The advent of 3D printers has been a boon for hobbyists, students, designers, and other creators. These machines allow them to explore ideas, save time, enhance precision, and make cool objects from scratch. The technology has progressed to the point of having miniaturized machines that are perfect for beginners and intermediate creators. Are you thinking about buying one of these devices? If yes, then you have to be familiar with the current models available on the market. Learn about them including their strengths, and their weakness. Below are some of the top small 3D printers that you can choose from:
1. Monoprice 133012 Select Mini Pro 3D Printer
Monoprice is known for selling generic electronics with cheap price tags and decent usability. This model stays true to the brand with a price that is under $200 and a feature set that allows owners to do quite a lot with the machine. It comes fully assembled so people can use it right out of the box. Even novices should be able to print with ease. It has a touchscreen panel for the user interface with an intuitive menu and simple controls. Owners can utilize the panel to level the printer bed, choose parts for printing, and initiating the creation.
It features an all-metal hot end that is highly durable and functional. The brake design results in efficient heat dissipation. The build plate is magnetic and easy to remove so getting the prints is quick and simple. There is a Live Z adjustment system for fast auto bed leveling. This printer has a corrosion-resistant aluminum body and an inductive sensor. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, microSD card, and micro USB port. The maximum extruder temperature is 280 degrees Celsius. It is capable of a resolution of 100-300 microns and a printing speed of up to 100 mm per second. The build area is 120 mm on all sides.
– Good range of connectivity options
– Assisted leveling for fast and easy setup
– Magnetic removable plate
– Excellent value for money
– No filament sensor
– Few supported slicing software
– Aluminum bed warps over time
– Bed heating severely underpowered
2. da Vinci Mini W+ 3D Printer
Few inventors are as celebrated as Leonardo da Vinci. The brand named after the famous Renaissance Man is offering this mini 3D printer at an affordable price of only $240. It is compact enough to fit on any table yet it has a sizeable printer bed that is 6 inches on all sides. This is larger than the bed in the previously mentioned Monoprice printer. Connectivity is possible through WiFi so any computer on the home network can connect to the device. It also has a USB port on the side. Owners can download a free design software that is suitable for novices.
It does not have a touchscreen panel like other printers in this category but that does not diminish the machines ability to create objects from user designs. The body has a good fit and finish compared to other printers. It may be small but it can do everything you need out of the box. Just get your computer ready, send your printing jobs to the queue, and wait for magic to happen. The XYZWare program that comes with it is okay for beginners, although advanced users will probably have their favorite software already installed on their PCs.
– Wireless connectivity makes setup clean and easy
– Commendable design looks sleek and professional
– Several extras included in the package like removal spatula and unclogging bits
– Multi-color LEDs for status display
– Software gets better after each update
– Hardened steel extruder kit
– There is no LCD screen so it can’t be a standalone printer
– Only specific filament rolls are accepted due to digital ID
– Can’t change print speed during printing
3. da Vinci Mini Wireless 3D Printer
Here is another printer from da Vinci which is very similar to the previous one. It also features Wireless connectivity, and a 6″ x 6″ x 6″ object volume for making larger prints. If you want a compact machine that can still make big parts for your projects, then this may be it. It has excellent hardware with precise movements and reliable prints. You would need to connect your computer in order to operate the machine as it does not have its own control panel with a colored screen. This is one of the biggest downsides for many.
Still, beginners should be more than happy with the supplied 3D design software which saves them quite a bit of money and time. It may not have the advanced features that experienced designers are used to but it has the basics for getting prints out right away. Initial versions were slow but the speed has gradually improved over time with new versions. It comes in black/red and orange/black color combinations. The design of the machine looks great such that you won’t mind displaying it on your table at all times.
– Exceptional industrial design
– Large volume for output
– Good performance and reliability
– Lack of touchscreen panel for direct printing
– Locked into proprietary filaments
4. Monoprice Mini Delta 3D Printer
This is the smallest 3D printer offering from Monoprice. If you need something that is tiny and portable, then this is a good option for you. It even has a handle at the top to make it easy to carry around. It has a sturdy steel frame with black anodized aluminum so you don’t have to hesitate about traveling with this machine. Unlike the Da Vinci printers which are locked to their proprietary filaments, this one accepts everything thanks to a good range of heating temperatures and open source design. It also features auto calibration so the bed stays level all the time.
The whole system is ready to go from Day 1. The volume is quite small as should be expected from a portable device at 110mm x 110mm x 120mm. Included is a free microSD card which they already preloaded with 3d models that can be printed for testing. It has a 50 micron resolution. Connectivity is possible through WiFi, microSD, and USB storage. At the bottom of the front panel is a colorful LCD screen. Total weight is only 4 lbs. Printing speed can go as high as 150 mm per second.
– Compatible with both PLA and ABS filaments
– Compact and rugged design for portability
– Lowest price for 3D printer
– Small bed limits size of creations
– Plate is non-removable
– No power switch means need to plug and unplug
– Long preheating time due to low power
5. Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer
Creality is another notable player in the 3D printing game. The Ender 3 Pro is a great option for intermediate to advanced creators. It has a fairly large bed with dimensions maximum of 8.6″ x 8.6″ x 9.8″. The surface plate is removable for ease of cleaning. It features a reliable power supply that provides ample energy and quick heating. The manufacturer claims that the hot bed can reach 110 degrees Celsius in only five minutes. This heat should be good enough for most types of filaments. The power supply also has built-in protection from power surges.
Manual leveling system is simple to use, although beginners may take a while to get used to it. Leveling may be needed in the middle of long printing jobs. It is a high-precision machine with good stability to bring out fine details. However, some users recommend upgrading to better springs and a glass bed. Note that this requires assembly so you can’t use it out of the box unlike the previous models discussed. Overall, this is a solid home 3D printer if you are willing to time into the machine.
– Safe and reliable power supply
– Large volume prints possible
– Fast and high heat for all filaments
– Resume print function reduces waste
– Requires assembly out of the box
6. LulzBot Mini 2 Desktop 3D Printer
If you have a lot of money lying around, then you might consider the Lulzbot Mini 2. The cost exceeds a thousand dollars so this is definitely not for the masses. It was built for serious designers who expect the very best that technology has to offer. Whether this model reaches that goal or not is up for debate.This has professional specifications like a E3D Titan Aero Extruder, belt-driven Z-axis, reversible PEI-glass print bed, GLCD controller, auto level, self-cleaning, quiet operation, and compatibility with Cura software.
It is easy to use since the unit can take care of itself in terms of cleaning and leveling. Although it is not the smallest home printer, it still has a portable size and weight. You don’t need to connect it to a computer. Just insert an SD card and print away. Setup is quick out of the box. The package also includes tools for minor repairs and maintenance such as pliers, allen keys, cleaning strips, and many more.
– Lots of extras in the package
– Excellent performance and quality
– Extremely reliable and efficient
– Very high price makes this inaccessible for most shoppers
7. Monoprice MP10 Mini 3D Printer – Black
Going back down to the real world, we have here another Monoprice model for budget-conscious enthusiasts. It is not the cheapest in the range but it is relatively affordable. It features an assisted bed level sensor, a removable print bed, easy access to the hot end, and a dual Y gantry for cleaner prints. The build plate is 200 mm x 200 mm which is generous for a home printer. It features a slot aluminum frame for stability and a low filament sensor that auto pauses when you need to reload. It also has a color touch screen for control.
The magnetic extruder is also easily accessible so changing it is a trivial matter if you want to swap a different one. The print bed is able to reach temperatures of up to 100 degrees Celsius to make print removal a breeze. Resolution ranges from 50 to 300 microns while maximum printing speed is 100 mm per second. The max extruder temperature is 280 degrees. Monoprice also sells a regular version of this model that has virtually the same specifications except for the bigger size. Go for that one if you are trying to print larger objects.
– Good stability thanks to dual Y gantry
– Reasonable price for a 3D printer
– Suitable for beginners
– Requires a bit of initial assembly
– May not work well in cold environments
Charles Stephenson received a Masters Degree in Engineering from MIT University. Charles has been working in the Industrial 3D Printing industry for over 5 years. Charles regularly contributes content to several 3D Printing websites including Pirate3D.com.