Need 3d printer recommendations

Hello all,

After the season was cut short, my team took a step back and tried to figure out where we can improve our build process. One of those areas we want to improve is our 3d printing capabilities. Right now we have one 3d printer that prints ABS (I think, could be PLA). This means that we don’t have a lot of volume capacity (# of parts) and we try to not use the printed parts in situations where they might experience a lot of load, opening up two areas we want to fill.

First, we want at least one printer (possibly two) dedicated to spitting parts out as quickly as possible, mainly for prototyping/proof of concepts and low load situations. I assume a larger nozzle might help this print faster? Do you all have any suggestions for models that might satisfy these requirements?

Second, we want at least one printer dedicated to higher- strength materials that we would be more comfortable using in higher load situations. Things like custom bearing blocks on an elevator are what we would use this printer for. Would something like a markforged work (although they are expensive)? Are there any other alternatives y’all would recommend?

Budget is not as much as an issue (very flexible) because these printers would most likely be used in a classroom setting so our school is willing to help us get them. We would like to spend around $1000 or less per printer for the faster/low load part printer, and less than $3000 for the higher-load part printer. If a more expensive printer is worth it then that is okay, we would just have to put a request for it in a grant.


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Budget is an important part of this question, how much are you looking to spend? How much maintenance do you want to do on the printer?

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I updated post with a budget. Maintenance is not a problem and would honestly be a good learning opportunity for new team members.

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I’ve had some great prints from my Creality3D Ender 5 Plus. The Plus in the name refers to the build volume - it’s 350x350x400mm. Would give you options to print larger parts if needed, but is also great for smaller parts.

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There are lots of threads with printer recommendations, but here is my two cents after my school, Calvin University, in Grand Rapids, Mi, bought $40,000 worth of printers and supplies this year. I’ve gotten the opportunity to try a lot of different printers. You can get cheap Chinese printers and make them nice if you want, but I prefer making projects out of what you can make not what you use to make things.

For $4000, I would get 2 Prusa i3 MK3S kit printers (1500) and 5 Prusa Minis (1750). Spend the rest on building enclosures (look at IKEA Lack Enclosures), filament, and nozzles. Print any filament on the first 2, prototype with the other 5. I have personally run Prusas for over 50 kilos without major issue. Just ordered 3 minis for college and am excited to see how they turn out. You also get world class support.

Markforged is bullet proof closed system Carbon Fiber Nylon for $5000. You will love it if you can afford it, and it costs about $180 per roll. What are your other manufacturing capabilities?


Prusa i3 MK3s is always my goto recommendation for a 3d printer that is fast and can print pretty much anything. However, you will have to wait an uncertain amount of time to get one because of COVID-19. Ultimaker also makes great printers that are more expensive, I have great success with the one I have used at work.


I would get 2 Prusa i3 MK3S kit printers

Prusa i3 MK3s is always my goto recommendation

I can also highly recommend the Prusa. We also have a Dremel 3d45 and a Markforged Onyx One. I think the Prusa is the best bet at that price point. I’m not a big fan of the Prusa slicer though.


I’m not a big fan of the Prusa slicer though.

Really? I love PrusaSlicer and slic3r. I may just be weird. The Prusas do work with other slicers too though if you prefer Cura, Simplify3d or any of the many other options out there.


I had MANY prints hang…just stop mid print…with the PrusaSlicer. I switched to Cura and that all went away. I liked the PrusaSlicer interface much better. I may try again now that the ‘season is over’…

Interesting. I run prusa slicer on all of the printers I run because it works great for me. Except for my Ultimaker and Markforged printers because those don’t play nice with PrusaSlicer

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Gerthworm and Mrs. Gerthworm invested in one of these very recently. Should be here saturday? Will update with thoughts.

My Prusa i3 MK3S was running almost constantly throughout the season. Handled multi-day prints with 96 mecanum rollers/16 mecanum housings per print like a champ. PLA+ and PETG are both incredibly good at handling light stress too. Unless you need the incredible strength offered by a Markforged continuous fiber printer, Prusa is the way to go.

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Prusa I3 MK3S and a hardened steel nozzle.

Edit: Here some good onyx alternatives (one is Carbon Filled and one is Glass filled)

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Similar shoe here as the original poster. However, there might be issues with getting the Prusa due to it being a non-US manufacturer (we’re still trying to work around this issue but wanted to have a solid alternative).

Our rough budget is about ~$2.5k for the 3d printer itself (although I would like to get it down to closer to $1.5k for this one for now since we also have other needs). Annual filament budgets would probably be in the $500 range. We do have access to another 3d printer (PLA only) that we use to do the initial prototype with. Primary filament we would be looking at using would be: NylonX/NylonG, Strong PLA and ABS.

Does anyone have any experience with MatterHacker’s own Pulse XE? They are advertising it to be made specificially to print NylonX materials. From the looks of things, it looks very much like the Prusa MK3S clone but nice thing is that you can order the upgrade option at the time of ordering (i.e. Ruby tipped print head, extra/different types of print beds, etc).


The Lulzbot machines are very nice and are withing your price range. The company is in a rough spot currently, but you can still buy the printers online at MatterHackers and other stores (I know my local micro center has them). Ultimaker also makes great printers, but they are more expensive than most other machines.

The Prusa Mk3s is still my goto recommendation for almost everybody and it’s what I would buy if I could. I own two Prusa machines, and team 3200 owns 3 more and we have never had any issues with them. We print all kinds of materials on the Prusas and have had success almost every time. We have even printed Markforged Onyx on the Prusa before and it was a success! If you are going to buy the Pulse XE, then just buy the Prusa if you can. It’s a tried and tested machine with a great track record for future support.

A little worry about Lulzbot as a long term being having support for now. Prusa would definitely be the way to go but we might not be allowed to use the fund that we have on a non-US based company. So that’s why I’m looking at a closest Prusa alternative and I happened to came across the Pulse XE so just wondering if anyone has any experience with it. Kinda weird there’s so little review out there on the Pulse XE at all though.

Can you share more details about how you achieved this? Were there any special print settings or modifications you made to the printer (other than changing the nozzle out) to make printing Onyx or Onyx-like materials easier?

I’m asking because the Pulse XE claims to make printing NylonX easier due to its garolite print bed and hardened steel nozzle (among other features which the Prusa MK3S shares).

Hardened steel nozzle, estimated some settings based on past nylon experience and temperatures measured from our markforged printer. I would not suggest you try and print onyx on the Prusa, even though it is possible.

The Prusa does not ship with a hardened nozzle stock, but it’s an easy upgrade.

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Is this because figuring out the print settings was hard, because bed adhesion isn’t ideal, because Onyx is expensive, etc? Strictly speaking, I wasn’t planning on printing Onyx at all, but rather NylonX, which supposedly prints well on a Pulse XE. The options I’m trying to compare are printing NylonX on a Pulse XE vs. a Prusa MK3S.