AET LABS BLOG
September 14, 2022
6 min read

A Guide to the Best 3D Printer for Schools in New England

Stratasys J55 at Greater New Bedford Tech

Need help deciding which 3D printer is right for your students? In this guide to the best 3D printer for schools, we highlight eight different 3D printers for you to browse through. 3D printers offer schools and universities many ways to introduce students to experiences that are transferrable to the workplace and help educational institutions stand out. For example:  

  • 3D printers foster teamwork, collaboration, and excitement through hands-on project-based learning opportunities
  • 3D printers are common in many industries, from consumer products to automotive to aerospace, so they give students opportunities to get industry-relevant experience, especially when they are using the same 3D printers used by companies 
  • Cutting-edge 3D printer technology can attract the best students and staff to your school or university 
  • 3D printers are an exceptional tool for researchers to illustrate and model findings in vivid detail 

Here is a quick glance at the best 3D printers for schools.

Read on for a more detailed review of each. 

Best 3D Printers for Education 

PrinterMain BenefitExperience LevelPrice Range
MakerBot SketchReliableBeginnerStarting at $1,299
MakerBot Replicator+Durable materialsBeginnerStarting at $2,100
MakerBot MethodXIntroduction to industrial 3D printingIntermediate$4,000 to $6,000
Stratasys F123 Introduction to industrial thermoplasticsIntermediateStarting around $20,000
Stratasys Objet 30 DesktopHigh-resolution printing, consistent and professional resultsIntermediateUnder $25,000
Stratasys FortusProvides an advanced manufacturing experienceAdvancedStarting at $180,000
Stratasys J55Multi-color, texture, and high-resolution for ultra-realistic applicationsAdvancedStarting around $85,000
Stratasys J8Full-color printing with voxel-level capabilitiesAdvancedStarting around $150,000

MakerBot Sketch 

MakerBot Sketch 3D printers

The MakerBot Sketch comes with two 3D printers to maximize student engagement. It's known for its reliability as one of the best 3D printers for the classroom, based on years of development and research by the manufacturer.  

Benefits 

  • Dual printers to boost student exposure and growth 
  • Reliable classroom 3D printer 
  • Manage student projects with a cloud-based print queue 
  • Print directly from TinkerCAD 

Size 

17in x 16.6in x 14.4in  

Weight 

26 lbs. 

Software 

  • Comes with GrabCAD Print, which simplifies the entire 3D printing process with an intuitive CAD-like application easy for students to use 
  • Works with most CAD software, including SolidWorks, Autodesk Fusion 360, Onshape, Autodesk Inventor 

Instructor Training 

Basic Training

  • GrabCAD Print (2-4 hours) 
  • Printer Set-Up and Operations (1 hour) 

Advanced Training

  • Design for Additive Manufacturing (6 hours) 
  • ISTE-certified 3D printer training for both teachers and students 

Curriculum Resources 

  • Access 600+ lesson plans across various grade levels & subjects with the MAKERBOT Educators Guidebook for 3D Printing 
  • Join the largest 3D printing community of educators 

Price Range 

Starting at $1,299 

MakerBot Replicator+ 

Makerbot Replicator+ 3D Printer

MakerBot’s award-winning desktop 3D printer is engineered for fast and reliable 3D printing. The MakerBot Replicator+ streamlines the workflow for 3D printing, making it accessible for students at all levels. 

Benefits 

  • Engineering and extensively tested to print fast, easy, and reliably  
  • Designed with stiff materials and a sturdy construction for reliability and precision 
  • Print durable, high-impact strength prototypes and fixtures 
  • Quiet printing 

Size 

20.8in X 17.4in X 16.2in 

Weight 

40.4 lbs. 

Software 

  • Comes with GrabCAD Print, which simplifies the entire 3D printing process with an intuitive CAD-like application easy for students to use 
  • Works with most CAD software, including SolidWorks, Autodesk Fusion 360, Onshape, Autodesk Inventor 

Instructor Training 

Basic Training

  • GrabCAD Print (2-4 hours) 
  • Printer Set-Up and Operations (1 hour) 

Advanced Training

  • Design for Additive Manufacturing (6 hours) 

Curriculum Resources 

  • Access 600+ lesson plans across various grade levels & subjects with the MAKERBOT Educators Guidebook for 3D Printing 

Price Range 

Starting at $2,100 

MakerBot MethodX 

MakerBot Method 3D printer

Highly functional desktop 3D printing that gives students experience with industrial 3D printing capabilities. The MakerBot MethodX delivers manufacturing-grade parts with advanced engineering materials. 

Benefits 

  • Print real production grade ABS 
  • Superior Z-layer bonding without warping or curling 
  • Print complex assemblies with exact tolerances 
  • Faster printing than other desktop 3D printers 

Size 
17.2in x 16.3in x 25.6in 

Weight 

65 lbs. 

Software 

  • Comes with GrabCAD Print, which simplifies the entire 3D printing process with an intuitive CAD-like application easy for students to use 
  • Seamless CAD integration with AutoDesk Fusion 360, AutoDesk Inventor, and Solidworks software 

Instructor Training 

Basic Training

  • GrabCAD Print (2-4 hours) 
  • Printer Set-Up and Operations (1 hour) 

Advanced Training

  • Design for Additive Manufacturing (6 hours) 

Curriculum Resources 

  • Access 600+ lesson plans across various grade levels & subjects with the MAKERBOT Educators Guidebook for 3D Printing 

Price Range 

$4,000 to $6,000 

Stratasys F123 

Stratasys F123 3D printer

Produce highly accurate, reliable prototypes, student projects, production parts, and more with the Stratasys F123. Explore a world of industrial thermoplastics and printing capabilities from the leader in 3D printing. 

Benefits 

  • Select from a range of strength and layer resolution options to suit almost any learning application 
  • Minimal setup, auto-calibration, and fast and easy material swaps  
  • Enlist the fast-draft mode to produce design concepts quickly and economically 
  • Monitor your prints remotely with the built-in camera feature 

Size 

F120: 35in x 35in x 29in 

F170, F270, F370: 64in x 34in x 28in 

Weight 

F120: 275 lbs. 

F170, F270, F370: 500 lbs. 

Software 

  • Comes with GrabCAD Print, which simplifies the entire 3D printing process with an intuitive CAD-like application easy for students to use 
  • Works with most CAD software, including SolidWorks, Autodesk Fusion 360, Onshape, Autodesk Inventor 

Instructor Training 

Basic Training

  • GrabCAD Print (2-4 hours) 
  • Printer Set-Up and Operations (1 hour) 

Advanced Training

  • Design for Additive Manufacturing (6 hours) 

Curriculum Resources 

Stratasys Additive Manufacturing Certification Program 

  • Instructor Certification 
  • Student Certification 

Price Range 

Starting around $20,000 

Stratasys Objet 30 Desktop 

Stratasys Objet 500 Connex

The Stratasys Objet 30 Desktop is an introduction to high-resolution Polyjet 3D printing. Students can explore high-end rapid prototyping and simulate plastics that closely resemble end products with dimensional stability and high-detail visualization.   
 
Benefits 

  • Print with clear, white, black, blue, or gray materials 
  • High-temperature material capabilities for advanced functional testing, hot air and water flow, and static applications 
  • Durable printing material offers durability for smooth prototypes with living hinges, flexible closures and snap-fit parts 

Size 

32.5in x 23.6in x 24.4in 

Weight 

234 lbs. 

Software 

  • Comes with GrabCAD Print, which simplifies the entire 3D printing process with an intuitive CAD-like application easy for students to use 
  • Works with most CAD software, including SolidWorks, Autodesk Fusion 360, Onshape, Autodesk Inventor 

Instructor Training 

Basic Training

  • GrabCAD Print (2-4 hours) 
  • Printer Set-Up and Operations (1 hour) 

Advanced Training

  • Design for Additive Manufacturing (6 hours) 

Curriculum Resources 

Stratasys Additive Manufacturing Certification Program 

  • Instructor Certification 
  • Student Certification 

Price Range 

Under $25,000 

Stratasys Fortus  

Stratasys Fortus 380 and 450 3D printers

The Stratasys Fortus gives students access to 3D printing in an advanced manufacturing environment. Produce complex parts efficiently and effectively with easy-to-use interfaces and software controls. 

Benefits 

  • Use ten different printing materials for versatility 
  • Industrial-grade reliability for low maintenance 
  • Print two to three times faster than other printers for up to 250 hours, uninterrupted 

Size 

35in x 35in x 29in 

Weight 

275 lbs. 

Software 

  • Comes with GrabCAD Print, which simplifies the entire 3D printing process with an intuitive CAD-like application easy for students to use 
  • Works with most CAD software, including SolidWorks, Autodesk Fusion 360, Onshape, Autodesk Inventor 

Instructor Training 

Basic Training

  • GrabCAD Print (2-4 hours) 
  • Printer Set-Up and Operations (1 hour) 

Advanced Training

  • Design for Additive Manufacturing (6 hours) 

Curriculum Resources 

Stratasys Additive Manufacturing Certification Program 

  • Instructor Certification 
  • Student Certification 

Price Range 

Starting at $180,000 

Stratasys J55

Stratasys J55 Prime 3D printer

Students showcase their creativity with the Stratasys J55, which offers multi-color and texture capabilities. The Stratasys J55 uses high-resolution Polyjet technology and is quiet and odor free. 

Benefits 

  • Print in over 478,000 colors that are Pantone Validated 
  • Surface texture options can simulate materials like fabric, wood, leather, and much more 
  • Designed for consistent, stable performance, with zero mechanical calibrations and features a “ready-to-print” mode 

Size 

25.63in x 26.02in x 59.49in 

Weight 

503 lbs. 

Software 

  • Comes with GrabCAD Print, which simplifies the entire 3D printing process with an intuitive CAD-like application easy for students to use 
  • Comes with KeyShot, a real-time, rendering and animation design tool that allows you to quickly visualize your CAD model in multiple iterations with amazing detail 
  • Works with most CAD software, including SolidWorks, Autodesk Fusion 360, Onshape, Autodesk Inventor 

Instructor Training 

Basic Training

  • GrabCAD Print (2-4 hours) 
  • Printer Set-Up and Operations (1 hour) 

Advanced Training

  • Design for Additive Manufacturing (6 hours) 

Curriculum Resources 

Stratasys Additive Manufacturing Certification Program 

  • Instructor Certification 
  • Student Certification 

Price Range 

Starting around $85,000 

Stratasys J8 

Stratasys J8750 3D printer

Provide students endless opportunities to bring their designs to life with the Stratasys J8, which offers full-color 3D printing with voxel-level capabilities. The J8 Series can produce more than 500,000 distinguishable color combinations, print seven resins simultaneously, and provide multi-material capabilities. 

Benefits 

  • Color match to Pantone colors with in a single click from the Stratasys GrabCAD Print software 
  • Use VeroUltraClear™ to 3D print translucent parts or combine with colors to create stunning transparent shades 
  • Use the Agilus30™ material family to create flexible parts and prototypes that can flex, bend, and elongate 

Size 

J826 Prime System: 32.28in x 51.57in x 26.18in 

J826 Prime Material Cabinet: 44in x 25.8in x 25.1in 

J850: 55.1in x 49.6in x 43.4 in 

J850 Prime System: 55.1in x 49.6in x 43.4in 

J850 Prime Material Cabinet: 44in x 25.8in x 25.1 in 

Weight 

J826 Prime System: 516 lbs. 

J826 Prime Material Cabinet: 337 lbs. 

J850: 948 lbs. 

J850 Prime System: 948 lbs. 

J850 Prime Material Cabinet: 337 lbs. 

Software 

  • Comes with GrabCAD Print, which simplifies the entire 3D printing process with an intuitive CAD-like application easy for students to use 
  • Works with most CAD software, including SolidWorks, Autodesk Fusion 360, Onshape, Autodesk Inventor 

Instructor Training 

Basic Training

  • GrabCAD Print (2-4 hours) 
  • Printer Set-Up and Operations (1 hour) 

Advanced Training

  • Stratasys Academy (4 hours) 
  • Advanced Color and Texture (6 hours) 

Curriculum Resources 

Stratasys Additive Manufacturing Certification Program 

  • Instructor Certification 
  • Student Certification 

Price Range 

Starting around $150,000 

Whether you are exploring buying the first 3D printer for your school, upgrading your existing 3D printer, or looking to advance your program with high-performance 3D printers, AET Labs is here to help! We partner with schools and universities in New England to bring the best 3D printers to schools that achieve curriculum goals and meet the experience level of students and instructors. Contact us to get help with your 3D printer selection. We also provide instructor training and local service for 3D printers.