Delta vs Cartesian 3D Printers: Which one is best for you?

Delta vs Cartesian - Which 3D printer is best for you?

Perhaps you've been wanting to start printing out your own spare parts for objects around the house. Maybe you want to go into business creating unique objects for paying customers on a one-to-one basis.

Either way, it sounds like you need a 3D printer.

Trying to decide between a Cartesian and a Delta 3D printer is one of the first decisions many 3D printer buyers may run into. This is because these are the two most common styles of printer on the market, with staunch supporters in both camps.

But which one offers more print for your purchase? A better creation for your extrusion? Join us, today, as we take a closer look at the question of Delta vs Cartesian 3D printer models, and elect a winning 3D printer!

Cartesian Printers

Cartesian printers are so named after the Cartesian plane method of mapping out three dimensions. It's a safe bet that you've come across this idea at some point in your life: three axes, each representing a plane in three dimensions.

The y and x plane represent a flat dimension, like a piece of paper resting on, well, a flat plane. The z plane represents the vertical dimension, extending upwards out of the flat plane. The entire system now covering objects in a complete 360 field.

Where this system traditionally has been used to indicate points along a mathematical plane, 3D printers use it in a much more practical way. Using points plotted out using x, y, and z coordinates, as well as an extruder module on a moving arm, the printer uses specific filaments to create 3D objects.


Cartesian printers are the more common form of 3D extrusion printing technology, and it's easy to see why. The system is more widely supported, with replacement parts being generally easier to find. It's also easier to repair or find repairs for Cartesian printers, owing to their extensive market share.

It's not just the ease of use that makes a cartesian 3D printer the more popular choice for 3D printing enthusiasts. Cartesian printers also produce better finishes, with fewer imperfections than Delta prints. These printers owe their excellent prints to their more rigid axes, which allow less room for print errors within the 3D space.

Getting There

Because different printers use unique methods of getting the same results from your print heads, machinery can range in price.

There are inexpensive printer models which move the build plate along the x and the y axis, as well as the print head up and down along the vertical z axis.

Others add to this process by introducing a gantry into the print head, moving the print head along the x and z axis, with the built surface only handling y.

Finally, coming in at the top of the list, more expensive printing units use a build plate that moves up and down the Z axis, with the gantry controlling x and y. This is more popular, as the up and down motion of the print plate frees the gantry to tackle most of the print shape, freely and with more precision.


Honestly, there actually aren't many disadvantages to using a Cartesian printer. Anything you might run into is likely to be as a result of the specific manufacturer. We recommend extensive research before committing to any 3D printer.

Cartesian Velleman 3D Printers

Delta Printers

Delta printers work in a way similar to Cartesian printers, in that both of them use the Cartesian plane.

Confused? Not sure how we differentiate if Delta printers are also using Cartesian planes? Well, the issue comes in the way they navigate the printer head through the 3D space. Delta printers use three independent arms on a series of vertically moving rails. These print heads travel horizontally, too.

Delta printers use trigonometric functions to coordinate these heads, depositing 3D filaments. The moving parts which make up the printing mechanism are more lightweight and travel in a taller space than a standard Cartesian model. Which brings us, neatly, to the benefits of these devices.


One of the key benefits of Delta printers is that they sport circular print beds, making arguably more efficient use of the printing space. This is noticeable especially when creating circular prints.

A clear advantage to Delta printers is their increased speed, owing to their lighter components. These make good use of their design for quick printing, with lightweight print heads traveling more quickly.

Print beds are also often non-moving in these models, which helps streamline some prints. And, as we hinted earlier, their taller printing space helps to print taller objects than a Cartesian printer might otherwise be able to.

Getting There

Delta printers operate within Cartesian coordinates, but without using linear-motion tracked movement. What they do instead of this is to use three arms, in a parallelogram configuration.

While these print heads also move within x, y, and z point to another, they do so by changing the angles of the parallelograms, and not moving linearly.


Delta printers are popular options because of their speed, but this design tactic has its drawbacks. The first one on our list is the precision of the printer itself. With every bit of increased speed, printers are less likely to be precise in their filament deposits. The result of this is less detail and a rougher surface finish.

Another disadvantage lies in the Bowden style extrusion system. Stepping motors are removed and placed into the upper body of the printer, then fed down to the heads, to reduce weight. Which is fair, but limits the number of filaments that can be used, and often results in binding within the tube. There have been developments in this regard, but none that have been adopted as the standard, as of yet.

Delta Velleman 3D Printers

Delta Vs Cartesian 3D Printer: The Verdict?

While every printer purchase is a matter of preference, we understand you came here to find a winner. But, before we select one, we'd like to make it clear: when buying a 3D printer, give special consideration to what you want from it, and how it benefits you. Whether Cartesian or Delta 3D printer, you'll find a lot more success if you buy based on your needs.

That being said, if quality is your main priority, we'd have to give the prize to Cartesian printers. But, if you're looking for print speed, Delta is the way to go.

Tell us what printer you prefer in the comments below or tweet us @VellemanStore!