The best 3D printers and scanners for makers and creators in 2020


This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2019, your source for the season’s best gifts and deals, hand-picked by the experts at CNET.

Maker culture is alive and thriving, thanks to an army of creatives who love making things by hand, endless YouTube how-to videos for any project imaginable and new, lower-cost hardware for everything from 3D printing to laser cutting. 

In 2018, I got pretty deep in the weeds with 3D printers, creating everything from tabletop game accessories to smartphone stands to a sweet mini Millennium Falcon. Since then, I’ve doubled down, getting into 3D scanning and even laser cutting, which lets you sculpt real-world designs from wood and leather. 

These creative tools, which range from under $300 to over $3,000, are awesome gifts for a creative person in your life — or even better — they’re great for you to craft your own personalized gifts. 

If you end up getting completely addicted to 3D printing your own gifts, don’t blame me. (But if you do, here’s a handy 3D printing FAQ that should answer some of your questions). 

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Despite the low price, this is a pretty damn full-featured 3D printer, and a favorite affordable first step for testing the 3D printing waters.

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Resin printers are the next step up in rapid protoyping design technology when you want your print to look as high quality as anything assembled in a factory. Just be warned: The resin is harder to work with and requires good ventilation. 

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This is my go-to printer for balancing price, ease of use and print quality. Setup is easy, and I was up and printing in less than 30 minutes after opening the box and gathering materials.

Special for Black Friday — Flashforge is selling the Adventurer 3 Lite, which is the same as the model above, just without a built-in webcam for remote monitoring, for $299 on Nov. 29 and again on Dec. 2. The discounted price will be available at this link on those dates. 

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Recreate pretty much anything by putting it on this 3D scanner, where a rotating base and camera create a 360-degree copy, which is then editable in any 3D program and printable on your 3D printer. 

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Glowforge laser cutters can sculpt projects from wood, leather, lucite and other materials, making it an interesting alternative to filament-based 3D printers. Even better, what would take a FDM 3D printer hours to do, takes just minutes in the Glowforge. 

Originally published in 2019 and updated periodically.


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