Best 3D Printers for 2024: The Only Guide You Need

Mario De Lio

Last Updated:

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Prusa i3 MK3S+ on a table with spools of filament and IPA

We’ve tested hundreds of the most popular 3D printers. We rank every printer based on print quality, ease of use, customer support, filament compatibility, and value for money.

Our goal is to provide a clear roadmap to help you navigate the diverse landscape of 3D printers. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to get excellent print quality.

You won’t go wrong choosing any of the printers on this list. In my personal experience, the Bambu Lab P1S is the best for its ease of use, outstanding print quality, extensive community, incredible support, consistency, and reliability.

Top Pick
Budget Pick
Resin Pick
  • Ultra-fast print speeds
  • Wide material compatibility
  • Multi-color printing with AMS unit
  • Simple auto bed leveling
  • Great quality at a low price Easy to use
  • Auto bed leveling
  • Fast print speed
  • High resolution screen
  • Proprietary replacement parts
  • AMS unit creates a lot of filament waste
  • PC coated build plate
  • No filament runout sensor
  • Small build volume
Top Pick
  • Ultra-fast print speeds
  • Wide material compatibility
  • Multi-color printing with AMS unit
  • Simple auto bed leveling
  • Proprietary replacement parts
  • AMS unit creates a lot of filament waste
Budget Pick
  • Great quality at a low price Easy to use
  • Auto bed leveling
  • PC coated build plate
  • No filament runout sensor
Resin Pick
  • Fast print speed
  • High resolution screen
  • Small build volume

Best 3D Printers of 2023

Top Pick
Bambu Lab P1S
  • 15-minute setup time.
  • Enclosed body for high-temperature printing.
  • Up to 16-color printing with AMS unit.
  • Ultra-fast print speeds and high-quality prints.
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The Bambu Lab P1S 3D printer is an innovative machine that stands out in the market for its remarkable features and capabilities. It serves as a bridge between the affordable P1P and the higher-end X1 series, offering a full enclosure and an auxiliary part-cooling fan.

One of the key benefits of the P1S is its ability to support up to 16 simultaneous colors, significantly expanding the material choices and creative possibilities for users. This feature, known as the Automatic Material System (AMS), is a major advancement for those with diverse printing needs. The fully enclosed design of the P1S, with glass material for the top cover and front door, and molded injection parts for the side and rear panels, not only enhances its aesthetic appeal but also improves the printing quality of high-performance materials like ABS and ASA engineering plastics. This enclosed structure also helps in keeping the noise generated during high-speed printing contained, providing a quieter printing environment.

In terms of hardware, the P1S includes several upgrades, such as the auxiliary component cooling fan and enclosure-adjusting fan for better temperature control. An activated carbon air filter is also installed to reduce odors and harmful gases produced during printing, emphasizing user health and comfort. The P1S also features an upgraded PEI texture panel with increased stainless steel plate thickness, which aids in stronger adhesion and reduces the risk of model warping during large-scale printing.

The Bambu Slicer software is another highlight, offering a wide range of settings and filament management options. Its user-friendly interface facilitates easy model loading and switching between different printers. Calibration settings for flow dynamics and flow rates in the software contribute to improved print accuracy and ease of use.

However, the P1S does have its drawbacks. The enhanced operational noise and the waste produced by the AMS system, especially during multi-material printing, are notable disadvantages. The AMS system’s waste output can be somewhat high, though it’s compensated by the superior print quality and the ability to produce multi-colored prints.

The printer’s performance has been highly rated in print tests, demonstrating its capability to produce high-quality prints consistently. The P1S is particularly efficient with complex models, as seen in tests with detailed masks and sculptures, although the numerous color changes in multi-material prints can significantly extend the print time.

Overall, the Bambu Lab P1S represents a significant upgrade over the P1P, solidifying Bambu Lab’s position in the high-speed 3D printer market. It offers a powerful, stable, and user-friendly option for both aspiring 3D printing enthusiasts and experienced professionals. For those who already own the P1P, Bambu Lab provides an official upgrade package to the P1S, allowing users to enjoy the new features without purchasing a new machine​​​​​​.

Pros:

  1. Print Quality and Speed: It’s praised for its ultra-fast print speeds and capability to handle multicolor printing, making it a standout in the 3D printing market​​.
  2. Slicer Software: The Bambu Slicer, its in-house software, is highlighted for its wide range of features and ease of use, contributing to the printer’s overall performance​​.
  3. Materials Compatibility: The P1S is capable of printing a wide range of materials, though it may require upgrades like a hardened-steel nozzle for certain types of filament​​.
  4. Design and Build Quality: Despite its plastic enclosure, the printer’s design and finish are appreciated for their aesthetic and functional quality​​.

Cons:

  1. Lack of Touchscreen Interface: Unlike its higher-end counterpart, the X1 Carbon, the P1S lacks a touchscreen, which can affect ease of use and user experience​​.
  2. Setup Complexity: The unboxing and setup process can be a bit confusing and time-consuming, taking around 30 to 45 minutes, which might be a hurdle for beginners​​.
  3. Noise and Waste: When using its Automatic Material System (AMS) for multi-material printing, the P1S tends to be noisier and produce more waste compared to some other models​​.
  4. Omission of High-End Features: Features like LiDAR and a print-head camera, available in the X1 Carbon, are missing in the P1S. This means it lacks auto-flow calibration and first-layer inspection capabilities​​.
Best Under $1000
Creality K1
  • Print at speeds of up to 600mm/s with up to 20000mm/s² acceleration.
  • Reaches 200℃ in just 40 seconds.
  • One-tap auto-leveling and dual cooling systems.
  • Print via USB drive or WiFi with Creality Print or Creality Cloud capability.
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The Creality K1 3D printer is a user-friendly machine that stands out for its high-speed printing capabilities and ease of use, making it a suitable choice for both beginners and enthusiasts.

One of the key features of the K1 is its fully assembled delivery, making the setup process incredibly straightforward. Users only need to attach the touchscreen, rubber feet, and remove some securing screws, with the entire setup taking about 40 minutes. The printer also runs through automated calibration tests to ensure operational readiness. This user-friendliness extends to its touch-screen UI and the proprietary Creality Print slicer, which is easy to navigate and comes with robust bed leveling protocols and material profiles ready for immediate use​​​​.

The K1 is also equipped with a 32mm³/s Max Flow Hotend & Dual-gear Direct Extruder, featuring a ceramic heater that heats up to 200 Celsius in just 40 seconds. This technology allows for efficient printing without clogs or jams and is capable of handling high temperatures, which enhances the printer’s performance and reduces maintenance downtime. The dual fans for model cooling further ensure perfect temperature control, preventing warping or distortion of prints​​.

In terms of printing capabilities, the K1 delivers impressive results. It offers a 600mm/s speed for 3D printing, and benchmark tests show it can maintain high levels of precision and repeatability. The average deviation in dimensions is notably low, indicating the printer’s accuracy. Additionally, the K1’s performance remains consistent across various test models, including detailed figures and calibration models, though some faint ringing was noticed on sharper edges of prints​​​​.

Another remarkable aspect of the K1 is its hands-free auto-leveling feature and the flexible, quick-heating build plate, enhancing the overall ease of use. The Creality OS, along with hardware features like a dual-core 1.2GHz CPU and 8G ROM, ensure smooth operation and storage for up to 400 model files. Moreover, the printer supports Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing for remote control and monitoring via Creality Print or Creality Cloud apps​​.

However, the Creality K1 has a build volume of 220220250mm, which may be limiting for those looking for a larger-size printer. But for users who prioritize ease of use, speed, and precision in a compact form, the K1 is a strong contender in its class​​​​.

Pros:

  1. Ease of Setup: The Creality K1 is noted for its easy setup process. Users only need to attach the touchscreen, rubber feet, and remove the screws securing the bed. The printer can be ready for 3D printing in just about 10 minutes​​.
  2. High Print Speed and Quality: The printer is capable of impressive speeds, up to 600mm/s, without compromising on print quality. It has demonstrated good performance in printing detailed models and maintaining dimensional accuracy​​​​.
  3. Automatic Calibration and Leveling: The K1 features automated calibration tests to ensure operational readiness, and it also supports hands-free auto leveling, making the printing process more user-friendly and efficient​​​​.
  4. Touchscreen Interface: The K1 is equipped with an intuitive touchscreen user interface, which is user-friendly and easy to navigate​​.
  5. Innovative Hotend and Extruder Design: The printer boasts a 32mm³/s Max Flow Hotend and Dual-gear Direct Extruder, offering efficient heating and powerful extrusion force for reliable and quality prints​​.
  6. Material Compatibility and Print Bed Features: It offers great print bed adhesion with various filaments and a homogenous temperature distribution. The print bed is also flexible for easy model removal​​.

Cons:

  1. Limited Build Volume: The Creality K1 has a smaller build volume compared to some competitors, which may be a limitation for users looking to print larger models​​.
  2. Some Software Issues: While the Creality Print app and the Creality Cloud mobile app are available, there have been reports of issues with the Creality Cloud mobile app​​.
  3. No Separate Enclosure Heating: The enclosure does not have a separate heating mechanism, which might be a concern when printing materials that require a consistently high ambient temperature​​.
  4. Vibration and Speed Considerations: At its highest speeds, the printer can become quite vibrant, which might require additional stabilization measures like rubber feet​​.
Best Under $300
Creality Ender 3 V3 SE
  • CR Touch sensor for auto bed leveling and a strain sensor for auto z-offset.
  • Full Metal Dual-gear Direct Extruder
  • Maximum printing speed of 250mm/s, 2500mm/s² acceleration.
  • Easy to assemble.
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The Creality Ender 3 V3 SE is an impressive 3D printer that stands out for its user-friendliness and high-speed capabilities, making it an attractive option for both beginners and experienced users. Its assembly is straightforward, with the base designed to securely hold the Z-axis gantry, and only a few wire connections are needed for the extruder and motors. A notable aspect of the assembly process is the need to check and possibly tighten the bolts under the print bed, as this could affect print quality.

The printer features a non-touch LCD screen interface that is clean, intuitive, and fast, although it lacks a dedicated back button for easier navigation through menus. The setup process is simple: power up the printer, select a language, and run the level process from the home menu for Z-offset and auto-bed leveling.

In terms of hardware, the Ender 3 V3 SE boasts a direct-drive Sprite extruder, which is faster and more reliable than Bowden extruders. This design also eliminates the need for Bowden tube couplers, a common failure point in other models. The printer maintains a compact body style typical of the Ender series but adds an enclosure to the base for a cleaner appearance and reduced space requirements. The chassis incorporates plastic, which might be less durable than metal but does not compromise the printer’s functionality.

The Ender 3 V3 SE delivers remarkable print quality even at high speeds. Tests with the classic Benchy model at various speeds (60mm/s, 120mm/s, 180mm/s, and 250mm/s) showed that the printer keeps up well with these speeds, maintaining good quality prints. At 180mm/s, which is the recommended typical printing speed, there is a slight quality loss, but it remains acceptable. The biggest issue noted at all speeds was the Z seam visibility, which becomes more prominent as the speed increases. The printer’s dimensional accuracy is also commendable, with a calibration cube test showing only around 0.1mm difference between the X and Y axis.

The Ender 3 V3 SE’s firmware supports high acceleration speeds, allowing for much faster printing. It includes linear rods for the Y-axis movement, improving stability and print quality at these high speeds. Although Creality advertises a capability of up to 250 mm/s, practical tests show that while the printer can handle these speeds, the quality is optimal at slightly lower speeds.

In conclusion, the Creality Ender 3 V3 SE is a strong contender in the realm of 3D printers, offering an excellent balance of speed, quality, and user-friendliness at an affordable price point. Its design improvements, direct-drive extrusion system, and impressive speed capabilities make it a great choice for both newcomers and seasoned 3D printing enthusiasts.

Pros:

  1. Ease of Assembly and Use: The Ender 3 V3 SE is relatively easy to set up, with a straightforward assembly process. The user interface is user-friendly, making it accessible for beginners​​​​.
  2. Print Quality: It offers impressive print quality right out of the box, capable of producing detailed prints even at higher speeds. The printer maintains good print quality up to speeds of 175 mm/s​​.
  3. Speed and Stability: The printer supports higher acceleration speeds than previous models, enabling faster print speeds without compromising quality. The default acceleration is set to 4000 mm/s, which is a significant improvement​​.
  4. Direct Drive Extruder: The direct-drive Sprite extruder in the Ender 3 V3 SE enhances filament loading and unloading efficiency. It also eliminates common issues found in Bowden extruders, like the need for Bowden tube couplers​​.
  5. Part Cooling: It features a large blower fan mounted to the front of the hot end, leading to superior cooling and overhang performance​​.
  6. Compact and Sleek Design: The printer has a compact body style with an enclosed base, providing a neat appearance and saving space​​.

Cons:

  1. Print Bed Issue: Some users have reported that the print bed can be a bit loose, which may affect print quality. However, this can be easily fixed by tightening the bolts under the print bed​​.
  2. Single Cooling Fan Limitation: The single cooling fan may lead to less effective cooling for overhangs facing away from the fan. This issue can be mitigated by orienting prints accordingly​​.
  3. Limited Material Compatibility: The printer excels with materials like PLA and PETG, but it has some limitations with other types of plastic​​.
Best Under $200
Elegoo Neptune 3
  • 225*225*280mm print volume
  • All-metal, dual-gear, direct-drive extruder with a 3:1 reduction ratio for stronger extrusion and smoother filament feeding.
  • 36-point auto mesh bed leveling


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The Elegoo Neptune 3 is a mid-sized FDM 3D printer that offers a blend of quality features at a budget-friendly price, making it an appealing choice for both hobbyists and professionals looking for an affordable option. This printer stands out for its flexible removable print sheet, an automatic leveling system, and a removable touchscreen, enhancing its user-friendliness and accessibility.

One of the key advantages of the Neptune 3 is its ability to deliver quality prints. Its print quality is comparable to some of the best 3D printers in the market, making it a solid option for users who prioritize output quality without breaking the bank. The build volume of 220 x 220 x 280 mm is decent, offering sufficient space for a variety of projects. Additionally, the printer is compatible with popular printing materials like PLA and ABS.

The Neptune 3 comes mostly pre-assembled, which is a significant benefit for users who may not be keen on spending a lot of time on assembly. This feature makes the printer more accessible to beginners or those who prefer a more straightforward setup process.

However, there are some drawbacks to consider. Users may encounter issues with the X gantry alignment or bed adhesion, which can require troubleshooting. These issues, while not insurmountable, may present a learning curve or require additional attention, especially for less experienced users.

Another notable feature of the Neptune 3 is its compatibility with various slicing software like Elegoo Cura and ideaMaker. This compatibility allows users to leverage the unique features of these programs, like custom texture application and support for complex models. However, users should note that some features like the “Pause at Height” or “Filament Change” scripts in Elegoo Cura may not work as expected, which can be a limitation for certain projects.

In summary, the Elegoo Neptune 3 offers a balance of quality, ease of use, and affordability. Its strengths lie in its print quality, ease of assembly, and user-friendly features like the removable touchscreen and automatic leveling. On the downside, potential issues with gantry alignment and bed adhesion, as well as limitations in software compatibility, are factors to consider before making a purchase decision.

Pros:

  1. Ease of Setup and Use: The Neptune 3 comes mostly pre-assembled and is straightforward to set up. Its interface is user-friendly, making it accessible for both beginners and experienced users.
  2. Quality Prints: The printer delivers quality prints that are on par with some of the best 3D printers in the market. It handles complex models well and maintains quality even at higher speeds.
  3. Software Compatibility: It comes with Elegoo Cura software, which is easy to install and use. The software has well-tuned settings, and users have the option to use other slicers like Simplify3D and PrusaSlicer.
  4. Flexible and Removable Print Sheet: This feature enhances the ease of removing finished prints and contributes to the overall user experience.
  5. Automatic Leveling System: The printer includes an automatic leveling system, simplifying the bed leveling process, which is often a challenge for beginners.
  6. Removable Touch Screen: The touch screen is removable, adding to the convenience of operating the printer.

Cons:

  1. Filament Run-Out Sensor Issue: Some users may find the filament run-out sensor a bit stiff initially, making it slightly challenging to insert the filament. However, this seems to be a minor issue that resolves with use.
  2. Bed Adhesion and Alignment Issues: There have been reports of issues with bed adhesion and X gantry alignment, requiring troubleshooting. This might need some attention, especially for complex prints.
  3. Limited Color Change Script Functionality: The printer seems to have limitations with the “Pause at Height” or “Filament Change” scripts in the Elegoo Cura software, which could be a drawback for projects requiring color changes.
Best Large Format
ELEGOO Neptune 4 Max
  • Neptune 4 Max has the powerful Klipper firmware, enabling impressive printing speeds of up to 500mm/s (default 250mm/s) and up to 8000mm/s accelerations.
  • Massive build volume of 16.53”x16.53”x18.89”/420x420x480mm.
  • Support for input shaping pressure advancing and acceleration sensors on the X and Y axes for automatic calibration, reducing the impact of vibration on the printing accuracy.
  • Self-developed dual-gear direct drive extruder has a 5.2:1 reduction ratio, providing powerful extrusion and smoother filament feeding.
  • High-temp nozzle with extended hot end design, 60W ceramic heating element, and PID parameters automatic calibration ensures faster and smoother melting and extrusion.
  • Can handle various filament materials such as PLA, PETG, ABS, TPU, and nylon
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The Elegoo Neptune 4 Max is a significant player in the 3D printing market, recognized for its large build volume of 420 x 420 x 480mm, which is a primary attraction for those interested in large-scale prints, such as life-size busts, cosplay parts, and larger decorative items. The printer’s design maintains the sleek appearance characteristic of Elegoo’s Neptune series, and it includes support bars for added stability and dual Z steppers with a timing belt.

A notable feature of the Neptune 4 Max is its textured PEI build plate, known for providing optimal adhesion for various filaments, including PLA, PETG, ABS, TPU, and nylon. However, the absence of an edge around the build plate can make it tricky to align it precisely when reattaching. Despite this, the magnetic, flexible nature of the bed makes removing prints fairly straightforward. The printer also includes an inductive sensor for auto bed leveling, creating a 121-point mesh, although initial manual leveling is necessary.

Calibration is an essential aspect of setting up the Neptune 4 Max, and it involves several steps such as PID Tuning for temperature sensors, manual bed leveling, E-Steps calibration for extrusion rate, and adjustments for pressure advance and input shaping. These steps, while somewhat detailed, are crucial for achieving optimal print quality.

The printer’s dual-gear direct drive extruder is a significant advantage, especially for handling a variety of filaments, including flexible types. However, the use of a non-standard nozzle size might limit compatibility with aftermarket nozzles, particularly if hardened nozzles are required for abrasive materials.

One of the challenges noted is the noise level, particularly from the fan bar on the X-axis, which might be a consideration for users sensitive to sound. In terms of connectivity, the Neptune 4 Max offers WiFi, ethernet, and USB options, and it operates on Klipper firmware, which differs from the Merlin system used in the Neptune 3 series.

Despite its impressive features, the Neptune 4 Max does have some drawbacks. The printer’s size, while beneficial for large prints, means it’s not suitable for small spaces. The large print bed also takes a while to heat up due to its size. Users have reported firmware issues causing problems like grinding noises during homing, though firmware updates have been released to address this.

In summary, the Elegoo Neptune 4 Max stands out for its large print volume, flexible and magnetic print bed, and the capability to handle a wide range of filaments. Its advanced features like input shaping and dual-gear extruder enhance its performance, but the printer’s size, noise level, and initial setup complexity might be considerations for potential users.

Pros:

  1. Large Print Volume: The Neptune 4 Max boasts a substantial print volume of 420 x 420 x 480 mm, making it suitable for large-scale prints like cosplay parts and decorative objects.
  2. High Printing Speeds: With a 64-bit 1.5G quad-core processor and Klipper firmware, it can achieve print speeds of up to 500mm/s.
  3. Textured PEI Build Plate: The printer comes with a textured PEI build plate that can be heated to a maximum of 110°C, offering good adhesion for various filaments.
  4. Auto Bed-Leveling: It features an inductive sensor for auto bed-leveling, creating a 121-point mesh to ensure level printing.
  5. Dual-Gear Direct Drive Extruder: This enhances the printer’s capability to handle a variety of filaments, including flexible ones.
  6. Wi-Fi Connectivity: The Neptune 4 Max includes Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing for easier interaction with the printer through a browser interface.

Cons:

  1. Bed Wobble and Alignment Issues: Some users have reported issues with bed wobble and alignment, which may require additional tinkering and troubleshooting.
  2. Nozzle Size and Limitations: The printer has a proprietary nozzle size, which could be limiting if you need a hardened nozzle for abrasive materials.
  3. Noise Level: The large fan bar on the X-axis, while aiding in cooling and print speed, contributes to a higher noise level during operation.
  4. Input Shaping Hidden in Menus: An advanced feature like Input Shaping, which reduces vibrations and improves print quality, is not automatically activated and is buried deep in menus.
  5. Assembly and Setup Challenges: Due to its size, assembling the Neptune 4 Max can be a bit awkward, and it might require some time to get it perfectly set up for optimal printing.
Resin Pick
ELEGOO Mars 4
  • ELEGOO Mars 4 3D printer features a 7" 9K mono LCD Screen with a resolution of 8520*4320.
  • Maximum printing speed of 70mm/h.
  • The COB light source composed of 36 LEDs has higher light uniformity and makes the model details more realistic..
  • 1-year warranty for the whole printer (Excluding 9K LCD, PFA film, and tool kit).
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The Elegoo Mars 4, part of the popular Elegoo Mars series of resin printers, comes in several models including the Max 6k, the DLP, and the 9k/Ultra 9k. The Ultra 9k model is of particular interest as it represents a significant progression from its predecessor, the Mars 3 Pro. This model boasts a substantial improvement in XY resolution, dropping from 35 microns in the Mars 3 to 18 microns in the Mars 4 9k, allowing it to print details approximately half the size of its predecessor. Despite this advancement in resolution, it does lose 10mm of build height, and the build plate has been slightly reshaped, which might impact those who regularly print tall objects.

The Elegoo Mars 4 DLP, another variant in the series, is geared towards beginners and stands out for its ease of installation and user-friendly operation. Almost everything comes pre-assembled, requiring minimal setup. However, users need to be cautious when handling resin, which is toxic to humans and the environment. It’s recommended to use gloves, masks, and potentially an air purifier, which is included in the package, to handle the resin safely. The printer’s build plate may pose some challenges, as models can be difficult to detach, leading to potential splashes of resin.

The Mars 4 DLP is equipped with the Voxeldance Tango software, an alternative to Chitubox, though it requires the purchase of a serial number. This software offers various functionalities like model fixing, hollowing, and support addition, but can be resource-intensive for complex models. In terms of printing performance, the Mars 4 DLP delivers high-quality prints with some minor imperfections. The printer handles intricate patterns well, though the anti-aliasing effect might result in a slightly softer print compared to some competitors.

Overall, the Elegoo Mars 4 series, particularly the Ultra 9k and DLP models, offers significant improvements in terms of resolution and user experience, making it a compelling choice for both beginners and experienced users. However, the handling of toxic resin, potential issues with model detachment, and the need for careful management of the printing environment are points to consider before purchasing.

Pros:

  1. Improved Resolution: The Ultra 9k model offers enhanced resolution, making it an advancement over previous models like the Mars 3 Pro.
  2. Variety of Models: The series includes different models like the Max 6k, DLP, and 9k/Ultra 9k, providing options based on user needs.
  3. Software Compatibility: The Elegoo Mars 4 DLP comes with dedicated software, Voxeldance Tango, which is an alternative to the open-source Chitubox. The software is user-friendly and offers various features like model fixing, hollowing, and support addition.

Cons:

  1. Handling of Resin: Resin used in the printer is toxic to both humans and the environment, necessitating careful handling with gloves, masks, and possibly safety glasses.
  2. Maintenance and Cleaning: The process of cleaning the resin tank, plate, and models can be cumbersome, requiring isopropyl alcohol and proper disposal methods.
  3. Printing Performance Issues: There may be minor imperfections in the printed models, such as slight deviations from perfection, and some difficulty in detaching models from the plate.
  4. Air Purifier Limitations: The included air purifier might not be sufficient for large spaces, necessitating the use of a larger, more effective air purifier.
Mid-Sized Resin
ANYCUBIC Photon Mono M5s
$509.99
  • Photon Mono M5s is the first consumer-grade resin 3D printer without leveling.
  • Large 10.1” 12K LCD screen with an HD resolution of 11520*5120 and a high contrast ratio 480:1.
  • Can reach an average speed of 105mm/h. The fast-release film reduces release forces during printing for shorter print times.
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05/11/2024 01:13 pm GMT

The Anycubic Photon Mono M5s stands out in the 3D printing market, particularly for its combination of speed, detail, and user-friendly features. This resin-based printer is known for its exceptional detail and accuracy, attributed to its 10.1-inch 12K monochrome LCD screen, offering a resolution of 11520*5120 and an X accuracy of 19 microns. This high resolution makes it suitable for applications requiring fine detail, like model making, prototyping, jewelry making, and certain dental applications.

One of the key advantages of the Photon Mono M5s is its 3X faster printing speed compared to traditional 3D printers, with an average speed of 105mm/h. This efficiency is further enhanced by the high-speed release film, which reduces release force and increases printing speed while maintaining a high success rate. Users particularly appreciate the leveling-free design, which eliminates the need for manual leveling, reducing setup time and the risk of leveling failures.

The printer also includes intelligent features to enhance its efficiency and ease of use. It performs an auto device check and resin detection before printing, ensuring optimal operation status for various components like the exposure screen, motor, and resin levels. This preemptive approach helps in starting the printing process smoothly and improving overall efficiency. Additionally, the print status detection feature reports and analyzes common printing failures, providing insights for improving future prints.

Moreover, the upgraded Anycubic Photon Workshop 3.1 slicer software is a significant plus. It offers an improved user interface and generates support material faster than previous versions. This slicer allows for easy model processing, even when using advanced features. The support algorithm in the slicer minimizes model surface damage and enhances print stability and success rates.

However, there are some drawbacks to consider. The limited printing size might be a constraint for those needing larger prints. Also, being a resin-based printer, it requires specific printing materials, which might not suit all users. Despite these limitations, the Photon Mono M5s is a compelling choice for hobbyists, artists, designers, and engineers who prioritize detail, speed, and reliability in their 3D printing projects.

In conclusion, the Anycubic Photon Mono M5s is a versatile and efficient 3D printer, well-suited for a variety of applications that require high detail and accuracy. Its combination of speed, intelligent features, and user-friendly design make it a strong contender in the resin 3D printer market.

Pros:

  1. Print Status Detection: The printer has a feature that alerts users about common printing failures like bottoming-out and offers suggestions to enhance printing efficiency​​.
  2. Intelligent Mode in Slicing Software: The updated Photon Workshop software includes an Intelligent Mode that adjusts exposure parameters based on model intricacies, reducing printing failures​​.
  3. New Support Algorithm: This feature in the Photon Workshop software enhances printing stability and success rates, while also simplifying support removal​​.
  4. Impressive Detail and Accuracy: The printer is capable of producing models with sharp corners, hard edges, and fine details, which is a testament to the advancements in desktop resin 3D printers​​.
  5. 3X Faster Printing: The Photon Mono M5s offers an average printing speed of 105mm/h, significantly faster than conventional 3D printers, with high-speed release film to reduce release force and increase printing speed​​.
  6. Intelligent and Efficient Printing: The printer performs an auto device check and resin detection before printing, ensuring optimal operation and efficiency​​.
  7. High-Quality Build and Versatile Applications: It is suitable for a range of applications including model making, prototyping, jewelry making, and some dental applications​​.

Cons:

  1. Support Material Removal Can Be Time-Consuming: Removing support material from dense prints can be difficult and time-consuming, especially with delicate features​​.
  2. Limited Printing Size: While offering high detail and speed, it has a smaller printing size compared to larger 3D printers​​.
  3. Resin-Based Printing Materials Required: The printer requires resin-based materials, which may be a limitation for some users​​.
Large Format Resin
ANYCUBIC Photon M3 Max
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The Anycubic Photon M3 Max is a large resin 3D printer that stands out in the market for its affordability and impressive build volume, making it an appealing option for those looking to enter large-format resin 3D printing. However, it does come with certain limitations and quirks that are important to consider.

One of the key features of the M3 Max is its 7K screen, which offers high resolution for detailed printing. The M3 Max performs exceptionally well in printing intricate details, even for complex models like miniatures and sculptures. The large build volume is particularly advantageous as it allows printing of larger models or multiple smaller models in one go, which would otherwise require multiple print jobs on smaller printers​​​​.

However, there are some drawbacks. The printer’s light source, the LighTurbo matrix, offers a maximum light intensity of 23.905 lux, which is almost half of what is offered in the M3 Plus. This affects exposure times, which are slightly longer but still within reasonable limits​​. The printer’s menu navigation is touchscreen-based and user-friendly, but it lacks the option to adjust UV intensity, a feature present in some of its counterparts​​. Additionally, the Photon M3 Max uses Anycubic’s in-house slicer, the Photon Workshop, which has improved over time but may not offer as many settings as other slicers like Lychee Slicer Pro​​.

The build speed of the M3 Max is noted to be slower compared to other resin printers. This is partly due to the larger build volume which requires the machine to manage higher suction forces, potentially leading to issues with delicate parts or detachment from the build plate​​​​. To counteract this, Anycubic employs slower build plate lifting speeds and thicker supports, but this results in longer print times and increased resin consumption​​.

The M3 Max also includes a frosted FEP sheet in its vat, which seems to work better compared to traditional smooth FEP sheets, as it reduces resin adhesion issues. Additionally, the printer features an automatic resin feeding system, which is beneficial for large prints but does not include heating capabilities for the resin​​.

Pros:

  1. Large Build Volume: The Anycubic Photon M3 Max is known for its large build volume, which is a significant advantage for printing large models or multiple smaller models in one go.
  2. Automatic Resin Filling System: It features an auto-fill function that efficiently manages resin levels during printing, ensuring a consistent supply of resin to the vat​​.
  3. Air Purification System: The Anycubic AirPure filtration system effectively reduces resin fumes, enhancing the safety and comfort of the printing environment​​.
  4. Easy Initial Setup: The printer is designed for minimal setup requirements, making it user-friendly right from unboxing​​.
  5. Frosted FEP Film: This new matte, frosted FEP film used in the Photon M3 Max enhances print release, leading to almost error-free prints of delicate components​​.
  6. Quality of Prints: The 7K display of the Photon M3 Max renders features with clarity and detail, delivering high-quality print results even for intricate models​​.

Cons:

  1. Light Source Intensity: The larger mono display of the M3 Max has a lower light intensity compared to some other models in the series, affecting exposure times during printing​​.
  2. Limited UV Intensity Adjustment: Unlike some other models, the M3 Max doesn’t allow for adjusting the UV intensity, which could be a drawback for certain printing preferences​​.
  3. Longer Print Times: Due to the larger build volume and the nature of its printing mechanism, the M3 Max may take longer to print compared to other models​​.
  4. Initial Leveling Challenges: Some users have experienced challenges in leveling the print bed due to the printer’s size, which can affect print quality initially​​.
Small/Mini
Bambu Lab A1 mini
  • Full-auto Calibration.
  • 4-Color Printing with AMS lite.
  • Under 48 dB when printing in silent mode.
  • Full-metal Linear Rails and Bearings.
  • Vibration and Flow Rate Compensation.
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The Bambu Lab A1 Mini 3D printer is gaining recognition for its innovative features and compact design, making it an attractive option in the 3D printing market, especially for those new to the field or with limited space.

In terms of its design, the A1 Mini is compact, facilitating easy placement and transport, and features a color touchscreen for ease of use. Its construction includes a moving bed and a print head that offers X-axis and vertical movement. The printer also has a built-in camera and light, which are useful for monitoring prints remotely and capturing timelapse videos. Its build volume is modest, measuring 7.25 x 7.25 x 7.25 inches, and it comes with a textured PEI build plate that eases print removal and leaves a fine finish on the printed objects.

Setting up the A1 Mini is straightforward, requiring minimal assembly, and it’s ready to use in about 20 minutes. Its interface is user-friendly, with a touchscreen that provides helpful instructions and messages. This printer is designed for ease of use, with features like auto bed leveling, resonance compensation, and real-time flow tuning, which help prevent common printing issues like clogs and jams.

An interesting aspect of the A1 Mini is its capacity for multicolor printing, enhanced by the optional AMS Lite upgrade. This system makes multicolor printing more accessible and efficient, handling different spool sizes and types. It speeds up filament changes, reducing the time for multicolor prints.

The A1 Mini is particularly suitable for educational environments due to its simplicity and safety features. It’s also a good choice for professionals who need a compact, secondary printer for quick prototyping. The printer is competitively priced, offering a good balance of speed, compactness, and user-friendly features.

Users generally report a positive experience with the A1 Mini, emphasizing its simplicity, reliability, and the quality of its prints. It’s seen as an intuitive printer that allows users to focus more on their creations than on the printing process itself.

Overall, the Bambu Lab A1 Mini is notable for its ease of use, innovative multicolor printing capability, compact design, and suitability for a range of users, from beginners to professionals. Its features and performance make it a compelling choice for those new to 3D printing or seeking a dependable, space-efficient printer.

Pros:

  1. Speed and Quality: The A1 Mini is noted for its fast printing capabilities without compromising on print quality. It’s able to produce high-quality prints quite rapidly.
  2. User-Friendly: This printer is easy to use, featuring a simplified touch-screen interface, making it suitable for beginners. It includes helpful on-screen messages and instructions for basic maintenance and setup.
  3. Innovative Features: It offers features like auto bed leveling, resonance compensation, and real-time flow tuning. The auditory feedback using motor vibrations is a unique touch.
  4. Multicolor Printing: With the AMS Lite, the A1 Mini supports multicolor printing, making it versatile for various creative projects.
  5. Compact Design: Its small size makes it suitable for environments with limited space and for those needing a portable printer.
  6. Built-in Camera: The printer includes a built-in camera for real-time monitoring and recording time-lapse videos of prints.

Cons:

  1. Filament Waste (“Poop”): When printing in multiple colors, the printer creates small blobs of extruded filament, known as “poop,” which can be a bit of a nuisance, especially for intricate multi-colored models.
  2. Power Cord Length: Some users have suggested that a longer power cord would be beneficial.
  3. Price: While it’s competitively priced, the cost, especially when adding the AMS Lite for multicolor printing, might be a consideration for some users.
For Professionals
Bambu Lab X1 Carbon
Bambu Lab Matterhackers
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The Bambu Lab X1 Carbon is a feature-packed 3D printer that stands out for its innovative design and functionality. One of its most notable features is the Automatic Material System (AMS), which automates filament changes and allows for multi-color and multi-material printing. This system is particularly user-friendly, supporting up to 16 materials through connected AMS units. The printer also includes a range of high-quality filaments developed by Bambu Lab, such as PAHTCF and PLACF, offering better mechanical performance and smoother surface finishes.

In terms of hardware, the X1 Carbon boasts a cutting mechanism attached to the print head, preventing blockages during filament changes, and a heated bed that ensures even heating and easy material handling. Its build volume of 256x256x256mm is notable given the compact overall size of the printer (389x389x457mm). The heated bed uses a flexible steel plate with a double-sided magnetic flex surface, catering to various filament types. The machine’s maximum hot end temperature is 300°C, and it supports a range of nozzle diameters.

From a software perspective, the X1 Carbon runs on proprietary firmware developed by Bambu Lab, designed to work seamlessly with the hardware. This firmware utilizes over 40 sensors within the printer to automate operations, reducing the need for user adjustments. The slicing software is based on a customized version of SuperSlicer, offering high compatibility and preset parameters for Bambu Lab machines.

Print quality on the X1 Carbon is commendable, with input shaping and flow calibration contributing to impressive results. The printer is capable of remarkable printing speeds, completing benchmarks like the benchy in under 20 minutes, a significant improvement over previous generations. Its precision in detail resolution, dimensional accuracy, and z-layer alignment is also noteworthy.

However, the X1 Carbon does have some drawbacks. The AMS system, while innovative, can be slow when printing in multiple colors due to the necessary purging process. There’s also some waste generated during color changes. The machine is expensive, with a price point around $1,500 when including the AMS. Moreover, the printer is closed-source, which might be a concern for supporters of open-source initiatives.

Overall, the Bambu Lab X1 Carbon is a high-quality, fast, and reliable 3D printer, suitable for users looking for advanced features like automated filament changes and multi-material printing. Its compact design, cutting-edge technology, and high-speed printing capabilities make it a notable contender in the market, albeit with a higher price tag.

Pros:

  1. Ease of Setup: It takes about 30 minutes to unpack, set up, and calibrate the X1 Carbon, which is relatively quick and straightforward for a 3D printer​​.
  2. Print Quality: The printer is capable of producing high-quality prints with great detail, accuracy, and consistency. It handles various test models well, including multi-color prints, and is particularly noted for its speed​​.
  3. Innovative Features: The X1 Carbon includes features like a cutting mechanism to prevent filament blockages, a heated bed with multi-point mesh calibration, and a 1080P camera for monitoring and error detection​​.
  4. Automatic Filament System (AMS): The AMS allows for automatic filament change and multi-color printing, which is a significant advancement over previous systems. It’s user-friendly and can handle up to 16 materials with an additional hub​​.
  5. Software and Firmware: Bambu Lab has developed its proprietary firmware and slicing software, which offers high compatibility and ease of use for beginners. The software is designed to work seamlessly with the printer’s hardware and AMS​​.

Cons:

  1. Filament Waste: The printer tends to purge a lot of filament during color changes, which can lead to wastage. This issue is more pronounced in multi-color printing​​.
  2. Startup Time: It takes approximately 7 minutes for the printer to start printing, which is longer compared to some other models​​.
  3. Compatibility with Cardboard Spools: The AMS is not compatible with cardboard spools, which might be a concern for users preferring environmentally friendly options. However, there are workarounds like 3D printed rails to fix this issue​​.

How to Chose the Best 3D Printer

When selecting our list of the best 3D printers, we rely on our personal experience, expert articles, community feedback, and customer reviews.

Our list is geared toward hobbyist and small business applications. Most of the printers on the list are below $1,000.

Print Quality

Good print quality is a must. But your printer should be able to produce high-quality prints with minimal calibration and maintenance.

The printer should produce prints with layer heights of 0.1mm or less and smooth-looking models with barely visible layer lines. For consistent printing, the best 3D printers should be able to output high-quality prints without needing to calibrate the printer between prints.

Although we recommend regularly calibrating your 3D printer, you should be able to produce a dozen prints without any loss in quality.

Ease of Use

Even a complete beginner should be able to assemble the printer, load the filament, start a print, and remove the object from the print bed. It should be simple to level the bed, and a built-in auto bed leveling system is a bonus.

The software should be intuitive and easy to use. The 3D printer should come preloaded with all the necessary software for printing, and compatibility with Ultimaker’s Cura slicing software is a plus.

Printers should provide easy-to-use tools for calibration and tuning, with advanced features for more experienced makers. The software should be easy enough for a beginner to navigate the interface without any instruction.

Filament vs. Resin Printers

Choosing between filament and resin printers is a personal decision. You should consider the types of objects you will be making and your expectations for printing.

Filament printers are cheaper and come with larger build volumes. FDM printers are easy to use and beginner friendly. You can’t achieve the same level of detail compared to a resin printer, but all the printers on this list produce high-quality prints.

Filament printers are best for printing large objects, beginners, and those on a budget.

Resin printers have unmatched detail and precision. They produce incredibly detailed prints and are easy to set up and use. Resin printers require post-processing to remove excess resin and cure the finished prints. Most resin 3D printers have small build volumes, but you can purchase a printer with a larger build volume at a high cost.

Resin printers are best for printing smaller, complex objects. The post-processing requires additional work and safety precautions which may not be suitable for beginners.

Build Volume

Before purchasing a 3D printer, you must understand the size of the models you’ll be printing. 3D printers come in a range of build volumes, and it’s essential to buy a printer with a big enough build size for your needs.

The standard sizes for FDM printers have a large enough build volume for most people. Advanced users can split larger parts into several smaller pieces to print on a smaller machine.

In all, the build volume isn’t a significant concern for most people. But you’ll want to pay close attention if you’re looking on the entry-level side. Many entry-level printers sacrifice build volume to keep costs low.

Compatibility With Filament Brands

Some 3D printer manufacturers have built-in systems that require users to purchase filaments directly from the manufacturer.

The proprietary filament is generally more expensive and comes with higher shipping fees and delivery times. If the manufacturer goes out of business, you can say goodbye to your 3D printer, as you won’t be able to use it with 3rd party filament brands.

It’s always a good idea to check that your printer is compatible with several filament brands. The printers on the above list can print with most major filament brands.

Enclosed Printing Chamber

Enclosed printers are a nice-to-have feature. They won’t make or break the printer’s performance, but they help reduce the number of print imperfections.

Enclosures help to keep a consistent temperature which helps reduce warping, bubbling, stringing, and other surface defects.

Some filament types, such as ABS, require an enclosure because it is prone to shrinking.

A built-in enclosure isn’t essential. And if you require one in the future, you can purchase or build a DIY printing enclosure.

Price and Value

It’s not enough for a printer to produce excellent-quality prints. It must be price efficient. In other words, does the performance live up to the cost of the printer? Or did you spend a lot of money for so-so prints?

Several printers produce incredible-quality prints. But at unreasonable price tags, we can’t justify their inclusion in this list.

Why You Should Trust Us

Dario is a mechanical engineer with over a decade of experience working with 3D Print Mentor. Dario strives to provide accurate and actionable education and advice for beginners and advanced makers.

Throughout his 3D printing journey, he has tested several dozen filaments and 29 3D printers. He has a background in designing objects for 3D printing, rapid prototyping, and material testing.

Dario’s current personal printer is the Prusa i3 MK3S+, but his favorite is the Ultimaker S5.


Marc has over a decade of 3D printing experience that began after working with the printer his high school purchased for their maker club.

After building a successful business selling prints online, Marc co-founded 3D Print Mentor to teach and inspire creators. His current printers are the Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ and Anycubic Photon Mono X 6K.

How We Test 3D Printers

When we unbox a new printer, we time how long it takes to get the machine set up and print-ready. We take notes on the installation process, quality of the instruction, software installation, and calibration steps.

Most printers come preloaded with ready-to-print models. The models are carefully calibrated to the printer and should produce a successful print without any changes.

If the print fails, there is a glaring issue with the printer. It could be a mistake in the printer’s assembly or calibration or a hardware or software issue preventing it from printing successfully.

After a successful test print, we print 10 of our own test prints and determine print quality on a scale from 1-5:

  • 5 – Excellent: A smooth-looking print with no obvious imperfections.
  • 4 – Good: Some visible layer lines but no obvious imperfections
  • 3 – Mediocre: The print has visible layer lines and some imperfections but still produces an ok print.
  • 2 – Bad: Obvious layer lines, a non-smooth surface, and print imperfections. The print hasn’t failed, but it’s not acceptable for display or function.
  • 1 – Failure: Failure can be caused by broken filament, spaghetti, the print detaching from the bed, or software or hardware issues.

We choose a generic model with standard PLA settings for the test prints. Aside from bed leveling and manufacturing recommendations, we don’t perform any other manual or slicing calibration.

Advanced users can get excellent print quality from any 3D printer with enough fine-tuning. And although we can improve the print quality by fine-tuning the slicer settings, our tests mimic the print quality that beginners and real-world users should expect.

We generally use the 3DBenchy model from Thingiverse to compare the print quality against previously tested printers.

Before each test print, we check the bed leveling. A quality printer shouldn’t require more than one bed leveling throughout our 10 test prints. We make a note of how many times the bed needs to be re-leveled.

Article by

Mario De Lio

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