While 3D printing has been around for a while, it’s only recently become more accessible to the mainstream consumer market. Desktop 3D printers make it simple for hobbyists to take advantage of this innovative technology, but those dipping their toes in for the first time may be wary. There’s an enormous variety of 3D printers for beginners, making the process of setting up, printing, and finishing your models a simpler, more digestible process.
3D printers use a process called additive manufacturing to turn digital models into three-dimensional objects. Most often, 3D printers use small nozzles and materials like plastic, resin, polymers, or metal, depositing the material layer by layer, then fusing them with an adhesive or ultraviolet light to create a 3D model.
The things you can create with a 3D printer are almost endless. These desktop devices give you the power to harness your creativity and turn digital prototypes, 3D doodles, and much more into physical objects — all from the comfort of home. The best 3D printers for beginners will bring your digital dreams to life.
— Best Overall: Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer
— Best on a Budget: Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer v2
— Best Resin: ELEGOO Saturn MSLA 3D Printer
— Best Multifunction: Snapmaker 2.0 Modular 3-in-1 A350T 3D Printer
— Most User-Friendly: Monoprice Voxel 3D Printer
— Best Premium Pick: Robo E3 3D Printer
How 3D Printing Works
3D printers use a process called additive manufacturing (or more colloquially known as 3D printing) to turn digital models into three-dimensional objects. Most often using small nozzles and materials like plastic, resin, polymers, or metal, the printer deposits the material layer by layer, then fuses them with an adhesive or ultraviolet light to create a 3D model.
The things you can create with a 3D printer are almost endless. These desktop devices give you the power to harness your creativity and turn digital prototypes, 3D doodles, and much more into physical objects—all from the comfort of home. The best 3D printer for beginners will bring your digital dreams to life.
How We Selected the Best 3D Printers for Beginners
As with any new consumer technology, 3D printing isn’t exactly cheap, so you’ll have to spend some money for a decent pick. We narrowed down our picks for the best 3D printer for beginners from dozens of 3D printers, paying attention to price, ease of use, and print quality.
Price: 3D printers start at a couple of hundred dollars and can range up to thousands of dollars. Most beginner hobbyists will want a budget-friendly option for testing the waters. We included several printers in a modest price range, skewing towards more affordable prices to appeal to novices.
Ease of Use: User friendliness is one of the most important features when it comes to picking the best 3D printer for beginners. We prioritized features like straightforward assembly and print material refilling, as well as a simple-to-use interface with less of a learning curve required to get started.
Print Quality: Through reviewing product specifications and consumer reviews, we chose 3D printers that create high-quality models, so your design looks exactly as intended. We prioritized 3D printers with good specifications and high user satisfaction. Get started with the best 3D printing software.
Best 3D Printers for Beginners: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer
Why It Made The Cut: This beginner-friendly 3D printer is affordable, simple to use, and creates quality prints.
— Build Volume: 8.7 inches L x 8.7 inches W x 9.8 inches H
— Weight: 19 pounds
— Compatible Materials: PLA (polylactic acid), ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol) plastic
— Print Speed: Up to 180 mm/s (millimeters per second)
— Easy to assemble
— Removable, flexible, and magnetic print bed
— Great print quality
— Printing bed can be tricky to level
The Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer is a popular 3D printer model for hobbyists, and for good reason. This printer is affordable, easy to use, and comes with several attractive features.
The printer arrives partially assembled with all the necessary tools included for easy setup. Loading the plastic filament is simple. Once assembled and switched on, the device is ready to print almost immediately, with a rapid heating feature that gets the printer ready to go in only five minutes. In case of any pauses in printing, it also has a handy ‘resume print’ function, which restarts the job where it left off.
The heated, removable, and flexible magnetic print bed makes it easier to remove completed models after they’re finished printing, although users will need to take care when re-installing the bed to make sure it’s level. Overall, this 3D printer delivers great print quality, and for its reasonable asking price, it’s our choice for the best 3D printer for beginners looking to dip their toes into 3D printing. For another great option, read out review of the Anycubic Vyper 3D Printer.
Best on a Budget: Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer v2
Why It Made The Cut: This printer may not have the fancy features of more expensive models, but it offers excellent value and versatility for its price.
— Build Volume: 4.7 inches L x 4.7 inches W x 4.7 inches H
— Weight: 10 pounds
— Compatible Materials: All filament types including ABS, PLA, and wood and metal composites
— Print Speed: Up to 55 mm/s
— Refurbished model cuts down on electronic waste
— Supports all filament types
— Small build volume
— Relatively slow printing speed
The Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer v2 is the best budget 3D printer available today. It’s also extremely easy to use for beginners. And since this model is refurbished, you can save even more money.
Once you have your first project off the ground, it’s easy to get more creative. With a heated build plate and wide extruder temperature range (maxing out at 482°F), this 3D printer can work with any 1.75mm filament type, including ABS, PLA, conductive PLA, wood and metal composites, and dissolvable PVA. This flexibility opens the door to a range of exciting new projects.
3D printer size is usually directly related to price, so this budget-friendly printer has a small build volume (about 4.7 inches cubed)—but that also means a compact enough size to fit on just about any desktop. Find other affordable options in our guide to the best budget 3D printers.
Best Resin: ELEGOO Saturn MSLA 3D Printer
Why It Made The Cut: This is the best resin 3D printer because it has a relatively large build volume and an accurate printing process to create detailed, sizable resin models.
— Build Volume: 7.6 inches L x 4.7 inches W x 7.9 inches H
— Weight: 30 pounds
— Compatible Materials: DLP photopolymer resin
— Print Speed: Up to 40mm/s
— Accurate printing results
— Simple to assemble and easy to calibrate
— Large build volume for printer type and price
— Can print multiple miniature models simultaneously
— Test model is difficult to remove from the build plate
Compared to FDM (fused deposition modeling) 3D printers, resin printers can print higher levels of detail, which is especially ideal for printing smaller models. Instead of injecting melted materials like plastic layer by layer, resin printers use light (like ultraviolet lights) to cure liquid resin into thin layers. This method allows for finer printing details and a smoother surface. Beginners who want to take advantage of resin 3D printing should consider the ELEGOO Saturn MSLA 3D Printer, a relatively affordable choice with several attractive features.
Resin printers tend to be smaller than FDM printers. For its entry-level price, this printer has a large build volume at 7.6 inches long by 4.7 inches wide by 7.8 inches high. This larger size gives the flexibility to create larger, but still very detailed models and miniatures. The ELEGOO also prints 60 percent faster than its predecessor (the smaller Elegoo Mars 2 Pro), while still delivering excellent printing results.
Setup is simple with this printer (although beginners should keep in mind that resin printing requires more post-processing than FDM printing). An easy-to-calibrate build plate and a uniform light source create great print results with few adjustments needed.
Best Multifunction: Snapmaker 2.0 Modular 3-in-1 A350T 3D Printer
Why It Made the Cut: This multifunction 3D printer lets you get everything done with one device, from printing, to laser engraving, cutting, and carving.
— Build Volume: 12.59 inches x 13.77 inches x 12.99 inches
— Weight: 61.73 pounds
— Compatible Materials: PLA, Wood PLA, PTG, TPU
— Several functions all in one machine
— Compatible with many materials
— Can create larger models with its bigger surface area
— Innovative, sturdy design that’s built to last
— Incredibly heavy
— Not a very beginner-friendly price
With a wide array of uses, the Snapmaker 2.0 Modular 3-in-1 3D Printer is a fantastic machine to learn the basics of 3D printing on, and then keep around for the long haul as you master each function. An upgrade to Snapmaker’s previous models, the 2.0 A350T encompasses noise reduction for quieter printing, faster speeds, and precision down to .005 millimeters for a smoother finish.
This 3D printer is an absolute beast when it comes to material compatibility. Whether you’re printing with PLA, PTG, or TPU; engraving or cutting into plywood, paper, acrylic, fabric, or leather; or carving out shapes and textures with hardwood, PCB, acrylic, POM, carbon fiber sheets, or many more, the Snapmaker can handle the task. This is likely beyond the scope of what you’d be getting into as a beginner, but it opens up the possibilities as you broaden your knowledge and get more comfortable in the realm of 3D printing.
There’s a lot to applaud Snapmaker for, including its incorporation of auto-leveling, filament runout and power loss recovery, WiFi connectivity, and an all-metal, high-strength build that’s designed to last.
Most User-Friendly: Monoprice Voxel 3D Printer
Why It Made The Cut: A fully-enclosed design, auto-leveling platform, and auto-feeding filament feature make this printer an extra user-friendly choice.
— Build Volume: 5.9 inches L x 5.9 inches W x 5.9 inches H
— Weight: 20 pounds
— Compatible Materials: ABS, PLA, wood fill, copper fill, steel fill, and bronze fill filaments
— Print Speed: Up to 100mm/s
— Auto-levelling platform
— Full enclosure
— Built-in camera for print monitoring
— Relatively small build volume
If you want to get into 3D printing without the steep learning curve, consider the Monoprice Voxel 3D Printer. This 3D printer features several automated functions that make it extra simple to use.
The printer arrives fully calibrated and ready to print, right out of the box. An auto-leveling feature ensures that the build platform is in the right position, while an auto-feeding filament feature makes loading filament easy. The built-in filament sensor also recognizes low filament levels and pauses prints to notify you that it needs reloading. Once your creation is done printing, lift the heated, flexible, and removable build plate. With a bit of flexing, the model should pop off with ease.
This 3D printer features a closed design to keep hands (or paws) away from hot and moving parts while it’s printing. It is also Wi-Fi-enabled; its functions are controlled and monitored through its color touch screen or through your smartphone (through the Polar Cloud cloud-based platform), and you can check on printing progress through the window or with your phone via the built-in camera. If you’re into making miniatures, you may also want to consider the best resin 3D printers.
Best Premium Pick: Robo E3 3D Printer
Why It Made The Cut: Robo’s E3 is the perfect 3D printer to get if you want to jump into making complex projects right away. It’s compatible with over 20 materials, ranging from wood to metal to glass.
— Build Volume: 5.9 inches L x 5.9 inches W x 5.9 inches H
— Weight: 19.8 pounds
— Compatible Materials: ABS, PLA, wood fill, copper fill, steel fill, brass fill, carbon fiber fill, magnetic iron, glass fill, bronze fill filaments, and more.
— Print Speed: Up to 100mm/s
— Auto-calibrated print bed
— Can store up to 1,000 models on its internal storage
— Includes two spools of PLA filament.
If you’re serious about getting into 3D printing, and don’t want to go through the process of buying an entry-level printer and then upgrading it in a year or two, Robo’s E3 is the one to get. It’s roughly the same size and weight as our other 3D printer recommendations, but it can work with a lot more materials.
This gives you the freedom to create 3D prints that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, especially if you’re making objects that require different elements, like glass and metal. If you plan on printing the same objects over and over again, the E3’s built-in storage will come in handy. That’s doubly true if you accidentally delete a model on your computer.
While these features add to the E3’s cost, but it’s still a good machine for beginners because of its auto-calibrating print bed, which improves the odds of you ending up with a satisfying print rather than one that’s lopsided. By reducing the number of prints you have to discard due to quality issues, the Robo E3 is more forgiving for new 3D printer users, and a lot less wasteful. Novice 3D printers will also benefit from the two-hour online training course that comes with this printer.
It’s hard to overlook the Robo E3’s up-front cost, but again, it’s so capable relative to the other 3D printers we’re recommending for beginners that it’s well worth the price. This should be the only 3D printer you’ll ever get, unless you start needing one for commercial use.
Things to Consider Before Buying a 3D Printer for Beginners
The best 3D printers for beginners give you the power to create on-demand. But as more 3D printers flood the market, it can be hard to choose the best one for your needs. When shopping for the best beginner-friendly 3D printer, consider the printer dimensions, build volume, compatible materials, and ease of use.
Printer Size and Weight
While consumer 3D printers are heavier than your standard all-purpose printer, they’re still a reasonably small size. Since they’re made for at-home use, most have a compact footprint to fit on a desktop or counter.
Consider the printer size and weight and how it will fit in your space. Keep in mind that the size of the printer is related to the build volume the printer is trying to accommodate; a larger printer will be able to create larger items, and a smaller one will be limited to smaller items.
3D printers can be used to create just about anything, from giant 3D models to tiny trinkets, but at-home 3D printers are much smaller than the ones you might find in a design studio.
To help shoppers make a suitable choice, consumer 3D printers include a build volume measurement that describes the maximum width, height, and length of the print area. The build volume roughly determines the maximum size model that the printer can create. Consider the type of items you are hoping to print and choose an appropriate build volume from there.
Most consumer 3D printers available today use fused deposition modeling (FDM), where material (usually plastic filament) is melted and extruded through a nozzle to create thin layers that make up a model. Other 3D printers, like resin printers, use curing processes, like UV light, to harden materials by layer.
The compatible materials vary by 3D printing method, but can include plastics, metals, polymers, resin, ceramics, plaster, and glass. When shopping for a 3D printer, check whether the ones you’re considering allow you to build creations with your preferred materials.
Ease Of Use
3D printing can get overwhelming for those who aren’t tech-savvy, so as a beginner, it’s important to find a 3D printer that is simple to use. A beginner-friendly 3D printer should have a simple setup process, easy refilling process, and intuitive controls.
Features like a touchscreen interface, print resume functions, robust safety features, and a heated bed (which can ensure a well-made model foundation) can make a 3D printer more user-friendly. Some printers also come with included printing materials, so you can get started right away.
3D printers can include other convenient perks, like quiet operation, built-in cameras to monitor printing, and Wi-Fi connectivity so you can print and monitor progress from anywhere. Buying from a company with easy-to-reach customer support or an active online community is also a nice perk, in case you need to do any troubleshooting down the road.
Q: What brand of 3D printer is the best?
There’s no singular best brand when it comes to 3D printers. We’ve selected our top picks from several reputable brands in the 3D printing industry. The brands on this list create quality 3D printers with user-friendly features that will appeal to beginners.
Q: Does 3D printer size matter?
Yes. On a basic level, you’ll want a 3D printer that fits in your space. More specifically, you’ll want a 3D printer with a suitable build volume (the maximum print area) for your needs. Of course, as build volume increases, so does the printer size (and price).
Q: How much does a 3d printer cost?
3D printers start at around $200 and can range up to many thousands of dollars. For a decent entry-level 3D printer for beginners, expect to spend between $200 to $400 for a good printer with some user-friendly features. For newbies, it’s best to start with a more basic and budget-friendly printer and you can always upgrade down the line if you decide you need more features.
Q: Is 3D printing an expensive hobby?
Compared to many hobbies, 3D printing is a relatively expensive one (although it is much more affordable than it once was). Budget-friendly 3D printers still come in at a couple hundred dollars, which is a somewhat high upfront cost for testing out a new pastime. Ongoing costs include refill printer materials and possible replacements or repairs when something goes amiss. That said, you’ll be able to make some pretty cool and useful stuff, so the hobby is often well worth the price.
Q: What is a good size 3D printer?
It depends. Do you plan to print industrial-size parts or small baubles? A good printer size is subjective and will depend on your needs. Most at-home 3D printers are small enough to fit on a desk or counter, and so are often best for smaller projects. When shopping for a 3D printer, consider its build volume, which will give you a better idea of what size models the printer can produce.
Related: Looking for more options? Here’s our roundup of the best 3D printers for every kind of project.
Final Thoughts on the Best 3D Printer for Beginners
The Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer is one of the most highly-rated and popular picks for beginners. It’s a solid, budget-friendly printer that is user-friendly and creates high-quality models.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.