Best 3D Printers of 2017

Looking for the latest and greatest 3D printer available today? We researched over 55 different products, then bought the top 11 printers to test side-by-side and find out winners. In total, we spent close to 300 hours ranking these products with an exhaustive series of tests, scoring everything from the overall quality of the printed objects produced to whether or not you could send a model to the printer wirelessly. After over 200 models printed for assessment, we were ready to declare the winners, scoring each printer on its ability to print in high resolution, create parts that are dimensionally accurate, and print support structures that are effective and easy to remove, as well as how well each printer handled models with bridges and overhanging areas. Take a look at the comprehensive review below to see which printer is the best overall, the best value, and the easiest to use.

Read the full review below ≫

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11 ≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫
Rank #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product
The Ultimaker 2+.
Ultimaker 2+
The Sindoh 3DWOX DP201
Sindoh 3DWOX DP201
The Zortrax M200 Pro.
Zortrax M200 Pro
The Lulzbot TAZ 6.
Lulzbot TAZ 6
The QIDI Technology X-one.
QIDI Technology X-One
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award      Best Buy Award 
Price $2,500 List
$2,499.00 at Amazon
$1,300 List
$949.00 at Amazon
$2,100 List
$1,800.00 at Amazon
$2,500 List
$2,500 at Amazon
$500 List
$398.00 at Amazon
Overall Score 
100
0
74
100
0
67
100
0
67
100
0
66
100
0
61
Star Rating
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  • 5
Pros Great prints, ready to go out of the box, easy to use, extensive supportExtremely easy to use, good prints, good valueGreat support, excellent bed adhesionLarge build volume, print surface prevents warpingInexpensive, easy to use
Cons ExpensivePLA only, proprietary filamentAwful initial assembly, priceyMediocre print quality, expensivesmall build area, mediocre support
Ratings by Category Ultimaker 2+ Sindoh 3DWOX DP201 Zortrax M200 Pro Lulzbot TAZ 6 QIDI Technology X-One
Print Quality - 40%
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
Ease Of Use - 30%
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Print Capabilities - 20%
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
5
Support - 10%
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
Specs Ultimaker 2+ Sindoh 3DWOX DP201 Zortrax M200 Pro Lulzbot TAZ 6 QIDI Technology X-One
Build Volume (XxYxZ) 225x150x145mm 280x280x250mm Below 74mm: 109x113mm 74-116mm: 91x84mm 200x250x200mm 200x200x175mm
Maximum Extruder Temperature 280C 300C 265C 300C 260C
Layer Cooling Fan? 1 2 0 1 1

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Monday
October 2, 2017

Share:
Updated October 2017
While we don't have any new products to add to our review, there have been some exciting announcements and an update to one of our existing award winners. 3D printer Technology has rapidly advanced, with companies announcing multi-material and full-color printers for the future. While these new products aren't readily available yet and are too expensive for most people now, we will add them to the review if the marketing claims for these products pan out. In addition, the Monoprice Select Mini — our Best Buy award winner has been updated to V2 and the original is no longer available. We haven't gotten our hands on it yet, but the addition of an improved print bed and extruder and increased internal cooling should boost its already solid performance. Even better, it is still roughly the same price and gives you the choice of colors between black and white, making it an even better value option.

Best Overall


Ultimaker 2+


The Ultimaker 2+. Editors' Choice Award

$2,499.00
at Amazon
See It

Unrivaled print quality
Great customer support
Best print capabilities
Expensive
Few instructional videos

Earning the highest score of the entire bunch and the clear winner of the coveted crown of Best Overall 3D printer, the Ultimaker 2+ took home the Editors' Choice award. This compact and attractive model looks great and makes even better prints. This model earned the top score when it came to Print Quality, all while being exceptionally easy to set up and operate. This printer even includes a mobile app to guide you through the initial setup process, with even more documentation online if you run into any sort of difficulties. This capable printer had an impressive build volume and a helpful support team behind it. However, all of this performance comes at a premium price and this model is one of the most expensive of the group. This product is for those that want the absolute best — and are willing to pay for it. The more casual hobbyist is probably better off with a less expensive option, but those in a professional or semi-professional setting will love this printer

Read review: Ultimaker 2+

Best Value for Ease of Use


Sindoh 3DWOX DP201


The Sindoh 3DWOX DP201 Best Buy Award

$949.00
at Amazon
See It

Easy to use
Exceptionally easy to setup
Good print quality
Limited capabilities
Proprietary filament

Performing exceptionally well overall, the Sindoh DP201 distinguished itself not only for being a great value, but by being one of the easiest printers to use overall without any hassle. This printer is completely ready to go right out of the packaging, with no complicated assembly process and guided prompts to walk you through the brief calibration process. The print quality of the models produced by the Sindoh is quite high and this printer allows you to hit the ground running, without any of the learning curve associated with other products. This model holds its own with other printers that cost substantially more and even has wireless printing capabilities and a built-in webcam, allowing you to send model remotely and monitor their printing progress. This all combines to make this printer an exceptionally awesome pick for community uses, such as schools, libraries, makerspaces or coworking spaces. In fact, the printer we tested is now installed at the local library and has been exceptionally popular for making props and costumes for Halloween. This printer does use proprietary PLA filament, so the cost per print is slightly higher, but not by much, and this printer more than makes up for it in convenience.

Read review: Sindoh 3DWOX DP201


Best Bang for the Buck


QIDI Technology X-One


The QIDI Technology X-one. Best Buy Award

$398.00
at Amazon
See It

Relatively inexpensive
Above average print quality
Easy to setup
Small build area
Email is the only method of contacting the manufacturer

Surprising us with its performance, the X-One held its own against printers that were orders of magnitude more expensive. This model produced overall above average prints, was very easy to use and setup, and only required some minor tweaking to get good results. This model didn't have the best support of the group and has a very small build area, but it offers a fantastic value for those that are on the tightest of budgets and want the most bang for the buck. There aren't a ton of convenience features and a small learning curve but this is a solid introductory printer for those looking to get started with 3D printing and don't want to break the bank doing it, making it a fantastic choice for the amateur or home hobbyist.

Read review: QIDI Technology X-One

Best for Tight Budgets


Monoprice Select Mini


The Monoprice Select Mini. Best Buy Award

$220.00
at Amazon
See It

Inexpensive
Alright print quality
Tiny build area
ABS is exceptionally difficult

Recently updated to V2, this minimalistic and adorably small 3D printer delivered a solid job across the board. It doesn't have a particularly large build area, isn't the easiest to use, and can be exceptionally temperamental when using ABS filament. However, it retails at a fraction of the cost of any other model in our test and does an acceptable job at printing in PLA. This model would be an absolutely fantastic option for someone just starting out and doesn't want to spend a ton of cash or for anyone else who needs to place a higher priority on spending less than $250 than getting perfect prints.

Read review: Monoprice Select Mini

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
74
$2,500
Editors' Choice Award
This is the printer for those that want the best of the best
67
$1,300
Best Buy Award
The best for those that want a reliable printer that simply works
67
$2,100
Once you get it assembled and get over the price, it's a great printer that isn't hard to use
66
$2,500
Failing to amaze us with its print quality, it's hard to justify its premium cost
61
$500
Best Buy Award
This is a good printer at an even better price
55
$1,825
The performance of this models doesn't align with its high cost
55
$900
This printer scored about average and isn't priced excessively high
53
$300
This model isn't the best but delivers a reasonable value for its price
51
$220
Best Buy Award
The Monoprice Select Mini isn't the best printer of the group, but it is an exceptional value for those on a tight budget
47
$700
We wouldn't recommend this printer unless you wanted to spend all your time returning and fixing it
39
$300
We didn't find many benefits of this printer besides its small size

The group of printers that we reviewed  minus the XYZ which didn't make it through testing.
The group of printers that we reviewed, minus the XYZ which didn't make it through testing.

Analysis and Test Results


3D printers have rapidly decreased in price over the past years, leading to an explosion of popularity. We looked at close to 35 different models, narrowing our selection down to the top 10 to purchase and test head-to-head. All in all, we conducted about 45 different tests to rank these products, ranging from extensive print quality assessments to how helpful the customer support was.

The scores ranged from 0-100, based on each printer's subscore in our four weighted rating metrics: Print Quality. Ease of Use, Print Capabilities, and Support. The following sections detail how each printer stacked up against the competition, where they excelled, and where they had less than stellar performances.

We created a TON of test prints to evaluate these products.
We created a TON of test prints to evaluate these products.

Print Quality


Print Quality is the highest weighted rating metric of our review, comprising 40% of the total score. We selected 15 different test models for each printer to make, in both PolyLactic Acid (PLA) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) whenever possible, and used those to evaluate each printer and determine the score.

A member of the rating panel evaluating the wireframe  or hollow cube for quality.
A member of the rating panel evaluating the wireframe, or hollow cube for quality.

A panel — made up of novice, intermediate, and advanced 3D printer users — rated each test print without knowing which machine produced it, to remove any possibility of bias. The chart below shows which printers came out on top and which ones were wanting in terms of quality.


As shown above, the top model — and Editors' Choice award winner for Best Overall — is the Ultimaker 2+, earning a fantastic 8 out of 10. The Ulimaker 2+ produced high-quality prints across the board, in both PLA and ABS.

A selection of the test prints from our top printer in this metric.
A selection of the test prints from our top printer in this metric.

This model led the way in most of the print test, making a particularly great 3D Benchy, wireframe cube, and exceptional spiral vase.

a few of the standout prints from the Ultimaker 2+.
a few of the standout prints from the Ultimaker 2+.

The Ultimaker did struggle a bit with bed adhesion on larger ABS models, warping slightly or completely popping off in extreme cases, whether we were using a glue stick, hairspray, or blue painter's tape. The Ultimaker 2+ distinguished itself by doing exceedingly well at printing overhanging regions and bridging unsupported spans. In addition, it also did quite well in our support test.

The Ultimaker made support material that was easy to remove and left a nice finish on the underside of the supported region.
The Ultimaker made support material that was easy to remove and left a nice finish on the underside of the supported region.

The printer left a high-quality surface finish on the underside of the supported areas without printing support that was too difficult to remove.

The Zortrax was a step behind the Ultimaker and was awful at bridging.
The Zortrax was a step behind the Ultimaker and was awful at bridging.

Following the Ultimaker 2+, the Zortrax M200 Pro earned the runner-up position with a score of 7 out of 10. This model is limited to a proprietary filament, so all tests were conducted with Z-ABS, rather than generic PLA and ABS. Unlike almost every other model in this test, we had almost no issue with bed adhesion on the Zortrax. The bed on this printer has a series of holes that will fill slightly while printing, making a very, very secure attachment.

The perforated metal bed on the Zortrax practically eliminated the print peeling off the bed  actually making the prints difficult to remove.
The perforated metal bed on the Zortrax practically eliminated the print peeling off the bed, actually making the prints difficult to remove.

In fact, we actually had some issues removing fragile prints without breaking, such as the Eiffel Tower. In addition to struggling with fragile prints, this model was one of the worst at bridging or printing over unsupported sections. It would also leave unwanted strands of plastic on occasion.

Some of the models highlighting the terrible bridging abilities on the Zortrax.
Some of the models highlighting the terrible bridging abilities on the Zortrax.

However, these were the only real issues we found with this printer. This model made fantastic low-poly overhangs, even keeping the overhanging faces smooth and sharp. It also had great dimensional accuracy, shown by our nickel test, and hardly any noticeable z-wobble or inconsistencies on tall, skinny parts.

There was no noticeable Z-axis wobble from the Zortrax.
There was no noticeable Z-axis wobble from the Zortrax.

On top of all that, the Zortrax made a great spiral vase and made prints that were smooth with a good surface finish.

The bulk of the group followed this duo of top performing printers, with the FlashForge Creator Pro, Lulzbot TAZ 6, MakerGear M2, Sindoh 3DWOX DP201, and the QIDI Technology X-One all scoring a 6 out of 10.

Some of the prints made by the FlashForge Creator Pro.
Some of the prints made by the FlashForge Creator Pro.

The FlashForge actually created the best 3D Benchy of the entire group in PLA and was a top performer with ABS, by a unanimous decision, This jolly little boat has a variety of features designed specifically to torture test 3D printers, which you can read more about here .

The exceptional 3D Benchys made by the FlashForge.
The exceptional 3D Benchys made by the FlashForge.

The FlashForge also did very well in our overhang test, in both PLA and ABS, as well as printing high-quality figurines, on par or even rivaling the Ultimaker 2+.

The high-quality low-poly figures from the FlashForge. Recognize these from some popular video games?
The high-quality low-poly figures from the FlashForge. Recognize these from some popular video games?

However, we found that the FlashForge did a mediocre job at bridging and had a slight Z-wobble, with the tall tower having noticeable undulations on the side.

We weren't terribly impressed by the print quality from the TAZ 6.
We weren't terribly impressed by the print quality from the TAZ 6.

The Lulzbot TAZ 6 somewhat disappointed us in terms of print quality. While it did perform above average, we expected a little more from a model that received such rave reviews and has a price point similar to the top performer.

This printer has a solid frame, almost eliminating any Z-wobble. It also did quite well at bridging, overhangs, supports, and retraction, doing well in our hollow cube test, overhanging angle test, support test, and low-poly figurines test.

The TAZ 6 handles bridges and overhangs quite well.
The TAZ 6 handles bridges and overhangs quite well.

However, the critical issue that prevents the TAZ 6 scoring higher in this metric was the persistent issue we had with the lower layers being squashed.

The persistent lower layer issue that we couldn't completely solve  even after consulting with the support team.
The persistent lower layer issue that we couldn't completely solve, even after consulting with the support team.

After several back-and-forth emails with Lulzbot support and adjusting settings, the quality of the lower layers improved but still was lacking. It may be possible to improve this through further tinkering but for now limited this model's performance in print quality.

A selection of the evaluation prints from the MakerGear M2.
A selection of the evaluation prints from the MakerGear M2.

The MakerGear M2 also failed to impress us a ton in this metric, providing all-around average prints but having a premium price. The MakerGear uses their own custom software for slicing 3D models to print and this software took issue with some of our test files, refusing to slice them when the same file had no issues in the other programs, such as the bridging test and the Eiffel tower. This printer did do very well with overhanging regions, performing admirably well in our overhang test and making quality figurines.

The MakerGear did an alright job at overhangs  when the print stayed on the bed.
The MakerGear did an alright job at overhangs, when the print stayed on the bed.

However, it produced a mediocre Benchy boat, platform jack, and articulated elephant. It also had a tiny bit of noticeable Z-Axis wobble and struggled with retraction, evidenced by the tower and hollow cube test.

The MakerGear had some retraction issues and noticeable Z-Axis wobble on tall  thin parts.
The MakerGear had some retraction issues and noticeable Z-Axis wobble on tall, thin parts.

This printer also consistently did worse with ABS prints, and on the whole, was quite unremarkable.

The set of prints from the Sindoh DP201. This model only prints in PLA  so only one version of each model was made.
The set of prints from the Sindoh DP201. This model only prints in PLA, so only one version of each model was made.

The second to last of this group, the 3DWOX DP201 by Sindoh was an all-around solid printer with no major deficiencies. While it does only print in PLA, it prints well. This printer produced a very nice tall tower with no detectable Z-Axis wobble, as well as a fantastic threaded jar and lid with knurled grips. It also did very well in our retraction, bridging and overhang tests.

Some of the prints that the Sindoh excelled on.
Some of the prints that the Sindoh excelled on.

However, it produced a mediocre Benchy and elephant, as well as a thoroughly subpar Eiffel tower. It also had the unusual quirk of lacking a spiral vase mode that would only print a single layer wall thickness, creating a much thicker vase than the others.

The prints produced by the QIDI X-One.
The prints produced by the QIDI X-One.

The QIDI X-One thoroughly surprised us in this test, holding its own with printers that cost 2-5x its list price. This model did surprisingly well when printing with ABS, doing better than most of the others. It did very well at bridging and printing overhangs, scoring well in both of those tests and made an excellent spiral vase.

Some of the better prints made by the QIDI.
Some of the better prints made by the QIDI.

It did struggle a little with the tall tower test, exhibiting much more wobble than the Lulzbot or the Sindoh, and didn't do the best job in the supports test, completely fusing the support structure to the model with PLA.

The collection of models printed by the Monoprice.
The collection of models printed by the Monoprice.

Lagging behind the bulk of the printers, the Maker Select V2 and the Select Mini by Monoprice both scored a 5 out of 10 for their average performance. Both of these models really struggled with printing ABS, plagued by bed adhesion issues no matter what we tried.

The Maker Select essentially produced mediocre prints across the board when compared to the other models, having much more Z-Axis wobble and layer separation, as well as failing to produce smooth face and a nice surface finish.

Some of the failed prints from the M3D.
Some of the failed prints from the M3D.

The Select Mini was similar, pretty much flunking at every ABS test, but exhibiting less wobble than the Maker Select V2. This printer did distinguish itself by doing extraordinarily well in the bridging test.

An amazing bridging test and a mediocre Eiffel Tower created by the Monoprice Mini.
An amazing bridging test and a mediocre Eiffel Tower created by the Monoprice Mini.

The final two printers in the group — the M3D Micro and the da Vinci 1.0 Pro — both earned a 3 out of 10, but for vastly different reasons. The M3D performed sub-par in every single test, except the support test. The supported section came out alright and was decently easy to remove but the rest of the print still looked terrible, even on the higher quality settings. This model failed to print tons of test models, either detaching from the bed, shifting layers, or layers separating. This printed made some passable attempts at the simpler, easy to print model but good luck trying anything complicated, especially when using ABS.

The M3D struggled with complex models.
The M3D struggled with complex models.

The da Vinci 1.0 Pro produced reasonably good prints, aside from the fact that it was albeit impossible to remove the raft from prints. However, this model was very prone to breaking, either arriving damaged or promptly having a part break within 5 minutes of unboxing. Purchased through Amazon, we were able to exchange easily without consequences, but gave up after the third round of swapping it for a new one.

Some models were drastically easier to use than others.
Some models were drastically easier to use than others.

Ease of Use


Following our massive set of tests for Print Quality, we moved on to assess the ease of use for each printer. This metric encompasses the difficulty at swapping out rolls of filament, the ease of the initial setup, the display on the printer — if there was one, how hard it was to level the bed, and the different methods of connecting to the printer. You can see how the printers stacked up in the chart below.


The Sindoh 3DWOX took home the top score, earning a 9 out of 10 for being exceptionally easy to use. This model will automatically swap filaments, preheating the nozzle and retracting it back into its cartridge. The cartridge can then be swapped for a new one or for a different color.

The Sindoh and its filament cartridge.
The Sindoh and its filament cartridge.

The Sindoh was ready to go out of the box, with no assembly required. This printer has semi-automatic bed leveling, instructing you how to adjust the screws to level the bed after probing.

The semi-automatic bed leveling on the Sindoh instructs you how to adjust the knobs after probing.
The semi-automatic bed leveling on the Sindoh instructs you how to adjust the knobs after probing.

This model uses the 3DWOX software to slice models, with data being transferred to the printer by via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or USB cable, or by a USB flash drive. The Sindoh has a high-quality, built-in display and will display the % completed and the estimated time remaining while printing, as well as a rendering of the 3D model being printed.

The display on the Sindoh was very informative compared to the other models.
The display on the Sindoh was very informative compared to the other models.

Following the ridiculously easy to use Sindoh, the Lulzbot TAZ 6, QIDI X-One, Ultimaker 2+, XYZ Printing da Vinci 1.0, and the Zortrax M200 all earned a 7 out of 10. The TAZ 6 requires you to manually change the filament but it was the easiest out of all the manual models to swap the filament. It is easy to feed the thicker 2.85mm filament through the guide tube and into the extruder, closing the latch after it is inserted.

The extruder latch on the Lulzbot to secure the filament.
The extruder latch on the Lulzbot to secure the filament.

The bed leveling is fully automatic on this printer and it will re-level before each print. This model does have a display but it is much less refined than the Sindoh's. It will show a bar graph of % completed and time elapsed while printing. You can connect to the Lulzbot via USB cable from a computer or print offline from a standard SD card. It uses a special edition of Cura as the recommended slicer — a relatively intuitive piece of software. Our biggest gripe with this model in terms of ease of use was the somewhat involved unboxing and assembly process.

The Lulzbot  unboxed before assembly.
The Lulzbot, unboxed before assembly.

You needed to attach the filament guide, Y-Axis, tool head, and connect a handful of cables to get the printer up and running. None of these tasks were particularly difficult and the documentation is thorough and very well done but it definitely is not a 100% turnkey 3d printer — understandable, due to its large size.

The QIDI was the polar opposite in terms of initial setup, only needing the spool holder mounted in the back and the filament guide connected to be ready to go. It was a little irritating to change filaments, as the back of the spool holder has a cap that must be unscrewed to put the new filament roll on. After the nozzle is sufficiently heated, you can manually feed the filament in while the extruder motor drives it out the nozzle. However, the QIDI is quite happy extruding indefinitely, meaning that you need to make sure you stop the motor after the filament has been successfully swapped by pressing the stop button on the touchscreen.

The QIDI has an integrated touchscreen.
The QIDI has an integrated touchscreen.

The display on the QIDI is actually quite nice, with a responsive touchscreen and backlit screen. This will display a bar segment with % printed, as well as the total time and time remaining while the printer is in use. This model uses the standard edition of Cura as a slice, with the option to print directly from your computer via USB or to use an SD card for standalone printing. It lacks a connector for a USB flash drive but it does include an SD to USB adapter — if you prefer to use a flash drive.

You need to manually level the print bed on the QIDI. While this is more difficult than the automatic or semi-automatic models, the 3-point leveling system was fairly easy to use, substantially more than other models, like the Monoprice Maker Select.

The Ultimaker 2+ is also easy to use, essentially ready to go straight out of the box. All that was required was to attach the spool holder. Ultimaker has a handy app with comprehensive documentation and instructions, on par with the thorough manual provided by Lulzbot. This was probably one of the easiest printers overall to initially setup and assembly, equivalent to the QIDI, Sindoh, and M3D.

The Ultimaker lacks automatic bed leveling but does have a series of prompts to guide you through the process, making it the easiest to level out of the printers that require manual bed leveling. This printer also uses the standard edition of Cura as the recommended slicer. Files can be sent directly to the printer from a computer via USB or a standard SD card can be used for standalone printing. The Ultimaker also has a simple display that shows a progress bar and an estimated countdown for the print being completed.

The Ultimaker uses a Bowden extruder  with the motor on the back of the printer  rather than on the nozzle.
The Ultimaker uses a Bowden extruder, with the motor on the back of the printer, rather than on the nozzle.

It was also very easy to swap different filaments on the Ultimaker using its semi-automatic method, though it was a little more difficult than the TAZ 6 or the Sindoh.

It was a little more difficult to swap filament on the Zortrax M200.To swap plastic, you need to go through the menus to select the correct option and the extruder motor will feed in or out. This model was very similar to the QIDI or the FlashForge in this respect, though the M200 will stop extruding automatically after a set time. It was extremely easy to level the print bed on the Zortrax, with it prompting you which knobs to turn and how much after probing, identical to the Sindoh. Unfortunately, the Zortrax was quite difficult to set up initially, requiring you to install the build plate, connect some cabling, route some wires, install a spool holder, filament guide tube, and then add the side panels and doors.

Assembling the Zortrax  especially the side panels  was quite frustrating.
Assembling the Zortrax, especially the side panels, was quite frustrating.

We found it to be unnecessarily difficult to attach the door and the documentation to be lacking when compared to the Lulzbot or Ultimaker. This printer uses the proprietary Z-Suite software as a slicer. It only prints from a standard size SD card and has a small display showing estimated time left and progress completed while printing.

The XYZ Printing da Vinci was also very easy to use, though it was a little easier to swap filaments than the Zortrax, similar to the Ultimaker. This model also has semi-automatic bed leveling, instructing you how to adjust the bed after probing, though the onscreen directions weren't quite as clear as the Zortrax.

Even with extensive padding  the XYZ kept arriving broken and had to be returned.
Even with extensive padding, the XYZ kept arriving broken and had to be returned.

There was basically zero setup required, just a somewhat involved unboxing process due to all the packaging materials. However, even with this abundance of packaging, this printer didn't fare well in shipping and had to be exchanged multiple times. This model uses the proprietary XYZware Pro as a slicer, which took a little longer to install than other programs. You need to print directly from a computer with a USB cable or over Wi-Fi, which we found to be quite unreliable.

Following this large group, the M3D earned a 6 out of 10 in this metric. This model had no setup required, other than downloading the necessary slicing software from the manufacturer's website. This model does have to be connected to a computer to print — something we found to be extremely frustrating, especially after the laptop was closed inadvertently mid-print. There is no display on the printer but the software displays a window showing time remaining and % completed. However, we found that the software crashed on a not infrequent basis. This printer checks the bed height prior to printing and is claimed to be self-leveling. We also found it fairly difficult to swap filaments.

Next, the Monoprice Maker Select, Monoprice Select Mini, and the FlashForge Creator Pro all earned a 5 out of 10. Two of these models both took a little bit of assembly to set up, with the Maker Select's Y-Axis needing to be attached and the tool head of the FlashForge Creator Pro requiring mounting. It was a little hard to access the screws to attach the tool head and align it properly but it wasn't terribly difficult.The Select Mini was ready to go right out of the box, only requiring the spool holder to be clicked into place to be ready to go.

All of the items included with this printer.
All of the items included with this printer.

The Maker Select and Mini utilize Cura as a slicer — a standard option — while the FlashForge uses ReplicatorG. This wasn't the most user-friendly software and had a steeper learning curve than Cura. The FlashForge also has the option of using FlashPrint — a slicer made by the manufacturer, which we found to be vastly preferable.

Cura is the recommended slicer for the Ultimaker.
ReplicatorG was not our favorite program.
 

All of these printers can connect to your computer or print directly from an SD card, though the Maker Select and Select Mini both use a microSD card. The Maker Select and the FlashForge both have practically identical displays — seemingly the standard for most 3D printers, showing the % completed. The display of the Select Mini is a little nicer, but still displays the same information.

The screen is quite nice on the Mini.
The screen is quite nice on the Mini.

It was about average to swap filaments in both the Maker Select and the FlashForge, while it was a little more difficult with the Monoprice Select Mini. All of these printers had a subpar method of manual bed leveling.

The FlashForge leads you through a series of prompts, similar to the QIDI, though there are four adjustment points. The Maker Select and the Select Mini also have 4 leveling points, but no prompts to guide you, making them our least favorite to level.

Rounding out the back of the pack, the MakerGear M2 earned a 4 out of 10. We weren't huge fans of this printer, finding it somewhat of a pain to use. This model has to be connected to a computer to start printing but you can pull the cable after it has already started. This model also lacks a display but a compatible one can be purchased as an upgrade. The setup process was about average, only attaching the build plate, Bowden tube, and spool holder. However, you need to download Slic3r to slice 3D files for printing and Printrun by Pronterface to actually run the printer and select files off of the SD card. Finally, it was also reasonably difficult to swap filaments and level the bed, requiring you to connect to a computer to swap filaments and follow a series of prompts that aren't very clear to level the bed.

The Ultimaker had a decent set of capabilities  compatible with a handful of materials.
The Ultimaker had a decent set of capabilities, compatible with a handful of materials.

Print Capabilities


Making up 20% of the total score, our Print Capabilities metric evaluated what you can do with these products. We ranked and scored each model based on their build volume, build plate, the types of filament each model was compatible with, the types of cooling, as well as the different software programs, or slicers, that could be used with each machine. The chart below shows how each printer stacked up.


As shown above, two models stood out for having exceptional printing capabilities: the Lulzbot TAZ 6 and the Ultimaker 2+, both scoring 7 out of 10. The Lulzbot distinguished itself with its exceptionally large built area, measuring in at 280 x 280 x 250mm (11 in x 11 in x 9.8in), or about 19,432 cubic centimeters (1185.8 cubic inches). This printer has one of the largest build areas out of the models that we looked at and has a heated borosilicate glass bed covered with a PEI print surface. The PEI helps prevent bed adhesion issues, especially with filaments prone to warping, like ABS.

A warped and unwarped version of the same model.
A warped and unwarped version of the same model.

The TAZ 6 is compatible with a wide array of filaments, with a maximum nozzle temperature of 300°C and a maximum bed temperature of 120°C. The special Lulzbot edition of Cura was a little more difficult to use than the standard edition but this printer is compatible with more sophisticated slicers, such as Simplify3D — though these programs typically aren't free.

The Ultimaker 2+ utilized the standard edition of Cura — our favorite of the free slicers — and is compatible with Simplify3D. It has a decently large build volume — 223 x 223 x 205mm — though not quite on the same level as the Lulzbot. The heated print surface is borosilicate glass and we did have some minimal bed adhesion issues, mainly with ABS. The Ultimaker 2+ is compatible with a large array of generic filaments, such as PLA, ABS, PC, Nylon, or any filament that has a print temperature below 260°C. Both the Lulzbot and the Ultimaker 2+ have 2 layer cooling fans.

The Ultimaker has two layer cooling fans  one on each side of the nozzle for even airflow.
The Ultimaker has two layer cooling fans, one on each side of the nozzle for even airflow.

Following this top pair of printers, the MakerGear M2 and the Monoprice Maker Select both earned a 6 out of 10. The Maker Select allows you to use Cura to control it, far superior to the trio of programs needed to run the MakerGear: M2, Slic3r, and Printrun. However, both of these printers can be upgraded to work with Simplify3D. The MakerGear has a slightly larger printable area than the Maker Select, 200x 250 x 200mm compared to 200 x 200 x 175mm. However, both of these printers are a significant reduction from the enormous build volumes of the Lulzbot and Ultimaker.

The exceptionally large build volume of the Lulzbot compared to the average build envelope of the Maker Select.
The exceptionally large build volume of the Lulzbot compared to the average build envelope of the Maker Select.

The MakerGear has a borosilicate glass bed with a replaceable print surface, vastly superior to the thin aluminum plate with a stick-on build surface of the Maker Select. We had some bed adhesion issues with the MakerGear but substantially fewer than the Monoprice. These both take generic, 1.75mm filaments, though the MakerGear has a wider temperature range than the Monoprice, 300°C to 260°C, putting it on par with the TAZ 6. These printers did have reduced cooling capabilities, each only having a single layer fan, thus cooling the print unevenly.

Next, the FlashForge, QIDI, Sindoh, Monoprice Select Mini, and the Zortrax all earned a 5 out of 10 for their printing capabilities. While the QIDI and the Mini used our preferred slicer, Cura, both the Sindoh and the Zortrax used proprietary software exclusive to them and the FlashForge used ReplicatorG. While we got the hang of the proprietary slicers relatively quickly, we were continually baffled by the clunky interface of ReplicatorG and found it to be much less intuitive.

The FlashForge, Zortrax, and the Sindoh all ranked about average in terms of build volume, about on par with the Monoprice Maker Select. The QIDI has a substantially smaller build area at 150 x 150 x 150mm, causing it to lose a few points, with the Mini being even smaller.

The QIDI had a relatively small build area.
The QIDI had a relatively small build area.

Both the Zortrax and the Sindoh scored highly when we evaluated build plates, on par with the Lulzbot. The Zortrax has a series of holes in the bed that help firmly attach model — we never had any issue with the print curling off of the bed and warping. In fact, we usually struggled to remove the print. The removable flexible built plate on the Sindoh makes it a breeze to remove prints, though larger items were prone to warping.

The QIDI and FlashForge failed to impress us with their print beds but we didn't have too much of an issue of prints popping off if we used a glue stick or hairspray to adhere them. However, these printers did earn points by being compatible with generic filaments, unlike the Sindoh or Zortrax. The Sindoh is also limited to PLA only, losing it some points.

The Mini gave us tons of trouble with bed adhesion, with our build plate appearing to have a bow in it that made printing in ABS almost impossible — no matter how carefully we leveled it.

We struggled to get ABS to print successfully on the print bed of the Mini.
We struggled to get ABS to print successfully on the print bed of the Mini.

Finishing out the group, the XYZ Printing da Vinci and the M3D earned a 4 and a 2 out of 10, respectively. We found the proprietary slicer for both of these models to be abysmal, with limited settings to adjust and an overall unreliable performance. The XYZ has about an average build size, on par with printers like the Monoprice Maker Select or the Zortrax. The M3D has the smallest build area of the group, requiring us to scale down many of our test models to actually print them.

Comparing the size of the largest and smallest printers in our test.
Comparing the size of the largest and smallest printers in our test.

The plastic build surface on the M3D was pretty much terrible, with almost every ABS print failing and popping off the bed. The bed was also easily damaged and we had to purchase a replacement during the course of testing. The M3D did redeem itself a tiny bit by being compatible with generic filaments, though you did need to print a spool holder. The XYZ is limited to its own brand of filament, loaded in cartridges. These models also had a much lower maximum nozzle temperature than the other printers, on the order of 20-100°C lower.

A selection of failed prints from testing. Good customer support can make the difference between a quick fix or extensive troubleshooting when a printer isn't behaving as it should.
A selection of failed prints from testing. Good customer support can make the difference between a quick fix or extensive troubleshooting when a printer isn't behaving as it should.

Support


The final metric in our test — Support — accounted for the final 10% of the total score. 3D printers are still a relatively immature technology — unfamiliar to most people — and having a helpful and supportive manufacturer can make all the difference between a quick fix or hours of frustration. We evaluated the different ways to contact the manufacturer, the helpfulness of the customer support, the warranty on each printer, and if there were instructional videos online. The chart below shows how each model scored.


The Zortrax M200 took home the top score, earning an 8 out of 10. This printer had tons of helpful instructional videos to guide you through everything from improving print quality to replacing worn out or damaged parts. You can contact Zortrax by email, phone, or instant chat and we found their team to be quite helpful, though not quite as much as the team behind Lulzbot or Ultimaker. However, they do have the best warranty at 24 months for the individual customer.

A trio of printers took home the runner-up score in this metric, with the Lulzbot TAZ 6, the MakerGear M2, and the Ultimaker 2+ all earned a 7 out of 10.

While the Lulzbot does have a YouTube channel with a handful of helpful videos, it wasn't immediately apparent and took some searching to find, losing it a few points. However, it did redeem itself when it came to contacting customer support, having both an email and phone number. They state that their support is available 24/7 and you will receive a reply within one business day. True to their word, we received an email back at 2:30 am. We found the support staff to be extremely helpful, guiding us through solving the squashed bottom layer problem that we were having. While they did help us dramatically improve print quality, it still wasn't solved 100%.

The persistent lower layer issue that we couldn't completely solve  even after consulting with the support team.
The persistent lower layer issue that we couldn't completely solve, even after consulting with the support team.

We also had an issue with the nozzle leaking, which Lulzbot did fix, though we did have to pay for shipping back to them. The TAZ 6 also includes a 12-month warranty that can be extended for up to 3 years at an additional cost.

Ultimaker only had a few support videos on their website but it did have plenty of pictures. They have both email and phone number to contact and are available Mon-Fri, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm(ET). They responded very quickly to our questions with helpful links and instructions to fix our problem included in their response. There is also a 12-month warranty on their printer for the original purchaser — something to note if you are looking at a secondhand model.

The MakerGear M2 similarly had only a few videos on their YouTube page and both an email and phone number to contact support. However, their support line closed earlier than the Ultimaker at 4:00 pm. They were also very helpful in their response to the raft printing poorly. The M2 comes with a 6-month warranty but it can be upgraded to 12 months for an additional cost.

Next, the FlashForge, Monoprice Maker Select, Monoprice Select Mini, QIDI, Sindoh, and XYZ all earned a 6 out of 10. All of these printers had a handful of videos, except for the Maker Select and the Select Mini, which had none. However, the pair of Monoprice printers, the FlashForge, and the XYZ were the only ones of this group to have a USA contact number. These manufacturers all had either email or support ticket methods of contact and were somewhat helpful to our questions. Sindoh and FlashForge were the most helpful, with Monoprice being the least. The FlashForge shipped with the shortest warranty of 3 months, with the Monoprice's and XYZ having a 12-month warranty.

Rounding out the back of the pack, the M3D earned a 5 out of 10 for its average support. They only had two videos and it didn't appear that you could contact customer support via phone. The only method of contact that we found was a contact form on their site. They were reasonably helpful but the printer only comes with a 3-month warranty, with an extended option available to purchase.

Conclusion


Hopefully, this review has helped you find the perfect product for your needs and budget. We bought the top models out there, so you don't have to. For more information on how we scored these products, Take a look at our comprehensive How We Test article for a detailed breakdown of our 3D printer testing process and methodologies.
David Wise and Austin Palmer

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