Slowly but surely, 3D printers are getting cheaper, better, and drastically more accessible. In the early days, there were only a few models on the market, and most of them were clunky, tricky to use, and prohibitively expensive. That’s no longer the case. Today, there are 3D printers available in every size, shape, and printing style you could ever want — and they’re getting more affordable all the time.
Widespread availability of 3D printing technology will revolutionize the world — but with so many 3D printers on the market, how are you supposed to know which are good and which will leave you with buyer’s remorse? So to help you make the right decision, we put together this no-nonsense rundown of the best 3D printers available right now. This list is regularly updated to include new products, so be sure to check back in a few months if you’re still shopping around. Enjoy!
Why you should buy it: It makes incredibly accurate parts and it’s a breeze to operate.
Who it’s for: Product designers, engineers, anyone who wants high-quality printed parts
What you’ll pay for it: $3,500
Why we picked Formlabs Form 2:
Yes, it is very expensive, but using the Form 2 is like moving from an old tube TV to 4K UHD. The quality of its prints dwarf other printers on this list.
At the end of the day, you wont find a consumer-level 3D printer that makes more detailed, dimensionally accurate, structurally robust models than this one does. But that’s not the only reason we picked it. It’s also far more user friendly than other printers in its class, and despite being extremely advanced, its interface is so simple that even beginners should have no trouble using it.
It’s worth noting that the Form 2 isn’t cut from the same cloth as your average FDM printer. It’s a different breed entirely. Instead of heating up plastic filament and squirting it through a nozzle to build objects layer by layer, the Form 2 uses a laser projection system to “grow” objects out of a pool of UV-curable resin. As the laser flashes over the resin tray, it causes a thin layer to solidify on the build plate, which is slowly drawn upward as each new layer is made.
Now to be clear, the Form 2 isn’t the only 3D printer that uses this method — but it’s definitely the easiest to use of the bunch. Formlabs stuffed it with a boatload of great features that make resin-based printing less of a hassle — like an auto-filling resin tray, and an ingenious print feature that makes objects easier to remove from the build plate. There’s even a web app that lets you check the status of your print when you’re nowhere near the machine.