MAKE’s 3D Printer Testing Results

3D Printing & Imaging Workshop
MAKE’s 3D Printer Testing Results

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 Value

PrintrBot Simple

Runner-Up: Ditto+


Best In Class: Prosumer FFF

Replicator 2

Runner-Up: Ultimaker 2


Best In Class: Just Hit Print

Up Plus 2


Surprise Hit

Felix 2.0


Best In Class: Resin

Form 1

Runner-Up: B9 Creator


Best Documentation

Lulzbot TAZ

Runners-Up: Replicator 2, Felix 2.0, Ditto+, Form 1


Best Open-Architecture


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.

Ultra Compact

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.

SLA/Resin Printers

Exceptionally detailed prints; build volume is somewhat limited. Artist’s and designer’s tools of choice.

Prosumer FFF

We found these machines to have professional reliability and robust software; well suited for engineers and design firms.

Surprise Hits

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.

Buyer Beware

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.

86 thoughts on “MAKE’s 3D Printer Testing Results

  1. rocketguy1701 says:

    I’m surprised that the Type A machines didn’t fare better, they’re known to be extremely reliable and fuss free in the field (we have a printing lab with a bunch of machines, and the Series 1 was the only one to go weeks between any adjustment.

    1. rocketguy1701 says:


      1. George Burkhardt says:

        I am seriously considering buying the Next Generation Series 1 Type A Machines 3D printer. Just wondering if you have any initial feedback on this printer. I have heard that the previous printers, probably like the ones that you have, are very reliable and that the customer support is very good. Thoughts?

        1. Chris White says:

          Why would you get a TypeA when you can get a Robox for half the price?!

          1. George Burkhardt says:

            The print volume is too small.

        2. Anna Kaziunas France says:

          @George Burkhardt – You can see our review of the 2014 Type A Series 1 here:

  2. Drew says:

    Will you be selling the special edition in electronic form? I live overseas outside of your market and have the digital subscription to the magazine. I’ve been checking the site daily for an announcement this edition is coming out. When can we expect to be able to buy it online?

    1. Arturo says:

      I second that! When can we buy the online version?

    2. Dan Moss says:

      +1 for the digital version

      1. Anna Kaziunas France says:

        You can purchase both the digital and print versions here:

    3. Data Cable says:

      It’s in the MakerShed right now.

  3. Shane Graber says:

    No deltas even made the list???

  4. Bill Moore says:

    We have a SeeMeCNC Rostock Max Delta arm printer at our Hackerspace ( that rocks. Company has be super supportive as well. Very easy to work with. I don’t see it (and them) here. Why?

    1. Anna Kaziunas France says:

      We tested every printer that we could get our hands on. Some printer vendors had models that were not yet ready for testing, others did not respond to our request for participation. We are now expanding our hardware testing to a year-round activity and look forward to testing more printer models over a longer duration of time. Look for those reviews online in the near future.

  5. Mark Burhop (@burhop) says:

    What happened in “Buyer Beware” would be good to know. Hopefully it is in the paper copy. I know some folks very happy with these machines.

    I’d hate to think they got this score because the UPS man tripped walking into building.

  6. Jason Kassis says:

    How can I get a hard copy of this special issue? My local Barnes and Noble does not carry it.

    1. Anna Kaziunas France says:

      Jason, it hit newsstands on November 12th – so it may have turned up at your local Barnes and Noble by now. You an also purchase it online here: You can purchase both the digital and print versions here:

  7. Timaz says:

    What a crock:

    Best In Class: Prosumer FFF
    Replicator 2
    “MakerBot Industries, based in Brooklyn, N.Y…”

    Surprise Hit
    Felix 2.0
    “…from Netherlands-based Felix Robotics”

    Best In Class: Resin
    Form 1
    “…built by Cambridge, Mass.-based Formlabs”

    Best In Class: Just Hit Print
    Up Plus 2
    “Our top pick in last year’s guide was the Afinia H-Series printer, a repackaged Up Plus sold in the U.S. market, with a great U.S. company-backed 1-year warranty to go with it.”

    Don’t be shy. It’s a Chinese printer. Why can’t your writers bear to admit that the best printer they reviewed was designed, engineered and manufactured in China?

    MAKE magazine is quick to hop on and talk up “China” when it comes to clones like the Tangibot but when Chinese companies create best in class, innovative products you neglect to mention the origin and make new “everyone’s a winner” categories so that your other advertisers don’t get upset.

    The dropping of the Torture Test object from last year- which the Replicator 2 failed miserably at is probably the most obvious sign that the testing was designed so that a certain advertiser’s printer did not get trumped a second time.

    1. poodull says:

      Not to fortify your tinfoil hat, but you have a point about the torture test. That simple print has become ubiquitous as a measure of quality. Do they mention why they dropped it this year in the full article?

      Plainly: without the torture test, what are we talking about, really?

      also, kind of a lame excuse to say that deltas are in prototype when the Rostock base has already be derived a half dozen times (kossel, wolfstock, cerberus, …) with great success.

      1. Craig Couden says:

        Poodull, we didn’t use the same torture test like last year, but you can take a look at more about how we tested the machines, the prints we used, and how we arrived at our conclusions here:

        Thanks for your comment!

  8. yimmy says:

    I’m extremely sad to see that not a single DIY option was selected for testing. There’s not a single printer on here that requires assembly. I would really like to see Make get back to it’s roots and start showing off the reprap world and how amazing some of the machines are and stop trying to cram makerbots down our throats.

    1. MAKE’s 3D Printer Testing Results jamesfloydkelly says:

      If you mean a truly DIY kit — cutting the metal/wood frame, soldering up the electronics, etc… then you’re right. But many of the kits reviewed come in DIY versions where you have to do the assembly. I doubt they’d have space to cover a Start-to-Finish assembly of a custom 3DP from scratch.

      1. Anna Kaziunas France says:

        Thanks James, that was the case. This year, due to the number of printers reviewed (24 different models), we didn’t feel that we could do justice to any kit builds in the time allotted. We asked printer vendors to send us assembled printers for testing, but many do come in a kit version. As I mentioned in a comment above, MAKE is expanding our hardware review content and we hope to review some printer kits in the near future.

  9. Flip says:

    Wow, Lulzbot got greatest documentation. Is this like “miss congeniality”. I wonder if anyone would pay $2,300 for a printer that “needs continued improvement” by Make testers.

  10. Brandoan Divinchi says:

    The LeapFrog Creatr is a far superior 3D Printer to the Makerbot x2 … I am not sure their tester knew what he was doing, I have both and prefer the Creatr’s build area and stronger frame to the more toy like Makerbot. Maybe they are just giving kudos to those who advertise a lot, because to not recognize it alongside the Makerbot and the Ultimaker seems odd to me and I have been printing for years…

  11. Nazzareno says:
    consider also this one next time ;)

  12. Chris White says:

    What a shame our Robox isn’t quite ready… Roll on 3D printing guide 2015…

  13. TJ-----Age 10 says:

    I have a subscription. Does it come with it?????



    1. Stett Holbrook says:

      It does not, but next year it will. We’re switching to six issues a year (instead of four and two special issues) and a larger format.

  14. MAKE’s 3D Printer Testing Results jamesfloydkelly says:

    Just purchased the PDF and saw an advertisement for a free book for Make subscribers that has articles complied by Anna France. Is there a link for subscribers to get a PDF copy?

    1. Anna Kaziunas France says:

      James, the Make: 3D Printing book was just sent to the printer this week and the cover is being updated. I will post the link to the purchase the PDF as soon as it is available. Currently, you can pre-order the book on Amazon:

      1. MAKE’s 3D Printer Testing Results jamesfloydkelly says:

        Thanks, Anna!

  15. shaqura says:

    i just found out about theses things and this is the craziest thing ive every heard i wish technology could get better so we could use this as a cure by the way i was in biology when i heard of it..

  16. Chris says:

    What version of the Printrbot was tested? The issue doesn’t state if it was a 2 ? 2.1? Did it include the aluminum heated bed, gt2 and acme rods? I noticed it does have a “For printers release before the cast aluminum bed was added” note which leads me to believe it was a prior model that they tested with.

    1. Chris says:

      *Printerbot Plus

  17. Maker Mike says:

    Very suspicious results Make… Simply putting the resin machines in a sperate category and not considering them Prosumer makes me wonder what kind of favor/check Makerbot paid for this article… Sad.

  18. jerome hess says:

    Is there somewhere that we can see good pictures of what ALL the test prints looked like? Its a great magazine, but the small pictures of Makey, are very hard to determine detail on, and some of the reviews specifically mention the heart shampoo or lightbulb, that could be very insightful to see.

    1. Anna Kaziunas France says:

      @jerome hess – There are larger images of the robot test prints on the online version of each review, all linked from this page: When the photography was taken for this special issue, we didn’t anticipate that we would put the entire issue online and we photographed what we had room to display in the magazine. We realize that additional images are useful to our readers and in the future, as we post new reviews online, we will include more images of the test prints.

  19. profhankd says:

    Why no MakerGear M2? I know they’re a small player, but our M2 has consistently drawn comments along the lines of “our printer can’t do that” from local owners of other printers (including the MakerBot Replicator 2) who’ve seen it in action, and it looks like a few improvements have been made since we got ours nearly a year ago. It’s not a very innovative design, but it’s capable of holding tight tolerances without readjustment in production use. Certainly, the M2 did rather well when you tested it before….

    1. Steve says:

      I’m curious too…Makes me wonder if this is all a ‘who’s got the most money game?’

    2. Anna Kaziunas France says:

      MakerGear was unable to send us a printer for testing. We look forward to testing the M2 in the future.

      As I mentioned in the comments above, “We tested every printer that we could get our hands on. Some printer vendors had models that were not yet ready for testing, others did not respond to our request for participation.”

  20. Brian Irwin says:

    I am very much enjoying the print version, good holiday season reading.

    For the buyer beware items is there any way to get more info, I have an MM2 and agree that the leveling is a bit weird and have some Z wobble I need to address but from assemble to completing 18 hour monster prints was pretty smooth.

    This is my first 3D printer, and there is one more being built in the maker space I attend, I am trying to work out if the little foibles are me or the printer so would love so more info on the failures you had.

  21. BigLazyB says:

    Posted this on the splash page too, but would be interested to get some other opinions on this from people who have one of these:

    I bought a printer after reading through the excellent 2013 version of the 3D printing guide — good advice and worth every penny. After several months of experience with the technology, here is what I would find useful: A side by side comparison of printers put through extended rigorous production. Simply running a test print off a model that is new and has been calibrated by the supplier is not adequate to evaluate how good a design really is.

    First on the list: How long before each extruder clogged? Did you have to modify it at all (of course you did)? When does the ‘mess with it every single time you want to try a new design’ period end?

    Second on the list: How does each printer do running several 6 hour+ print jobs? How many failed prints did you have?

    Third on the list: How does each printer hold up after extended daily use for 30+ days? What parts shake loose, and what parts are inadequate for constant duty?

    My hope is to get another printer in the next year or so, but in my experience the $2500 printers break down and suffer from poor design (especially in the filament handling) just like the $300 printers do. This industry will remain a tinkerer’s playhouse so long as the large-print success rate is below 95% with printers more than 30 days old.

    Just my $0.02

  22. Greg Williams says:

    Why haven’t you put pictures of all of the prints online? The write-ups in the Ultimate Guide are great, but I want to judge for myself by seeing the 3D prints of the heart, bulb and head. Or did I miss it somewhere?

    1. Michael D says:

      You have to buy it to see the whole magazine.

      1. Greg Williams says:

        I have the magazine. There is only one tiny picture of the robot in each review that is too small to draw many conclusions from. And there are no pictures of the heart box, head, or lightbulb. I understand there is only so much space in the magazine, so I thought at least they would have posted the actual prints online somewhere.

        1. Michael D says:

          Really, huh… IDK you can contact Make: if you want…

        2. slango20 says:

          yeah, the 2013 one was better, it had comparisons of almost all the different test prints across all the different printers

    2. Michael D says:

      But, you may not want to go off of this anyway, there are many other new and better 3d printers…

      1. slango20 says:

        yeah, after all the calibration is done, the taz4 is pretty much a “Just hit print” machine, with all the flexibility of open hardware
        EDIT: the simple is still a rather good machine for it’s price, if you can get the damn thing to stop drooping as much and get the metal bed upgrade (new versions are out, don’t have one yet, I have the simple in this article as well as a taz 4)

    3. Aolis says:

      Try clicking on the picture of the printer you are interested in. It is all there.

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!