Outrageous speed and quality
The P1P from Bambu Lab is the type of printer I wish I had owned when I first started out. The quality is excellent, up there in the top three of all the printers on this list, and the speed is staggering. It's so fast you can print three times faster than almost every other printer on this list.
For 654 EUR, the P1P is an absolute no-brainer. It is easy to set up, and while the Wi-Fi sucks, it's still an amazing piece of engineering.
The standard candle for home 3D printing
No best 3D printer list is complete without the Prusa MK3S Plus. For nearly a decade, it has dominated the market and continues to be the go-to printer for anyone looking to make a business from 3D printing. It is fast, though not the fastest, and creates quality prints every time. If you have the 608 EUR, you should buy one of these.
Best 3D printer for beginners
I'd avoided Ender-3 printers for a long while because they came in kit form and required many hours of assembly, setup and fine-tuning to use. For just a little more than the kit versions, the newer Ender-3 S1 comes nearly fully preassembled and with high-end features like a direct drive extruder and a self-leveling bed.
I'd love it to have a touchscreen and Wi-Fi, but apart from those missing features, this is a great way to get polished results from a sub 374 EUR 3D printer.
Speed and quality combined
The AnkerMake M5 is a new breed of 3D printer. Its speed is unrivaled on this list and the quality of the end product is on par with anything I've seen. When you can get this quality level in a 3D print job in around half the time of its closest competitor, it's hard to recommend anything else for someone with the money to buy one. 748 EUR
Best for out-of-the-box printing
The Anycubic Vyper FDM printer strives to be an affordable 3D printer that is also easy to use. But it's a tricky business. Lots of 3D printers offer automatic bed leveling and calibration so that prints come out even and firmly anchored to the print bed. However, this is a 3D printer that would run the bed leveling once, without my manual intervention, and be perfectly fine.The 3D print comes out perfectly. Price 280 EUR
Best to make big projects easily
The Anycubic Kobra Max earned a 9 out of 10 in our recent review. The build area is large enough to print entire helmets for cosplay, and the auto-bed-leveling system makes setting the machine up a breeze. The Kobra Max is the best choice for a large build area printer, bar none. 513 EUR
These 3D printers are excellent for anyone just starting out in 3D printing. Check out our expanded list of the best budget 3D printers for more in this category.
Best entry-level printer around
The Neptune 2 has been one of my favorite budget printers for years now, and the Neptune 3 Pro takes everything good about it, then multiplies it by... a lot. The pro has auto bed leveling, filament run-out sensors, and prints with a quality you wouldn't believe possible for a printer under 280 EUR.
Small but mighty
The Mini Plus is one of the best small-footprint printers you can buy. It has everything you would expect from a Prusa machine: Auto bed leveling, crash detection and great print quality, all for under 420 EUR. Building it with my son gave us a lot of good insights into how a 3D printer works, and potentially how to fix one.
Purchasing your first 3D printer can be nerve-wracking but don't worry; we are here to help. There are a few main areas that you should consider when choosing the best 3D printer, and we have them covered here.
3D printers are often available throughout the year at a discount price. Special days like Prime Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great occasions to pick yourself up a new machine, but there are still plenty of deals to be had on a normal day. Make sure you stay fluid and choose your 3D printer deal based on the availability of the machine and what your research has told you is the best.
When deciding on what 3D printer to buy, you first have to know what type of things you want it to print. Resin 3D printing is good for highly detailed models such as character busts, dental work or tabletop miniatures. Even jewelry can be made using a resin 3D printer.
For almost every other application, an FDM, aka filament, 3D printer, is likely the best choice. Filament 3D printing is versatile in the types of material you can use and offers much larger build volumes to work on models. Cosplay armor and helmets, practical parts and large-scale models are best printed on an FDM printer.
Build volume is the amount of space a printer has to produce a model. Often calculated in millimeters cubed, it is the combination of the width, height and depth that your printer's nozzle can reach. This is not always the same as the internal volume of a 3D printer because the wiring and other mechanical parts can get in the way of the nozzle, reducing the area available.
Most FDM printers have a build area of around 220 by 220 by 250mm, though some of the best 3D printers have larger and a few of the best budget 3D printers have smaller. I think the 220 by 220mm build plate is a good size for starting out as it has room for large, practical pieces or several smaller models at once.
Most home 3D printers use PLA or ABS plastic. Professional printers can use all sorts of materials, from metal to organic filament. Some printers use a liquid resin, which is much more difficult to handle. As a beginner, use PLA. It's nontoxic, made mostly of cornstarch and sugarcane, handles easily and is inexpensive. However, it's more sensitive to heat, so don't leave your 3D prints on the dashboard of a car on a hot day.
What brand is best will depend on the job you're trying to do. If you want to print something that looks amazing with no post-processing, Polylite from Polymaker is a great choice with a large range of colors and finishes.
If you're printing something that's going to be sanded and painted, like cosplay armor, I would go with MatterHackers Build PLA. It's easy to sand, holds paint well and is cheaper the more you buy.
Most 3D printers include or link to recommended software, which can handle converting 3D STL or other files into formats supported by the printer. Stick with the suggested presets to start, with one exception. I've started adding a raft, or bottom layer of filament, to nearly everything I print. It has cut down dramatically on prints that don't adhere to the bed properly, which is a common issue. If you continue to have problems, rub a standard glue stick on the print bed right before printing.
Your 3D models probably need some help to print properly, as these printers don't do well with big overhangs -- for example, an arm sticking out from a figure. Your 3D printer software can usually automatically calculate and add supports, meaning little stands that hold up all those sticking-out parts of the model. After the print is done, and file down any nubs or rough edges with hobby files.