What is the best 3D printer in 2018?
There are over one thousand 3D printers available on the market. Finding the best 3D printer can be a challenging and time-consuming task, especially for those who are new to 3D printing. That is why we decided to put together this list of the best desktop 3D printers in 2018. Our goal is to cut through the clutter and select ten of the best 3D printers currently on the market.
For this list, we focused on award-winning and top-rated consumer 3D printers, also referred to as desktop 3D printers. We didn’t consider the most expensive 3D printers on the market, as prices can reach up to hundreds of thousands of dollars and are exclusively industrial 3D printers. This best 3D printer selection is based on following criteria:
- Metascore of over 4.0/5
- YouTube test
- Under $3,000 and available
- Extrusion technology 3D printers
Please see our methodology section further below for more details on how we selected the 3D printers included in this article.
The 10 best 3D printers in 2018
|3D printer||Metascore||Awards**||Build volume in mm.........................||Country||Price (MSRP***)||Check price|
|Original Prusa i3 MK3||4.6||250 x 210 x 200||Czech Republic||$999|
|MakerGear M2||4.6||🏆🏆||203 x 254 x 203||United States||$1,825|
|SeeMeCNC Rostock Max||4.6||🏆||275 x 275 x 400||United States||$1,899|
|CraftBot Plus||4.5||🏆||250 x 200 x 200||Hungary||$1,044|
|Ultimaker 2+||4.4||🏆||223 x 223 x 205||Netherlands||$2,499|
|Zortrax M200||4.3||🏆🏆🏆||200 x 200 x 180||Poland||$1,990|
|LulzBot Mini||4.3||🏆🏆||152 x 152 x 158||United States||$1,250|
|LulzBot TAZ 6||4.2||🏆🏆||280 x 280 x 250||United States||$2,500|
|Flashforge Creator Pro||4.2||🏆🏆||225 x 145 x 150||China||$1,299|
|BCN3D Sigma||4.0||🏆||210 x 297 x 210||Spain||$2,795|
*Metascore: result of indexed review scores from four reliable sources (Amazon, 3D Hubs, Pinshape, Make:).
**Awards: in this table, the number of awards won by 3D printers have been represented with trophy emojis. Award names are detailed in individual product pages.
***MSRP: manufacturer suggested retail price.
This list is non-extensive, there are many other 3D printers on the market. Although these 3D printers are full of qualities, we recommend doing your own, additional research.
Tip: to get a full overview of the 3D printer market, our 3D printer comparison engine is a useful tool. We index over one thousand 3D printer models, all in different price ranges. For those who are looking for the best budget 3D printers, we have a selection of the best 3D printers under $300 and under $1,000.
Methodology: how we selected the top 10 3D printers in 2018
Metascore: a unique 3D printer rating index
Our metascore is based on ratings indexed from four reliable sources:
- 3D HUBS: the well-known “Uber” of 3D printing has collected thousands of detailed and reliable user reviews. 3D Hubs is among the most trustworthy sources for 3D printer ratings.
- Pinshape: this STL file platform also collects user ratings on their 3D printers, making it a reliable source of crowdsourced 3D printer ratings.
- Make: this magazine caters to makers of all kinds and their journalists are experienced product reviewers. They test 3D printers and produce in-depth reviews and ratings following a strict protocol.
- Amazon: we aggregate user ratings from this online store on Aniwaa.
All of the 3D printers in this list have earned at least one award, either from 3D Hubs or Make:. This does not mean that 3D printers that haven’t been awarded are not good 3D printers, but we chose this as a criterion to be able to offer a short, solid list of the best 3D printers on the market.
These are the main (non-extensive) categories of awards won by the 3D printers in this list:
3D Hubs awards: Prosumer, Workhorse, Budget, Plug ‘n’ play, Enthusiast
Make: awards: Best overall, Best value, Outstanding open source
Every best 3D printer has been reviewed at least once on YouTube by 3D printing amateurs and experts. This helps users get a better view of the 3D printer and an almost hands-on experience. Also, 3DP YouTubers often give valuable tips and advice. This criterion is similar to the reddit YouTube test.
Community feedback and customer service
Being the best 3D printers on the market, these models all have a large community of active users. These communities are gold mines when users need tips or help when having 3D printing issues with a specific 3D printer.
Our article on the best 3DP forums and communities lists these groups of 3DP users.
Overview of the best 3D printers in 2018
- Metascore: 4.7/5
- Build size: 250 x 210 x 200 mm
- Country: Czech Republic
- Automatic calibration: Yes
- Price (MSRP): $999
This best 3D printer (earlier MK2S version) has been awarded Best Budget 3D printer by 3D Hubs and Best Overall, Best Value and Outstanding Open Source by Make: in 2017.
Full specs and ratings: Original Prusa i3 MK3
The MakerGear M2 is a high-quality, reliable desktop 3D printer. This best 3D printer offers a solid combination of features, speed, quality, and price. The M32 3D printer is one of the most praised 3D printers on the market and has received excellent feedback from its users.
The Rostock Max V3 is the latest version of the classic Rostock 3D printer by SeeMeCNC, a US-based manufacturer that originally launched this product on Indiegogo. This delta 3D printer has received impressive ratings from 3D Hubs and Make:. A dual extruder option is available for this 3D printer. The build volume provided by the Rostock MAX v3 is ideal for large, clean 3D prints.
This best 3D printer is one of the best Budget 3D printers of 2017 according to 3D Hubs. Full specs and ratings: SeeMeCNC Rostock Max V3
The Craft Unique CraftBot Plus 3D printer provides stability and durability with its all-steel frame. This 3D printer features a heated bed, making it possible to 3D print ABS and HIPS in addition to classic PLA. Craft Unique, the manufacturer, delivers this 3D printer in a variety of colors such as black, pink, blue, green and more. The Craft Unique CraftBot Plus won the 3D Hubs award for best plug and play 3D printer of 2017. Full specs and ratings: Craft Unique CraftBot Plus
The Ultimaker 2+ features swappable nozzles, adjustable gear strength, a heated bed and uses 3mm filament. For a bigger build volume, there is the Ultimaker 2 Extended+. The Ultimaker 2+ has been selected as one of the best Prosumer 3D printers in the 2017 3D Hubs report. Its previous version, the Ultimaker 2, won 2 3D Hubs awards in 2015 and 2016 as one of the best Enthusiast options.
- Metascore: 4.3/5
- Build size: 200 x 200 x 180 mm
- Country: Poland
- Automatic calibration: Yes
- Price (MSRP): $1,990
The Zortrax M200 features a heated print bed with automatic calibration. Zortrax manufactures a range of proprietary filament. Zortrax’s M200 has won two 3D Hubs awards in the prosumer (2017) and plug-n-play (2015 and 2016) categories, while also being a “Shootout” category winner in Make:’s 2016 report. A more recent version of this 3D printer exists: the Zortrax M200 Plus.
Full specs and ratings: Zortrax M200
The LulzBot Mini has been chosen by 3D Hubs as one of the best plug-n-play options on the market, two years in a row. The LulzBot Mini’s heated print bed and hot end extruder offer a number of possibilities when it comes to 3D printing material. As this 3D printer’s name indicates, the Mini provides a relatively small build volume.
This 3D printer’s reliability and ease of use make it a popular choice for entry-level users as well as for advanced makers. Full specs and ratings: LulzBot Mini
The LulzBot TAZ 6 is another classic on the desktop 3D printer market. Its previous version, the TAZ 5, won four awards, and the TAZ 6 is on its way to the same success with 2 awards to this day (Workhorse award by 3D Hubs and Outstanding Open Source by Make: in 2017).
This best 3D printer features automatic bed levelling, self-cleaning and consistent 3D printing accuracy. Its heated bed and hot-end extruder are optimal for various filament materials. Full specs and ratings: LulzBot TAZ 6
This sturdy metal-framed 3D printer features a closed environment for heated 3D printing. The FlashForge Creator Pro is a reliable 3D printer made to last, providing consistent 3D printing results. The Creator Pro is easy to repair and maintain, especially with help from its large community of users. Its dual extruder allows for multi-material 3D printing.
The FlashForge Creator Pro has won the 2017 3D Hubs Workhorse award and the 2016 3D Hubs Enthusiast award. Full specs and ratings: FlashForge Creator Pro
The SigmaR17 is an IDEX (independent dual extruder) desktop 3D printer made by BCN3D, a Spanish manufacturer. The SigmaR17 features a large touch screen for a fluid user experience and is capable of 3D printing a large variety of material thanks to its heated bed and hotend extruder. This 3D printer is a more recent version of the Sigma.
The Sigma has earned the Workhorse award in 3D Hubs’ 2017 report. Full specs and ratings: BCN3D SigmaR17
Best 3D printers in 2018: special mentions
The DigiLab 3D45 by Dremel, a manufacturer from the US, is an upgrade of the well-known 3D20 and 3D40 flagship 3D printers (a.k.a. Idea Builder 3D printers). When we reviewed the 3D40 Idea Builder back in 2016, we gave it a 4.1/5 score. With reviews from Amazon (3.9/5), Make: (3.8/5), and Pinshape (4.2/5), this 3D printer has a solid history.
It is only natural that we mention the newest version, the Dremel 3D45, even if it hasn’t yet had the chance to obtain any awards or a metascore from various sources yet.
Full specs and ratings: Dremel DigiLab 3D45
The Anet A8 hasn’t won any awards, but it is a great, cheap 3D printer kit for those on a low budget. This 3D printer is not only at the head of our best cheap 3D printers under $300, but it is also at the top of our list of the best 3D printers available on Amazon.
The Anet A8 is a DIY kit to be assembled that is based on the famous Prusa i3 model. At only $279, the A8 offers a good price-to-performance ratio. This best cheap 3D printer is easy to upgrade and maintain and features a rather decent build size.
Full specs and ratings: Anet A8
This 3D printer did not meet our criteria with its 3.9/5 metascore, but is worth mentioning. The Robox by CEL has earned itself three awards: “Best plug-n-play“ award by 3D Hubs in 2016 and 2017, and “Most portable“ award by Make: in 2017.
The CEL Robox is a relatively quiet 3D printer featuring a closed frame and an optional dual extruder (CEL RoboxDual).
Full specs and ratings: CEL Robox
The X-ONE has not received any awards, but has a metascore of 4.4/5. The Qidi Tech X-ONE is a simple, easy-to-use 3D printer that is delivered assembled. Priced at $399, this 3D printer features a heated print bed and an intuitive touchscreen for a friendly user experience.
Full specs and ratings: Qidi Tech X-ONE
3D printer buying guide
In this list of the top 10 3D printers in 2018, there are only FFF (fused filament fabrication) 3D printers. This technology is ideal for creating prototypes, end-use parts or simply objects for hobbyists. For professionals in dental or jewelry industries where high precision and detail is required, SLA or DLP technology is recommended. We have a list of the best SLA and DLP 3D printers available for additional information. Our list of 3D printing technologies and processes provides more advanced information on the subject.
Heated print bed
These two features matter for 3D printing with other filaments than PLA, like ABS, Nylon, Wood, etc. They also provide better 3D print quality. It is important to watch out for the print bed surface, as sensitive materials like acrylic tend to warp over time.
In order to get good 3D prints, the print bed must be well-leveled to provide a flat surface. Some 3D printers offer automated bed leveling, but a lot of others require manual calibration (which can be tricky and time-consuming). Automatic leveling is recommended, especially for beginners, but not mandatory.
Dual extrusion allows for 3D printing with two materials at a time, perfect for multi-color3D prints or for complicated objects that require support material.
This is different from independent dual extrusion, which allows for 3D printing two equal objects simultaneously.
Closed frame versus open frame
One must learn to tame 3D printers to get decent 3D prints, especially with open-framed machines. Many things can interfere with 3D print quality, such as temperature and room drafts. For basic protection it is possible to add makeshift “walls”, with cardboard for example, around an open-framed 3D printer. Closed frame 3D printers protect the 3D printing process, prevent smelly fumes (yes, melted plastic unsurprisingly smells like melted plastic) and help mask the 3D printer’s mechanism noises.
We have a list of the best 3DP communities that have extensive information for many 3D printers. Model-specific information can be found with a quick search engine query.
Differences between two different layer thicknesses.
Credit: Josef Prusa
Minimum layer thickness
3D print quality is intricately linked to layer thickness. This is the minimum height of each successive layer that forms the 3D printed object. The thinner the layers, the less we can distinguish them and the smoother the object will be (similar to the ratio of pixels in an image).
The typical layer thickness for mid-range or entry-level 3D printers is 100 microns, or 0.1 millimeters. However, thinner layers means more layers, which means more 3D print time. If a quick prototype or object is required, settings can be changed to 3D print thicker layers.
The build volume is the maximum size of a 3D printed object on a specific 3D printer. This specification is important, especially if larger 3D prints are required for specific projects. Smaller builds are fine for those who just wish to experiment with 3D printing.
We also have a list including 3D printers suited for 3D printing large objects.