Toybox 3d printer review
Toybox 3D Printer Review: A Fun Way to Create ToysSkip to main content
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While not the most sophisticated 3D Printer, the Toybox does a good job of printing basic toys quickly and without much hassle.
Tom's Guide Verdict
Young makers will get a big kick out of watching this neat, cheap 3D printer produce toys for them.
Prints simple toys quickly and efficiently
Easy setup and interface
Wide selection of simple toys available to print
Hot and moving parts make it unsuitable for younger users without supervision
Unheated print bed means prints don't always stick.
Today's best Toybox 3D Printer deals
Part of 3D printing's promise is that you'll be able to print useful things at home. And that's precisely what the Toybox from Make.Toys does: it simply and quickly prints toys. You just pick the toy you want from a selection on the company's website, hit the print button and wait. Your completed toy then pops out, ready for play.
The process works, mostly: We were able to print some of the best toys like trains, track, castle parts and walls and small action figures from the simple-to-use web interface, and they were faithfully printed in sturdy, nontoxic PLA in a range of colors. But, like growing up, there are a few teething issues you need to get through first with the Toybox, such as the odd failed print and an interface with a few rough edges.
Still, if you look at 3D printing as a hobby for you and your kids can enjoy together, Toybox is one of the best 3D printers you can buy.
- Toybox 3D Printer (White) at Amazon for $299
Toybox 3D printer review: Price and availability
The Toybox 3D printer debuted a few years ago for $399. These days, the starter bundle costs $299, and you buy it directly from Make.Toys .
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Toybox is cute. It's a small printer, less than 8 inches wide and a little more than 9 inches high. The frame is metal, with open areas revealing the printhead and removable print bed. The print bed is a magnetic sheet that holds tightly onto the base, but which slides off easily when the print is done. Because this base is flexible, you can remove prints by bending it until they lift off.
Spare print beds are cheap: three will cost you $14. The filament comes in 0.5lb (about 220g) reels that cost $10 each and fit onto the back of the printer. Although these reels are smaller than most and carry only 0.5lb of filament, you can use any 1.75mm PLA filament if you can work out a way to feed it to the printer.
The Toybox can't produce large prints: they are limited to just over 3 inches on each side. Considering the size of the printer, that is no big surprise, and the toys on offer are either small, or print in small parts. The train track, for instance, can be printed in 2-inch lengths that fit together to produce a larger model. The layer height (the thickness of the layers used to create the print) is also fixed at 0.2mm, which is pretty standard for small printers.
Make.Toys plays up the cute angle with the naming of the parts: the power supply is an "electron feeder" and the filament is "printer food." The food metaphor stretches to the colors as well: green filament is called apple, purple is grape, white is coconut and so on. It's a cute idea, but it also has to be accompanied by the warning that the filaments are not edible.
MORE: 10 Things You Never Knew Your 3D Printer Could Produce
Although the Toybox is designed to print toys, there are a few things about the printer that aren't kid-friendly. The hot printhead can be touched fairly easily, and fingers could be crushed by the moving printhead. (Update, 12/17: Make.Toys tells us that the Toybox uses low torque motors, so the motors should stop rather than crush anything. ) There is also another curious omission: There is no way to stop the print midway on the device itself. The only way to stop it is to pull the power plug out, or hit the stop button in the web print interface. The latter method takes a couple of seconds to take effect.
Toybox 3D printer review: Controls
The Toybox keeps the controls on the printer itself simple. There's a single small LCD touch screen that shows the status of the printer and offers a simple interface to load filament, set up the printer and configure a few other basic settings. The printer connects to the Make.Toys online service over 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, so you'll need to set up an online account to control your printer.
There's are a great selection of free toys available at Make.Toys, from trains and tracks to castles, miniature figures, seasonal toys like a cute pumpkin and oddities like an owl cookie cutter. The Make.Toys web interface also allows you to create your own toys, either by modifying one of the available models or uploading your own.
To print one of the existing models, you just select the model and hit print. The service does the rest; there is no need to copy files, connect cables or process files. An online editor lets you create personalized figures or tweak an existing model by stretching and scaling it. The service's 3D editor is pretty basic, but I could build a few simple models without problems.
You can load existing 3D models in .stl or .obj formats, but the editing tools are still pretty basic. If there is a problem with the model (such as a hole in the 3d mesh), the system will warn you, but can’t fix it. We also found that more complex models, such as the geometric sculpture and set of planetary gears we typically use in testing, were a bit much for this system to cope with. That's not surprising, as both are complex models designed to confuse a printer, and are not really what the Toybox was intended to work with.
Toybox 3D printer review: Print process
Once you've chosen or created your toy, you hit print in the web interface, and your object starts printing. All of the hard work of configuring the print, creating the print file and sending it to the printer is done by Make.Toys' online service.
We found printing to be mostly successful, but we did have a few failures. The PLA print material does not always stick to the Toybox's unheated print bed, so we had some prints fail at the beginning as parts came loose and stuck to the extruder rather than the printhead. On more than one occasion, I had to pry a goopy lump of melted PLA off the extruder when it became stuck.
Other prints failed partway through the process, ruining the print. A print of the train track bridge, for instance, failed when one of the towers of the bridge came loose and stuck to another part of the print.
But these cases were more the exception than the rule. Most of our test prints on the Toybox worked flawlessly, creating prints that stuck to the print bed and which were easily removed from the print bed afterward.
Toybox 3D printer review: Print speed
Because of the small size of the print area of the Toybox, we were not able to do our full comparative tests that feature a 4-inch-high print. Toybox prints max out at a little more than 3 inches tall. However, we did find that the Toybox is a fairly fast printer — a 3-inch high version of our Thinker print took just 1 hour and 45 minutes to print.
Toybox 3D printer review: Print quality
We were generally impressed with the quality of the prints produced by the Toybox, which were clean and well printed. The thick layers of the print are somewhat obvious (look at the close-up photo of the Thinker statue, for instance), but don't usually detract from the look and playability of the prints.
The Toybox did struggle with some fine details,though: The clips that hold the wheels on the train were not very well formed, so the wheels had a tendency to stick as they went around, or to sometimes fall off.
Toybox 3D printer review: Verdict
The Toybox is a lot of fun, allowing you to print simple, colorful and fun toys on demand that might give a young maker insight into how things are made. And the process is wonderfully simple: no messing with installing apps and configuring slicers. It is just press print, wait and play. But the Toybox is not perfect: We had a certain number of failed prints and other quirks that make it not quite the hassle-free process you might hope for.
So, is this 3D printer going to replace a big box of Legos? No. The prints the Toybox produces are not as high quality as mass-produced plastic blocks, and some users will find the print times frustrating. But for older children who know where not to stick their fingers, and who want to add a creative angle to their play, the Toybox is a great and not overly expensive printer.
Today's best Toybox 3D Printer deals
Richard Baguley has been working as a technology writer and journalist since 1993. As well as contributing to Tom's Guide, he writes for Cnet, T3, Wired and many other publications.
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Toybox 3D Printer Review: Reasons Not To Buy
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The Toybox is a $300 FDM 3D printer that is marketed towards younger kids. The printer is operated over Wi-fi on an app that kids can use to print drawings or choose from a file catalog. It is simple to operate but has very low functionality given its price point.
We typically recommend printers like the Anycubic Kobra or Artillery Genius that have increased functionality and more quality of life features. When 3D printer shopping for kids, choosing a printer like the two mentioned will allow them to grow into an advanced user and provide the entire family the opportunity to take advantage of its capabilities.
Photo credits: (c) Toybox - toybox.com
The Toybox printer has a small build volume
The Toybox's build volume is 70 x 80 x 90 mm or 504 cubic centimeters. The majority of FDM printers on the market today are at least 220 x 220 x 250 mm or 12,100 cubic centimeters. This makes the Toybox's build volume at least 24 times smaller than most printers.
The Toybox printer does not have a heated bed
While PLA is one of the filaments that does not necessarily require a heated bed, using one can increase the chance of success for a print. The Toybox printer does not have a heated bed, which explains why one of the more common issues is prints detaching from the bed.
The Toybox printing relies on the app and Wi-Fi
The only method of printing for the Toybox printer is over Wi-Fi, while most printers allow for SD cards and USB drives. This makes the functionality of the printer reliable on the stability of the Toybox servers, your internet, and your local Wi-Fi connection.
The Toybox printer is still not safe for young kids
The Toybox printer uses a metal nozzle that is heated to ~200°C (392°F) which is pretty toasty. All FDM 3D printers use elevated temperatures to melt the plastic, and curious kids can be burned if they are intent on touching the nozzle.
PLA is one of the safest filaments you can use with a printer but it is still not without some small risks. Printing with PLA can release nanoplastic particulates and trace amounts of tetrachloroethylene, formaldehyde, and methyl methacrylate gasses. This can be mitigated by having a small air filter next to the printer - the air filter should have a MERV or HEPA particulate filter and activated carbon, ideally granules.
The Toybox printer food is expensive
The Toybox printer food is 0.5 lb spools of PLA that sell for $10-14 each, which is $42-62 per kg. In comparison, Prusament is one of the better PLA filaments on the market and it is only $30 per kg. There are plenty of other quality brands that sell PLA in 1 kg spools for $20.
What are the benefits of the Toybox printer?
- Printing is pretty straightforward for simple prints, when it works.
- There is a flexible magnetic bed for easy print removal.
- There is a vast catalogue to select prints from, but some of the files are paid.
- The Toybox app allows kids to draw an object and print it right away.
What are the alternatives to Toybox?
There are a few $200 FDM printers that are decent and you can find those on our printer table page. You will likely run into Creality printers such as the Ender 3 being suggested to you, and we can not recommend any of those printers at all since they are generally poorly designed and the company has poor quality control. Instead, printers like the Anycubic Kobra and Artillery Genius below have the additional quality of life features, and the companies are known for producing reliable printers.
Max Nozzle Temp: ~200°C
Max Bed Temp: N/A
Print Volume: 70mm (L) 80mm (W) 90mm (H)
Extruder: Direct Drive
Max Nozzle Temp: 230°C (260°C)
Max Bed Temp: 110°C
Print Volume: 220mm (L) 220mm (W) 250mm (H)
Kobra vs Vyper
Artillery Genius Pro
Extruder: Direct Drive
Max Nozzle Temp: 230°C (240°C)
Max Bed Temp: 130°C
Print Volume: 220mm (L) 220mm (W) 250mm (H)
Genius vs Prusa Mini
To compare resin printers, browse resin, and get equipment inspiration visit our Ultimate Resin Guide.
To compare FDM printers via an interactive table, side-by-sides, and in-depth articles.
Application & Safety FAQ answers common questions about resin.
Ventilation Simulations has animations for common DIY venting setups, and Heating Resin Printers during winter provides data for specific heat sources.
Our Resin Print Settings Table has associated images, mixes, and does a resin giveaway.
To browse resin properties and find your ideal strong, durable, flexible, or high-temp resin visit our Resin Properties Table. To find properties of filaments, visit our FDM Properties Table.
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Toybox Labs Offers $259 Kids 3D Printer
The American startup Toybox Labs, formed by people from Microsoft, Ferrari and Oculus, entered the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform with its version of a budget 3D printer called "Toybox" for children from 5 to 85 years old.
A number of companies are already actively trying to fill the educational niche by releasing relatively simple and safe 3D printers for children. Some of them, like the MakerBot Replicator Mini, are on par with more "adult" devices, while others, like the XYZprinting da Vinci miniMaker, are aimed at a limited budget. Toybox falls into the second category, with a $259 selling price for early customers.excluding shipping costs.
As befits a 3D printer for novice printers, the Toybox is extremely easy to use: the device comes assembled, ready to use and is controlled with just one button. The printer is designed to work with non-toxic, biodegradable PLA plastic (polylactide), and therefore does not require a heated stage. The extruder with a 4 mm nozzle is designed for filament with a diameter of 1.75 mm, coil chipping is not provided.
The size of the construction area is very modest and does not exceed 90x80x100 mm, while the device itself weighing three kilograms is as compact as possible with dimensions of 190x190x230 mm. The practical print speed varies between 20-60 mm/s. The 3D printer is equipped with a Wi-Fi interface, allows you to import STL files and G-code, as well as use the proprietary online library of 3D models and create your own designs using a special mobile application. The library already contains more than five hundred models and will be updated.
“We want children to have the opportunity to make their own toys, because the transformation of creativity into reality is like magic. Toybox's advanced 3D printing technology means precision workmanship and toy materialization faster than ever. Every model in our library is pre-optimized for faster print times and tested for high quality and 200 micron detail,” says Ben Balts, CEO of Toybox Labs.
Pre-orders are accepted until September 23rd. The best offer is priced at $259 and includes a 3D printer and filament spool, with shipments starting next January. For $319, you can order a similar "New Year's" set with delivery in December. The "luxury" offer consists of a 3D printer and eight spools of bar for a total of $325. Detailed information is available at this link.
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Best 3D printers for schools and STEM education in 2022
Increasingly, schools around the world are turning to more creative ways of teaching students, moving away from boring lesson plans and moving towards learning through play. The world is changing and education must change with it. To prepare kids for a career as an engineer or 3D software designer, schools are looking for the best 3D printers for kids to learn.
As a result, a number of 3D printers have been developed specifically for educational institutions. So we've compiled a list of seven FDM 3D printers that we think are best suited for teaching kids - from elementary to high school and up - how 3D printing works.
- What makes a good educational 3D printer?
- Benefits of 3D Printers in Schools:
- Best 3D Printers for Schools & Education 2022
- Toybox 3D Printer - Great for Young Children to Learn 3D Printing
- Makerbot Sketch Solution - Dedicated 3D Printer for Education
- MakerBot Replicator+ Educators Edition
- Flashforge Creator Pro 2
- Dremel Digilab 3D40 EDU - Dremel Dedicated 3D Printer for Education
- Ultimaker S3 is simply the best
- Monoprice Select Mini V2 is a very affordable 3D printer for classrooms
- Buyer's guide - what to look for when choosing a 3D printer for schools
- Tips for 3D printing in schools and educational institutions
- How 3D printing helps in education
- Here, we've rounded up some of the best ideas for 3D printing in schools that students are sure to get excited about.
What makes a good educational 3D printer?
Of course, ease of use, especially for younger students. If they can't operate the printer, they won't get inspired or learn anything, so simplicity is the number one priority. 3D printers for elementary grades should be safer and simpler, while more advanced students, such as engineering students, will feel safer and more comfortable with more sophisticated printers.
In addition, reliability. Teachers can't teach while fixing broken printers - any educational 3D printer should be stable.
Finally, ideally a 3D printer for schools should come with lesson plans, class projects, or interactive exercises. 3D printer companies such as Makerbot, Tinkerine and Dremel 3D have focused on developing 3D printers as educational tools, offering complete lesson plans designed with the age group in mind.
Since good educational 3D printers are also suitable for children to play outside of school, we have chosen the following printers for both criteria: the best 3D printers for schools and STEM education.
Benefits of 3D printers in schools:
Makes learning interactive and active: Unlike studying a textbook or watching a lecture, 3D printing involves students interacting with machines and engaging in the printing process.
Encourages understanding of the real world: Much of what is taught in schools is theoretical and does not allow one to see the results and effects visually. The fact that a real 3D printer creates real parts is better than abstract theories and will help to develop the student's engineering skills and spatial intelligence much better.
More interesting: Technology is cool and if students are interested, they will learn faster.
Best 3D Printers for Schools & Education 2022
Toybox 3D Printer - Great for Young Kids to Learn 3D Printing
- Price: From $300
- Assembly volume: 70 x 80 x 90 mm
- Material Compatibility: PLA
- Minimum layer height: 200 microns
- Print speed: 60 mm/s
Primarily for children
Biodegradable, non -toxic PLA
Convenient printing with one touch from the box
Access to a free printing catalog 2000+ toys
Small seal area
Limited opportunities for practical use in training9000 9000
TOYBOX stringing a gold kick by creating a 3D printer designed exclusively for children, encouraging independent creativity and fostering an interest in technology. The Toybox 3D printer can also serve high schoolers or adult learners who want to avoid the usually steep learning curve of 3D printing before moving on to a more serious education-focused printer.
Affordable and affordable, the Toybox 3D Printer is the entry point to the world of 3D printing, with a friendly design aimed at young pioneers. The touchscreen, Wi-Fi connectivity, small footprint, non-toxic, biodegradable PLA compatibility, and support for iOS/Android devices and web browsers all work to give young students the tools to easily explore 3D printing. .
When we tested the Toybox, we were very impressed with its affordability, how easy it was to start printing almost immediately, and how easy it was to switch between filaments.
The Toybox printer also comes with Creator Space, a universal application, library and customization kit. The kid-friendly app contains everything you need to print from a catalog of 2,000 customizable toys. It also provides kids with everything they need to print their own creations or complete a fun school project.
With such an emphasis on simplicity and one-touch printing, the Toybox is very limited in its applications, making it very similar to a 3D printer for classroom use in lower grades. Beyond toys, Toybox lacks the necessary features and versatility for more advanced and practical STEM learning applications.
Makerbot Sketch Solution - Dedicated Education 3D Printer
- Company Based: USA
- Price: $1,799 for the whole set (2 3D printers)
- Print volume: 150 x 150 x 150 mm
With over 7,000 Makerbot printers installed in North American schools, Makerbot is positioning itself as the leading 3D printing brand for education. Their latest educational 3D printing solution, Sketch, builds on this commitment to helping schools teach effectively.
Makerbot offers a comprehensive guide for educators, featuring over 600 free lesson plans hosted by Makerbot, as well as a certification program for students who want to stand out as STEM leaders. They offer the only comprehensive ISTE-certified 10-hour 3D printing training and have an organized cloud-based file management system that seamlessly integrates with TinkerCAD or Fusion 360 3D CAD software into their printers.
For this price, you get a lot more than just two Makerbot Sketch 3D printers. You'll also get 6 spools of classroom-safe PLA filament, 4 build plates, 2 spatulas to remove prints from the plate, 2 replacement nozzles, 2 teacher certification spots, 10 student certification spots, and a Makerbot Cloud with a queue. free prints for a year. Makerbot has focused on building a complete STEM education solution, making it as easy as possible to order everything you need to teach kids about size, shape, design and shaping.
MakerBot Replicator+ Educators Edition
- Price: Check Amazon here
- Assembly volume: 295 x 195 x 165 mm
- Material Compatibility: MakerBot PLA, MakerBot Tough PLA
- Minimum layer height: 100 microns
- Print speed: 175 mm/s
STEM lesson plan
Easy classroom management
Easy setup and easy printing
Excellent software suite
PLA only, which could limit potential use in education
Another strong contender among 3D printers for schools and a favorite among educators, the MakerBot Replicator+ Educators Edition is a solid ecosystem-based printer with features printing and security.
Set it and forget it quality pervades every aspect of the MakerBot Replicator+ Educators Edition. It comes fully assembled with automatic bed leveling, Wi-Fi connectivity for remote monitoring and printing, and an easy-to-navigate LCD display.
The MakerBot Replicator+ Educators Edition fits seamlessly into the classroom with a great suite of software including MakerBot Cloud, TinkerCAD compatibility, and the intuitive MakerBot Print app for phone, desktop, and browser. Safety is also well ensured with a built-in camera, removable build plate, hands-free printing, and compatibility with MakerBot's own classroom-safe PLA and MakerBot Tough PLA materials.
Educators will also benefit from the included MakerBot Educators Guidebook. It also has a library of classroom-ready projects and 600+ lessons, as well as an ISTE-certified MakerBot software and teacher license. The latter is an invaluable resource for learning how Replicator+ works and for deeper student learning.
Compared to the MakerBot Sketch, another great choice of the best 3D printer for students, the MakerBot Replicator+ Educators Edition has a larger build volume to help educators with more ambitious projects or multi-part printing. The MakerBot Sketch is probably the safer option thanks to its closed chamber design and particulate filter. It also has a few extra features that the Replicator+ doesn't have, such as touch screen controls and a heated plate.
The MakerBot Replicator+ Educators Edition is costly, and the strict PLA restriction won't work for those who want to expand their learning to other types of content. Machine material compatibility is limited to MakerBot coils, eliminating the possibility of using cheaper third party materials.
Flashforge Creator Pro 2
- Price: Available in official store
- Assembly volume: 200 x 148 x 150 mm
- Material compatibility: PLA, Pearl PLA, ABS, ABS Pro, PVA, HIPS
- Minimum layer height: 100 microns
- Print speed: 30-100 mm/s
Independent dual extruder system suitable for more complex multi-material printing
High learning opportunities with material compatibility
Won't run out of school STEM budget
Linked to FlashPrint 9 slicer0003
Flashforge Creator Pro 2 is one of the best 3D printers for schools. It is an economical, closed-type printer suitable for a wide range of materials. Teachers will find the Flashforge Creator Pro 2 an adaptable 3D printer for classroom use. This is especially true for those who teach advanced design and technology, as well as their various applications.
While most school 3D printers usually work with plain and predictable PLA, Flashforge Creator Pro 2 offers a lot more. This is mainly due to providing ideal conditions for more heat sensitive materials such as ABS, while printing confidently on PLA, PVA and HIPS.
The independent dual extruder is also a godsend for educators who want to teach more complex 3D printing techniques using two different types of filament in one print: two-color parts, support structures for a particularly complex model with a lot of ridges, or printing multiple student-designed parts at the same time .
Flashforge Creator Pro 2 also scores points for ease of use. It comes fully assembled and ready to print, eliminating the need to spend time tweaking and fine-tuning to get the best results. While Flashforge Creator Pro 2 doesn't come with tutorials and lesson plans like many other classroom-ready 3D printers, its simplicity won't cause any problems for teachers and students.
The only downside to an otherwise great offering is that Flashforge ties the printer to its FlashPrint slicer. It's a competent slicer with a lot of functionality, but for those who want more advanced features and the freedom of an open source toolkit, there are limitations. We recommend Cura, a third-party tool of choice for layout designers of all levels.
Dremel Digilab 3D40 EDU - Dremel Dedicated 3D Printer for Education
- Company Based: USA
- Price: $1,699
- Assembly volume: 255 x 155 x 170 mm
American company Dremel moved from being just a tool manufacturer to 3D printing with the Dremel Digilabs series. The 3D40 EDU is designed to teach kids how to 3D print.
The printer comes with a lesson plan designed in accordance with American educational standards and accepted in all US states. These lessons teach problem solving and teamwork through 3D printing, helping students develop manufacturing skills that will be key to the future. What's more, the course counts towards 4 hours of PD - while you're learning 3D printing!
- Price: See price
- Assembly volume: 255 x 153 x 170 mm
- Material Compatibility: PLA, PETG, Eco-ABS, Nylon
- Layer height: 50 microns
- Print speed: 150 mm/s
Minimal setup and easy-to-use features
Comes with great learning resources
Compatible with more media types than most educational printers
Safe for a dynamic and unpredictable classroom environment
Expensive for a school on a budget
The Dremel 3D45 EDU is another 3D education printer from Dremel's craftsmen. It provides a complete, easy to use and minimal 3D printing setup perfect for students.
Simplicity is the theme of this printer. Dremel has gone to great lengths to make the Dremel 3D45 as easy to use as possible. It features automatic bed leveling, multiple connectivity options including Wi-Fi and cloud networks, a sleek touch interface and comes pre-assembled. Together, these features make it much easier to set up and use the printer, so educators and students can get started right away.
The Dremel 3D45 EDU comes with all the safety measures you need: a HEPA carbon air filter, a fully enclosed chamber, a filament holder enclosed in the printer body, and even a handy built-in HD camera for remote monitoring of print progress. The EDU kit also includes additional filament spools, a glue stick and a spare mounting plate.
In addition to top-notch specifications, the Dremel 3D45 EDU comes ready to teach with plenty of lesson plans suitable for grades 3-12 and even a self-study program for teachers.
The program provides educators with all the hardware and software knowledge from design to printing to confidently use and teach the Dremel 3D45 EDU, as well as instructor certification culminating in a Dremel seal.
Wider material compatibility distinguishes the Dremel 3D45 EDU from its 3D40 EDU cousin. Instead of just playing with standard PLA, the Dremel 3D45 EDU gives teachers and students the opportunity to experiment with PETG, Eco-ABS and nylon. Under the hood, the two models share the same high-quality features, with the exception of a straight all-metal extruder that can withstand temperatures up to 280 degrees Celsius and a heated bed that the Dremel 3D45 EDU has.
Ultimaker S3 simply the best
- Location: Holland
- Price: $3,850
- Print volume: 230 x 190 x 200 mm
Any manufacturer in the know knows that the Ultimaker S3 is one of the best FDM 3D printers out there. It features industrial-grade quality, reliability and, most importantly for 3D printing in schools, simplicity. It is also open source, which is an advantage for all curious and advanced engineering students who want to try modifying any part of it.
Although the Ultimaker 3 is more expensive - especially if there are more than 20-30 students in the class - the ease of use and print control (smart auto-leveling features, remote printing by phone) make it a fantastic option for 3D printing in schools. Simply because the printer rarely fails because it is so reliable, the Ultimaker 3 is perfect for teaching kids how to 3D print.
Monoprice Select Mini V2 is a very affordable classroom 3D printer
- Country of manufacture: USA
- Price: $199
- Assembly volume: 120 x 120 x 120 mm
While not billed as an education 3D printer, the Select Mini V2 is a cheap 3D printer and easy enough to use that every student can have their own, for the same price as one or two more expensive printers.
It's simple enough that students can easily use it, and cheap enough that if something goes wrong, it won't be a disaster. What's more, its open layout allows students to see the printing process up close, which is not always possible with more enclosed printers. There are no lesson plans or tutorials included, but the Monoprice Select Mini V2 can definitely be used to teach 3D printing in schools.
Buyer's Guide - What to look for when choosing a 3D printer for schools
Ease of use
Given that inexperience and keen curiosity go hand in hand in educational settings, we recommend 3D printers that take the extra steps to streamline and simplify the process.
Features such as automatic bed leveling, Wi-Fi connectivity and touch screen controls take the more technical and subtle aspects out of the equation.
These features should make the printer accessible not only to younger students, but also to less experienced teachers who are introducing 3D printing into their classroom for the first time.
For the easiest and fastest print station set-up, we recommend that you choose 3D printers shipped assembled. To help, most printers designed for schools and educational institutions come fully assembled as standard.
Materials and types of filaments
We recommend PLA as a starting point. This material is biodegradable, non-toxic and melts at a relatively low temperature compared to other types of filaments. PLA improves the overall safety of learning about 3D printers while offering a fairly wide range of application and printing options.
For more advanced users or for tutorials covering specific topics that require a more versatile filament type, we recommend looking at a printer that can print with ABS and possibly other types such as PVA and HIPS.
3D printer safety is an important consideration when working in a dynamic, sometimes hectic classroom environment. We recommend paying particular attention to features such as closed chambers, air filtration systems, built-in cameras for hands-free surveillance, and easy-to-remove plates, all of which help keep users safe.
Slicing is an important step in the 3D printing process. We recommend slicing programs that don't overwhelm users with advanced options and have a clean, intuitive user interface.
Manufacturer-designed slicers offer full integration and optimization of settings with specific printers and are therefore a good option. Otherwise, third-party slicing programs like the always-reliable Cura can be a great alternative.
Tips for 3D printing in schools and colleges
Go to class prepared. There are a wealth of resources available, from lesson plans to projects covering a wide range of topics. Use them to steer your learning in the right direction.
Use a simple, beginner-friendly design program. It will relieve you of many of the complex aspects of 3D printing, facilitating quality learning and skill acquisition. TinkerCAD is a great starting point, although other options exist such as 3D Builder, SketchUp Free, and Meshmixer.
Let students experience 3D printing. This does not mean touching hot ends or tearing the printer apart. Instead, involve them in the process, whether it's choosing parts to print, adjusting slicer settings, matching colors, or assembling printed parts. The sense of belonging to the project is priceless.
Preset the extrusion temperature and calibrate the bed. This saves time and captures students' fleeting attention, and reduces the chance of bad prints, errors, and on-the-go troubleshooting.
How 3D printing helps in education
Here are some examples of how 3D printing can revitalize and transform learning.
Anatomy — Print body parts or even the entire skeleton piece by piece for teaching anatomy. Involve students in the process.
Chemistry and Physics - 3D printed molecules and atoms are a powerful way to turn an obscure concept into something students can understand on a physical level.
Design, Engineering, Technology - Have students design and print functional parts for structures such as a bridge or a catapult.
History - print models of historical figures, artifacts, ancient monuments, and why not make a diorama depicting the turning points of history to bring novelty to the lesson.
Geography — Make a puzzle of a specific country, continent, or entire globe to help students learn geography and have fun.
Math - Print out models to help young learners hone their counting skills in a tactile way. Why not print geometric shapes or even Sudoku?
Ideas and projects for 3D printing in schools and education
Here we have selected some of the best ideas for 3D printing in schools that will surely interest students.
Puzzle Cube - Sharpen your problem-solving skills with the classic cube puzzle.
T-Rex Scale Skeleton - Recreate a perfect copy of the most ferocious dinosaur.
Giza 3D Pyramids - Bring Ancient Egypt to life.
Molecules - Flexible and modular, great for chemistry class.
US States Mystery Help the students memorize the location and name of the 50 states.
Spur Gear - math, engineering and design rolled into one.
What is the best 3D printer for primary school?
Used and designed for children, it adds a good amount of fun to the process without losing its educational value. The low price helps too, as does access to an extensive library of toy prints.
What is the best 3D printer for high schools?
For middle school classes, we recommend the MakerBot Replicator+ Educators Edition. Plenty of learning materials, ease of use, and excellent software should play well with older and more inquisitive minds while keeping it light and fun.