What 3D Printer Should You Buy in 2020

Here is a round up of all the 3D printers David from into3dp.com reviewed in the past year, and he will explain the pros and cons of each model to help you to choose your first printer.

This article is written by David Behrens, edited by Oscar Liang. If you need help with 3D printing or choosing your first printer, head over to David’s forum http://into3dp.com/

When choosing a printer, there are many requirements you should consider: do you want to print big or small, do you need it to be quiet, do you need it to look nice, do you want to modify it and how much use do you expect to get from it without maintenance.

Creality Ender 3

We will start with probably one of the most well known printers out there, the Creality Ender 3. This one specifically is the Ender 3 XS Pro which can only be purchased from Banggood.

Product Page: https://oscarliang.com/product-jqwn (Use Coupon BG885524 for 5 USD off your order)

Pros:

  • Small form factor
  • Lots of online support and tutorials (Large User Base)
  • Good Value for money
  • Silent Steppers (with the XS Pro version)
  • 24V (with the XS Pro version)
  • Comes with glass bed (with the XS Pro version)

Cons:

  • Bowden Extruder
  • Some Tuning/Modifications may be required
  • Cooling Duct

Overall the Ender 3 is a solid printer with a good user base and it does this at a cheap price point. To shine, the Ender does need a few small upgrades, one of the more important being a fan duct as creality’s fan ducts are not very good.

Artillery Genius

Staying in the same form factor but going up the quality scale is the Artillery Genius. It is a little more pricey than the Ender 3 but it comes with a lot of very useful features and it doesn’t need DIY modifications to give excellent prints.

Product Page: https://oscarliang.com/product-hitv

Pros:

  • Small Form Factor
  • AC Heated Bed
  • 24V
  • Silent Steppers
  • Touch Screen Interface
  • Titan DirectDrive Extruder
  • Direct Glass bed (no metal layer)
  • Nice Look
  • Roller bearings on spool holder
  • Filament run-out sensor
  • Very easy assembly

Cons:

  • Plastic Extruder lever can break over time
  • Ribbon cables can give trouble
  • Higher price point

The Genius is my go to printer for most jobs because it is refined and it just works. This does come at a cost though and you need to weigh up if the extra cost will pay off for you. My favourite thing about it is probably the direct drive extruder that makes printing TPU really straightforward. One thing to note is that Artillery printers come with a yellow oily residue on the bed and you need to wipe this off with IPA in order to get a good bed adhesion.

Two Tree Sapphire Pro

When you look at the Ender 3 and Genius, they both have similar design with some feature changes, but the Sapphire Pro from Two Tree is very different.

The Sapphire Pro is a CoreXY printer which basically means instead of the print head moving up and down, the bed moves up and down. This type of printer enables far higher print speeds as the inertia of the bed will normally cause quality issues when trying to print at higher speeds on a traditional style printer.

Product Page: https://oscarliang.com/product-u0xt

Pros:

  • Can print much faster
  • Has inbuilt enclosure
  • Touchscreen interface
  • Silent Steppers
  • Looks nice
  • Dual Drive extruder

Cons:

  • Is a bit harder to access bed for cleanup
  • Can’t really see prints starting easily
  • No glass bed included
  • Really long bowden tube

The inbuilt enclosure looks really nice, and it also enables much easier printing of some more exotic materials like ABS. The enclosure is also useful if you don’t have a secluded room to keep your printer in and you have airflow where you need to keep it which can cause warping prints.

Tenlog Hands 2

Here we have another obscure printer, the Tenlog Hands 2. This one is much like the Ender 3 and Genius, but the Tenlog Hands 2 has two completely separate print heads. This makes calibration a little more complex as not only do you have to level the bed but you also need to match the nozzle heights and end stops, but this is pretty easy to do at least with the smart design of the machine. This machine comes with most the standard nice to have features of the Genius, but with a different packaging approach.

Product Page: https://oscarliang.com/product-aqes (Use Coupon BG3958C4 for 21 USD off your order)

Pros:

  • Touchscreen Interface
  • Silent Steppers
  • 24v
  • Dual Print head
  • Linear Rail X Axis
  • Thick Glass Bed
  • Directdrive Extruders

Cons:

  • Harder to Calibrate
  • Cable routing a little iffy
  • Dual Colour printing is harder to get right (purge towers etc)
  • Right extruder needs a mod for TPU to work well

While the dual colours or materials features of this printer are great, if they aren’t features you want to use I wouldn’t recommend this printer especially as a first printer. But if you are looking for something to do multi-colour or multi-material prints this is one of the best low cost options.

Anet A8 Plus

Now we are moving up into the next size class, the 300x300mm bed size, which matches the very popular CR-10.

The Anet A8 Plus DIY kit is probably the cheapest printer in this size class one would consider, not to be confused with the original Anet A8 which isn’t something I’d ever recommend for safety reasons.

Product Page: https://oscarliang.com/product-r17x (Try coupon for discount: BG65f50e)

Pros:

  • Direct drive extruder
  • Good fan duct
  • Large print volume
  • Low cost

Cons:

  • Very in-depth build
  • Low quality components
  • Needs upgrades for extended use
  • No quiet steppers

The Anet A8 Plus DIY is a good place to start if you’re low on budget and want to learn the intricacies of a 3D printer. This printer comes about as disassembled as possible, and required being completely wired up from scratch. I even had to put the heatsinks on the stepper drivers!

If you want something that will last a long time without any changes you may need to reconsider though as I started having trouble after about 100hrs of print time with the moving assemblies, pulleys that aren’t round, linear rollers giving trouble etc. It all depends on what you want to gain from your first 3D printer.

Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4

The Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4 is the polar opposite of the Anet A8 Plus. It is the bigger, older brother of the Artillery Genius I showed earlier and is in a similar quality category. It shares many of the features of the Genius, like an AC heated bed, silent steppers, Titan Directdrive extruder etc.

Product Page: https://oscarliang.com/product-iirs

Pros:

  • Small Form Factor
  • AC Heated Bed
  • 24V
  • Silent Steppers
  • Touch Screen Interface
  • Titan DirectDrive Extruder
  • Direct Glass bed (no metal layer)
  • Nice Look
  • Roller bearings on spool holder
  • Filament runout sensor
  • Very easy assembly
  • Big build volume (300x300x400)

Cons:

  • Plastic Extruder lever can break over time
  • Ribbon cables can give trouble
  • Higher price point

If you are looking for a CR-10 Sized printer that will treat you well over its life this is probably the best way to go.

This printer is tidy, reliable and fully featured. I would recommend you do a few modifications to the ribbon cable setup for strain relief and retention and maybe consider purchasing an aluminium extruder lever for when the plastic one gives way but with these you’ll have a near perfect printer.

Creality CR-10S

Here we have my biggest printer, with a mammoth 500x500x500 build volume, this baby is too big for most people’s houses and out of most people’s budget. It is also lacking on features that one may get used to on some other printers like the ones made by artillery. I don’t use this printer very often at all, because it is large and 99% of what I print fits on one of my other smaller printers.

Product Page: https://oscarliang.com/product-zwjh

Pros:

  • Large Build Volume
  • Glass Bed

Cons:

  • Bowden Extruder
  • Large
  • Expensive
  • Not accurate for small stuff

The reason why i don’t use this printer for smaller things is that it can’t keep up with the print speeds of other more compact printers. This is because it is constantly lugging this heavy bed back and forth, and even with this giant stepper motor it can’t keep up. For this reason if I have a print that will fit on a smaller printers bed. It is for this reason that I wouldn’t recommend this printer for a first printer because you will find you won’t really need the large build volume.

I have found that people new to the 3D printing world find a larger build volume attractive, but you will find it rare that you’ll print something that doesn’t fit on a 220×220 bed. So before you go out and purchase a printer this big I’d recommend you double check and make sure you really need the size!

Creality LD-002R

This is the Creality LD-002R and the Anycubic Wash and Cure Machine. I only recently dipped my toes in the Resin printing field and I am impressed by the quality.

After using FDM printers for a long time I am amazed to see a print where I need a magnifying glass to see the layer lines. But it does come at a cost, the resin is very brittle, and cannot be deformed like plastic. This means if you have a thin resin print and drop it or flex it it will likely break. Since the resin is UV cured, if a print is going to have lots of direct sun exposure you probably need to consider painting it.

Product Page: https://oscarliang.com/product-ce21

Pros:

  • Amazing Quality detail
  • Small size
  • Completely quiet operation

Cons:

  • Resin Smell is strong
  • Small build volume
  • Results are brittle
  • Handling the resin is hard

If you are going to get into resin printing I definitely recommend a wash and cure unit as it makes it much safer and easier to do. This wash and cure machine by Anycubic is ideal and much cheaper and most other options.

Product Page: https://oscarliang.com/product-d1t4

You remove your prints from the resin printer and drop them straight into this basket and put it in your washing liquid, I recommend something alcohol based. Then you let it run for 5 minutes washing the prints. Then you remove them and put them on this acrylic bed and let it cure them for 5 minutes and your prints are good to go.

Without this I was trying to wash my prints with a paintbrush and it was very messy. Then I was leaving them in the sun for 2 days trying to get them cured but this didn’t work well, faded the colours and was uneven.

Other Popular Printers

Tevo Tarantula

Product Page: https://oscarliang.com/product-541p

This printer is okay, but I’ve always steered clear since it appears to be low quality. But I will hopefully review this printer soon as I love learning peculiar things about low end printers.

Creality CR-10

Product Page: https://oscarliang.com/product-w5j1

This is undoubtedly a very popular printer, but these days it’s a bit overpriced for the feature set in comparison to the other options out there. Maybe I’ll also look at one of these in the future.

Prusa i3

Product Page: https://amzn.to/31oZXDP

This is also a very popular printer and is known for its quality and ease of use. This is also a good option but it’s starting to get a little outdated with some of the more recent features.

Conclusion

I hope the article was useful and gave you some ideas what to look for in your next (or first) printer. Here is the summary of my recommendations:

  • If you want to learn on a tight budget -> Anet A8 Plus
  • If you want a reliable machine on a budget -> Creality Ender 3 Series
  • If you want a quality smaller machine -> Artillery Genius
  • If you want a quality Larger machine -> Artillery Sidewinder X1
  • If you want multi material or colour -> Tenlog Hands 2
  • If you want something to put in your living room -> Two Trees Sapphire Pro
  • If you want something very big -> Creality CR10-S5
  • If you want to print tiny detailed parts or ornaments -> Creality LD-002R
PrinterBuild VolumeExtruder TypePrice ($)VoltageSilent Drivers
Ender 3 XS Pro220x220x250Bowden279.9924VYes
Artillery Genius220x220x250Titan Direct Drive299.9924VYes
Two Trees Sapphire Pro235x235x235BMG Dual Gear Bowden369.9924VYes
Tenlog Hands 2220x220x235Direct Drive x2379.9912VYes
Tevo Tarantula235x235x250Bowden209.9924vNo
Anet A8 Plus300x300x350Direct Drive259.9912VNo
Artillery Sidewinder X1300x300x400Titan Direct Drive38924VYes
Creality CR10300x300x400Bowden389.9912vNo
Creality CR10-S500x500x500Bowden99912vNo
Creality LD-002r119x65x160LCD Resin27912vN/A

5 thoughts on “What 3D Printer Should You Buy in 2020

  1. Jiri

    Hey Oscar, I really like you articles, but please, if you want to assess ANY Prusa printers, please, please, have a look at official PRUSA products and do not point to Chinese sh…-copies. Thank you very much!

    Reply
  2. WizzX

    What about anycubic photon(s) – cheap and good quality SLA. Also is good to mention there’s flexible resin for SLA printers on the market whats from my point of view is the best option to replace TPU on FDM printers. All the parts on my drone is made from flexible resin and they can handle really hard crash

    Reply

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