Nov 3, 2015 | By Kira

A major champion of the Maker Movement, Make: Magazine has been popularizing desktop fabrication and bringing it to the mainstream since 2005. Published every year, their Ultimate Guide to Desktop Fabrication has become a trustworthy resource for new and experienced makers alike who are looking for tried-and-true products for their making needs. Today, the 2015 Guide was officially released, featuring over 30 3D printers and top-rated CNC Mills, with LulzBot TAZ 5, Rostock Max, Zortrax M200, PrintrBot and others leading the pack.

To create the Guide, the Make: staff develops test scripts and benchmarks to run the latest batch of 3D printers, CNC mills and resin 3D printers and determine the cream of the crop in several classes. A team of 16 recognized experts in digital fabrication then carry out the tests, pitting each machine against one another to evaluate their quality based on user experience out of the box, performance, value, and overall product aesthetic. After putting each machine through its paces this year, Make: identified the top performing 3D printers in five classes, the best CNC mills in three classes, and their top two resin printers. This is the first year that Make: has tested CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines.

"The world of 3D printing has changed dramatically since 2012, when we first started this annual roundup devoted to showcasing the best machines in the industry," said Mike Senese, executive editor for Make: magazine. "The rapid evolution of the technology over the past three years has completely changed the landscape for 3D tools. Price has come down, product features such as auto bed-leveling are de rigueur, and the footprint has become smaller, especially for CNC mills. Now people -- from home hobbyists to entrepreneurs -- can use these tools for fun projects or for prototyping the next great invention."

In this year’s 3D printing category, LulzBot’s TAZ 5came out on top as ‘Best Overall’ among the machines tested, as well as being named ‘Outsanding Open Source’. Other 3D printers that scored across several categories include Printrbot Play, the Ultimaker Go/Extended, and Shapeoko3. As for the 3D printer offering the best bang for your buck? That award went to SeeMeCNC’s $999 Rostock MAX v2, who’s large print volume and cost savings kit made it a “sure bet” according to the Make: editors.

In terms of the Overall Top 3 Scores, TAZ 5, Zotrax M200 and Rostock Max filled out the winner’s circle. Best For Schools (based on safety features and ease of use) went to Printrbot Play, while PrintrBot Simple won for Most Portable. On the other end of the size spectrum, the Ultimaker Extended was awarded Best Large Format.

According to the digital fabrication team, the TAZ 5 was selected ‘Best Overall’ due to its “commitment to excellent engineering, and took home ‘Outstanding Open Source’, according to the editors, for “holding true to its open source roots.” Aleph Objects, the company behind LulzBot 3D printers, is a free software, libre innovation and open source hardware company based out of Colorado.  “The LulzBot TAZ 5 is a workhorse desktop 3D printer that respects user freedom and is the choice of makers around the world,” said Harris Kenny, Vice President of Marketing at Aleph Objects, Inc. “We are proud to see the LulzBot TAZ 5 thrive in Make: magazine's respected, rigorous, and independent evaluation.” Aleph Objects’ Cura LulzBot 3D printing software is also available free and entirely open source.

Another big winner, SeeMeCNC, is considered an early player in the 3D printing industry, and is known for providing affordable 3D printers for use in homes, schools and offices. Last year, they launched SeeMeEducate, an initiate to support STEM education, as well as the first 3D printing curriculum for schools. “When we set out in 2011 and launched SeeMeCNC, our goal was to take something amazing yet not too expensive for the DIY crowd, and put it in their hands at a price they could afford,” co-founder John Olafson told “We're so happy to be given this award, as it shows all of our hard work and effort has made that a reality.”

Though there are literally hundreds of 3D printer options available today, each with their own merits, Make: Magazine’s Ultimate Guide certainly helps narrowing down some of the top performing machines for desktop fabrication that are available today.

See the full list of 2015 3D printer winners below:

By the Numbers -- Top 3 Scores

  1. TAZ 5 - "The fifth version of the TAZ shows LulzBot's commitment to excellent engineering."
  2. Zortrax M200 - "If you care about 3D prints more than the process of 3D printing, you need to look at the Zortrax M200."
  3. Rostock Max -"Makes huge and beautiful prints. You won't break the bank with the Rostock Max."

Best Value (Greatest cost-to-features ratio) Rostock Max -- "The huge print volume combined with the cost savings from coming as a kit makes this machine an easy standout."

Best For Schools (Safety features and ease of use) Printrbot Play - "Its low cost and safety conscious design elements make the Play a great machine for classrooms."

Most Portable (Mobile or space-saving machines) Printrbot Simple - "Still one of the best starter printers and now, with the included handle, a great on-the-go machine."

Outstanding Open Source (The beginning and future of 3D printing) TAZ 5 - "Lulzbot keeps striving to make the TAZ line better while still holding true to their open source roots."

Best Large Format (Sizeable machines for those who want the biggest prints) Ultimaker Extended - "The Ultimaker Extended gives you a great print area while not taking up your entire desk."

SLA Resin 3D Printer:

Formlabs Form 2 - "A large print area, auto-fill resin, open resin compatibility and Wi-Fi connectivity - just a few things that put the Form 2 on the top of the resin printer market."

LittleRP - "If you are interested in getting started with resin 3D printers, the Little RP is a low-cost, easy-to-build kit. Toss in your own DLP home theater projector and you are off and printing."


Posted in 3D Printer



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Kevin Worrall wrote at 11/6/2015 11:09:32 AM:

If it's not made is usa, it doesn't rate. Bullshit! Flashforge dreamer runs rings around printrbot simple. Not everything has to be open source either.

Jeff wrote at 11/4/2015 6:09:11 PM:


Concerned Maker wrote at 11/4/2015 6:06:23 PM:

Is anyone concerned that they review printers that they sell? Major conflict of interest. Do they pick winners with better margins? What truck do you think Ford would pick for best pickup?

Adam wrote at 11/4/2015 12:30:52 PM:

Again joke from Make ;) Crapy printer win in this year LOL

George wrote at 11/4/2015 9:41:41 AM:

Thanks for the mention guys! @3dhubs

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