The 10 Best 3D Printers - June 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 79 3D printers, 334 reviews and 109 prices. Last updated 20 June 2017.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The price range of 3D printers is from $1,199 to $3,499 and in total we found prices for 4 3D printers. A new 3D printer costs on average $2,287 and 80% of 3D printers are priced between $1,199 and $3,499. The Ultimaker 3 is the most expensive 3D printer that we found at $3,499, and the Ultimaker 2+ is the cheapest at only $1,199.
3D Printer Brands - Price Range
3D Systems 3D printers start at $2,699 and the most expensive 3D Systems 3D printer costs $2,699. The average price of 3D Systems 3D printers is $2,699 which is the highest average price of all 3D printer brands.
Ultimaker 3D printers start at $1,199 and the most expensive Ultimaker 3D printer costs $3,499. The average price of Ultimaker 3D printers is $2,349 which is the second highest average price of all 3D printer brands.
The %8highest average 3D printer price out of all brands is MakerBot 3D printers with an average price of $1,752. MakerBot 3D printers start at $1,752 and the most expensive MakerBot 3D printer costs $1,752.
3D Printer Brands - Average Ratings
We have evaluated 48 expert 0 reviews written online and used this data to calculate the average rating for each brand of 3D printer. XYZprinting is the top rated 3D printer brand with an average rating of 79%. Ultimaker is the second best brand with 78% and Renkforce is the third best brand with 74%.
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 evident pattern in the release month for new 3D printers. Last year most new 3D printers were released in June, with eight new 3D printers released that month. The biggest month in 2015 for new 3D printer releases was 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?
In the first 6 months after release, 3D printers drop in price by 2% on average. That means that on a typical 3D printer costing $2,287 you could save on average $37 by waiting 6 months before buying.
The accuracy of 3D printers range from 0.0125mm to 0.25mm. The accuracy of most 3D printers range from 0.013mm to 0.036mm. The Ultimaker3, which sells for $3,499.00, has the biggest accuracy and is a 0.0125mm Accuracy 3D printer. The Ultimaker3, which can be purchased for $3,499.00, has the smallest accuracy and is a 0.0125mm Accuracy 3D printer.
Across the range of 3D printers, the print resolutions range from 50 DPI to 50 DPI.
Comparing all 3D printers, the print heads range from 1 to 2. The print heads of most 3D printers range from 1 to 2. The 3D SystemsCubePro Trio 3D Printer, which currently retails for $2,699.00, has the most print head and is a 2 print head 3D printer. The 3D printer with the least print head is the 3D SystemsCubePro Trio 3D Printer, which is a 1 print head 3D printer and is on sale for $1,199.00.
Biggest 3D Printer Retailers
The biggest 3D printer retailer by number of products currently for sale is Adorama. We found 4 current 3D printer offers from Adorama. The second biggest 3D printer retailer is MCM Electronics with 2 offers. That means Adorama is much bigger than MCM Electronics when it comes to 3D printers. Tech For Less is the third biggest retailer with 1 current offers.
Which Are the Cheapest Retailers for 3D Printers?
The cheapest store by number of 3D printer for which they offer the cheapest price is v with the cheapest price on 2 3D printers.