Having a 3D printer in your home can be a transformative experience. Being able to easily manufacture the things you imagine is a powerful tool, not just as a hobby, but as a means of income.
There are a lot of choices out there, and each does something slightly different so let me guide you through some of my favorites.
What type of 3D printer should you get?
Despite the massive variety of sizes and shapes for 3D printers, there are really only two different styles. What kind of result you want will significantly affect which of those you choose.
FDM: FDM, or filament 3D printing, is the most common and often the most affordable choice. If you are a beginner looking to make large prints for cosplay, or you want to make practical prints, an FDM printer is probably the right way to go.
Resin: SLA printing, most often called resin printing, uses a liquid polymer that hardens when exposed to UV. It is more challenging to work with than FDM printers but can produce exquisitely detailed models. If you are looking to make RPG miniatures or even jewellery, then resin is a clear choice.
Best for large prints
The Creality Ender 3 is the perfect balance between price and quality and makes some fantastic models.
- Quick setup
- Massive community support
- Lots of upgrades
- Takes some tweaking for perfect prints
The Ender 3 has been a fan favorite in the 3D printing community for years. Known for its cheap entry price, easy setup, and continued support, it is the perfect place to start your 3D printing journey.
The Ender 3 is an FDM printer, meaning it uses filament plastic to produce its models. This means you will need to buy yourself some filament to start printing. This roll of PLA will give you a nice selection of colors to start.
Setting up the printer is easy, just a few screws to tighten up and you will be printing straight away. The printer itself is simple to use with an LCD display to help you navigate the menus. Just choose the model you want to print, slice it on some software, and print it! Simple.
You may want to take your time to learn about the Ender 3 while you wait for the printer to arrive. The printer itself can take a little tweaking out of the box to really get the most of it, but 3D printing is a process and we all learn to tweak our printers to get that perfect print!
Safer for kids
If you are looking to use different materials, like ABS or flexible materials, or you are a family looking to use a 3D printer then the Digilab is a perfect choice.
- Fully enclosed
- Exotic filaments work really well
- Well engineered
- A little pricey
Fully enclosed printers like the Digilab are helpful for a lot of reasons. If you are teaching younger children to 3D print, it allows them to get close to the machine while still be safe from all the hot parts that may injure them.
An enclosure also allows you to control the environment inside the printer so you can print more exotic filaments like ABS or flexible materials like TPU. The more control you have, the easier it is to print an array of different materials and models.
The Digilab is also incredibly sturdy and should survive a long time of continuous printing. It would be an excellent setup in a classroom where kids could see the wonderful things they are making while not worrying about bumps or burns.
Resin printing is fun
The Elegoo Mars 2 is a leader in resin printing and has a killer price point.
- Incredible details
- Fast print times
- Excellent price point
- It needs accessories to be safe
Resin printing is not for everyone. There is a lot more to do to make resin 3Dprinting safe, including wearing nitrile gloves, having isopropyl alcohol to clean the prints, and a light source to cure them. Once you have everything you need, though, resin printing is incredibly rewarding.
The Mars 2 from Elegoo ticks all the boxes for your first resin printer. It has an excellent price point so that you won't break the bank, and the build quality is excellent. Though the bed is a little small, it is great if you are printing small parts like D&D miniatures and jewelry.
The best thing about the Mars is the detail. With a 2K LCD screen, the details of even tiny models are impressive, and the printer can print extremely quickly thanks to the Monochrome display.
Other 3D printers you might like
Compact and easy to use
For a first time printer you can't go wrong with the Select Mini V2. While the print bed is a little small, the Select Mini is ready to go as soon as you take it out of the box and will give you excellent prints every time.
A different style of printer
For a different style of printer that is affordable and portable, look no further than the Monoprice Mini Delta. It has a compact form factor that can take a bump or two — due to the delta print head — and it is incredibly easy to set up and use. If you have never used a 3D printer before, the Mini Delta is an excellent entry point.
Imagine it, then make it!
3D printing is one of my favorite things to do. Having the ability to think of an object and bring it to life is incredibly powerful and can lead to a worthwhile career if you work at it. Many people have been able to create jobs by using a 3D printer and rapidly prototyping an idea they have had.
If you are looking for your first 3D printer, or you are looking to expand your print farm then the Creality Ender 3 is an excellent choice. The price point is fantastic for a printer of this size and the quality of the prints can be amazing if you spend the time to dial it in. All in all the Ender 3 is the best printer for you to buy right now.
Why trust us?
At the Radar, we only want to recommend the best possible products to enhance your life. Before recommending a product, our writers spend time looking for the best all-around product.
This includes time spent testing products, reading reviews, recommending products they have personal experience with, and looking at the opinions of other outlets.
We aim to deliver details on the products consumers are looking for and balance objective information with subjective opinions to help consumers make the best choice for their homes and lifestyle.
I have been 3D printing for the last six years and review printers on several websites. I like to test to the point of failure and use many different metrics such as print quality, affordability, and build quality to make my decisions.