Top 5 Best 3D Printers for Kids
3D printing technology reached the point of widespread adoption that even young kids are interested in them. Parents might even be considering giving 3D printers as gifts to their kids this holiday season. The question is – are there 3D printers that are kid-friendly?
Yes, there are several good options for 3D printers that are appropriate for kids. There are several key factors to consider such as safety, ease of use, size, and price. If you’re looking for a kid-friendly 3D printer to buy this holiday season, we have narrowed down the selection to our top five recommendations.
What to consider when buying 3D printers for kids
It’s a huge advantage if you’re already well-versed about 3D printing when buying a 3D printer for your kid. However, it’s not impossible to do this even if you’re still new to the craft. It’s also a worthwhile experience to learn about 3D printing side-by-side with a young student.
However, there are some factors that we consider non-negotiable if we’re buying a 3D printer for a kid. Our first recommendation is that you stick with FDM printers are they are simpler to understand and do not involve handling toxic resin. Even with this restriction, not all FDM 3D printers are equally appropriate for kids. These are the characteristics you should be looking for:
3D printers will inevitably involve temperatures of more than 200 °C and lots of moving parts. These are naturally dangerous even for adults but are more hazardous given the curious nature of kids. For this reason, we highly recommend 3D printers that come with built-in enclosures. These restrict access to the hot and moving parts of a 3D printer while it is running.
Another benefit of an enclosed 3D printer is that it partially contains any fumes or microparticles that are released during 3D printing. A curious kid will almost certainly want to keep an eye on a project as it’s being printed. The enclosure will help reduce any hazards to you and your kid’s respiratory systems.
Ease of use
Additive manufacturing is the future of the manufacturing industry. If you can get your kid to be interested in this technology, then it may the foundation for skillsets that they can continue to learn while they grow up. However, kids can be impatient. You want a 3D printer that is engaging to use but is not frustratingly difficult to learn.
First off, you want to get a 3D printer that is plug-and-play. You would not want to assemble a 3D printer yourself and possibly make a mistake in putting it together. It also massively helps if the 3D printer comes with an intuitive LCD control, an auto-bed leveling feature, and a magnetic build plate.
Let’s face it – getting a 3D printer for your kid will always be a gamble. There will always be the possibility that your kid will not like the 3D printer at all or be interested in it only for a short while.
There are two approaches to this dilemma. The first is that you can buy a 3D printer that is relatively cheap so that it won’t hurt as much when it eventually gets exiled to the garage or the attic. The second is that you can buy a more expensive and more sophisticated 3D printer that you won’t mind using yourself should your kid not want it.
Cheap is a relative term, of course. Nowadays, there are 3D printers that cost just a little more than $100. However, these are typically low-quality 3D printers that will have you spend more time troubleshooting than printing. We suggest increasing your budget to around $300 to buy reliable 3D printers that are easy to use yet sophisticated enough to catch the attention of adults.
While you’re shopping for a good 3D printer, it might also be worth the time to take note of the supplies and tools you will need. Aside from a stash of filament, you will need a metal spatula, some adhesive, a basic screwdriver set, some sandpaper, and cleaning materials. Nobody ever said 3D printing was a cheap hobby.
Top 5 best 3D printers for kids
With all those considerations in mind, we have prepared a list of 3D printers that we consider to be high-quality and appropriate for use by kids and young adults.
Coming in first on our list is the Adventurer 3D printer from Flashforge. This 3D printer ticks all the boxes in our recommendations – it works out of the box, has a built-in enclosure, a removable build plate, and an auto-leveling feature. It also costs less than $300.
The only major drawback of the Adventurer is that it is quite small, although we consider this par for the course for 3D printers in this price range.
The Adventurer has been described as a stripped-down version of the more advanced Flashforge 3D printers. Despite this, it remains a perfectly capable 3D printer that is decidedly more user-friendly. We think that it’s the perfect cost-effective entry-level 3D printer for those who wish to start this hobby.
The Finder is the more upscaled version of the Adventurer. It’s more expensive and slightly larger but still retains many of the user-friendly features of the Finder. The Adventurer also has an enclosure and a removable build plate. The leveling feature of the Adventurer is not fully automated but is guided, which is still a huge help.
A valuable feature of the Finder is that it can connect to the local Wi-Fi for wireless transmission of models for 3D printing. This is a quality-of-life upgrade that makes transferring of models easier and more seamless. We don’t consider it an essential feature for an entry-level 3D printer. but it does make the workflow more convenient.
A drawback of the Finder is that it already costs a little above the $300 threshold. The excess cost isn’t huge – you can easily justify it if you’re looking for a high-performance 3D printer.
The Voxel is the entry-level 3D printer from Monoprice that meets our qualifications. It has a full enclosure, an intuitive LCD panel, and a flexible and removable build plate. The leveling function of the Voxel is fully assisted and can be done via the touch screen interface. The build volume of the Voxel is quite modest and is equal to that of the Flashforge Adventurer.
One major advantage of the Voxel is that it has a heated bed. This widens the range of filaments that can be printed using the Voxel. The heated bed can also come in handy if you run into any bed adhesion issues.
Unsurprisingly given its features, the Voxel costs significantly above the $300 threshold. The Voxel has earned a good reputation as one of the best and most reliable entry-level FDM printers, which might help convince you to spend just a bit more.
What better way to entice kids with 3D printing than with a mini 3D printer? The Monoprice Select is one of the smallest 3D printers in the market. It does not have an enclosure but comes fully assembled and ready to use.
Despite the size, the Monoprice Select is a perfectly capable 3D printer. Its hot end nozzle can be heated to temperatures needed by filaments such as ABS and PETG and even has a heated build plate. Uploading models to the Select cannot be any easier as it can be done via Wi-Fi, USB connection, or microSD card.
At less than $200, the Monoprice Select is one of the least expensive 3D printers on this list. The lack of an enclosure means that you compromise a bit on safety, but you can easily remedy this with a third-party enclosure.
The Creality Ender 3 is a 3D printer that we recommend for older kids or young adults. It does not look as fancy as the other entries in this list, but it certainly gets the job done. A bit of patience will be needed when using this printer as it has to be assembled. Getting all the components perfectly assembled can be quite complex – expect to spend 3 to 5 hours on this.
The Ender 3 is fairly small and comes with a heated build plate. It does not have an automatic or guided bed leveling feature. It also does not have an enclosure. The Ender 3 is quite an old 3D printer and lacks many of the quality-of-life features that more recently released 3D printers have.
Despite all the shortcomings, the Ender 3 is recognized by many as one of the best entry-level 3D printers. If you can assemble it properly, it’s one of the most reliable 3D printers you can buy. It also costs less than $200. If you don’t mind having to assemble a printer for a few hours, then the Ender 3 is certainly worth considering.
With the popularity of 3D printing, it is no longer surprising that even young kids are interested in 3D printers. Some have even said that skills in additive manufacturing could come in handy in preparing them for their future careers.
Whether it’s for education or purely for fun, 3D printers offer a great new idea for gifts to kids this holiday season. Just keep in mind that 3D printers aren’t specifically designed for kids. It would be best to get a model that has as many safety features as possible. Regardless, you will want to be there to supervise whenever your kid is using the 3D printer.