Is your kid interested in 3D printing? With adult supervision, 3D printing is a great activity for kids of almost every age. 3D printing involves math, science, and mechanical skills, making it an awesome STEM activity for growing minds. This list includes our printer recommendations for both younger children and teens. We’ll also go over some of important things to keep in mind while shopping for kid-friendly 3D printers.
Is My Child Old Enough for 3D Printing?
Generally speaking, children are ready to understand 3D printing around 8 years old. At this age, they can operate all parts of a 3D printer but still need supervision during the process. This is so the project goes well, but also so they don’t hurt themselves on the heated print bed or by playing with free wires. That’s why the best 3D printers for kids are fully enclosed, keeping all the dangerous elements covered during a print.
Around 12+, you can trust your child alone with a 3D printer but be sure to discuss proper handling and safety.
Of course, some people have successfully 3D printed with children who are younger than 8 years old. That’s great, but we don’t suggest starting that young for everyone. Use common sense and consider your individual child’s maturity before getting them a 3D printer.
3D Printing Safety Tips for Children
3D printing is actually pretty safe so long as you follow a few simple rules. For reference, 3D printing is about as dangerous as using a hot glue gun when you take proper precautions.
- It’s best to have an enclosure for both the print area and all cables. Some printers have exposed cables, uncovered PSU’s, or totally open print beds. Look for a printer that’s fully enclosed or close to it.
- PLA filament is a natural product made from plants. The fumes emitted from printing with PLA filament are actually pleasant and unharmful. ABS and other filaments, however, emit more noxious fumes and are unsafe for young children.
- Discuss 3D printing safety with your child right away. The extruder reaches high temperatures and should never be touched while the printer is on. On some models, the print bed also gets hot and should never be touched during operation. Performing any maintenance or removing your model from the bed should always be done after the printer has had lots of time to cool.
Top 3D Printers for Kids and Teens
The Best 3D Printer For Young Children (8-10 years old)
Da Vinci Nano
As the name suggests, this budget-friendly printer is small and light. It comes almost completely assembled and takes just minutes to set up, making it very user-friendly. The Nano is so easy to use because it’s very simple, but for children that’s a great thing. It prints in an enclosed space exclusively in PLA, meaning fewer hot parts.
Our favorite part of this printer is the included software. While FlashPrint is great for older users, da Vinci’s own child-friendly program which gives your kids fun activities to do while learning to use their printer. This is an awesome educational tool whether you’re a teacher or a parent.
Safe, cheap, and complete with a STEM learning program, the da Vinci Nano is our top choice for young children.
The Best 3D Printer for Kids of All Ages (8-14 years old)
Flashforge Finder Lite
Simple, cheap, and safe, the Flashforge Finder Lite isn’t great for advanced users but is perfect for beginners and children of all ages. This 3D printer only uses PLA, doesn’t include a heated print bed, and even covers the nozzle during operation. What’s more, the Finder Lite features a semi-enclosed build area which covers all cables. It’s incredibly safe to use this printer with young children, whether at home or in an educational setting.
The Finder Lite also comes with beginner-friendly software called FlashPrint that’s easy to understand and allows you to use either basic or advanced functionality. This means your child can easily understand the software and even experiment with different settings when they feel comfortable.
Overall this is an excellent choice for most kids. Teenagers may be disappointed by its size and filament limitations, but kids under 12 will have all they need to explore their imaginations. Check out our full Flashforge Finder Lite review here.
The Best 3D Printer for Older Kids (12+ years old)
QIDI TECH X-One2
Older kids or mature little ones can be trusted with a more complex machine. The QIDI TECH X-One2 is a solid upgrade from the other printers on this list while remaining totally safe to operate.
One of the biggest upgrades to this printer is that it features a heated print bed, which in turn allows the QIDI TECH X-One2 to print with ABS and TPU filaments. Don’t worry, though- the print area is completely enclosed for safe operation.
This printer also offers higher quality components, like the extruder and cooling system, allowing for much better precision. Models printed from the QIDI TECH X-One2 are smooth and highly detailed. Great for older kids and even adults, we recommend this printer for all beginners. Check out our full X-One2 review here for more info.