What is the best professional desktop 3D printer?

There are so many different 3D printers on the market today that it can be a real challenge to choose one. When every penny of your quarterly budget counts, you want to make sure your professional 3D printer is adapted to your needs. Material compatibility, build size, ease of use, workflow, software, and many more elements come into play.

To help you cut through the clutter, we made a shortlist of some of the best professional 3D printers available this year. These benchtop and desktop FFF (fused filament fabrication) 3D printers for professionals offer a great combination of features, performance, and reliability, and come from well-established brands. They are ideal tools for rapid prototyping and iterative design processes, and are also suitable for low-volume production series. Keep in mind, though, that while part quality does depend on your printer’s performance, it also greatly relies on your choice of materials.

Towards the end of this article, we also provide a brief buying guide where you can learn more about different 3D printer specifications such as printing temperatures, layer thickness, dual extrusion, and more.

Best benchtop 3D printers for professionals in 2022: our selection

The table below recaps our selection of some of the best professional 3D printing options for office use. Our goal is to provide a quick, visual overview of the market; there are of course numerous other factors to take into account (material compatibility, certifications, customer service, software, etc.) before making the right choice.

BrandProductBuild sizeCountryPrice
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
Prusa ResearchOriginal Prusa i3 MK3S
This product has been reviewed by our team.
250 × 210 × 210 mmCzech Republic$ 999Buy
BCN3D TechnologiesSigma D25420 × 300 × 200 mmSpain$ 3,995Quote
UltimakerUltimaker S5330 × 240 × 300 mmNetherlands$ 5,995Quote
MakerBotMethod X190 × 190 × 196 mmUnited States$ 6,499Quote
Raise3DPro3 Plus
This product has been reviewed by our team.
300 × 300 × 605 mmUnited States$ 7,249Quote
MarkforgedOnyx Pro320 × 132 × 154 mmUnited States$ 9,600Quote
StratasysF120254 × 254 × 254 mmUnited States$ 12,000Quote

The products in the table are ranked by price (low to high).

TITRE:
BrandProductBuild sizeBuild volumeExtruder temp.CountryPrice
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
Prusa ResearchOriginal Prusa i3 MK3S
This product has been reviewed by our team.
250 × 210 × 210 mm11.03 L300°CCzech Republic$ 999Buy on Prusa
BCN3D TechnologiesSigma D25420 × 300 × 200 mm25.2 L300°CSpain$ 3,995Get a quote
UltimakerUltimaker S5330 × 240 × 300 mm23.76 L280°CNetherlands$ 5,995Get a quote
MakerBotMethod X190 × 190 × 196 mm7.08 L260°CUnited States$ 6,499Get a quote
Raise3DPro3 Plus
This product has been reviewed by our team.
300 × 300 × 605 mm54.45 L300°CUnited States$ 7,249Get a quote
MarkforgedOnyx Pro320 × 132 × 154 mm6.5 LUnited States$ 9,600Get a quote
StratasysF120254 × 254 × 254 mm16.39 LUnited States$ 12,000Get a quote

Overview of the best professional 3D printers in 2022

In this section, we give some more context and information about each pro 3D printer from our selection.

http://Prusa%20Research%20Original%20Prusa%20i3%20MK3S%202021
Selection This product is featured in a buyer’s guide.
Tested This product has been reviewed by our team.
CountryCzech Republic
Build size250 × 210 × 210 mm
Extruder temp.300°C
Build plate temp.120°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 999

The Prusa Research Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ is a desktop 3D printer manufactured by Prusa Research, based in the Czech Republic. Prusa Research is a well-known brand created by Josef Prusa, inventor of the open-source Prusa i3 3D printer design.

Prusa 3D printers are highly reliable machines and can produce excellent parts right out of the box. Priced just under $1,000, the MK3S+ offers a very good price-to-performance ratio. With its open chassis and customizable “everything”, it’s a great option for those that like to get manual. Professionals who are looking for easy and low-maintenance operation may want to look at options in a higher price range.

Full review: Original Prusa i3 MK3S review

http://BCN3D%20Sigma%20D25
Selection This product is featured in a buyer’s guide.
CountrySpain
Build size420 × 300 × 200 mm
Extruder temp.300°C
Build plate temp.80°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 3,995

The BCN3D Sigma D25 is a large desktop 3D printer for office use made by BCN3D Technologies. BCN3D, or BCN3D Technologies, is based in Spain and is one of the desktop 3D printer market leaders. They produce high-quality 3D printers for professionals, the Sigma being their flagship series.

The Sigma D25 pro 3D printer offers a relatively big build volume and boasts BCN3D’s IDEX technology. This means that there are two separate print heads that can both move independently to either print two identical objects at the same time or print in mirror mode.

http://Ultimaker%20S5
Selection This product is featured in a buyer’s guide.
CountryNetherlands
Build size330 × 240 × 300 mm
Extruder temp.280°C
Build plate temp.140°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 5,995

The Ultimaker S5 is a professional desktop 3D printer made by Ultimaker, a manufacturer based in the Netherlands. Users may control their S5 from a distance thanks to the Ultimaker App and a Wi-Fi connection. There is also an onboard camera to monitor 3D prints from a distance. Furthermore, to maximize production efficiency, it is possible to group multiple S5 3D printers together with Cura Connect.

Today, the Ultimaker S5 is often referred to as the best professional 3D printer, especially when equipped with the Pro Bundle. The Pro Bundle includes a “material station” where up to 6 spools of filament can be loaded and automatically managed (auto-switch, humidity control, etc.), and an “air manager” that closes up the build area and filters particles.

Selection This product is featured in a buyer’s guide.
CountryUnited States
Build size190 × 190 × 196 mm
Extruder temp.260°C
Build plate temp.100°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 6,499

The Method X is a professional benchtop 3D printer produced by MakerBot (a Stratasys-owned brand). It was designed to 3D print ABS filament reliably and efficiently, thanks to a number of features– including a 100°C heated build chamber– than enable comprehensive environmental control.

Makerbot’s Method X is equipped with a 5-inch touchscreen with real-time feedback and status on print jobs, and offers automatic calibration. This pro 3D printer also boasts “SmartAssist Material Loading”, for fast and easy filament changing. Users can log in to the manufacturer’s proprietary CloudPrint software to monitor prints remotely at any time.

http://Markforged%20Onyx%20Pro%20pro%203D%20printer%20for%20office%20and%20work
Selection This product is featured in a buyer’s guide.
CountryUnited States
Build size320 × 132 × 154 mm
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 9,600

The Markforged Onyx Pro is a professional desktop 3D printer made by Markforged, a manufacturer based in Somerville, Massachusetts (USA). With its dual printhead, the Onyx Pro reinforces plastic parts with a continuous strand of fiberglass.

The main available materials for the Onyx Pro are Onyx (a carbon fiber filled nylon) and Precise PLA. Markforged advertises parts up to ten times stronger than non-reinforced plastic ones.

The MarkForged Onyx Pro is delivered with Markforged’s browser-based Eiger software, powerful and easy to use. Eiger allows precise control over the 3D printing process.

http://Raise3D%20Pro3%20Plus%20large%20professional%203D%20printer
Selection This product is featured in a buyer’s guide.
Tested This product has been reviewed by our team.
CountryUnited States
Build size300 × 300 × 605 mm
Extruder temp.300°C
Build plate temp.120°C
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 7,249

The Raise3D Pro3 Plus is a professional, industrial-grade 3D printer made by Raise3D, an ISO9001:2015 and ISO14001-certified manufacturer based in the US (California). Raise3D also has offices in the Netherlands (Rotterdam) and in China (Shanghai).

This 3D printer for office environments is a true workhorse, capable of printing for hours without any hiccups. It does an impressive job with complex overhangs and features an intuitive, user-friendly workflow. The printer comes with an air filtration system, an onboard camera, and a dual extruder. Its control software is also available as a smartphone app for convenient remote monitoring.

Raise3D’s Pro3 series also includes the Pro3, featuring a smaller build volume. Both printers are a follow-up to the Pro2 Series.

Full review: Raise3D Pro3 Plus review

Selection This product is featured in a buyer’s guide.
CountryUnited States
Build size254 × 254 × 254 mm
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary by region, over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 12,000

Stratasys is the Apple of the 3D printing industry. Their 3D printers, including the F120, are reliable machines with industrial-grade components and printing quality. However, Stratasys 3D printers generally only work with Stratasys materials and hardware. At the moment, less than a handful of filaments are available for the Stratasys F120.

The F120 is one of the most affordable FDM printers from Stratasys and is destined to be a desktop workhorse for professionals. Stratasys emphasizes on the printer’s ease of use, durability, and industrial quality.

Professional 3D printer buying guide

There are several features and specifications to take into account when choosing the best professional 3D printer for your needs.

Technology

For this professional desktop 3D printer selection, we focused on FFF (fused filament fabrication) 3D printers. They are ideal for creating both prototypes and end-use parts.

For professionals in dental or jewelry industries where high precision and detail are required, resin 3D printers are more adapted, with SLA, DLP, or LCD-based technologies.

There are also desktop SLS 3D printers (powder 3D printers), PEEK 3D printers, continuous fiber 3D printers, and more for advanced applications. Explore these topics with all of our other 3D printer guides.

Build plate or print bed

A heated print bed is mandatory for users that need to 3D print with ABS and other more demanding materials. The heat helps prevent warping and offers better first-layer adhesion.

While today’s 3D printers almost always feature heated build plates, they don’t all reach the same temperatures. It is best to know which thermoplastics you will be printing and to choose your desktop 3D printer accordingly.

Some professional 3D printers have interchangeable build trays to help speed up the workflow, enabling users to quickly launch new prints while the previous build plate cools down. On higher-end 3D printers, there can even be vacuum systems for instant part release from the print bed.

PLA and ABS can be considered the most common and basic 3D printing materials in general. Professionals, however, often need to print more complex materials, such as Nylon, Polycarbonate, PETG, ASA, or other engineering-grade polymers.

They don’t all have the same melting or glass transition temperature and therefore have to be 3D printed at different temperatures. For example, PLA can be extruded at around 200°C, PC at around 260°C, and some high-performance materials like PEEK or PEKK need the extruder to reach at least 450°C.

Popular professional filaments also include plastics filled with carbon fiber or glass fiber for increased strength and resistance. These materials are abrasive and require tough nozzles; many professional printers are already compatible with these composites, but it’s important to make sure beforehand.

Some 3D printers are compatible with multiple types of nozzles with varying diameters, and even paste-type print heads exist to 3D print clay.

Automatic calibration

Most professional 3D printer systems are equipped with automatic calibration features to make the process as plug-n-play as possible. It’s important to recalibrate a 3D printer from time to time to ensure consistent print quality.

There are two main types of calibration:

  • Print bed leveling (making sure the print bed is perfectly parallel to the nozzle, and not tilted)
  • Nozzle offset (determining the right gap between the nozzle and the print bed)

Most 3D printers for professionals feature a probe attached to the print head to automate these processes instead of users having to use a piece of paper or business card.

Some 3D printers also have NFC readers to automatically adjust their temperature settings according to the detected material (so long as the spool is chipped, too).

Dual extrusion and independent dual extrusion (IDEX)

A dual extruder enables users to 3D print with two different colors or materials simultaneously, including soluble support material for complex objects.

If there are two separate print heads, the system is referred to as IDEX (independent dual extruder). BCN3D Technologies was one of the first manufacturers to offer this feature a few years back.

In addition to being able to 3D print two materials at a time, independent dual extrusion offers different 3D printing possibilities:

  • Duplication mode: 3D prints two identical objects at the same time.
  • Mirror mode: to 3D print an object twice as fast as with just one extruder, each nozzle completes one-half of the object.

Onboard camera

Some 3D printers are equipped with an onboard camera that monitors prints remotely or saves time-lapse videos. This feature can be useful if the printer must be left unattended for long periods of time. We found it to be quite practical when we launched a long print for our Pro3 Plus review.

With the right 3D software, onboard cameras can help with quality control. Quality control can also be done during post-processing workflows with a metrology 3D scanner.

Minimum layer thickness

3D print quality is intricately linked to layer thickness, a.k.a. layer height or Z resolution. It’s the minimum height of each successive layer that forms the 3D printed object. The thinner the layers, the less they are distinguishable and the smoother the object will be (similar to the ratio of pixels in an image).

Thinner layers also mean that more layers are required to complete the object, which translates into more 3D print time. Layer thickness can be adjusted depending on if you need a quick print (thicker) or a high-resolution print (thinner).

The typical minimum layer thickness for mid-range FFF 3D printers is 100 microns or 0.1 millimeters, but it can go down to 0.01 mm in some cases.

Layer thickness explained
A simple representation of layer height. Source: Primantes3D

Build volume

The build volume is the maximum size that your prints can be. If you need a bigger volume than what the 3D printers in this guide provide, you may be interested in these selections:

Now, there are even large-sized resin 3D printers for those that need both volume and finer surface quality.

Closed frame

Many variables can interfere with 3D print quality, such as temperature changes and room drafts. Hence, 3D printers with an enclosed build chamber tend to provide better quality prints, in addition to reducing noise, odors, and– with a HEPA filter– harmful particle emissions.

A closed frame is almost mandatory when 3D printing with basically anything other than PLA. Today it is quite rare to see a professional 3D printer without an enclosure.

FAQ

Are 3D printers safe?

With basic precaution, 3D printers are relatively safe to use, although there has been some concern over harmful particle emissions from the melted filament. It’s best to use closed 3D printers with filters and to use 3D printers in well-ventilated areas. Users should also be careful not to burn themselves on a hot build plate or extruder; some 3D printers feature door safety sensors to lock the printer while it is printing.

Can 3D printers print metal? What 3D printers can print metal?

Yes, some FFF 3D printers are able to print metal-filled filaments. This is called metal FFF. Once the part has been 3D printed, however, it must undergo two processes called debinding and sintering. Other types of 3D printers (much more expensive and industrial-grade) are able to 3D print metal powder using various metal 3D printing technologies like L-PBF (laser powder bed fusion) or metal binder jetting, among others.

What is the best 3D printer for jewelry?

For jewelry, resin 3D printers are more adapted than FFF 3D printers. They use SLA, DLP, or LCD-based technologies to produce objects with fine details and smooth surfaces.

Can 3D printers print in color?

Yes, some 3D printers can print in color. They are called full-color 3D printers and often use powder-based technologies. Systems that mix CMYK filaments exist, but cannot reproduce photorealistic colors like powder-based 3D printers.