Today MAKE’s latest Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing hit the shelves. Here are the results of our big 3D printer shootout. Click here to see how we conducted our tests. Get your copy of the Make: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014 here, for all the in-depth reviews, plus projects, tips, profiles and more!
The Best From Our Tests
See the full reviews in the MAKE Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014, on newsstands now!
Best In Class: Prosumer FFF
Runner-Up: Ultimaker 2
Best In Class: Just Hit Print
Best In Class: Resin
Runner-Up: B9 Creator
Runners-Up: PrintrBot, Deezmaker, Lulzbot
How The 3D Printers Compare
Through our testing, the machines began to organize into specific groupings. Here’s the shakedown.
Trading volume for incredible portability, at a surprising price.
“Just Hit Print”
Don’t need to print big and don’t want to tweak print quality? These printers are for you.
Exceptionally detailed prints; build volume is somewhat limited. Artist’s and designer’s tools of choice.
We found these machines to have professional reliability and robust software; well suited for engineers and design firms.
These printers pleasantly impressed us. Their print quality separated them from the “Middle of the Road” crowd.
These prototype models in our tests will be revised before they make their way out into the world.
Middle of the Road
Not standouts in our testing, but deserving consideration. We were unable to dial these in satisfactorily during testing but look forward to their continued improvement.
These printers did not perform well, arrived broken, or broke during the testing.
Looking Forward: Our Recommendations to 3D Printer Vendors
- Untethered printing is good; the more onboard controls for this, the better.
- PLA cooling fans work wonders. Having one on all PLA-optimized machines will be a great benefit to users.
- More super-compact, durable, portable printers: Rapid prototyping is much easier when you can bring your machine with you.
- Automating functions like platform and nozzle leveling go a long way to solving the issues faced by all 3D printer users, particularly beginners.