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Best 3D Printers for Beginners

Maker select mini and filament
(Image credit: Future/James Bricknell)

We have spent years using a lot of different 3D printers, but we still remember what it was like to be a beginner. It can be daunting so we want you to find the best 3D printer for you. Here are some of our favorites for you.

Monoprice Mini Pro

(Image credit: Monoprice)

Monoprice Select Mini Pro

Fantastic for starters

Excellent build quality
Auto-Leveling
Removable build plate
Small footprint
Teeny tiny build plate

The biggest argument not to buy the Maker Select Mini Pro from Monoprice is the size of the build plate. Let's get that out of the way from the start: It's pretty small, only 120mm by 120mm, or a little under 5 square inches, but the size isn't everything. The Mini Pro is a remarkable machine when you break it down. Unlike most devices in its price point, it comes with advanced features that make it an excellent choice for beginners.

The Mini Pro comes equipped with a removable bed and automatic bed leveling as well as the ability to send files to print over Wi-Fi. Those three upgrades make using any printer so much easier, and you usually pay a premium to get them. Auto bed leveling means you never have to fight with your build plate to get an excellent first layer — your first layer is critical, so you need to get it right — and the removable build plate means you don't have to worry about taking chunks out of your hands as you pry the print off with a scraper or bend the plate trying to get models off. 

When it comes to connectivity, the Select Mini Pro is king. It can connect to your PC over a standard USB connection and is one of the few 3D printers that is currently recognized by Microsoft's native 3D print software. It also allows you to use a microSD card, which is my favorite way of printing. When you use your PC to print, anything that happens to your computer happens to your printer — If your computer crashes your print will crash too — but with the microSD card, you don't have to worry about your PC at all. 

With Wi-Fi file sending, you get the best of both worlds. You can use your PC to set up the model, making sure it is ready for print, then send the file remotely to be stored in the printer's memory. This removes the risk of your PC shutting down and ruining the print and means you don't have to be tethered to your desk.

As a beginner, you need to rely on the printer you have. It is the only way to learn how they work and how you can improve. By having a well made and reliable printer from the start, you can build up your knowledge base before you're trying to fix things you don't understand. The Mini Pro gives you plenty of opportunities to learn while ensuring you can still print successfully.

Creality Ender 3 Pro

(Image credit: Creality)

Creality Ender 3 Pro

For those that need bigger prints

Large build volume
Easy to set up
Cheap
Needs some attention to get right

The consensus on a lot of 3D printing groups on Facebook is if you want a cheap printer that'll give you amazing prints get the Ender 3 Pro. I had mixed feelings about older Ender models, but the company seemed to iron out all the kinks. 

The larger build volume is a godsend if you're looking to build larger designs that you can't split, like cosplay armor, but the extra build space also comes with a larger machine. You will need a dedicated work-space for the Ender 3 Pro and a little patience to get it working properly but once you have it dialed in it's a real gem.

Qidi Tech-X

(Image credit: Amazon)

Qidi Tech-X

If you want to try other materials

Enclosed are for printing
Safe and solid construction
A lot of choice in materials
Heavy
A little expensive

You may not have heard of it, but Qidi Technology is a Chinese company that makes fantastic printers. I have one, and it delivers impressive prints consistently while giving you room to grow as a maker. With dual extruders and a built-in enclosure, you can learn all about different materials that require hotter temperatures and even how to create multi color prints.

It's much more expensive than the other two, but if you're willing to jump in with both feet first, then you would do well with the Qidi X-Pro, especially if you are hoping to print flexible materials or models with more than one color!

Entry level is a good level

It's a good idea to start small and cheap then work your way up when you're getting into any hobby. Sometimes that means you get really bad devices or machines that you have to spend hours fixing just so you can get it to start working, but that is not the case here.

The Monoprice Mini Pro has a lot of built-in features to get you printing from the moment you plug in. The auto-leveling and simple LCD makes it possible for you to print high quality prints with zero prior knowledge. As your experience grows, you can tweak and upgrade certain parts to make it even better. All of this comes from a 3D printer smaller than a standard ink printer.