Best 3D Printers for Families iMore 2021
The Snapmaker 3-in-1 fabricator is a fantastic machine for a family to start their 3D printing adventure. Because of its modular design and the availability of other fabrication systems at purchase, your family can learn 3D printing, laser etching, and CNC milling all from one machine!
Snapmaker 3-in-1 3D printer
A printer with a lot of variety
The Snapmaker has such a variety of uses. It's perfect for a family who wants to learn about fabrication and how to build a machine from scratch. Speaking from personal experience, it's one of my son and I's favorite printers to use together.
Who should buy this 3D printer?
When you have adults and kids who are interested in the same things, it pays to encourage those interests. If you have a family that wants to try out 3D printing, as well as other fabrication mediums, then this is for you. The 3-in-1 system gives you scope for a wide range of projects to share with your family.
Is it a good time to buy the Snapmaker 3-in-1?
The price on the Snapmaker doesn't vary much, so it's a great time to buy it any time of the year. If there are any deals, I will update this post below with links, but the standard price for three exciting tools built into one is probably worth it.
Reasons to buy
- Easy to assemble
- Quality prints out of the box
- 3-in-1 gives you loads of variety
- Modular design allows for expansion
Reasons not to buy
- Price is fairly high
- Build area is small
Playing and Learning is key
What makes a 3D printer good for a family? It needs to be easy to use by a vast range of ages, as well as hold the interest of any person long enough for them to want to continue the hobby. It also needs to have a learning curve, so as the children and adults continue to learn the tasks you can do with it, their skill increases.
The Snapmaker 3-in-1 ticks all these boxes and more. The design of the machine is modular so putting it together was simple enough for my 12-year-old to do on his own. It even has standard RJ45 plugs to connect everything into the main computer board. He made light work of screwing everything in, also checking with a spirit level to make sure everything was straight (he didn't really need to of course, but I wasn't going to stop his fun), then attaching all the cables in the right order. The look on his face when the printer started up the first time was worth the price of admission.
The design of the machine is modular, so putting it together was simple enough for my 12-year-old to do on his own.
The greatest gift that the Snapmaker gives you is variety. When you buy the Snapmaker, it comes with three tool heads, called modules, that allow you to use different fabrication techniques. While the main module you'll want to use is the 3D printing one — it works amazingly well and every print I tried came out almost perfectly — there are also two others: a Laser etching tool and a CNC milling tool. While the CNC milling can probably wait until your kids are slightly older, the laser etching is perhaps one of the most fun tools we own as a family.
With the ability to burn a 2D picture onto a vast variety of materials — we've burnt onto plastic, wood, leather, and even denim so far — the laser etching tool allows children to explore other ways to be creative and opens up your Snapmaker to more uses than just the 3D printing. Keeping kids interested is a massive part of family time, and the Snapmaker will help you do that, especially with its different modules for different kids.
Alternatives to the Snapmaker
While the Snapmaker is an excellent choice for a first-time family, there are alternatives out there. If you are looking for something cheaper to start your family obsession, or you are looking for just a 3D printer, then the Select Mini Pro from Monoprice is an excellent and affordable machine with some advanced tricks. If you have an older family who likes the idea of a larger, more challenging project to start with, the Prusa Mk3 kit would be great, since it's one of the best printers you can buy right now
Monoprice Select Mini Pro
An excellent deal for this little printer
As a starter printer for anyone, you can't go wrong with the Select Mini Pro from Monoprice. Yes, the build plate is small like the Snapmaker, but it also a third of the cost. It's a bargain machine with powerful features.
The Monoprice range has some fantastic machines at low prices. If your family wants to focus on just 3D printing, then starting with one of these is a great way to go. Heck, get two of them — at $250 you can start your own mini production line. They are easy to use and easy to repair, so they make for great starter printers.
I love the Prusa MK3. Everyone I know loves the Prusa MK3. Buying them in kit form is one of the best ways to learn about the design and engineering that goes into 3D printing. It also allows you, and your older children, a chance to get your hands dirty in building and running a 3D printing machine. I would recommend this for anyone who is interested in how things work, not just the end result.
With easy to learn software, excellent instructions on how to build it, and three separate modules to keep those kids hooked, the Snapmaker is the top pick for you and your family. The 3D printing part of the Snapmaker is up to the challenge of teaching your family about the hobby. But with the extra modules, it expands upon the 3D printing, giving your family more outlets to be creative.
I think that is my favorite thing about this machine. My son and I always have lots of creative ideas, and the Snapmaker let us bring those ideas to life.
James Bricknell James built his first PC when he was 13 and has never looked back. He can be found on Windows Central, usually in the corner where all the 3D printers are, or huddled around the Xbox playing the latest games.
Russell Holly Russell is a tech nerd who chases the best of everything, from phones to game consoles to laptops and everything around those categories. He likes to make cosplay items with his 3D printer, most recently the Flash!
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