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Print Virtually Anything You Want With These 3D Printers

If you told Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, way back in 1436, that printers would, one day, print 3D objects using a highly moldable material, he would have thought you were crazy. But, as it turns out, we actually have such technologies available to us now - in the form of what we call 3D printers.

3D printers don’t exactly use ink and paper. Instead, they use a feed of thermoplastic that gets melted and then molded into a shape of your choosing. The printer slowly builds up the shape of your 3D object, and once it’s done, you’ve basically made a virtual 3D concept into a physical object. Crazy stuff if you think about it.

The best 3D printers in 2021 not only allow you to print 3D objects but also do so with precision and reliability. There are still a few problems with 3D printers, and while we have seen a few advancements in the industry, the technology’s still far from perfect. Regardless, 3D printers bring out endless possibilities for personal and business endeavors.

So whether you’re looking to make a mock-up version of a product you’ve designed, or just want to print whatever you want for DIY projects, this list has four great printer options for you to choose from. Read on to find out more about these nifty devices in detail.

Our Top Four 3D Printers

Creality 3D Official Creality Ender 3D Printer - Best Overall

With a name as menacing as “Creality Ender”, you’d be surprised at how open the technology behind this 3D printer is - in more ways than one. The main feature behind this printer is that the entire project is fully open-source, and the code is the result of collaboration between various contributors and users that are part of the Creality Ender community. Talk about a team effort! The device isn’t just open-source - it’s affordable, too. It’s the cheapest 3D printer on our list, beating the next-cheapest printer by around $50. That may not seem like much, but since you’ll also need to spend money on thermoplastic to actually print stuff, that’s quite a bit in savings. If you want to get into the world of 3D printing, but would rather not spend over $200 on a printer, then this is one of the best budget options on the market today.

  • Fully open-source
  • Most affordable printer on our list
  • Requires DIY assembly

FlashForge Finder with Cloud Wi-Fi and Flash drive connectivity 3D Printer - Runner Up

The FlashForge Finder 3D printer looks like it came straight out of a sci-fi movie. Interesting design aside, the printer is very powerful and is primarily for family and educational purposes. In other words, it’s a great printer to have if you want to get your kids interested in the hobby of 3D printing items. The device has simple yet intuitive controls that make it easy to operate on its own, but where it really shines is in its connectivity. FlashForge Finder can connect to the Cloud, WiFi, and even through a USB cable, giving you multiple ways to access the device. The printer prints the plastic in a stable manner on a safe and non-heated build plate. With a touchscreen layout to make it easy to use, the FlashForge Finder is perfect for kids and adults alike - just be sure you’re around while your kids are using the printer to prevent any accidents.

  • Great for educational purposes
  • Intuitive controls
  • A bit bulky to find space for

ELEGOO Mars 2 Mono MSLA 3D Printer - Contender

The ELEGOO Mars 2 is a stylish 3D printer that looks sleek when placed on a desk. Of course, when it comes to 3D printing, it’s function over form, and the Mars 2 doesn’t disappoint on that front, either. Printing with pinpoint accuracy, it also includes a 2K mono LCD to monitor for precise details that would have been overlooked by other printers. The improved precision will give you more confidence in putting more effort into your renders as the final product will be more similar to your concept than with other devices. The device supports multiple languages - 12 in total - including English, Korean, Japanese, German, Turkish, Spanish, and more. With a 1-year warranty on the Mars 2 and a 6-month warranty on the display, you’ll be more confident with using the device for the first year. While you really shouldn’t care much about the looks of a 3D printer, it never hurts to have one that looks as good as it performs.

  • Beautiful and stylish design
  • Includes monochrome 2K LCD
  • Only 6-month warranty for LCD

Buyer's Guide

3D printers open up a world of possibilities in the realm of DIY projects, product design, and much more. Learn everything you need to know about these printers here.

What Is a 3D Printer?

A 3D printer is a special type of printer designed to print 3D objects from renderings created using software. The printer uses a filament of thermoplastic, a type of plastic that can melt and be molded when heated. This allows you to create virtually anything in the size that the 3D printer supports.

Why Should You Use 3D Printers?

You can make all sorts of trinkets and toys with them

Many people get 3D printers for the sole purpose of enjoying them as a hobby. The idea of being able to print virtually anything sounds like something a child would dream of, and many kids-at-heart love designing all sorts of things that can be brought to life using their own 3D printer.

There are a few common uses for 3D printers when it comes to hobbies. For one, it’s a great way to print figures and figurines. If you play a tabletop RPG such as Dungeons and Dragons, you could print out an entire set of customized figures and characters for your campaigns and stories. This reason alone is why many DnD fans have a 3D printer at home.

It’s also great for doing small DIY projects for your home. If you want to make a tool to hold your phone on your desk, for example, you can engineer one as long as you know the dimensions of both the desk and phone. Using 3D printers this way requires a bit of technical knowledge, sure, but with all the free educational resources on the Internet, it’s not impossible to learn by yourself.

You can design products with them

There’s another more business-oriented benefit to 3D printing - product design. If you’re a company that’s planning on creating a physical product or merchandise, you’ll need to be able to test out the product before mass-producing it. The problem with making prototypes is that it can cost you quite a bit of money to request one from a manufacturer, especially if you’re making multiple revisions of the prototype.

With 3D printers, the only real thing you spend on (other than the printer itself) is the filament used to print the object as well as the electricity required to run the printer. This can potentially be more cost-efficient if you’re going through multiple iterations of the prototype. The added convenience of being able to use the prototype as soon as it’s printed also makes a 3D printer worth considering.

Things to Consider When Buying a 3D Printer

3D printers are nothing like your typical laser printer, so you’ll need to take note of a few things before buying.

Accuracy

3D printers aren’t always accurate when printing a product. Take a look at objects printed by 3D printers 5 or even 10 years ago. The objects were rough, crude, and lacked minute details. While technology has come a long way since then, and the accuracy of printers has improved overall, not all of them have the same level of precision. This is the result of a combination of software and hardware limitations.

When picking a 3D printer, try looking at some objects created by that specific printer model. That way, you can get a good idea of how accurate the printer is at capturing finer details, smoother curves, and so on. You really can’t expect a printer to print out a perfect object all the time, but finding a printer that’s consistent in its accuracy is the next best thing.

Size

Aside from accuracy, one major limiting factor of 3D printers is their size. All printers have a limit to how large of an object they can print. Any object that’s larger than the supported size will either print only partially or not print at all, depending on how you set it up. As such, you’ll want to find a printer that supports the size of projects that you intend on doing with the printer.

If you’re a business that’s looking to design products in-house, then you’ll want a large printer to handle all sorts of components. This will prevent you from encountering the problem of running out of space. For people who use 3D printers as a hobby, however, you may not really care for the maximum size, especially if you’re just printing miniatures and the like.

3D Printer Price Range

3D printers can cost anywhere between $200 and $500, with some printers costing more due to their size, accuracy, additional features, build quality, and other factors. For hobbyists, you shouldn’t really have to spend more than $300 on a 3D printer.

Some 3D Printer Buyers Ask

Q: Are 3D printers worth it?

A: That depends on your purpose in buying a 3D printer. 3D printers can be worth the investment for businesses that want to develop prototype items and components in-house. For hobbyists, simply being able to print miniatures for their own amusement is reason enough to make the purchase “worth it”.

Q: Are 3D printers accurate?

A: While the accuracy of 3D printers has improved over time, it’s nowhere near perfection, and you’ll often be able to tell if an item is 3D-printed or not based on its quality or consistency.

Q: Are 3D printers safe?

A: 3D printers are generally safe to use, though be sure to keep them away from pets and children.

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