Not only does 3D Hubs make 3D printing easy for people in nearly every nook and cranny of the globe, but we are eternally grateful for the amount of footwork they do in researching and compiling data on nearly aspect of the fabrication process.
While they educate us on so many angles regarding contemporary and savvy users, the who using what is definitely at the top of our list regarding curiosity, not to mention offering information for those of us always shopping. And if you are a manufacturer, checking the much awaited 2016 Best 3D Printers Guide annual report is probably definitely on your list too, with something to shout about if you rank high.
This year, 3D Hubs opens with a study that is compiled with information from thousands of users; in fact, their research habits are pretty spectacular. For the data behind this guide, they have:
- 5,350 reviews
- 638 hours of writing
- 3,962 years of experience
- 714,300 3D prints made on reviewed printers
This is indeed one very dedicated, thorough study meant to answer the question “what 3D printer should I buy?”
Parameters investigated were:
- Print quality
- Build quality
- Failure rate
- Customer service
- Running expenses
3D Hubs wanted to make the guide easy to use though, so even with all the information collected, they were able to separate it into five common categories relevant to 3D printing: Enthusiast, Plug ‘n’ Play, Kit/DIY,Budget, and of course, Resin 3D printers.
“In total, 20 models made it on our Top 3D Printers list for 2016, and each of these printers has a minimum of 20 in-depth reviews from experienced 3D printer owners that contributed to their standing on the list,” said the 3D Hubs team. “Additionally, our extensive Printer Index includes all 126 3D printers that didn’t make it to the top of their categories. Only printers with five reviews or more have been added to the Index.”
Users for this category are heavily concerned with quality, as everyone should be, but that is emphasized more so here, with the five winning 3D printers all measuring very closely together. With ratings from one to ten, with ten being highest, the top 3D printer for ‘Enthusiasts’ came in as the MakerGear M2 with a rating of 9.1. This printer is consistently listed as a winner with 3D Hubs and they note that it ‘has ranked as the top 3D printer for enthusiasts for two consecutive years now.’
Next in line for this category were:
LulzBot TAZ – rating of 8.8. This printer is noted as being best suited for those looking for more than just ‘plug and play,’ who enjoy growing along with their 3D printer. 3D Hubs refers to it as ‘a beast of a 3D printer,’ adding that it offers a built-in heated bed, an exchangeable extruder system, and options for customization.
DeltaWASP – also rated an 8.8. This printer is known as the ‘Ferrari of 3D printers’ and offers a sleek design with an industrial build. It has a changeable extruder and also offers the ability of being able to print with a range of conventional and alternative materials including ABS, PLA, PET, Nylon, Flex, Polystyrene, Laywood and experimental materials such as clay and porcelain.
FlashForge Creator Pro – rating of 8.7. This printer offers a full range of features and is often described as the best value for the money, featuring dual extruders, as well as the ability to print with a wide range of materials, including both conventional and experimental.
Ultimaker 2 – rating of 8.6. This printer is the flagship machine from Ultimaker, and is highly attractive for consumers due to good affordability balanced with great quality. This particular 3D printer also has a reputation as one of the most high resolution, precise machines on the market.
Witbox – rating of 8.6. This printer is designed by BQ of Spain and is known for offering the highest quality and largest build volume in its class at 297 x 210 x 200 mm, along with being fully enclosed, safe, and very reliable.
The users most reliant on 3D printers in this category are looking for user-friendliness and ease all around in their making experience. They tend to expect reliable prints, low failure rates, and good customer support. These machines tend to be geared toward beginners as well as those with ‘light 3D printing needs.’ There are of course limited options as far as modifying and tinkering.
First on the list is the Zortrax M200 – rating of 9.0. A machine that we write about often, this 3D printer boasts a sturdy aluminum frame and is easy to set up, along with offering a build volume of 200 x 200 x 185 mm. Topping the list for ease in use, reliability, quality, and price, it offers a very controlled ecosystem.
“If my pickup lines were like Zortrax prints, I’d have fathered a thousand kids,” said one reviewer regarding the Zortax M2oo.
Next in line for this category are:
CEL Robox – rating of 9.0. Notwithstanding a two-year warranty and ‘astonishing’ customer service, this 3D printer is also another that we cover often in that it offers an interchangeable print head, a heated build plate and auto-leveling, along with being a great value even at $1299.
BEETHEFIRST – rating of 8.9. This printer is ready to go within minutes of taking it out of the box and can even be carried to and from printing locations like a briefcase. Very popular with users and many of our readers, the BEETHEFIRST offers a true plug and play experience with few down sides.
LulzBot Mini – rating of 8.9. Hailing from Loveland, Colorado’s Aleph Objects, Inc., this 3D printer is known to be extremely user-friendly, great for novices and students, and offers quality and numerous features such as an auto-leveling bed, a self-cleaning nozzle, and an all metal hot-end.
This category is favored by those, obviously, who are watching the bottom line. 3D printing can be a pricey endeavor, so this is definitely an area where most of us have interest, but generally quality and individual making needs also have to be figured in to purchasing decisions. Here, however, students and novices will find great deals.
Craftbot– rating of 8.8. This is first on the list with an affordable yet reliable machine at $999. Featuring a build plate of 250 x 200 x 200 mm, it prints using PLA, ABS and HIPS materials. 3D Hubs is duly impressed with this machine, pointing out that although it is in the budget category, it has been chosen by their Hubs as #1 in the category of all 3D printers surveyed. 3D Hubs refers to it as a ‘remarkable’ 3D printer and it’s given high marks for ‘a great pack of features’ at a great value.
Other printers in this category are:
Printrbot Simple Metal – rating of 8.6. This ‘no frills’ machine is lauded by reviewers for its quality prints and durable metal frame. It’s described as ‘tough’ and an excellent value, priced at $649.
UP Mini – rating of 8.4. This printer is priced at $599 and while it has a small build size at 120 x 120 x 120 mm, it offers consistent and high-quality prints, capable of using both PLA and ABS.
“I was completely new to 3D printing a year ago, and the UP! Mini was solid enough to take my mistakes and keep on pumping out prints” said one reviewer. “Additionally, it doesn’t require any more maintenance than any other FDM printers on the market.”
FlashForge Creator – rating of 8.2. This printer, with a pricetag of $899, is a modified version of MakerBot’s original Replicator 3D printer. Quality is said to be exceptional for the price and it features a build volume of 225 x 145 x 150 mm, a heated build plate, dual extruders and onboard controls. It’s perfect for those who are interested in ‘tweaking’ and expanding their hardware.
This category is for the serious–and the technical.
“Not for the fainthearted, those interested in tinkering and getting their hands dirty will find the most satisfaction from the 3D printers in our Kit/DIYcategory,” states the 3D Hubs team. “Born out of fab labs, maker spaces and garages around the world, the open source community forms the thriving backbone of these DIY-friendly machines.”
Topping the list for KIT/DIY is the Rostock Max – rating of 9.1. Offering a delta-style robot system, the Rostock offers high printing speed and positioning accuracy, resulting in smoother curves on finished prints. One meter tall, it also boasts the largest build volume for desktop printers, at 270 mm in diameter and 375 mm in height.
Next in line for this category are:
Prusa Steel – rating of 9.1. With a heavy steel frame that offers great stability and better quality and predictability in prints, this printer is known to be easy to assemble and low-maintenance.
“This printer was fun to build and easy to set up due to it being fabricated from laser cut parts,” said one reviewer. “Anybody can build and use it as long as they learn a little bit more about firmware and software, but on the hardware and structure side it is almost flawless. Definitely worth considering as a great machine and investment.”
Mendel90 – rating of 8.9. This printer, a RepRap project, is a good options for users who want to learn more about the technology and work on building their machine from scratch. It’s known to be reliable, sturdy, and offer excellent print quality.
Ultimaker Original+ – rating of 8.8. An updated version of their flagship model, this 3D printer is highly upgradeable, can be modified, and is sold as a kit. It does feature a glass heated bed and is known as a great option for those seeking a ‘solid’ 3D printer. 3D Hubs recommends it for intermediate users who want to experiment and tinker.
This is more of a specialty category as the resin-based printer is more expensive, requires more post-processing work, and is geared more toward professionals and those experienced with 3D printers. The serious upside for using a resin-based 3D printer is that as 3D Hubs says, ‘print quality and precision are unmatched when compared to other desktop 3D printers.’
First on the list is the Form 1+ – rating of 8.4. If you’re looking for the best, you may take note that 3D Hubs says this machine is responsible for the ‘highest quality objects to come off of any desktop 3D printer, ever.’ It’s said to be superior to all standard extruding 3D printers, but for those not familiar with resin printers, could pose some initial challenge.
“The Form 1+ is an excellent 3D printer; the quality is mind-blowing, and the software is unimaginably easy to use,” said one reviewer.
The other printer in this category is the B9Creator – rating of 8.1. This is a DLP printer and comes with a full HD projector for ultra-high resolution printing at up to 5 microns. Printing is reported as ‘impeccable’ by many, and with a small maximum build volume of 104 x 75.6 mm, 3D Hubs reports that it is recommended for small and detailed prints. What are your thoughts on this guide? Let us know in the 2016 3D Printer Forum thread on 3DPB.com.