Best 3D Printer For Kids: My Top 3 Choices Of 2017
Are you interested in introducing your kids to the world of 3D printing? Do you want an easy to use 3D printer which is fully assembled, affordable and safe to use?
If so, we have researched a lot of 3D printers and have chosen the top 3 which we think are the most suitable for kids to use while still being extremely affordable and functional.
- New Matter MOD-t 3D Printer
- FlashForge Finder 3D Printer
- XYZPrinting da Vinci Jr.3D Printer
- Our Overall Conclusion
The criteria we used to help us choose the top three were:
A Fully Assembled Printer
All three printers which we’ve reviewed come to you fully assembled so that you can start printing with them straight out of the box. The set up for these printers is very easy and straight forward and is something that you can do with your kids in under half an hour.
Safe To Use
When evaluating 3D printers, we looked for printers that were mostly fully enclosed in order to keep all the moving and heated parts well away from small and inquisitive fingers.
Uses Safe And Non-toxic PLA Filament
PLA filament is made from organic materials such as sugar cane and corn starch. All three printers on our list use only PLA filament which is safe and totally non-toxic.
Easy To Use Software
All of these printers come with their own easy to use software, whether it needs to be installed on your computer or it’s cloud based. We considered this important so that your children can quickly master the software and operate the printer without complication.
One of the most frustrating things with some 3D printers is trying to calibrate and level the print bed. For this reason we looked for printers which had some form of auto or assisted calibration so that you can get on with the fun of printing rather than spending time leveling and calibrating the printer.
The three printers which we review below have met all of our selection criteria and they’re also very affordable. We hope you find these reviews helpful and that they make it easier for you to choose just the right 3D printer for your family.
New Matter MOD-t 3D Printer
The New Matter MOD-t 3D printer is labeled as the most user-friendly desktop 3D printer ever and it’s also highly affordable. This is a very simple printer to set up and start printing with, which is why it’s extremely suitable for kids to use.
The Plexiglas enclosure also makes it extremely safe to use as it keeps curious fingers away from all the moving and heated parts. The printer is self calibrating and requires very little maintenance and all the operating is done via a cloud based web interface.
For the price, it’s a great 3D printer for kids to get started with 3D printing and helps them to use their creativity to print all sorts of cool designs which are available in the New Matter online store.
Key Features Of The New Matter
Easy To Set Up
The MOD-t comes fully assembled so you can start your first print job within 20 minutes of un-boxing the printer. Just follow the easy online instructions and you’re ready to go.
With this printer you can print across your WiFi from your computer, tablet or smart phone without having to connect with a cable. Plus the wireless integration makes it so simple to send print jobs to your printer. All you need to do is:
Select a print design from the New Matter store or download a design from another website such as Thingiverse.
Customize the design by using simple and intuitive tools.
Send the design to the printer and watch as it prints out your model.
The MOD-t has a self calibrating feature which makes it easy to get excellent prints the first time every time.
Clear Acrylic Cover
The clever clear acrylic cover allows you to view the printer working while ensuring that all the moving and heated parts are kept safe from little fingers. It also helps to keep dust and debris out of your printer. The cover also means that the printer will run much quieter as well.
Print Bed With Special Surface Covering
The print bed on the MOD-t is made from metal and has a special covering which allows prints to adhere very well without the need for painter’s tape, glue or hairspray. The build area itself measures 6 inches x 4 inches x 5 inches.
The print bed can also be easily removed and replaced as it functions without belts but rather uses metal rods instead.
The Printer Is Controlled Via The Cloud Software
Because the MOD-t is controlled via the cloud software, operation is extremely simple even including such tasks as loading and unloading the filament,
What’s In The Box?
The New Matter MOD-t printer is totally assembled so you’ll find very few parts in the box. Here’s what you get:
- The fully assembled New Matter MOD-t 3D printer
- The sturdy metal print plate with a plastic build platform
- The clear plexiglass cover
- A sample spool of PLA filament
- A filament spool holder which clips into the back of the printer
- A USB cable for attaching to your computer to get firmware updates if there are any
- A power cord
- A pair of pliers
- A plastic scraper
- A wire brush
- A quick start guide
- The User manual
How Easy Is This 3D Printer To Set Up?
The MOD-t is very easy to set up and it can be done in under 20 minutes. Here are the set up steps:
- Attach the print surface plate to the build tray base.
- Place the build tray into the printer ensuring that its teeth mesh with the pinion rods without applying pressure.
- Attach the filament spool holder to the printer and put on the roll of filament supplied.
- Connect the printer to your computer using the USB cable.
- Bring up the New Matter Store on your computer and log in. Connect the printer to your WiFi as instructed.
- Load the filament using the ‘load filament’ button on the print queue dashboard and follow the guided steps.
- Put the clear cover onto the printer.
- Find a design you want to print from the ‘designs’ tab in the New Matter store.
- Add the print file to your library and make any adjustments to the file if you need to.
- Once done you can press print now.
After you’ve done this, the LED light on the front panel button on the printer will start blinking rapidly. Press the button and the printer will start calibrating and printing your design.
Can You Print Your Own Files Or Files You Find On Thingiverse?
With the MOD-t you can upload any OBJ or STL file to your library in the New Matter store and then print it. You’ll find instructions on how to do this in the user manual.
You can even design your own printable objects using a program such as Tinkercad and, as long as you save your design as an STL file, you’ll be able to print it on the MOD-t. This is excellent for your kids to use their creativity by designing their own print objects.
The New Matter MOD-t 3D printer is an excellent printer for kids and very affordable too. It takes only a few minutes to set up and the clear plastic cover makes it completely safe for kids to use. The web interface is really easy to use and you can print some excellent fun and useful projects with this 3D printer.
FlashForge Finder 3D Printer
The FlashForge Finder is a great looking 3D printer and my top pick which is fully assembled and can be ready to print within just a few minutes of un-boxing it. The printer features a sturdy plastic casing which houses all the cables, heated and moving parts, keeping them away from curious fingers. It also produces really high quality prints and is a strong long lasting printer.
The full color touch screen makes print operation very easy plus the printer also has WiFi connectivity and can be controlled remotely by your computer, smart phone or tablet. It can also be connected to your computer via a USB cable and it has a slot for a flash drive which is handy when you want to print files without being connected.
This is a great printer for kids and beginners alike and is perfect to use in a classroom or at home.
Key Features Of The FlashForge
Removable Build Plate
The build plate in the FlashForge 3D printer is removable which makes it really easy to remove completed printed objects. The build volume of the plate is 5.5 inches x 5.5 inches x 5.5 inches.
3.5 Inch Full Color Touch Screen
The Finder is easy to control using the 3.5 inch full color touch screen with intuitive icons. This means that you can control the printer even when it’s not connected to a computer.
This gives you greater flexibility because you can operate the printer either as a standalone unit, across your WiFi or via your computer using the USB connection.
Sturdy Plastic Alloy Construction
The sturdy plastic frame on this printer makes it very stable which ensures great quality prints.
WiFi, USB and Flash Drive Connectivity
The Finder features a 2nd generation WiFi connection which offers more stability and allows you to transfer print files and monitor your printer using your computer, smart phone or tablet. There’s also the option of connecting the printer to your computer via the USB cable or by loading your print files onto the flash drive and then operating the printer using the touch screen.
Assisted Bed Leveling
With the assisted bed leveling it’s easy to always ensure that the print bed is level. Using the touch screen you’ll find instructions to tighten or loosen the leveling screws until you hear a beep. With these instructions, leveling the bed couldn’t be easier.
Because the Finder is mostly enclosed, it’s completely safe for kids to use. All the heated and moving parts are kept safely away from little fingers and the cables are concealed within the plastic casing. The casing also helps to keep out dust and other debris which could interfere with the print quality.
Filament Cartridge With Low Filament Detection
The filament is housed inside a cartridge in the back of the printer. This cartridge housing has low filament detection and will alert you when you need to load a new roll of filament. This means you’ll never run out of filament in the middle of a print job.
Intuitive And Easy To Use Software
The FlashForge Finder comes with the new FlashPrint software which is easy to use and very intuitive. It’s a slicing program that will convert any print files into Gcode files for the printer to print. For beginners it has a list of presets for build quality which makes it easy to get started.
Once your print file has been sliced, you can view a layer-by-layer visualization plus the software will give you time and material estimates for the print job. FlashPrint will also automatically generate supports based on the model’s overhang angles. This is especially useful for beginners who haven’t yet learned about supports and why they’re necessary for some print jobs.
What’s In The Box?
Once again, this printer comes fully assembled and requires very little set up to begin printing. In the box you’ll find:
- The FlashForge Finder 3D printer
- The Quick Start guide
- 1 roll of sample PLA filament
- 1 sheet of build platform stickers which are already installed on the glass build plate
- A power cable
- A USB cable for connecting the printer to your computer
- The filament guide tube
- A USB stick with contains the electronic user guide and the FlashPrint software
- A handy set of tools
How Easy Is Set Up For The FlashForge Finder?
Being fully assembled the Finder is quite easy to set up. Here are the set up steps:
- Unpack the printer and remove any tape and zip ties
- Manually raise the build plate so that you can remove the foam packaging underneath it
- Insert the roll of filament into the filament cartridge and insert the filament guide tube
- Turn the printer on and follow the instructions on the touch screen to level the build plate
- Then, using the touch screen, load the filament
- You’re now ready to print your first project if you’re using a print file on the flash drive
- Otherwise, you may want to connect the printer to your WiFi using the USB cable and the instructions which are provided.
Do You Need To Use Tape On The Build Plate?
It really depends on what you’re printing and how large your model is. The plate already has some blue tape on it when you receive it. This helps the prints to adhere better. Alternatively you can also use either glue stick or hairspray on the build plate.
In general, larger models may need some help with adhering to the plate which is why you would use the blue tape. It really is just a matter of testing the printer and finding out how well prints will stick to the plate whether you use any tape or glue or not.
The FlashForge 3D printer is an excellent pre-assembled printer which is almost ready to print straight out of the box. Set up is fairly straight forward and the assisted bed leveling is a nice touch.
This is an excellent printer for kids to use because all the cabling, heated and moving parts are encased within the printer to keep them out of reach of small fingers.
The slicing software is quite intuitive to use and you and your kids will be able to create many different types of objects whether you download the print files from websites like Thingiverse or whether you create your own 3D model files from any design software that you may have.
XYZPrinting da Vinci Jr.3D Printer
The XYZ da Vinci Jr. 3D printer is a great first 3D printer for beginners and children. In fact it has been designed to be used by kids both at home and in the classroom. The printer is fully enclosed and uses only XYZ proprietary PLA filament and the XYZ slicing software to prepare all print files for printing.
The da Vinci has an innovative 9-point calibration detection system which adjusts the print bed level and calibrates the extruder. This means that you’ll always get great prints without having to manually calibrate the print bed.
This printer can be easily connected to your WiFi network so that you can send print jobs to it from your computer, tablet or smart phone.
Glass Build Plate
The da Vinci comes with a standard glass build plate and some replaceable tape to help prints adhere to the plate. The build volume is 5.9 inches x 5.9 inches x 5.9 inches.
Filament Is Housed Inside The Printer
With this printer you can only use XYZ filament which has a special chip within the spool. This keeps a record of how much filament has been used and will alert you when the filament is running low. The roll of filament fits neatly inside the printer and is fed to the print head via a bowden tube.
Easy To Use LCD Screen
The LCD screen on this printer is easy to use and is controlled with push buttons. The printer has an SD card reader which means that you can operate it without being connected to any computer or your WiFi if you wish.
Fully Enclosed For Safety
The da Vinci is fully enclosed to keep small fingers away from moving and heated parts. This also means that the machine runs surprisingly quiet. The side panels are transparent and there are also interior LED lights which look great when you’re printing at night.
The front panel lifts up to reveal the inside of the printer and is magnetic so it latches closed again nicely.
Easy To Remove Extruder
The extruder in this printer can easily be clipped in and out with just the press of a button. This makes it really simple to clean or replace if you need to.
Special Slicing Software Which Is Easy To Use
With this printer, you can only use the XYZ slicing software because the printer itself does not utilize Gcode files to print. This should not be a problem for beginners or kids because the software has only limited settings which are easy to understand.
What’s In The Box?
The XYZ da Vinci printer comes fully assembled so there are not too many parts which you need to worry about. Here’s what’s in the box:
- The fully assembled da Vinci 1.0w printer
- Some extra print bed tape
- A scraper for removing prints from the bed
- Some tools to clean the extruder nozzle and the filament guide tube
- A USB cable for connecting the printer to your computer
- The power cord
- The filament guide tube
- A sample roll of filament
- An 8gb micro SD card
- The Quick start guide
- The instructional manual
How Easy Is This Printer To Set Up?
There’s actually very little set up required for this printer. Set Up steps include:
- Unwrapping the printer, removing packaging material, tape from the extruder and the foam protecting the print bed
- Turning on the printer and calibrating using the LCD screen
- Loading the filament after attaching the filament guide tube
- Connecting the printer to your computer using the USB cable and then connecting the WiFi (there’s an easy video showing you how to do this)
- Downloading a print file and using the XYZ software to slice the file ready for printing
- Then you’re ready to start your first print job
Will Printing On The ‘Fast’ Setting Affect The Quality Of The Print?
The simple answer is yes. The speed of each print job is directly related to the quality of the finished print. Printing at a slower speed means that you get a much better quality print especially if you’re printing a more complex object.
This is an excellent printer for kids and beginners as it is fully enclosed and runs very quietly. It comes fully assembled with very little set up required and the XYZ software is extremely easy to use with very little adjustments needed to the standard settings.
It is somewhat limited in that you can only use XYZ filament and XYZ slicing software. This is not a problem though if you’re a complete beginner and want to have some fun printing cool 3D objects with your kids.
The quality of prints that this printer produces is excellent for a 3D printer in this price range and you can download any STL file from websites like Thingiverse as long as you slice them with the XYZ software.
Our Overall Conclusion
All three of these 3D printers would be excellent for both kids and beginners. Each printer comes fully assembled and takes only a few minutes to set up before you can start your first print job.
My Personal favourite is the FlashForge because it is very reliable, easy to use and produces amazing quality prints. It also has very good customer support.
Both the New Matter and XYZ printers are fully enclosed while the FlashForge Finder has a sturdy plastic casing which houses the cables and keeps the moving and heated parts well away from small fingers.
All three printers have WiFi connectivity which makes them easy to control. They all use PLA filament although only the New Matter MOD-t allows you to use any brand of filament.
In concluding, we believe that all these 3D printers are ideal for kids to use both at home and in the classroom because they are safe and very easy to use.