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There are many types and models of 3D printer to choose from on the market today and most will do just fine assuming you have a 235×235 minimum print bed area. This is the most common size of print bed and its what most of our developers take into account when they are designing models. We at CTRLPew and others across the internet have spent thousands of hours researching and testing 3D printers and these are the standouts from the crowd.
Ender 3 Pro/V2
The hands down best cheap 3D printer is an Ender 3. Not because its a great printer out-of-the-box but because of the size of the userbase and the helpfulness of the community that has sprung up around it. (And its cheap – Usually less than $250usd ) Its a great learning platform to begin your 3D printing journey.
You will need to do some upgrades to get an outstanding printing experience but do those after you figure out what you are doing and if you actually enjoy printing.
Comgrow (and many others) make a clone of the Ender 3 that can often be found for a little less money on websites like Amazon.com
Ender 5 Pro/S1
(Not the plus)
Much like its Ender 3 little brother the Ender 5 has a very large online community around it. Primarilly because it uses the same software and electronics as the Ender 3. They key difference between the two models is the structure of the printer. With the cube format the print bed becomes inherrently more stable vs the “bed-flinger” Ender 3 types.
As with the ender 3, some upgrades are going to be required in order to get a prime printing experience but do those after you figure out if you enjoy printing.
Again, many clones of this machine and format exist and they can often be found for a little less money on websites like Amazon.com
Bambu X1 Carbon with AMS
Bambu’s wildly successful Kickstarter campaign has resulted in the birth of one of the best out of the box 3D printers money can buy and the AMS addon grants the user automatic spool swapping and multi-color/material printing options.
Its performance in the field have led to it receiving wide adoption and glowing reviews and their customer service and well traveled community support forum are there whenever problems occur (and they will because 3D printing is still very trial and error)
If your printer is a hammer, filament is the nail. There are many different materials available for you to print with but the key considerations for beginning are filament cost, availability, and ease-of-use. That last point is important. A new printer, excited about the possibilities will run to a forum and ask what the strongest material is. The answer is some kind of nylon. However, nylon filament is expensive and difficult to print with. So a new printer starting on that without knowing anything about the printing process will struggle forever and most likely give up before producing anything. As a general rule. The more durable the material the more difficult it will be to print with. That being said, we do not recommend starting your printing adventure with anything nylon or carbon fiber. After delving the depths of the darkest web we have returned with a few suggestions for starting materials and brands.
Both PLA Plus/+ and PLA Pro are more durable than their base PLA material and have withstood the collective abuse of hundreds of thousands of rounds from the 3D printing firearm community. All this while still being easy to use and learn with. Perfect for a beginner printer and there are many colors and finishes to choose from. They two
Great for Prototyping and Test Prints
Oveture PLA Plus
Regular PLA is the starter material for most who get into printing. PLA Plus has the ease of printing that PLA gives you, while producing a much stronger-than-PLA finished part. This is the material we encourage all the developers in the community to design their parts for.
There are many different brands of PLA Pro. Most will do but we have found that Overture produces some of the most consistent results.
I tend to use this primarily for prototyping parts and at a price of $22-$24 per kg it doesnt break the bank (or at least breaks it less).
Polymaker PLA Pro
When I want a print for the gun wall or a gun I want to keep I often switch from the aforementioned Overture to Polymaker’s PLA Pro. (Plus and PRO are often interchangeable in the case of PLA)
Polymakers PLA pro has a more matte finish than Overture and I prefer that style in my prints. It also seems to bond with paint a little better also. Although, with the wide pallet of colors offered by Polymaker you may want to paint at all.
Between $24 – $30 depending on color its a little more expensive for PLA Pro but the finish and longevity of the parts is worth it to me.
A slicer is that bit of software that converts your STL or STEP file into gcode that your printer can digest.
One of the first open source slicers, Cura has been a staple of the printing hobby god-since-forever. It does most things well and the team of developers behind it at Ultimaker are consistently improving things.
Born from Slic3r source code, PrusaSlicer is one of the more advanced software’s available for free to the internet. As with advanced things they are advanced. If you are a perfectionist you will spend an inordinate amount of time tweaking settings and values to get perfect prints. Because perfection? or something.
The first and only paid software, Simplify 3D makes it onto the list because of its usability and the amount of control it lets you put onto a part. Start with Cura or PrusaSlicer and as you learn about different methods and procedures to setup parts decide then if this software will help you improve.
Bambu Hany, Bambu Labs slicer doesn’t make the top three list due to its proprietary nature and attachment to the Bambu X1 Carbon printer in the previous list. This is a fairly advanced slicer and because of its integration into the Bambu X1 ecosystem its almost required for that printer.