The period of formation of any new industry generates a lot of concepts and their practical implementations. Three-dimensional printing has become widespread only in recent years, and it is still quite difficult to predict the prospects of a particular technology. We tried to present the ranking of the best 3D printers as of the beginning of 2021.

Fused Deposition 3D (FDM) 3D printers currently have the largest representation in the “home” segment of this market, and stereolithography (SLA) allows complex geometry of increased accuracy to be realized. At the same time, already within the framework of these technologies, there is also a competitive struggle for a place under the sun. More precisely, a kind of differentiation according to “niches”. Let’s have a look at how to choose 3d printer.

How to choose a good 3D printer?

Types of 3D printers

3D printers with layer-by-layer deposition are usually classified according to the types of implemented kinematic scheme.

With a table moving in a horizontal plane (designed by Josef Pryusha). The most simple and affordable. Due to objective reasons, they have low accuracy and limitations on the types of plastic used due to the difficulty of ensuring the desired temperature regime.

With a table that moves only vertically (H-bot, CoreXY, Ultimaker and variations). Each subspecies has its advantages and disadvantages, but in general, 3D printers of this class print better than the first ones, have good potential for improvement and support all the existing variety of modern plastic (theoretically).

Delta-shaped printers and robots. The fastest of the FDM models, but with very high requirements for frame rigidity, manufacturing accuracy of supports and guides, the weight of the moving part, the power of the “brains”, etc.

The first stereolithographic printers used the technology of polymerization of a special resin under the influence of laser radiation of a certain wave and cost a lot of money. The situation has changed only a bit towards the price of photopolymers over. The indisputable advantage of this category of devices is the high printing accuracy, sufficient for master modeling, jewelry business and elite dentistry.

The use of powerful LEDs instead of lasers has made it possible to radically reduce the cost of stereolithographic 3D printers. Naturally, due to a partial loss of accuracy, insofar as laser printing technology operates with a wavelength, and LED technology operates with the pixel size of the projecting LCD screen (currently it is approximately 50 microns). The situation is exacerbated by various concomitant parasitic effects. In particular, the scattering of an unfocused beam of light.

When choosing, keep in mind that, ideally, photopolymer printing needs additional devices for removing resin residues (washing) and additional illumination of finished models for their complete curing (dryer).

Materials

The second, no less important aspect of the quality of 3D printing is the materials used. For printers with layer-by-layer deposition, their diversity is an order of magnitude higher. What is worth only a large group of engineering plastics: glass- and carbon-filled, refractory, conductive, flexible, etc. Naturally, all this wealth works correctly only if the necessary temperature conditions are observed during the printing process, which is achieved mainly in closed cube-type structures.

In the camp of photopolymers, things are even sadder, since their assortment is much more modest. In addition, the print time depends on the color of the material (wavelength), and the difference is really impressive. Well, the price tags are relatively humane here can only be called “consumer goods”. At the same time, the pace of development of this category of consumables is higher, as is the dynamics of their cost reduction.

Construction area size

Another defining criterion when choosing a 3D printer is how large are you planning to print? Most low-cost fusion printers have a cubic or cylindrical working area with a side (base diameter) of 200-250 mm. At the same time, delta-shaped structures make it possible to obtain higher one-piece models. Too small size? Focus on 3D printers with an increased workspace, but the variety of those is not very large.

Other functionality

To do without an additional cable on the table allows the presence of a Wi-Fi interface. Please note that experienced printers advise you to connect to the router using a static IP address. With the help of the second extruder it is very convenient to print water-soluble supports. The ability of the printer to remember where it stopped to resume printing in case of failures or the end of the filament can also be useful. Let’s have a look at the best 3d printers under 5000.

  1. Creality Ender 3

One of the best budget 3d printer under 5000 to enter the world of amateur 3D printing. The subject matter connoisseurs will certainly criticize its design for moving table kinematics and the lack of normal linear guides, but for its price range, the Ender 3 3D printer is capable of producing surprisingly decent results. In fact, the openness of the body can be considered the most significant drawback of the model, since the impossibility of maintaining the desired temperature in the printing zone does not allow using all the variety of filament. Installing a suitable cap solves the problem only partially. In addition, the Ender 3 control unit is not remote, i.e. after such refinement, it is theoretically possible to overheat it.

Another disadvantage is relative. We mean a Bowden-feed extruder. The latter provides a lower inertia of the head, which favorably affects the positioning accuracy during high-speed work, but it does not cope with the dosing of soft plastics as successfully as direct systems.

  1. Flying Bear Ghost 5

It is believed that a closed chamber allows better control over the process of “shrinkage” of the filament, preventing its delamination and minimizing the number of “supports”. In other words, the presence of such a device provides greater versatility of the 3D printer in terms of the materials used, as well as the allowable “overshoots” of individual elements of the printed model. In this sense, Flying Bear Ghost 5 is a bit of a compromise, since its design does not provide for a door. Nevertheless, three walls protect against drafts quite acceptable and, judging by the reviews, working with PETG on this printer is no more difficult than with PLA, and it is also better than others when printing tall objects. Of course, the price tag for an entry-level device is not the most enticing, but the dual drive extruder, 32-bit controller, dual-band Wi-Fi and a color display with a user-friendly interface almost justify it. In contrast to the strange solution with the rear mount of the coil, because of which each replacement of the plastic entails unnecessary manipulations.

  1. Anycubic Mega-S

Anycubic Mega-S is good 3d printer under 5000. Everybody knows popular i3 Mega, and this one is more extended version. In this printer is used Prusa-like arrangement on shafts and linear bearings. The price is quite low, so it’s logical that there are the backlashes and loud sound accompaniment in the process of work. In this model are also used A4988 drivers, so the situation gets with extra decibels.  

  1. Anycubic Chiron

You don’t have much choice in the segment of affordable 3D printers if you can’t pay much. There are a few such printers, and Anycubic Chiron is one of them. Chiron’s is different rom the previous model, as it has a table rolls along the profile on rollers. For the control of the device is used the same 8-bit controller. Also there is used a noisy budget stepper motor drivers. This printer has the well-implemented heating of the platform. If to take into consideration the proprietary ultrabase, there is reliable adhesion of the printed model and its removal at the end of the workflow. In addition, the design of the printer makes it elementary to replace the mentioned drivers with low-noise ones.

  1. TEVO Tornado

If you’re looking for 3D printer with a large build area, then TEVO Tornado is another low cost. There is no possibility to maintain the optimum temperature in the working area. But in this printer there is a heated and thermally insulated platform. It’s used to allow you to optionally install a second extruder. It helps to provide  simultaneous printing with two colors / types of plastic. If your budget is limited, this model should be in the center of your attention. The popular Tevo model is assembled and configured in an elementary way.

  1. Flash Forge Creator PRO

You can save as much as possible on a 3D printer only by assembling it yourself, but not everyone is ready to spend time on it or have sufficient skills and abilities. The second way is to purchase a high-quality clone of a well-known model. In this case, we are talking about the “cube” of the American pioneer of the 3D printing market, the MakerBot Replicator 2X printer. 

  1. PICASO Designer X PRO

If you’re going to print very complex parts with high precision, or maybe you plan to use especially refractory engineering plastics, a good professional-grade 3D printer is what you need. It’s recommended for work on PICASO Designer X PRO to use only high-quality filament. The user has to choose the right one, press the button and get the finished product. There are additional advantages in this model, such as a double direct extruder with a change of nozzles. Also there are high maximum heating temperatures (150 and 400 degrees for the table and extruder, respectively). The required microclimate can be maintained with a cunning air flow distribution system, and reliable control of the plastic supply. 

  1. Ultimaker 3

The technology of printing models of complex geometric shapes by layer-by-layer fusing involves the use of a variety of supporting structures. But, if the “main” plastic is used to form such props, their subsequent removal can be very difficult. An elegant way out was found through the organization of support with the help of water-soluble materials, and the new 3D printers from Ultimaker are interesting just for their standard ability to print with PVA plastic. Naturally, the 2-extruder design makes simultaneous two-color 3D printing possible as well. The weak point of the Ultimaker 3 is cited by many owners as filament-loving single-gear feeders and recommend changing them to alternative feeders from BondTech. Of the other chips, it is worth noting the automatic calibration of the table at three points and an automated settings system based on NFC-chip spools with filament.

  1. Formlabs Form 3

If you do not take into account frank exoticism, SLA printers have no alternative in terms of print accuracy. Moreover, using tricky scanning algorithms, for example, with additional layer-by-layer bypasses of the formed part along the contour for better smoothing, they make it possible to obtain an almost perfect surface. In this sense, the Form 3 3D printer is close to perfection, and one can only complain about its relatively low speed. The automated process of pouring the photopolymer, an efficient mechanism for its mixing, a fairly large build area, support for all relevant options for loading tasks – there are many arguments in favor of the solution from Formlabs. A little expensive for home use, but jewelers and dentists have long appreciated this printer.

  1. Anycubic Photon Mono

Anycubic Photon Mono is also one of the best models to pay attention to. This inexpensive model with an LED illumination system definitely deserves attention. In between minuses should be mentioned not a good print speed. The use of a monochrome display (which is what Mono says in the title) allows you to increase performance due to less power loss of ultraviolet radiation and. In such a way can be reduced the time of layer-by-layer illumination. There is a 4-fold increase, promised by the manufacturer. As for the reviews, they indicate an increase in speed by a factor.

Peter

Have experience in writing for big hi-tech magazines. I love new technologies and I always want to be on the cutting edge. That’s why I write about them – to share my experience with other people who are interested in this stuff like me.

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