best 3D printer for schools

What is the Best 3D Printer for Schools and Education in 2021?

Today, many educational institutions are turning to new creative ways of imparting knowledge to students. They gravitate away from conventional, boring methods of teaching to learning through play. Why won’t they? The world we used to know is changing; education must change to meet the increasingly complex work demands.

As such, we now have 3D printers specifically designed for teaching in the classroom. 3D printers that make learning fun and exciting. We have reviewed the best 3D printer for schools — printers suitable for elementary, high school, and advanced learning institutions. And included a buying guide that will help you determine what will best serve your school’s educational needs.

Top Pick

FlashForge Finder

  • 11 Kilograms
  • Wi-Fi, USB connectivity
  • 54 x 16.54 x 16.54 inches

Best 3D Printer for Schools for 2021 Review: Key Features, Pros, and Cons

Irrespective of the field your kid loves to major in, there will always be an educational need for a 3D printer. A 3D printer is also an avenue for students to learn about this amazing tech, its capability, and various applications. But which is the best 3D printer for schools? The table below summarizes our top picks.

IMAGENAME & DetailsDETAILS
FlashForge Finder 3D Printers
  • Compatible material: Plastic, Polylactic Acid
  • Build color: White/Black
  • Build volume: 140 L x 140 W x 140 H mm.
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Dremel DigiLab 3D45
  • Compatible material: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene
  • Build color: Red
  • Build volume: 10 x 6.0 x 6.7 in
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Monoprice – 15365 Select Mini 3D Printer
  • Compatible material: All Filament Types
  • Build color: White
  • Build volume: 120 x 120 x 120 mm
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ELEGOO Mars 2 Mono MSLA 3D Printer
  • Compatible material: Resin
  • Build color: Green
  • Build volume: 5.08 x 3.15 x 5.90 in
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FOKOOS Odin-5 F3 Foldable 3D Printer
  • Compatible material: Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol, Polylactic Acid
  • Build color: Random colors
  • Build volume: 235 x 235 x 250mm
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MakerBot Replicator + 3D Printer
  • Compatible material: Polylactic Acid
  • Build color: Black
  • Build volume: 11.6 L x 7.6 W x 6.5 H in
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Dremel Digilab 3D20 3D Printer
  • Compatible material: Polylactic Acid
  • Build color: Translucent
  • Build volume: 9.0 x 5.9 x 5.5 in
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1. FlashForge Finder 3D Printers

Highlighted features

  • 11 Kilograms
  • Wi-Fi, USB connectivity
  • 54 x 16.54 x 16.54 inches

This is an excellent 3D printer for both elementary and high school students. We fell in love with the black and red finish right from unboxing, plus the many features it offers.

The FlashForge Finder 3D Printers have a simple user interface, and it is easy to use. Thus, it is suitable for the novice starting out in 3D printing.

We love the unique filament management system on this device. The filament is contained in a cartridge that auto-moves towards the back of the 3D printer as directed by the automatic filament sensor. This process is similar to what obtains in conventional printers. As such, filament management is super easy and extremely easy to execute by students.

Another feature that stands out for us is the automatic leveling print bed technology. You won’t find this premium feature on many 3D printers at this price. It allows a user to calibrate the exact distance between the build plate and the nozzle. In addition, the printhead has a sensor that helps users easily and quickly calibrate the 3D printer.

Pros

  • This 3D printer is quiet during operation.
  • It supports a 3D Cloud function, allowing users to edit, store, share and check printing status online.
  • The printer comes with an intelligent calibration detection system for leveling.

Cons

  • Customer service can be better.

2. Dremel DigiLab 3D4b5 printer

Highlighted features

  • Item weight 50 pounds
  • Additional Spools Filament
  • Built-in HD Camera
  • Color Touch Screen

This 3D printer, the Dremel DigiLab 3D45, comes with 30 Lesson Plans for K-12 that you can implement immediately in your classroom. In addition, this device requires minimal operating effort, thanks to a wide color touch screen and an easy-to-use Wi-Fi function. This 3D printer even allows you to remotely print progress using a built-in high-definition camera.

We found this device connectivity pretty easy, as it connected seamlessly with Chromebook, PC, Mac, and iPad. In addition, it features an automatic filament runout detection and an adjustable print setting. The filament detection resumes the printing process, where it stops before the filament runs out.

With this printer, the safety of the students and the class is guaranteed, as it comes with a carbon air filter that holds tiny molecules generated as a result of the printing process.

Besides being a teaching tool, instructors can participate in Dremel’s online training and become certified in 3D hardware, printing, and design.

Pros

  • This printer supports Wi-Fi, USB, and ethernet connectivity.
  • It comes with 30 lesson plans that can be implemented immediately.
  • It is suitable for elementary and high school.

Cons

  • This printer has a Slow start-up process.

3. Monoprice - 15365 Select Mini 3D Printer

Highlighted features

  • 3 x 7.5 x 13.5 inches
  • Item Weight 9 Pounds
  • Mac operating system

This is a pocket-friendly but functional 3D printer. We are impressed with how sturdy this unit is. All moving parts are concealed from sight, which is a big plus. It means you do not have to worry that your moving fingers might stray to areas where they can get hurt.

We find the LCD screen on the printer to be extremely useful. With it, we were able to view information about running processes and the general health of the printer. Also, it helps to locate the files to print easily and quickly.

The Monoprice – 15365 Select Mini 3D Printer comes assembled. This is nice! You don’t have to worry about tools or matching component parts to screw together. Unbox, and it is ready to start printing your 3D objects.

Monoprice is a renowned company in the 3D printing world.  As such, you can rely on this product for quality prints at all times – top quality, without creating a hole in your pocket. Note, there is really no inexpensive 3-dimensional printer; this product costs just a little below $200.

On the other hand, this is less expensive than many others on the market. Thus, if you are running low on budget, go for this 3D printer.

Pros

  • This 3D printer comes pre-installed and ready to print.
  • It supports all filament types.
  • It comes in a compact shape that makes it perfect for many desks.
  • The 3D printer is relatively inexpensive when compared to other models having the same functionalities.

Cons

  • It is not easy to disassemble for maintenance.

4. ELEGOO Mars 2 Mono MSLA 3D Printer

Highlighted features

  • Multi-language interface
  • Ultra-accuracy
  • UV Photocuring
  • Printing Speed of 30-50mm/h

In a very competitive 3D resin printing world, the ELEGOO Mars 2 3D printer has carved a niche for itself as a powerful, inexpensive, and easy-to-use printing device. When we received our machine, it came with a user guide that listed the active product forums on Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms. This makes the product accessible and easy to operate for everyone regardless of their resin 3D printing knowledge.

After unboxing, we filled the device with resin and printed the demonstration model. The process took just under an hour to complete. We believe everyone testing this product with the same model will record similar results.

Elegoo recommends using this printer with a CHITUBOX application as the slicer for its resin 3D printers. It contains the native profile of Mars 2 and other Mars printers. In addition, this software allows users to hollow before printing. Hollowing reduces the amount of resin used on a print and reduces the width that links the FEP film. After a model is hollowed, CHITUBOX auto-generates a support material that firmly holds the model to the printing surface.

The machine comes with a green resin plastic tank that is environmentally friendly. Depending on your printing needs, one can replace the printer tank to extend the shelf-life of the 3D printer.

Pros

  • This 3D printer comes with a 6.08-inch Monochrome display.
  • The resin tank is biodegradable, thus, environmentally friendly.
  • It comes in a machined aluminum body that makes it tough and durable.

Cons

  • Resin prints can be messy and smelly.

5. FOKOOS Odin-5 F3 Foldable 3D Printer

Highlighted features

  • Foldable Design
  • Quiet Motherboard
  • Double Z-axis Design

The FOKOOS Odin-5 is a 3D printer with many features that will appeal to individuals with advanced 3D printing knowledge and a price that will attract all users. It is a unit that features a foldable frame and comes almost 100% assembled. It is super-easy to set up, and the process can be completed in under 20 minutes.

Selling at $254.99 on Amazon, this 3D printer comes packed with features found on premium models that require assemblage. This makes the FOKOOS Odin-5 a 3D printer competitively priced. We love the stepper drivers on this device as it allows it to run at a low noise level. Unfortunately, the cooling fan is too noisy and something to be improved on in this top-quality printer.

This 3D printer comes with a 3.5- inch color touchscreen for easy navigation. It is responsive, bright, and easy to navigate. For instance, with the baby-stepping, we were able to adjust the Z offset during printing, load and unload filament reasonably quickly. In addition, the user interface makes the touchscreen feel like navigating an operating system.

Pros

  • This 3D printer comes with a silent stepper for noiseless operation.
  • It comes 95% pre-assembled; as such, there is no need for a complex installation process.
  • The printer is small, lightweight, and foldable.

Cons

  • It does not have auto-leveling.

6. MakerBot Replicator + 3D Printer

Highlighted features

  • Cloud-Enabled Management
  • Native CAD Support
  • Advanced auto-calibration

When it comes to educational 3D printers, MakerBot Replicator is one of the best 3d printers for elementary schools. This device is specifically designed as an educational 3D printing solution. It comes with many opportunities for certification programs and creativity for both teachers and students.

This educational machine comes with more than 600 lesson plans to drive student engagement. Thus, it is perfect for both elementary and adult school programs. Since this printer was made for a school environment, it is fitted with measures to keep everyone safe. You will find the sketch in an enclosed chamber and filters to trap integrated particulate matters for additional protection.

We love the easy accessibility to the printing queue through a cloud-based management system on the dashboard. It makes the management of projects simple and fast. Plus, this device works seamlessly with the TinkerCAD and Fusion 360 3D CAD Software for more printing options.

Pros

  • This 3D printer is engineered for reliable and fast printing.
  • It is tested safe by NIOSH for environmental safety in the office or classroom.
  • It has a sturdy construction, big build volume, excellent print adhesion, and more.

Cons

  • It does not come with auto-leveling.

7. Dremel Digilab 3D20 3D Printer

Highlighted features

  • Item Weight: 15.43 pounds
  • SD Card connectivity
  • Plant-based PLA filament
  • Fully Enclosed

Many people associate Dremel with the manufacture of handy tools for hobbyists and homeowners. However, ever since it set up the DigiLab Division and started making 3D printers, it became a pioneer in the education-focused 3D printing industry. Following this vision, the Dremel Digilab 3D20 3D Printer is designed for casual users, beginners, elementary schools, and universities. It is the best 3d printer for schools with heavy use.

When we received our Digilab 3D20 3D Printer, it was ready for printing in about 30 minutes. It comes pre-assembled; as such, we only fed the filament and leveled the printing bed. Unfortunately, this device does not have auto-leveling, so you have to manually do that yourself. Fortunately, the process is explained in detail in the manual. Thus, even a first-timer will get it done on the first try.

Another excellent feature that made this device suitable for use in a learning environment is the enclosed design. It maintains a uniform temperature and is fitted with additional safety precautions. As a result, the processing sound is muffled a bit. However, this device does not come with any filtration system. Although PLA is considered safe by many, keep this in mind before exposing yourself or your students to the fumes.

Pros

  • This 3D printer comes with an LCD Touch Screen display for navigation.
  • It comes with a one-year manufacturer warranty.
  • It comes pre-assembled and will not require complex tools to set up.
  • The 3D printer is fully enclosed and has low processing noise.

Cons

  • The USB connectivity on this device can be better.
best 3D printer for schools

Best 3D Printer for Schools:  Buying Guide

If you consider buying the best 3D printer for schools, note the following before making a purchasing decision. These factors are similar to buying a printer for your office or home. Give the following serious consideration before bringing one home.

Ease of Use

The best 3D printer for schools will come with good software to print easily and quickly. It will also allow a user to control the copy quality while also featuring a screen that guides through a step-by-step guide to complete a process. Examples of such high-quality printers with LCD screens are the Dremel DigiLab 3D4b5 printer and the Monoprice – 15365 Select Mini 3D Printer.

Oppositely, cheap printers come with incomprehensible instructions, buggy third-party software, and a poor user display interphase.

Noise

All printers make noise; however, some printer processing noises are more bearable for use in a classroom situation. For example, if you will be making a build requiring several hours, ensure you use a printer with tolerable noise levels like the Dremel Digilab 3D20 3D Printer.

Construction

Make a concerted effort to establish what your preferred printer is made of. To produce excellent quality objects, go for a printer that is rigid and stable. 3D printers with poor material built, such as acrylics or light gauge steel, can misalign or warp and produce poor quality results. Pay a little more for a top-quality and durable 3D printer.

Printer type

3D printing comes in three different technologies. You need to determine what will best suit your school’s needs. The first is a Fused Deposition Modeling printer (FDM) – a 3D printer fitted with plastic spools that extrude through a hot nozzle, layer-by-layer to build an object.

Stereolithography – this uses a UV light beam to solidify an object using photosensitive liquid resin.

And lastly, Selective Laser Sintering  – this melt powder using a laser. It creates layers of a printer object.

Build Volume

This is also referred to as the length x width x height. It is the max dimensions an object can be constructed using a 3D machine. If you go for a device whose max. print volume is 40 x 35 x 30, it simply means the largest size is 40 cm long, 35 cm wide, and 30 cm high. Ensure your preferred printer can accommodate the object size you plan to create. For example, FlashForge Finder 3D Printers have a build volume of 140 L x 140 W x 140 H.

Colors

Do you need a multiple-color printer? Printers with this functionality can print through dual extrusion. There are many colors to choose from; brown, metallic, rainbow, orange, black, yellow, blue, pink, white, purple, green, and red. You can also opt for a single-color printer if you plan to hand-paint the object later. For example, Dremel Digilab 3D20 3D Printer is a translucent color printer, while Monoprice – 15365 Select Mini 3D Printer prints white. These are single-color printers whose products can be hand-painted later.

Safety

Many 3D printers come with an unenclosed print area that gets very hot during processing. For example, an extruder creating an object with polylactic acid can get heated up to 360- and 450-degrees Fahrenheit. If you teach elementary school with a 3D printer, go for the MakerBot Replicator + 3D Printer or Dremel Digilab 3D20 3D Printer. These are enclosed 3D printers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is a 3D printer worth it in 2021?

Yes. They are more affordable than at any time in history but don’t overspend your budget. Determine your printing needs and look for these features in your preferred printer. Consider factors like build volume, color, ease of use, display, etc., before bringing one to school.

Q: Are 3D printers cheap?

Printers can be expensive or cheap, depending on the model and brand. However, buying and maintaining a printer you won’t use often is not practical. In addition, these devices are not plug-and-play.  There are many things to consider before buying one, and maintenance is one of them.

Q: Is 3D printing dangerous?

Substrate materials are mostly made from ABS, nylon, and plastics that generate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when subjected to very high temperatures. VOCs can contain harmful chemicals like caprolactam and styrene, a carcinogen.

Also, many 3D printers generate ultrafine particles that are invisible to the eye. Although these particles are very tiny, they can permanently stick to your respiratory tract and are often considered dangerous.

Conclusion

A 3D printer has significant learning benefits for a teacher, students, and the school. It is a good way for students to learn 3D printing while being equipped with life-enhancing subjects like Math, Biology, and Art.

Also, exposing kids to a 3D printer technology early in life opens the door to learning, many might not previously consider. It is an excellent learning device that may help students better understand a subject they dreaded.

The benefits and opportunities of having the best 3D printer for schools are countless. With the above-reviewed products, you won’t have trouble choosing one that will best serve your teaching needs. So, add to cart and enhance your student knowledge with a 3D printer. 

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