The Best 3D Printers For Small Business In 2024

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By now, you’ve probably heard all the rage about 3D printers. You can print anything from a simple iPhone case to a complex, fully functional motor or even an entire house – all on demand.

In addition to the fun factor, plenty of businesses utilize 3D printers. 3D printing has secured itself a slot in the future of manufacturing, and its functionality and use are only growing. This technology has made a huge difference in small businesses and what they can do. Our experts examine the industry and review the top 3D printers for small businesses on the market today.

Best QualityBest FeaturesBest Value
Ultimaker S5MakerBot Replicator+QIDI MAX3

What Is 3D Printing?

Student showing 3d printed shapes next to a 3d printer.
Student showing 3D printed shapes next to a 3D printer.
Image credit: Marlon Lopez MMG1 Design, Shutterstock

3D printing (or additive manufacturing “AM” for short) creates solid objects of virtually any shape using a digital “mold.” Printers use a Computer Aided Design (CAD) blueprint that slices into hundreds or thousands of layers. These layers are then “printed” (or added on top of each other) one at a time to create a 3D object. The print material can range from plastic resins and filaments to metals or even chocolate.

10 Features To Look For In A 3D Printer

There are a few things to look for when shopping for a 3D printer. The best machine for you may be different than someone else, depending on your business and printing needs.

  1. Print quality
  2. Speed
  3. Cost of filament
  4. Heated enclosure/temperature
  5. Single or dual extruder
  6. Filament type
  7. Build plate type and if it is removable
  8. Sensors
  9. Leveling capability
  10. Print volume

The Best 3D Printer For Small Business

In the past, 3D printers were extremely large and very expensive. Lucky for you, the technology has improved enough recently to make home three-dimensional “desktop” printing a reality.

As with traditional 2D printers, 3D printers are known to jam and give you a bit of trouble from time to time. But not to worry! The brands we reviewed below are all backed with warranties and a team of experts who are there to help you.

We also might note that many of the printers require you to use their own filament (i.e., “ink”), so keep that in mind when making a decision.

Instead of general winners, we have selected a winner in their respective categories: quality, features, and budget.

Best Quality: Ultimaker S5 Review

Ultimaker S5

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If you’re looking for one of the most basic desktop 3D printers, look no further than the Ultimaker S5. We read mostly glowing reviews about how well this machine produces high-quality products and has the fastest output on the market. It can be used to click and print with over 280 materials and comes with access to Ultimaker Cura, a free, easy-to-use 3D printing software.

There are three different models of the Ultimaker: the extended version for large-format printing, the less expensive and smaller 2 GO less, and our recommended Ultimaker S5. All three are relatively lightweight and durable machines. They take both SD and USB input and have customer service to help with any issues. Each model comes with a one-year guarantee.

ProsCons
Comes almost fully pre-assembled, ready to plug and playIt isn’t as technologically advanced as other models
Fastest and best quality compared to other brandsIt can be noisy due to the fan
LightweightNo pre-heat option
Excellent UI on LCD screenSome technical issues have been reported
Heated print bedRelatively expensive
Composite-ready dual extrusion

Price

Best Features: MakerBot Replicator+ Review

MakerBot Replicator+

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If you are a more experienced techie looking to impress your friends, the Replicator is a great pick. MakerBot’s Replicator does exactly what the name says, and the added onboard camera allows you to monitor printing from your smartphone or computer. It has an LCD interface, USB, Wi-Fi, and ethernet connections. You can print straight from your browser with the Print from CAD integration.

You can also control the printer remotely with MakerBot Print free software or the MakerBot Mobile app. The mobile app shows you the time remaining on your print job, provides alerts, and more. The Makerbot has WiFi capability, which allows you to print wirelessly from the cloud. You can also auto-arrange multiple build plates at once.

There is also a MakerBot x2 and a Mini, but if you’re just starting out, we recommend the original. You can always upgrade or get a Mini down the road. If you want a slightly fancier model, check out MakerBot’s Sketch 3D printer, which is designed for student and beginner use and comes with training materials and over 15 hours of online training.

ProsCons
On-board cameraMust use MakerBot brand filament
Options for draft or finer resolutionAll the fancy features come with a higher price tag
Mobile app to control the printer from a smartphoneSome users report it being noisy while in use
Print via WiFi connection
3.5-inch full-color LCD Touch Screen
Factory-leveled flexible build plate
MakerBot Smart Extruder

Price

Best For Budget: QIDI MAX3 Review

QIDI MAX3

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The QIDI MAX3 large-size 3D printer is a great budget pick. It is suitable for both 3D printing pros and beginners. The printer has a large printing size, a temperature-controlled chamber, and a drying box. The heated control chamber helps prevent layer separation and internal stressors in the print quality. It has an all-metal frame and flexible HF printing plate.

One of the QIDI MAX3’s best features is that it is print-ready right out of the box. Simply set up, connect your device, and start printing. This is a very flexible printer and can use a variety of filaments. It uses open-source Klipper firmware and QIDIslicer software and can be set up to use via remote control through the software.

The printing speed is fast on this one, but keep in mind that this is a budget printer without a lot of bells and whistles. It will not give the same results as a more expensive one, but it is a good machine to get started with if you’re on a budget.

ProsCons
Aluminum frameSome users are not happy with the print quality
6mm aluminum heat bed plateMay jam after high usage
Dual cooling fansBulky design
The extruder can print many different filament typesFan noise
Fast printing speedPlastic spool can fall off with larger prints
Easy set up

Price

3D Printers Comparison Chart

Best Quality:Ultimaker 2Best Features: MakerBot Replicator+Best Value: QIDI MAX3Cube ProDremel DigilabSnapmaker Artisan 3
Price (at time of writing) $6,950.00 $1,297.77 $899.00 Price:  $1,500.00 $2,418.99 ($2.70 / oz) Price:  Check Amazon for availability
Filament typePLA, Tough PLA, PETG, ABS, CPE, CPE+, Nylon, PC, TPU95A, PPPLA MakerBot Tough PLAPLA, ABS, ASA, PETG, TPU, PC, PA, Carbon fiber, GFPLA, ABS, Infinity Rinse-Away support material, and NylonPLA, PETG, Nylon, Eco-ABS, TPUPLA, ABS, ASA, PETG, TPU (Hardness > 90 Shore A), Breakaway PLA, PVA, HIPS, Nylon, Carbon Fiber Reinforced Nylon, Glass Fiber Reinforced Nylon
Product Weight45.3 pounds35 pounds66.6 pounds108 pounds36.3 pounds116.7 pounds
Max Print Size (H x W x D)13″ x 9.4″ x 11.8″11.6″ x 7.6 ” x 6.5″12.8″ × 12.8″ × 12.4″9.06″ x 9.56″ x 10.6″ 9” x 5.9” x 5.5”15″ x 15″ x 15″
Supported file typesUltiMaker Cura: STL, OBJ, X3D, 3MF, BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG Printable formats: G, GCODE, GCODE.gz, UFPSTL, OBJ, THING, .makerbot, GCode, X3G/S3GAMF.cubeproGCOD, G3DREM, .gSTL, OBJ
InputUSB, Ethernet, WiFiUSB, Ethernet, WiFiWiFi, EthernetWiFiUSB, Ethernet, WiFiWiFi, USB, USB Flash drive
Windows Supportedcheckmark bluecheckmark bluecheckmark bluecheckmark bluecheckmark bluecheckmark blue
OSX Supportedcheckmark bluecheckmark bluecheckmark bluecheckmark bluecheckmark bluecheckmark blue
WarrantyLimited through the manufacturerLimited – check with the manufacturer1-yearLimited1-year1-year

History Of 3D Printing

Although the technology seems relatively new, the oldest AM dates back to the early 1980s when Hideo Kodama of Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute developed two fabricating methods. But it wasn’t until Chuck Hull of 3D Systems Corporation created the stereolithography method that modern AM printing arose.

Video: 3D Printing – How Does It Work & What Can You Make?

This video shows how the process works and the cutting-edge applications that are being developed with 3D printing technology. It is exciting to think about the possibilities of doctors being able to “print” organs or parts of organs to transplant into the human body rather than waiting on a long organ transplant list.

5 Benefits Of 3D Printing For Businesses

Obviously, it’s fun to think of all the cool things you can print using a 3D printer (especially when you can use chocolate instead of ink). But, in addition to impressing your friends, there are plenty of reasons to invest in a 3D printer for professional use.

  1. Custom Design and Tweak Prototypes – Speed up your product development timeline by doing your own custom design and new product research and development and save money on the costly overhead of having a third party do it for you. You can experiment with shapes and sizes and test your product without waiting or spending thousands of dollars to outsource the manufacturing of the prototypes. Companies like Nike are bringing this technology in-house, and, as a result, they’re able to shorten the time from concept to market.
  2. Create One-of-a Kind Pieces – Industries like auto and parts manufacturers, the aerospace industry, and even NASA are now using 3D printers to make parts and are finding that the parts are fairly substantial and durable enough to withstand high heat and pressure.
  3. Print Small Jobs – When outsourcing a product, the molds take time and money to build, and suppliers require a minimum purchase order size to make the product cost-effective. Not so with 3D printers. You can print your own prototype one-offs with the push of a button.
  4. Print on Demand, AnytimeFor example, Yahoo has made it possible for blind children in Japan to search the web. Their Hands On Search machine is part 3D printer and part computer. Students at the Special Needs Education School can say something like “snowflake,” and the machine will search Yahoo for an image and print a miniaturized version of the object on demand. In this case, it provides a physical object that the blind student can touch and feel to gain a better understanding of a word they do not know. The machine can literally print the answer to their question.
  5. Offer as a Capability for Potential Clients – Offering prototypes or models to clients could be especially beneficial for professionals in fields like architecture or engineering who want to impress their customers with three-dimensional renderings and samples.

What About Cube, Dremel, & Snapmaker?

In addition to the three “best of” printers reviewed above, here are three other great machines that we recommend, depending on your budget and needs. These also have great reviews on third-party sites that we felt were worth mentioning.

Cube Pro Duo Review

Cube Pro Duo

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This sleek printer makes a great addition to your office without being an eyesore. There are three models of the Cube Pro that are pretty similar in terms of features, except for the number of colors that can be printed. The Cube Pro does one color, Duo is two and Trio is (you guessed it) three colors.

However, the more colors you print, the less space there is inside the chamber, so the more you compromise on the print area. For that reason, we recommend the Duo as a happy medium.

All Cube Pros come ready to use straight out of the box and print on a variety of material types and resolutions. You can use low resolution (similar to a regular printer’s “draft mode”), which will save on material. These printers also have climate control to ensure quality printing, although some users report unreliable or fuzzy outputs at times. Finally, the smart cartridges that these printers use are easy to load (and must be purchased through the manufacturer since they’re made to fit this printer specifically).

ProsCons
Prints in multiple colors (Duo or Trio only) and multiple materials Must use Cube’s filament – which is pricey ($99 each)
WiFi-enabledSlower than other printers
Color touch screenMuch heavier than other 3D printers
Three resolutions options
Smart cartridges make for easy replacement of filament
90-day warranty for parts and labor
Customer support if you have issues

Price

Dremel DigiLab 3D45-EDU Review

Dremel DigiLab 3D45-EDU

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Dremel has been around for more than 80 years, so they’ve built a level of trust in the “imagination industry.” Their open system gives users the ability to download free, print-ready models from around the web, as well as hundreds of projects from their website. They have a huge knowledge base online including video tutorials, so you can start printing in no time. The options are as endless as your ideas.

One of the downsides is that you have to use the Dremel brand filament since others could damage the machine, and using it voids the warranty. A few people report that the printer is a little testy at times, But they have excellent customer service via Skype and chat to help you out.

Overall, it’s a decent product for a decent price tag, so if you’re not going to be using it heavily, it’s a great starter piece of equipment.

ProsCons
Fast, out-of-box useNot as sleek of a design
Full-color touch screenMust use Dremel filament
Large print areaProducts reported to dissolve after several months
Good value
Moving parts contained inside make for quiet printing
Friendly, responsive customer service

Price

Snapmaker Artisan 3 Review

Snapmaker Artisan 3

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The Snapmaker Artisan 3D printer also has a laser engraver and CNC machine capability. It is a powerful three-in-one option that can be a huge asset for small businesses. It offers a large, enclosed work area, three-in-one software, and a 7″ touchscreen. Snapmaker features an all-metal design, including a one-piece die-cast base plate.

This printer has a dual extruder and prints on dissolvable supports. If you prefer, you can also print breakaway supports. It features auto leveling and has very good print quality. Installation and setup are easy as long as you follow the instructions. It’s a sturdy, well-reviewed machine that can boost your business capability and doesn’t require a huge knowledge of coding or tech to use.

ProsCons
3-in-one softwareHigh price
Enclosed workspaceMore parts and supplies are needed
3D printing, laser cutting, CNC Takes up more room
All metal design
Large print capacity

Price

Now that you’ve seen the selection of printers and had a chance to compare them side by side, it’s time to decide which is the best fit for your needs.

If you are just starting out, you might want to start off to test the waters with a slightly less expensive version or one with great customer support. However, if you are a more experienced engineer and/or technically inclined, a printer with advanced features might be a better investment.

If you are a newer small business owner, there are a few helpful apps you should know about. Learn more in our guide on the best small business apps.

My Personal Experience With 3D Printers

Danielle's 3d printer with items printed with it in various colors.
Photo by Danielle DeGroot for SafeSmartLiving.com, © Cover Story Media, Inc. 2024. 

I currently own two smaller 3D printers, the first of which I purchased when my children started expressing an interest in science and engineering. Since then, one of my children has become an expert in 3D printing and has been pivotal in running a student-led printing business at his high school.

These skills have also been beneficial in our everyday lives. A few months ago, one of my vehicles was broken into, and someone tried to steal the car itself, causing a great deal of damage. The break-in happened to coincide with a holiday. I could not reach anyone to get my car fixed, so my husband and I decided to fix it ourselves.

With the assistance of 3D-printed auto parts made in our own home, we were able to repair the damage ourselves at a fraction of the cost it would have been to have a professional do it. (Of course, having a little bit of prior experience with auto repair helped, too.) Whether for small business or your own personal use, I highly recommend embracing and learning about 3D printing technology. You will truly be amazed at the ways it can benefit your life.

The Longer 3D LK5 Pro printer in action printing nose cones for water-powered model rockets.

What’s The Best Traditional Printer?

And if 3D printing isn’t your jam (get it?), then a more traditional printer might be more up your alley. Either way, make sure your equipment is protected with a surge protector.

What will you make with a 3D printer? Let us know in the comments!

Why Trust We Rock Your Web?

Danielle comes from a family of small business owners and embraces the entrepreneurial spirit. 3D printing technology is something she has long been interested in. She knows how valuable this technology can be, from printing car parts to toys. Danielle spends countless hours researching, vetting, and testing products and services to help small businesses thrive.

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The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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