Searching for the hottest new 3D printer? We've spent almost 2 years researching over 100 different models, then picked out the 13 most promising printers to buy and test head-to-head to help you find the best. We have printed over 300 different models to compare the print quality of each of these products and selected our award winners after over 500 hours of head-to-head testing. In addition to evaluating how well each of these products printed, we also extensively compared the different printing capabilities of each product and how easy to operate each of these additive manufacturing machines actually are. Keep reading to see which printer is the best of the best, which is the best for beginners, and which ones you should consider when shopping on a budget.
Best 3D Printers of 2018
$2,499.00 at Amazon
$1,299.00 at Amazon
$1,599.00 at Amazon
$2,237.55 at Amazon
$519.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Great prints, ready to go out of the box, easy to use, extensive support||Extremely easy to use, good prints, good value||Great support, excellent bed adhesion||Large build volume, print surface prevents warping||Great value, large build area|
|Cons||Expensive||PLA only, proprietary filament||Awful initial assembly, pricey||Mediocre print quality, expensive||Nonexistent support, little harder to use|
|Bottom Line||An exceptionally capable printer at a premium price||A great value option for those that want a simple and reliable printer that just works without a lot of fuss||This model makes great prints and is easy to use -- once it's assembled||This printer comes at a high price without great printing quality||If you are searching for a solid printer on a budget and don’t mind doing a little tinkering, then this model is the perfect choice|
|Rating Categories||Ultimaker 2+||Sindoh 3DWOX DP201||Zortrax M200||Lulzbot TAZ 6||Creality 3D CR-10S|
|Print Quality (40%)|
|Ease Of Use (30%)|
|Print Capabilities (20%)|
|Specs||Ultimaker 2+||Sindoh 3DWOX DP201||Zortrax M200||Lulzbot TAZ 6||Creality 3D CR-10S|
|Build Volume (XxYxZ)||223x223x205mm||210x200x189mm||200x200x180mm||280x280x250mm||300x300x400mm|
|Maximum Extruder Temperature||260°C||220°C||380°C||300°C||260ºC|
|Layer Cooling Fan?||2||1||1||2||2|
For this fall update, we added two new printers to our existing lineup: the Anycubic Photon and the FlashForge Finder. Both of these printers did very well in our tests, with the Photon winning a Top Pick for Print Quality Award and the Finder earning notable mention for being an exceptional value. The Photon is the first resin printer that we have reviewed, as we finally found a popular enough model that costs comparably to some of our other picks, and it is by far one of the best models you can get for model making or tabletop gaming. However, it is definitely a lot harder to use with a steeper learning curve than many of the other products we have tested. The Finder impressed us with its solid print quality and exceptional ease of use, all at a fantastic price. It isn't the cheapest printer you can get, but we definitely would recommend for users just starting out on a budget and willing to pay just a bit more for a far less finicky printer than the Monoprice Mini. Check out the full review below to see exactly how these printers stacked up against the rest and how they distinguished themselves.
Taking home the top score of the entire group of printers and handily winning both an Editors' Choice award and the title of Best Overall 3D printer, the Ultimaker 2+ is the clear recommendation for those that want the absolute best of the best. This sleek and stylish printer has phenomenal print quality, even with some of the most difficult prints in our test. On top of this top-notch performance, this product is super easy to set up and operate — even for a complete novice to 3D printing. 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 printerRead full review: Ultimaker 2+
Best Value for Ease of Use
Sindoh 3DWOX DP201
Delivering one of the top performances overall, the DP201 by Sindoh 3DWOX impressed us by its solid print quality, its overall great value, and how exceptionally easy to use this product is. This product is essentially turnkey — ready to use as soon as it is removed from the package and a very brief and easy calibration process is completed. The printed models are very high in quality and the learning curve associated with this printer is so shallow that total novices can be up and running in a matter of hours. The DP201 competes with models that cost almost twice as much and is packed full of useful features and functions, such as wireless printing and a built-in webcam to monitor the status of your prints. 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.Unfortunately, this printer does use proprietary filament, so the cost per print is slightly higher, but not by much. You also are limited to only using PLA, so no experimenting with the more exotic filaments that have recently become readily available. Despite this, the Sindoh more than makes up for by being so easy to operate and we highly recommend it.
Read full review: Sindoh 3DWOX DP201
Best Bang for the Buck
Creality 3D CR-10S
Distinguishing itself by the high-quality prints it produced and its relatively affordable price compared to the competition, the Creality CR-10S easily claimed a Best Buy Award and the title of Best Bang for the Buck. This printer matched or just barely trailed behind the top-of-the-line printers in many of our tests, is reasonably easy to use, and has an absolutely massive build envelope, letting you print giant models with ease.Unfortunately, the customer support is pretty much nonexistent and it definitely is far from a turnkey printer out of the box. However, these are not insurmountable obstacles. There are plenty of online resources and forum posts to help you through the assembly and troubleshoot issues, if you don't mind a little research. All in all, this is an excellent printer if you are shopping on a budget and are willing to do a little tinkering.
Read full review: Creality 3D CR-10S
Best for Tight Budgets
Monoprice Select Mini
Recently updated to V2, this minimalistic and adorably small 3D printer delivered a solid job across the board. It retails at a fraction of the cost of any other model in our test and does an acceptable job at printing in PLA.
Unfortunately, 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 is an absolutely fantastic option for someone just starting out and doesn't want to spend a ton of cash or for anyone else who on a tight budget.
Read full review: Monoprice Select Mini
Top Pick for Print Quality
Earning the Top Pick Award, the Anycubic Photon stood out from the rest of the pack by printing absolutely amazing models. This resin printer handles detailed and delicate models that would be absolute catastrophes on almost any of the other FDM/FFF printers that we have tested and none could even come close to comparing with the surface finish achieved by the Photon. We also liked that the customer support for this printer was quite comprehensive and helpful and it has a respectable set of printing capabilities.
However, this printer is quite a bit more work to us than the other printers, is considerably messier, and requires quite a few more accessories to operate correctly. Nitrile or latex gloves are recommended for handling the resin and cleaning and filtering the resin from the printer can be quite a hassle. Additionally, you also need a bath of isopropyl alcohol and another of warm water to wash your finished prints and some way of post-curing your prints with UV light — either by relying on having sunny weather or on a small artificial UV light. Despite being significantly harder to use, the models are unparalleled in quality to any other printer we have tested, making it the perfect choice for someone who wants small high-quality models for display and isn't afraid to put in the work for them.
Read full review: Anycubic Photon
Upgrade Pick on a Tight Budget
While the Finder couldn't quite net an award, we felt it did deserve some recognition. This printer retails for around $300, making it a great option for someone shopping on a budget, and pairs that with a solid performance across the board. It created surprisingly high-quality sample prints and is one of the easiest printers to use, making it an absolute awesome pick for a beginner.
While it isn't the cheapest printer, retailing for about $100 more than the Monoprice Mini, we found it to be far less frustrating to use. Unfortunately, it also lacks a heated bed and is designed for PLA only, but we were actually able to get a handful of decent ABS prints from it using a glue stick to improve bed adhesion. While you can get away spending less, we would definitely recommend the Finder over the Mini if you can afford it.
Read full review: FlashForge Finder
Analysis and Test Results
3D printers have rapidly decreased in price over the past years, leading to an explosion of popularity. We looked over 75 different models, eventually purchasing the most highly-regarded to test and evaluate side-by-side. 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 competitions, where they excelled, and where they had less than stellar performances.
While the Ultimaker is the best you can get, it is also exceptionally pricey. If you are shopping on a budget, you would be much better served by the Sindoh if you want an extremely easy to use printer or the Creality CR-10S if you don't mind some tinkering to save you some cash. For those on the tightest of tight budgets, the Monoprice Mini is the clear choice — it's tiny, but performs decently well and is a good introduction to 3D printing without breaking the bank. If you are on a tight budget but willing to spend a small amount more, then the Finder is definitely a printer to consider. It costs about a $100 more than the Mini, but is far easier to operate and makes solid prints.
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 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.
Earning the top score out of the entire group, the Anycubic Photon earned a 10 out of 10 for its exceptional print quality. This resin printer easily makes extremely delicate models that would have flummoxed any of the other printers in the review and has an unparalleled surface finish. While we used a set of test prints to compare the print quality side-by-side for the filament printers, the different method of printing (UV resin) on the Photon rendered some of those tests relatively meaningless, so we used a different set of prints to judge this one, though there was some overlap.
It also can print models without support that would be impossible on other FDM/FFF printers, such as this lattice cube which comes preloaded on the Photon.
Our Editors' Choice award winner for Best Overall — the Ultimaker 2+ — came next, earning the top score for any of the filament printers, an 8 out of 10. The Ultimaker 2+ produced high-quality prints across the board, in both PLA and ABS.
Compared to the other filament printers, this model led the way in most of the print tests, making a particularly great 3D Benchy, wireframe cube, and exceptional spiral vase.
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 printer left a high-quality surface finish on the underside of the supported areas without printing support that was too difficult to remove.
Following the Ultimaker 2+, the Zortrax M200 and the Creality CR-10S earned the runner-up position with a score of 7 out of 10. The Zortrax 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.
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.
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.
On top of all that, the Zortrax made a great spiral vase and made prints that were smooth with a good surface finish.
The Creality delivered a solid performance across the board in this test, with only a few exceptions. This printer handles PLA much better than ABS, even rivaling the Ultimaker at making a spiral vase and printing low-poly figures. This printer also did essentially a perfect job in the difficult bridging and overhang tests, as well as an almost unnoticeable amount of Z-axis wobble in the tall tower test.
It struggled a little more with ABS, having a few warping issues on the bridge test and having some pronounced layer separation in the spiral vase, low-poly figures, and articulated elephant. The CR-10S also failed to print the Eiffel Tower and platform jack in ABS.
The bulk of the group followed this trio of top-performing printers, with the FlashForge Creator Pro, the Finder, the Lulzbot TAZ 6, the MakerGear M2, the Sindoh 3DWOX DP201, and the QIDI Technology X-one2 all scoring a 6 out of 10.
The Creator Pro 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 FlashForge Creator Pro 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+.
However, we found that the FlashForge Creator Pro did a mediocre job at bridging and had a slight Z-wobble, with the tall tower having noticeable undulations on the side.
The Finder also made an excellent 3D benchy, matching that of the Creator Pro. We only graded this product on its PLA printing capabilities, as it wasn't really designed for ABS. It also did quite well with the Eiffel Tower, though it did print a somewhat funky bridging test.
The elephant, overhang, and one of the low-poly figures all came out superb, with the remainder of the models being so-so in quality.
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 3D 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.
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.
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, this model's performance is limited in terms of print quality.
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.
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.
This 3D printer also consistently did worse with ABS prints, and on the whole, was quite unremarkable.
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.
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 QIDI X-one2 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.
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.
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.
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.
The final printer in the group — the da Vinci 1.0 Pro — earned a 3 out of 10. 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.
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 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.
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 FlashForge Finder followed, earning an 8 out of 10 for its ease of use. It's about average to change the filament, but made a bit easier when using an external spool holder. In particular, we liked that this printer essentially arrived fully assembled and the bed is exceptionally easy to level.
You can either print over WiFi or via a USB cable from a laptop, in addition to using a USB flash drive for standalone printing. There also is a fairly user-friendly interface and screen right on the Finder itself.Next, the Lulzbot TAZ 6, QIDI X-one2, 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 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.
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 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 and Sindoh.
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 to the print being completed.
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 Creator Pro 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.
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.
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 Creality earned a 6 out of 10 in this metric. The assembly process is a little on the involved side for the Creality, requiring you to attach the vertical frame, connect all the wires, and install the print bed and spool holder.
This is made a little more difficult by the lack of clear instructions, but we eventually figured out which wire plugged in where, with only a little bit of research on our own. You can send files to the CR-10S directly over a USB cable or print offline with a microSD card. This printer also has a reasonably nice display that shows basic metrics while printing. It's also quite easy to level the bed and isn't terribly 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.
The Maker Select and Mini utilize Cura as a slicer — a standard option — while the Creator Pro uses ReplicatorG. This wasn't the most user-friendly software and had a steeper learning curve than Cura. The Creator Pro also has the option of using FlashPrint — a slicer made by the manufacturer, which we found to be vastly preferable.
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 Creator Pro 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.
It was about average to swap filaments in both the Maker Select and the Creator Pro, 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 Creator Pro 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 for the filament printers, 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.
Earning the lowest score overall, the Anycubic Photon earned a 2 out of 10, being exponentially more of a hassle to use than any of the other printers that we have tested. It is very easy to load the resin into a cleaned and empty Photon, simply pour it in while wearing gloves. However, cleaning the printer can be a bit of a pain. You need to filter and empty the printer of resin if you aren't going to be printing in the next 48 hours — a somewhat involved and messy process that takes about 30 minutes. There is also a decent amount of post-processing involved with finishing a print. Once removed from the Photon, you need to wash the finished print in both warm water and isopropyl alcohol and then post-cure it with UV light to get the resin to its full strength.
However, this printer does arrive completely assembled and it is very easy to level the build platform.
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.
Claiming the top spot, the Creality CR-10S earned an 8 out of 10 for its exceptionally full-featured set of printing capabilities. This printer has both a layer and extruder cooling fan, with the extruder able to hit a maximum temperature of 260°C. It isn't restricted to proprietary filaments, so it is compatible with any 1.75mm filament that fits that temperature profile. The CR-10S includes a glass print bed which is heated, capable of achieving a max temperature of 135°C. This printer is compatible with a handful of slicers, with Cura being the recommended one — and the one we used for our tests. However, it is the Creality's absolutely massive build volume that carried it to the top of the pack, measuring in at a whopping 300x300x400mm (11.81x11.81x15.75in).
Finishing right behind the Creality, the Lulzbot TAZ 6 and the Ultimaker 2+, both scored 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.
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.
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 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 less evenly.
Next, the Creator Pro, the Finder, the Photon, the QIDI, the Sindoh, the 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 exclusively and the Creator Pro and Finder can use either a proprietary software — FlashPrint — or third-party slicers, like 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 Creator Pro, 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 Finder and the Mini being even smaller.
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, the Finder, and the Creator Pro all have solid print beds and we didn't have too many bed adhesion issues. The Finder lacks a heated bed, so it isn't really supposed to be used for ABS, but we got away with it for a handful of prints with liberal amounts of glue stick applied. 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.The Photon isn't compatible with a ton of slicers, as most aren't set up for resin printing, but the Photon's slicer is quite easy to use and relatively user-friendly. It doesn't have the largest build area, measuring in at 115x65x155mm. This printer is also compatible with any UV 405nm resin.
Finishing out the group, the XYZ Printing da Vinci earned a 4 out of 10. We found the proprietary slicer for this model 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 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, the Anycubic Photon, and the Ultimaker 2+ all earning 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%.
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.Anycubic has a full set of tutorial videos and it's about average difficulty to get in touch with their customer support team, with only email, contact form, or an international number available to reach out to them with. However, we found their support team to be extremely helpful, even offering to place supports and slice a model that we were struggling with. Finally, it has a solid warranty — 3 months on the UV LED/LCD screen and 12 months on most other components.
Next, the Creator Pro, 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 Creator Pro, and the XYZ were the only ones in 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 Creator Pro shipped with the shortest warranty of 3 months, with the Monoprice's and XYZ having a 12-month warranty.
The Finder came next, earning a 5 out of 10. While it has the same warranty and set of documentation that the Creator Pro has, we found the customer support wasn't quite as helpful this time around, dropping its score slightly.Finishing absolutely last in terms of customer support, the Creality earned a 2 out of 10. Essentially, there is no support at all and we never received a response from them. Supposedly, there is a 1-year limited warranty, but we aren't sure if this is useful at all, since we never actually contacted them successfully. We would recommend getting this 3D printer from a reputable third-party retailer that offers returns if it arrives damaged or defective, rather than relying on the manufacturer.
Hopefully, this review has helped you find the perfect 3D printer 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