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

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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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