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The 10 Best 3D Printers - May 2017

Every week we analyse the technical specs, reviews and prices of every 3D printer on the market in the US to determine our top 10 list.
In total we compared over 75 3D printers, 331 reviews and 91 prices. Last updated 23 May 2017.

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2+
#1 in 3D Printers

Ultimaker 2+

pcforalla.idg.se - Best in TestDigitaltrends.com - Editor's ChoicePC Mag - Editor's Choicetomsguide.com - Editor's Choice
21 Reviews + 4 Awards
  • $225.00
    MCM Electronics
    View Details
Replicator+
#2 in 3D Printers

MakerBot Replicator+

Digitaltrends.com - Editor's ChoicePC Mag - Editor's Choicetomsguide.com - Editor's Choiceljudochbild.se - Best in Test
19 Reviews + 6 Awards
  • $1,831.97
    Tech For Less
    Save $406.52 (18%)
    View Details
3
#3 in 3D Printers
  • $3,499.00
    MCM Electronics
    View Details
Finder
#14 in 3D Printers
  • $499.00
    Adorama
    View Details
CubePro Trio 3D Printer
  • $2,699.00
    Adorama
    View Details
3 Extended
  • $4,299.00
    MCM Electronics
    View Details

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Buying a 3D Printer

3D printing is a new but rapidly growing field of printing and creating. Also known as ‘additive manufacturing’, 3D printers are very different from all other printers. Below we will give you an introduction to what 3D printers are, how they work and what attributes to consider when choosing a model.

3D printing, as the name suggests, involves taking a blueprint of an object and creating a fully-realised 3D model as a physical object. The object is not so much ‘printed’ as ‘constructed’ - the printer breaks the blueprint down into hundreds of small layers, then nozzles pump a special plastic material into the shape required for the layer. It then moves up the tiniest fraction, and repeats for the next layer, and so on. Using this method the model is constructed from the base up, and at the end you have a fully 3D version of the blueprint!

Because 3D printing is such a versatile technology, the scope of what you can print is astounding. People have successfully 3D printed everything from extremely-intricate toys and clothes to replacement parts for machines. Someone has even managed to print a fully-functional camera! Many of the blueprints used to create such things are freely available online, meaning that anyone with access to a 3D printer can download and fabricate the item!

Because the process is far cheaper and faster than creating many of the objects normally, 3D printing is increasingly being used for the creation of artificial limbs., especially for children. This is because they grow so quickly that they outgrow the size of their limbs, so cheaper, fast-produced replacements will utterly change the game.

3D printing is not just limited to medical or mechanical objects - there is a growing field dedicated to 3D printing food! While still in it’s infancy, people have already successfully used fine sugar syrups or protein pastes to create a wide array of foods, from sweets to savoury snacks.

In short, it’s an astoundingly exciting field, with a lot of potential. The tech has a long way to go still, but consumer models of machines are already available on the market for early adopters.

Pricing

Because 3D printing is such cutting-edge technology, models for early adopters come with a hefty price tag attached. Some small, lower end models can be got for around £300-400, but most come in between £750-1000. As with all very new tech, it’s expected that as more and more consumer models appear on the market, the prices will start to drop in the years to come. However right now, the price will form a substantial barrier to entry.

Size

Once you’ve decided to buy a machine, the next consideration is the size. Because there has to be enough space in the machine to fit the finished object, what you can create will be limited by the size of the machine. Small printers may only be able to fabricate objects a few centimetres across, while larger, more expensive machines allow for correspondingly bigger creations.

Also, it’s worth noting that even the smallest 3D printers have quite a large footprint, so will take up a substantial amount of space wherever you set them up.

Speed

The current generation of 3D printers are not particularly fast, but this tech is evolving and getting faster all the time. That said, there is a substantial difference in speed even between current brands of printer. Look for a model with more than one nozzle for faster printing speeds.

Accuracy

Finally, 3D printers don’t yet always create a perfect 1-to-1 replica of the blueprint. This can be due to many factors, such as sub-standard quality of nozzles - nozzles that are too big don’t allow for very fine precision work, meaning it will create more of a vaguely thing-shaped lump than a delicate construction. The 3D printers on our site have an ‘accuracy’ rating - look for one with very high accuracy for the highest fidelity between the original blueprint and your finished product.

3D Printer Retailers, Prices and Features

3D Printer Prices

We currently list 6 3D printers ranging from $225 to $3,499. On average, a new 3D printer costs $1,959 and 80% of 3D printers are priced between $499 and $2,999. The Ultimaker 2+ is the cheapest 3D printer at only $225, and Ultimaker 3 is the most expensive at $3,499.

3D Printer Brands - Price Range

The average price of 3D Systems 3D printers is $2,699 which is the highest average price of all 3D printer brands. 3D Systems 3D printers range in price from $2,699 to $2,699.

The %8highest average 3D printer price out of all brands is Ultimaker 3D printers with an average price of $2,241. Ultimaker 3D printers start at $225 and the most expensive Ultimaker 3D printer costs $3,499.

The third highest average 3D printer price out of all brands is MakerBot 3D printers with an average price of $1,832. MakerBot 3D printers range in price from $1,832 to $1,832.

3D Printer Brands - Average Ratings

We have analysed 49 expert 0 reviews from across the internet and used this data to calculate the average rating for each brand of 3D printer. The top three 3D printer brands are Ultimaker, XYZprinting and MakerBot. Ultimaker has an average rating of 78%, XYZprinting has an average rating of 76% and MakerBot has an average rating of 73%.

Biggest 3D Printer Retailers

We found 4 current offers for 3D printers from Adorama making it the biggest 3D printer retailer. That is much bigger than the second biggest retailer, MCM Electronics for whom we found 2 current offers for 3D printers. The third biggest retailer is Tech For Less with 1 current 3D printer offers.

When Are Most New 3D Printers Released?

Over the last 3 years we couldn't see any obvious trend in the release month for new 3D printers. The biggest month last year for new 3D printer releases was June, with eight new 3D printers released that month. In 2015 most new 3D printers were released in September, with 15 new 3D printers released that month. September was also the biggest month in 2014 for new 3D printers, with eight new 3D printers released that month.

How Fast Do 3D Printer Prices Drop After Release?

On average 3D printers drop in price by 16% in the first 6 months after release. That means a saving of $322 on a typical $1,959 new 3D printer if you wait 6 months before buying.

Accuracy

The accuracy of 3D printers range from 0.0125mm to 0.25mm. The accuracy of the majority of 3D printers range from 0.013mm to 0.036mm. The 3D printer with the biggest accuracy is the Ultimaker3, which is a 0.0125mm Accuracy 3D printer and sells for $3,499.00. The Ultimaker3, which is priced at $3,499.00, has the smallest accuracy and is a 0.0125mm Accuracy 3D printer.

Print Resolutions

Comparing all 3D printers, the print resolutions range from 50 DPI to 50 DPI.

Print Heads

Comparing all 3D printers, the print heads range from 1 to 2. The print heads of the majority of 3D printers range from 1 to 2. The 3D SystemsCubePro Trio 3D Printer, which is on sale for $2,699.00, has the most print head and is a 2 print head 3D printer. The 3D SystemsCubePro Trio 3D Printer has the least print head. This 3D printer is a 1 print head 3D printer and sells for $2,999.00.

Biggest 3D Printer Retailers

We found 4 current offers for 3D printers from Adorama making it the biggest 3D printer retailer. That is much bigger than the second biggest retailer, MCM Electronics for whom we found 2 current offers for 3D printers. The third biggest retailer is Tech For Less with 1 current 3D printer offers.

Which Are the Cheapest Retailers for 3D Printers?

With the cheapest price on 2 3D printers, Adorama is most frequently the cheapest 3D printer store.

Proportion of 3D Printers for Which Each Retailer is Cheapest?

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