Do you like heavy metal? Then you’ll love carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber 3D printers can create parts as strong as metal out of lightweight reinforced plastic. And they do it at a fraction of the cost.
But you need the right kind of 3D printer to print with carbon fiber filaments. Using an inadequate printer with these advanced materials will only result in broken components and expensive maintenance.
Read on to learn what the best carbon fiber 3D printers are in 2023.
Table of Contents
- Best Carbon Fiber 3D Printers At A Glance
- 1. MakerBot METHOD X Carbon Fiber Edition (Best Choice)
- 2. Qidi Tech X-Plus (Best Value)
- 3. Ultimaker S5 (Premium Choice)
- 4. XYZ PartPro300 xT (Beginner-Friendly)
- 5. Raise3D Pro3 (Most Reliable)
- 6. Fusion3 Edge (Best Large-Format)
- 7. Pulse XE (High Performance)
- 8. Markforged Mark Two (Best For Strongest Parts)
- 9. Delta WASP 2040 Industrial X (Fastest)
- 10. Desktop Metal Fiber
- Printing with Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Filament
- Is 3D Printed Carbon Fiber Strong?
- Ideal Designs for Carbon Fiber 3D Printers
- Tips for Successful Carbon Fiber Printing
- Pros and Cons of Carbon Fiber 3D Printers
- Go Strong, Go Carbon Fiber
Best Carbon Fiber 3D Printers At A Glance
1. MakerBot METHOD X Carbon Fiber Edition (Best Choice)
2. Qidi Tech X-Plus (Best Value)
3. Ultimaker S5 (Premium Choice)
4. XYZ PartPro300 xT (Beginner Friendly)
5. Raise3D Pro3 (Most Reliable)
6. Fusion3 Edge (Best Large Format)
7. Pulse XE (High Performance)
8. Markforged Mark Two (Best for Strongest Parts)
9. Delta WASP 2040 Industrial 4.0 (Fastest)
10. Desktop Metal Fiber
3D Printer Type: FDM | Materials: Tough, PLA, PVA, PETG, Nylon, Nylon Carbon Fiber | Build Volume: 190 x 190 x 196 mm
If you’re only ever going to buy one carbon fiber 3D printer, make it the MakerBot METHOD X Carbon Fiber Edition (CFE). This machine brings you everything you could need.
With a minimum layer resolution of 20 microns, this printer creates surface details few FDM printers can match. That quality is due to the enclosed chamber that guarantees uniform heating.
METHOD X CFE also features dual extruder printing and can print water-soluble supports. It ships with three different extruders, each optimized for different filaments. You can print with practically any filament you want.
This fully production-ready printer supports everything from basic PLA to high-performance materials, even from third parties. It can even print parts good enough to replace metal. If you can dream it, METHOD X CFE can print it.
But wait, we haven’t gotten to the best part yet.
METHOD X CFE is automated to a mind-blowing degree. Material loading, bed leveling, Z-axis and nozzle calibration… The printer takes care of it all on its own and saves you hours in print preparation. Just hit Start and move on with your day.
If we have to nitpick to find downsides, you have to wait a bit for parts to cool down due to the heated chamber. As a professional quality (pro-quality) printer, METHOD X CFE is also pricey.
Note that MakerBot recently announced its merger with Ultimaker. The companies say they will keep manufacturing their respective printers, but we’ll have to wait and see what future support will be like.
But if you want to print carbon fiber filaments, get the MakerBot METHOD X CFE. It’s simply the best carbon fiber 3D printer available.
3D Printer Type: FDM | Materials: PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU, Nylon, Carbon Fiber & Polycarbonate | Build Volume: 270 x 200 x 200 mm
Whoever said there’s no such thing as affordable quality hasn’t seen Qidi Tech’s X-Plus. This printer serves up incredible flexibility at a price point well below $1,000. The machine achieves that versatility by essentially having two sides to it.
What exactly does that mean?
X-Plus ships with two swappable extruders — A and B. Similarly, it has a double-sided flexible printing bed and two filament holders.
Extruder A, combined with the A-side of the print platform and the external filament holder, makes printing regular filaments a breeze. The outside filament holder smoothly feeds PLA, ABS, or TPU filament into the machine.
But it’s the B-side where things get advanced. Extruder B is specifically designed for harsher advanced materials, like nylon or carbon fiber filament. You place carbon fiber materials into the internal filament holder within the ventilated enclosed chamber, which keeps their temperature steady for excellent print quality.
With X-Plus, you also get a very generously sized print chamber — well beyond what you’d expect at this price. You can easily print either large-scale parts or a whole bunch of small components from carbon fiber-reinforced filaments right at home. If you’re dreaming of an advanced 3D printing station in your garage, X-Plus makes your dreams come true.
But the low price shows in some things. The user manual and online resources are pretty poorly translated and occasionally devolve into non-English. Luckily, the company’s excellent customer service will quickly answer any questions.
Qidi Tech X-Plus is your printer of choice for reliable carbon fiber printing that won’t break the bank.
3D Printer Type: FDM | Materials: Tough PLA, TPU 95A, ABS, Nylon, TPU | Build Volume: 330 x 240 x 300 mm
Are you serious about carbon fiber 3D printing? Do you want to make pro-quality parts with a pro-quality machine at your home? Ultimaker S5 will keep you in business — with a capital B.
S5 is a popular machine among such huge companies as Volkswagen and Ford, and for a good reason. Its impressive collection of features makes it an “always-on” production powerhouse.
The S5 has swappable print cores and ships with three different ones. You can change them as needed to print with more than 200 filaments of different thicknesses and properties. Simply pop in the hardened print core and you’re ready to print carbon fibers.
But S5 goes much further in productivity.
With its dual extruders, S5 can print two different filaments at once. It can also automatically swap between the extruders on the fly to deliver accurate and multi-color parts. You can easily fill the S5’s massive print chamber with huge carbon fiber components.
If you’re looking for more dual extruder 3D printers check out our article here.
But one of the best things about the S5 is how easy it is to use. You can quickly set up the machine with the large touchscreen and it comes with advanced automated features, like bed leveling. Ultimaker’s Cura software unlocks further control options.
Of course, all this comes at a price, which is very high. S5 is also a big machine, so it can’t fit in just any living room corner.
Anybody looking to run a professional carbon fiber printing business from home can’t go wrong with Ultimaker S5. After all, it’s built for professionals.
3D Printer Type: FFF | Materials: Carbon PLA, Nylon, Metallic, PETG, ABS, TPE, PLA & Tough PLA | Build Volume: 295 × 300 × 300 mm
PartPro300 xT by XYZprinting is a carbon fiber 3D printer for people who don’t want to spend much time operating the machine itself. This printer could borrow the famous slogan of Ronco rotisserie ovens — just set it and forget it.
PartPro300 xT comes with a hardened steel nozzle on each of its dual extruders as the default option. The nozzle tolerates high temperatures and abrasive materials. It makes printing durable and detailed parts very easy.
And as you’re about to find out, “easy” is the key word here.
XYZprinting has gone above and beyond to make PartPro300 xT as simple to use as possible. The printer is easy to set up thanks to extensive automated features, including bed leveling and calibration. You’ll be printing as soon as you pull the machine out of the box and let it calibrate itself.
As a unique feature, PartPro300 xT has a separate enclosed filament holder that fits two giant three-kilogram filament spools. You can keep printing for a long time before you have to go through the hassle of replacing the spools. The printer also has a convenient resume function in case you lose power during printing.
The external filament chamber takes up quite a bit of space, though. Additionally, you can’t print with both extruders if you want to make the most of the big printing chamber.
XYZprinting PartPro300 xT is your choice if you want to make detailed carbon fiber printing as easy as possible.
3D Printer Type: FFF | Materials: PLA, ABS, HIPS, PC, TPU, TPE, PETG, ASA, PP, PVA, Nylon, Glass Fiber Infused, Carbon Fiber Infused, Metal Fill & Wood Fill | Build Volume: 300 x 300 x 300 mm
Raise3D Pro3 looks like it could take an atomic blast with just a shrug. The sturdy appearance is a great indicator of what you can expect. If it’s reliability you’re after, here you go.
Pro3 is a workhorse in every sense of the word. It will keep printing for hours with steadily excellent print quality.
How does the printer achieve that?
The automatic bed leveling and calibration certainly help. So do the dual extruders that heat up to 300°C, which is enough to process a wide selection of filaments, including harsh carbon fiber-reinforced materials, without jams or clogs.
Those extruders give Pro3 an impressive 10-micron minimum layer height. Contributing to the predictable print quality is also the HEPA-filtered enclosed chamber with air circulation management. It keeps the temperature stable while filtering out excess noise and printing fumes.
Imagine safely running a printer in the same room and still hearing your thoughts. That’s not something many carbon fiber printers can achieve. Trust me, a quiet 3D printer is like a bidet. It’s something you didn’t know you needed in your life.
Maintenance is also a cinch. You can swap the printer hot ends literally within seconds. The printer automatically pauses prints if you open the chamber door and has power loss recovery features. Pro3 also includes the smart EVE assistant system that helps you troubleshoot problems for a quick fix.
True to its tank-like nature, the printer is bulky and kind of slow, though. And that’s a great way to wrap things up. Raise3D Pro3 is like a stubborn turtle — it prints steadily and reliably, come what may.
3D Printer Type: FFF | Materials: PLA, ABS, ASA, Reinforced Materials including Carbon Fiber, Kevlar, and Fiberglass, Flexible, Nylons, PET/PETG & Polycarbonate | Build Volume: 355 × 355 × 368 mm
Do you like big parts and you cannot lie? If so, when Fusion3 Edge walks in with itty-bitty detail quality and a huge print chamber in your face, you’re about to get sprung.
Although it makes the machine itself big, Edge offers a massive build volume. The 368 x 368 x 343 mm print chamber can house pretty enormous parts. Thanks to its pro-level print quality, you could easily make spare parts for cars or any other machines at home.
Oh yes, the print quality. Let’s talk about that.
Instead of your usual screw-in hardened steel nozzle, Edge uses a single swappable surgical steel print tube. The fascinating print head configuration heats up to 320°C and handles carbon-fiber-reinforced filament without a problem.
Consequently, the printer has an impressive print speed and produces sharp details. It’s also less prone to leakage than a regular nozzle.
Edge is an open platform printer, so it works with practically any third-party filaments. The high hot end temperature means you can feed it pretty much anything.
The enclosed and HEPA-filtered enclosure makes Edge a quiet machine and reduces emissions. You can put it in an office or a classroom without worrying about noise or smells.
You better make space for the printer, though, because it’s really huge. It also comes with a price tag that rivals the printer in size.
But you can’t print big without a big machine. Fusion3 Edge is definitely the way to go if you want a large-format carbon fiber 3D printer.
3D Printer Type: FDM | Materials: PVA, PLA, ABS, Nylon, Bronze PLA, Brass PLA, Wood PLA, Copper PLA, TPU, PETG , Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass, Aluminum PLA, Magnetic Iron PLA, ColorFabb XT CF20 (PET-G), CopperFill, BronzeFill, WoodFill, CorkFillr, Flexfill 98A TPU, PLA 3D870 (APLA) | Build Volume: 250 x 220 x 215 mm
Those looking for a high-performance machine to produce carbon fiber prints shouldn’t miss Pulse XE. It’s a real gem of a carbon fiber 3D printer — literally.
Pulse XE has an optional nozzle that’s tipped with an Olsson Ruby. This jewel-tipped nozzle is built to withstand abrasive materials, like nylon and carbon fiber filaments. Another thing contributing to Pulse XE’s high performance is how easy it is to start printing. The machine comes with every component pre-installed and it’s ready to print right out of the box.
Not only are the prints high quality, so are the printer’s parts. Pulse XE is built from well-crafted, high-quality materials and needs little maintenance.
Just plug it in and after a short automatic calibration, you’re good to go for years.
As an interesting quirk, Pulse XE is designed to work specifically with MatterHackers’ MatterControl software. The features the application unlocks give the printer incredible versatility — if you have a dedicated computer.
Unfortunately, Pulse XE does have a couple of downsides.
First, it moves the print bed horizontally during printing. This method gives it a sluggish print speed since fast movements could cause layer misalignment. The detail quality can make up for the lack of speed, though.
Second, Pulse XE doesn’t come with an enclosed chamber. Exposure to room temperature air could lead to layer separation and there’s nothing to filter out printing fumes.
But at less than $1,500, Pulse XE is an affordable high-performance carbon fiber printer. With an added enclosure, it can only get better.
3D Printer Type: CFF | Materials: Onyx, Carbon Fibre, Fibreglass, Nylon, Kevlar, High Temp. Fibreglass | Build Volume: 320 × 132 × 154 mm
Markforged Mark Two is here to show you what heavy-duty means. When you need the roughest and toughest parts, this machine will deliver in spades.
Unlike most carbon fiber 3D printers that use chopped carbon fiber filament, Mark Two uses continuous carbon fiber printing. Using a second extruder, it feeds a steady strand of carbon fiber between material layers, giving parts uniform strength. Not only that, but Mark Two can also reinforce parts with kevlar or fiberglass.
And the result?
Parts that are more than twice as tough as aluminum.
The heavy-duty theme carries over to Mark Two’s general habitus. It’s a professionally-built, sturdy machine with an enclosed heated print chamber. This gives the parts a high print quality and contributes to their incredible strength.
So, if you’ve ever wanted to run a home factory to make spare engine parts for cars or motorcycles, this is your machine.
But do note that Mark Two is an industrial machine to boot. It doesn’t have automatic calibration, so you’ll have to dial in all the settings manually. Fortunately, the large and responsive touchscreen makes setup easier.
Mark Two works only with Markforged’s proprietary Onyx nylon material, which is expensive. That only adds to the printer’s staggering retail price, so you better be serious about continuous carbon fiber printing.
But if you are and you have the money, go right ahead. Anyone looking for an industrial-level carbon fiber printer to make incredibly strong parts won’t find a better machine.
3D Printer Type: FFF | Materials: ASA, ABS, High-Impact PS, PETG, TPU, TPE, Polypropylene, Polycarbonate, PC+ABS, PPS, PMMA, PVA, PA, PA Carbon & PLA | Build Volume: 200 x 200 x 400 mm
Who says industrial-quality carbon fiber printers have to cost a fortune and be difficult to use? Certainly not Delta. Their WASP 2040 Industrial X printer offers simple, professional productivity at a surprisingly affordable price.
WASP 2040 has a unique movement mechanism when compared to other printers on this list. Three robotic arms move the extruder around, which lets you easily print curved geometries.
This should make the printer more difficult to calibrate, but Delta has included advanced automatic calibration to make using the WASP easy. As a result, it reaches amazing speed while being simple to operate.
But with speed comes poor print quality, right? Not in this case.
Delta’s Hot and Cold technology maintains a steady temperature in the printing chamber while cooling down the machine’s components. You won’t have to waste time and money by constantly replacing burnt-out parts.
The printer’s dual gear filament driver pushes material through the nozzle at a steady pressure. It gives the WASP great detail quality while reducing clogs. With WASP 2040, you can just print without worrying about maintenance.
Now, WASP 2040 isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s very affordable considering everything you get. It supports a wide range of third-party filaments, so you can save money by using cheaper materials.
The printer retails for around $5,000, so it’s a fantastic option if you’re looking for industrial-level capabilities at a great value.
3D Printer Type: Micro Automated Fiber Placement (uAFP) | Materials: Nylon (PA6), PEEK, and PEKK, which can be reinforced by carbon fiber- and fiberglass μAFP tapes | Build Volume: 310 × 240 × 270 mm
Buying your own carbon fiber 3D printer can be a tough decision. If you’d rather rent one instead, Desktop Metal Fiber might be the solution you’re looking for.
Instead of selling the machine, Desktop Metal provides the Fiber printer on a subscription basis. The three-year contract runs about $5,000 per year and delivers you a machine that’s ready to use out of the box.
And we really mean that. Fiber has two different settings available, one for entry-level users and another opt-in control scheme for advanced operators. It’s a printer that grows with your skills and gives you exactly the level of control you need.
But what about the part quality? Well, you have nothing to worry about.
The unique subscription model nets you a printer that makes extremely strong parts. Fiber uses continuous carbon fiber technology, meaning that it feeds a continuous strand of carbon fiber between part layers. It can even alter the direction the fiber runs for extra strength.
Fiber can use nylon, PEKK, or PEEK as the base material for carbon fiber composite materials, so you have options. It’s unfortunate that the printer is locked to Desktop Metal’s materials, though.
The subscription model might not be for everybody, but it’s an interesting sales model. Desktop Metal Fiber is a high-quality, professional carbon fiber 3D printer for the adventurous printer user.
Printing with Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Filament
Carbon fiber can make for incredibly tough but lightweight parts. But you can’t get successful results even with the best carbon fiber 3D printer if you don’t understand the material you’re working with.
So, what exactly is carbon fiber?
We often think of sleek and shiny carbon fiber as modern, but carbon fiber was first made all the way back in 1860. The material consists of carbon atoms bonded together into thin but long chains. But when you print with “carbon fiber” filaments, you’re not actually printing with just carbon fiber.
Instead, 3D printers use either carbon fiber composites or reinforcement. But how do these two technologies differ from each other?
Chopped Carbon Fiber vs. Continuous Carbon Fiber
When most people talk about “carbon fiber filaments,” they generally mean chopped carbon fiber filament. As it says on the label, manufacturers mix short carbon fibers into the base material to make these materials
The most common base for chopped carbon filament is PLA. This thermoplastic creates accurate surface details but isn’t very sturdy — unless you mix it with carbon fibers. The presence of the carbon fiber material gives the filament enhanced mechanical characteristics.
Not every carbon fiber filament is PLA, though. For example, Onyx — the proprietary material Markforged Mark Two relies on — is based on nylon. Nylon is naturally strong, so you can imagine how strong it gets with carbon fibers. The downside is nylon’s high melting temperature and abrasiveness, but then again you need a reinforced nozzle to print carbon fiber in the first place.
The second carbon fiber technology is continuous carbon fiber reinforcement. If your 3D printer uses this technology, it will feed a continuous strand of carbon fiber into the part you’re printing alongside the thermoplastic filament. The web of continuous carbon fiber makes for extremely sturdy prints, but you need a specialized (and typically expensive) printer with dual extruders.
So, what’s the bottom line?
Continuous carbon fiber reinforcement generally gives you stronger parts, since the carbon fiber filament hasn’t been broken into a billion tiny bits. On the other hand, chopped carbon fiber filament is usually much cheaper. It can still be very strong, but the strength will ultimately depend on how much carbon fiber is mixed into the filament.
Is 3D Printed Carbon Fiber Strong?
Carbon fiber’s main selling point is that it produces strong and durable parts. But is that really true?
When people talk about the “strength” of carbon fiber, they often actually mean “rigidity.” In this sense, yes — carbon fiber-reinforced filaments can create extremely rigid parts. With the right material and carbon fiber 3D printer, you can make parts that are more rigid than metal.
That said, carbon fiber-reinforced 3D printed parts are not flexible. It will take a lot to get them to bend, but once they do, the parts will easily snap and break.
The bottom line about carbon fiber parts’ strength is this — they will not bend. We mean that in both a positive and negative sense.
Ideal Designs for Carbon Fiber 3D Printers
Although carbon fiber parts can snap, you shouldn’t take it as a downside. In fact, carbon fiber is one of the best materials to use for parts that you don’t want to bend.
Let’s put it this way. Big-name aerospace and automotive manufacturers — like Ford and Boeing — use carbon fiber 3D printers. They wouldn’t do that unless the technology delivered first-class parts.
But carbon fiber has much to offer you even at home. You can print carbon fiber parts that will perform fantastically as:
- Cases or shells
Carbon fiber 3D printers are particularly popular with drone and RC car enthusiasts. The lightweight and high toughness of the material are tailor-made for these kinds of uses.
Tips for Successful Carbon Fiber Printing
Printing technical materials like carbon fiber isn’t quite as straightforward as with plain plastics. The properties of carbon filament make the printing process more involved and demand more from your printer.
Here are some tips that help you get high-quality carbon fiber parts:
- Use a Hardened Nozzle: Chopped carbon fiber is very abrasive and can quickly wear down low-end printer nozzles. Make sure whichever printer you use has a hardened steel nozzle or another kind of high-performance nozzle.
- Tweak Retraction Settings: The carbon fibers within the filament won’t melt during printing and they can clog your nozzle. It’s a good idea to use low or no retraction to avoid material oozing and clogging your printer.
- Lower the Print Speed: Some of the listed printers can reach very high speeds, but you can’t print carbon fiber in a rush. A lower print speed can give you better detail quality and prevent nozzle clogs.
- Up the Nozzle Size: Nozzles with bigger diameters (0.5 mm or more) are better for carbon fiber printing. They let the fibers pass through more easily and further prevent clogging issues.
- Increase Temperature: Hardened steel nozzles are less thermally conductive than brass ones. Set your hot-end temperature a bit higher than the filament’s recommended setting to keep the material flowing smoothly.
Pros and Cons of Carbon Fiber 3D Printers
Go Strong, Go Carbon Fiber
So, there you have it. Carbon fiber 3D printing lets you make industrial-strength parts with relative ease. Carbon printers aren’t the cheapest machines on the market, but they’re a great investment for any printer user who likes and wants their parts as tough as they come.
We’ve covered many printers, though. If that’s a bit too much to take in, here are our recommendations for the best 3D printers for carbon fiber in different categories.
For a budget carbon fiber 3D printer, pick Qidi Tech X-Plus or Pulse XE. If you need pro-level productivity, Ultimaker S5 or Markforged Mark Two are for you. In case you’re after simple usability, buy XYZ PartPro300 xT. And finally, as the cream of the crop, MakerBot METHOD X Carbon Fiber Edition is the best choice.
Armed with any of these printers, you’re ready to start producing parts that stand out from the rest with their toughness and durability.