3D Printers use to have an extremely high barrier to entry with the machines starting price points. As the industry has grown and the machines have become more popular, companies are now producing great machines at a fraction of the cost. Fortunately, these cost savings are trickling down to the customers in terms of prices and means a more affordable 3D printer. Now remember, the cheapest 3D printer is not always the best one. But we thought it would be helpful to provide an overview of 5 of some of the most affordable options. The following is our top 5 recommendations for affordable desktop 3D printers, all under $500:
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CoLiDo DIY 3D Printer Kit
The first printer on our list, the CoLido DIY Printer, is a great tool for any hobbyist. This printer comes as an unassembled kit, which allows the user to fully understand the ins and outs of a 3D printer as the piece it together. It is one of the lowest priced 3D printers available, but it sure doesn’t print like it’s the cheapest. Since it is a DIY printer, you can easily customize, and upgrade just about any hardware or software to truly make this printer your own.
The 7.9″ x 7.9″ x 6.7″ is rather large when it comes to desktop 3D printers, especially at this price point. With its minimalist design, the entire printer will not take up much more desk space than the build area making it ideal for tight work environments.
Don’t let the DIY aspect scare you away. The printer is easy and quick to set up. All you need to do is follow the assembly manual and in almost no time at all, you will be ready to print.
This printer only handles PLA at first, but you can upgrade different parts to use different materials. An out-of-the-box layer resolution of up to 100 microns competes with many of the more expensive 3D printers.
Overall, if you need an easy to use and affordable 3D printer for under $200, the CoLiDo DIY is a great option for you.
XYZprinting da Vinci Mini W
The XYZprinting da Vinci Mini W (wireless) is our next choice for a great, affordable 3D printer. This is the first of two printers from XYZprinting on our lists. This company has made a name for itself by producing some amazing machines and offering some of the cheapest in the industry. The da Vinci Mini W was designed with the beginner in mind. It features a streamlined design with single-button printing and wireless connectivity. As well it utilizes the easy to use XYZprinting software to allow for easier print setup, which means more time printing.
This printer is limited to only XYZprinting’s bio-compostable PLA. While limited, you can rest assured you are not hurting the environment when using this filament.
The da Vinci Mini W has an average-sized build volume of 5.9” x 5.9” x 5.9”, which is typical for “mini” models. You will also get a fairly standard 100 – 400 micron layer resolution with a max print speed of 120mm/sec.
The da Vinci Mini W doesn’t come with any eye-popping features. But it is reliable, sturdy, and consistent machine with a very friendly price tag.
Overall, I highly recommend this 3D printer for anyone who is new to the 3D printing world.
Anycubic Kossel Kit
The Anycubic Kossel Kit 3D printer is another DIY printer for our list. I really like the unique circular design of this printer as it allows for a taller build area, 7.1” x 7.1” x 12.6”. This kit takes a little more time to setup than the CoLiDo DIY Printer. But most users reported having the machine completely built and printing in a few hours. While it may be a little difficult, you will surely feel accomplished once you begin printing.
Anycubic’s Kossel 3D printer can print with the best of them with a much friendlier price tag. Once you assemble the printer, you will be able to create objects with a 100 – 400 micron layer resolution and print at speeds up to 80mm/sec.
Right out of the box this is a fairly versatile machine. It will print with ABS, Nylons, PLA, and Wood filaments. With a few upgrades and tweaks you can print with much more and customize the machine any way you want.
Overall, I believe this a great affordable 3D printer budget option. I am even considering purchasing one myself. If you are looking for a hands-on experience with your 3D printer, the Anycubic Kossel Kit may be just the one for you.
XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro
As promised, we have our second XYZprinting printer, this time it’s the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro. This printer is described as “a compact 3D printer for professionals” and that is exactly what it is. The da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro has all the capabilities and features of the more advanced high-end 3D printers but is available for under $400.
You’ll get all you need and more with the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro. It comes as a fully-enclosed print environment, 5.9” x 5.9” x 5.9” build area, 3rd party filament compatibility, and an upgradeable nozzle to 0.3mm diameter size.
With the smaller diameter nozzle, you will be able to create higher resolution parts up to 50 microns. Typically, you need to give out thousands of dollars for that level of detail.
The layer resolution isn’t the only mind-boggling spec of the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro. This affordable machine can reach print speeds of 250mm/sec. This is easily the top performing 3D printer in terms of specs on this list. And with a cheap price tag, you’d be crazy not to purchase this 3D printer.
Overall, this is easily one of my favorites for an affordable 3D printer. The da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro will get you the most bang for your buck when it comes to 3D printers.
The Flashforge Finder is the latest, greatest, smallest in the long line of high-quality 3D printers from Flashforge. It contains most of the great features the other Flashforge models have just on a smaller scale, which also means its a more affordable 3D printer than its counterparts.
This printer comes equipped with an easy to use 3.5” color touchscreen display, a slide-in build plate for easy removal of final products, and multiple connectivity options. You can connect it to your home network and print from anywhere in your home or office.
Also, with the Finder you will get a 5.5” x 5.5” x 5.5” build area, and it can reach layer resolutions of 100- 500 microns. Unfortunately, this one is limited to PLA only filament and it may be tricky to try and upgrade any parts.
Overall, the Flashforge Finder is aimed at beginners with its easy price tag and simple design and features. If you need a quality 3D printer from a well-known 3D printing company, this is a great option.
Cheap 3D Printers to Avoid
The five printers mentioned above are all solid value for the price. We are very comfortable recommending them to readers as we have used them ourselves! However, there are some other cheap 3D printer options that you should steer clear of. In our experience, these 3D printers are inexpensive for a reason and you will be more frustrated with your investment in the long run. Some of these companies are just going through “growing pains” so it is entirely possible that later iterations will be much better. As it stands now, stays away from the following models:
Cubify Cube 3D Printer (2nd Gen): We were pretty excited when this printer was released as it had the appearance of the polished machine. What you get – however – is a printer that looks nice as a paperweight, but is barely functional as a 3D printer. The complaints are many and varied.
1) First, it has a very difficult time printing with ABS material. ABS and PLA are the two industry standards for printable material. Almost every printer can use both effectively. The worst part is that the machine advertises that it does – in fact – print ABS, when this is clearly not the case.
2) Secondly, the replacement cartridges are vastly overpriced. I’m assuming this is part of the business model, much like what HP does with traditional “authorized” ink replacement. This might be acceptable if the rest of the 3D printing industry behaved this way. The truth is that many of the open systems and even some of the closed systems offer flexible cartridge fulfillment from various affordable suppliers.
3) Lastly, the machine is built on simplicity. Normally this would be a nice thing as an introductory model for beginners. However, the machine is simple and stupid! It is needlessly slow – slower than many of its competitors – while also being marginally reliable in terms of production quality. Even the WiFi capability is tricky to configure. All in all, this is a poorly executed product.
It’s a shame that the core product is so poor because we found the customer support to be very helpful and courteous, as much as they could be given the circumstances. Just to reiterate, we do NOT recommend trying to save a few bucks with this 3D printer. You will be much better served by selecting a model from the table below.
Affordable 3D Printer Comparison Table
The table below details the best budget 3D printers. If you are looking for a broader overview of the different best 3D printers by categories, check out this page.
|Brand/Model||Build Area||Max Print Speed||Filament Types||Layer Resolution||Extruders||Nozzle Diameter||Open/Closed System||Warranty||Price|
|CoLido DIY Printer||7.9″ x 7.9″ x 6.7″||Customizable||PLA||100-400 microns||Single||0.4mm||Open||About $499 here|
|XYZprinting da Vinci Mini W||5.9” x 5.9” x 5.9”||120mm/sec||PLA||100-400 microns||Single||0.4mm||Closed||6 month (12 month if registered online)||About $599 here|
|Anycubic Kossel Kit 3D||7.1” x 7.1” x 12.6”||80mm/sec||ABS, Nylon, PLA, Wood||100-400 microns||Single||0.4mm||Open||About $599 here|
|da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro||5.9” x 5.9” x 5.9”||250mm/sec||PLA||50-400 microns||Single||0.4mm or 0.3mm||Closed||6 month (12 month if registered online)||About $649 here|
|Flashforge Finder||5.5” x 5.5” x 5.5”||100mm/sec||PLA||100-500 microns||Single||0.4mm||Closed||12 month||About $680 here|