Looking for the best 3D printer for schools or educational institutions? Read our guide for the top recommendations that are easy to use, safe, and budget-friendly.
Every year, 3D printing finds new uses and becomes easier to use. Today, there are many types of printers, designed for both serious projects and children. Given the wide variety available, it can be difficult to choose the right printer.
In this guide, we’ll look at the best printers for schools and educational institutions, depending on the tasks to be done.
Does Your School Need a 3D Printer?
While schools offer primary and secondary education, this is the place where children decide which life path to take. Today, schools provide in-depth study of certain subjects. Some schools even teach children the basics of working as an engineer, i.e., mechanics, drawing and working on machine tools.
As we stated at the beginning of the article, 3D printing is penetrating many areas. Therefore, the ability to work with a 3D printer can be critical to students for their future career paths.
In addition, there are competitions where students compete in 3D modeling and 3D printing skills. To participate in such competitions, a school would need a full-fledged 3D printing laboratory. The competitions allow students to gain experience in developing real projects.
Having the right 3D printer will enable students gain the 3D printing skills they need not only to win competitions, but also advance their careers in 3D printing. Therefore, it is important to choose the most suitable printer for the job.
Choosing a 3D Printer for Schools
Unfortunately, there are no 3D printers that are perfect. Therefore, you have to choose the most suitable option, i.e., one that has the necessary qualities you need.
When choosing a 3D printer for schools, pay attention to the speed and quality of printing, as well as the ease of use. Other things to consider include safety and protection mechanisms, and what material it will print.
The most popular 3D printers for educational institutions are the FDM types, which print using filament (plastic wire). The only hazard with these printers would be the heating nozzle.
On the other hand, there is the SLA technology: UV curing of the resin. In this case, the danger is posed by the resin itself, its fumes and ultraviolet rays.
Best 3D Printers for Schools and Universities
In this guide, we’ll make a countdown of the best 3D printers for educational institutions, starting with the 10th recommendation up to the first option.
A great printer for amateur 3D printing enthusiasts, the Wanhao Duplicator I3 Mini is perfect for schools and hobby groups. The printer has no dangerous elements in it, and even a primary school student can customize it. Due to its simple design and low cost, this model can be used for a whole class, where each student will work with a separate printer.
The small size of the Duplicator I3 mini makes it easy to transport them. However, for its small size and simple design, you get low printing speed and relatively low quality printing. On the same note, the printer lacks a heated table. As a result, it can print a limited range of filaments.
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The Ender 3 line of printers are the best 3D printers for home use. The Ender 3 MAX retains the main advantages of its predecessors, but also adds an improved model cooling system, an all-metal extruder, updated firmware and more.
Due to the preserved design, all enhancements made for the Ender 3 will also work for the Ender 3 MAX.
However, the Ender 3 Max comes in form of an assembly kit. Moreover, it lacks an external casing, which can lead to problems when transporting it.
The FlashForge Finder has high accuracy and print speeds, which will definitely help when participating in competitions with limited time. Thanks to the closed design and lightweight body made of high-strength plastic, it can be easily transported without assembly and disassembly during movement.
Unfortunately, the main disadvantage of this model is that it has a small print area.
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|FlashForge Finder 3D Printer Review: Features, Specs, & Test Prints|
Unlike previous printers, the compact Anycubic Photon Mono prints using SLA technology. As a result, it achieves excellent print accuracy while maintaining average print speeds.
However, since the printer uses resin, it will not be the best choice for teaching young children. When curing, the resin emits dangerous fumes. Moreover, after printing, the model must be cleaned of resin residues.
Due to the limitations of the print area and the complexity of the post-processing of the model, this printer will be an excellent addition to any of the FDM printers in this top.
The Wanhao Duplicator 6 Plus is a workhorse: reliable, sturdy and large. This improved version of the Duplicator 6 has additional functionality in the firmware, for example, resuming printing after a power outage and auto-calibration of the table.
Despite its formidable appearance, this printer is quite easy to learn, configure and repair. The printer remains stable during printing, thanks to the steel sheet housing. However, the steel sheet housing is also its main disadvantage: a lot of weight. Combined with its large external dimensions, it may be difficult to transport this printer.
The Duplicator 6 Plus is suitable as a primary printer for schools and a spare for universities.
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Starting with this 3D printer, we enter the territory of professional 3D printers. As a result, more opportunities open up both in printing models and materials. For example, this printer has 2 nozzles. Therefore, it can print two-color models and use soluble supports, which will undoubtedly increase the print quality of overhanging elements.
The unit also has closed print area, which protects the model from drafts during printing. Thanks to its closed-body form factor, the FlashForge Dreamer can be moved relatively easily.
This printer can also print via Wi-Fi. If you have several multiple printers that support printing via Wi-Fi, you can control all of them at once through one computer in real time.
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|FlashForge Dreamer Review: Features, Specs, & Test Prints|
This is an SLA 3D printer with an accuracy of 35 microns and printing speed of up to 80 mm/h. The great accuracy is achieved with a 4K screen.
The Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K is used in many industries, including mechanical engineering, design, art and even dentistry! Therefore, this printer will be an excellent choice for colleges, universities, and higher education institutions that need high quality printing.
|Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K Review: Features, Specs, & Test Prints|
PICASO has long been at the forefront of professional 3D printing, and many of their older printers are still in use today in workshops.
Thanks to the official add-ons, you can select the necessary components that will expand the functionality of the printer in the required direction. For example, there is an improved extruder that allows you to heat the nozzle to 410°C. This high temperature is necessary for printing engineering plastics such as PC and PEEK.
The Designer Classic is suitable both for schools, due to its ease of learning, and for universities, due to its wide capabilities and high quality prints.
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|Picaso3D Designer Classic Review: Features, Specs, & Test Prints|
This is an advanced 3D printer of the PICASO 3D company that combines the positive qualities of all their previous developments. In addition, it has new features such as, printing with two filaments, high accuracy, auto-calibration, printing with high-temperature plastics, and much more.
Almost any idea can be realized with Designer X Pro. If something cannot be printed on this printer, it cannot be printed on any other FDM printer.
However, for all the advantages, you have to pay in large size and weight. Therefore, this printer is best used as a fully stationary printer.
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|Picaso Design X Pro Review: Features, Specs, & Test Prints|
1. Raise3D E2
It would seem that the previous 3D printer is the peak point in the development of FDM 3D printers. But the Raise3D company knows how to surprise! E2 has all the available functionality that is rarely found on printers separately.
The printer has several notable functions: automatic table adjustment with display of a height map, a camera that can be monitored from the printer screen, as well as transfer video to a computer in real time, a two-carriage system that allows you to print two models at once, and much more.
The Raise3D E2 retains excellent printing accuracy and relatively high speed. Due to its compactness, it can even be placed on a shelf in a closet. However, additional space is still needed for full access to all structural elements.
This printer can replace any printer from this list,
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|Raise3D E2 Review: Features, Specs, & Test Prints|
Related 3D Printing Equipment
Despite the self-sufficiency of many 3D printers, solving some of the problems when working with them can take a long time. However, many of these actions are simple enough to be performed by a single device.
Below, we go through some gadgets that make it easier to use a 3D printer, as well as scanners that open up a new range of possibilities for recreating the real world.
Some tasks of recreating the real world or repairing parts are extremely difficult to accomplish using manual model creation. Examples of such tasks include repairing curved parts, creating a human model, reproducing architectural elements, and other non-standard tasks. A 3D scanner will help you solve such problems when digitizing real things.
3D scanners are divided into stationary scanning of small objects, and portable. The gadgets allow you to scan objects such as cars, people and even buildings. Some models can be classified in both groups. However, their main purpose will be unmistakable.
Before buying a 3D scanner, it is important to know the tasks that need to be completed. The RangeVision Spectrum can be used as a stationary scanner. This scanner allows you to scan objects from 1cm to 3m. Therefore, you can use it for most tasks.
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If you want to scan more objects, then a portable Calibry scanner can be used . Thanks to its convenient design, it can easily scan large objects up to 10m. Moreover, the built-in screen allows you to see a preliminary result of the work in real time.
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Despite the compactness and simplicity of working with SLA printers, after the printing process is completed, it is necessary to clean the model from resin. Additional illumination with ultraviolet light is also necessary so that the model gains maximum strength. This time-consuming task can be performed manually. However, to save time, you can use a curing station such as the Anycubic Wash & Cure.
Curing stations allow you to easily clean your models and illuminate them. Simply place the model on the turntable and the curing station will do the rest.
|Anycubic Wash & Cure Review: Features, Specs, & Test Prints|
The automation of the process reduces the risks associated with working with the resin, i.e., contact with the skin and inhalation of vapors. Therefore, if you work frequently with SLA printers, this gadget will not only reduce time costs, but also increase safety.
When you have many FDM printer filaments, how will you store them? Most people just put the filaments on the shelves without thinking about their properties. However, some materials are highly hygroscopic (i.e., they absorb moisture from the air). A wet filament can break the printer or will print low-quality models. Therefore, it is important to dry the filament before printing, especially if it has been stored outdoors.
You can dry filaments in ovens but, obviously, this option is not suitable for educational institutions. To dry filaments, there are devices for feeding and drying. A good example is the Polymaker PolyBox. With this unit, you can dry and feed at once 2 coils weighing up to 1 kg each, or 1 coil weighing up to 3 kg. This will only allow one device to be used for printers with two extruders.
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If you have still not decided which 3D printer to buy for your school, here is a summary of the options we have provided above and what they are best for.
- For schools and continuing education hobby groups, the Wanhao Duplicator I3 Mini, FlashForge Finder and Wanhao Duplicator 6 Plus are the best choices due to their ease of use, safety and reliability.
- For universities and colleges, the PICASO 3D Designer X Pro, Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K and Raise3D E2 are suitable. They are distinguished by the huge functionality and breadth of possibilities of 3D printing.
Also, do not forget about additional devices: a scanner for digitizing objects from the real world, a drying and filament feeding chamber for the use of demanding plastics, and post-processing cameras that make it possible to facilitate the final stage of working with a model printed on an SLA printer.