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How to pick the right 3D printer, even on a budget

(TECH NEWS) With hundreds of options to sort through and thousands of different accessibility options, the search for the perfect one can be daunting. Stop agonizing! We are here to save you.

3d printer

Exhaustive options

Are you searching for the right 3D printer? With hundreds of options to sort through and thousands of different accessibility options, the search for the perfect one can be daunting. To help shorten that search and get you printing in no time, the good people over at 3D Hubs created a comprehensive 2016 3D Printer Guide using reviews from verified 3D Printer owners that have years of 3D Printing experiences.

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For the “enthusiast”

These are most suitable for hobbyists, designers, and some small businesses. Users should select from this category if they are looking for a reliable machine that can produce high quality prints consistently. Furthermore, these printers are straightforward, without all the frivolities of other printers, allowing for flexible upgrades and various modifications.

This category includes: MakerGear M2, Lulzbot Taz 5, Deltawasp, Creator Pro, Ultimaker 2, and Witbox, all of which have several things in common.

Build quality is one, offering users various bodies made out of steel, aluminum, and other durable materials. Precision and material options are also pros for most of the printers in this category. However, past users have complained about the ease of use, or lack thereof, for these printers since most will need some type of engineering background to use these machines successfully. However, all of these 3D printers have awesome support communities, and customer service teams that are dedicated to answering any questions you have, and trying their best to eliminate the learning curve.

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If you want to plug ‘n’ play

Printers in the Plug n’ Play category are said to be the easiest to use and provide the luxury of being ready to use straight out of the box. Highlighted because of their reliable print qualities, low failure rates, and great customer service, this group of printers is awesome for light 3D printing needs and quality-conscious beginners.

Included in this category are the Zortrax M200, CEL Robox, Beethefirst, and Lulzbot Mini – all closed system printers admired for their dependability.

These smaller 3D printers made the cut because of their industrial reliability without the industrial size and cost. In addition to reliability, users also choose these printers for their ease of use, convenience, and precision. Although the size of these printers are beneficial in making printing easier and more precise, the size can be a hindrance. Because these machines are so small with closed systems, users are limited to the size of printing they can do, so anything too large is out of the question. But, because they already come assembled and don’t require the same engineering background as the aforementioned, these are great for beginners or anyone that wants precise 3D prints without wasting time on set up.

For peeps on a budget

If you are a student, a small business owner, or an experimenter, these printers are sure to get the job done without costing you a fortune.

The Craftbot, Printrbot, Up Mini, and Creator all cater to the financially frugal involved in 3D printing. Starting as low as $599 (and no more than $1000) users are able to select a printer specific to their goals while saving upwards of $600 dollars. Aside from the extremely attractive price points, these printers boast easy-to-use systems with awesome customer service in case any issues arise.

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But, with the good comes the bad, and these printers are no different. Even though they are awesome for our pockets, there are some less-than-stellar qualities including lack of material availability, build quality, and speed. However, as a former broke college student, I can tell you those cons don’t seem that bad so long as I can save money.

For the brave DIY soul

For the adventurous creative who thinks “straight out of the box” printers are for the fainthearted, and would rather get their hands dirty with these difficult to assemble machines, the Rostock Max, Prusa Steel, Mendel90, and Ultimaker can be built in labs and garages across the world.

According to the reviews, users love the expandable and upgradable capabilities the most, while their second love is the large and supportive community that helps kit assembly go by smoothly and free of complications.

Alternatively, some users complain about the amount of time it takes to assemble (30+ hours), along with the prior knowledge necessary for proper assembly, such as basic electronic skills. But for those with that hands-on nature, the time it takes to assemble isn’t a surprise and electronic skills are likely part of a slew of other technological skills that make assembly a breeze.

Liquid resin printers

Rsesin-based printers use an optical power source to cure liquid resin into a solid object. These kinds of 3D printers are definitely more expensive and require additional post-production work. However, the print quality and precision are unmatched with other 3D printers. Unlike the others, resin printers are ideal for professionals and serious hobbyists who need accurate prototyping and high resolution parts.

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Because of its unique method of printing, there are only two printers that made the cut for this category: Form 1+, and B9Creator. Though these printers are smaller than the other printers on the guide, they pack a mean punch by providing the highest quality objects anyone has ever seen from a desktop 3D printer. One user was so astonished by the B9Creator that he compared it to a “$80K professional DLP printer.”

Aside from the brilliant quality, these printers also have a supportive community and customer service foundation. The only major issues with these unique printers is the price point, starting at $2,799, and the material availability, since it can only work with resin. But for those who appreciate unmatched flawlessness every single time, the price may be worth it.

Pick your poison

Whether you are a beginner at 3D printing or a seasoned veteran, this guide is sure to help you find the perfect printer for your needs. Head to 3DHubs for a detailed description for all twenty of the printers that made the list, including their prices, specifications, and a list of pros and cons. Happy printing!

#3DPrinter

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Written By

Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Emerging technologies that executives absolutely MUST be aware of - The American Genius

  2. Shab Bhat

    March 7, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Thank you for the information. we are a 3D printing service Company and we use SLA 3D printers and they work with liquid resin and i must say quality, resolution and details of the object is great but sure they are very expensive unless you are into some serious business. We are looking into 3D metal printers and hoping to get some good printers soon and start with 3D metal printing too.

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