Buying your first 3D printer can be a little intimidating. There’s a lot to consider, from price to compatibility to safety concerns. To help you make the leap, we looked into which 3D printers have are best suited for those just starting out. Here are popular 3D printers for beginners, in order from cheapest to most expensive.
3Doodler Create 3D Pen (£93.50)
It’s not exactly a 3D printer, but this 3D pen is a great way to test the waters. The 3Doodler essentially lets you draw in three-dimensional space in a wide range of colours. There’s no setup either. Just open box, insert some filament into the pen, and start creating.
The one big drawback is that this product needs a special type of 3-millimetre filament that’s expensive to replace at about £20. The 3Doodler comes with enough printing material (in a wide variety of colours) to get your started. Once you run out, however, buying more can be a pain.
XYZprinting da Vinci Nano (£173.72)
This small, cheap 3D printer from XYZprinting is perfect for beginners. It features a futuristic design that’s fully enclosed so your kids won’t accidentally reach in while it’s running and hurt themselves. Opening the door doesn’t stop the printing process, though, so injury is still possible. You’re also limited to using the company’s filament, but there’s enough included in the box to get you started.
For the most part, the da Vinci Nano is a great little printer. It works right out of the box with no assembly required and comes with simple software that runs on Mac and Windows. It also prints quietly (and slowly), which is great if you’re just starting out and don’t want a noisy machine.
XYZprinting da Vinci miniMaker (£195.95)
Here’s another affordable option from XYZprinting. This lightweight 3D printer comes in bright primary colours clearly meant for children, though it’s a good option for anyone starting out. Like the da Vinci Nano, it comes pre-assembled, works with both Mac and Windows computers, and requires a special type of filament.
The only real drawback is that this 3D printer is only partially enclosed. So if you’re worried someone might stick their hands in while it’s running this isn’t the model for you.
Monoprice Select Mini (£229.99)
For just a little extra cash, the Monoprice Select Mini offers a more advanced experience that’s still simple enough for beginners to handle. It comes ready to use right out of the box with a sample package of filament, and it supports a wide variety of other printing materials.
The Select Mini also works with both Mac and Windows computers. There’s no enclosure around this printer, though, so it’s not the best option if you’re worried about safety. But if you’re buying a 3D printer just for yourself this is a good place to start.
FlashForge Finder (£459.37)
The FlashForge Finder offers a great mix of advanced tech and safety features. It’s enclosed to avoid injuries and features a slide-out tray that won’t heat up for easily removing your printed objects. It also features a sturdy plastic design and comes pre-assembled with a spool of filament in the box.
The FlashForge Finder works with both Windows and Mac computers. It also prints very quietly, making it a great option for classrooms or any other situation where noise might be a concern.
Tiertime Up Mini 2 (£558.00)
£558 may sound like a lot for a 3D printer, but the Tiertime Up Mini 2 packs in enough high-tech features (plus a sleek, polished design) to make it worth the price. The fact that it was picked by Wirecutter as the doesn’t hurt either.
The Tiertime Up Mini 2 has an all-metal frame, touchscreen controls, and a built in HEPA filter to reduce emissions. It also features an enclosed design for safety, works with Mac and Windows machines, and comes pre-assembled and ready to print right right out of the box.
Reality CR 10S (£799.00)
The Reality CR 10S is a large printer designed to hold up to stress. It features a simple design with no enclosure and an industrial aluminium-alloy tray bed that will stay flat after repeated use.
This printer does require some assembly, but according to the company it should only take about ten minutes to put together. It also works with Mac and Windows computers and comes with some free filament to get you started.
MakerBot Replicator+ Mini (£1,150)
The latest compact 3D printer from MakerBot packs in a ton of useful features, making it a solid option for beginners despite its high price. That includes cloud storage for your 3D designs and a built-in camera so you can watch your objects get printed remotely from the company’s smartphone app.
There is some assembly required with this model, but the MakerBot app will guide you through the process. The printing tray is also pre-leveled to speed up the process, and each printer comes with a spool of filament to get you started. This 3D printer is only partially enclosed, so keep it away from small children.
LulzBot Mini (£1316.00)
We’re crossing the £1,300 threshold here, but if you’re willing to spend the extra cash the LulzBot Mini is worth it. This 3D printer ships pre-assembled and fully calibrated. It features a self-cleaning nozzle and a self-levelling tray so you’re always ready to print with no prep required. The heated glass bed also ensures your printed objects won’t stick to the surface.
For an advanced 3D printer, the LulzBot Mini is easy to use and designed to last. It doesn’t offer any sort of enclosure, but at this price you’re probably not buying it for your kids anyway so safety shouldn’t be as much of an issue.