best 3d printers for schools

6 Best 3D Printers For Schools & Training Institutions

With the overwhelming number of 3d printers circulating the market and the complex nature of the technology in general, choosing the right printer for your school or classroom can be quite challenging.

Understanding all the technical terms in this industry as a newbie can seem like an impossible task.

Frankly, I found myself wondering why there were so many abbreviations and technical terms with this device.

Sure, you can decide to pick one at random or one that fits your budget but that has huge disadvantages.

Simply choosing a product on the market won’t cut it, especially if this device is to be used in a school setting.

If you have some good technical experience or knowledge, some research may lead you to a good 3d printer for your classroom.

Like any major purchase aimed at providing higher benefits to your class, it is essential to make an educated decision.

To simplify this process for any school looking to leverage the benefits of 3d printing in their classrooms, I’ve done a thorough research and compiled a list of some of the best 3d printers out there for schools and classrooms.

I’ve also provided information on what to look for in a 3d printer before making the purchasing decision.

If a printer you’re considering is not found on this list, this doesn’t disqualify it from being a good option for your classroom.

Simply ensure that they meet the criteria listed in this article before purchasing such a device.

The first thing to keep in mind before making this purchase is that creating great prints require a bit of know-how and tinkering.

This does not necessarily mean understanding the hardware but learning the basics is key to understanding how to make the best use of your 3d printer.

You can either choose to enroll in a free or paid course to get some insight into operating 3d printers and getting the best for your school out of your 3d printer.

• Type of 3d printers

Before making a purchasing decision, you need to know the type of 3d printer you need for your classroom and this involves having a bit of understanding of the types of 3d printers available on the market.

There are several types of 3d printers available. This article will focus on the most commonly used type which is filament-based while touching on the resin-based printers.

Filament printer (FDM) & how it works

Known commonly as Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), it is the most common 3d printing technology on the market.

Compared to other types of 3d printers, filament-based 3d printers are quite light on the pocket.

This type of 3d printer uses a simple technique of fused filament deposition supplied by a roll of filament.

The printer then heats the solid filament and pushes it through a thin extruder nozzle to print objects layer by layer.

Once cooled, they solidify and keep their shape.

Although they don’t produce as detailed prints as the resin-based printers do, filament-based printers are great for creating functional parts with different variations of filaments available to choose from for your printing projects.

Resin printer (SLA) & how it works

You might have seen a video of a 3d printer that seems to be magically pulling an object out of a liquid. That’s how resin printers work.

Resin printer, also known as stereolithography apparatus (SLA or SL) is a form of 3d printing technology used for creating models using photochemical processes.

To put it simply, you have your resin which is a liquid plastic and at the bottom is a UV light controlled by a computer.

A panel is then submerged into the liquid and the UV light hits the panel to solidify and form the first layer and the process is repeated as the panel keeps moving up.

Resin printers produce higher and finer detailed results than FDM types but are also more expensive and require some caution to use safely as the liquid isn’t supposed to touch your skin.

Additionally, a post-process to rinse the object and curing it with UV light is also required and fumes created by this printer can be harmful to breathe in.

This is primarily one of the main reasons we are ignoring the resin-based printers to focus on filament-based ones.

The chances of an accident in a classroom setting when using this printer would be very high.

• Type of filament

The second thing to consider is the type of filaments the printer is compatible with. The most popular material is the PLA.

• Build plate or bed type

Although most 3d printers on the market now come with heated build plates, it is necessary to ensure that this option is present when buying your 3d printer.

Having a 3d printer with a heated bed helps with the adhesion of the first layer of your print. This is key as you may end up losing your print if the first layer comes off.

• Bed leveling

Auto-leveling is another key feature to look for in a 3d printer. If your build plate is slightly angled by a millimeter, this can affect your print.

With auto bed leveling, the 3d printer automatically maps the bed and compensates for any errors with the bed level.

If you have some technical know-how, auto-leveling may not be necessary as manual leveling exposes you and your learners to various features of the 3d printing technology.

• Build volume

Build volume is measured in length, width, and height, and it’s the maximum size of an object that your 3D Printer can Print.

It is usually expressed in millimeters and different 3d printers come with their build volumes.

Identifying the type of objects you will be printing for your class will enable you to decide on the build volume.

• Drivers and noise

Ever seen a 3d printer at work bringing an object to life? The feeling that you can’t get enough of it seems to last forever till the noise brings you back to reality.

You start to get the feeling that you can get enough of it. Some prints can take more than 24 hours and a noisy 3d printer working while lessons are happening all over the campus is not ideal for anyone.

Ensuring that your 3d printer of choice is quiet is very necessary and this mostly depends on the quality of drivers interfacing with the stepper motor in the device.

Good stepper drivers can make the 3d printer silent during operation and the “Trinamic drivers” is one of the best or high-end driver for the job.

So if you’d like some quiet when printing an object in the classroom, ensure that your 3d printer of choice comes with a good driver.

• Fully enclosed

This is a very necessary feature especially since the printer will be used in a classroom setting. It helps avoid any accidents.

An exposed heated bed on a 3d printer in a K-12 classroom is essentially an accident waiting to happen. To avoid this, simply go for a fully enclosed 3d printer.

If you aim to provide a 3d printer to learners at the higher education level, then a fully enclosed 3d printer is not a requirement.

• Easy to setup

If you are not particularly tech-savvy, it’s always better to choose a device that is easy to set up.

For an engineering class or department with an interest in learning more about the hardware, an easy to set up device may not be necessary as it will enable teachers and learners to learn more about the components of the 3d printer while putting it together

Best 3d printers for Elementary classrooms

That said, we will be looking at some of the best 3d printers out there that fit all of the above-listed criteria for your elementary school class.

SpecsDremel 3D45Qidi TechFlashforge adventure 3
Range Microns50-30050-500100
Material typePLA, PETG, Nylon, Eco-ABSPLA, PETG, ABS, Nylon, PC, TPUPLA, ABS
Build plateHeated glassHeated aluminumHeated
LevelingSemi-auto levelingAssisted-levelingCalibration
Build volume255x155x170mm300x250x300mm
270x200x200mm
150x150x150mm
CameraBuilt-in HDNoBuilt-in HD
ConnectivityUSB, WiFiUSB, Ethernet, WiFiUSB, WiFi
CompatibilitymacOS, WindowsmacOS, WindowsmacOS, Windows
Touchscreen size4.5 inches5 inches2.8 inches
Warranty1 year1 year180 days
File typeSTL, OBJ, .g, .gcodeSTL, OBJSTL, OBJ, .gx, .g
Customer supportLifetimeLifetimeLifetime

Note: Build volume is in millimeters

best 3d printers for schools - prioritylearn

Dremel 3d45 Product Description

This 3d printer is one of the best 3d printers for schools and it’s capable of printing advanced materials like ECO ABS, Nylon, PETG, and PLA.

The printer is easy to use and has a guided setup process, taking you from unboxing to your first print project within minutes.

It has a 4.5-inch touchscreen to facilitate seamless function navigation and also comes with an RFID reader built-in to detect the 1.75mm Dremel filament which helps to automatically choose the best print settings for each filament.

Easily send print tasks to the 3d printer and monitor the progress using the built-in HD camera using the remote printing software.

Dremel also provides a 1-year warranty as well as lifetime access to Dremel’s customer service.

My Thoughts on Dremel 3d45

Dremel Digilab 3d45 3d printer gets a spot on this list because it is one of the best 3d printers out on the market.

This is evident as this 3d printer is the recipient of PCMAG’s Editors Choice Award as the best 3d printer for schools.

The printer is made with educational institutions in mind making it one of the best on the market for the job.

It is fully enclosed to prevent any accidents and the 3d printer itself is relatively quiet. The printer also includes a carbon filter and a fan providing it with a good air filtration system.

Pros of Dremel digilab 3d45

  • Great print quality
  • Easy to setup & use
  • User-friendly software
  • Prints via USB, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi, and from a USB thumb drive
  • Safe & reliable
  • Heated print bed
  • Relatively quiet

Cons of Dremel digilab 3d45

  • Problems with advanced materials like Nylon
  • 3rd party filament print quality reduced
best 3d printers for schools

Next on our list, we have two 3d printers from Qidi Tech. The Qidi Tech X-max and the Qidi Tech X-Plus 3d printers.

Qidi Tech 3d printers product description

The x-max and x-plus are fully enclosed 3d printers making them perfect for printing any high-temperature filaments.

If you’re looking for a more favorable 3d printer on Amazon, the x-max and x-plus have some of the best reviews for a 3d printer on the market.

These printers were designed to allow users to print most standard materials including PLA, ABS, TPU, Nylon, Carbon fiber, PC, and other high-performance materials.

It also comes with great features like quiet printing, air purification, Wifi connection function, power outage, and many more.

Filaments can also be placed in two different ways based on the type of material.

Placing the filament outside feeds it more smoothly while printing PLA, TPU, PETG and this is compatible with any brands of 1.75mm filament.

Placing the filament inside makes it great for printing advanced material such as Nylon, Carbon Fiber, PC, which requires an enclosed constant temperature printing.

My thoughts on Qidi Tech 3d printers

The Qidi-tech x-max and x-pro are very similar 3d printers from the same maker with one of the major differences being their sizes.

If you’re on a tight budget and need a smaller 3d printer, the X-Plus is the best choice for you but if you’re looking for a slightly larger version of the same product, the X-Max is the one for you.

You also get an included USB drive on which you can find video guides on troubleshooting, slicer profiles, and various kinds of useful information and video guides.

Pros of Qidi Tech 3d printer

  • Great print quality
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Extruder can be swapped
  • Sturdy frame
  • Heated print bed
  • Assisted bed leveling
  • Large print volume
  • Supports most standard materials
  • Great customer service

Cons of Qidi Tech 3d printer

  • No auto-leveling
  • No remote monitoring
  • No filament run-out sensor
best 3d printers for schools

Flashforge adventure 3 product description

The user-friendly design of the Flashforge adventure 3 makes a great product choice for family, school, workshop, and 3d printing beginners.

This 3d printer is light in weight and comes with great functionalities right out of the box. It has a minimal design with a creative filament feeding design.

Simply put the filament in the inlet and wait for it to load and also access load and unloading actions from the 2.8 inches touch screen.

My thoughts on the Flashforge adventure 3

The Flashforge adventure 3 has a minimal design and produces great prints for its price range.

Its print volume at 150x150x150 is lower than most options on this list but produces astonishing prints that are better than most printers within its price range.

The build volume is one of its greatest limitations but that only becomes a problem if you intend to print rather large objects.

Printer calibration simply requires a little input from the user to ensure perfect leveling of the print bed.

If you need a 3d printer for your classroom that produces great results and doesn’t make much noise, this printer is a great option to consider.

Pros of Flashforge adventure 3

  • Easily print ABS
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Supports 3rd party filaments
  • Relatively quiet
  • Filament detector

Cons of Flashforge adventure 3

  • Small build volume
  • Small spool holder can’t fit larger spools

Best 3d printers for Higher education classrooms

We will now be looking at some of the available 3d printer options that are not enclosed. As we know, older learners are less likely to touch something they’ve been informed not to.

This is why a fully enclosed 3d printer is not a requirement when teaching older learners.

Most of these also come with the added benefit of being easily upgradeable.

The printers listed below are some of the best on the market to supplement your lessons and help make your class more interactive.

SpecsCreality Ender 3Prusa i3 MK3S+Anycubic Mega X
Range microns100-400100-40050-300
Material typePLA, ABS, TPU, wood, copperPLA, PETG, ASA, ABSPLA, ABS, TPU, wood
Build plateHeated aluminumSteelPatented heat bed
LevelingManualAutomaticManual
Build volume220x220x250mm250x210x210mm300x300x305mm
CameraNoneNoneNone
ConnectivityUSB, SD cardUSB, SD cardUSB, SD card
Touchscreen sizeNon-touchNon-touch3.5 inches
Warranty1 year2 years1 year
File typeSTL, OBJ, AMFSTL, OBJ, AMF, 3MFSTL, OBJ, AMF, DAE
Customer supportLifetimeLifetimeLifetime
best 3d printers for schools

If you’d like to help your learners learn about the hardware of the 3d printer, then this printer is one of the best options available.

It is semi-assembled and you can be sure by the time you have fully assembled this 3d printer, your learners would have some understanding of the various parts of a 3d printer and how they function.

That said, putting it together is not very difficult especially since it comes with clear instructions and a huge community of users to help you troubleshoot any issues.

The printer comes with a UL-certified power supply which protects your printer from unexpected power surges.

It also comes with the added advantage of being able to resume printing from the last recorded extruder position after suffering unexpected power outages.

Creality Ender 3 is arguably the most popular 3d printer on the market and earns the title at that price range.

Like any 3d printer, you may experience some challenges but the great community of users makes the experience working with this printer difficult to beat.

Pros of Creality Ender 3

  • Very affordable
  • Upgradable
  • Open-source
  • Easy to assemble
  • Great print quality

Cons of Creality Ender 3

  • Manual calibration
  • Tricky print bed leveling
  • Open print means not advisable around children
best 3d printers for schools

If you teach an engineering class, there’s a very high chance that your learners are going to love this printer.

From putting it to getting to printing your first design, this printer is any tech-savvy person’s dream machine to play with.

You essentially receive a box of parts that you need to put together. This provides an opportunity for your learners to learn all about the intricate hardware details of a 3d printer.

The printer comes with a great easy to follow manual to help you put together your 3d printer.

That said, there are two options available for purchase which includes the assembly kit or an already assembled printer.

It is worth noting that the already assembled printer costs more than the kit. I’m personally a fan of the kit as it provides an opportunity to learn more about 3d printing technology.

Prusa 3d printers are some of the most widely used 3d printers on the market and have received many awards over the years.

Pros of Prusa i3 MK3S+

  • Quality prints
  • Multiple filament support
  • Power out recovery
  • Filament runout sensor
  • Auto bed level compensation
  • Relatively quiet

Cons of Prusa i3 MK3S+

  • Not silent
  • Open print means not advisable around children

Another open 3d printer is the Anycubic mega x 3d printer. With a print volume of 300x300x305mm, the Anycubic Mega X can print massive volumes that most 3d printers on the market are unable to.

Out of the box, the printer is easy to assembly and start working on your first print.

It also comes with a patented heat bed coated with a patented microporous coating which allows the prints to hold strong when printing and effortlessly falls off the bed when it cools to room temperature after printing.

The printer comes at an affordable price and produces high-quality prints to make demonstrations in your class easier.

Like the two above, it is also one of the most popular 3d printers on the market and therefore has a huge community of users who share information on any potential challenges you may encounter.

Pros of Anycubic mega x

  • Quality prints
  • Easy to set up & use
  • Resume print
  • Sturdy construction

Cons of Anycubic mega x

  • Manual leveling
  • No wireless connectivity

The Bottom Line

Doing the necessary research to make your choice of 3d printers can seem laborious.

Fortunately, our motivation as teachers is to help our learners get the best out of their education and prepare them for the changing job market.

It is important to remember that a 3d printer is not a miracle machine that does it all but requires fine-tuning based on the material you’d like to use to produce the best quality results.

With the huge communities around these devices, finding the right setting for any specific material shouldn’t be a problem.

3d printers are here to stay and already revolutionizing multiple industries including construction, health, architecture, engineering, and many more.

At the technology’s current growth rate, 3d printers could become household products in a decade or two.

There are numerous 3d printers on the market besides the ones listed in this article, and although these options are great, there are hundreds of other 3d printers available on the market you can take a look at.

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