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The 10 Best 3D Printers - May 2017

Every week we analyse the technical specs, reviews and prices of every 3D printer on the market in the UK to determine our top 10 list.
In total we compared over 75 3D printers, 320 reviews and 671 prices. Last updated 19 May 2017.

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2+
#2 in 3D Printers

Ultimaker 2+

pcforalla.idg.se - Best in TestDigitaltrends.com - Editor's ChoicePC Mag - Editor's Choicetomsguide.com - Editor's Choice
21 Reviews + 4 Awards
  • Four industry awards
  • Very fast maximum vertical build speed
  • £1,163.03
    Ebuyer Business
    View Details
  • More shops: 4
  • £1,725.60 Misco
  • £2,847.49 Wellindal
Replicator+
#4 in 3D Printers

MakerBot Replicator+

Digitaltrends.com - Editor's ChoicePC Mag - Editor's Choicetomsguide.com - Editor's Choiceljudochbild.se - Best in Test
19 Reviews + 6 Awards
  • Expert reviews are average
  • £898.80
    DPS Business
    View Details
Mini 3D Printer
#5 in 3D Printers

Up! Mini 3D Printer

hothardware.com - Recommended
4 Reviews + 1 Award
  • One industry award
  • £465.00
    The Office Supplies Supermarket
    View Details
  • More shops: 4
  • £539.97 PC World
  • £539.97 Currys
RF1000
#7 in 3D Printers

Renkforce RF1000

  • Good expert reviews
  • Only released a month ago
  • £1,258.74
    Rapid Online
    View Details
Finder
#8 in 3D Printers

Flashforge Finder

  • Average expert reviews
  • Only released two months ago
  • £399.99
    Clas Ohlson UK
    View Details
2 Extended+
#9 in 3D Printers
  • £2,354.36
    Ebuyer Business
    View Details
da Vinci 1.1 Plus
#11 in 3D Printers
  • £408.99
    Ebuyer
    Save £39.81 (9%)
    View Details
  • More shops: 3
  • £456.00 Misco
  • £598.59 Ebuyer Business
da Vinci 2.0A 3D Printer
#12 in 3D Printers
  • £404.99
    Ebuyer
    View Details
  • More shops: 3
  • £412.80 Misco
  • £467.57 Ebuyer Business
da Vinci Jr. 1.0 3in1 3D Printer
#13 in 3D Printers
  • £405.99
    Ebuyer
    Save £14.00 (3%)
    View Details
da Vinci Junior 3D Printer
#14 in 3D Printers
  • £254.99
    Ebuyer Business
    View Details
  • More shops: 4
  • £265.20 Misco
  • £299.99 Ebuyer

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Buying a 3D Printer

3D printing is a new but rapidly growing field of printing and creating. Also known as ‘additive manufacturing’, 3D printers are very different from all other printers. Below we will give you an introduction to what 3D printers are, how they work and what attributes to consider when choosing a model.

3D printing, as the name suggests, involves taking a blueprint of an object and creating a fully-realised 3D model as a physical object. The object is not so much ‘printed’ as ‘constructed’ - the printer breaks the blueprint down into hundreds of small layers, then nozzles pump a special plastic material into the shape required for the layer. It then moves up the tiniest fraction, and repeats for the next layer, and so on. Using this method the model is constructed from the base up, and at the end you have a fully 3D version of the blueprint!

Because 3D printing is such a versatile technology, the scope of what you can print is astounding. People have successfully 3D printed everything from extremely-intricate toys and clothes to replacement parts for machines. Someone has even managed to print a fully-functional camera! Many of the blueprints used to create such things are freely available online, meaning that anyone with access to a 3D printer can download and fabricate the item!

Because the process is far cheaper and faster than creating many of the objects normally, 3D printing is increasingly being used for the creation of artificial limbs., especially for children. This is because they grow so quickly that they outgrow the size of their limbs, so cheaper, fast-produced replacements will utterly change the game.

3D printing is not just limited to medical or mechanical objects - there is a growing field dedicated to 3D printing food! While still in it’s infancy, people have already successfully used fine sugar syrups or protein pastes to create a wide array of foods, from sweets to savoury snacks.

In short, it’s an astoundingly exciting field, with a lot of potential. The tech has a long way to go still, but consumer models of machines are already available on the market for early adopters.

Pricing

Because 3D printing is such cutting-edge technology, models for early adopters come with a hefty price tag attached. Some small, lower end models can be got for around £300-400, but most come in between £750-1000. As with all very new tech, it’s expected that as more and more consumer models appear on the market, the prices will start to drop in the years to come. However right now, the price will form a substantial barrier to entry.

Size

Once you’ve decided to buy a machine, the next consideration is the size. Because there has to be enough space in the machine to fit the finished object, what you can create will be limited by the size of the machine. Small printers may only be able to fabricate objects a few centimetres across, while larger, more expensive machines allow for correspondingly bigger creations.

Also, it’s worth noting that even the smallest 3D printers have quite a large footprint, so will take up a substantial amount of space wherever you set them up.

Speed

The current generation of 3D printers are not particularly fast, but this tech is evolving and getting faster all the time. That said, there is a substantial difference in speed even between current brands of printer. Look for a model with more than one nozzle for faster printing speeds.

Accuracy

Finally, 3D printers don’t yet always create a perfect 1-to-1 replica of the blueprint. This can be due to many factors, such as sub-standard quality of nozzles - nozzles that are too big don’t allow for very fine precision work, meaning it will create more of a vaguely thing-shaped lump than a delicate construction. The 3D printers on our site have an ‘accuracy’ rating - look for one with very high accuracy for the highest fidelity between the original blueprint and your finished product.

3D Printer Retailers, Prices and Features

3D Printer Prices

3D printers range in price from £249 to £2,355 and in total we found prices for 25 3D printers. A new 3D printer costs on average £781 and 80% of 3D printers are priced between £255 and £1,764. The most expensive 3D printer that we found is the Ultimaker 2 Extended+ at £2,354, and the cheapest is the XYZprinting Da Vinci Junior 1.0 at only £250.

3D Printer Brands - Price Range

Ultimaker 3D printers range in price from £1,163 to £2,354, and the highest average 3D printer price out of all brands is Ultimaker 3D printers with an average price of £1,759.

The average price of 3D Systems 3D printers is £1,469 which is the second highest average price of all 3D printer brands. 3D Systems 3D printers start at £350 and the most expensive 3D Systems 3D printer costs £2,292.

Polaroid 3D printers start at £1,450 and the most expensive Polaroid 3D printer costs £1,450. The third highest average 3D printer price out of all brands is Polaroid 3D printers with an average price of £1,450.

3D Printer Brands - Average Ratings

We have checked 49 expert 0 reviews and used this information to determine the average rating for each brand of 3D printer. The top three 3D printer brands are Ultimaker, XYZprinting and MakerBot. Ultimaker has an average rating of 78%, XYZprinting has an average rating of 76% and MakerBot has an average rating of 73%.

Biggest 3D Printer Retailers

The biggest 3D printer retailer by number of products currently for sale is Ebuyer Business. We found 11 current 3D printer offers from Ebuyer Business. The second biggest 3D printer retailer is Ebuyer with 8 offers. That means Ebuyer Business is significantly bigger than Ebuyer when it comes to 3D printers. Maplin Electronics is the third biggest retailer with 6 current offers.

When Are Most New 3D Printers Released?

Over the last 3 years we couldn't see any evident trend in the release month for new 3D printers. The biggest month last year for new 3D printer releases was June, with eight new 3D printers released that month. 15 new 3D printers were released in September 2015 making it the biggest month that year for new 3D printer releases. In September 2014 eight new 3D printers were released making it the biggest month that year as well for new 3D printer releases.

How Fast Do 3D Printer Prices Drop After Release?

New 3D printers drop in price by an average of 1% in the first 6 months after they wer first released. That means a saving of £5 on a typical £781 new 3D printer if you wait 6 months before buying.

Accuracy

Across the range of 3D printers, the accuracy range from 0.0125mm to 0.25mm. The accuracy of the majority of 3D printers range from 0.013mm to 0.036mm. The XYZprintingda Vinci Jr. 1.0 3in1, which can be purchased for £404.89, has the biggest accuracy and is a 0.25mm Accuracy 3D printer. The XYZprintingda Vinci Jr. 1.0 3in1, which is priced at £404.89, has the smallest accuracy and is a 0.25mm Accuracy 3D printer.

Print Resolutions

Across the range of 3D printers, the print resolutions range from 50 DPI to 50 DPI. The 3D printer with the biggest print resolution is the PolaroidModelSmart 250S, which is a 50 DPI Print resolution 3D printer and can be purchased for £1,449.98. The 3D printer with the smallest print resolution is the PolaroidModelSmart 250S, which is a 50 DPI Print resolution 3D printer and is on sale for £1,449.98.

Print Heads

The print heads of 3D printers range from 1 to 2. The print heads of most 3D printers range from 1 to 2. The 3D printer with the most print head is the CELRobox 3D Printer, which is a 2 print head 3D printer and is available at £920.82. The CELRobox 3D Printer has the least print head. This 3D printer is a 1 print head 3D printer and is priced at £249.98.

Biggest 3D Printer Retailers

The biggest 3D printer retailer by number of products currently for sale is Ebuyer Business. We found 11 current 3D printer offers from Ebuyer Business. The second biggest 3D printer retailer is Ebuyer with 8 offers. That means Ebuyer Business is significantly bigger than Ebuyer when it comes to 3D printers. Maplin Electronics is the third biggest retailer with 6 current offers.

Which Are the Cheapest Retailers for 3D Printers?

With the cheapest price on 7 3D printers, Ebuyer is most frequently the cheapest 3D printer shop.

Proportion of 3D Printers for Which Each Retailer is Cheapest?

Ebuyer most frequently has the cheapest 3D printer prices (found to be cheapest for 87.5% of its 3D printers).

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