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Best 3D Printers For Education

Best 3D Printers For Education
(Image credit: iStock/demaerre)

The best 3D printers for education are ideal tools for 3D modelling, virtually, that has a real-world physical output students can hold, work with, and use in other projects.

Having a 3D printer in school allows students the exciting ability to create real-world examples of ideas that would otherwise be stuck in their heads or on paper, at best. From shop classes and physics lessons to art and geography, the investment in a 3D printer can be measured against lots of lessons across the school.

During the time of the pandemic, many institutions showed just how useful 3D printers in schools could be. Students at Camdenton High School in Missouri have been 3D printing face shields for health workers. At Eckerd College in Florida, the tech department 3D printed cable support units to help extend the range of webcams for remote learning. And don't forget about the use of 3D printers not in the same room as students who printed from home.

So which are the best 3D printers for education?

Best 3D Printers For Education

1. Dremel Digilab 3D45: Best overall

Dremel Digilab 3D45

(Image credit: Dremel)

Dremel Digilab 3D45

Best overall 3D printer for education

3D printing tech: FDM | Top resolution: 50 microns | Build area: 10 x 6 x 6.7 inches | Materials: ECO-ABS, PLA, nylon, PETG

Print from anywhere, online
Auto-leveling plate
Integrated camera to view print
Slow starter
Not great with flexible filament

The Dremel Digilab 3D45 is a superb example of a 3D printer that is built for schools and beyond. It is WiFi connected so students can print from anywhere, even at home, which makes it good for hybrid learning as well as in class. But it's the unique 720p camera that's a real draw here so students can view progress of the print in real-time. The auto-leveling bed and auto-filament detection are big parts of this too, so printing can start without the need to make physical adjustments in person.

For in-classroom use, the unit features a HEPA filter and closed printer chamber to remove any toxins from the filament. Dremel also bundles prepared lesson plans aimed at K-12 education. Plus, it offers a certification program to help instructors become better at using, and teaching use of, its 3D printers. 

2. Flashforge Finder 3D Printer: Best for beginners

Flashforge Finder 3D Printer

(Image credit: Flashforge)

Flashforge Finder 3D Printer

The best educational 3D printer for beginners

3D printing tech: FDM | Top resolution: 100 microns | Build area: 11.8 x 9.8 x 11.8 inches | Materials: LA, ABS, TPU, nylon, PETG, PC, Carbon fiber

Removable print plate
WiFi connected
Affordable and easy to use
Auto-filament detection for proprietary only

The Flashforge Finder 3D Printer is a superb option for schools looking to test the use of a 3D printer as it's designed for beginners. As such, it is priced low, is easy to use, and offers excellent reliability.

Despite the low cost, this unit features a removable print plate for easy flipping of the finished product, WiFi connectivity for online printing remotely, and very quiet running. Setup is near effortless, which is a big appeal in the sometimes complicated world of 3D printers. The fact this works with a whole host of filaments and that there is auto detection for proprietary types is a bonus.

The Flashforge Education Program offers schools and colleges discounts to lower the already very fairly priced 3D printer. 

3. Ultimaker Original+: Best for building challenge

Ultimaker Original+

(Image credit: Ultimaker)

Ultimaker Original+

Best for building challenge

3D printing tech: FDM | Top resolution: 20 microns | Build area: 8.2 x 8.2 x 8.1 inches | Materials: PLA, ABS, CPE

Build-it-yourself design
Ultimaker resources for teachers
High-quality print results
Building may not appeal to all

The Ultimaker Original+ is a novel 3D printer in that it harks back to the start of this type of printer, when you were required to construct it yourself. As such, it represents a great project for a class, to build the printer before using it to build more items. This also makes it a more affordable option, perhaps one that students could have in their homes, if they were interested in investing in 3D printing.

The print area is plenty big enough and there are several popular filament options that work with this unit. Pair with a computer and the Ultimaker Cura software and you have a powerful tool for designing and building many different projects.

Ultimaker as a brand has been around for a long time in the 3D printing world and, as such, offers a wide selection of resources for educators -- from the basics through operation and maintenance right up to lessons for students that focus on STEM learning.

4. Sindoh 3DWOX1: Best for remote printing

Sindoh 3DWOX1

(Image credit: Sindoh)

Sindoh 3DWOX1

Best for remote printing

3D printing tech: FDM | Top resolution: 50 microns | Build area: 7.9 x 7.9 x 7.3 inches | Materials: PLA, ABS, ASA, PETG

Close frame build
Hands-off filament loading
Removable print bed
WiFi connected
Instructions could be clearer

The Sindoh 3DWOX1 is a 3D printer that brings some of the best innovative features to a model that sits at the mid-level price point. As such, it boasts a heated platform and removable bed for easy product removal, HEPA air filter in a contained print area to stop fumes, and hands-off filament loading for safety and ease. You also get WiFi connectivity, so this is remote learning-friendly for off-site printing.

This unit works with plenty of different filaments, both Sindoh's own as well as third-party options such as PLA and ABS. It is a reliable printer that keeps the price lower than you'd expect for what you get here. Speed adjustment is also useful, especially for remote printing in which time constraints aren't an issue, as you can go slower to get a higher-quality end result. 

5. Makerbot Sketch Solution: Best for lesson plan STEM learning

Makerbot Sketch Solution

(Image credit: Makerbot)

Makerbot Sketch Solution

Best for lesson plan STEM learning

3D printing tech: FDM | Top resolution: 100 - 400 microns | Build area: 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches | Materials: PLA for Sketch, TOUGH for Sketch

Over 600 free lesson plans
Great CAD software
Lots of included accessories
Smaller print area
Not widely compatible with filaments

The Makerbot Sketch Solution is from a brand that has more than 7,000 models in schools across North America. That's not only thanks to the quality of the hardware but also the backing of tons of educational resources. This unit comes with more than 600 free lesson plans, a certification program for students, and ISTE-certified 10-hour 3D printing training. The cloud-based file management system that works with the powerful TinkerCAD and Fusion 360 3D CAD software is a really nice feature both for in-class design and from home hybrid learning too.

The printer itself comes with a heated and flexible build plate for easy removal of printed items. The enclosed chamber and particulate filter make it super safe, and touch screen controls make for easy in-class use. Everything is easy to setup and use but the lack of filament compatibility and price may not work for everybody.

6. Original Prusa i3 MK3S+: Best for consistent quality

Original Prusa i3 MK3S+

(Image credit: Prusa Research)

Original Prusa i3 MK3S+

For consistently high-quality printing

3D printing tech: FDM | Top resolution: 150 microns | Build area: 9.8 x 8.3 x 7.9 inches | Materials: PLA, PETG, ABS, ASA, Flx, Nylon, Carbon-filled, Woodfill

Consistent quality
Great self-levelling
Multiple filament support 
Limited build volume

The Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ is the latest in a long line of iterations of this flagship 3D printer which has continually been improved on, with an already good setup, to reach the level it's at now. The result is a build quality and print consistency that is fantastic. This comes pre-built and features some excellent additions such as the magnetic bed, which fits perfectly into place and stays there for consistently high-quality print results.

For the price the build size could be a little larger, but with that new bed-levelling probe and the results, at the 150-micron resolution, speaking for themselves, it's tough to find fault with this 3D printer. The fact it supports lots of filament types and the company's own PrusaSlicer software is easy to use, make for a compelling setup that justifies the price.

Luke Edwards is a freelance writer and editor with more than two decades of experience covering tech, science, and health. He writes for many publications covering health tech, software and apps, digital teaching tools, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and much more.