Which 3d printer to buy


Prusa MK3S+ 3D Printer Review: The Heavyweight Champ Continues to Dominate

Tom's Hardware Verdict

The Prusa MK3S+ continues to hold its own in a market saturated with low-cost competitors.

Pros
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    + PrusaSlicer provides best-in-class model slicing

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    + Flexible build platform sets the standard

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    + Automatic bed leveling

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    + Stealth Mode enables a nearly silent printing experience

There are few 3D printers with as many industry accolades as the Prusa i3 MK3S+, and after spending some time with this printer, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best 3D printers currently on the market. With a price tag of $999 for an assembled machine or $750 for a DIY kit, the price point of the MK3S+ is towards the high end for an open format consumer 3D printer, but the features of this machine and the ecosystem created by Prusa (they make their own hardware, software, filament, and more) have made the MK3S+ a formidable machine for anyone interested in taking their 3D printing game to the next level.  

The features of the MK3S+ (silent stepper drivers, power-panic, etc.), noteworthy when originally launched, have largely become standard on lower-cost machines and may not seem particularly impressive on a spec sheet. However, clever software implementation and well-written documentation have created a machine that provides a best-in-class printing experience. For instance, the auto-leveling SuperPINDA probe of the MK3S+ maps the build platform for surface distortions, but the printer firmware is capable of storing multiple Z-offsets so you can switch build platforms without having to recalibrate every time.

The MK3S+ is a visually distinct machine; and the Prusa team has kept their black and orange color scheme for their smaller printer, the Prusa Mini+. The bright orange printed parts on the MK3S+ have created instant brand-recognition for the Prusa line of printers, and Prusa has doubled down on this by reinforcing their branding across their machine. In fact, you can find the word ‘Prusa’ printed, engraved, or etched into the MK3S+ in 25 places, 29 if you’re using a spool of their Prusa Polymers Prusament PLA material.  

Specifications 

Machine Footprint16.5 x 16.5 x 15 inches (42.0cm x 42.0cm x 38.0cm)
Build Volume9.84 x 8.3 x 8.3 inches (250mm x 210mm x 210mm)
Material1.75mm PLA, ABS, ASA, PETG
Extruder TypeDirect Drive
Nozzle.4mm
Build PlatformMagnetic Heatbed with removable PEI spring steel sheets
Power Supply240 Watts
ConnectivityUSB, SD Card
Interface3.4-inch Mono LCD and click wheel
Filament Run-Out SensorYes

Included with Prusa MK3S+ 

The fully assembled Prusa MK3S+ ships with all of the accessories required to make your first print, and also includes enough spare parts to replace almost every fastener on the machine. The fully assembled MK3S+ also includes a bag of Haribo Goldbears, a signature addition from the Prusa team.

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(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Prusa  MK3S+ includes a full spool of silver PLA material, screwdriver, a metal part scraper, a glue stick (for adhesion), an isopropyl alcohol wipe, lubricant for the linear rails, power and USB cables, a sheet of stickers, a printed handbook, and a diagnostic printout that confirms the functionality of the mechanical and electrical systems. 

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(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The usefulness of the handbook is hard to overstate. When you’re starting out with your first 3D printer, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of problems such as loss-of-extrusion, poor layer adhesion, or a clogged extruder. The included handbook is full of detailed photographs, troubleshooting workflows, and solutions to common problems. This is an invaluable resource for beginners, amateurs, and experts alike, and it’s clear to me that Prusa has set the standard for technical documentation.  

Setting up the Prusa MK3S+ 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Prusa MK3S+ ships with a completed print attached to the build platform. This print features a serpentine line with 90 degree angles, curves, and a solid block in the center with the Prusa logo facing upwards. This print serves to confirm that the printer is functional and has been properly assembled and calibrated. I was able to easily remove the print from the build platform by bending the steel sheet and carefully removing it. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

After powering on, the printer automatically runs through an initial setup process. This process involves calibrating the Z axis by running it all the way to the top of the printer, running the mesh bed leveling process to set the Z offsets, and loading the filament. This entire process only took me a few minutes, and the high level of automation involved means that the only thing I needed to do was insert the filament into the extruder after it had heated up.  

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

You might be surprised to find that the Prusa MK3S+ is based on the RepRap i3 (third iteration) frame, originally released in September of 2012. Despite this nearly decade-old release date, the MK3S+ is full of modern advancements and enough innovative features to still be a top contender in the prosumer 3D printer market. 

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(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The bright orange color makes the 3D printed parts on the MK3S+ easy to spot. The brackets mounted to the printer are printed in-house by Prusa using their own Prusament PETG filament. These brackets are robust and sturdy, and the uniform appearance between the printed parts give the printer a professional appearance. This version of the MK3S+ shipped with orange printed brackets, but the printer is also available in an all-black variant. A large selling point of the MK3S+ is the open-source nature of the machine, which means the printed parts are all available to download if you want to download, modify, or print them out yourself.  

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The monochrome LCD interface and click-wheel on the MK3S+ is one of the few less-than-impressive features on this machine; it feels dated and the UI navigation can be a little clunky. This stands in contrast with printers like the Anycubic Vyper, a sub-$400 machine that features a bright and responsive color touchscreen that shows detailed print statistics during printing. This monochrome display was industry standard when the original 8-bit i3-style of printers was introduced, but it feels outdated when compared to recent printers with color touchscreens. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The MK3S+ uses a filament spool holder that mounts directly to the frame of the printer. The T-shaped holder is able to hold two spools simultaneously, which is ideal if you plan on swapping between multiple colors to produce a multicolor 3D print. The direct-drive extruder on the MK3S+ feeds filament straight down into the hot end, so mounting the filament directly above the extruder gives the filament a straight path between the spool and the extruder.  

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

At the heart of the MK3S+ is the 8-bit Einsy RAMBo board, housed in a 3D printed enclosure mounted to the frame of the machine. This board is equipped with Trinamic 2130 silent stepper drivers, user-replaceable fuses, and the cable management is clean and professional.

The features made possible by this board (power-panic, live-Z adjust, silent steppers) were all major leaps when originally introduced, but many of these features have made their way down to less expensive FDM 3D printers like the Elegoo Neptune 2. The interface feels sorely in need of an update, and the addition of a color touchscreen and a 32-bit board (such as the one equipped on the Prusa Mini+) would refresh this platform. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The attention to detail on the Prusa MK3S+ is clear, and a perfect example of this is the wire management across the machine. Current-carrying wires are attached to the extruder module with zip ties that act as a strain-relief to prevent the wires from fatiguing and separating. The wires from the power supply are tucked neatly under the frame of the machine, out of sight and reach from users to prevent accidentally unplugging them during printing.  

What Makes the Prusa MK3S+ Different?  

It can be hard to understand why the Prusa MK3S+ costs so much more than a printer like the Creality Ender 3 Pro, which seems to have similar specs on paper. To understand why this machine is so much more expensive, we need to take a closer look at the individual components of the MK3S+. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Critical to the success of the MK3S+ is its custom-made Delta 240 Watt power supply, mounted to the frame of the machine. This unit supplies 24V power to the bed with a max current of 10 Amps, which provides fast and reliable heating for printing high temperature materials like PETG and ASA. Less expensive machines typically use lower wattage power supplies, such as the 150W power supply used by the Flashforge Adventurer 3 Lite, which take longer to heat and can have difficulty maintaining a higher temperature.  

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The 24V heated bed is able to reliably hit 100C, which is more than enough to allow high temperature materials like PETG and ASA to adhere to the build platform without delaminating. The magnetic build platform is firmly held in place without any clips or latches and can easily be removed once it cools to room temperature. PETG in particular is easy to remove from the textured surface of the textured spring steel sheet, and the MK3S+ build platform is best-in-class for high-temperature adhesion.  

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The MK3S+ is equipped with a genuine E3D hot end, and it has the holographic sticker to prove it (seriously). E3D manufactures every component in the hot end from the nozzle to the heatbreak which means you are very unlikely to run into the type of manufacturing defects that occasionally pop up on less expensive printers (incorrectly drilled nozzles, degraded PTFE tube liner, etc. ) In addition, this nozzle is rated for a max temperature of 300C (572F), which is easily hot enough to extrude most common thermoplastics and even some higher-temperature engineering-grade materials like Nylon and Polycarbonate.

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(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The printed parts on the MK3S+ are a perfect example of a company applying its in-depth knowledge of a subject to its product. The printed brackets found on the MK3S+ have been printed in PETG, and the outward-facing textured surface shows the level of quality you can expect from using a textured sheet. 

In addition, I appreciate that Prusa has applied DFAM (Design for Additive Manufacturing) principles to these parts. These DFAM principles include concepts like printing hexagons instead of circles for relief holes, which print without requiring support material, and printing brackets perpendicular to their intended load to create mechanically tough parts.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Prusa MK3S+ comes equipped with a SuperPINDA probe which is used for hands-free leveling of the build platform. The SuperPINDA (which stands for Super Prusa INDuction Autoleveling sensor) operates by detecting the proximity of the probe to the build platform and storing that information in firmware. The MK3S+ isn’t the first printer to use a probe for bed leveling, but the software implementation in PrusaSlicer means that after the printer has been set up, you can print without spending much time thinking about calibration. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Compared to the manual bed leveling process of a printer like the Creality Ender 3 Pro, the MK3S+ is faster, easier to use, and requires less trial and error. PrusaSlicer includes a “G80” command in the start G-code (the instructions the printer reads when making a part), and this command performs a ‘Mesh Bed Leveling’ which probes the bed in a 3x3 grid to create a mesh surface that is used for calibration. This mesh surface causes the Z-axis motors to undulate over uneven areas while the print head remains perpendicular in the X/Y axis. During my testing, I didn’t need to run a single non-print calibration on the printer after the initial mesh bed leveling. 

Build Platforms on Prusa MK3S+ 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Removing a printed part from the build platform of a 3D printer can be a challenging experience if the printer isn’t calibrated correctly. The Prusa MK3S+ attempts to solve this problem by using a removable build platform that is held in place magnetically and can be flexed to remove parts after the platform has cooled. I’ve tried many different types of build surfaces, and the smooth PEI sheet used by Prusa is by far one of the easiest to print on, remove parts from, and clean.  

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Prusa also offers a textured steel build platform for the MK3S+ that has a gritty surface which can give printed parts a more uniform appearance. In fact, the signature textured look of the printed parts on the MK3S+ come from this build platform. 

Parts printed on a smooth build platform will have a smooth bottom surface, which looks visually distinct from the striations on the sides of the part. By using a textured sheet, I was able to make prints that have a textured appearance on the bottom as well as the sides. This sheet is ideal for printing with PETG; the high print temperature of the material requires a textured surface to stick to, but also needs a surface that it can easily detach from.

Printing on the Prusa MK3S+  

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The sample prints on the included SD card with the Prusa MK3S+ are a refreshing change from the sample parts that are typically included with low-cost 3D printers. The MK3S+ includes 16 pre-sliced parts that have been prepared for PLA with the total print time included in the file name. The sample prints vary in time from 23 minutes (a simple block with the word PRUSA on it) to almost 14 hours (a castle printed at .1mm layer height), and have all been prepared using sensible settings for the machine and highlight various features (variable layer height, multicolor printing, and fine .1mm layer resolution).  

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(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

One of my favorite sample parts is the planetary gear bearing that prints in a single print. I printed this model using the Prusament Jet Black PLA material, and after removing it from the build platform I was able to easily spin the gear freely. This part really highlights the ability of the MK3S+ to produce parts with functional strength and purpose in addition to parts designed with aesthetics in mind.  

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Another stand-out sample print included with the MK3S+ is the dragon model titled Adalinda the Singing Serpent by Loubie3D. This model takes a little longer to print (about 8 hours), but the final print is another favorite of mine. Because this model was sliced by Prusa for the MK3S+ printer, the sample print comes out with a high level of detail and no unexpected settings that can cause problems (too many exterior shells, no retraction, etc. ) like the sample prints included with other FDM 3D printers. 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Printing with PrusaSlicer on the Prusa MK3S+ 

(Image credit: Prusa)

Prusa has developed its own in-house slicer for the Prusa MK3S+, called PrusaSlicer. PrusaSlicer is a fork of the confusing-to-pronounce Slic3r app, which is also a free and open-source app. Prusa has invested a considerable amount of time and effort in PrusaSlicer, and this has translated into one of the most powerful 3D printing slicer apps available for desktop 3D printers on the market. 

(Image credit: Prusa)

The current version of PrusaSlicer (2.3.3) includes profiles for printers by Prusa, Creality, Lulzbot, and more, and also includes a library of material profiles. In addition to these profiles, PrusaSlicer also includes multiple print setting profiles, which range from ultra-high detail at 0.05mm layer height to a draft mode which offers .3mm layers fast print speed at the expense of reduced quality.  

Slicing Models in PrusaSlicer for the Prusa MK3S+ 

(Image credit: Prusa)

PrusaSlicer is a feature-rich program with a simplified interface that is accessible to beginners, experts, and everyone in between. I’ve spent a lot of time in the PrusaSlicer settings, and I appreciate how much work Prusa has put into making almost every parameter of the printing process addressable without creating an overwhelming interface.

The settings are broken down into three primary categories: Print Settings, Filament Settings, and Printer Settings. Print Settings generally focuses on the speed / quality of the print, Filament Settings is used to determine temperature and extrusion parameters, and Printer Settings is used for global parameters and determining start / stop instructions.  

(Image credit: Prusa)

The primary interface offers three settings: Simple, Advanced, and Expert. Simple offers a stripped-down experience with only a few parameters able to be adjusted, while Advanced and Expert allow you to adjust the print on a more granular level.  

PrusaSlicer Quality Settings for the Prusa MK3S+ / PLA 

(Image credit: Prusa)
MaterialPrusa Basic PLA, Silver
Layer Height0.20 mm
Infill Percentage15%, Gyroid
Print Speed45mm/second
Extruder Temperature215 degrees Celsius (419 degrees Fahrenheit)
Heated Bed Temp60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit)
Print Time1 Hour, 34 Minutes

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

There are few prints that are better at testing out a printer than the 3DBenchy, so I used the included spool of silver Prusa PLA to print this model out using the default .2mm Quality PrusaSlicer settings. I was impressed with the overall quality of the Benchy, and even with a highly-reflective material like a silver PLA which can highlight defects from uneven layers, the layers looked even and consistent throughout.  

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(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Benchy boat model is designed to highlight various features of a printer (such as the ability to print steep overhangs, small features, etc.), and a quick examination of the model shows that the MK3S+ performed very well and didn’t have any of the common defects typically seen on this model. 

PrusaSlicer Spiral Vase Settings for the Prusa MK3S+ / PLA 

(Image credit: Prusa)
MaterialPrusament PLA, Galaxy Purple
Layer Height0.20mm
Infill Percentage0%
Print Speed60mm/second
Extruder Temperature215 degrees Celsius (419 degrees Fahrenheit)
Heated Bed Temp60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit)
Print Time3 Hours, 9 Minutes

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Slicing a model using the ‘Spiral Vase’ mode in PrusaSlicer will automatically create a model that is composed of a single continuously rising helical contour, which allows models to be printed a fraction of the time it would normally take to print using multiple layers. This mode is ideal for printing objects like vases or enclosures that only require a single contour as opposed to multiple contours and an infill structure. I printed the Curved Honeycomb Vase by eggnot to highlight this printing mode.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Prusament Galaxy Purple is a favorite color of mine due to the glitter additive in the filament. This additive creates layer lines that are evenly blended and have a textured appearance. Combining this material with the Spiral Vase mode produces parts that look almost conventionally manufactured, with layer lines that are difficult to see. This model printed in just over 3 hours in Spiral Vase mode, as opposed to over 13 hours if it had been printed using conventional settings.

PrusaSlicer Speed Settings for the Prusa MK3S+ / PETG 

(Image credit: Prusa)
MaterialPrusament PETG, Chalky Blue
Layer Height0.2mm
Infill Percentage15%, Grid
Print Speed60mm/second
Extruder Temperature250 degrees Celsius (482 degrees Fahrenheit)
Heated Bed Temp90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees Fahrenheit)
Print Time4 Hours, 5 Minutes

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(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

PETG is a material that offers increased mechanical toughness, heat resistance, and flexibility when compared with parts printed with PLA. Prusa has taken advantage of these material properties by printing many of the components on the MK3S+ with PETG, which creates a rigid part that is able to withstand mechanical stress. PETG is also notoriously difficult to print with due to the high level of stringing that can occur when printing multiple parts simultaneously, but I didn’t have any issues when printing with the Prusament PETG material on the MK3S+. 

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(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

I used the default settings in PrusaSlicer to print the clamp model provided by Prusa that was designed specifically for PETG. This model features a functional thread, a flexible ball-and-socket joint, and can be tensioned without snapping the body of the clamp. The part printed in multiple pieces without stringing, and I was able to easily assemble it and verify functionality without damaging the clamp. If printed in a more brittle material (like PLA), I would expect the clamp to crack at a transition point on the body, but the PETG was able to hold tension without deforming or breaking.  

PrusaSlicer 3MF Import for the Prusa MK3S+ / PLA 

(Image credit: Prusa)
MaterialPrusa Basic PLA, Silver
Layer Height0.20mm
Infill Percentage15%, Grid
Print Speed60mm/second
Extruder Temperature215 degrees Celsius (419 degrees Fahrenheit)
Heated Bed Temp60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit)
Print Time2 Hours, 17 Minutes

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

PrusaPrinters (the online file repository created and maintained by Prusa) offers the unique ability to share 3D printable files that have been pre-sliced and prepared for the MK3S+ with detailed print statistics available from the site. A perfect example of this is the Bag Clip by Andrei; a cam-driven bag clip that highlights the type of design freedom offered by a 3D printer. 

This model has been uploaded as a . 3MF file that contains all of the information required to print, such as slicer settings, nozzle and bed temperature, and custom support structures (visibile in the screenshot above.) 3MF is an increasingly popular alternative to the STL file, which doesn’t contain much information aside from the raw geometry of a model.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

This part printed flawlessly on the first try, and the provided .3MF (or .gcode) allows a user to send this file to anyone else with the same printer and material and feel confident that the part will be indistinguishable in appearance and performance. I’ve always thought of a 3D printer as the replicator from the Michael Crichton novel Timeline, which is able to produce identical objects at various locations by converting them into digital information. However, the success of a part is frequently beholden to the settings selected by a user for fabrication, so the ability to share the fabrication plans is one step closer to being able to send a physical product as a form of digital data.  

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

At a price-point of $999 for an assembled printer (or $749 for a kit), the Prusa MK3S+ is a machine that doesn’t compromise on user experience and is absolutely one of the best 3D printers currently on the market. The MK3S+ has a professional and neat appearance, but the 8-bit monochrome LCD user interface might be a challenge for some users to get past, given the steep price. Interface aside, the prosumer features of the MK3S+ make it a stand-out machine for anyone who is looking for a reliable machine to produce functional parts without worrying about spending a lot of time tinkering.

If you are looking for a less expensive machine outside of the Prusa ecosystem, the Elegoo Neptune 2 (currently on Amazon for $180) offers similar printing size and features (with the notable exception of automatic bed leveling) at a fraction of the price but without the same level of robust support and documentation provided by the MK3S+ or any of the name-brand components like the E3D hotend. If you want the Prusa experience but are looking to spend a little less money, the Prusa Mini+ (available from Prusa for $399 assembled, $349 for a kit) is an excellent place to start. 

Andrew Sink first used a 3D printer in 2012, and has been enthusiastically involved in the 3D printing industry ever since. Having printed everything from a scan of his own brain to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he continues to dive ever more deeply into the endless applications of additive technology. He is always working on new experiments, designs, and reviews and sharing his results on Tom's Hardware, YouTube, and more.

Best Filaments for 3D Printing

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Material matters. You can have one of the best 3D printers on the market, use all the right settings in your slicer and end up with horrible output or a complete failure if you use sub-par filament.

The best filaments can not only provide good adhesion, with tangles or clogging, but also make models with sharp edges, vibrant colors and a durable feel. We’ve burned through cases of filament on dozens of printers using both Bowden and direct drive extruders. 

We love filament, and we’ve tried scores of rolls to help you find the best.

Best PLA Filaments

The best filament type for most people and projects, PLA (polyactic acid) is usually inexpensive and easy to print, which is why it’s also the most popular material. PLA filament runs on any 3D printer with any kind of bed surface and doesn’t require an enclosure. Made from renewable organic sources like corn, beets or sugarcane, PLA is more environmentally friendly than oil based plastics and doesn’t have very harsh fumes. 

Most PLA is somewhat brittle and has a low melting point, so it’s best used for decorative objects not subject to high temperatures or too much sunlight. It sands well and is easy to paint, making it great for costume pieces.

Happy Pot :) by Keetah, printed with an Anycubic Kobra using Inland Turquoise PLA.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

1.

Inland PLA, Micro Center

Best Budget PLA on Amazon

Specifications

Print Temperature: 215 to 230 °C

Bed Temperature: 60 to 80 °C

Colors: 32 colors, including Turquoise, Raspberry Red and Mable

Typical Price: $21.99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Recycled cardboard spools

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Available at MicroCenter

+

Stats listed on spool

Reasons to avoid

-

Needs to run hotter than typical PLA

When your budget is tight, there’s no reason to print with inferior materials. Micro Center’s Inland PLA comes in a wide variety of opaque colors to suit your needs. I use a lot of filament reviewing printers, so Inland PLA is a perfect balance of quality and affordability. This Happy Pot in Inland Turquoise PLA was used to test an Anycubic Kobra’s build size.

Inland PLA requires a higher printing temperature than normal, starting at 215 °C. Micro Center has recently switched to a sturdy and recyclable chipboard spool that runs smoothly on any kind of holder. A pair of holes punched in the side of the spool makes it easy to tuck away the loose ends of your filament.

Buy: Inland PLA Filament


OG Dumpster Fire Ornament, by Denise Bertacchi, printed with an Ender 3 Pro with Jessie Premium PLA Tree Green and Mystery Orange.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Jessie Premium PLA, Printed Solid

Best Budget PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 200 to 240 °C

Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C

Colors: 38 basic colors

Typical Price: $20.00

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Recycled Cardboard

+

Packed in vacuum bags

+

Stats listed on spool

Reasons to avoid

-

Color don’t always match website photos 

Jessie Premium PLA is a smooth printing filament manufactured by Printed Solid in Newark, DE. I’ve been a big fan ever since the Dumpster Fire incident of 2020 when I printed hundreds of Dumpster Fire Christmas ornaments for friends and family in Jessie’s Tree Green and Mystery Orange. 

You can select from a palette of 38 colors, each packaged on sturdy cardboard spools with steel cores for a friction free spin. Care for sparkles? Filament with micro glitter is only a dollar more than the regular versions. Spools are well labeled and made of sturdy chipboard with a steel core that helps lower friction while still being fully recyclable. Fun fact: the Jessie line is named after CEO David Randolph’s dog.

Buy: Jessie Premium PLA Filament


Bundled Up Bernie by ChaosCoreTech printed with an Ender 3 Pro with Ziro Silky Bronze and American Filament Metallic Gray AF. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. Silky Bronze, Ziro

Best Budget Silky Metallic PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 220 °C

Bed Temperature: 50 to 60 °C

Colors: 12 Metallic colors

Typical Price: $20. 99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Packed in vacuum bags

+

Inexpensive

+

Factory direct 

Reasons to avoid

-

Plastic spools

Ziro Silky PLA is an affordable, smooth printing filament manufactured by Ziro, a Chinese manufacturer who sells direct to the public. I’ve used an entire spool of bronze silk, which has a realistic metallic sheen. It’s great for printing sculptures because you won’t need any paint or post processing for an excellent finish. 

There’s a selection of twelve shiny colors, like red copper and silver black. The filament is wound on sturdy plastic spools that are well labeled. Ziro includes a sample of cleaning filament with each spool to help maintain your hotend.

Buy: Ziro Silky PLA Filament


Clockspring’s Illusionist Vase by Clockspring3D printed with an Anycubic Kobra Go with Anycubic’s Metal BluePLA.   (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Metal Blue, Anycubic

Best Blue Metallic PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 225 °C

Bed Temperature: 50 to 60 °C

Colors: One

Typical Price: $25.99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Packed in vacuum bags

+

Unusual color

+

Cardboard Spools

Reasons to avoid

-

Only one color

-

Poorly labeled spools

Anycubic has introduced a line of filament to accompany their printers, starting with a pallet of basic colors. One stands out though: Blue Metal, a beautiful silk PLA with an interesting luster that shifts the filament from blue to steel gray. The material prints smoothly and does a great job of hiding layer lines. 

Anycubic’s filament prints well on all FDM printers. The spools are made of dense cardboard with holes for tucking the end of your filament, though there’s practically no labeling. 

Buy: Anycubic Blue Metal  


Correlation Vase by Clockspring3d on a Sovol SV01 Pro in MIKA3D Silk Rainbow  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Silk Rainbow, MIKA3D

Best Fast Rainbow

Specifications

Print Temperature: 205 to 230 °C

Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C

Colors: One full rainbow

Typical Price: $41.99

Spool Size: 1500 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Fast color switching, about 5 meters per color

+

Shiny silk color

Reasons to avoid

-

Packed in three 500gram spools

-

Plastic spools

This super fast, silk rainbow PLA only needs about 5 meters per color change – a third less than other brands. Still, that’s a lot of filament, and this Correlation Vase from Clockspring3d’s Patreon only shifted through three of its delicious dark metallic colors. 

Mika3D sells this color in three batches of 500g spools, leaving you with awkward amounts of filament at the ends of each spool. The spools are well labeled, but are plastic, which causes unneeded waste.

Buy: Silk Rainbow PLA Filament


Crystal Dragon by Cinderwing3D, printed on a Lulzbot Sidekick 747 in Locyfens Blue/Purple/Green Rainbow PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

6. Rainbow, Locyfens

Best Glitter Rainbow

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 220 °C

Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C

Colors: 2 rainbow types, Blue/Purple/Green and Blue/Purple/Red/Yellow/Green

Typical Price: $33.99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Great quality

+

Non-abrasive Micro glitter

Reasons to avoid

-

15 meters between color changes

-

Plastic spools

This line of glittery rainbow PLAs make super fun prints that transition through 3 to 5 colors, depending on which version you purchase. The shimmery additive is non-abrasive and makes layer lines melt away for extra smooth prints. As with most rainbow filaments, you’ll need to use a lot of filament to see the color changes. It takes about 15 METERS between colors. This Crystal Dragon took over 56 meters of filament and just got into the third color of a Blue/Purple/Green spool.

Locyfens uses clear plastic spools, which is nice for seeing how much filament is left on the reel, but inconvenient once the filament finished. They are well labeled and have good spots for managing the filament tails.

Buy: Locyfens Rainbow PLA Filament


CHEP Cube by Chuck Hellebuyck, printed on the CR10s with Inland Rainbow 2 PLA.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

7. Rainbow, Inland by Micro Center

Best Budget Rainbow

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 220 °C

Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C

Colors: 3 types: Rainbow, Rainbow 2 (pastel), Luminous Rainbow

Typical Price: $24. 99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+

Smooth transitions

+

Available at MicroCenter retail stores

Reasons to avoid

-

15 meter average between color changes 

Inland makes three Rainbow filaments: Silk Rainbow, a pastel Rainbow 2 shown here, and glow in the dark Luminous Rainbow. Each filament uses Inland PLA as the base. As with most rainbow filaments, you’ll need to use a lot of plastic to get several color changes. 

It takes about 15 meters between colors. This CHEP Cube was printed at 600% with thick walls and weighs about 300 grams and just barely makes it through all the colors in a spool of Rainbow 2. Inland’s rainbow filaments are currently spooled onto clear plastic master spools – which means they can be refilled with Inland Spooless once they are used up.

Buy: Inland Rainbow 2 Silk PLA Filament


Articulated Dragon by McGybeer, printed on the Ender 3 Pro in MH Blue Green Quantum.   (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

8. Quantum by Matterhackers

Best Dual Color

Specifications

Print Temperature: 215 to 235 °C

Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C

Colors: 12 color combos

Typical Price: $42

Spool Size: 750 kg

Reasons to buy

+

Amazing visual effect

+

Prints like normal Silk PLA

Reasons to avoid

-

Needs straight feed path or colors will twist

-

Plastic spools

Is it blue or is it green? It’s both! Matterhackers was the first company to introduce the 3D printing community to dual color filament – filament that has two colors running side by side on a single strand of plastic. The colors do an interesting dance that causes color shifts depending on your viewing angle. 

Quantum is a silk PLA that comes in 12 color combinations. It works best on a direct drive extruder, which keeps the filament from twisting on its way to the hotend. Quantum is delivered on well labeled plastic spools, which are great for seeing how much filament is left on your spool, but leaves you in a trash quandary when the filament is used up.

Buy: MatterHackers Quantum PLA Filament


3DBenchy by Creative Tools. Printed on Lulzbot Sidekick 747 in OVV3D Red/Blue/Green Tri-Color Shiny Silk PLA.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

9. Tri-Color Shiny Silk, OVV3D

Best Tri-Color

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 220 °C

Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C

Colors: Four color combos, like Red/Blue/Green

Typical Price: $36.99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Recyclable cardboard spools

+

Prints like ordinary Silk PLA

Reasons to avoid

-

Need detailed prints to show off all three colors

-

Needs straight feed path or colors will twist

You’ve seen dual color filament – now you can print THREE colors all at once. Tri-color filament has three colors running side by side by side on a single strand of plastic. This results in a shimmering, almost iridescent shine as the three colors mix. 

Tricolor is a silk PLA at its heart, and runs better when hot. It also benefits from the straight path of a direct drive extruder, which keeps the filament from twisting on its way to the hotend. OVV3D delivers its filament on well-marked, heavy chipboard spools that can be recycled. 

Buy: OVV3D Tri-Color Shiny Silk PLA Filament


Octo-Loki by McGybeer, printed with an Elegoo Neptune 2s, using MH Build Forest Green PLA.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

10. MH Build Series, Matterhackers

Best Every Day PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 220 °C

Bed Temperature: 40+ °C

Colors: 19 basic colors

Typical Price: $20.87

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Packed in vacuum bags

+

Stats listed on spool

Reasons to avoid

-

Plastic Spools

MH Build Series is an affordable line of easy printing PLA in 19 bold opaque colors for everyday use and prototyping. No frills or glitter here, just consistent material to keep your printers chugging along. This Octo-Loki looks super clean in Forest Green PLA.

MH Build Series comes on plastic spools labeled with suggested printing temperatures and convenient holes for threading the loose ends of your filament to keep the spool tidy.

Buy: MH Build Series PLA Filament


Two Winged Flexi Dragon by TheBeyonder, printed on a CR10s in Protopasta HTPLA Joel’s Highfive Blue. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

11. HTPLA, Protopasta

Best Premium PLA on Amazon

Specifications

Print Temperature: 205 to 225 °C

Bed Temperature: 60 °C

Colors: 22 colors, including Joel’s Highfive Blue, Amie's "Blood of My Enemies" Translucent Red and Bobbi’s Purple Iris

Typical Price: $29.99

Spool Size: 500 g

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Heat Treatable

+

Recyclable cardboard spools

+

Packed in reusable bags

+

Stats listed on spool

Reasons to avoid

-

Pricey

Protopasta HTPLA is one of my favorite materials for 3D printing – it always runs smooth, trouble- free and without obvious layer lines. Sparkly colors use extremely fine micro glitters to avoid being abrasive to your nozzle. Even better, many of their specialty colors are concocted by visitors to the factory’s Filament Making Workshops. This dragon flexi was printed in my favorite color, Joel’s Highfive Blue. 

There’s 22 Community Inspired Colors, which have always been spooled on 100% recyclable cardboard. The spools are well labeled, but they lack holes for tucking in the tail of filament – we’ve used tape or simply jabbed the end into the spaces in the corrugated cardboard. Manufactured in Vancouver, WA.

Buy: HTPLA Protopasta PLA Filament


Printception Small Vase by Make Anything, printed on a Mingda Magician Max with Prusament Galaxy Silver PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

12. Prusament PLA, Prusa Research

Best Premium PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 200 to 230 °C

Bed Temperature: 50 to 60 °C

Colors: 25 colors, included Galaxy Silver, Opal Green and Viva la Bronze

Typical Price: $29. 99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Spools made with recycled plastic and cardboard

+

Reusable vacuum bags

+

Stats listed on spool

+

QR code to track details of your spool’s creation

Reasons to avoid

-

Shipping costs add up 

Prusament is the in-house filament manufactured by Prusa Research, using exacting standards – and lasers – to keep every roll of printer food precise and perfect. They have a large variety of rich colors and several with a glorious dusting of jam free micro glitter. This giant nozzle is dazzling in Galaxy Silver PLA.

Even the spools are well constructed, using an inner recyclable cardboard core and a sturdy plastic outer disk with a handy grove for capturing the tail of your filament. Want to inspect your spool? Each roll has a QR tag that will give you details of how and when it was manufactured. Prusament is manufactured in Prague, Czech Republic.

Buy: Prusament PLA Filament 


Life Size Thor’s Hammer by ChaosCoreTech, head printed on a FLSun V400 in 3D Fuel ReFuel PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

13. ReFuel, 3D Fuel

Best Bargain Recycled PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 220 °C

Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C

Colors: One color

Typical Price: $27

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Prints super smooth

+

Made of recycled materials

Reasons to avoid

-

Plastic spools

-

Color is a blend of every color recycled

-

Color can be uneven

ReFuel is quality recycled PLA filament made from 3D Fuel’s in-house manufacturing waste. Leftover scraps from all their PLA colors are mixed into one giant batch, resulting in spools of brownish gray to earthy black material that looks a bit weird but prints just as wonderfully as the first batch.  

The colors can be a bit inconsistent, so ReFuel is best for functional prints or models you intend to paint. Spools are packaged in a plain box with no labels to save on cost. 3D Fuel has factories in both the US and Ireland.

Buy: ReFuel 3D-Fuel Recycled Standard or Pro PLA+ Filament


Clyde the Horse by Bugman_140, printed on a CR10s in ProtoPasta Black Recycled PLA.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

14. Black Recycled PLA, ProtoPasta

Most Affordable Recycled

Specifications

Print Temperature: 195 to 225 °C

Bed Temperature: 60 °C

Colors: Black

Typical Price: $19.99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Lowest price for Protopasta filament

+

Excellent quality

+

Recycled cardboard spool

Reasons to avoid

-

Corrugated cardboard spools wear out fast

Would you believe the company known for lux PLA is also the source of the most affordable recycled filament we’ve found? ProtoPasta’s Recycled Black PLA comes from their own manufacturing waste, so every roll of recycled filament is just as smooth printing as ProtoPasta’s first run colors.

Black Recycled is a blend of scraps from their many shades of black and other darker shades mixed together. It’s not considered a heat treatable filament due to the random nature of the mix, but you might find a bit of sparkle in this very rich, dark black PLA. The corrugated cardboard spools are well labeled, but they lack holes for tucking in the tail of filament – we’ve used tape or simply jabbed the end into the edge of the spool. Manufactured in Vancouver, WA.

Buy: Black Recycled PLA Filament


Clearance Castle, by Angus Deveson. Printed on Ender 3 S1 in ProtoPasta Still Colorful Recycled PLA #11. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

15. Still Colorful Recycled PLA, ProtoPasta

Best Premium Recycled

Specifications

Print Temperature: 195 to 225 °C

Bed Temperature: 60 °C

Colors: Limited run colors

Typical Price: $49.99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Only colorful recycled PLA

+

Excellent quality

+

Recycled cardboard spool

Reasons to avoid

-

Corrugated cardboard spools wear out fast

-

Pricey

ProtoPasta’s more colorful line of recycled PLA filament is great for everyday prints with that premium printing experience only ProtoPasta can serve up. The company collects scraps from their own waste stream and keeps it sorted by color group. The clean waste plastics – filament that’s out of spec or color transitions – is ground back into pellets and blended into new recipes with muted colors. The Calibration Castle above was printed in Still Colorful #11. 

The results are unique, and the filament has similar print quality to first run materials for a (slightly) discounted price. ProtoPasta’s corrugated cardboard spools are well labeled, but they lack holes for tucking in the tail of filament – we’ve used tape or simply jabbed the end into the edge of the spool.

Buy: Still Colorful Recycled PLA Filament


Flexi Dolphin by Flexi Factory, printed on Monoprice Joule in Polymaker PolyTerra Sapphire Blue PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

16. PolyTerra, Polymaker

Most Earth Friendly PLA Filament

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 230 °C

Bed Temperature: 25 to 60 °C

Colors: 26 matte colors, included Pastel Banana, Arctic Teal and Lavender Purple

Typical Price: $19. 99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

One tree planted for every spool

+

Sturddy recycled cardborad spool

+

Inexpensive

Reasons to avoid

-

A little heavier than typical PLA

PolyTerra comes in 26 velvety and pastel colors, with a matte finish that does well at hiding layer lines. It’s extremely easy to sand and paint. It’s a good quality, low cost filament for people who want to be environmentally-friendly makers without switching to a recycled filament. The flexi dolphin above was printed in PolyTerra Sapphire Blue PLA.

Many filament companies have switched to cardboard spools to help with recycling, but PolyTerra does one better. Not only is each cardboard spool and package made from recycled material, but PolyMaker contributes to OneTreePlanted.org so that every spool purchased plants a tree in your region. The spools themselves are very sturdy chipboard with well placed holes to help tame the filament’s tail. PolyMaker is a global company with an office and warehouse in Houston, TX.

Buy: PolyTerra Polymaker Matte PLA Filament


(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

17. Translucent PLA, Atomic

Best Translucent PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 230 °C

Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C

Colors: 20 brilliant colors, like Golden Blood Diamond Translucent

Typical Price: $29.99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Smoothly wound

+

Micro glitters won't clog nozzles

+

Easy to print

Reasons to avoid

-

Plastic spool

Atomic has 20 super-smooth, translucent PLA colors that deliver a premium printing experience without the premium price tag. Some of Atomic’s colors are scattered with non-abrasive micro glitter or flakes of shimmery pearl for absolutely beautiful results. All the colors print with little stringing or layer lines. 

The vase shown here is printed in Golden Blood Diamond, filled with bits of micro glitter. Atomic still uses plastic spools which present a recycling problem when they are used up. The spools are well labeled and have holes to help with containing the ends of your filament. Atomic’s factory is located in Kendallville, IN.

Buy: Atomic Translucent PLA 


3DBenchy by Creative Tools. Printed on Lulzbot Sidekick 747 in ProtoPasta Iron PLA, untreated and rusted. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

18. Metal Filled, ProtoPasta

Best Metal Composite PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 185 to 215 °C

Bed Temperature: Heat Not Required

Colors: Iron, Bronze, Copper, Brass, Stainless Steel

Typical Price: $34.99

Spool Size: 500 g

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Recycled cardboard spools

+

Packed in reusable bags

+

Available at MicroCenter retail stores

Reasons to avoid

-

Pricey

-

Abrasive

ProtoPasta’s metal-filled PLA is a mix of standard PLA mixed with real metal powders. This makes it very abrasive and a bit finicky to print so you’ll need to use a bigger nozzle and slower speed. Iron filled, shown here, is the most affordable of Protopasta’s metal line up. All the metal filaments can be polished to a shine, but iron can be rusted for an old, worn look. 

There’s also steel, copper, bronze and brass filaments. Remember to factor in the weight when making your purchase, as filament is sold by weight, not length. These filaments are heavier than straight plastic so you get less filament per spool. This iron Benchy weights 17g, while a pure PLA Benchy weights 12g.

Buy: Protopasta Metal Filled PLA Filament  


Schrodinky: British Shorthair Cat Sitting in a Box by Loubie3D, printed on a CR10s in 3D Fuel Buzzed Beer PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

19. Buzzed Beer PLA, 3D Fuel

Best Novelty PLA Filament

Specifications

Print Temperature: 180 to 210 °C

Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C

Colors: One color: beer

Typical Price: $40

Spool Size: 500 g

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Quirky color

+

Great at hiding layers

+

Prints like premium PLA

Reasons to avoid

-

Limited availability

-

Only one color

-

Plastic spools

Buzzed Beer PLA is a fun novelty filament made with 10% organic fibers left over from the beer making process. It has a deep golden brown color with tiny dark flecks, yet is not considered an abrasive filament. It's great at hiding layer lines, has little stringing, and prints easier than wood based filaments with a similar natural color. We’re calling this one a “novelty” filament because it only uses a small portion of recycled materials, it’s difficult to find in stock and has a premium price. 

3D Fuel still uses plastic spools, which is inconvenient once the filament is used up. They are well labeled and have good spots for managing the filament tails. 3D Fuel has factories in both the US and Ireland.

Buy: 3D Fuel Buzzed Beer PLA Filament


Life Size Thor’s Hammer by ChaosCoreTech, handled printed on a FLSun V400 in 3D Fuel Entwined Hemp PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

20. Entwined Hemp PLA, 3D Fuel

Most Mellow PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 180 to 210 °C

Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C

Colors: One color: hemp

Typical Price: $40

Spool Size: 500 g

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Quirky color

+

Great at hiding layers

+

Prints like premium PLA

Reasons to avoid

-

Limited availability

-

Only one color

Entwined is a beautiful filament with a natural, almost translucent, earthy wood tone derived from hemp. It’s premium PLA mixed with natural hemp fibers that prints with less noticeable layer lines and little stringing. We’re placing this one in the “novelty” category because it only uses a small portion of recycled hemp fiber, it’s difficult to find in stock and has a premium price. It does, however, print really well and makes a smoother printing alternative to wood PLAs. 

3D Fuel still uses plastic spools, which is inconvenient once the filament is used up. They are well-labeled and have good spots for managing the filament tails. 3D Fuel has factories in both the US and Ireland.

Buy: 3D Fuel Entwined Hemp PLA Filament


Best PETG Filaments

PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate glycol) is an oil based plastic that’s less brittle than PLA. It’s more resistant to high temperatures and sunlight, making it more suitable for outdoor parts or prints used inside a car. It's easier to recycle than PLA, resulting in many brands of 100% or partially recycled PETG filament.  

It can be a little harder to print than PLA, is often stringy, and is more difficult to sand and paint. For best results, PETG should be kept in a sealed bag or airtight box to reduce moisture exposure.

PETG can be printed with any 3D printer, any bed surface and does not require an enclosure. It does print hotter than PLA, but not so much as to require an all-metal hotend. PETG will bond with glass and sticks entirely too well to PEI coated print surfaces. You will need to use a layer of gluestick as a release agent – which is somewhat counterintuitive, but definitely works.

Fairy Door by Jukka Seppanen, printed on the Mingda Magician Max in PolyMaker PolyLite Teal PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

1. PolyLite, PolyMaker

Best Budget PETG on Amazon

Specifications

Print Temperature: 230 to 240 °C

Bed Temperature: 70 to 80 °C

Colors: 18 basic colors in both solid and translucent

Typical Price: $21.99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Recycled cardboard spools

Reasons to avoid

-

Few translucent colors

Easy to print with just a tiny wisp of strings, PolyLite is wonderful for creating stronger 3D prints. This Teal fairy door will be hidden along a trail without any fear of fading or melting. There are many solid colors to choose from, as well as a few translucent shades. The spools themselves are very sturdy chipboard with well-placed holes to help tame the filament’s tail. 

There’s even a window in the side and a gauge to help determine how much filament is left. PolyMaker is a global company with an office and warehouse in Houston, TX.

Buy: PolyMaker PolyLite PETG Filament


Picnic Festival Glass Holder by PM_Me_Your_Value, printed on an Ender 3 Pro with Jessie Premium Pure Cyan PETG. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Jessie Premium PETG, Printed Solid

Best Budget PETG

Specifications

Print Temperature: 230 to 250 °C

Bed Temperature: 80 to 90 °C

Colors: 13 solid colors

Typical Price: $22

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Recycled cardboard spools

+

Inexpensive

Reasons to avoid

-

Not available on Amazon

Bargain hunters rejoice – Jessie by Printed Solid now comes in PETG. As with its line of in-house manufactured PLA, Jessie PETG offers 13 bold opaque colors that print without trouble or much stringing. Shown above is PETG Pure Cyan. Spools are well labeled and made of sturdy chipboard with a steel core that helps lower friction while still being fully recyclable. Jessie filament, named after the CEO’s dog, is manufactured in Newark, DE.

Buy: Jessie Premium PETG Filament 


(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. ProtoPasta PETG

Best Premium PETG Filament

Specifications

Print Temperature: 200 to 220 °C

Bed Temperature: 70+ °C

Colors: 9, like Highfive Blue and Galactic Empire Metallic Purple

Typical Price: $34.99

Spool Size: 500 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Recycled cardboard spools

+

More forgiving than normal PETG 

Reasons to avoid

-

Premium colors are pricey 

-

Not available on Amazon

Protopasta has been recreating their most popular HTPLA colors in PETG, using 75% recycled material. Shown above is Galactic Empire Metallic Purple. Currently showcasing nine colors, the PETG filaments are easy to print, hide layer lines well and have very little stringing. Fun fact: this Mini Joel printed in PETG Highfive Blue looks exactly like one I printed in Highfive Blue PLA.

The cardboard spools are well labeled, but they lack holes for tucking in the tail of filament – we’ve used tape or simply jabbed the end into the spaces in the corrugated cardboard. They’re manufactured in Vancouver, WA.

Buy: Protopasta PETG Filament


Ant Moat by wkarraker, printed on a Monoprice Joule in Prusament Carmine Red Transparent PETG.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Prusament PETG

Best Premium PETG

Specifications

Print Temperature: 240 to 250 °C

Bed Temperature: 70 to 90 °C

Colors: 20 colors

Typical Price: $29.99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Spools made with recycled plastic and cardboard

+

Reusable vacuum bags

+

Stats listed on spool

+

QR code to track details of your spool’s creation

Reasons to avoid

-

Shipping gets costly

Prusament filaments are known for their exacting standards and high quality control, so it’s no wonder their PETG prints with little fuss and few strings. Shown here is Carmine Red Transparent, one of 20 colors in the PETG line. 

Prusa’s eye for details goes down to the spools, which use an inner recyclable cardboard core and a sturdy plastic outer disk with a handy grove for capturing the tail of your filament. Want to inspect your spool? Each roll has a QR tag that will give you details of how and when it was manufactured. Prusament is manufactured in Prague, Czech Republic.

Buy: Prusament PETG Filament


Curvy Vase, by Monomethylhydrazine, printed on a Kobra Max in KVP Edge Glow Pink PETG. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Edge Glow, Keene Village Plastics

Best Translucent PETG

Specifications

Print Temperature: 230 to 260 °C

Bed Temperature: 70 to 100 °C

Colors: 9 basic colors

Typical Price: $40.22

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Super shiny

+

Little stringing

Reasons to avoid

-

Plastic spools

-

Poorly labeled

Edge Glow PETG is a smooth transparent filament with glass-like qualities with excellent results. It’s easy to print with few strings, perfect for decorative objects, vases or very pretty practical prints. This vase is printed in Edge Glow Pink.

Keene Village still delivers materials on plastic spools and uses an odd tracking code on their labels that’s difficult to decipher. The overly simple labeling is probably because KVP is a white label manufacturer that produces filament for other companies as well as their own end use customers. KVP is manufactured in Euclid, OH.

Buy: KVP Edge Glow PETG Filament


Arboreal Vase by Clockspring, printed on a Lulzbot Sidekick 747 In Taulman3D Enviro Aqua PETG. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

6. Enviro PETG, Taulman3D

Best Budget Recycled PETG

Specifications

Print Temperature: 235 to 252 °C

Bed Temperature: 50 to 80 °C

Colors: 6 basic colors and one clear

Typical Price: $17.99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Recycled cardboard spools

+

100% recycled PETG

Reasons to avoid

-

Limited colors

Taulman3D PETG is made from 100% recycled materials on 100% recycled cardboard spools that are well labeled with easy to use spots for taming filament tails. Taulman3D is best known for their tough engineering grade materials – they don’t even have a line of PLA. Enviro PETG comes in 6 solid colors and the clear aqua as shown. Taulman Enviro PETG is available on Amazon, and manufactured in Missouri.

Buy: taulman3D PETG Recycled Filament  


Poison Bottle by ChaosCoreTech, printed on a Monoprice Joule in Greengate Purple Reign PETG. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

7. Greengate

Best 100% Recycled PETG

Specifications

Print Temperature: 205 to 250 °C

Bed Temperature: 80 °C

Colors: 34, like Purple Reign, Bubblegum, Olive Drab

Typical Price: $31.99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Fun colors

Reasons to avoid

-

Not available on Amazon

-

Plastic Spools

Greengate only makes one thing: fantastic 100% recycled PETG. Greengate knows recycling – the owners also run a plastics recycling company in New York and started their filament company as a way of keeping industrial waste out of the landfills. 

They have 32 colors in both translucent and opaque. Shown above is Purple Reign, a premium iridescent PETG. Though Greengate uses well labeled plastic spools, they do make an effort to recycle by collecting customer empties for reuse.

Buy: Greengate 3D PETG Filament


Princess Vase by Abby Math, printed on a Kywood3D Tycoon IDEX in IC3D Translucent Blue Razz R-PETG and KV Edge Glow Glass PETG. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

8. R-PETG, IC3D

Best 100% Recycled PETG

Specifications

Print Temperature: 210 to 250 °C

Bed Temperature: 70 °C

Colors: 9, like Translucent Cherry and Translucent Blue Razz

Typical Price: $31.00

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Available at MicroCenter retail stores

+

On reused plastic spools

Reasons to avoid

-

Limited color selection

IC3D line of recycled PETG is strong enough for functional prints and pretty enough for decorations. It prints consistently with very little stringing – though the level of cooling can alter the color of the print as seen in the Blue Razz vase above. This 100% recycled PETG is made from industrial and commercial wastes, creating a second life for plastics. IC3D reuses plastic spools collected from the community. You can buy IC3D R-PETG direct, at your local Micro Center or through Printed Solid. IC3D is manufactured in Columbus, OH.

Buy: IC3D R-PETG Filament


Best TPU Filaments

Whether you’re making toys that can withstand hard play or functional prints that take a beating, TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) is a great choice. TPU isn’t brittle like PLA and has a rubberlike quality that makes for good handles, phone cases and even gaskets. You can make your parts softer or harder by adjusting the number of walls and level of infill – 10% infill for squishy prints or 50% infill for firm rubbery prints. It’s also not as UV sensitive and can be used for outdoor parts.  

TPU is an extremely soft filament that works best with a direct drive printer. Using a Bowden style extruder is not impossible, but it is much like pushing a wet noodle into your hotend. It needs to print at a higher temperature than PLA, but doesn’t need an all metal hotend or enclosure. Any bed surface will work with TPU, but you will find a layer of glue stick to be helpful for removing prints. 

TPU also needs a slower printing speed and very little retraction. Stringing is almost unavoidable, so it's best to keep this filament very dry and avoid models with a lot of travel moves.

Thwack! V3 by low351, printed on a Lulzbot Sidekick 747 in Inland Black TPU. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

1. Inland TPU, MicroCenter

Best Budget TPU

Specifications

Print Temperature: 210 to 230 °C

Bed Temperature: Heat bed not required

Colors: 12 colors, including Rainbow and clear

Typical Price: $24.99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Inexpensive

+

Available at MicroCenter

Reasons to avoid

-

Limited color selection on Amazon

-

Plastic spools

Inland’s line of TPU is strong, stretchy and the best bargain we’ve found on flexible filament. It comes in several crystal like colors, but the company’s Amazon shop is limited to a boring selection of white, black and gray (you can find more colors at Micro Center). Shown above is Black TPU.

Its shore hardness is typical for TPU at 95A, meaning it is soft and flexible like a flip-flop or perhaps a tire. Of course this all depends on how thick you make the walls and infill. Our sample print used 2 walls and 10% infill, turning the Thwack Hammer into more of a Clown Hammer.

Buy: Inland TPU Filament


TPU Air Duster, printed on a Sovol SV01Pro in MH Build Translucent Purple TPU. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. MH Build Series TPU, Matterhackers

Best TPU

Specifications

Print Temperature: 230 to 250 °C

Bed Temperature: 40 to 60 °C

Colors: 9 colors, including Translucent Purple

Typical Price: $28.99

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Easy to print

+

Great colors

Reasons to avoid

-

Plastic spools

MH Build TPU is a stretchy TPU with a shore hardness of 95A – soft and flexible. We’ve made great flexi toys with it, but the functional thin walled air duster shown above in Translucent Purple is a favorite. Matterhackers’ translucent TPUs are shiny and sparkly, which means anything you print with them will be fun to look at ask well as play with. We’ve made a fantastic phone case with it and yes – the phone has survived several drops.

Buy: MH Build Series TPU Filament


Pull Start Handle by Copper Keep, printed on a Lulzbot Sidekick 747 in KV Vexi-Flexx70 White TPU. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. Vexi-Flexx70, Keene Village Plastics

Toughest TPU

Specifications

Print Temperature: 230 to 260 °C

Bed Temperature: 70 to 100 °C

Colors: 3 colors, black, white and clear

Typical Price: $68.97

Spool Size: 1 kg

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Easy to print

+

Incredibly tough

+

Harder than normal TPU

Reasons to avoid

-

Plastic spools

Vexi-Flexx70 is a super tough flexible filament that can make durable functional prints. Unlike ordinary TPU, Vexi-Flexx70 has a Shore hardness of 70D, making it similar to very hard rubber. 

When printed with a dense infill you get extremely sturdy parts that won’t break when tossed around. The samples we made, like this white handle for a lawnmower, are very hard without any sponginess. Like most TPU, it works best with a direct drive printer. It’s still prone to stringing, our handle looks wonderful and smooth because there were no travel moves.

Buy: Vexi-Flexx70 TPU Filament


Rocktopus by Kent Johnson, printed on a Lulzbot Sidekick 747 in NinjaTek Fire Red Cheetah TPU. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Cheetah, NinjaTek

Fast TPU

Specifications

Print Temperature: 225 to 250 °C

Bed Temperature: 0 to 50 °C

Colors: 11 solid colors, like Fire Red and Sapphire Blue

Typical Price: $29.95

Spool Size: 500 g

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy

+

Easy to print

+

Very tough

Reasons to avoid

-

Plastic spools

-

No translucent colors

Cheetah TPU has a shore hardness of 95A making it very soft and flexible, yet NinjaTek claims it can print twice as fast as normal TPU. Hence, the Cheetah moniker. We tried running it at 60mms – as suggested by their website – and only got jams, even with a direct drive. 

Slow and steady is still the way to go when you’re printing filament with the properties of a wet noodle. Our Fire Red OG Rocktopus was run at a more conservative 40 mms and turned out pretty nice with a little stringing that was easily trimmed off.

Buy: NinjaTek Cheetah TPU Filament

MORE: Best 3D Printers

MORE: How to Store 3D Printer Filament and Keep it Dry

MORE: How to Buy the Right 3D Printer

Denise Bertacchi is a Contributing Writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering 3D printing.

Topics

3D Printing

Which 3D printer to choose for home and hobby use

A few years ago, 3D printers were bulky industrial machines, but now 3D printing is becoming more accessible for home use. When buying their first printer, many are disappointed. This may be due to the unsatisfactory quality of the resulting models or the complex setup and maintenance of the 3D printer.

In the reviews that are found on the Internet, printers are often shown after a lot of upgrades or a long selection of settings for printing. This is not at all the result that a beginner who first got acquainted with 3D printing will get.

In order not to be disappointed, before buying, you need to understand which model is suitable for your tasks. First of all, it is worth deciding what the printer will be used for. What is the main property that finished products should have? What is more important, the physical properties of the model or the ideal surface and detail? Not only the model depends on this, but also the technology by which the 3D printer will work.

Which technology to choose? FDM or LCD?

If you need to make a small detailed figurine with a perfectly smooth surface, you should pay attention to models that work on LCD technology (LCD works on a principle similar to DLP - Digital Light Processing or “digital light processing”).

LCD prints using a photopolymer resin that cures under UV light. This makes it possible to produce without deformation, even small and thin products that cannot be manufactured using FDM technology.

Resin model

Now on sale there are many photopolymer resins with different properties. A few years ago the choice was not great. Basically, finished products were not strong enough for use in functional models. Now engineering resins have begun to appear on sale. Products from them are not inferior in strength to models made using FDM technology from ABS or even nylon.

If it is necessary to produce large products with different properties, or the tasks will be very diverse, then the choice is with FDM technology. But it is important to understand that finished products will not have a perfectly smooth surface. Of course, you can polish the model, but this is additional time and labor costs.

FDM technology builds a model using molten plastic filament, which is fed from the print head. The print head (extruder) “grows” the model layer by layer on the printing table.

FDM Models

FDM technology became widespread much earlier than DLP. Thanks to this, a wide variety of 3D printers and consumables for them has appeared. You can find many decorative plastics that mimic various materials, or engineering plastics for making functional models or mock-ups.

Choosing an LCD printer

Photopolymer printers work on one of 3 technologies - DLP, LCD or SLA.

As home printers, devices based on LCD technology are usually used due to their availability and low price.

Printer design

SLA technology appeared the very first among photopolymer printers. With the help of a point-focused beam, the desired areas of the resin are gradually illuminated. This is repeated layer by layer.

How SLA 9 works0018

Since the surface of the model is perfectly smooth, SLA has become used in the jewelry and dental industries.

Pros:

Cons:

DLP technology appeared later than SLA, but it is very similar to it. The main difference is that the light source is not a focused beam, but a projector. This made it possible to illuminate the entire layer at once, which significantly accelerated the production of models. The quality of the surface was slightly inferior to SLA, but modern DLP printers, in terms of the quality of models, are almost as good as SLA technology.

How DLP works

Pros:

  • Faster production of models due to the illumination of the entire layer

  • Consumables are slightly cheaper than SLA

  • High surface quality (although may be inferior to SLA)

Cons:

LCD technology is the youngest of all. The DLP principle is taken as a basis, but an LCD display is used as a matrix or illumination pattern. LEDs are used as a source of UV light in LCD technology. Thanks to inexpensive components, we managed to get a simple, but high-quality and affordable photopolymer printer.


How the LCD printer works

Pros:

  • small cost

  • Cheap parts

Cons:

  • Low accuracy compared to SLA and DLP (for jewelers and dentists, the quality of LSD prints may not be enough, although more and more accurate models appear with the development of technology)

  • Possible stray light

  • The quality of models may decrease at the edges of the printable area (this can be corrected programmatically)

Resins that are used as a consumable for photopolymer printing can smell strongly and unpleasantly during operation. Try to use the printer in a well-ventilated area, or choose a printer with a sealed cabinet and filter.

When choosing an LCD printer, pay special attention to the rigidity and positioning accuracy of the platform along the Z axis. If there are poor quality guides along the Z axis or even a slight play, then the surface quality of the finished model may turn out to be sloppy or the model will turn out to be unevenly striped.

Rating of the best LCD 3D printers for home

Anycubic Photon Mono

This is an LCD printer with a matrix that allows you to increase the speed and accuracy of printing. Anycubic Photon Mono will be a good helper for hobbyists and modellers.

Anycubic Photon Mono SE

Anycubic Photon Mono SE has an unusual parallel light source. This minimizes distortion at the edges of the printable area. You can effectively use the entire working area of ​​the machine and produce many small models at a time.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K

Model with high resolution LCD display and large print area. The monochrome display transmits UV rays better and allows you to print much faster than similar devices with a conventional display. The manufacturer claims a screen life of more than 2000 hours. Phrozen Sonic mini 4k is suitable for almost any task.

Wanhao GR1

Wanhao GR1 has high precision and large print area (140x78x200mm). The manufacturer tried to reduce distortion at the edges of the display, this allows you to make the most of the entire work area. High precision and a large print area allow Wanhao GR1 to be used not only for hobby, but also in production.

Anycubic Photon Zero

Small and very budgetary LCD device. Its resolution and small working area (total 97x54x150 mm) is enough for printing small miniatures, figurines or small engineering models. Anycubic Photon Zero is a good choice for beginners who want to get into photopolymer printing without spending a lot of money.

Choosing an FDM printer

If you plan to produce large and diverse functional models or experiment, a 3D printer that prints using FDM technology is an excellent choice.

First, decide on the size of the printable area and the properties that the finished model should have. After all, some materials require a closed chamber or good airflow to work.

Some printer models can be “upgraded” in the future. For example, if necessary, purchase spare parts for a closed case, put a nozzle of a different diameter, or change the thermal barrier to an all-metal one. But not all manufacturers provide for the possibility of such upgrades.

Printer design

Despite the same principle of operation, there are several different mechanics, which have their pros and cons.

Kinematics “Prusa” (Prusa)

Perhaps the most popular kinematics among home FDM devices. Mainly due to its simplicity and low cost. The main feature is the table that moves along the Y axis, while the extruder moves along the rest of the axes. Because of this, such kinematics was nicknamed “dragstol”.


Prusa kinematics

Pros:

Cons:

  • Slow print speeds. A massive table with a model is forced to constantly move along the Y axis, because of this, print quality will be worse at high speeds.

  • Some models have design flaws (for example, insufficient frame rigidity), they can be fixed, but for this you have to be a little inventor. Or find a ready-made solution on the Internet.

This category also includes 3D printers with console kinematics. The same prusa, only halved. Because of this, the frame is less rigid, but the printer itself is more compact.

Kinematics Ultimaker

The extruder moves along the X-Y axes, and the table only along the Z axis. All motors are trying to be fixed on the body to lighten the weight of the moving mechanisms, thanks to which it is possible to achieve high print quality at high speeds.


Ultimaker kinematic diagram

Pros:

Cons:

H-BOT or Core-XY

These are 2 similar but more complex kinematics - the table moves only along the Z axis, and the extruder along the X-Y. But to move the extruder, 1 or 2 long belts and 2 stepper motors work in concert.

Example Core-XY kinematics

Pros:

  • High print quality

  • High print speeds without loss of quality.

  • Can be easily closed completely

Cons:

MakerBot Kinematics

Similar to Ultimaker kinematics, but one of the motors is located on the Y or X axis carriage.

Pros:

Cons:

Delta

Deltas do not have the usual XYZ axes. There are 3 columns in the deltas, along which the carriages move, and the position of the extruder in space is calculated using a complex formula. The table is usually statically fixed to the body.


Delta printer example

Pros:

Cons:

Nuances of choosing an FDM 3D printer


In addition to kinematics, when choosing a printer, it is important to take into account some design features.

One or two extruders?

Two extruders can be used for dual color printing, but most commonly the second extruder is used for solvent support printing. If you need to print complex parts with internal cavities, then you should choose a dual extruder printer.

Closed or open printer?

Printing of functional models and parts uses plastic, which usually requires a closed chamber. If you plan to print functional prototypes or various models, you should look at printers with a closed chamber.

Bowden or direct?

There are 2 types of material supply to the print head of the printer - bowden and direct.

In a bowden, the feed mechanism motor is located on the printer body. This allows you to reduce the weight of the extruder and print at higher speeds without losing quality. But because of the long tube, printing with very soft plastics can be problematic.

Bowden feed pattern

In direct feeding, the motor and feed mechanism are located on the extruder. This increases the weight of the print head, but allows you to print with any kind of plastics.

Direct feeding scheme

Heated table or not?

The heating of the table improves the adhesion of the first layer of the model. And engineering plastics cannot be printed without a heated table.

Many manufacturers add useful additional features. They do not affect the quality of the print, but save time and nerves. The most useful additional functions are the filament presence sensor and remembering the print location after a power outage.

Filament sensor.

It will automatically pause printing if the plastic runs out. When there is a little plastic left on the spool, this feature will allow you not to stand over the guard printer until the old spool runs out in order to have time to push in a new bar “on the go”.

Power outage protection.

Remembering where to print when the power goes out can save you a lot of nerves when printing large models. You won't have to worry that after a power outage, you will have to run the model again for many hours or cut and reprint a piece of the model. It is especially disappointing to throw away a complex underprinted model with supports due to a one-minute outage.

There are also many extras. features that make using the printer more comfortable. For example, automatic calibration, touch screen, Wi-Fi and others.


Rating of the best FDM 3D printers for home

Anycubic Mega Zero 2.0

Inexpensive model with Pryusha kinematics. Good for getting started with 3D printing without a big investment. Despite the low cost, Anycubic Mega Zero 2.0 has a heated table and a resume function after a power outage. Thanks to direct feed, printing with soft materials should not be difficult.

Creality3D Ender 3 Pro

A very popular device due to its low price. But despite this, the Ender 3 Pro has a heated table and a decent print area. Can be sold assembled or as a DIY kit.

Flash Forge Finder


Small home appliance intended for children or educational institutions. The Finder doesn't have a heated table, but it does have a calibration assistant, a Wi-Fi module, and other extras that make getting to know it a lot easier. All moving and heated elements are hidden as much as possible in the case so that the child cannot get burned.

Wanhao Duplicator 6 Plus

Wanhao Duplicator 6 Plus was based on Ultimaker kinematics, but instead of bowden feed, they made direct. Because of this, it will not be possible to print super fast, without quality loss, but there will be no problems with printing with soft types of plastics. There are 2 trim levels - with a closed case and without.

Flashforge Dreamer

The Dreamer is a closed body dual extruder printer with MakerBot kinematics. Thanks to this, he can cope with printing models of any complexity. Using a second extruder for soluble support, models with complex geometries can be produced. A good choice for engineers and those who like to experiment with different materials.

FlyingBear Ghost 5

Most commonly sold as a kit (assembly kit). Assembly usually does not cause any great difficulties, even for people far from electronics or mechanics. Flying Bear is equipped with a filament sensor, a function to resume printing after a power outage and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Flying Bear makes a great first printer for the novice user who is ready to build their own printer.

Totals

In order for the printer not to become a useless toy, you should clearly understand what it is for.

For a fan of miniatures or detailed figurines, a photopolymer printer is a good choice. A small work area is more than offset by the detail that cannot be obtained using other technologies.

For an engineer or a fan of experiments, an FDM machine with a closed chamber and two extruders is well suited. This will allow you not to limit yourself in the choice of plastics and comfortably experiment with any materials.

For a beginner who has not yet decided whether he needs 3D printing, you can opt for inexpensive machines with slick kinematics. Due to their great popularity, you can find a lot of upgrades and reviews on them. In the future, it will be possible to modify the printer for specific tasks or change it to a more suitable model.

For a child, safety is paramount. As the first children's printer, models without a heated bed are suitable, in which the main emphasis is on printing with safe PLA plastic. Or models in which all moving and heating mechanisms are hidden in the case.

A 3D printer is a handy tool, and whether it brings joy or frustration depends on the user.

8 nuances worth paying attention to

Sooner or later, everyone learns about 3D printing. And only a few lucky people, imbued with the opportunities that 3D printing opens up, catch themselves thinking that they want to purchase a 3D printer. The desire gradually develops into a serious decision and the search for the right option begins. And here the potential buyer is faced with the fact that he does not fully understand what to choose among the whole variety of 3D printers. We will try to answer this question in as much detail as possible. What to look for, and how to make a choice? We want to offer a small checklist of the nuances that you need to pay attention to when choosing a 3D printer. You need to decide for yourself for what tasks you will use this technique? What features should a 3D printer have to solve your problems?

Tip 1 : Decide on 3D printing technology

The first step is to decide on the technology of 3D printing. There are two main paths here. If you are faced with the task of manufacturing high-precision and miniature products, such as jewelry, then 3D printers using SLA or DLP technology are suitable for you. Such printers are specially designed for the manufacture of high-precision models. 3D printing in these printers occurs using a laser beam that illuminates the photopolymer resin. Hence the accuracy of the models. Prominent representatives of this segment: Form 2 3D printer or B9 3D printercreator If you are faced with a wider range of tasks, and functionality, part size, and low manufacturing cost are more important, then an FDM printer will suit you. 3D printing on this equipment involves layer-by-layer melting of plastic. If according to SLA printers everything is clear. The scope of their application is jewelry, dentistry, high-precision prototypes of small parts. Then we will dwell on FDM printers in more detail. There is a lot more variety of different options for implementing printers.

Nuance 2: Evaluate your needs

Of course, you always want to get all the best and with maximum opportunities. Do you need all this to solve your current problems? What can be cited as an example? For example, the size of the working area of ​​the FDM 3D printer. There are printers on the market with a large print area (1m x 1m x 1m), and with a very small one (100mm x 100mm x100mm). But for most tasks, a certain standard has already developed. This is the printable area within 200 x 200 x 200 mm. With slight fluctuations in size in one direction or another. Most 3D printers have exactly this size of the working area. This volume is enough to solve 95% of any tasks. But options are possible ... If you plan to manufacture small parts, then a smaller size will probably be enough for you. But if your work will be related to manufacturing, for example, a master model for casting, or large prototypes, then only then it makes sense to pay attention to a printer with a large print area. In other cases, the size of the print area larger than the standard is nothing more than a nice bonus. But as they say, you have to pay for everything. Therefore, most often it makes sense to focus on the “standard” print area. And even if the part you need to print is larger than the working area of ​​your 3D printer, you can always cut it in a special editor, and then print 2 parts of the model and glue them together.

Nuance 3 : Decide on the complexity of the products

You should decide for yourself how complex models you will print on a 3D printer. If you plan to manufacture complex prototypes, or complex art models, then you need a 3D printer that can print with two materials. This is necessary so that your printer can print supports from soluble material. If the models are not the most complex, then you can get by with one extruder and save the budget. A complex model is a model with a large number of elements suspended in the air, or a model whose elements have angles of more than 30 degrees.

Point 4: Decide on the list of materials to be used.

Another important point. You must immediately determine for yourself a list of possible materials with which you are going to print. This primarily applies to materials with a high degree of shrinkage, such as ABS and Nylon. In order to print with such materials, a heated table is clearly required in a 3D printer. And it is very desirable to have a closed case to provide a thermal circuit around the model. If you plan to print only with PLA plastic. You don't need a heated table. But still it is better that the printer has a heated table. Now the difference in the cost of printers with a heated table is practically the same as the cost without it. But you get a universal solution with which you can perform the full range of tasks facing a 3D printer. One more moment. Ability to print with flexible materials Quite a number of 3D printers face the problem of printing with flexible materials. Of course, printing with various Flexes and Rubbers is very interesting at first glance. But the use of these materials in life is not very common. Usually, for most people, this happens like this: A couple of models are printed, and the understanding comes that this is not a fast and rather complicated process. And this is where the acquaintance with flexible materials ends. Therefore, it makes sense to demand such an opportunity from the printer if printing with such materials is very necessary.

Nuance 5: Construction and kinematics

Next, you need to pay attention to the design of the 3D printer. Even if you are not a great specialist in technology, you can immediately see that some printers have an open design. And others are closed. As they like to be called in the Russian-speaking community "cubes". What does the appearance say? Printers with an open design, usually have kinematics with a horizontally moving table (based on Prusa 3D printers). This kinematics has some inherent flaws. Such as, not the highest print speed and possible print quality problems associated with the complexity of the settings. First of all, this is the so-called wobble. Also, the lack of a closed case can cause print quality problems with high shrinkage plastics (ABS, Nylon). The main advantage of printers of this design is their price. It is usually lower. But as you know, you have to pay for everything. In this case, the worst performance. The so-called "cubes" today, is the main design, which is represented by leading manufacturers on the market. Such printers are built according to the lifting table scheme. And they lack most of the shortcomings that are inherent in printers from the previous group. “Cubes” usually have a closed body, which allows the highest quality printing with plastics with a high degree of shrinkage. Closed case printers are more rigid. This results in better quality printing. The kinematics of moving the print head is represented by various designs. They have their pros and cons. But most of them have advantages over moving table printer circuits.

Nuance 6: Diameter and changeable nozzle

Most 3D printers on the market come with 0. 3-0.4mm nozzles. This is enough to solve the vast majority of tasks facing a 3D printer. Some of the printers have the ability to install a nozzle of a different diameter, others do not. As we wrote above, the need to print with nozzles with a diameter other than 0.3-0.4 mm arises very infrequently. This mainly concerns, or personal experiments, or some very specific tasks. If you do not plan to do this, then this opportunity is not so necessary. What do we mean by specific tasks? This is especially true for printing large items, where it is very important to reduce the printing time. This can be achieved by using large diameter nozzles. For example, with a diameter of 0.6-0.8 mm, or even a diameter of 1 mm. For printers with a large printable area, the ability to change nozzles is already a vital necessity. Therefore, here, as in the case of a heated table, the ability to change nozzles is a good bonus. It is not mandatory, but very useful if you do not have to pay extra for it.

Nuance 7: Print thickness

It is important to understand that most models on a 3D printer are printed with a layer of 0. 1-0.2 mm. These are the optimal values ​​that allow you to achieve quality and acceptable print speed. There are a certain number of printers that allow you to print with a layer of less than 0.05 mm, and get very high quality prints. But then there is the problem of a sharp increase in print time. And if such print quality is important to you, then it probably makes sense to turn your attention to 3D printers, which we talked about at the very beginning of the article. These are 3D printers using SLA or DLP technology.

Nuance 8: Extruder type

Today there are two main types of extruder. This is a direct extruder in which the bar feed motor is located in the printhead itself. And the so-called Bowden extruder, where the plastic feed motor is located on the body. And the plastic itself is fed to the extruder through a fluoroplastic tube. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of extruder? Bowden extruder, due to the lack of a motor on the print head, has less weight. And therefore, it has greater positioning accuracy, which affects the print quality. And a higher speed of movement, which, accordingly, has a positive effect on the speed of printing. But it has one drawback. It is usually difficult to print with flexible plastics on a Bowden extruder. Such as Rubber or Flex. All its positive features, this extruder reveals when using plastic with a diameter of 2.85-3.00 mm. But this type of plastic is less common than the now standard plastic with a diameter of 1.75 mm. And therefore, users of printers with such plastic are often deprived of the opportunity to use new types of materials. Which are primarily produced in the most common form factor of 1.75mm. The direct extruder usually doesn't have such big problems with flexible plastics. Easier to set up, but due to the greater mass of the print head, it is inferior to the Bowden extruder in terms of speed and positioning accuracy. What to prefer? This is the user's choice. We just wanted to talk about the pros and cons of these extruder types. Of course, there are many more nuances when choosing a 3D printer. But we think that even our small list will force you to look and study some points that you may not have thought about more closely. And it will save you time and money when choosing a 3D printer. 3Dtool company has extensive experience in the 3D equipment market. We work with leading Russian and foreign manufacturers, offering high-quality equipment for a reasonable price. Our service center is staffed by highly qualified specialists who are able to solve any problem in the shortest possible time, and all offered 3D printers come with a 1-year warranty.

In our assortment you can always find 3D printers for your tasks:

1) Budget 3D printers

2) 3D printers for business

3) Large area 3D printers

4) SLA and DLP 3D printers

Do you have any questions?

Call: +7 (495) 324-07-90 (Moscow) and 8 (800) 775-86-69 (toll-free in the Russian Federation) or write to the mail: [email protected]


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