3D printing has really taken off since the inception of the BfP Rapman printer in 2009. As a 3D printing veteran, you’ll remember that this is the machine that saw the price of 3D printers come down from the thousands to the hundred-dollar range.
Now, despite the price drop, the 3D printer market presents these machines in 2 major categories. The first caters to beginners and individuals who want affordable 3D printers with just the fundamental functions to start them off. The second grouping is for experienced makers and professionals who want nothing but the best features and functionalities that can fit in the best 3D printer for the money. If you’re looking for the crème de la crème of the world of 3D printers, this post is yours!
1. Makerbot Replicator (5th Generation)
Sitting among other best rated 3D printers for professionals and hobbyists is the Makerbot Replicator- a printer with features galore and a price to match. The Makerbot Replicator is currently in its 5th generation. And although it’s a few years old now (released January 2014), it still commands massive followership in the 3D printing community.
The size and weight of the Makerbot Replicator may be intimidating for beginners at 17.4″ (w), 20.8″ (d), and 16.1″ (h), and 35 lbs. But all you need is a designated bench or desktop, and you’re good to go.
love about this printer is its rigid and open design. Being open at the front, top, and sides means that it’s easy to access the print bed besides having an excellent view of the print in progress. Secondly, this chassis is designed to accommodate an enclosure- a bonus feature if you’re having difficulties in ensuring consistent temperatures in the printing chamber.
This machine has a build size of 9.92″ x 7.83″ x 5.9″. The print bed is non-heated, but Makerbot makes up for that with an automatic leveling function. You’ll also find a smart extruder that detects when the filament runs out to pause the printing process and send you a notification through the Makerbot mobile app.
Operating the Makerbot Replica is fairly straightforward, using the control panel that’s mounted at the top. This machine also offers 4 connectivity options, including Wi-Fi, SD card, USB, and Ethernet.
Overall, I would say the print quality is average to good. Its 0.5mm minimum layer size and 150mm/s print speed are among the major letdowns that I find considering the price tag. I also wish that it prints other materials besides PLA. All in all, I think this is still a good choice for general use.
2. Anycubic Photon Mono X
My next recommendation for the best-rated 3D printers 2021 is often regarded as the Cadillac of the midsize resin 3D printers. This is Anycubic’s top Photon model and I will outline here what makes it the king.
First things first, I bet the 192x120x245mm build volume of this printer is going to interest most makers the most. Although it’s still on the smaller side compared to regular FDM printers, you’ll be able to print larger models out of the Mono X over other regular-size resin 3D printers.
The standout feature of the Mono X is its enormous 4K monochrome screen. At 8.9-inch, this is one of the largest screens you’re going to find on a consumer-grade resin printer. A large monochrome LCD screen has 3 significant advantages over traditional RGB screens:
- A longer lifespan (~2000 hours)
- A boost in printing speeds (from 8 seconds per layer to around 2 seconds)
- Less energy consumption
Regarding connectivity, the Anycubic Photon Mono X has a small Wi-Fi module that allows you to monitor, start, pause, and stop the printing progress from your phone. There’s a USB port too, which I find pretty handy because there’s no option to transfer files to the printer via Wi-Fi.
While it has some caveats, the Photon Mono X is feature-rich, and its print quality is more than you’d expect from a sub $800 3D printer.
3. Snapmaker 2.0 Modular 3D Printer
3D printing is a seriously cool art by itself- and this is what most printers offer today. But imagine a machine that supports 3D printing, laser engraving, and CNC carving, all of these at a price tag below $2000? Enter the Snapmaker 2.0 3-in-1 3D printer, CNC machining, and laser engraving device.
The Snapmaker 2.0 has 3 swappable tool heads for its different functions. This machine is currently available in three versions: A150, A250, and A350. The major difference between versions is the size of the print bed and the add-ons that each model can support for future expansion. The A350 has the largest work area of 320mm by 350mm by 330mm, and it’s probably best suited for those who want more for their money.
The Snapmaker 2.0 A350 is an all-metallic machine that looks well-made and premium. It’s fitted with a 3-in-1 software, Snapmaker Luban, that lets you choose between the 3 functions to make it easier to use.
It has Wi-Fi and USB drive connectivity, both of which allow you to upload the designs to the printer. It also boasts a movable, smartphone-sized user interface with a 5-inch touchscreen and a Quad-Core A7 CPU for easy operations.
Other noteworthy 3D printing features include assisted bed leveling, filament runout recovery, and an efficient cooling system.
4. Dremel Digilab 3D45 3D Printer
The Dremel Digilab 3D45 is another top of the range 3D printer to be on the lookout for. This model is often marketed as the best 3D printer for schools and education. It’s also a recommendable option for a professional setting.
This is an FFF 3D printer measuring 15.9”(H) by 20.2”(W) by 16”(D) and weighing a hefty 47 pounds. It features a fully enclosed plastic chassis with a clear door that opens outward and a lid that lifts upward for easy access into the work area.
This 3D printer is built on a Cartesian axis system, which is respected for accuracy and precision compared to polar and delta configurations. Its other easily notable feature is its direct extrusion system, which leads to fewer extrusion-related issues and better retraction.
The Digilab 3D45 boasts a 6.7” by 10” by 6” build volume, which is slightly shorter than that of the Makerbot Replica. On the upside, 3D45’s glass build plate is fully heated. When coupled with the high-temperature extruder, you get a terrific 3D printer that can print a wide range of materials, such as EcoABS, nylon, and polycarbonate.
To ensure precision, this machine is designed to use proprietary filament spools with an RFID reader to recognize the filament type. While this is a bummer, the RFID technology helps in adjusting the printer settings to suit particular printing materials. It also has assisted bed-leveling and a 720P camera that allow you to monitor and control the process remotely.
5. Qidi Tech X-Max 3D Printer
It would be very remiss of me if I omitted the QiDi Tech X-Max here. This is a fully enclosed model that you’ll find on most lists of the best 3D printers to buy this year.
To understand why the Qidi X-Max made it here, I highly recommend that you go through its specifications list that I’ve included in this detailed Qidi X Max 3D printer review.
With a 600*550*600 mm footprint and weighing around 62 lbs, the Qidi X Max is pretty large. These dimensions make it necessary to have a designated bench or desk for it.
From a design point of view, the X Max is a radical beauty with a wide, clear door at the front and a built-in LED light illuminating the printing area in the dark. There is a sizable 5-inch color LCD touchscreen towards the printer’s top that allows you to interact with the machine.
The Qidi Tech X Max boasts a reasonable build volume of 300 x 250 x 300 mm. This decent build area is complemented by a closed printing chamber and a magnetic removable build plate with one-button fast leveling technology.
The swappable extruder design of this machine will excite you if you like to experiment with different printing materials . The first extruder that comes pre-installed in the printer is for printing low-temperature materials, such as PLA, ABS, and PETG. The other extruder is for high-temperature materials, such as nylon, TPU, PC, and carbon fiber.
That’s it for the best 3D printers to buy. Note that this list isn’t conclusive in any way. While I set out to pick the best-rated 3D printers in 2021, I believe technology is getting better by the day. So, I’ll keep my ear to the ground and update this list as newer and perhaps better 3D printers roll out.
And if you are thinking about creating your own digital models, check out our article about reviews of the best 3d scanners.