The perfect Father’s Day gift: A 3D printer

Happy Father's Day

No matter what type of dad you have, we’ve got you covered with the perfect 3D printer to give him for Father’s Day.

Father’s Day is just around the corner (June 18 to be exact). A 3D printer makes a great gift for your hard-working, deserving dad for many reasons:

  • It’s unique. Most likely your dad doesn’t already have one, and his friends don’t either.
  • It inspires creativity. A 3D printer gives dad the means to make almost anything his mind can conceive of.
  • It’s practical. He can use it not only to make fun stuff but also to make things that you need around the house.
  • It can be a family activity. Most dads want nothing more than to spend time doing something with their kids. 3D printing provides the opportunity to do just that!

But which 3D printer should you buy for dear old dad? Here are some recommendations for the hobbyist dad, the handyman dad, the creative dad and the best-of-everything dad.

The Hobbyist Dad

Your dad loves a project. Whether it’s model airplanes, fishing or brewing beer, he dives into a hobby with enthusiasm and passion. He is driven by the idea of learning something new. He loves to make things, but for him the journey is just as important as the destination.

If this is your dad, you’ll want to look at 3D printer kits. Not only will a kit be less expensive, it will give your dad a project to work on that will teach him the ins and outs of 3D printing. Then, once his 3D printer is assembled he will have an endless supply of new projects that involve design and building cool things. If he has an existing passion, he can use his 3D printer to build things related to his hobby, like this guy who 3D printed his own, full scale Star Wars lightsaber.

Our recommendation for the hobbyist dad

The HICTOP Prusa i3 3D printer kit

HICTOP Prusa i3Based on an open source design, the HICTOP Prusa i3 is a great tool for learning the ins and outs of 3D printing. Dad should be able to assemble it in anywhere from 8 to 20 hours. Once assembled he can build lots of cool things, but the learning doesn’t end there. The Prusa i3 provides a lot of opportunity for tweaking, tuning and customizing to get the best possible results.

Read our review of the HICTOP Prusa i3.

There are a few varieties of the HICTOP Prusa i3 available for purchase:

Honorable mentions for the hobbyist dad:

  • The Rostock MAX v2 3D printer kit, priced at $999. More expensive than the HICTOP Prusa i3, but a higher quality device if it fits in your budget.
  • Comparable 3D printers based on the same Prusa i3 design include the Alunar Prusa i3 at $309 and the RepRap Guru Prusa i3 at $328.

The Handyman Dad

The handyman dad thrives on being the guy who can fix anything. You can count on him to help, whether the kitchen sink is leaking, you need new shelves put up in your closet, or to assemble that new play structure for the kids. If he doesn’t know how to do it already, he’ll figure it out.

The handyman dad owns a lot of tools but ironically he probably doesn’t own one of the most versatile tools available: a 3D printer! A 3D printer can build just about anything, so when your dad wants to wall mount that cool IKEA utensil holder your mom bought, he can just download a design and print it out.

When it comes to picking a 3D printer for the handyman dad, you’ll want something useful that doesn’t take forever to set up or calibrate. You need it to print with basic materials quickly and without too much hassle.

Our recommendation for the handyman dad

The Dremel Idea Builder 3D printer

Dremel Idea BuilderYour dad probably already knows Dremel as the versatile rotary tool with the interchangeable bits. It turns out that Dremel makes a pretty good 3D printer as well. The Idea Builder is quick to set up and easy to use, with a full color touchscreen interface. It is limited in only supporting Dremel brand PLA filament, but for the handyman dad looking to create functional parts for use around the house that shouldn’t be an issue.

Read our review of the Dremel Idea Builder.

Dremel just released version 2 of the Idea builder, so for now you have a choice:

  • The original version, priced at $899.
  • Version 2, priced at $1,299, contains several improvements including a guided leveling system and larger print size.

Honorable mentions for the handyman dad:

  • BEETHEFIRST is a bit pricy at $1,699, but provides a nice plug-and-play experience that is portable too, so dad can move the device between workshop and office, or wherever it is needed.
  • The da Vinci 1.0 from XYZprinting is a nice, inexpensive option at $399. Easy-to-use, well-built and reliable. Read our review.

The Creative Dad

The creative dad likes to make unique and beautiful things. He may be inclined toward music, art, writing, or any number of other creative pursuits. Creativity is an outlet for him, an escape from the day-to-day, and an opportunity to show off his unique flair.

Combined with 3D design software like SketchUp,  Tinkercad, and ZBrush, a 3D printer is an outstanding tool to help make the creative dad’s visions come to life. He can use it to create objects of his own design, or to create molds for casting multiple objects. 3D printed objects can be finished by sanding or painting to create amazing works of art.

The best 3D printer for the creative dad is one that is versatile. He may want to work with interesting materials such as wood-based filament or flexible materials. He will also want something that can achieve high quality output without a lot of fuss.

Our recommendation for the creative dad

The MakerGear M2 3D printer

MakerGear M2The MakerGear M2 is an outstanding device. It is well-built, solid, and capable of producing very high quality results without much effort. The build envelope (or largest size object that can be built) is 8 x 10 x 8 inches, which is quite large for a home 3D printer. It is flexible enough to work with a variety of filament materials, so there are no limits to your dad’s creativity.

Read our review of the MakerGear M2.

The MakerGear M2 is available from Amazon.com for $1,825.

Honorable mentions for the creative dad:

  • With a lower price of $1,100, the LulzBot Mini is also a nice choice for the creative dad, providing a great deal of flexibility. Read our review.
  • If money is no object, the brand new LulzBot TAZ 6 is a great choice for the creative dad. It is available from Amazon.com for $2,500.

The Best-of-Everything Dad

Your dad is a purveyor of the finer things in life. If he is going to invest his time and money into something, he’s going to do it right. He is a connoisseur of good bourbon. He wears the finest silk ties. He likes dining out at the best restaurants with world class chefs. For him, nothing but the best will do.

If this is your dad, then hopefully you and your siblings have some money to spend, as you will need to spend between $2,000 and $4,000 for a high-end home 3D printer. But if you do that, dad will end up with something he can show off to his friends, and use to create some amazing things.

Our recommendation for the best-of-everything dad

The DeltaWASP 20-40 Turbo 3D printer

DELTA Turbo WASP 2040The DeltaWASP has been called the Ferrari of 3D printers because of its beautiful design and Italian heritage. The 20-40 Turbo model can produce high quality output at incredibly fast speeds. It has a world-class, precision-engineered machine with a very large maximum print size. It is powerful, precise and a machine your dad will be proud to own.

The DeltaWASP 20-40 Turbo is available from Amazon.com for $3,999.

Honorable mentions for the best-of-everything dad:

  • The Formlabs Form 1+ is an SLA 3D printer. It creates objects by exposing a liquid resin to ultraviolet light. It is magical to watch an SLA 3D printer at work. Available on Amazon.com for $2,799.
  • Your dad can be the first on the block to own the brand new LulzBot TAZ 6. The TAZ 6 is a super high quality, hassle-free 3D printer, available from Amazon.com for $2,500.

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