3D printers are handy machines for printing just about anything. If you had come up with a decision to choose the best 3D printers some ten years ago, chances are that you would only have access to large and expensive machines that should only be used by factories and companies. However, improvement in designs in 2021 has presented many opportunities for affordable and viable 3D printers.
Before selecting one product out of the multi-verse of printers, you should know that 3D printers differ in design and functionalities. As a result, they are available in different styles and are more efficient at performing tailored tasks. Apart from the design, you also need to identify what you want to print as a primary basis for selecting the type of 3D printer. For example, an artist and an engineer may require different products. Nonetheless, you won’t have a problem using the printer, provided it is designed for the task.
We have tested and reviewed some of the most popular 3D printers to find the best ones designed for different tasks. From high-end models for professional designs and low-cost printers, we have put in countless hours of research to help you make an informed decision. The result? A list of the best printers that are affordable and border performance, versatility, and usability.
Top 10 3D printers of 2021
The Original Prusa i3 MK3S stands atop the list of our 2021 best 3D printers. Thanks to its design, the printer is handy for achieving consistent and quality prints. Plus, the slicer does an impressive job of preparing STL files. At $900, the machine offers enough return for investment since it does not cost too much. Rest assured, you won’t need to break the bank to buy it. Besides the price, it boasts of a unique inbuilt calibration routine, and the system detects and mitigates error. Put differently, it is a smart printer that detects errors before printing.
The machine supports quiet operations, and it is considerably easy to remove prints. Not just this, but it has upgrade options. Hence, if you buy a model today, you can upgrade it for another one soon. It has an open design that won’t stand out obnoxiously in any location. It features bondtech drive gears, E3D Hotend, steel spring head bed, extruded aluminium frame, and automatic filament loading.
Thanks to its out-of-the-box design, you won’t spend much time configuring the printer. On the downside, long-distance prints are not often reliable. Although the default setting has dense support structures, it has enough to be on our list of the best 3D printers of 2021.
The flashforge creator pro 2 is an improvement in the original pro. It uses two single print head designs that can move in the opposite axis when it is locked in one axis. The IDEX system offers different modes that let you perform multicolor prints, mirrored duplication, and duplication. Apart from this, it has two extrusions that let it combine different materials.
A sturdy and fully enclosed metal skeleton provide a covered printing chamber for printing temperature-sensitive materials. Since it ensures consistent temperature, there will be less warping and print failures. The machine has an impressive print quality that shows breaks between materials and colors. It also has an anti-scrape design for clean prints.
Like its counterparts we have mentioned above, the Peopoly Phenom has an unrivalled build volume and a responsive UI. This, plus its easy print plate levelling, makes it one of the best 2021 3D printers. If you favor size and large print volumes, you should look to buy this printer. The size of its print volume is rarely seen on desktop resin printers, and the plate is five times the one on an average resin printer. As a result, it can print 40 cm high objects and give an overall large print volume. Hence, you can print large results in a single piece.
Thanks to its modular and user-friendly design, the printer is handy for fabricating large objects. It features a UV-LED panel underneath a 12.5-inch 4K resolution LCD screen. However, a custom lens fits between the two for even light distribution. The pair of a heat sink and a fan helps keep temperatures consistently low to keep the LCD screen from deteriorating. The user interface provides everything you need to print successfully. Plus, you can connect via USB, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi.
Although the Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4 doesn’t look it, the mid-range 3D printer has some fascinating features that complement its price. The machine supports an ultra-quiet performance and is well-designed for versatile performance. Its AC heated bed ensures fast heating capabilities, and a sleek appearance adds to its overall charm. True, it boasts of many impressive features; however, beginners will find it a worthier companion. This is because it is an excellent entry-level printer for quality prints.
The machine’s base unit houses the touchscreen, motherboard, and power supply. As a result, it is not bulky. It also features ribbon cables, unlike many, and the elevated design gives it neat cabling. It is an above-average printer print-volume wise, and its extrusion limits printing backlash.
Unlike many, the Phrozen Sonic Mini printer is a cost-effective printing solution. At $200, the printer is affordable and easy to use. Not to mention, it is faster than most 3D printers in the market. However, its small size affects its build volume. The prints may not be of much quality; however, the difference is not a staggering one. Plus, it is easy to use and faster than others.
The printer's design is such that it lets more light through the panels for fast layer curing. It has a low center of gravity; and, as a result, does not weigh much. Not just this, but the red plastic resin has an instant appeal on the face. A ChiTuBox contemporary version handles print preparation processes including support and orientation. In all, it has enough features to rank among the best 3D printers.
The Creality Ender 3 V2 offers high-quality prints thanks to its 32-bit board with TMC2208 drivers. Not only is it quiet, but it offers an excellent price to performance return. With a 220*220*250mm build volume, the printer has a streamlined and sleeker look. The hot end is fed by a Bowden extruder, a manual bed levelling, and offline printing through a memory card. The glass bed ensures better prints; however, the filament often sticks when it is hot. There is also a drawer inclusion that is handy for storing small items for tidy use. Plus, a large but non-touchable color display complements its overall look.
The duo of the Ender 3 V2 and Creality CR-6 SE is an exciting catch from Creality. Hence, if you can, you can buy both and add them to your collection. Although they look the same, the Creality CR-6 SE comes with unique features that set them apart. For example, it has a sleek and user-friendly design that aids a flexible setup. There is a compartment in the base for storing small items, and a small handle lets you carry the printer with ease. It also has an automatic platform levelling feature that allows automatic sheet levelling. This feature improved bed adhesion and your print quality.
A tempered glass plate aids material adhesion to reduce the need for adhesive with its smooth surface. As a result, you can remove prints easily. The construction combines a sturdy aluminium frame and dual lead screws to reduce vibrations and wobble for a smoother finish. The connector belt also ensures matching movements for a more quality print. It comes with an ATmega2560 control chip and an 8-bit quiet motherboard for a smoother operation. The low noise level, combined with its reliable power supply, makes it a handy printer for exceptional prints. Plus, it supports touchscreen functions.
Home users and beginners will appreciate the different features of the Monoprice Voxel 3D printer. Its plug-and-play design means easy setup without letting down on performance. It has a simple setup process and is aided by a Wi-Fi connection. It also has touchscreen features and is easy to get the hang of. It houses a 150*150*150mm build volume; tinny, but handy for small prints. The machine is fully enclosed; however, a clear panel lets you see the print in progress. The build plate is flexible and removable. You can also add a new plate so you can start a new project without any downtime.
The machine features an automatic filament feed mechanism, and you can conveniently swap the nozzles. Built-in sensors recognize filament levels and halt prints for a reload. It also has a built-in camera with a strong focus and 8GB internal memory.
Do you want a large build volume? You can add the Anycubic Photon Mono X to your contender’s list. It has a 4K monochrome screen, 192*120*245mm build volume, and a fast cure time with big prints and high resolution. The monochrome display allows high-speed prints, and the print size is not affected by the cure time. A 3840*2400 pixels LCD improves print quality.
It comes with a removable top cover that lets you access the print bed, and its light engine ensures uniform light distribution. You can also connect it to a Wi-Fi and monitor the printing progress for remote adjustment. As a plus, it includes an automatic shutoff feature for safe usage.
We wrap our list of 2020 best 3D printers with the Dremel DigiLab 3D45. The printer has a class-room friendly design; hence, it is best used in schools. It is precise and can print objects with a 50-micron resolution. Apart from this, it has a high-temperature extruder and a full enclosure for keeping the temperature stable. Unlike others, it features an educational ecosystem that includes a curriculum for students at different levels. Fabrication tools and lesson plans also let you create a functional and accessible workflow for your classroom.
As part of its optimization for the educational environment, teachers and students can monitor and control their processes at the Dremel Print cloud. This way, they can stay on track without wasting time or resources. A carbon filter also prevents toxins and odors during use in the classroom.
Factors to consider before choosing printers
The printer should have a build area that is capable of printing the object you want to print. The build area is usually given in three dimensions and varies from one object to another. Hence, you should check the build area to make sure the printer can handle it.
Apart from the object, you should also consider the materials you will use for printing. For example, most 3D printers use plastic filaments of different types. Although ABS will melt at a higher temperature but is smooth, PLA is more flexible and emits fumes when it is melted. There are different print materials; however, you should check to make sure the printer can use the material.
3D printing resolutions are measured in microns. A lower number gives a higher resolution since it uses more layers and gives a delicate detail to your print. However, you can increase the resolution if you want. Always note that a higher resolution does not mean high-quality print.
3D printers with more than one extruder are handy for printing objects in more than one color. However, the print is usually from files designed for multicolor printing. Nevertheless, not all printers can print in multiple colors. Hence, you should check to be sure before buying the printer.
You can connect your printer through different means. For example, USB cable, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, SD card, etc. The more flexible the connectivity option, the more luck you will have with the machine.
We hope we have done enough to help you buy the best 3D printer and get value on your purchase.