Best 3D Printers For Beginners Cover

The best 3D printer for beginners turns on, prints, and is never any hassle. From the outside looking in, 3D printing can be intimidating. Browse a 3D printing shop and you’ll be hit with detailed descriptions of printer settings and the type of extruder or nozzle used.

This may not make much sense if you’re a complete beginner to 3D printing. You just want something you press print on and it works perfectly every time.

The learning curve, though not huge, is possibly the main factor holding back the mass adoption of 3D printing. It used to be price, but nowadays you can buy cheap 3D printers starting at just $100. 3D printers cost little enough that every household in the West could own one — yet they still don’t.

BUDGET PICK

Voxelab Aquila

Cheapest 3D printer around and a best-seller
Good build volume for the price

Available at:

TOP PICK

Anycubic Kobra

Cheap printer with auto-levelling
Direct drive extruder is ideal for simplifying 3D printing for beginners

Available at:

PREMIUM PICK

Prusa i3 MK3S+

Like all Prusa printers, it’s reliable and durable
Fast 200mm/s print speeds

Available at:

Why? Some view them as too technical, complicated, unreliable.

In recent years the ‘Plug & Play’ 3D printer has tried to bridge the gap between tech-savvy makers and more casual, curious fans of making things. And with some success. Yet 3D printing is still seen by some as a niche pursuit, yet to attain mainstream adulation.

In fact, the 3D printers we recommend have become so simple to use that even younger children can operate them, and they also make great 3D printers for kids.

Best 3D Printers for Beginners

NameMax Print Volume (mm)PriceBest PriceAlternative Purchase Option
Toybox 3D printer70 x 80 x 90$299Toybox Store here
Prusa Mini+180 x 180 x 180$399Prusa Store here
Monoprice Voxel150 x 150 x 150$449Amazon hereMatterhackers here
Flashforge Creator Pro 2225 x 145 x 150$649Amazon here
QIDI Tech X-Plus270 x 200 x 200$799Amazon here3DJake UK & Europe
Prusa i3 MK3S+250 x 250 x 210$999Prusa Store here
Dremel Digilab 3D45255 x 155 x 170$1,899Matterhackers hereDynamism Store here
Ultimaker S3230 x 190 x 200$3,850Matterhackers hereDynamism Store here

What Makes a Good 3D Printer For Beginners?

The best 3D printers for a beginner are:

  • Reliable: Not everyone can fix problems on the spot. Many do not understand how intricacies of circuits, nozzles, extruders, hot ends and auto leveling build plates — so the 3D printer must be reliable.
  • Safe: High temperatures are used to melt filaments, and the resins used in SLA or DLP can be toxic. We haven’t recommended resin 3D printers because of the steeper learning curve and extra safety concerns. We gave bonus points for an enclosed build chamber and air filter.
  • Comes pre-assembled, and easy to use: Clear interfaces and touchscreens get bonus points, as well as clear instruction videos or manuals. We have avoided most DIY 3D printers as beginners to 3D printing may not be able to build them easily.
  • Automatically handles issues: Bonus points were given to printers with built-in processes for handling errors, such as end of filament detection and the ability to resume where printing stopped from a power outage.
  • Auto-leveling: manual leveling is generally a hassle, and auto-leveling means you can get printing right away.
  • Active community and good customer service: helpful communities can jump in and advise if you have issues, and good prompt customer service is also reassuring if you’re struggling.

Based on these points, these are the best 3D printers for beginners we recommend:

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TOP PICKS

Best 3D Printers For Beginners

Best Entry-Level 3D Printers for Beginners

Anycubic Kobra

  • Price: Check latest price at Anycubic here / Amazon here
  • Build volume: 220 x 220 x 250 mm 
  • Automatic Bed Leveling: Yes
  • Filament compatibility: PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU
  • Layer height: 50-300 microns
  • Printing accuracy: ± 0.1 mm
  • Max nozzle temp: 260°C 
  • Max bed temp: 110°C
  • Connectivity: USB, Micro SD Card
  • Estimated Assembly Time: 30 minutes
Anycubic Kobra a great low-cost entry-level 3D printer for beginner makers
Pros

Cheap printer with auto-levelling

Direct drive extruder is ideal for simplifying 3D printing for beginners

Low-cost for the specs

Cons

Doesn’t have wifi options

Smaller z-height than alternatives like Ender 3 S1

After having the pleasure of reviewing the Anycubic Kobra ourselves, we can confidently say that it’s not only the best printer under $300, but one of the best 3D printers for beginners currently available.

Much of this opinion is shaped by just how much effort Anycubic has put into this machine to make it easy to use. But, also the number of features, most of them quality-of-life improvements that lend themselves to ease-of-use, you’d expect on much more expensive machines.

Top of the list for use is automatic bed leveling. We’re seeing more and more manufacturers include automatic bed leveling, but we’re particularly taken with the efficiency of Anycubic’s in-house developed Levi Q system. 

Simply tap a button on the interface and the printer does the heavy lifting, calibrating and leveling the bed ready for printing in a matter of minutes. From our experience, the leveling is systematically spot on, removing many of the issues that tend to trouble first-timers tackling manual bed calibration.

For beginners, manually calibrating the bed can be a testing experience, and one that you could get wrong, creating accuracy issues when it comes time to printing. With ABL, the printer takes care of all of this, leaving your bed perfectly leveled and primed to create accurate prints with no effort whatsoever.

Anycubic Kobra
Source: Twitter

Another feature worth a mention is the inclusion of a direct drive extruder system. The system houses the extruder directly on the print head to offer better filament extrusion and control. In practice, this means you’re less likely to contend with common 3D printing issues like retraction problems and jammed or clogged filament that we see on Bowden systems – the other most popular extruder setup. 

The other benefit of a direct drive printer is that these tend to play nicer with flexible filaments, so once you’ve got to grips with PLA printing, you can easily pivot to TPU with little in the way of obstacles.

The on-printer touchscreen interface is responsive and well-ordered. Even someone touching a 3D printer for the first time will confidently navigate the menus and understand what each setting does. 

This simplicity also carries over to assembly, which should take no more than 30 minutes and is accompanied by a color pamphlet with clear and obvious instructions to get the printer up and running.

As for the print quality, the Anycubic Kobra produces excellent quality prints for the size, offering layer heights as low as 50 microns. This means possibilities: household items, decorative and display pieces, functional parts, and plenty more.


Creality Ender 3 S1

  • Price: Check latest price at Creality here / Amazon here
  • Build volume: 220 x 220 x 270 mm
  • Automatic Bed Leveling: Yes
  • Filament compatibility: PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU
  • Layer height: 50-400 microns
  • Printing accuracy: ± 0.1 mm
  • Max nozzle temp: 260°C 
  • Max bed temp: 100°C
  • Connectivity: USB, Micro SD Card
  • Estimated Assembly Time: 30 minutes
Ender 3 S1
Pros

One of the best 3D printers under $500

Quick and simple to build and get printing

Direct drive is easier to use than the original Ender 3

Cons

Consider upgrading to the Ender 3 S1 Pro for better hot end and higher-temp printing

More expensive than comparable printers like the Anycubic Kobra

Reasons to pick this over the standard Ender 3:

  • Auto-leveling: far simpler calibration
  • Assembly: still a kit, but it took us 30 mins to build
  • Direct drive extruder: generally simpler, and better for TPU printing

The original Ender 3 was a smash hit among not just seasoned makers but also beginners, if only for its low price coupled with decent out-of-the-box printing performance. But, to get the very best out of the printer, owners were required to fashion all manner of upgrades, detracting from its first-timer appeal.

With the Ender 3 S1, one of the latest and most sophisticated iterations of the world’s best selling printer, Creality has made a concerted effort to make it substantially more appealing to beginners. Why? It all comes down to features and the steady implementation of corrections as we’ve cycled through different Ender 3 models over the years.

The most striking features of the Ender 3 S1 is automatic bed leveling, helped by Creality’s own CR Touch 16-point system that saves you the hassle of manual bed leveling. Alongside, the Ender 3 S1 does away with the printer’s traditional Bowden system for a dual gear direct drive extruder system, named Sprite.

We were impressed with the Ender 3 S1 Pro during our test.

Less temperamental than a Bowden extruder, Creality’s Sprite direct system minimizes common extruder issues while also offering better compatibility with flexible filaments than previous Ender 3 models. Better retraction, better filament control, easy filament loading, and far less troubleshooting to confuse beginners – predictable and reliable performance.

Finally, Creality has vastly simplified the assembly process, narrowing it down to a straightforward 6-step assembly process. As Creality notes, the printer arrives 96% pre-installed and based on our time reviewing the printer, it’s incredibly easy and you should need no more than 30 minutes to get the Ender 3 S1 built and ready to print.

So why opt for the Ender 3 S1 over the very similar Anycubic Kobra? The Ender 3 S1 offers a larger build volume – 220 x 220 x 270 mm – giving you the space to print taller parts and models with handy extra vertical 20 mm. That said, rare are the projects that hog the full print volume, especially those usually undertaken by novices, so we’d recommend saving $100 and picking up the Kobra.

Creality Ender 3 S1 first print out of the box without leveling
Ender 3 S1’s first print out of the box. Source: Reddit

That is, if you’re not fussed by a textured first layer, as the Anycubic Kobra’s print surface, while excellent for easy print removal and adhesion, is coated with a grainy finish that leaves its mark on anything that comes off the printer. On the other hand, the Ender 3 S1 PC sprint steel sheet is far less coarse.

The Ender 3 S1 also packs dual Z-axis motors, which help keep taller prints looking sharp by compensating for the weightier direct drive print head and the extra sway or wobble it can create when darting across the build surface. A premium feature that elevates the S1, but the Kobra holds its own with no discernible wobble issues in our experience.

And compared to ultra budget picks? The Ender 3 S1 is a more premium option with more features, a cleaner and sharper design, and a more refined printing experience than, say, the cheap and cheerful Voxelab Aquila.


Toybox 3D printer — best 3D printer for complete beginners & kids

Designed with simplicity and the shallowest possible learning curve to get 3D printing right away, we were very impressed when we tested the Toybox 3D printer. It’s perfect for adult beginners wanting to easily print their first models, as well as for younger kids to learn key basic engineering skills and print their own toys.

toybox 3d printer for beginners and adult newcomers
Pros

Probably the easiest 3D printer to use in the world

Ideal for absolute beginners (and kids)

Comes with access to extensive toy files to print for free

Cons

Smaller print area than other printers on this list

Only prints PLA and prints at low temperatures

In fact, when you buy a Toybox 3D printer you also get access to their toy archive featuring thousands of fun prints — from mini F1 cars, to officially licensed Batman and Wonderwoman models, tanks, dragons, gift boxes, and many more. They’re all free, and you can even design your own models using their Toybox iOS and Android app.

We printed some really cool things with the Toybox, in many different colors — made super easy by the easily changeable filaments, called 3D printer “food” by Toybox — and the printer comes assembled and ready to go. It’s also super safe to use, with hot parts hidden away and using lower-temperature PLA.

Read our review: we reviewed and tested the Toybox 3D printer.

We were recently talking with Ben, Toybox’s co-founder and CEO, agreeing with how important it is for 3D printers to become more accessible so that more adult newcomers are encouraged to adopt 3D printing. To us, the Toybox makes 3D printing more accessible than ever, and it’s an ideal 3D printer for beginners.

Toybox movable arm seal print
A fun seal print we printed on the Toybox — it has moveable arms.

The build volume is small, and if you want to print tougher and more professional filaments, then you’ll need to spend more on a prosumer 3D printer. But if you’re getting started and want a hassle-free, fun, and friendly introduction with an entry-level 3D printer for newcomers, the Toybox is for you.


Voxelab Aquila – cheapest 3D printer for beginners on a budget

  • Price: Check latest price on Amazon
  • Build volume: 220 x 220 x 250 mm
  • Automatic Bed Leveling: No
  • Filament compatibility: PLA, ABS, PETG
  • Layer height: 100-400 microns
  • Printing accuracy: ± 0.2 mm
  • Max nozzle temp: 250°C 
  • Max bed temp: 100°C
  • Connectivity: SD Card
  • Estimated Assembly Time: 1 hour
Voxelab Aquila
Pros

Cheapest 3D printer around and a best-seller

Good build volume for the price

Effective for a beginner printing PLA

Cons

Less simple set-up (and takes longer, around an hour vs 15-30mins for others)

Less accurate: around 200 microns vs 50-100 for more expensive printers

At just shy of $160, it’s hard to argue with the Voxelab Aquila being a solid pick for any beginner looking for their first printer. And rather than simply being cheap, the Aquila is a confident machine that will get you up to speed and off printing decent quality projects in no time at all.

Like so many printers in this price range, the Voxelab Aquila is modeled on the Ender 3, which as far as inspirations go is no bad thing. It gets the basics right with no costly flourishes or thrills. Simple, effective, and affordable.

The 220 x 220 x 250 mm build volume grants you more than enough space to take a vast range of prints. You’ll likely never print anything even approaching its full capacity. It also prints all the go-to amateur maker filaments – PLA, ABS, and PETG – giving you options once you’ve mastered PLA printing. 

It also ships semi-assembled and in keeping with most modern printers, you’ll have it up and ready in under an hour, but it’s a little more hands-on than the simplicity of an Anycubic Kobra or Ender 3 S1, but nothing to trouble novices with a bit of determination. 

Voxelab Aquila
Slightly modded Aquila (Source: Imgur) and an Aquila with Micro Swiss extruder (Source: Imgur)

The instructions could be better and Voxelab hasn’t put as much thought into easing the ride for beginners as Anycubic and Creality.

The low price does come with some compromises, chiefly the Voxelab cuts out automatic bed leveling, so manual calibration it is, but again any first-timer up for the challenger should sail through and learn quite a bit about 3D printing in the process. Elsewhere, it features a Bowden extruder system, which effectively removes flexible filament printing from the picture. 

Otherwise, there’s plenty to like, including a solid color interface and, surprisingly for the price, a textured carborundum glass, which offers stellar adhesion and allows prints to slide off once they’ve cooled down.

As for the prints that come off the bed, it’s hard to complain with the quality for the price, especially with PLA and usually difficult elements like overhangs thanks to some quality cooling provisions implemented on the Voxelab Aquila.


Prusa Mini+ (preassembled version)

prusa mini entry level 3d printer
Pros

Like all Prusa printers, it’s reliable and durable

Fast 200mm/s print speeds

Cons

Small print area

3D printer beginner buying tips:

  • Buy the pre-assembled version — it’ll save you 6 hours of building, especially if you’re a beginner
  • Buy the filament sensor — it’s a low-cost add-on that’ll save you if you run ouf of filament

Smaller than the Prusa MK3S, the Prusa Mini+ still offers a fairly large print area, as well as 50-micron minimum layer heights and self-calibration, all in a compact package.

It can’t handle super high-temperature filaments like the Prusa MK3S can, but can handle all beginner-friendly filaments like PLA, PETG, TPU and ABS, and can still print at the same 200mm/s speeds — ideal for beginners who want fast 3D printing.

Prusa Mini+ printing a skull in rainbow pla and one doing multiple prints
One Mini+ is printing a skull in rainbow PLA (Source: Reddit) and one printing multiples (Source: Twitter)

The new Mini+ is upgraded on the previous Prusa Mini, now featuring Prusa’s SuperPINDA probe for fully-automatic mesh bed leveling. This ensures fantastic first-layer printing and adhesion, giving you crisp prints without you having to change anything yourself. This is a massive plus for beginners.

Prusa printers are known for their reliability, so anyone looking for an entry-level 3D printer that doesn’t break down often will enjoy the Prusa Mini. It’s a simple 3D printer without too many extras — you’ll need to upgrade it to have a filament sensor — but does the basics very well. It’s one of the best 3D printers for beginners under $500.


Flashforge Creator Pro 2 — Simple to use entry level 3D printer

creator pro 2
Pros

IDEX dual extruders for multi-color or multi-material 3D printing

Enclosed build area is better for printing ABS (without having to purchase an enclosure)

Cons

Small build area for the price

The Flashforge Creator Pro 2 is the 3D printer version of the Land Rover Defender. All-terrain, and gets the job done.

It’s been significantly upgraded on the original Creator Pro, now featuring an IDEX dual extruder with four different modes:

  • Mirror mode: for printing two mirrored designs
  • Duplicate mode: for two identical prints
  • Soluble support mode: for printing soluble supports
  • Multi-material mode: for printing two materials, or two colors of the same material, on one print

These come in handy for many day-to-day printing projects, and the ability to print PVA and HIPS along with PLA and ABS as soluble supports is a massive plus for high-quality models. You won’t need to painstakingly post-process, sand, and remove supports, simply dissolve them off for a near-flawless print.

The enclosed metal structure adds key stability benefits: the printer is heavier and more anchored down, so there is less shaking or vibrating during printing, creating better quality and more accurate prints. Overall, it’s a good solid option for beginners, with a host of more advanced features for once you’re ready for multi-material printing.

Read more: Flashforge Creator Pro vs Creator Pro 2

the flashforge creator pro comes assembled so can be used by beginner 3D printers without any expertise

The enclosed build chamber keeps sound in (mostly), heat in, and any bad fumes away from you while it prints. It also keeps temperatures carefully regulated so there is less warping during printing — also helped by the metal print bed — and is good for consistent ABS printing.

Flashforge provide free email support so if you run into trouble you can get in contact and they’ll try to help. It also comes with a full manufacturer’s warranty to protect you in some cases. The printer comes with 2 spools of filament which will last for several large prints, and also a 16GB SD card containing the 3D slicer software.

Overall, it’s one of the best first 3D printers for novices. It’s fairly similar performance-wise to the QIDI Tech X-Plus, and they only cost $150 difference. The main differences are QIDI’s emphasis on customer service and the build size, so you can decide which one is best for you based on these factors. They’re both reliable printers, though perhaps the QIDI Tech X-Plus has the better reputation for being a workhorse.

It’s on the verge of tipping into a more expensive hobbyist 3D printer, but we will still call this an entry-level 3D printer as the ease of printing and reliability enhances its credentials for brand new beginners.


Prusa i3 MK3S+ preassembled — Reliable and durable 3D printer for beginners

Buying tips for beginners:

  • Buy the preassembled version for $200 extra and save 8 hours of building
  • Consider the Multi Material Upgrade 2.0 when you’re comfortable with the printer
prusa mk3s+
Pros

One of the world’s most reliable printers, unlikely to cause new makers a headache

Very accurate

Comes with auto-levelling and many other features that save you time and hassle

Cons

Takes a long time to build (we recommend buying the pre-built version for $200 more instead)

More expensive than many new makers would want to spend

The preassembled Prusa combines beginner-friendly plug-and-play straight out the box with Prusa’s trademark reliability and durability for a fantastic beginner 3D printing experience.

The new MK3S+ features Prusa’s SuperPINDA probe for automatic mesh bed leveling, like the Prusa Mini, for effective first-layer calibration. There’s myriad other hassle-saving extras included, like the filament sensor, power loss recovery (it’ll save where you are if you have a power cut or other fault), and a number of effective safety features.

Prusa i3 MK3S+
Test printing on the Prusa i3 MK3S+. Source: Youtube

If you’re looking for a dual extruder printer, the Prusa doesn’t have that. However, you can buy the Multi Material Upgrade 2.0 for $299, which when fitted turns your Prusa 3D printer into a multi-color 3D printer able to print up to 5 colors simultaneously.

Overall, by buying the preassembled version, you combine Prusa’s reputation for reliability with this easy-access 3D printer, and it’s a great choice for high-quality printing that rarely goes wrong. 


Beginner-Friendly 3D Printing Projects

With your factory-fresh printer up and running, here are a few beginner-friendly 3D printing projects to spark your imagination.

Here are a few excellent sites for finding the STL model files required for 3D printing.

FAQs For Beginners Buying a 3D Printer

What Is a Good 3D Printer to Start With?

A good starter printer for those on a budget is the Voxelab Aquila. It offers beginners everything they need to start their 3D printing journey and produces excellent quality prints for the price. Its standout features include a 220 x 220 x 250 mm build volume, compatibility with PLA, ABS, and PETG, a glass build platform, and an intuitive color user interface.

How Much Is a Beginner 3D Printer?

A beginner 3D printer costs under $300 for a model like the Anycubic Kobra. It’s also possible to buy a beginner 3D print for under $200 such as the $160 Voxelab Aquila. Both are designed with beginners in mind, have great features, and produce solid quality prints for a low price.

Is the Ender 3 a Good Beginner Printer?

Yes and no. The Ender 3 is a good printer in the sense that it’s cheap, but to get the very best out of it and obtain the best quality prints involves upgrading and tweaking the machine. That said, the recently launched Ender 3 S1 bundles in many quality-of-life upgrades, like automatic bed leveling, a direct drive extruder system, and easy assembly, that make it extremely user-friendly.

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