3D Printers – Top 10 Best Desktop 3D Printers

It is easy to get lost with seemingly endless amounts of new 3D Printers flooding crowd funding sites like Kickstarter. Every week or so we see another 3D printer entering the market (which is a great thing! They are getting better and cheaper at an amazing rate). We are attempting to separate them all, review them and present them all in one place for you to easily navigate through and choose one from. The idea of this website is for you to browse through all 3D printer models and makes and make a choice based on the specifications you are looking for. To help you a bit we have compiled a list of our personal favorite 3D printers. We will do our best to give you a so accurate possible comparison, but in the end you will have to decide how much you can spend and what you want out of it.

Many websites and blogs try to claim there is no such thing as “the best 3D printer”, we say nonsense! Of course there is, and in our opinion what it really comes down to (right now, early 2013)  is how much detail and quality is in the print. How accurate is the printed object to the 3D model you designed software or created using a 3D scanner? To what degree does the physical model represent that of the virtual model. Unfortunately most inexpensive 3D printers just don’t create smooth accurate 3D printed models that could be used as a low cost working prototype. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cheaper 3D printers and I think they are great for DIY projects with your kids, but not for anyone wanting to make usable prototypes. It is comparable to digital cameras, lets face it the first 5 or 6 years of the digital camera was exciting, but the image quality was beyond poor. Now, in 2013, where a $400 Nikon or Canon DSLR has 24 megapixels (way more than we really need) and great imaging features we can enjoy all the extras. Same with the 3D printer, it is improving at lightning speed and quality is something we will notice that gets better and better. In our opinion we would recommend getting the best quality 3D printer over anything else, therefore right now there is one clear winner, the Formlabs Form 1 3D Printer. Formlabs is using a different technology using resin instead of the frequently used (and in our opinion inferior) thermoplastic extrusion. Makerbot has done an outstanding job with thermoplastic extrusion (truly hats off for the Replicator 2), but we wonder how much better it can get.

 

Top 10 Best Desktop 3D Printers of 2013

01. Formlabs Form 1

formlabs form 1 3D printer

3D Printer Summary

  • $3299 – the price is still high for individuals, but the printed quality is exceptionally good! Small offices or the serious hobbyist will regard this as the best option for a desktop 3D priner.
  • Fully Assembled, calibrated and ready to use! No tinkering no fabricating your own parts, etc. Its ready to use and works amazingly well.
  • 25 microns height with min 300 microns base (0.3 mm or 1/85 inch) resolution. Extreme level of detail is achieved with the Form 1 3D printer!
  • Small Print Area 4.9 x 4.9 x 6.5 inches (125 x 125 x 165 mm).  The only drawback is that the print area is quite a bit smaller than the Makerbot Replicator. However, the resolution makes up for it. Smaller prints, but better quality.

Formlabs Form 1 is one of the newest and most brilliant desktop 3d printers on the market today, well actually tomorrow as it starts shipping in May 2013. It is somewhat affordable (although it is on the edge), 3D Printers are simply quite pricy and this one is at the higher end of the consumer market. We have been lucky enough to see it in action at the Maker Faire in New York. It is simply the best desktop 3D printer we have seen so far with its amazing resolution. In our opinion the real difference between the Replicator 2 and the Form 1 is the resolution. The Replicator has several advantages over the Form 1 including size and price and many websites will call the Replicator the winner, but we disagree. If we really think about what matters is the level of accuracy and resolution, something that the Form 1 simply triumphs over the Replicator 2. The level of detail is just stunningly high! It uses a different technology (Stereolithography in stead of fused deposition modelling). Perhaps the best way we can justify our choice is by comparing it to the first digital cameras. The first professional Nikon digital camera had all these stunning features like that previous cameras did not have, however, it still only had about 2.7 mega pixels, in hindsight making it an absolutely useless camera that was immediately outdated and one of the worst Nikon cameras in history. The same goes for 3D printing in our opinion, the Form 1 has a few features less but a much higher resolution, making it ahead of its time and therefore worth the extra cost… Read the full review here.


 

02. The Makerbot Replicator 2x

Makerbot Replicator 2

3D Printer Summary

  • $2799 – might seem like a high price, but 100% worth it for this amazing 3D printer. It is far cheaper than the Form 1 3D printer, and in several aspects it is better.
  • Fully Assembled, calibrated and ready to use! No tinkering no fabricating your own parts, etc. Its ready to use and works amazingly well.
  • 100 microns (0.1 mm or 1/250 inch) resolution. Unbelievable level of detail can be achieved with this 3D printer!
  • Medium Print Area 11.2 x 6.0 x 6.1 in [285 x 153 x 155 mm].  It easily wins from the Formlabs Form 1 on print volume.
  • Multi-colored Printing – it is possible to print objects with more than one color making it a great product for realistic prototyping.

The Makerbot Replicator 2x is an upgraded version of the Makerbot Replicator 2 home desktop 3D printer. It is extremely user friendly and has among the highest print resolution available today (which comes pretty close to the far more expensive commercial 3D printers). MakerBot has firmly placed itself on the 3D printing map in 2009 with the introduction of the Cupcake extrusion head and the Thing-o-matic in 2010. Makerbot introduced the first Replicator back in early 2012, a great improvement over the previous models and first pre-assembled and mass customizable 3D printer by the firm. That same year they developed the Replicator 2, their best product to date by far. 100 micron resolution, large building volume, amazingly fast and user friendly leveling system and a truly well designed body. Another improvement is the use of no-shrink PLA filament over ABS, easier in use and slightly more accurate, giving Makerbot even more amazing resolution. The only thing that has not been changed much is the price, at just a couple hundred dollars more over the original Replicator. Makerbot Replicator 2 is by far the best thermoplastic extrusion desktop 3D printer on the market. The reason we have not placed it first on the list is because we believe stereolithography in 3D printing has a more dynamic future even though perhaps the better purchase today might be the Makerbot Replicator 2. You truly will not be disappointed with this unbelievable product…. Read the full review here.

 

03. Buccaneer 3D Printer

buccaneer-3d-printer

3D Printer Summary

  • $347- Significantly cheaper than both the Form 1 and Makerbot Replicator 3D printers, yet retaining a great amount of quality and accuracy.
  • Fully Assembled, calibrated and ready to use! No tinkering no fabricating your own parts, etc. Its ready to use and works amazingly well.
  • 100 micron resolution. Unbelievable level of detail can be achieved with this printer.
  • Materials – 1.75mm PLA only. Sold in cartridges available from their site.
  • Small Print Area 150 x 100 x 120 mm. Slightly smaller than many competitors.
  • Multi-colored Printing – it is currently not possible to print objects with more than one color.

Buccaneer 3D Printer is another big success on Kickstarter with a total of over $1.4 million in sales. We have placed this printer high on the list as this is exactly what we are expecting from 3D printer manufacturers. It is starting to leave the home/garage set up and entering the serious manufacturing stage which will drive down the price, yet offer high quality at the same time. This machine has already made many competitors product’s redundant (honestly pretty much any PLA only machine) and has forced out anyone not focussed and driven to make desktop/home 3d printing a reality. We love that this product looks great and cost less than it would be to make it yourself. It is a huge step in the right direction and a very exciting addition to the world of 3D printing… Read the full review here.

 

04. ORD Bot Hadron 3D Printer (DIY)

ORD Bot Hadron 3D Printer

3D Printer Summary

  • $400-600 – (depending on extra added parts) is one of the lowest prices for a 3D Printer today especially for experienced DIYers.
  • DIY Kit or as Open Source Plans – some knowledge about programing and DIY is necessary, but as it is open source there are a lot of community pages that can help you figure anything out or explain what options there are.
  • QU-BD 0.40 or 0.35 mm nozzles (from 1.75 mm Filament) is most often used in low cost 3D printing. A dual head extruder such as the QU-BD is approximately $120.
  • Medium Print Area – 8.5 x 8.5 x 7.9 inch [216  x 216 x 200 mm] a very solid building volume, far larger than its predecessor the Ord Bot Quantum.

ORD BOT Hadron is one of our favorite 3D printers as it is very affordable and easy to manufacture for DIYers (experienced or even beginning enthusiasts). It has been designed by Buildlog.net‘s Bart Dring who is responsible for several excellent DIY projects. The price fully depends on how much you can fabricate yourself and what you wish to add on to it. A great extrusion head that works great with this design is the QU-BD MBE Extruder v9 – Dual which starts at around $68 ($126 with stepper motors and heater). The building kit that contains most parts (besides electronics and extruder head) is set at $429 USD, a great price for a well designed, sturdy, open and flexible 3D printer. If you can fabricate your own parts, at a local Fab Lab for example, you could save on several parts and possibly making the entire 3D printer for just about $300 USD. The ORD Bot recently was upgraded from the Quantum to the Hadron, which will start shipping in January 2013… Read the full review here.


 

05. Leapfrog Creatr 3D printer

amazing 3d printer

3D Printer Summary

  • $1500 – is significantly cheaper than both the Form 1 3D printer and Makerbot Replicator 2, yet retaining a great amount of quality and accuracy.
  • Fully Assembled, calibrated and ready to use! No tinkering no fabricating your own parts, etc. Its ready to use and works amazingly well.
  • 200 microns (0.2 mm or 1/125 inch) resolution. Unbelievable level of detail can be achieved with this printer.
  • Medium Print Area 9.1 x 10.6 x 8.7 in [230 x 270 x 220 mm].  An excellent size for making a wide range of objects.
  • Multi-colored Printing – it is possible to print objects with more than one color making it a great product for realistic prototyping.

Leapfrog Creatr is a Dutch 3D Printer The purpose of Leapfrog is to bridge the gap between the current state of technology of 3D printers and the future of 3D printing as a whole. We aim to deliver very easy to use, plug and play devices that look awesome. Our drive is to become a worldwide recognized brand name, capitalizing on the high growth in the market for 3D printing and to take 3D printing to the next level. We strive to deliver devices which make a high quality of printed product available to a much broader customer base at an affordable price. You, the customer are central and should not have to deal with understanding the technology, letting you what you do best: designing and creating new cool things.Read the full review here.

 

06. RepRap Prusa Mendel 3D Printer (DIY)

prusa mendel reprap

3D Printer Summary

  • $799 Kit Price – price is dependent on what you can fabricate yourself and what components you wish to add. $799 is the Kit price ordered online.
  • DIY Kit or as Open Source Plans – for experience individuals only! It is open source so there are a lot of community pages that can help you figure parts out, but it really is not for everyone.
  • Varies – 0.40 mm is a common nozzle and 1.75 mm filament is most often used in low cost 3D printing, however there are a range of options available.
  • Medium Print Area – 8 x 8 x 7 inch [216  x 216 x 178 mm] – an excellent building volume for the majority of projects.

RepRap Prusa Mendel 3D Printer is one of our absolute favorites as it is the ultimate 3d printer to build if you want to learn about 3d printing (by the time it works perfectly you will be a master), low cost open source 3D printer. Its easy to 3D print new parts for it or even 3d print parts to build a new one. You do have to know what you are doing though, but fortunately it is the best documented 3D printer and most widely used one as well. We are not a huge fan of the design, but that adds to what they are doing, simply making a low cost easy to use machine with high quality. You will have to design and assemble your own body if you wish to… Read the full review here.

 

07. 3DTouch™ 3D Printer

3D Touch 3D Printer

3D Printer Summary

  • $3400-$4200 – one of the most expensive desktop 3d printers available. Made by 3D Systems, a 3D printer manufacturer that truly knows what it is doing. Amazing quality, great looking product and overall excellent performance. However, price point is a bit high compared to other great products.
  • Fully Assembled, calibrated and ready to use! No tinkering no fabricating your own parts, etc. Its ready to use and works amazingly well.
  • 125 microns (0.125 mm or 1/200 inch) – beautiful high quality resolution, however it comes at almost twice the price of Makerbot’s Replicator 2.
  • Medium Print Area (3 options) – (7.3 or 9 or 10.8) x 10.8 x 7.9 inch [(185 or 230 or 275)  x 275 x 201 mm] – Excellent mid range.

3D Touch 3D Printer description… Read the full review here.

 

08. CartesioLD V0.7

Cartesio 3D Printer

3D Printer Summary

  • $2700 - is a very competitive price for this product. It is almost 2 x larger than the medium range 3D printers with 200 x 400 surface area, but still in the price region.
  • Fully Assembled, calibrated and ready to use! No tinkering no fabricating your own parts, etc. Its ready to use and works amazingly well.
  • 100 microns (0.1 mm or 1/250 inch) – very high resolution for a truly outstanding product, very similar to the Replicator 2 in fact.
  • Large Print Area – 7.9 x 16.8 x 7.9 inch [200  x 400 x 200 mm] – about twice as large as the medium sized ones in this list, which have, like most desktop 3d printers, a building volume of about 200 mm³. A great size offering that extra bit of crucial printing space.

The Cartesio L(arge)D(epth) V0.7 has a very large build volume of 200x400x200mm and comes standard with a 3D print extruder and a large Heated build platform
If you want other tools (engravers, plotters,…), please select them in the Tools category.

Cartesio is a feature rich professional CNC router. It supports a wide range of  tools ig. 3D-print extruder and engraver. Thanks to the proportional design, one can easily make Cartesio bigger or smaller by only changing 3 components. All other components are standard. With the optional tool changer, its possible to print multiple colors, or materials. Some of its features are: a quiet machine, rigidity, high precision, high speed, great detail, portable, made of true RepRap 3D printed parts, printable upgrades, optional engraving tool and a very large print volume… Read the full review here.

 

09.Cubify 3DSystems Cube

Cubify 3D Printer Cube

3D Printer Summary

  • $1569 – for very nicely manufactured machine with a minimalistic look. It is easy to operate and prints out good quality 3D objects. However, the price is steep for this machine, a higher rating would be given to it if it were a bit more affordable.
  • Fully Assembled, calibrated and ready to use! No tinkering no fabricating your own parts, etc. Its ready to use and works amazingly well.
  • 250 microns or 0.25 mm – a good intermediary range of 3D printer resolution. But for that price we would expect a bit more.
  • Small Print Area – 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inch [140  x 140 x 140 mm] smaller than most other 3D printers presented here, but small is exactly what they are going for and what works for it in this situation as a great toy printer for your children.

Cubify 3D Systems Cube is a good smaller or portable 3D printer for taking designs on the road or as a toy printer for children. Its made by one of the leading manufacturers, 3D Systems… Read the full review here.

 

10. Up! 3D Printer by PP3DP.com

up! 3D Printer

3D Printer Summary

  • $1299 – makes it a very affordable pre-assembled 3D printer for people on the go. Sturdy minimalistic machine that offers great quality prints.
  • Fully Assembled, calibrated and ready to use! No tinkering no fabricating your own parts, etc. Its ready to use and works amazingly well.
  • Nozzle size 0.4mm (from 1.75 mm Filament) is most often used for the prints, very common with most low cost 3D printers.
  • Small Print Area – x x inch [140 x 140 x 135 mm] a rather small build area especially since it only has a single head extruder. But this was done intentionally as to have a portable 3D printer, something they have also focused on with the UP! Mini.

UP! 3D Printer is an amazing 3D Desktop Printer capable of printing 3D objects & parts from ABS or PLA plastic, directly from your desktop. Starting with an industry-standard 3D file (.STL format), the UP! software allows you to import your 3D digital creations & then prepares them for printing as “real” objects that you can touch and hold in your hand. Create your design in your favorite 3D CAD programs such as Solidworks, Autodesk Inventor or TinkerCAD. Scan existing objects using a 3d scanner or download shared models directly from the web. Any .STL file can be imported into the UP! software environment & once in, your model can be scaled, rotated & positioned. The UP! software will then generated automatic support structure code and prepare your model for printing directly to the incredible UP! 3D Printer. Never has a technology been so fascinating. Watch as yoru digital creations are built up, layer by layer, right before your eyes. Durable, Affordable, Portable & Precise, the UP! is a dream machine and is… Read the full review here.