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Best 3D Printer for Beginners

When you decide you want to get involved with 3D printing, one of the first questions you have to answer is what is the best 3D printer to start with. You've read forum after forum and everyone seems to have their own opinion on the best machine for beginners. We will start off by saying there is no right or wrong answer. With that said, we will be sharing with you a few machines that would be great for anyone just starting out with 3D printing. As a bonus, all of the machines on this list can be purchased for less than $250.


Bonus: If you are new to 3D printing, we recommend you read our article--How 3D Printing Works

Best 3D printer for beginners
Best 3D printer for beginners
Best 3D printer for beginners

Printer Selection Criteria:

1. Community Support

In your first months of printing, you will come across many roadblocks along the way. While some of the printer companies offer some type of customer service, we have found that online groups are the best place to tap into an endless supply of knowledge. Each printer we have selected has multiple online groups through Facebook which means you can get your questions answered almost immediately. Also, you will find that most questions have already been asked by others so you can find the answer with a quick search within the group.

2. Price

Starting out there is no reason to spend more than $250 on a machine. With that budget, you can get a great machine that can produce amazing prints. The more expensive machines add advanced features that will likely make the learning curve much steeper and increase the chances of becoming frustrated. In the beginning, it is important to keep things simple.

3. Single Nozzle vs Dual Nozzle

Adding a second nozzle complicates the learning process drastically and most users find that they rarely even use it. By having a second nozzle you complicate nearly every aspect of printing which is not what you want as a novice. Even after 10 years of printing we almost always gravitate towards single nozzle machines because of their simplicity and reliability.

4. Open vs Enclosed

Certain filament tends to work better in an enclosed printer due to part warping and bed adhesion issues. The main problem with enclosed printers, however, is they are more expensive and typically have a much smaller build volume which limits what you can do with the printer. We have found that unless your printer is placed in a drafty environment you can get away printing most materials with an open-framed printer (yes, even ABS).

5. Bowden vs Direct Extruder

The most debated topic in all of 3D printing. We think either can do just as good for almost any application. The only real advantage is that direct extruders tend to work better with flexible filament since they are feeding directly into the hotend.

3. Upgradable

Open source machines give you the freedom to modify your existing printer to grow with your needs. If you decide later down the road you want to print high temperature or exotic materials, you can easily change your machine to an all-metal hotend. If you want to have two nozzles so you can do multi-color prints or take advantage of dissolvable support material, you can do that too! Because these three machines are so popular there is endless information on forums and sites like Thingiverse on how to upgrade them.

Printer Recommendations:

The Anet A8 was the first print we owned. Interestingly, ten years later it still prints as good as the day we got it. The incredible thing about this printer is you can find it on sale for under $200 and it prints just as good as models twice the price. Unlike the other two, it comes in a kit--expect to spend a full day putting it together. Some users might enjoy this aspect of the printer as it lets you become familiar with the machine.

Pros:

  • Affordable (<$200)
  • Highly Customizable
  • Good Print Quality
  • Larger User Group

Cons:

  • Acrylic Frame isn't as rigid as metal type
  • Mosfet needs to be added to the printer
  • Mainboard Memory limits upgrade potential
  • Comes as a kit and must be assembled

Amazon Link: Anet A8

Best first 3D Printer

The Geeetech A10 is a step up from the Anet A8 because it has a more powerful mainboard and also features an extruded aluminum frame for increased rigidity. It has a fairly large user group and is growing every day. Unlike the Anet, it comes 90% pre-assembly so you can be up and running in less than an hour.

Pros:

  • Highly Customizable
  • Excellent Print Quality
  • Mainboard has enough memory for upgrades

Cons:

  • Single Z Lead Screw
  • The userbase isn't as big as the other two printers

Amazon Link: Geeetech A10

Best Starter 3D Printer

The Ender 3 Pro is our #1 pick for a first 3D printer. It is easy to work on and has by far the biggest user base of any 3D printer in the world. While we think the Geeetech A10 is a slightly better printer, the incredible user group of the Ender 3 Pro pushes it to the number one spot. This to us is the absolute key to success when you are just starting out.

Pros:

  • Huge Ender 3 Community
  • Highly Customizable
  • Amazing Print Quality

Cons:

  • Single Z Lead Screw
  • Mainboard isn't quite as good as A10

Amazon Link: Creality Ender 3

Best 3D Printer For Beginners

-3DMaker

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