Kids and teens find 3d printers super cool, and why wouldn’t they? At the touch of button you can watch a solid detailed model taking shape from a spool of melted filament, sometimes in as little as half an hour. It’s like something out of Star Trek!
But it’s not just about having fun, it’s kind of a sneaky way to get them learning the STEAM subjects - that’s science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics.
And beyond building knowledge, it also builds skills by following the complete design cycle. They can plan, design (on paper and on screen), create their printouts, and evaluate their creation with a view to how to make an even better version.
And better yet, many of the 3D printers on the market today have in fact been made with use by kids and use in classrooms in mind.
And rather than give the gift of one toy, isn’t it better to give your kid the facilities to create and build their own toys?
In this article we will show you our top favorite 3D printers for kids and explain why they’re good for kids in particular. Then we’ve got a handy buying guide for you which outlines a few of the different things you might want to think about before you buy.
In the interest of brevity, this article is going to concentrate on FDM 3D printers rather than including any other types.
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Best 3D Printer For Kids - Comparison Table
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Best 3D Printer For Kids - Reviews
This 3D printer from Tresbo comes highly recommended. It’s really well loved by customers.
On the Amazon page for example, customer feedback has seen predominantly 5 star customer reviews, and after well over 200 individual customer ratings the average Amazon customer rating comes in at a very reassuring 4 and a half stars out of 5.
Here’s what makes it easy for kids to use. Not only does it come fully assembled, so you don’t have to put it together yourself, but it comes already calibrated. That’s all taken care of at the factory. Two less things to worry about.
And better yet, it features automatic bed levelling, with an automatic floating compensation to ensure you get reliable results every time. Bed levelling is important for getting accurate, nice looking printouts.
The touchscreen interface is super simple and intuitive too, with a one-button printing function.
It’s also completely child-friendly and safe for your child to use. It’s designed with low 12 v voltage, and uses environmentally friendly flame retardant electrical components. And the filament it uses is the non-toxic biodegradable, readily available PLA.
It also offers excellent print quality, thanks not just to the automatic bed levelling, but also the narrow 0.4mm nozzle, and that it allows the use of 1.75mm filaments. (Please note that filaments are available at different levels of accuracy.)
It’s super affordable too, coming in at under $200.
It’s maximum printing dimensions are 100 x 100 x 80mm, which we would argue is pretty big for such an affordable and compact 3D printer.
You will have everything you need to get your kid started as soon as the box arrives, including a sample of PLA filament and a MicroSD card with the preinstalled designs on there ready to go.
This is a great entry-level 3D printer - your kid will love it.
It’s a breeze to use, with easy setup and no assembly work required, and an intuitive user interface.
And it’s really child friendly too, with the power supply in line with children's safety requirements, hidden wiring and round edges. The PLA filament it uses is also non-toxic and won’t give off any nasty odors.
The stand out feature of this 3D printer though is that it features a removable build surface plate, so you can remove the printout without having to use a blade - another safety feature.
We also love how quiet it is - you might even forget it’s printing!
The specs are good, with a maximum printing size of 4.7 x 5.5 x 4.1 inches, and provides a good print quality, thanks to its narrow nozzle, coming in at 0.4mm, and it’s small layer height of just 0.1 to 0.4 mm. It also supports a variable printing speed.
Longer is so confident in their product that they offer a full year warranty, and better yet there’s also lifetime technical support.
And if you can’t get a tech response quickly enough, say over the weekend, you can make use of the online community group on Facebook where customers can share their thoughts and knowledge.
Just what you need when you and your kid are new to 3D printing.
This FDM printer from Labists is great value for money, coming in at under $150.
The maximum printing dimensions are great, specifically 100 x 100 x 100mm in total.
It’s suitable for both beginners and professionals alike.
It heats up in just 3 minutes and has a quiet working mode. The 0.4mm aluminum nozzle and extruder provides high precision and is designed not to clog.
The stand out feature of this model is probably the low power consumption, which combined with the use of biodegradable PLA filament makes it great for saving the environment.
It’s easy to assemble, only takes about 5 minutes.
It comes with a TF card, so working offline is no problem. Simply insert the TF card and press the triangle button to start - easy.
The TF card comes preloaded with two slicing software apps, and the manufacturer has some great tutorials you can watch, which go a long way into demonstrating how to use it.
When the print out is ready, you simply pop it off - no scraping to worry about.
It makes a great educational gift for kids and youngsters - it can really let their STEM skills and artistic talents take off.
It comes with a warranty that lasts 2 full years, and the lifetime tech support is super friendly and helpful.
This is a great 3D printer for kids! For several reasons.
First of all, it’s super easy to use. The kid just plugs it in, downloads their chosen models from the internet, and then it’s just one press to get the printer building it’s slices and turning the design into a 3D object.
It uses PLA filament, which is available in a huge array of colors and varieties to really get the kid’s imagination going for making fun toys and models.
And because it just uses PLA, it has a normal temperature printing bed, and not a hot bed. Better yet, to prevent the child from burning their fingers you can enclose the printer with transparent windows, one on each side, so they can still see the printer in action, and from different angles too.
It comes in at under $200 (if you don’t include the shipping fee) and comes with a sample of PLA filament, so the youngster can get started straight away.
It has an excellent printing accuracy, coming in at 0.1 to 0.3 mm, thanks to it’s narrow nozzle size and small layer thickness. And it’s suitably fast, with a print speed of 10 to 20 mm/s.
The maximum printing dimensions aren’t clearly stated either on the Amazon page or on the manufacturer’s website, but going by the machine’s size and the photos, the print volume is looking really good.
Now, this is a great 3D printer for kids.
FlashForge is a good brand in 3D printers, and this particular model of theirs is designed for use by kids.
It’s very beginner and user friendly, there’s no assembly required and there’s an intuitive color touchscreen. And it’s intelligent assisted leveling system allows for easier and more precise calibration.
It’s also very child friendly and safe to use, it uses only non-toxic PLA as it’s filament, and all of the heated components are safely encased.
The other thing that makes it great for kids is the 3D Cloud function, which provides a massive model database, so there’s no need to be scouring the internet for hours just to get started.
The Finder also features a slide-in build plate, so you can just slide it out to remove any completed printouts
As for the specs, you’ve got a very generous maximum printing volume, coming in at 140 L x 140 W x 140 H mm, and you get good print quality thanks to the 0.4 mm narrow nozzle, and the adjustable layer resolution.
This machine has had a lot of positive customer feedback across the internet, and on the Amazon page after well over 600 individual customer ratings the average Amazon customer rating comes in at an impressive 4 stars out of 5.
It’s also very reasonably priced for a 3D printer, coming in at just under $300.
Best 3D Printer For Kids - Buyers Guide
With no further ado let’s get down to what to look for in a 3D printer for kids!
Easy to Use
When buying for a youngster, you should choose a 3D printer that’s fairly easy to use.
Even for a kid who’s really smart, you wouldn’t them getting frustrated and/or fed up with a machine because the manual reads like stereo.
That could potentially dampen their sense of wonder and enthusiasm right from the start, and really set wrong the precedent. This can be very annoying for parents, having just spent hundreds of dollars on a top notch 3D printer - money that could have been spent elsewhere.
But fear not - there is a solution. Many of the 3D printers out on the market today come under the category of “entry level”. This is a description of 3D printers that are built specifically for beginners.
All of the 3D printers in our Top 5 are all entry-level 3D printers that are great for beginners of all ages.
It’s worth noting at this point that in order to make the whole process as smooth and hassle free as possible, you could, at first at least, use ready-made 3D printing designs, and later when the youngster is ready, introduce them to 3D printing design software.
For our article on 3D printing design software, check out this link.
When you’re buying any kind of gadget for your kid, safety considerations are generally at the forefront of your mind. If your child were to seriously hurt themselves on a machine that you bought, with such a high heat output, you may never forgive yourself.
Many 3D printers feature an enclosed heatbed, and this can be super helpful at keeping curious fingers out of danger’s way.
However, if the child cannot physically see the printout being formed, this could drastically lessen their enjoyment of the whole experience. You may have to weigh up which is the most appropriate decision to take for your child.
Or one solution might be to get an enclosed 3D printer with large see-through panels, like our number one pick.
Some 3D printers produce fumes. The fumes aren’t toxic, but they can be unpleasant if not properly ventilated.
3D printers can cost hundreds of dollars. But the good news is that entry-level 3D printers that are aimed at beginners are typically more affordable than their counterparts.
But we’ll level with you here. Entry level 3D printers don’t always offer as good print quality as their more expensive counterparts.
That said you can get some really good 3D printers at the more affordable end of the spectrum. In our view, for a 3D printer for a youngster, you needn’t pay more than $400.
It is because we suspect that you may have affordability in mind when choosing a 3D printer for kids, that we have only included FDM 3D printers, and not included any SLA 3D printers, in our Top 5 picks.
If you have already decided how much money your happy to spend, and have a set budget in mind, you might be interested in some of our other articles, such as Best 3D printer under $200, Best 3D printer under $300, or Best 3D printer under $500.
The main printer specs you should consider are print volume, print speed, print quality, and what materials the printer uses.
Materials used in Printing
There are different types of filaments that you can use in FDM printers, the main 2 being PLA and ABS. Some FDM printers will only print with biodegradable PLA, others will also print the more durable ABS, and others still will print with a wide range of different filaments.
For printouts that are primarily designed to be used as toys or models, PLA will do just fine. Use of filaments such as ABS tend to be used more often for machine parts.
PLA is also an easier filament to print with, since it has a low printing temperature at just 180 to 230 degrees centigrade, which means you don’t need a heating bed for it.
And there’s plenty of variety in PLA filaments. They come in a huge array of different colors, and you can even get silk-look, gloss, metallic, wood-look, rainbow pigments, or even glow in the dark.
Once you’ve picked your 3D printer, why not check out our article on Best 3D printer filament brands.
Print Speed & Quality
Kids can often be more impatient than the rest of us. And they may lose some of that all-important enthusiasm if they have to wait 7 days for a printout.
3D printing is carried out in layers, and if the layers are thick then the printing is done faster than it would be if it were using thinner layers. However, the thicker the layers, the poorer the quality of the printout, since less accuracy is possible and the layers can sometimes be clearly visible.
This also means that you lose a lot of the fine detail that tends to earn the most appreciation in a printout.
So basically, there’s a tradeoff between print speed and print quality. Most people go for print quality over print speed, but that decision comes down to what you think your youngster would prefer.
Different 3D printers have different maximum 3D printing volumes. But don’t assume that bigger always means better. You will find that you can just as much pleasure from a 3D printer with a small maximum print volume as you would with a large one.