The 3D printer world has confidently stepped out of the world of the weird, impractical and hideously expensive. Like the computer in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the 3D printer is gradually becoming an accessible and understandable item that no longer resides in science fiction and the play houses of billionaires. Many industry experts predict that simple plastic household items can be printed by ordinary people in their homes. Let’s take a look at what 2020 has to offer in that regard.
If you are prepared to spend top dollar to get the most professional printer around, look no further than the Ultimaker 2+. While it is significantly more expensive than it’s rivals, if you want a 3D printer that is certain to produce high-quality models with little loss in detail, and which will give consistent results every time, this device is for you. Yes, you are paying three digits instead of two, but the reality is that this is a professional tool. If you don’t understand what you’re paying for with Ultimaker 2+, then you probably don’t need it and won’t be able to take advantage of all of its capabilities.
The kind of price tag you will see on this printer will be surprisingly low, but your surprise will only increase when you learn that this is an MSLA printer. You will struggle to find anything similar that uses masked stereolithography as most 3D printers in the up to $300 range use fused deposition modeling. This gives the Photon highly competitive value for money since very few printers at this price point will match its quality. What’s the catch, you ask? Well, this high-tech is also high-maintenance. You’ll have to clean the printer carefully and thoroughly between prints to have consistent results.
PRUSA i3 MK3s
If you are only entering the 3D printer world and want something good and simple at the same time, then you are not likely to regret buying a PRUSA i3 MK3s. For a beginner or a hobbyist who will be using their printer only occasionally, but still wants decent quality, this machine will do the job. It utilises fused deposition modeling, so the accuracy of detail will not be on the level of SLAs, but in the context of FDM, the quality is excellent. The added benefit of this 3D printer is its relatively low maintenance and high printing speed compared to rivals.
FormLabs Form 3
If SLA technology is a must, then the Form 3 is your best choice. Featuring a closed box design and a maximum resolution of 300 microns, you are looking at the highest level of detail accuracy commercially available. If your work depends on the ability to produce precise component prototypes, this machine will deliver like no other. But as with all SLA 3D printers, it is rather high maintenance, so the casual hobbyist will find this to be too much hassle to clean after each print. Keep that in mind.