is available for the Anycubic Photon and Wanhao D7

As both of these 3D printers are a bit more complicated, you’ll need to have some decent support options available.

You can find the firmware and software downloads easily on the Anycubic website and they are handily on the actual product page. The manual can be found here as well. They have a contact form on their website as well as a dedicated after-sales support portal you can log into. Overall the support isn’t fantastic but it isn’t terrible either. It is easy enough to get in contact and the software, firmware, and manuals are easily found on the product page.

Wanhao’s support isn’t that great. The actual support section of their website is completely empty. You can find some FAQs, manuals for your 3D printer as well as other information on the product pages. It was difficult to locate the software as well. They don’t offer great options for getting in contact. Whether that is down to where they are based I’m not sure but there are manufacturers that are much easier to get in contact with.

Pros and Cons

Anycubic Photon

Pros

  • Very affordable DLP 3D printer that products high-quality models
  • Isn’t for beginners but easy enough for experienced users
  • Good size of the printer and won’t take up a lot of space
  • Dedicated slicer software which is easy to use
  • Has some support options and manual/downloads straightforward to find

Cons

  • Pre-print and post-processing can be time-consuming
  • Need various safety equipment due to working with toxic materials

Wanhao D7

Pros

  • Low-cost DLP 3D printer that is much cheaper than many other models
  • Produces very good resin prints even with complex designs
  • Well designed and won’t take up too much space
  • Easy to use for those that are experienced with DLP printers

Cons

  • Like all DLP printers, printing, cleaning, and post-processing takes time
  • Doesn’t have dedicated software
  • Support options and the website isn’t great

Are there any alternatives?

Creality LD-002R LCD Resin 3D Printer

creality ld

If you want an alternative to the Anycubic Photon and the Wanhao D7, the Creality LD-002R LCD Resin 3D Printer is definitely an option. With a 119 X 65 X 160mm print volume and ability to print off high-quality models, it is a very good entry-level option.

People who are getting to grips with DLP 3D printers will find this one from Creality ideal. It is also priced in and around the same bracket as the Anycubic Photon and the Wanhao D7 (albeit a bit closer to the Anycubic Photon) so you won’t be shelling out a lot of money for this printer. The active carbon air filtering system is a good addition as it cuts down on the smell from the resin too.

Sparkmaker SLA 3D Resin Printer

lcd 3d printer

For anyone that wants a smaller build size as well as a cheaper price, the Sparkmaker SLA 3D Resin Printer is a good resin 3D printer to buy. It has a build volume of 98mm x 55mm x 125mm and like all resin printers, the usual caveats apply around safety and working with toxic resin.

Again, this isn’t really a printer for a complete novice but it is an easy to use the device. You don’t need to have a ton of experience to operate the Sparkmaker SLA 3D Resin Printer but it isn’t a ‘plug and plays’ machine. That being said, this is a great resin printer if you want a smaller build volume and a cheaper price.

FAQs About Anycubic Photon and Wanhao D7

What is a resin 3D printer?

The difference between a resin DLP 3D printer and a FDM 3D printer is that they don’t use filament. These printers use a liquid resin that is cured by light to create objects.

Is the printing process slow with the Anycubic Photon and Wanhao D7?

Printing will be slower with these two models and an FDM 3D printer. This is because the process takes longer and you also need to clean the machine more often. Post-processing also has to be carried out on the printed models which can add more time.

Where is the Anycubic Photon and Wanhao D7 made?

Both the Anycubic Photon and Wanhao D7 are manufactured in China.

Does the Anycubic Photon come with slicing software?

Wanhao don’t have their own slicing software but you do get access to Creation Workshop. Their website isn’t that easy to find things and the information is patchy so accessing can be a bit difficult.

Do I get a warranty with the Anycubic Photon and Wanhao D7?

Yes. Both of these 3D printers come with a warranty. You can find information on the warranty for the Anycubic Photon on their website as different parts have different warranty cover and you get a 1-year warranty with the Wanhao D7.

Verdict: Anycubic Photon vs Wanhao D7 – Which is better?

If you are looking for a budget DLP resin 3D printer and want to know what one to choose between the Anycubic Photon and the Wanhao D7, I’m going to let you know my preference.

Both of these printers produce great results. It is really hard to try and distinguish between the two but I am going to choose the Anycubic Photon.

The actual process of using resin can be cumbersome and it definitely involves much more work than using filament on an FDM 3D printer. There isn’t any real difference in the cleaning/printing process between these printers and also the print quality is very similar. So, why did I choose the Anycubic Photon?

Well, they have their own dedicated slicing software. It might not seem like a massive deal but it does make a difference in my opinion. The Photon also has a bigger layer resolution range and even though the build volume is a bit smaller, they have SD card and USB functionality.

The Anycubic website is also a lot better and more advanced. It is much easier to find downloads for firmware, software and a manual on the product page. Their support options are clearer than Wanhao too.

Overall you can’t really go wrong with either of these 3D printers. They are powerful, budget-friendly, and produce great results. The Anycubic Photon is just better and more user friendly overall and that’s why I would choose the Photon over the Wanhao D7.

Further read: 

Wanhao Duplicator i3 Review [2020]

We are a bit spoiled that some of the best 3D printers available are completely open source. There’s the LulzBot TAZ 6 and Mini, or Ulitmaker 3. All three are great 3D printers that are fully open sourced systems.

While it benefits the whole, I am sure companies don’t make nearly as much as they would if their systems were closed. However, they know by advancing the industry there will be more lucrative opportunities down the road.

Take, for example, Original Prusa i3 MK3. This is probably the most commonly imitated of 3D printers. The original is hands-down one of the best 3D printers year in and year out. While there are many duplicates, not many can truly match the overall performance of the original.

Most knock-offs don’t come close to the original printers they are based off due to companies cutting cost to offer a cheaper product. This is just the case with Wanhao and their Duplicator i3 3D printer. But one thing that set Wanhao apart from the competition? They produce a quality, but still inexpensive, Prusa i3 Replicator.

Wanhao is a Chinese based 3D printer supplier. They have been around since mid-2012. Their goal is to provide better and more affordable 3D printers to the world. They surely have seen their very first model, the Duplicator One. Now that they have mastered their supply chain and have a better understanding of what’s important in a 3D printer.

Our Pick
Why go with the Wanhao Duplicator i3?

Dirt cheap, yet durably built to last, the Duplicator i3 is the BEST BUDGET 3D printer we've tested in this price range. The ample build area and heated print bed make it a flexible, reliable and fun machine to work with.

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

The Duplicator i3 might be the best budget 3D printer you can find. The best part is you can easily upgrade the machine yourself and make it even better. Let’s dive in now to the details in this Wanhao Duplicator i3 Review and see why this printer is so great.

Cores Features of the Duplicator i3 Printer

  • Design and Structure: The all-metal frame is where the Duplicator i3 sets itself apart from most other Prusa i3 inspired 3D printers. Often you will see plastic or acrylic frames. The all-metal Duplicator i3 is much stronger and more stable than the plastic frames. This leads to the more steady printing process and ultimately, better looking final prints. As well, the parts show that the company truly cares about their product. Often times, we see these low dollar printers with missing parts, holes that don’t align, or unthreaded screws. All the parts supplied from Wanhao are professional looking. Everything lines up perfectly and you get everything you need to assemble the machine. Any cost-cutting by the company is not apparent in their final product.
  • Value: for roughly $300 this 3D printer meets or exceeds our expectations when it comes to overall design and appearance. The decently sized build area of 8″ x 8″ x 7″ is larger than most of the printers in this price range. As well, you will receive a heated bed as the standard which is a great addition for those looking to do some of the more advanced 3D printing.
  • Display: An easy to use knob and navigation screen make controlling the printing process a breeze. It is a well-designed and easy to follow the menu on the screen. The transitions between each page are smooth and let you get prints started in the blink of an eye.
  • MK10 Printer Extruder: A great beginner extruder to get you started with 3D printing. Can easily handle a large selection of filaments, which allows you to get much more creative with your designs and the objects you want to print. Be sure to see our list of all the best metal hotend you can find if you ever want to upgrade (LINK).

Key Specs of the Duplicator i3 Printer:

Build Area (Build Volume)  8” x 8” x 7” 
Print Speed  100 mm/s 
Filament Types  ABS, PLA, Wood, Nylon PVA, PP, Luminescent 
Layer Resolution  100 – 300 microns 
Extruders  1 
Nozzle Diameter  0.4 mm 
Open/Closed System  Open 
Warranty  None 
Our Score   8.8/10 
Price  $325 (check here for latest)

Pros of the Duplicator i3

Pre-assembled: I really enjoy the partially assembled pieces of the Duplicator i3 ships as. It gives you the chance to still get hands-on and partially put together your machine, and it doesn’t take a whole weekend to build.

You can be up and running in about an hour after unboxing everything. There are a few screws to insert and a little leveling is about all the assembly it requires. The box includes written instructions but you can also find many videos online if you need any help or just want more information.

Community: I am a big fan of 3D printers that have a large online following. It makes troubleshooting much easier. Also, it’s a breeze to find a replacement or upgradable parts and models you can create on your own.

The large online communities enable you to harness the creative capability of thousands of other users. It is a great way to learn and take your 3D printer and your skill to the next level. The Duplicator i3 has multiple outlets that are loaded with information. You can check out the 3Dprinterwiki page (LINK) or the “Wanhao/Monoprice/Cocoon i3 Facebook Group” (LINK).

Cons of the Duplicator i3

Manual bed leveling: something we get spoiled with on a lot of 3D printers these days in an auto-leveling bed.

Manually leveling the print bed after each print is one of those tedious tasks where it really isn’t doing much harm as it is fairly simple, most of the time. But it is very nice to not have to worry about doing the job yourself each time. As well, removing some prints will often knock the bed off, which typically means it needs to be leveled every time.

Best Duplicator i3 Upgrades

I have mentioned a couple of times the large online presence of Duplicator i3 users. Of course, when you combine all these creatives in one place you get some great tips and tricks to upgrade your machine.

I will highlight a few of the most popular or crucial to performance for this 3D printer. One of the most common themes with the Duplicator i3 is that it is a decent 3D printer right out of the box. However, with a few upgrades, you can take it from decent to great.

  1. Glass bed and thumb wheels – A quality glass bed gives a truly flat and level surface for printing. This prevents warped surfaces and you can get prints to stick much better.
  2. Thumb Wheels – These will save a lot of headaches when leveling the bed in between prints. They make it much easier to handle the screws and adjust them to the right height.
  3. Cooling fan – Cooling is a necessary aspect of printing the more difficult and advanced parts. You can find tons of models and ideas on Thingiverse or the online communities.
  4. IKEA Enclosure – This simple but very effective upgrade that will vastly improve prints. The enclose provides a controlled environment for printing, which makes it easy to maintain temperatures. Even temperatures avoid warping and improve the overall print quality. It is a must-have for those who are looking to print with ABS filaments.

Conclusion: Wanhao Duplicator i3 Review

Our Pick
Why go with the Wanhao Duplicator i3?

Dirt cheap, yet durably built to last, the Duplicator i3 is the BEST BUDGET 3D printer we've tested in this price range. The ample build area and heated print bed make it a flexible, reliable and fun machine to work with.

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

One of the best budget 3D printers available, if not the best. It is hard to find a 3D printer for $300 with an all metal frame, good build area, heated print bed, and so much more. Not to mention a few quick and easy printer upgrades and the Duplicator i3 can out-perform some $1,000 3D printers.

This is a great 3D printer if you are looking to gift one. Or for those looking to get into the industry without emptying out your bank account.

The quality of the machine and the performance you can get from the Duplicator i3 really makes it a great addition to anyone’s collection of 3D printers.

Bottom Line: I highly recommend the Duplicator i3 to all 3D printers. It is the perfect balance between tool and toy. Now, go get yourself one and be ready to never want to stop using this machine.

Further Reading

Anycubic Photon vs Photon S – Should You Upgrade?

The Anycubic Photon vs Photon S might be a tricky comparison to make given it’s the same printer, with a few upgrades. However, are those upgrades enough for you to switch over?

Resin printers have revolutionized the 3D printing space given their highly accurate results at a relatively affordable price. They’re an easy to use and safer alternative for beginners. Yet, it delivers high quality, smooth, and polished finish. Anycubic printers are no different.

If you’re looking to produce prototypes and products with fine details, Anycubic has a range of affordable printers that might work for you. Their Photon series is one of the most popular due to its versatility, durability, and cost.

Due to its success, the company introduced the Photon S that takes its counterpart to a new level. But, are their differences that significant? And, which one would be right for you?

This guide illustrates the differences between the Anycubic Photon and the Anycubic Photon S and explores which one is worth investing.

Main Differences Between Anycubic Photon vs Photon S

The main differences between Anycubic Photon vs Photon S are:

  • Anycubic Photon has a print speed of 10mm/h, whereas Anycubic Photon S has a slightly higher speed of 20mm/h
  • Anycubic Photon S has dual linear rails, whereas the Anycubic Photon has a single rod as its Z-axis
  • Anycubic Photon is available at a lower price, whereas the Anycubic Photon S is comparatively expensive
  • Anycubic Photon S uses a UV Matrix as a light source, whereas the Anycubic Photon has a UV LED source

Both models are highly rated resin printers; however, keep their main distinctions in mind as you go through the article to make the right purchasing decision for yourself.

Exploring Anycubic Photon and Anycubic Photon S features

The perfect 3D printer gives you the performance you need; therefore, let’s break down each model using a few practical categories to understand the difference between Anycubic Photon vs Photon S.

Design & Construction

Whether you’re new to 3D printing or transitioning from Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printers, understanding how resin printers work helps.

Anycubic Photon vs Photon S Design

You don’t need to be an expert, but having a basic understanding allows you to grasp the full potential and limitations of the device. Resin printers use ultraviolet (UV) light to harden liquid polymer on a layer-by-layer basis to bring your designs to life.

Each printer has a tray to pool photopolymer resin with UV light shining below. A moving platform adjusts, according to your input, to gradually build each layer. The entire printer is encased within its body to keep it insulated from dirt or dust while also preventing environmental light from affecting the resin.

The original Anycubic Photon has a sturdy metal body fitted with blue plexiglass. On the other hand, the updated Anycubic Photon S has a high-quality and heavy-duty plastic body with blue-amber plexiglass.

Which is better? Some may be inclined to go for the older, metal body. But using plastic in the newer model does not mean its cheaper in quality. The body remains quite durable, yet lighter weight than the former. All in all, in terms of its outer casing, you can’t go wrong with either.

However, the plexiglass color does make a slight difference. The blue-amber color of the newer model provides better UV blocking than the blue color. This means your resin will be less likely to dry up naturally in the printer pool. The original Anycubic Photon does not fall short, but you will need to be extra careful cleaning up.

Survey your workspace and judge the conditions you’ll be working under to make a decision between which factors make a difference to you.

Printing

As mentioned above, resin printers differ from traditional FDM 3D printers by exposing the resin to UV light. The printing process of the two models is similar, but there are subtle differences in their mechanics and results.

The Anycubic Photon uses a solo Z-axis rod that adjusts up and down to build the model layer-by-layer. This results in high-quality prints that can handle reasonably intricate designs with ease.

Anycubic Photon vs Photon S Priting

However, the Photon did receive complaints of its single rod being wobbly; often disturbing the model resulting in streaks or less smoothness.

Therefore, the Anycubic Photon S attempts to rectify its stability issue by changing its single Z-axis rod to a dual one. Consequently, the prints are much smoother and precise—even with smaller parts.

The Photon S has another slight advantage in the printing area as its build volume has been increased by 10 mm. Although the improvement is not significant enough to warrant an upgrade, if you have the original Photon.

Software

All Anycubic devices come with their slicing software. It equips users with the basics of all they need to operate their 3D printers. It allows you to generate models geared towards making detailed and precise designs.

Unlike traditional FDM software, each file is made up on multiple images that allow for constructing layered models.

Anycubic uses the same Slicer program for all its models. Therefore, regardless of the model you have, you’re receiving the same facilities and capabilities.

The print quality of the Photon S is overall better due to its hardware, as described above. But there is some reporting it has more software bugs as opposed to the Photon. Much like the quality differences, however, the issues are not prominent enough to warrant a clear-cut recommendation of either model.

FormWare Slicing Software

Post-Processing

Much like other aspects of a resin 3D printer, there is a slight learning curve for beginners for post-processing as well. It is a crucial aspect of ensuring your results are precise and durable.

After cleaning your model in an alcohol bath, use an ultrasonic cleaner for around 3 minutes using 91% alcohol. Subsequent to this, the model can be cured. Using a UV machine is the recommended way as direct sunlight may cause a reaction resulting in a burnt tint.

Without properly cleaning your device, the resin will harden within the device making the material and the machine’s pool bed unusable. Although the Photon S upgrades its plexiglass by adding a more amber tint, incoming light can still harden the resin. Therefore, drain all liquid and properly clean off any residue before storage to ensure your product’s life.

Specifications for Anycubic Photon and Photon S

Anycubic Photon Anycubic Photon S
Build Volume: 116 x 55 x 165 mm Build Volume: 116 x 65 x 165 mm
Software: Anycubic Slicing Software Software: Anycubic Slicing Software
Connectivity: USB Connectivity: USB
Layer Resolution: 25-100 microns Layer Resolution: 25-100 microns
Anti-aliasing: Yes Anti-aliasing: Yes
Z-axis: Single rod Z-axis: Dual rod

Comparing Anycubic Photon vs Photon S – Pricing

The 3D printing niche is still in its infancy, but innovations spring up routinely. Resin printing is in itself an innovation, which made 3D printing easier and more accessible. Unlike traditional heavy-duty printers, you can easily find resin printers at a fraction of the cost.

Moreover, Anycubic prides itself on its affordability and quality. The company focuses on making the space more inclusive to generate more creativity and unlock a person’s inner potential.

As such, the prices of both models are rather economical. However, there is a price distinction between Anycubic Photon and Photon S.

The Photon, being the older model, is considerably lower in price. You can also purchase resin along-with the Photon to use it right out of the box.

Anycubic Photon S Upgraded Pricing

On the other hand, the retail price of Anycubic Photon S is considerably more expensive, but it does come with additional resin and 2 FEP Film.

Therefore, the original Photon model has the upper hand when it comes to the price given it still delivers a quality finish with the same feature list.

When considering cost, you might want to keep 3D printing accessories in mind as well. This includes:

  • UV Resin
  • FEP Film
  • Additional accessories, such as a Quad-HD LCD Screen

Anycubic Photon vs Photon S – Ease of use

Anycubic is a well-known and established 3D printer manufacturer with a specialty in resin printers. Their devices are manufactured with the end user in mind to make the printing process as smooth as possible.

That being said, 3D resin printing is not a straight forward task to get started with. While being cost-effective for beginners, the device has a learning curve in order to unlock its potential. Once you understand the basics, however, it all comes rather simple and practical.

To help newcomers into the world of resin modeling, Anycubic has installed its easy to use plug-and-play software on a USB. Its software and firmware can also be found on the company’s website, along-with informative guides.

The product manual is detailed, and it explains each step you need to take to build your models like a pro. Each model comes with a handy LCD to help you determine each component is precise, down to the last few micrometers.

Additionally, if you face any issues, Anycubic has an adequate customer service team to help you along the way. Overall, ease of use might be slightly based on individual experiences; however, it focuses on helping you get your bearings until you’re confident.

Anycubic Photon vs Photon S – Support

As suggested above, Anycubic has accessible and friendly customer service that allows the company to proactive resolve user issues.

Additionally, a community of users of varying levels supports the product. Beginners to Advanced 3D modelers can use the Community Forum to troubleshoot their problems or discuss their findings.

For everything else, you have the company’s manuals and direct customer service features

Anycubic Photon vs Photon S – Pros and Cons

Anycubic Photon Pros

  • High quality 3D Resin Printer
  • Provides smooth and beautiful prints
  • Made from a solid metal body
  • Relatively affordable
  • Offers the same features as its updated counterpart

Anycubic Photon Cons

  • Touchscreen responsiveness needs work
  • Single Z-axis rod can wobble to disrupt the model design

Anycubic Photon S Pros

  • Smoother, faster, and more precise finish
  • Plastic exterior lowers value price without compromising on durability
  • Updated plexiglass for easy clean-up
  • Uses dual liner rod on Z-axis to provide greater stability and improve the finish

Anycubic Photon S Cons

  • Expensive with no additional benefits
  • Slight glossy finish
  • The plastic casing is an overall downgrade from its metal body.

Are there any alternatives?

Elegoo Mars

elegoo mars

The Elegoo Mars 3D resin printer works similar to the Anycubic Photon, and its most recommended alternative.

It offers an easy printing experience to the user using the same plate mechanics for consistently high-quality prints. Unlike the Photon series, however, the Elegoo Mars requires the build plate to be manually installed. All instructions are provided and the installation is an easy process, but it is not as plug-and-play as its counterpart initially.

Moreover, the Elegoo Mars comes with the ChiTu Box software which is easy to use and offers more flexibility than the Photon proprietary Slicing software. It allows you to build hollow models while providing robust support generation.

In terms of its price, the Elegoo Mars sits between the two Photon models so it could be an affordable alternative to the Photon S.

Wanhao D7

Wanhao D7

Wanhao D7 printer is also a comparative option worth looking into. It delivers similar high-quality results with a layer resolution of 35 microns.

Like the Elegoo Mars, the Wanhao D7 does not come with proprietary software. Instead, it provides access to the Creation Workshop. However this software is rather barebones, and most users tend to use alternative slicer software. Important to note: Its connectivity is through USB only.

The Wanhao D7 has a price comparative to the Anycubic Photon S while lacking some aspects. However, it does provide the same quality and could be an alternative that works for you.

Frequently Asked Questions about Anycubic Photon and Photon S

What Is a Resin 3D Printer?

Resin printers are an innovation that makes 3D technologies more affordable and accessible. Unlike FDM printers that use filaments, these printers use resins to create models on a layer-by-layer basis. It essentially cures liquid resin using UV light to build its structures.

As a result, the prints are more detailed and intricate while requiring less post-processing work. Overall, your printer preference depends on the projects you want to undertake, but a resin printer is a good option for beginners to get started with 3D printing.

Is the printing process slow with the Anycubic Photon or Photon S?

As with most resin printers, the printing process is rather slow as each layer needs to be built up. That said, the Photon S has slightly improved its speed given its UV matrix and increase in power.

Does Anycubic Come With Slicing Software?

Both Anycubic models include the company’s proprietary slicing software which provides you everything you need to get started. Alternatively, you can also use third-party softwares according to your preference.

What, if any, Other Slicing Softwares Can Be Used With Anycubic Photon?

Other Slicing softwares that can be used with Anycubic Photon devices include:
•Zortrax Z-Suite
•ChituBox
•Photon Open Slicer
•Formware 3D
•Slic3r

Do I get a warranty with Anycubic Photon or Anycubic Photon S?

Yes. Buying Anycubic Photon or Photon S from the company’s direct website or through authorized sellers (such as Amazon) qualifies you for warranty. To learn more, check out the company’s Warranty Policy.

Our Verdict: Anycubic Photon vs Anycubic Photon S – Which is better?

In short: The Anycubic Photon and Photon S are solid resin 3D printers that produce high-quality models and prototypes. While they have a learning curve, they enable 3D technologies to be accessible for beginners at a more affordable price.

The utility of 3D resin printers lies in their ability to provide the complete package, and the Anycubic Photon series definitely provides that. Each model comes with their signature Slicing software which allows you to manifest your designs.

So, which is better between the two?

The Photon S brings some improvements to the package in terms of its stability, speed, and overall finish. It builds upon some of the predecessor’s shortcomings and is a well-thought-out device. However, the differences aren’t massive enough to warrant upgrading unless you need a replacement.

Therefore our recommendation for 3D printing beginners is to purchase the Anycubic Photon with its similar feature list priced at a more affordable cost.

If you’re experienced with 3D printers, the Anycubic Photon S may be the better option, due to possible future firmware updates which might not be available for the older model.

How to Find the Best Resin 3D Printer For Your Needs

You have decided to give 3D printing a try, and you’re interested in using resins to create your works of art. How do you choose the best resin 3D printer?

While there are many features, specifications, and characteristics that you should consider, choosing a resin 3D printer should focus on three things: price, speed, and build quality.

But it’s really not as straightforward at that because there are things that you should decide on first. Read on and find out how you can find the best resin 3D printer out there, and what makes them the best for you.

We love the AnyCubic Photon

Dead simple to set-up, comes pre-assembled, intuitive touch-screen and exceptional level of detail. This machine empowers CREATORS, without expecting you to be a mechanic. The small - but precise - print bed is perfect for miniatures.

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

DLP or SLA? Which One Should You Choose?

There are two main types of 3D printers based on the light source. There’s digital light processing printers and stereolithography printers.

Stereolithography

SLA is the oldest printing techniques used today. SLA printers use lasers to do its work.

The laser light is guided by a pair of galvanometers that directs these beams of light to the right coordinates. As the laser beam travels over the liquid polymer, the material hardens.

Digital Light Processing

DLP printers use photopolymers to create the model you want. It uses a traditional light source such as an arc lamp.

These printers have a vat for the polymer, which is exposed to ultraviolet light in layers. The first layer of the polymer will harden and then the printer will print the next slice until the model is finished.

Unlike SLA printers, the light is not concentrated in a single spot. Instead, DLP printers form the whole layer at once.

DLP and SLA: What’s the Same?

No matter what you choose, you will need a photodegradable initiator substance or resins that can interact with light to form carbene-like compounds, cations, or free radicals. These compounds are necessary for polymerization to take place, and to create your printed object.

DLP and SLA: What’s Different?

As you can guess, the main difference between these two technologies is the light source. DLP printers use UV light with SLA uses a laser.

The UV light in DLP printers remains in place as it produces your print layer by layer. In stereolithography, the beam moves around point by point.

Benefits of SLA Printers

These mechanisms affect how accurate the printed model will be. SLA printers are more accurate because the lasers go to where the point of curing is.

As such, SLA printers produce better quality prints.

Benefits of DLP Printers

However, DLP printers work faster than SLA printers. So if you do not need finely detailed prints, you might be able to save time with a DLP printer.

If you need to change the light source, UV lights are generally more affordable than laser lights.

DLP printers allow you to adjust the intensity of its UV lights, so you can have different effects on the resin. With the lasers in SLA printers, you cannot get the same variance in effects unless you change the laser light with the right beam intensity.

DLP printers are typically easier to maintain. SLA printers require calibration, which is typically done by a professional. What’s more, an SLA printer has a much more complex architecture, so if something goes wrong, you will need a professional to come in and take a look.

DLP vs. SLA: Which One Should You Choose

Which technology should you be using? Here’s a simple guide

Choose an SLA printer if:

  • You require a high level of accuracy and resolutions for your prints.
  • You don’t like dealing with subtle remnants or jaggedness in the edges of your prints.
  • You need to print several intricate and smaller parts at the same time.

Choose a DLP printer if:

  • You want faster prints.
  • You don’t want to do too much post-curing.
  • Your prints are not that detailed.
  • You want a more reliable printer because DLP has fewer moving parts.
  • You want DIY maintenance that is also affordable.
  • You want to save money.

LCD Printers: Some Things You Should Know

Another less common 3D printing technology is LCD. It’s very much like DLP printing, but instead of using a projector, LCD uses an array of LED lights for its UV light source. The LCD acts like a mask, so it reveals only the pixels that are needed to create that particular later.

Unlike both DLP and SLA printers, LCD printers do not have a mechanism that directs lights towards particular parts of the resin.

What’s more, DLP is more of a professional’s 3D printer. Compared to desktop LCD printers, DLP devices are more expensive.

Build Volume Should Be Your First Consideration

We love the AnyCubic Photon

Dead simple to set-up, comes pre-assembled, intuitive touch-screen and exceptional level of detail. This machine empowers CREATORS, without expecting you to be a mechanic. The small - but precise - print bed is perfect for miniatures.

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

Once you have decided on an SLA, DLP, or LCD 3D printer, it’s time to narrow down your choices.

Build volume will determine how big a model you can print on your 3D printer. A big build volume will allow you to print a large model in one piece. You don’t have to spend time to assemble smaller pieces to get your 3D model. Plus, if you’re forced to print on a smaller scale, you lose some important details on the model.

If the printer you use allows you to print different models in one go, a bigger build volume will also allow you to produce more products in the same batch. And even if you don’t need it now, you may need a printer with a large printing capacity in the future.

However, printers with large build volumes often have hefty price tags. If you’re not into professional 3D printing, you might want to consider a 3D printer that will accommodate most of your printing needs. For instance, if you’re printing miniatures for a diorama you’re working on, then you can probably forego having to pay extra for a larger 3D printer.

What’s more, large build volumes equate to bigger printer dimensions. If you only have a small space, there is no way you can fit a big 3D printer in there.

A Word About Build Volumes

You should know that there are printers that oversell their products’ build volumes. A ZDNet article showed that actual widths and depths can differ from those stated by the manufacturer. The typical printer will print anywhere from 0.1 to 0.4 percent smaller models than what is written in the manual.

For instance, the biggest differences in their tests were found in the Dreammaker Overlord Pro Plus with a claimed build volume of 4.9 by 4.9 by 11.0 inches (125 by 125 by 280 millimeters), but can only print objects of up to 3.1 by 3.1 by 10.0 inches (79 by 79 by 255 millimeters).

What 3D Printers Should You Consider?

What are the best 3D printers with sizable build volumes? Look for:

  • Uniz Slash+
  • Formlabs Form 2
  • Flashforge Hunter
  • Peopoly Moai

Uniz Slash+

Uniz Slash+ offers you a build area of 7.5 by 4.7 by 7.9 inches (190.5 by 121.9 by 198.1 millimeters). Plus, with all that capacity, it prints with impressive speed. It’s also designed to be precise and accurate.

This 3D printer has a resolution of 2,560 by 1,600 pixels at 75 micrometers. It works with several resins and is very reliable.

However, this is one very expensive SLA printer, costing close to $2,900.

Formlabs Form 2

Formlabs Form 2 gives you excellent quality prints, easy to use software, and powerful features that make it t a shoo-in for those who are serious about 3D printing.

It works with third-party materials and the setup is pretty simple. The prints come out with sharp and clean edges, with a lot of intricate details. It also prints out very fast.

However, this is not the printer for those looking for bigger build volumes. It costs around $3,500 and the consumables start at $150 or more.

Flashforge Hunter

Flashforge Hunter comes from a company with a reputation for affordable yet high-quality 3D printers. And the Hunter does not disappoint.

It’s an excellent plug and play 3D printer and has shorter print times than most other SLA printers. It gives you a bigger build area as well at 5.7 by 5.7 by 6.9 inches (145 x 145 x 175 millimeters).

This DLP printer is also very quiet. You will love just how easy it is to use. However, like other 3D printers we have here, it’s also very expensive, costing around $4,000.

Peopoly Moai

We know that you are hating how 3D printers with big build areas also cost a lot. The Peopoly Moai is one excellent and huge 3D printer that doesn’t cost as much. It sells for $1,200.

Peopoly positions the Moai as an affordable yet powerful 3D printer. It has a build volume of 5.1 by 5.1 by 7.1 inches (130 by 130 by 180 millimeters).

What’s more, the Peopoly Moai has an open design that makes it different from the rest. And unlike most other SLA printers, you can adjust the intensity and exposure of the lasers on this printer.

However, this printer needs some assembly, and you might end up getting frustrated trying to put it together even before you start printing.

Further, you will also need to replace the print tray frequently, and preparing your prints needs a lot of tweaking.

A Bigger Print Area Means a Higher Price Tag

If you need a 3D printer that is able to handle big prints, then you should save up and save for a long time. These 3D printers will cost you a lot.

A side-by-side comparison of our recommendations follows:

  Features Build volume (mm) Resolution (μm)

Speed (mm/hr)

Uniz Slash+
  • High-resolution 3D prints
  • Very fast printing speed
  • Works with a wide variety of resins
  • Consistent and reliable
  • Accurate

192 × 120 × 200

75

200

Formlabs Form 2
  • Compact size
  • Modern and sleek design
  • Easy to use
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Excellent customer service

145 x 145 x 175

25

30

Flashforge Hunter
  • Works quietly and fast
  • Optimized DLP projector
  • Models print out in high-resolution
  • Works with third-party materials and resins
  • Easy to use and intuitive user interface.

145 x 145 x 175

62.5

10

Peopoly Moai
  • Very affordable
  • Over the top printer resolution
  • Speedy prints
  • Stellar customer service
  • Models look like they were done by a professional
  • Perfect for big and complex structures
  • Works with a variety of resins

130 x 130 x 180

70

85

Cost: Should You Buy Really Expensive Printers?

Perhaps the biggest consideration most people have when they are choosing a resin 3D printer is how much it’s going to cost them. Some people may think that the more expensive printers are better: they have bigger build volumes, higher resolutions, and are more accurate.

For the most part, these may be true, but there are exceptions to the rule. For example, if you are looking for budget-friendly options, you can take a look at:

Monoprice Mini Deluxe

The Monoprice Mini Deluxe costs around $500. But even at that price, the LCD printer delivers excellent prints with resolutions of up to 20 micrometers.

It measures 7.8 by 7.8 by 16.0 inches (198 by 198 by 406 millimeters). It’s compact and small, making it very easy to move around where you want it.

But it does come with some tradeoffs. For instance, some users might find it difficult to configure.

The compact dimensions of this printer also mean one thing: a small build area measuring 4.7 by 2.8 by 7.8 inches (120 by 70 by 200 millimeters).

Moreover, you might find yourself maintaining this printer more often than what you’d like. You will need to change the base of the vat after every 10 to 20 prints. To do that, you will need to remove 18 different screws and then put back the whole thing after you’re done.

Monoprice Mini Deluxe
$408.90

Even with a very accessible price, the Monoprice Mini Deluxe printer delivers excellent prints with resolutions of up to 20 micrometers, needing very little space.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/31/2020 06:09 am UTC

Anycubic Photon

Anycubic sells the Photon printer for around $170.

It’s going to be difficult to top this printer at this very low price. This LCD printer gives you 2K resolution at 47 micrometers. It also comes assembled right out of the box.

Photon is the 3D printer that others have copied or improved on. It’s still on several best-of lists because of its price, decent printing capabilities, powerful LEDs, and its firmware. It also has a decent build volume of 4.5 by 2.6 by 6.1 inches (115 by 65 by 155 millimeters).

Photon also has a vibrant user community that has ensured that you can get help when you run into trouble, gives you tips and tricks, as well as suggest how to improve your printing with this printer.

However, this device can only print 20 millimeters per hour. See how Photon compares to its upgraded version, Photon S here.

We love the AnyCubic Photon

Dead simple to set-up, comes pre-assembled, intuitive touch-screen and exceptional level of detail. This machine empowers CREATORS, without expecting you to be a mechanic. The small - but precise - print bed is perfect for miniatures.

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

SparkMaker

With a price tag that hovers around $260, you will be surprised at the set of features that this LCD 3D printer gives you. It comes with a full high-definition 1080-pixel LCD that allows for precise printing.

With a 57-micrometer XY resolution and 42 UV LED light sources, you can have some of the best quality prints from this machine. You don’t have to worry about assembling it; too, making it ready to go once you get it out of the box. The manufacturer delivers it to you with everything in place and the leveling done.

It does have a smaller build volume at 3.9 by 2.2 by 4.9 inches (98 by 55 by 125 millimeters), but that is to be expected because of its compact size. This printer measures only 6.7 by 6.7 by 10.8 inches (170 by 170 by 275 millimeters).

SparkMaker
$199.99

You will be surprised at the set of features that this LCD 3D printer gives you. It comes with a full high-definition 1080-pixel LCD that allows for precise printing.

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Affordable But Slow

These three 3D printers are going to be some of the most affordable options you have right now. They don’t sacrifice on resolution and features, but they tend to be on the lower end as far as 3D printers go.

These will be perfect for you if you’re just starting out and trying to decide whether 3D printing is something that you really want.

A side-by-side comparison of these three printers will help you choose the best affordable resin 3D printer:

Printers Features Build Volume (mm) Resolution
(μm)
Speed (mm/hr)
Monoprice Mini Deluxe
  • Affordable
  • High resolution
  • Fast printing
  • LCD touchscreen
  • Compatible with third-party resins
  • No problems sourcing inexpensive spare parts

120 x 70 x 200

20

30

Anycubic Photon
  • Has its own slicer
  • Easy to set up and use
  • High resolution
  • Excellent quality prints
  • Easy to follow instructions for assembly and cleaning

115 x 65 x 155

47

20

SparkMaker
  • Affordable and compact resin printer.
    Very quiet.
    You can use third-party resins.
    Easy to use and comes with a dedicated slicer software

98 x 55 x 125

57

25

Managing the Trade-Off

As you can see, there is a trade-off when it comes to price, build size, and speed of 3D printers. The bigger the build size, the more expensive a 3D printer gets. The faster a printer finishes the job, it gets more costly.

The best resin 3D printer would be somewhere along the middle. If you’re not particularly looking to print huge pieces in one go, but would like something that’s faster than most 3D printers without the very high price, then you can consider the following:

  Features Build Volume (mm) Resolution
(μm)
Speed (mm/h) Price Range
Wanhao Duplicator 7
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Easy to use
  • Works with low-cost resins
  • Vibrant and supportive community
  • Excellent quality prints

120 x 68 x 180

25 35

$400 – $500

Micromake L2
  • Affordable
  • Very precise
  • Has a post-curing hood
  • Multi-language user interface
  • Built-in 6 gigabytes of storage
  • Printing is speedy
  • Simple to use
  • 4.3-inch high-definition LCD touchscreen

108 x 65 x 200

57 20

$500 – $600

Best Resin 3D Printers: Other Characteristics You Should Consider

Aside from the price, speed, and build volume of the resin 3D printer, you should also look at the following characteristics in order to choose the best one for your needs:

Accuracy – A 3D printer’s accuracy will determine whether or not the printed model will look like the digital design you created in your slicer or CAD program.

Durability – A 3D printer can cost anywhere from less than $200 to thousands of dollars. If anything, it will be a bummer if your printer breaks down or needs a lot of maintenance. Aside from the interruption of your work, all the troubleshooting and maintenance will add costs to your printing.

Materials – Some 3D printers work only with resins from the same manufacturer. Others will not work with certain kinds of resins. To get the most out of your 3D printers, it should be compatible with different kinds of resins, to ensure that you have the flexibility to create all the 3D models you can think of.

Customer service – A 3D printer may be very complex. It’s a technology that most people, especially beginners, will not be familiar with. Having excellent customer service can get you out of any potential problems you might have with your printer.

Best Resin 3D Printers: Frequently Asked Questions

We try to answer some of the questions that are related to resin 3D printers.

1. Why should you care about resin 3D prints?

Resin printers often have better quality prints than comparable fused deposition modeling printers. This is because lasers or projectors can easily render fine details on resin. As such, they produce more accurate models.
Further, printers using filaments may have more accidents as upper layers may not fuse with the bottom layers as solidly as you would want to.
So, if you’re going for models that have intricate designs, consider resin 3D prints.

2. Is cheaper necessarily better?

In the case of resin 3D printers, you should decide against printers that are cheaper but have lower print quality. Spend a bit more for a more precise 3D printer because it may spell the difference between coming up with a great model, or tons of frustration.

3. What are some resins that you should know of?

There are a lot of materials that are used for resins. Thermoset polymers make it easy to have attractive 3D models with its smooth finish, high level of detail, and sturdiness.
Standard resin produces sturdy and high-resolution models. These are usually used to print prototypes.
Clear resin is like standard resin, but you can see what’s inside because it’s almost transparent.
Tough resins are for those models that need to be stronger, more elastic, and can withstand a tremendous amount of pressure.
Aluminum resin is resistant to wear. It’s the perfect material for those parts that need low friction and flexibility. Aluminum resin often results in a 3D model that has a smooth surface.
There are also specific types of resins for engineers, doctors, dentists, and other professionals. Plus, there are heat resistant resins, as well.
Rubber resins are perfect for parts that will be compressed or bent.
Ceramic-filled resin produces stiff models with a very smooth finish. This resin has pieces of ceramics or glass in it.

Follow This Guide and Buy the Best Resin 3D Printer Today

We love the AnyCubic Photon

Dead simple to set-up, comes pre-assembled, intuitive touch-screen and exceptional level of detail. This machine empowers CREATORS, without expecting you to be a mechanic. The small - but precise - print bed is perfect for miniatures.

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The best 3D printer for you is the one that will meet your printing requirements. It should have a large build area, prints quickly, and is budget-friendly.

You may not be able to do the models you want to create if your 3D printer doesn’t have enough space to build it. Conversely, a 3D printer that takes a long time to complete your model might not be a good idea. And lastly, you may find the best resin 3D printer with a huge build area and fast speeds, but it may not be budget-friendly.

As such, you should strike a balance between the prices, speed, and build capacity.

The Best 3D Printer for Miniatures [Sep 2020]

If you enjoy printing 3D miniatures, then you’ll already know that there are a few things you need to consider when looking for the best printer: cost and quality.

There’s more to printing off a miniature than just popping the material in and waiting for your perfect little figure to come out.

But even if you’re just getting started printing your very own 3D miniatures, the good news is that there are plenty of printer choices.

Whether you are looking for prototypes for a design model, role-playing games, tabletop games, or video gaming miniatures for concept art, there are some better printers for miniatures. 

List of the Top 5 Best 3D Printers for Miniature Printing

  • AnyCubic Photon – Best Overall 3D Printer
  • Wanhao Duplicator 7 – Best for Large Batch Printing
  • Original Prusa MK3 – Best for Beginners
  • Monoprice Maker Select – Best Budget
  • FlashForge Creator Pro – Most Versatile
We love the AnyCubic Photon

Dead simple to set-up, comes pre-assembled, intuitive touch-screen and exceptional level of detail. This machine empowers CREATORS, without expecting you to be a mechanic. The small - but precise - print bed is perfect for miniatures.

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

However, before we get too far along, let’s begin with some basics of printing technology.

For starters, there are two types of 3D printers available to print off your miniatures:

  • Filament-based printers, also known as FFF or FDM 3D printers
  • Resin-based, or SLA 3D printers

Both options come with their own benefits and drawbacks, which you’ll want to take into account before you get started printing.

These are the best 3D printers for miniatures:

AnyCubic Photon – Best Overall 3D Printer

AnyCubic Photon

Our favourite 3D printer for miniatures is the AnyCubic Photon printer. This resin-based unit can print your favorite miniatures with incredible quality. The unit is more detailed than almost any other 3D printer on the market and stays within a reasonable price range.

The Photon offers a maximum layer resolution that checks in at 25 microns, which is the highest of any of the products on our list.

The Photon is a top of the line SLA 3D printer that comes with a UV LED light source. Your miniatures will print from top to bottom. You’ll notice this is the opposite direction of the bottom to a top method that FDM printers use.

If you’re in the market for a 3D printer, you can’t go wrong with the Photon, which will create very detailed and smooth products no matter how complex they are.

Not much assembly is required with this printer. Right out of the box, it’s easy to set up and get going. The unit comes with a solid frame, along with a touchscreen interface that lets you see a preview of your miniature before it prints.

The unit provides an easy process for levelling the bed and ships with a slicer that users find simple and user-friendly. When it comes to creating complicated and detailed miniatures, the Photon is one of the best printers on the market for getting the job done.

We love the AnyCubic Photon

Dead simple to set-up, comes pre-assembled, intuitive touch-screen and exceptional level of detail. This machine empowers CREATORS, without expecting you to be a mechanic. The small - but precise - print bed is perfect for miniatures.

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

Pros of the AnyCubic Photon

  • Simple and easy to set up
  • Print offline
  • Comes completely assembled
  • Intuitive touchscreen user interface
  • Easy to maintain
  • Print quality provides amazing detail

Cons of the AnyCubic Photon

  • The material can be on the expensive size
  • Smaller print size than other 3D printers

Further Reading:

Wanhao Duplicator 7 – Best for Larger Print Jobs

Wanhao Duplicator 7

Wanhao 3D printers are one of the more popular filament-based brands in the market. They offer a wide variety of devices, so you’re sure to find something that works for you. For the purpose of our list, we’re going with the Duplicator 7.

This 3D printer is a desktop offering specifically designed for users who want only the best when it comes to layer resolution. Similar to the AnyCubic Photon, the Duplicator 7 is an LCD SLA 3D printer that comes with a UV LED light source.

While these two printers have much in common, they also have a few differences. For starters, the Duplicator 7 provides users with larger printing size. However, Duplicator 7 does not have the resolution capabilities that the Photon offers.

The Duplicator 7 offers plenty of features, including an excellent cooling system, vents that allow for increased airflow, and a solid frame. Wanhao also put the power button on the back of the machine, so you won’t accidentally bump into it in the middle of a print job.

So if you really like the Photon, but need something that offers more build volume, take a look at the Duplicator 7. It’s straightforward and easy to use and can print very detailed 3D miniatures.

It’s not quite as easy as the Photon, but definitely worth the money if you don’t need something as advanced.

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Pros of the Wanhao Duplicator 7

  • Large base
  • Open material platform
  • High detail printing
  • Larger printing size than AnyCubic Photon
  • Sturdy and stable frame

Cons of the Wanhao Duplicator 7

  • Materials can be costly
  • Customer support isn’t very reliable
  • Build volume is limited

Further Reading:

Original Prusa MK3 – Best 3D Printer for Beginners

Prusa i3 MK3

When it comes to value and convenience, it’s tough to beat the Original Prusa MK3 3D printer. This FDM printer comes loaded with plenty of features, including automated print bed levelling, which is something a lot of beginners need.

The MK3 is easy to assemble. However, you might be waiting a while for it to arrive as it ships out of the Czech Republic. Many who use the MK3 would argue that it’s worth the wait given the quality and value the product provides.

This medium-sized, open-sourced 3D printer offers an open structure, which makes it great for both hobbyists and professionals.

The MK3 has a solid frame that includes a spool holder mounted on top, along with an LCD controller, which comes with a magnetic heated print bed that you can remove if necessary.

Additionally, the MK3 boasts a high-quality mainboard that detects shifted layers and runs quietly while printing. The unit also has a filament sensor that can determine if a jam occurs and automatically pauses the current printing job.

With the right nozzle and the appropriate settings, anyone using the MK3 3D printer will get high-quality, clean, and detailed miniatures. The unit has the ability to print large models as well, so you don’t have to choose between one or the other.

Even though this 3D printer doesn’t compare with the AnyCubic Photon, it’s still an excellent option. It’s versatile and capable of printing with various materials right out of the box. Plus, you’ll get excellent value since you can use it for more than printing miniatures.

If you’re just getting started in the world of 3D printing and want a stable, high-quality 3D printer that prints miniatures in high-resolution, the MK3 will get the job done. It comes loaded with plenty of features perfect for beginners, so you won’t feel overwhelmed.

We Prefer the Ender 3 Pro Here
$236.00
Put simply, the Ender Pro has worked out all of the kinks, glitches, and inconsistencies that were shipped with the original Ender 3. You can save some money by going with the Ender 3, but it's not worth it unless you are very technical.
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Pros of the Original Prusa MK3

  • Great for beginners
  • Automated bed leveling platform
  • Excellent print quality
  • Built-in filament types sensors
  • Quiet printing process
  • Panic feature pauses print job if necessary
  • Magnetic build platform can be removed

Cons of the Original Prusa MK3

  • No enclosure provided
  • Translucent materials create issues with filament types sensor

Further Reading:

Monoprice Maker Select – Best 3D Printer on a Budget

Monoprice Maker Select

3D printers aren’t cheap, which is why it’s important to have an option you can afford on a budget. If that’s the case for you, check out the Monoprice Maker Select.

This company is known for its budget printers, all of which you can find for a lot less than other printers on this list.

With its open-frame 3D printer, the Maker Select is an excellent choice if you prefer the FDM route (fused deposition modeling). The unit comes with a stable and strong aluminium frame and includes a separate controller box for the device.

The Maker Select comes equipped with an open-material system, heated printer bed, and a build-volume that’s perfect for creating your favourite miniatures. You can connect the unit through USB or print via an SD card if you prefer.

Right out of the box, the printer is easy to set up. It comes partially assembled, so you don’t have to assemble the whole thing yourself. All you need to do is make sure the frames are securely in place, and you’re ready to start printing.

Included with the printer are a few 3D model samples, along with some free filament. This gives you the opportunity to start printing once you have everything set up.

As far as print quality is concerned, the Maker Select runs about the middle of the road. It’s not going to blow you away, but it’s not horrible either. While the unit can print large miniatures very well, it does have trouble with smaller miniatures, like those in the 28-millimetre range.

Overall, the 3D printer is reliable and offers decent quality, especially considering that it’s one of the best you can get on a budget. If you fall into that category, the Maker Select is a solid option.

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.

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Pros of the Monoprice Maker Select

  • Decent print size (large build plate)
  • Good print quality
  • Simple to set up
  • Heated bed (print bed)
  • Sturdy frame

Cons of the Monoprice Maker Select

  • May need upgrades out of the box
  • Bed levelling is a manual process
  • Not as good printing smaller miniatures

Further Reading:

FlashForge Creator Pro – Most Versatile 3D Printer

flashforge creator pro

The FlashForge Creator Pro is a dual extruder 3D printer, which makes it one of the more versatile options on our list. For starters, the unit provides new ways for users to print with the filament. This includes printing in dual colours without pausing the current print job.

It’s more stable and durable than many other open-frame 3D printers since it is built with a robust and sturdy metal frame. It also offers an LCD controller, which allows you to print via an SD card, a heated print bed, and a pair of back-mounted spool holders.

You’ll also notice that you can remove the acrylic covers, which is handy when you need to perform any type of maintenance on the FlashForge printer.

Since this unit comes assembled in the box, setting up the Creator Pro is a very straightforward process. You’ll be up and printing in a matter of hours, however, it might make sense to change the stock settings for better results.

Once you have everything set up the way you want it, the Creator Pro is an absolute beast. It can print for days with little to no maintenance required on your part. Plus, the unit can print with either ABS or PLA without experiencing any additional problems.

The biggest feature the Creator Pro has to offer is its ability to use water-soluble support materials. As a result, the unit can create more challenging miniatures that don’t skimp on the details.

Additionally, the Creator Pro can print with a wide variety of materials, so you’re not limited to just one type. A full enclosure allows the printer to maintain a stable temperature within the printing area, which is a must-have when using certain types of materials.

Plus, the printer can use filaments that aren’t specific to FlashForge. However, bear in mind that you may need to create your own spool holders as the ones that come with the Creator Pro are designed specifically for the printer.

Overall, the Creator Pro is reliable and creates quality miniatures. It’s versatile and offers many features that align with some of the best printers on the market. If you need something that does a little bit of everything, consider the Creator Pro 3D printer.

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Pros of the Creator Pro

  • Includes dual extruder option
  • The metal frame is enclosed
  • Excellent support
  • Dual colour printing option
  • Supports third-party filaments
  • Solid print quality
  • Larger build plate

Cons of the Creator Pro

  • Built-in software is limited
  • Bed levelling requires manual adjustments
  • Very heavy

Further Reading:

 

Photon

Duplicator 7

MK3

Maker Select

Creator Pro

Type

Resin

Resin

ABS/PLA/PETG/others

ABS/PLA/TPU/others

ABS/PLA/PVA/others

Resolution

25 microns

35 microns

50 microns

100 microns

100 microns

Filament

N/A

N/A

1.75 mm

1,75 mm

1.75 mm

Volume

4.5×2.6×6.1 inches

4.7×2.7×7.9 inches

9.8×8.3×8.x inches

7.9×7.9×7.1 inches

8.9×5.8.5.9 inches

Connection

USB

USB

SD Card/USB

USB/ SD Card

SD Card/ USB

Weight

14.6 pounds

26.5 pounds

14 pounds

20 pounds

32.7 pounds

FDM or SLA 3D Printer?

FDM 3D printers make use of an extruder with a hot-end, which allows for melting the filament. Once the filament is melted, it’s then deposited onto the build platform (build plate). This is what creates the 3D model. However, FDM printers do so a single layer at a time.

On the plus side, FDMs are easier to use and come with lower operating costs and a larger build volume than their counterpart SLA printers.

With an SLA 3D printer, you’ll notice that the post-print process is a little messier than it is with an FDM option. Keep in mind, though, that FDM printers don’t offer the overall quality that an SLA printer offers.

With that in mind, which 3D printer should you choose when it comes to printing 3D miniatures? We’re glad you asked.

We did the leg work and came up with a list of the best 3d printers for miniatures..

Where to Buy a 3D Printer

There are plenty of places you can use when you’re ready to buy your 3D printer. However, keep in mind that the type of 3D printer you want may dictate where it’s available.

Like nearly anything else, you can usually find the 3D printer you want on Amazon. If it’s not available there, you may also try other retailers like MatterHackers.com.

NOTE: You can order the Anycubic Photon – our top pick for miniatures – directly via the Anycubic site here.

If you can’t find the printer you want in any of those places, you can always try to contact the manufacturer directly.

FAQs

How Much Does It Cost to Print a 3D Miniature?


There are several reasons to print your own 3D miniatures, one of which is cost. The average cost of printing an unpainted miniature typically falls in the $5-$ ten range.

How Long Does it Take Print a 3D Miniature?


If you aren’t concerned with quality, you can print off a miniature object in roughly 10 minutes. However, a more complex, high-quality, and detailed object can take as little as a few hours or as much as a day to finish.

Take a look at the software on your 3D printer to get an idea of how long it will take for your miniature to complete.

Which is Stronger? ABS or PLA?


While ABA has better properties when it comes to mechanics, it’s more difficult to use when 3D printing than PLA. For 3D printers, PLA is ideal if you’re focusing on aesthetics. On the other hand, ABD is ideal for strength, stability, and durability.

Something else to keep in mind is that ABS has been known to warp during printing.

What Materials Are Used in 3D Printing?


There are many different types of materials that are used when 3D printing. We’ve mentioned PLA and ABS, however, some objects can be printed with titanium, wax, polycarbonate, epoxy resins, and even nylon.

What to Look for in a 3D Printer?


If you’re new to 3D printing, take a moment and read the following tips to give you a good starting point when looking for a printer.

What Do You Want to Print?


Before you purchase your 3D printer, know what you plan on printing. There is a significant difference between printing devices for your desk and printing large-scale production pieces.

Also, ask yourself how often you will print, how much time you want to invest in 3D printing, and where the 3D printed objects will be used.

What Safety Features are Available?


Typically, a 3D printer that offers plenty of safety features is well-designed. For instance, a quality printer will probably cool the heated bed and nozzle when a printing job finishes. Additionally, some 3D printers will point the nozzle away from the object if you pause the job.

Is Resolution Important to You?


You’ll notice in the table above that the resolution of 3D printers is measured in a unit called microns. Usually, FDM printers are on the lower end of the spectrum, offering around 25 microns.

By comparison, resin-based printers usually reside on the higher end, around 100 microns. With an FDM printer, you can quickly and easily adjust the resolution. For smoother printing, being able to adjust the belt tension and layer height is paramount.

Finally, remember that resin-based printers require precision from their lasers. Keep an eye out for a printer that you can adjust based on the micron count detailed in the printer’s specifications.

What High-End Features Does the Printer Offer?


It can be easy to forget about high-end features as you look for a 3D printer that suits your needs. However, if you want things like heated glass beds, touchscreen interfaces, and dual filament options, be sure to add them to your list of must-haves.

What About End-User Support?


You’ve found the 3D printer you want to buy, and you’re ready to pull the trigger. Before you do, take a moment and look for the customer support offered by the manufacturer. It is just a social media logo, or are there actual ways to reach a real-live person?

3D printing is more complicated than traditional printing, so if something goes wrong or you aren’t sure how to proceed in a certain situation, having someone to speak with could make your 3D printing experience.

No Lack of Options for Printing 3D Miniatures

Whether you have plenty of experience with printing 3D miniatures or you’re just getting started, there are plenty of options on the market that can get you headed down the right path.

No matter your budget or comfort level, you’re sure to find a 3D printer that works for you. It’s up to you to determine which one makes the most sense for what you hope to accomplish, but when it comes to printing miniatures, it’s safe to say you have a wide variety of choices.

So make a list, check it twice, then head out and find the best 3D printer for creating your favorite miniatures.

We love the AnyCubic Photon

Dead simple to set-up, comes pre-assembled, intuitive touch-screen and exceptional level of detail. This machine empowers CREATORS, without expecting you to be a mechanic. The small - but precise - print bed is perfect for miniatures.

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

Further Reading: How to Find the Best Silicone 3D Printers and How to Find the Best Multicolor 3D Printers.

How Much Does a 3D Printer Cost? | Price Ranges [2020]

So how much does a 3d printer cost?

The average 3D printer costs are $750 per unit. The cheapest 3D printers cost around $200. High end 3D printers can cost anywhere from $1500 to $5000.

The answer ranges from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand. Fortunately, prices have been trending downwards in recent years as the printing technology is improving. In this article we will be looking at the various price groupings and categories of printers.

The aim is to help a potential owner figure out where their priorities are in terms of 3D printer cost and expected functionality. Below each category heading you will find a helpful table for you to review and compare the core features of each printer in the respective price category.

Just briefly, here are some general price guidelines:

How Much Do 3D Printers Cost? At a Glance

Basic Entry Level Desktop Printer $300-800
Advanced Desktop Printer  $1500-4500
DIY / Open Source 3D Printer Kit $200-500

Basic Entry Level Desktop Printers

The first category – and most affordable category – of 3D printers is your basic desktop printer.

Most of these machines are aimed at beginner to intermediate level printers on a budget. Since 3D printers can quickly become prohibitively expensive, these are among the most popular 3D printers on the market. They are leading the way in making 3D printing affordable for regular people and small businesses. In recent years, we have seen vast improvements for the features and capabilities of these machines.

In the past, it was rare to find dual extruders (two nozzles printing simultaneously), decent build areas, or the ability to print multiple materials for printers in this category (more about filament types here). Luckily, most of these features are becoming the new standard in this price range. It is becoming harder to tell the difference between the basic and advanced printers when just looking at the technical specs of 3D printers.

The layer resolution for this price range tends to cap out at around 100 microns. For very detailed and/or ornate projects, this might be an issue. The higher up the price range you go, the more detail you can expect.

What you do get is a good entry point into 3D printing. Some of these budget machines are actually quite capable and reliable, although always be prepared to get your hands dirty at any level with still emerging market of 3D printers.

Prices in this category range from the downright affordable da Vinci Mini Wireless at $209 to around $700. You can view our table below for the exact specifications and prices.

Entry Level 3D Printer Reviews and Comparisons

Brand/ModelBuild AreaMax Print SpeedFilament TypesLayer ResolutionExtrudersNozzle DiameterOpen/Closed SystemOur RatingPrice
da Vinci mini Wireless 3D Printer

5.9'' x 5.9'' x 5.9''120mm/secPLA / PETG / Tough PLA100-400 micronsSingle0.4mmClosedNone Yet$499 here
Maker Select Plus 3D Printer

7.9" x 7.9" x 7.0"150mm/secABS, PLA, PET, TPU, TPC, FPE, PVA,
HIPS, and more
100-400 micronsSingle0.4mmOpenNone Yet$599 here
FlashForge 3D Printers

5.5" x 5.5" x 5.5"100mm/secPLA100-500 micronsSingle0.4mmClosedNone Yet$599 here
Qidi Technology

8.8" x 5.9" x 5.9"ABS or PLA100 micronsDual0.4mmOpenNone Yet$649 here
BIBO 3D Printer

8.4" x 7.3" x 6.3"350mm/secABS, PLA, PVA, Nylon, PLA+, Wood200 micronsDual0.4mmOpenNone Yet$680 here
Flashforge 3D Printer Creator

8.9” x 5.8” x 5.9”100mm/secABS, PLA, PVA100-500 micronsDual0.4mmClosedNone Yet$640 here

Advanced 3D Desktop Printers

In the advanced category of desktop printers, you will be getting enhanced functionality, reliability and precision for a higher entry price point.

This category is ideal for someone who has at least limited experience with basic 3D printing, additive manufacturing, or who has a strong desire/drive to learn the nuances of 3D printing. These tend to be more expensive – and hence a bit riskier – investments.

Many of these printers are being used in small enterprises and design studios, with generally more precise layer by layer quality and larger build platform area (heated print bed and large build plate). The industry is evolving rapidly, so many of these advanced desktop printers are doing what only industrial printers could do 3-4 years ago, just at a smaller scale.

At this price point, you can expect sturdier, better hardware and see layer resolution increase significantly. In many cases the layer resolution can be lower than 100 microns while print speeds (time to print for rapid prototyping) can top out at higher rates and build areas tend to be larger than the basic 3D printers. For more precise, ornate, and detailed products, these are the best machines.

In this category, you get what you pay for.

Advanced 3D Desktop Printer Reviews and Comparisons

There is a wider price range in this category. Expect to pay north of $1200 for a mid-range advanced desktop printer, capping out at around $4000 for the top of the range. Check out the table below for an overview:

Brand/ModelBuild AreaPrint SpeedFilament TypesLayer ResolutionExtrudersNozzle DiameterOpen/Closed SystemOur RatingPrice
LulzBot Mini Desktop 3D Printer

6.0” x 6.0” x 6.2”275mm/secABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, wood filled filaments, Polyester (Tritan), and more50-500 micronsSingle0.4mmOpenNone Yet$977 here
Makerbot Replicator

11” x 7.6” x 6.5”150mm/secPLA100-400 micronsSingle0.4mmClosedNone Yet$1299 here
Zortrax M200 Printer Official

7.9” x 7.9” x 7.1”100mm/secABS, HIPS, ULTRAT90-400 micronsSIngle0.4mmClosedNone Yet$1349 here
MakerGear M2

8" x 10" x 8"80-450mmABS, PLA, PET, HIPS, HDPE, TPU, and more
10-250 micronsSingle0.35mmOpenNone Yet$1775 here
XYZprinting da Vinci Color

7.8” x 7.8” x 5.9”120mm/sec3D Color-inkjet PLA / PLA / Tough PLA / PETG100-400 micronsSingle 0.4mmClosedNone Yet$2200 here
Raise3D N2

12” x 12” x 24”150mm/secABS, PLA, PC, PETG, HIPS, NinjaFlex, and more10-250 micronsDual0.4mmClosedNone Yet$2899 here

DIY 3D Printer Kits

Another popular category of 3D printers are DIY kits. DIY printer kits are usually more affordable and more customizable than the pre-made versions. For tinkerers, hobbyists, and experimenters, 3D printer kits can be the perfect solution. Adventurous builders will also be able to push their machines to the limit in terms of functionality and performance.

The downside is that there are risks associated with building things on your own. If things go wrong, you likely won’t have a factory warranty to fall back on or customer service to walk you through solutions. However, for a smaller up front investment, this risk can easily be worth the reward.

3D printer kits come in many shapes and sizes. All of the systems are – by default – open source systems from software to hardware. This means that most everything is able to be custom-fitted as needed. Looking for a larger build volume? No problem!

Of course, within the 3D printing kit spectrum there are some kits that are easier to build and more complete systems than others. If you are truly looking to build a 3D printer from scratch, you will have to source your own materials. The nice thing about DIY kits is that everything you need for a basic functional printer comes in one box with instructions. The chart below details what you receive in the kit for each printer, but remember that just about everything is customizable for these DIY 3D printers.

Price ranges are all over the place, starting at around $200 to $600 per kit.

Brand/ModelBuild AreaPrint SpeedFilament TypesLayer ResolutionExtrudersNozzle DiameterOpen/Closed SystemOur RatingPrice
Anet A8
8.6” x 8.6” x 9.4”100mm/secABS, PLA, Wood, Nylon PVA, PP, Luminescent, and more
100-300 MicronsSingle0.4mmOpenNone Yet$599 here
Velleman K8200

8" x 8" x 8"120-300mm/secABS or PLA200-500 micronsSingle0.5mmOpenNone Yet$699 here
HICTOP Creality Printer

11.8” x 11.8” x 15.7”300mm/secABS or PLA200-250 micronsSingle0.4mmOpenNone Yet$460 here

Industrial 3D Printers

These are mostly out of reach of the average consumer, but for larger B2B operations, these can ultimately be the most reliable for additive manufacturing. For fabricating complex designs in masse, this can be a worthwhile investment. Keep in mind, your 3D printing software costs may also be higher depending on the type of technology (FDM printer, SLS, etc..).

Some good options here include:

  • Fusion 3 F410 Professional: This one is a good fit for smaller assembly lines for FDM printing, ideal for business and education applications. This clocks in at roughly $4,599.
  • Statsys Objet1000 Plus: The grand-daddy of them all, starting at around half a million dollars.

Best 3D Printers on the Market [2020]: What is the Best 3D Printer?

3d printer

top rated 3d printer

3D printing and additive manufacturing is a booming industry as it is now an accessible technology for virtually anyone with the desire and willingness to learn. In the past few years we have witnessed a far-fetched idea enter into the mainstream, with commonly available technology and 3D printing packages.

Hundreds of years after the Gutenberg press, printers are once again revolutionizing the way we do business, manufacture products, and conceive new possibilities.

While the market is ever-evolving, more and more companies are successfully cementing themselves within the printing industry.

This is resulting in more advanced, powerful, and user-friendly 3D printers than before, for all sorts of printing applications (FDM, nylon, titanium, etc…). It can become overwhelming trying to decide which printer from which company is right for you.

There are varying levels of ability among these devices and as well as different price points. For new and even intermediate to advanced users, comparing the features and capabilities of each printing system can be a daunting task.

In this resource page we will be going in depth with a variety of different criteria to help you – the aspiring 3D printer -make an informed purchasing decision. Please feel free to comment with your own experiences or questions at the bottom of this page.

My At a Glance Recommendations

Here’s the quick take of my absolute favorite printers right now…

Image
Product
Best Overall
  • Consistently HIGHEST rated, best performing
  • Minimal glitches / faulty parts (made in Ohio)
  • Open Source flexibility
Best Budget
  • Less than $400 per unit
  • FAST print speed (up to 100mm/second)
  • Great for QUICK iteration, getting something up!
Best for Experimentors
  • Large, cult following with a strong track record
  • LEVEL UP your skills!
  • Compatible with 30+ filaments! 

Criteria to Evaluate 3D Printers

  1. Price: Simply put, how much does the device cost? There are many different price points, but not all of them offer equal value. For example, there are plenty of recent additions to the sub-$1500 market, but not all of them are necessarily fully functional for what you will need. Similarly, some of the more expensive models are not always worth the high price tag. Generally, a lower price-point is favorable but not always worth degrading the other factors listed below.
  2. Capacity: This is also fairly straightforward, but still important. You may also see this referred to in the industry as “build area” or “build volume” base on the size of the built plate or print bed. There are a range of sizes of 3D printing machines, from large commercial-style appliances with massive build volume to the small desktop 3D printer with just enough build volume for small models. Depending on what your goals are, this will be an important factor. A smaller size device is excellent for experimenting and learning how 3D printing works, or for producing small models or products. For larger endeavors it follows that a larger capacity printer will be required.
  3. Ease of Use: 3D printers require varying degrees of skill and usually have a learning curve initially. However, some are more “user friendly” than others. Ease of use and simplicity to operate is an important criteria to judge one of these devices. Again, depending on what you will be using your printer for, this category should be weighted more or less.
  4. Precision: Different  printers have varying levels of precision. The key factors to consider here are usually “layer resolution” and the diameter of the print nozzle. Generally, the lower the better i.e. more detailed and exact.
  5. Adaptability: Some machines are ideal for making small toys or jewelry while others are good for large scale models and mock-ups. While almost every 3D printer can be used for a variety of applications, some are definitely better than others at certain tasks. This is a critical category to consider before investing in any machine.
  6. Speed: How fast can it get the job done? This is particularly useful for people looking to scale their operations beyond the initial experimentation phase. The industry standard for print speed typically floats around 100mm/sec.
  7. Durability: Maintenance, servicing, part replacement, build plate, etc… Like all machines, 3D printers inevitably run into problems that require fixing at some point. Especially with so many new models on the market, this can be an important “hidden cost” to consider before investing in one. For an investment of this size, durability does matter.

The Best 3D Printer for Beginners

So, you just heard about 3D printing from a friend and you are intrigued by the possibility of creating anything you want right at your own desk. The only problem is you have no idea where to start. You google 3D printer and see prices ranging from $400 to $4,000. How do you know how much you need to spend?

Luckily for you, we are here to help you make that decision. While there are many things to look at like size, speed, shape, etc. for beginners we are interested in two factors, 1.) ease of use and 2.) price. Focusing solely on these two factors we recommend the Flashforge Finder. With this 3D printer you will be creating in no time without hurting the bank account.

The Flashforge Finder is a fully assembled and fully enclosed 3D printer that is ready to print just about as soon as it comes out of the box. It uses a nontoxic PLA, which is a great filament for beginners.

Setup of this 3D printer couldn’t be easier. Simply pull it out of the box, plug it in, adjust a few settings, and your ready to print! It comes equipped with an assisted leveling system to help make sure all your prints come out perfect. As well, you’ll quickly notice the beautiful touch-screen panel where you can easily control all aspects of the printing process.

The Flashforge Finder was designed to make 3D printing simple. The new Flashprint software comes with presets for high quality prints and 2D image to 3D model capability. From the hardware to the software you will not have any problem getting into the world of 3D printing using this machine.

The best part? You can get the Flashforge Finder for $400.  

Pros: Easy to use, fully enclosed, quick setup, wallet-friendly price

Cons: Limited customization, only PLA filament, small build area

Best uses: Small parts and toys, Educational purposes

Here are some great alternative 3D Printer options for Beginners:

The Best Affordable 3D Printer Under 1000 (mid-grade)

Just a few years ago it was almost impossible to find a quality 3D printer for under $1000. However, with the growing popularity of the industry, almost every company has a great printer that is under $1,000.

Since there are so many awesome printers now, it makes this category a little tricky to pick. I went with the 3D printer I am most excited about and is still fairly new to the market. Easily, my favorite model for an affordable 3D printer is the Rostock Max v3 Kit. By taking on a circular shape rather than the square shape we typically see with 3D printers, the Rostock Max v3 really sets itself apart.

This 3D printer is not like your standard 3D printer. Rather than the nozzle moving on an x, y, and z axis rods, it utilizes a delta setup. This means it uses a three pulley system to move and position the extruder. This delta setup enables the extruder to move at much faster speeds. This printer can reach up to 300mm/sec.

I really enjoy the fact that this is a kit printer. In other words, you essentially assemble the entire machine. You can get the printer pre-assembled, but that will cost you an extra few hundred dollars. But, I love to build things, and these kit 3D printers are an awesome way to spend a weekend afternoon.

The Rostock Max has a build area of 10.5” x 15.8”. Also, it comes with a heated bed and auto calibration. With the simple click of a button, your 3D printer will prepare itself to print for you. Also, customization is almost endless. There are thousands of videos and forums online where you can find ways to improve and tweak the machine to constantly improve its performance.

For under $1,000 you are getting everything you paid for and even more with the Rostock Max v2 Kit.

Pros: Auto-leveling, large build area, nozzle speed, customizable

Cons: Challenging setup, large footprint

Best uses: Prototyping, experimentation, mid-large sized objects, tall objects

Check out more mid-grade 3D Printer options under 1000:

The Best Budget 3D Printer Under 500

As you may know by this point, the 3D printing industry is growing rapidly, which means printers are getting more affordable. These days, just about anyone on any budget can get there hands on a 3D printer. You must remember though that not all 3D printers are the same.

Sometimes you only get what you pay for when you go for a budget friendly printer. However, that is not the case with the da Vinci Jr 1.0 Pro from XYZprinting. This 3D printer easily gets you the most bang for your buck, and it is our choice for the best budget printer.

XYZprinting has made a name for itself with high quality printers for all users from beginners to advanced printers. Their 3D printers are easy to use and some of the best on the market. The da Vinci Jr 1.0 Pro comes with everything you need and more. It is a compact printer that creates like a professional.

This 3D printer runs on the XYZware PRO software, which has seen many upgrades. It is a functional and user-friendly software that allows you to quickly setup new prints. You can control all aspects of the print including the nozzle and print bed temperature and various print support settings. It is a great software to pair with a great 3D printer.f

The da Vinci Jr 1.0 Pro features a flawless auto-calibration system and the ability to use any 3rd PLA filament with its temperature adjustable extruder. Also, you can upgrade the nozzle from the standard 0.4mm to 0.3mm and print with a layer resolution of 50 microns. That level of detail is unheard of at this price range.

Did we mention its fast? The da Vinci Jr 1.0 Pro has the capability for its extruder to reach speeds up to 250mm/sec. Your prints will be done in no time with speeds you typically pay thousands of dollars for.

If you’re on a tight budget, but you want to be able to create like a professional, the da Vinci Jr 1.0 Pro is the 3D printer you need.

Pros: Affordable, high-quality prints, fast, customizable

Cons: Small build area, limited connectivity options

Best uses: Small prototyping, Professional designs, and objects, Small parts/accessories

Check out more budget friendly alternatives under 500:

The Best DIY 3D Printer

I previously discussed the Rostock Max v3 3D printer with you all, which is one of my favorite DIY printers these days. The downsides are it is fairly complicated to setup and comes with a price that some people may not be able to afford.

The 3D printer I believe is the best for all you DIYers out there is without a doubt the Creality CR-10. An absolute beast of a printer, the CR-10 packs all the power and features you need in a minimalist design that you get to build yourself.

One reason I believe this is the best kit 3D printer is the assembly is extremely easy. You don’t need any soldering equipment and you don’t need to be an electrician or engineer. Many of the parts come pre-assembled for the most part. Setup should take you about 30 minutes. Just enough to give the satisfaction of creating your own 3D printer, but not long enough to cause the major headaches and confusion that other kits are known for.

Once you have assembled your CR-10 you quickly realize how awesome this printer is. It has a large build area, 11.8” x 11.8” x 15.8”, a full metal frame, and a heated bed. Pretty much everything you look for in a quality 3D printer, but for a great price and small footprint unlike some of the other massive fully-enclosed printers.

Now that you’ve noticed all the physical features, you must be wondering how it prints, right? Well let me tell you, it prints like the best of the best. You will get a layer resolution between 50-400 microns, print speeds up to 200 mm/sec, and nozzle diameters from 0.4mm to 0.2mm. The CR-10 can create some of the most beautiful and professional looking objects I have ever seen produced by a 3D printer.

The best part? It is all open source and fully customizable. Users of the CR-10 have created a fairly large online presence from videos to blogs and forums. The is an almost endless supply of tips, tricks, and ideas on how to improve and custom your CR-10. Upgrading and replacing parts on a printer couldn’t be easier now that you have the help of thousands of other like-minded 3D printing enthusiasts.

With the easy setup, large build area, and precision printing, this 3D printer could easily cost over $1000. Instead, you’re able to get this DIY CR-10 from under $500!

Pros: Large Build area, great price, easy assembly, metal frame

Cons: Noise level, no real customer support

Best uses: Experimentation, mid-large sized objects and models, replacement/upgrade parts

Here are some additional DIY Printer Options you should consider:

Best 3D Printer for Overall Performance and Quality (Under 2000)

Surprisingly, our experience with a number of 3D printers has unveiled a lesser known contender as the top 3D Printer for overall performance. Y

can certainly make a case for including 4-5 other printers in this spot, so some of this is subjective. The MakerGear M2 is by far the most reliable and efficient 3D printer that we have tested.

The machine comes mostly assembled, although you may need to break out the tools for a few final configuration requirements. Thankfully, MakerGear has a strong community and excellent customer support. This, coupled with a 6-month warranty, is enough to provide peace of mind prior to purchasing.

One of the strongest selling points of this machine is the precision and quality of the items it produces. There are many printers with mediocre print quality, but MakerGear has raised the bar significantly. This point is reinforced by the solid construction of the machine itself. Many 3D printers are made out of plastic – which is fine – but raises questions about the long term durability. The rMakerGear M2 features CNC produced metal with a welded frame.

The MakerGear features a slightly larger build area than most machines at 8″ x 10″ x 8″. Print speeds range from 80-200mm/second.

The 0.35mm nozzle diameter is what allows the M2 to provide superior printing precision. Most 3D printers have a nozzle diameter of 0.40mm and above. It might not seem like much, but for delicate projects it can be the critical difference.

For filaments, the M2 will work out of the box with either PLA or ABS material. A big plus here is that they do not use proprietary cartridges. This means that you can use a variety of filaments from various suppliers without being locked into expensive recurring filament replacements.

MakerGear is an open source company, but they do recommend using the Simplify3D software as it appears to have the best compatibility.

The higher grade material and precision of the M2 does mean a higher price tag, but at less than two grand it is still very competitive with other higher end printers.

Pros: Larger than average build area, open design, no proprietary filament cartridges, more precise than most, good for intermediate and above, made in the USA, quality material, and low maintenance

Cons: More expensive than most at $1500-2000/unit, and not the best for beginners (check MatterHackers for the latest prices).

Best uses: Replacement parts, mid-size consumer products, models and mock-ups, precision/finely detailed products. 

Why Go with the MakerGear M2?

Superior, tested, performance. MakerGear is THE most reliable brand on the market,, and their best selling and award winning M2 is no different. Flexible enough for most projects and filaments, without any of the headaches of knock offs.

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

The Best 3D Printer for Experimenters

For this category, I am looking at 3D printers that try to break down barriers. I want a printer that is pushing the limits on what is possible and enables users to do the same.

This printer should not only create stunning objects for you, it should inspire you to think outside-the-box. It should make you want to try new methods, materials, programs, and designs.

With all of this in mind, only one printer fits this description is the printer from the Lulzbot Brand, LulzBot TAZ 6. The newest edition of a long-running printer series that has constantly appeared on lists of the best 3D printers year after year.

The signature model from Aleph Objects and big brother to the impressive LulzBot Mini, the TAZ 6 is impressive in every category. Read the full Lulzbot Mini Review here.

Equipped with an advanced extruder with dual cooling fans, modular design and it can get up to 300 degrees celsius. This allows for quick and easy upgrades to various filaments. Speaking of different filaments, TAZ 6 is compatible with more than 30 different materials. You can print with pretty much anything you can think of.

The TAZ 6 runs on the impressive Cura Lulzbot edition software. A free software so no paying for upgrades. And it is open-source so you and your coding buddies can take a crack at it and see how you can improve and tweak the system to better fit your needs.

This 3D printer is built to last. From its advanced extruder to the all aluminum frame, and the heated bed, this machine shouldn’t give you any troubles. The company believes in the quality of its work so much it will back it with 1 year warranty with tech support for all your troubleshooting needs.

Don’t let me forget the specs. The TAZ 6 has an 11” x 11” x 9.8” build area, 50-500 micron layer resolution and reaches speeds up to 200mm/sec. And if one extruder isn’t enough, you can always upgrade and make it a dual extruder system!

The ability to print with so many filaments and easily switch between them makes this a great 3D printer for those who want to try new things and test new methods. The open source software lets you really tweak the system to benefit your wants and needs. I truly cannot think of a better printer for the curious mind.

Of course, such an amazing printer does not come cheap. You will need to be willing to put down about $2,500 to make this machine yours.

Pros: Open Source, dual extruders, filament options, advanced extruder, warranty and support

Cons: Expensive, open frame means more noise

Best uses: Prototyping, advanced designs, unique objects, unique material

Here are more great 3D Printer alternatives for experimenters that you should check out:

Best 3D Printer Under 100

I’ve been seeing a few cheap 3D printers popping up below $100 recently and I often get asked if there are any good options here.

The short answer is: right now, sub-$100 3D printers are NOT worth it. They are generally poorly designed, have low quality components, and won’t last as long as even a budget model for $75 to $100 more.

That said, the CHEAPEST options I would look at are:

Types of 3D Printers

The following sections break down all the various 3D printer types and uses.

Best 3D Printers By Filament & Use Case

While the above recommendations make our best 3D printers list as general budget based picks, here are some specific guides for different filament types:

3D Printer Comparison Chart – Find the Top 3D Printer for the Money

If you are still undecided about which 3D printer is best for you, we’ve compiled a comparison chart below with a summary of the key features for a head-to-head comparison.

Brand/ModelBuild AreaPrint SpeedFilament TypesLayer ResolutionExtrudersNozzle DiameterOpen/Closed SystemWarrantyPrice
FlashForge 3D Printers, New Model: Finder
5.5" x 5.5" x 5.5"40-200mm/secPLA100-500 micronsSingle0.4mmClosed3 monthAbout $1,199 here
SeeMeCNC Rostock MAX v3 DIY Kit
10.5” x 15.8”300mm/secCustomizable100-400 micronsSingleCustomizableOpenN/AAround $599 here
XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro. 3D Printer
5.9'' x 5.9'' x 5.9"40-100mm/secPLA / PETG / Tough PLA20-400 micronsSingle0.4mm or 0.3mmClosed12 monthAround $977 here
HICTOP Creality CR-10 3D Printer Prusa I3 DIY Kit
11.8” x 11.8” x 15.8”200MM/secABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Nylon, Exotics50-400 micronsSingle0.4mm to 0.2mmOpenN/AAround $499 here
MakerGear M2
8" x 10" x 8"80-200mmABS or PLA10-250 micronsSingle0.35mmOpen6 monthAround $1825 here
LulzBot TAZ 6 3D Printer
11” x 11” x 9.8”200mm/secABS, PLA, HIPS, Wood (PLA), Metal (PLA, Nylon, PET, Polycarbonate, NinjaFlex/SemiFlex TPU, and more50-500 micronsDual 0.5mmOpen12 monthAround $2220 here
Robo R2 Smart Assembled 3D Printer
8” x 8” x 10” 250mm/secCustomizable20-300 micronsSingle0.4mmOpen12 monthAround $799 here
MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D Printer, Firmware Version 1.7+
11.8" x 12." x 18" 100mm/secMakerBot PLA 100 micronsSingle0.4mmOpen6 monthAbout $2000 here

More 3D Printer Reviews

3D Printer Comparisons

How to Find the Best Silicone 3D Printer [2020]

When you think of silicone and 3D printing, you’re more likely to consider it as a helping hand, rather than a star player.

Silicone is commonly used as a mold material into which other material is poured to make a 3D object. But that’s limiting this versatile compound and your imagination to go along with it – you can now 3D print with silicone as if it were any other type of printing filament.

It takes extra care and consideration to make sure you’ve got the right knowledge and equipment, so read on to find out what to look for and what to avoid when buying a 3D printer for silicone.

What is silicone?

Silicone is the name given to a group of chemical polymers that are based on chains of alternation silicon and oxygen atoms. Organic groups are attached the to silicon atoms, and the resulting materials are generally resistant to chemical attack and not temperature sensitive.

These characteristics make silicone great for manufacturing and in particular for medical objects since those are exposed to all kinds of fluctuating conditions and environments.

How is silicone used in 3D printing?

Traditionally, silicone is used in a type of 3D manufacturing process called mold injection. That uses a mold to shape liquid into the objects desired, and silicone is great for that because of its tough yet flexible physical properties.

However, mold injection modeling has a very high upfront cost and does not have the ability to create small details as additive 3D printing does, so in 2016, Wacker Chemie made positive waves when it announced it had figured out a way to 3D print with silicone like you can with thermoplastics and metal compounds.

Soon after that, Envisiontec, Carbon 3D, and Fripp Design all jump in with their own contributions to equipment and material especially constructed to work with silicone.

Right now, the majority of usage for 3D printed silicone is still in the medical area, but the same advantages that make it great in that sector can easily translate to others, and if you’re jonesing to try it yourself, you totally can. We have the additive manufacturing technology!

Silicone 3D Printing

What is the process of 3D printing with silicone?

3D printing with silicone is a lot like printing with chocolate, and other materials that need to stay liquid during the printing process. Instead of a solid, threadlike filament feeding through an extruder, the silicone is melted and forced through the extruder in tiny drops, which are layered on top of each other (layer by layer) just like any other filament.

The printing process is still based on whatever you tell your computer to tell it – there’s no difference in your design process for additive manufacturing. So the extruder takes your design and maps out where to place the droplets and how close to put them together; it completes your creation through a 3D version of pointillism.

Then, there’s one last extra step you have to do for silicone to make it solidify and hold its shape in its firm yet flexible signature style. You have to vulcanize it.

Sounds terrifying, right? Don’t worry – this is just a fancy label for when silicone 3D printers make the silicone firm. It’s done with the sweep of a UV light in the printing area, which forms cross-links between sections of the polymer chain.

This hardens the silicone enough to keep its shape, and increases its durability in the face of structural stress. It’s a neat, no-fuss flourish to make sure your silicone 3D printed object stays unyielding in the important areas of its molecules.

What are the advantages of printing with silicone?

Silicone has a lot of great properties that you can take advantage of now that we’ve harnessed the power of it for 3D printing.

Strength and flexibility

Because of the science, we go into above; silicone is a super unique combination of strong and flexible. It will bend quite easily without breaking, which not only makes it able to withstand more pressure than something with more rigid connections but also makes it more portable, able to fold in on itself without any disassembling necessary.

This all comes through in your final 3D printed object without you having to do any extra or complicated step; silicone is just naturally awesome like that.

Bio-compatibility

One of the most famous uses for silicone is bodily implants, and there’s a great reason for that – silicone is not rejected by human tissue, so it’s perfect for reconstructing body parts that share its properties. It’s also great for objects that are not necessarily inside someone’s body but are in constant contact with skin or other vulnerable areas, like hearing aids, nose pads on the bridge of glasses, and respiration masks.

Temperature and radiation stability

Silicone can hold a temperature steady, so the area inside of a silicone shielded object does not feel the effects nearly as fast as under a non-temperature stable material such as glass. This same property makes silicone a good shield for radiation as well. The auto industry uses it a lot for engine parts that are exposed to massive temperature spikes as cars are turned on and used, such as hoses and plugs.

Transparency

Silicone’s see-through properties make it great for applications where vision is needed, but glass may be too fragile, such as the lenses in optical equipment. Whereas glass lenses are prone to scratches that are very difficult, if not impossible, to get out without changing the curated view of the lens, silicone lenses are less rigid and thus tend to not get as many scratches in the first place. If you’ve ever struggled to see out of an old pair of eyeglasses or tried to use a scratched touchscreen, you’ll appreciate the ability of silicone to stay smooth.

Electrical properties

Silicone can be both conductive and insulating, and that unique combination makes it great assistance for processes that need both, like securing fluids in hydraulic applications.

3D Printing Silicone

What are the disadvantages of printing with silicone?

Can’t return to its liquid state

One thing that is counter-intuitive but important to remember about silicone is that once it’s hardened into a solid, it can’t be melted down again without causing significant structural damage to its chemical makeup.

This is a feature that makes it great for final products, but if you make a mistake, there’s no chance to reshape or reuse the material, so be sure you either get it right on the first try, or you have more silicone available than is necessary for your project so you can try again if need be.

Special 3D printing equipment needed

As mentioned above, 3D printing with silicone is not like working with more traditional 3D printing material. With silicone, you have to have a special extruder that pulls the liquid silicone through the machine with a pump and extracts it like an inkjet printer onto the build surface.

There are a few other materials that need the same kind of treatment, so it’s not hard to find the right equipment, but if you have a rig meant for spooled filaments, you will need to buy an additional machine to print silicone.

Longer finishing process

Because objects that are 3D printed with silicone have a special hardening process, it takes longer to complete a project from start to finish, not ideal for rapid prototyping. The vulcanization process is fairly easy, requiring only a sweep of a UV light to stiffen the connections between the silicone molecules you’re working with, but be aware this may take more than one pass to complete.

If you’re used to working with materials that need cool down time after your object itself is printed, this would be roughly equivalent to that wait time, depending on the size of your silicone object. However, if you’re in an extreme hurry, you may need to choose a material that can go right off the printer bed.

Small production run

Silicone can help you manufacture a palette of cloned objects all at once – unfortunately, it can’t when you 3D print with it. As with all 3D printers, those that print with silicone are designed to produce one object at a time, which is what gives each object such a great capacity for details within the additive manufacturing process.

However, if you’re looking to 3D print with silicone to manufacture additive printed parts or objects on a large production scale, we recommend checking out the injection mold process instead (silicone mold).

Further Read: Injection Molding vs 3D Printing.

Not much documentation

New printing technology is always exciting, but it’s also prone to unexpected errors and quirks that haven’t had a chance to work themselves out yet. Since 3D printing with silicone materials is so recently developed, there is not a large body of documentation to study for print parameters before you start.

The information that is out there is from the companies who manufacture the printers capable of 3D printing with silicone; this is very useful, of course, but if you’re uncertain about 3D printing with silicone now, you may want to wait until it’s been around long enough to garner reviews and instruction documents from independent sources (like us!).

What do I need to look out for when buying equipment to 3D print with silicone?

If you are shopping for 3D printers to use with silicone, buy one with all of the following features:

  • Inkjet extruder. This is how the silicone gets from your machine onto the print bed and into the shape of your object. A regular feeder extruder system is not going to work, so make sure you are aware of how the printer you’re eyeing works with the printing material you give it.
  • Internal warmer and pump. Since silicone has to be liquid to be 3D printed, look for a machine that features both a warmer and a pump in its extruder workings. This will keep the silicone at a workable consistency while proactively moving it through the printer’s system at an even pace, so you don’t get clumps or nothing going through your nozzle.
  • Short, straight pipeways from material to extruder. Once the silicone is heated and liquid enough for the extruder to work with, it’s going to need to travel the least amount of distance that is practical for it in the machine’s interior. Reducing the length and turns in its path means it will flow better and more evenly without needing external help to go through the system.
  • Glass-enclosed printer bed. This can be a feature on 3D printers that don’t use silicone, but there, it’s usually a luxury. With silicone, it’s a necessity because of that extra final step of vulcanization that silicone requires before being ready to use as a 3D printed object. The glass chamber contains the UV lights that run over the silicone to harden it, so it’s a crucial feature for all of your 3D silicone printing needs

Aceo 3D Printing Silicones

What are some recommended products for 3D printing with silicone?

Now that we’ve walked you through the process of 3D printing with silicone and explained what to look for when you’re ready to start, here are a few of our favorite products that help you ace working with this material.

Current Commercial 3D Printing Players

Note: Right now, most of what you get are printing services and 3d party manufacturing vs affordable desktop silicone printers.

  • Wacker Chemie AG 3D printers for silicone. These guys literally invented this process, so their hardware is the standard by which all future 3D silicone printers will be judged. They’ve got customer 3D printing services as well, so if you’re not looking to buy a whole new printer for silicone, you can order silicone parts in a single quantity or a dozen from their offices and get the object without having to deal with your own machinery.
  • Wacker Chemie AG silicones. To go with their printers, Wacker has developed a line of inorganic silicones that have more consistent chemical properties than organic silicones, so try some out for great quality prints.
  • EnvisionTech 3D Bioplotter. This line of printers is made with medical application especially in mind. Its build environment is calibrated for the perfect UV light curing process, which is essential in finishing material meant for contact with delicate areas, like what medical implants tend to touch.
  • Carbon 3D SIL 30 silicone. Carbon 3D has developed a type of silicone that is specifically designed to give your 3D prints all the pluses of silicone with a minimal amount of drawbacks. It can expand 330% before it even thinks about tearing, so it’s got top-notch flexibility and strength.

What’s the verdict for 3D printing with silicone?

Although you need a specific type of printer for 3D printing with silicone, it’s well worth the extra equipment.

Once you get your printer set up, the silicone will give your 3D printed objects all the strength, flexibility, transparency, electricity manipulation, and biocompatibility you could imagine, so we highly recommend trying this material for its awesome perks. And once you find a printer that can handle it, you’ll be good to go for life.

Recommended Reads

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

Ender 3 vs Prusa i3 MK3

3D printer assembly kits are easy to screw up. They’re designed to keep their costs down, which means corners might be cut and details that you desperately need may be lost.

But once in a while, a company knows how to transcend the limitations of the genre, and delivers an excellent quality that you can build yourself.

And we’ve found two of them.

The Ender 3 and the Prusa i3 MK3 are both great choices if you’re looking for an affordable way to get into 3D printing and you’re not afraid to build some stuff to get there. They both give you immense value for your money, they both have a fairly painless assembly process, and they both print 3D objects you can be proud of.

So which one is right for you?

Bottom Line Up Front: So if you want to see what the 3D printing fuss is all about, the Ender 3 is the perfect place to start. If you’re looking for a kit that ups the game and lets you try out a bunch of new features, the original Prusa i3 MK3 is worth its price here, if you’ve got the money. You really can’t go wrong either way.

Main Differences Between the Ender 3 vs Prusa i3 MK3

The main differences between teh Ender 3 and Prusa i3 MK3 are:

  • The Prusa i3 MK3 print bed is slightly larger than the Ender 3
  • The Prusa i3 MK3 prints faster than than the Ender 3 because it has a rigid bed
  • The Ender 3 is generally less expensive compared to the Prusa i3 MK3

We Prefer the Ender 3 Pro Here
$236.00
Put simply, the Ender Pro has worked out all of the kinks, glitches, and inconsistencies that were shipped with the original Ender 3. You can save some money by going with the Ender 3, but it's not worth it unless you are very technical.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/31/2020 08:10 pm UTC

About the Ender 3

First up is Creality’s Ender 3, a desktop setup that is excellent for beginner users who don’t want to overstep their budget. Creality’s whole deal is making 3D printer kits accessible, and the China-based company has been improving on their models since their beginning in 2014.

Their Ender series is designed for the hobbyist user, but don’t let that make you think of bad quality – they’ve perfected the under $200 print until you can’t distinguish it from prints that came off rigs that cost two or three times as much.

Their Ender series is designed to get you involved in every step of the 3D printing process, from seeing how your machine is put together to watching the finished project materialize. Here are all the details you need to find out if Ender 3 is your best bet.

NOTE: Here are some of the best Ender 3 upgrades in 2020.

Ender 3 Specifications

Printing technology

FDM

Print area (build volume)

220 mm x 220 mm x 250 mm

Printer size

440 mm x 410 mm x 465 mm

Printer weight

8.6 kg

Filament type

1.75 mm PLA, ABS, or TPU

Extruder Nozzle diameter

0.4 mm

Maximum print speed

200 mm/sec

Maximum layer resolution

0.1 mm

Print precision

+/- 0.1mm

Heated bed

Yes

Connectivity

SD card, USB

LCD screen

Yes

Pros of the Ender 3

Ender 3 Price

The Ender 3 is one of the most affordable desktop 3D printers you will see out there, period.

You can find it for under $200 through all the vendors you associate with 3D printers, including Amazon, Gearbeast, and Creality itself. It’s not only affordable, but it’s also accessible, and you’ll have a lot of outlets to shop around to ensure you’re getting the best of the best deal.

Check out the latest prices on the Ender 3 here on Amazon.

Ender 3 Assembly

You may still be wary after hearing the Ender 3 is a kit and not a fully assembled printer. So many 3D printers can pass themselves off as good deals because you’re doing all the work to get them going. But with the Ender 3, the assembly process is virtually painless. This good start to your experience gives you a boost to enjoy the rest of your printing sooner and with more understanding of how things work.

Ender 3 Size

Although the Ender 3 is by no means the largest – or smallest, if you’re into that – desktop 3D printer out there, its balance of print area and compactness makes it the golden ideal in its class. [size of printing area] is big enough for a large size range of personal projects, and you can always print pieces to assemble together into a larger finished object.

And for the Ender 3, compactness is translated into putting a lot of great stuff into a package that doesn’t waste space. Desktop printing is always going to be a cramped market, so Ender 3 gives you plenty of room to do your thing without getting in the way of the rest of your life.

Ender 3 Print quality

It might take a little adjusting after your first few runs, but the Ender 3 gets what you want to do and helps that happen well. One of the ways it makes a great finished product is with its tight filament path – with fewer twists and turns for the filament to go through when it’s getting to the extruder, the smoother the print is going to be, especially when you’re working with flexible filaments like nylon.

Open source software

The Ender 3’s upgrade system is the best we’ve seen in a kit printer. You’re not left alone to fumble with a system that’s going to be incompatible with everything else you want to use, and you’ll be able to take advantage of any (or all!) of Creality’s available updates.

Those are growing by the day, as are the creative additions Creality users post for others to find and freely use on the internet. If you’re one to tinker around with code and put together something awesome, you can add your own ideas to the mix and get them out there for everyone to use.

We Prefer the Ender 3 Pro Here
$236.00
Put simply, the Ender Pro has worked out all of the kinks, glitches, and inconsistencies that were shipped with the original Ender 3. You can save some money by going with the Ender 3, but it's not worth it unless you are very technical.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/31/2020 08:10 pm UTC

Cons of the Creality Ender 3

Uneven base

The Creality 3 is not perfect, and the most obvious way it shows its flaws is through its printer base. It doesn’t lie flat, which of course causes issues if you don’t correct it. The motion of the printing arm and extruder makes the base wobble unless you stick a corrective wedge under the uneven part.

Happily, the fix is just as easy as that. You don’t have to use any special piece of equipment or print any extension, you just have to make sure the base’s footing is evened out. But even if it is a snap to correct, you have to remember to do so to keep your prints from turning into disasters, and this also makes keeping the printer bed level difficult.

Manual calibration

Related to your quest to even up the printer base is the need to manually calibrate your heater bed on a consistent basis. This means to get the absolute best prints you can, you’ll have to manually calibrate it before every print you do. This is hands down the most annoying aspect of using the Ender 3 – but relatively speaking, it’s not such a terrible payoff for the amazing performance you get elsewhere in the printing process.

Bed adhesion

The first layer of any 3D print steers the direction of the rest of the print, either into perfection or disaster.

The Ender 3’s BuildTak-ish grip finish on its heater bed occasionally needs a little assistance towards greatness in this area; using an outside adhesion material is all you need, though, something like a permanent glue stick from Elmer’s. That’s all it takes to fix this little quirk, so whether you’re just starting out or a 3D printing veteran, you’ll be able to do it yourself no problem.

About the Prusa i3 MK3

Prusa i3 MK3

As another top-of-the-line 3D printer kit, the Prusa i3 MK3 is impressive for a 3D printer, period. It boasts innovations that make it a contender beyond its perceived weight class, and its desktop status puts these in the hands of anyone who wants to experience it. It’s also something you have to put together, but it’s worth it. Trust us.

Prusa i3 MK3 Specifications

Printing technology

FFF, FDM

Print area

250 mm x 210 mm x 200 mm

Printer size

419 mm x 381 mm x 419 mm

Printer weight

6.35 kg

Filament type

1.75 mm, PLA, HIPS

Extruder Nozzle diameter

0.4 mm

Maximum print speed

50 mm/s

Maximum layer resolution

Not listed

Print precision

0.05 mm

Heated bed

no

Connectivity

SD, USB

LCD screen

yes

Pros of the Prusa MK3

Frame strength

The Prusa i3 MK3 holds up to a lot. Its rigidness is a major upside and a great example of how build kits don’t necessarily have to suffer stereotypical pitfalls of weak points where they fit together. A more rigid frame is going to give you a much steadier print, which will give you prints that reflect your design with perfect accuracy. And of course, frame rigidity is great for counteracting any rough environment hazards you may encounter.

Crash detection

3D printing can be such a nerve-racking process. Hours of painstaking planning can be wiped out with a single unplugging, and even just needing to pause in the middle of a project can make the rest of the project go wonky. The Prusa i3 MK3 has eliminated all that. It detects crashes with plenty of time for you to deal with the potential issues, so if you are less than certain about your set up, you’ll know where to double and triple check as you’re going along.

Power failure backup

No electrical grid is immune to going down, especially in the face of Mother Nature or other people who share your workspace. The Prusa i3 MK3 understands that, and it’s prepared for whatever disaster you throw at it. Its smooth transition from full speed to powering down is incremental enough to keep your place as a true pause. You don’t have to worry about getting back to a specific point; it does that for you. You don’t have to worry about losing any information; it won’t. You don’t have to worry about remembering to save at regular intervals (although that’s still a great idea!); it pretty much does that for you. You get the idea.

Excellent documentation

If you are intimidated or overwhelmed by 3D printing in general, know that the Prusa i3 MK3 has support out the wazoo. Whether you’ve decided to buy one to start your 3D printing journey, whether you are curious about building your own machine, whether you’re looking to add to your collection without breaking the bank – the Prusa i3 MK3 has your back. Its thorough support manual and thriving, active online community can help you clear up any questions or problems you might come across. Plus you’ll meet some great people who share your passion for 3D printing.

Removable magnetic print bed

This is an unassuming feature that makes such a difference for the better that you’ll be wondering how you ever 3D printed without it. Since the print bed is flexible, it’s easy to adjust as you need, and the fact that it’s attached with magnets make it even easier to remove, clean, and put back in place without needing any tools or real manufacturing know-how.

Autocalibration

This printer has nine points of automatic calibration, which keeps everything amazingly safe from errors while printing. It will adjust as it goes along so your print details and finish will stay true in line.

OctoPrint upgrades

Prusa teams ups with the OctoPrint for one of the most consistent printing software upgrade services out there. You can get the full usage of OctoPrint whenever you use the Prusa i3 MK3, and there are tons of places online you can download it for your use. And it’s a totally free software with a lot of fans out there who will help you figure out what you need and what version is best.

Prusa i3 3D Printer

Cons of the Prusa MK3

Prusa i3 MK3 Price

You get a lot of cool features that make your 3D printing a premium experience with the Prusa i3 M3 – but you’ll pay full price for it. At $900, this is not a buy to take lightly without seriously considering your budget. It’s not for the light of wallet, and if you’re not absolutely certain you’ll get $900 worth of use out of 3D printing as a hobby or business, look elsewhere for a better deal.

Filament detection system

This is a great addition to any 3D printer, and the Prusa i3 MK3 doesn’t stint on the fancy extras that make your printing easier. However, this one can be fooled by a clear filament.

If you’re using any kind of filament without color, the filament detection system in here won’t see it, and unfortunately, this isn’t a quirk you can fix. In our experience, it’s not enough of an issue to deter from the great aspects of this printer, but if you lean heavily on clear filament for your output, you’ll have to either find another printer or monitor this one very closely to make sure you don’t run out in the middle of your projects.

Quality of printer parts

A few of the parts for the printer are 3D printed themselves, like the frame for the LCD control screen, and while the parts easy to add into the smooth build experience, they are not at the same visual quality of the non-3D printed parts. There are surface discrepancies that, although few and far between and don’t interfere with functionality, are noticeable. If you know this will bug you, you can always print your own replacements.

Frequent updates

Because this printer has so many components and features that are new to the field in general, the Prusa i3 MK3’s firmware will be updating constantly. It will level out as these features become more widespread, but as anyone who is a frequent tech trailblazer knows, the kinks will have to work themselves out as they’re being used. You won’t be a beta tester, but you will be reaping the immediate benefits of those who were.

Final Verdict: Creality Ender 3 vs Prusa MK3?

We Prefer the Ender 3 Pro Here
$236.00
Put simply, the Ender Pro has worked out all of the kinks, glitches, and inconsistencies that were shipped with the original Ender 3. You can save some money by going with the Ender 3, but it's not worth it unless you are very technical.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/31/2020 08:10 pm UTC

This is a really tough choice. Both the Creality and Prusa printers produce excellent quality 3D objects, and they both give you a wonderfully supported building experience. We highly recommend both of these kits for a 3D printing enthusiast.

We would say the real decision comes down to what design quirks you are willing to work with, but all of these have easy fixes, and the real difference is the price.

Bottom Line: So if you want to see what the 3D printing fuss is all about, the Ender 3 is the perfect place to start. If you’re looking for a kit that ups the game and lets you try out a bunch of new features, the Prusa i3 MK3 is worth its price here, if you’ve got the money. You really can’t go wrong either way.

Further Reading on 3D Printer Model Options