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 3D printer is adapted to your needs. Material, build size, ease of use, and many more elements come into play.
To help you cut through the clutter, we’ve selected 10 of some of the best professional 3D printers available this year. These desktop FFF (fused filament fabrication) 3D printers for professionals offer a great combination of features, performance, and reliability, and come from well-established brands.
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.
The 10 best 3D printers for professionals in 2021
|Product||Brand||Country||Build volume||Build size||Extruder temp.||Price|
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
|Creator 3||FlashForge||China||15 L||300 × 250 × 200 mm11.81 × 9.84 × 7.87 in||300°C||$ 3,4993 499 €2,711 £368,560 ¥||Ask for a quote|
|E2||Raise3D||United States||19.01 L||330 × 240 × 240 mm12.99 × 9.45 × 9.45 in||–||$ 3,4992 999 €2,711 £368,560 ¥||Ask for a quote|
|F410||Fusion3||United States||–||–||300°C||$ 4,5993 921 €3,563 £484,426 ¥||Ask for a quote|
|Epsilon W50||BCN3D Technologies||Spain||50.4 L||420 × 300 × 400 mm16.54 × 11.81 × 15.75 in||–||$ 7,9956 995 €6,195 £842,137 ¥||Ask for a quote|
|Ultimaker S5||Ultimaker||Netherlands||23.76 L||330 × 240 × 300 mm12.99 × 9.45 × 11.81 in||–||$ 5,9955 495 €4,645 £631,471 ¥||Ask for a quote|
|Pro2 Plus||Raise3D||United States||56.28 L||305 × 305 × 605 mm12.01 × 12.01 × 23.82 in||–||$ 5,9994 999 €4,648 £631,893 ¥||Ask for a quote|
|Onyx Pro||MarkForged||United States||6.5 L||320 × 132 × 154 mm12.6 × 5.2 × 6.06 in||–||$ 6,99910 000 €5,423 £737,226 ¥||Ask for a quote|
|A4 v4||3ntr||Italy||10.93 L||295 × 195 × 190 mm11.61 × 7.68 × 7.48 in||–||$ 10,00010 000 €7,748 £1,053,330 ¥||Ask for a quote|
|F120||Stratasys||United States||16.39 L||254 × 254 × 254 mm10 × 10 × 10 in||–||$ 12,00011 000 €9,298 £1,263,996 ¥||Ask for a quote|
|Omni500 LITE||Omni3D||Poland||126.96 L||460 × 460 × 600 mm18.11 × 18.11 × 23.62 in||500°C||$ 17,50016 000 €13,560 £1,843,328 ¥||Ask for a quote|
Overview of the best professional 3D printers in 2021
FlashForge was more of a consumer 3D printer manufacturer in the past but is gaining ground on the professional market. They’ve been in business for several years and, despite their lower prices, offer great value.
The Creator 3 is compatible with a wide range of materials, from PLA to Nylon and Polycarbonate. Users can control it via numerous connectivity options (Ethernet, Wi-Fi, USB). This desktop 3D printer for professionals also features independent dual extrusion, 300°C-nozzles, automatic calibration, a built-in camera, and more.
Although the E2 was designed for Education, it is perfectly capable of serving professional use cases. It boasts independent dual extruders, video-assisted offset calibration, a range of safety features, and HEPA air filtration.
The build area can be accessed from the front or from the top, and the doors are both equipped with sensors that pause prints if they detect an opening.
Raise3D also provides Raise Cloud, a cloud 3D printer management software solution to easily control multiple printers at a time.
The F410, made in the USA by Fusion3, offers a great performance at an affordable price. It’s equipped with a range of features you can expect to find on a professional 3D printer: closed chamber, air filter, wide material compatibility, filament monitoring, and more.
In terms of speed, the Fusion3 F410 can print up to 250 mm/sec and achieve a layer thickness down to 0.02mmm. Fusion3 3D printers come with a two-year warranty that even covers printhead jams.
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 Epsilon being their latest release.
It offers a 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.
The Epsilon W50 also features a Carbon and HEPA filter, and an optional “Hotend X” is available for those that need to print fiber-filled materials like carbon-fiber-enforced Nylon or glass-fiber-filled PP.
Ultimaker started out as a RepRap project and quickly grew to become an internationally-renowned 3D printer manufacturer thanks to their printers’ quality and reliability. Their free, open-source slicer, Cura, also heavily contributed to their success.
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.
The Pro2 series is a follow-up to the Raise3D N1 and Raise3D N2 printers, which were both some of the best professional 3D printers in their days. This series includes the standard Pro2 and the larger-sized Pro2 Plus.
The Raise3D Pro2 Plus features a dual extruder with retracting nozzle heads, a large 7″ touchscreen, an onboard camera for remote monitoring, and a range of user-friendly characteristics. It is able to print layers as thin as 0.01mm, an impressive minimum layer thickness for a desktop FFF 3D printer in this price range.
The Onyx Pro, currently in its second generation, prints parts that are multiple times stronger than basic plastic parts. Markforged achieves this by reinforcing a matrix of Carbon-Fiber-filled Nylon with continuous fiberglass strands. Users are limited to using Markforged brand materials only.
The Markforged Onyx Pro comes with Eiger 3D printing software, which offers real-time print farm management and cloud collaboration possibilities.
Markforged also markets other continuous fiber 3D printers.
The A4 v4 is one of the best 3D printers for ABS materials. Its build chamber is actively heated to up to 90°C, and its three nozzles (triple extruder) can reach up to 450°C. They are liquid-cooled and, according to 3ntr, can print for days at a time without a problem.
Other interesting features that can be found on the 3ntr A4 v4 include removable print trays, automatic calibration, and an impressive print speed of up to 300 mm/s.
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.
Omni3D has been developing industrial 3D printers in Poland since 2016. The Omni 500 LITE offers an impressive enclosed build volume of around 130 liters, with over half a meter of build height. Its dual extruders can reach up to 360°C, but a 500-degree option is available for high-temperature materials.
This professional desktop 3D printer also features a heated build chamber, which heats up to 50°C, enabling the printer to easily 3D print ABS and other engineering materials.
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.
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.
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 AM 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 as 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; most 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, even paste-type print heads to 3D print clay.
Most professional 3D printer systems are equipped with automatic calibration features to make the process as plug-n-play as possible.
For example, manual bed leveling can prove to be tricky and, if not done correctly, can really throw off print quality. That’s why 3D printers often have sensors on their extruders to set the perfect distance between them and the build surface.
Some 3D printers also have NFC readers to adjust their temperature settings according to the detected material. This mostly only works with the specific 3D printer’s proprietary filament spools (e.g. Stratasys printers and materials).
Dual extrusion and independent dual extrusion
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 higher precision.
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.
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.
Yes, some 3D printers are able to 3D print metal using various metal 3D printing technologies (SLS, SLM, and more).
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.
Yes, some 3D printers can print in color. They are called full-color 3D printers.