3D printing is one of the fastest-growing hobbies in the world right now, and there are plenty of reasons to jump in. It's a lot of fun to take things from your imagination and see them come to life in three dimensions.
We've spent hundreds of hours trying different 3D printers, using many different materials to bring you our top picks for you to try. Whether you are an old hat at 3D printing or just getting started, there is something for everyone.
The printer that everyone starts with
The Creality Ender 3 is one of the most purchased 3D printers globally, and there is a good reason for that. Firstly it is very cheap, so it's an easy entry point for most people. It also has a huge community behind who can help you get the most out of the printer.
With plenty of available upgrades and support, this printer is worth having. Whether you are looking for your first printer or you want to buy lots of printers for your business, the Ender 3 is a solid choice.
Make miniatures with exquisite details
If you are looking to make and paint miniature figures for Dungeons and Dragon or any other tabletop games, then look no further than the Elegoo Mars 2. The level of detail a resin 3D printer brings to the table is beyond anything an FDM printer can handle.
I've used my Mars 2 to print gorgeous statues, as well as some of my favorite D&D minis. Illithid and beholders look especially good as the tentacles are rendered in great detail.
Try some exotic filaments
While the Creality Ender 3 can handle most normal materials, if you want something that requires a little more heat or an enclosure, then the Flashforge Pro 2 is an excellent choice. Not only can it print exotic materials, but it can also print two different materials at the same time, giving you a huge amount of variation.
The Pro 2 even has independent print heads, so it can print two models simultaneously, doubling your output!
Speedy prints that look fantastic
Due to the monochrome screen and dual-linear rail setup of the Anycubic Mono X, you can print all the fine details you need at ridiculous speeds. The Mono X also has a buildplate three times larger than the Mars 2, so if you are looking to print miniatures for your business, the Mono X would be an excellent choice.
A few things to think about when buying a 3D printer
Resin or FDM?
The type of printer you choose will be determined by the type of 3D models you want to print. There are two main types of at-home printing; FDM and Resin. Both have pros and cons, so let's take you through some of them.
Filament printing — often called FDM printing — uses a rigid plastic filament that is melted through the printer onto a flat surface. These layers are built up to create a 3D model. FDM printing is often used for large projects that require strong materials. If you are looking to build cosplay items such as armor or helmets, or if you want to make practical prints like hooks and brackets, an FDM printer is the one for you.
Resin 3D printing is different from FDM in that it uses light and a UV reactive liquid to build the layers up into a 3D model. This has the advantage of producing much thinner layer lines that create exquisitely fine details but comes with its own set of hazards. Resin is toxic, and if it isn't handled correctly, it can cause burns and severe allergic reactions. You need a lot more PPE if you want to make resin prints. That being said, if you are looking to make small prints with super-fine detail, the resin may be the way to go.