Best Budget 3D Printer: 8 Great Printers at a Price You’ll Love
3D printing — or additive manufacturing, to give it its technical name — has been around for a long time now. It’s a fun way to create models that can be practical or just for fun. You can print giant pieces of cosplay armor or small statues to give as gifts. You can even buy a few printers, open your own Etsy store and start a business that way.
It costs less than ever to get into 3D printing, with printers available for under $200. The catch is that these budget machines usually require some tweaking to get it right. You’ll save money, but it’s a rough-and-tumble way to get started. The best budget 3D printers have a healthy balance between cost and usability, so that’s what we are looking at in this list.
What’s the best budget 3D printer?
Budget 3D printing is a category that is growing fast. For my money, the best you can buy right now is the Elegoo Neptune 3. It has enough upgraded features to make it an incredibly useful machine while sitting firmly around the $200-$250 mark. Having this much quality in a printer that costs so little makes it the perfect budget 3D printer.
These budget 3D printers all cost under $500 (though prices can drift a bit month to month), and some are better suited to beginners than others. Our list of picks for the best 3D printer overall covers a much wider range of choices, but these are excellent for getting started — or for buying several at once. If you are thinking of creating a print farm, then buying several Neptune 3 printers from Eegoo is an excellent way to get started.
Resin 3D printers for beginners
Most beginner printers use a plastic filament to create models, but there are plenty of affordable resin 3D printers too. Liquid resin is a little more difficult to use than standard 3D printing material and requires safety equipment. But it also produces amazingly detailed results.
Budget 3D printer FAQ
How we test budget 3D printers
Testing 3D printers is an in-depth process. Printers often don’t use the same materials, or even the same process to create models. I test SLA, 3D printers that use resin and light to print, and FDM, printers that melt plastic onto a plate. Each has a unique methodology. Core qualifiers I look at include:
- Hardware quality
- Ease of setup
- Bundled software
- Appearance and accuracy of prints
- Company and community support
A key test print, representing the (now old) CNET logo, is used to assess how a printer bridges gaps, creates accurate shapes and deals with overhangs. It even has little towers to help measure how well the 3D printer deals with temperature ranges.
Testing resin requires different criteria so I use the Ameralabs standard test — printing out a small resin model that looks like a tiny town. This helps determine how accurate the printer is, how it deals with small parts and how well the UV exposure works at different points in the model.
Many other anecdotal test prints, using different 3D models, are also run on each printer to test the longevity of the parts and how well the machine copes with various shapes.
For the other criteria, I research the company to see how well it responds to support queries from customers and how easy it is to order replacement parts and install them yourself. Kits (printers that come only semi-assembled) are judged by how long, and how difficult, the assembly process is.
Anycubic Kobra Max 3D Printer Review: Make 3D Printing Fun Again
$710 at Amazon
- Requires a lot of space
- Included software is not great
- The weak cooling fan can ruin prints if you’re not careful
- No removable bed
It can be a mistake to think a 3D printer is great for beginners just because it doesn’t cost a lot. Sure, it’s possible to buy a 3D printer for as little as $180, and it will work, after a fashion. Most likely, though, a beginner will buy it, spend too long trying to get one good print, then give up because they think it’s too tough or not worth their effort. The lesson: Even at those very low prices, if something is frustrating to use, it’s not a good investment.
The Anycubic Kobra Max is not $180; it’s closer to $650, but I still think it’s a great entry point to 3D printing. Yes, this is a $650 3D printer, but it feels like it should be a $1,000 printer. In that sense, it’s a good deal.
Setting up the Kobra Max was difficult because of its sheer size. At 400 by 400 by 450mm, it’s one of the biggest printers I’ve ever used, and the construction was a little unwieldy, especially once you realize it’s bigger than it looks. Because the bed moves backward and forward, there needs to be space behind the printer; it can’t be flush against the wall. It wouldn’t fit in my two-foot-deep shelves, so I had to build an extension that now sticks out. Not ideal.
Once past the initial setup, things become smooth sailing. If you’ve read Dan Ackerman’s review of the Anycubic Vyper, you’ll know how much difference having auto bed leveling, or ABL, really makes to a hobbyist or beginner. Anycubic calls its leveling system LeviQ and so far it’s working excellently to keep the bed level throughout the print. I cannot understate how nice the experience of turning the Kobra Max on and having an almost perfect first layer in a few easy steps truly is.
Read more: Best 3D Printers of 2022
Setup was quick and easy, even though it is massive.
The printer itself refreshes the company’s older Chiron line of printers but wrapped up with the extruder and hot end from the popular Vyper. While there are a lot of plastic parts in the Kobra Max, it doesn’t feel cheap. Instead, the entire machine, including the support rods, feels solid as it prints. The special CNET test print below shows very little ringing — often caused by a wobbly machine — and only showed issues with cooling, something that can be fixed with some software tweaks.
Overall, the design works well, which isn’t always the case with larger printers. I was disappointed that the print bed is not removable — it’s a glass plate that’s clipped down — but I think we will likely see that fixed later down the road. The glass works well enough, but trying to get a full-size printed helmet off of it was a trial.
There were some cooling issues, but overall a decent print.
Print quality on the Kobra Max has been surprisingly good. With previous large-scale printers, getting a good print took days to get right. Endlessly trying to level four corners of a large bed is a nightmare. Almost every print I tried on the Max came out as expected, mainly thanks to the auto bed leveling. Let me say this again, having good ABL takes this machine from one where you’d need at least intermediate 3D-printing skills to one almost anyone can use on Day 1.
The only issue I had with the print quality was cooling. The cooling fan is a little smaller than I would like, and when I was printing larger models like the Mandalorian Knight from Wekster, there was some definite curling where the material couldn’t cool fast enough. The CNET test print also showed the tell-tale signs of too much heat. Some of that is down to bad software settings, but most of it comes from a lack of airflow.
It’s so cool to be able to print a full-size helmet.
The real joy of printing on the Kobra Max comes from the size. Having enough room to print a model like the Mando helmet in one piece is a gift I am grateful for. Cosplayers worldwide face the same struggles when it comes to helmets; printing them in pieces and gluing them together is time-consuming and often leaves scars. The Max eliminates that issue and lets you print one continuous file with no seams. It’s a joyful experience.
To give you an idea of how much fun it is, I printed this stunning articulated snake model by McGybeer as big as the printer would let me. Normally the model is about 18 inches long. I managed to get it to print 82 inches long! It may be one of the best things I’ve ever printed, and I’ve been doing this for nearly a decade.
This is one of my favorite prints ever.
It’s not just large-scale models the Max can print. My daughter’s preschool letter of the week was P, so I made all the kids a printed pink plastic pig — four P’s for the price of one — and the Max did a pretty good job of printing them.
Of the 30 that started printing, only five didn’t make it, which is good for this kind of mini mass production. They failed because of bad bed adhesion, which I think was caused by my oily fingers on the glass. Still, there was plenty to go around for the kids.
Look at all the pretty pink piggies.
My biggest issue with the Max is not the cooling or that some pigs became plastic bacon; it’s the software. Like many companies, Anycubic doesn’t seem to spend the time it should on creating proper profiles for the most popular slicers out there. Although the Max came with both a copy of Cura (a common 3D file-slicing app for preparing files to print) and a profile for this specific machine, neither of them were all that great. I had to build myself a profile on PrusaSlicer — my favorite slicer program — to really get the most out of the machine.
Having to build your profiles can deter newcomers faster than even print failures. If you’ve never used a slicer before, how are you supposed to know how to make a good profile? Other companies get around this by making their versions of open-source slicers, but the best solution is for Anycubic to invest more in creating profiles for leading slicers. Being able to print the test print is fine, but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t get your own models to print.
So many of these models made me happy.
Joy is my biggest takeaway from the Kobra Max. I do a lot of 3D printing, and a lot of it is printing the same kind of models over and over again on very similar 3D printers. It can get repetitive, and any task done often can become dull. The Kobra Max has injected a lot of fun back into 3D printing and reminded me why I love the hobby in the first place.
The Max isn’t the cheapest option out there, and it may be daunting to spend $600 on your first 3D printer, but the Max will help future-proof your workshop. Starting small is fine, but so is starting really big and giggling at the amazing things that come off the print bed. I know I did more giggling than I have in a long time.
ZENIT 3D Printer — Zenit3D
ZENIT 3D printer is suitable for printing the most popular plastics such as PLA, ABS, PVA, FLEX, etc., thanks to the heated table surface. Also, for a better end result, an adjustable built-in airflow is used. The continuity of the work itself is ensured by a special broaching mechanism of the thread, which practically eliminates its jamming.
The ZENIT 3D printer is made of heavy-duty materials. The device has a closed body, which allows you to make the printing process safe. Workspace illumination, heating indicator, LCD-display on the front of the printer make using the ZENIT printer convenient and ergonomic. And also a nice addition will be the ability to print offline from a computer using a USB flash drive.
The ZENIT 3D printer has a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty.
|Number of extruders||1|
|Minimum layer height||0.015 mm (15 microns)|
|Maximum temperature heating extruder||275 0 C|
|Maximum table heating temperature||120 0 C|
|Positioning accuracy of X, Y axis||0.04 mm (40 microns) 9 0014|
|Z axis positioning accuracy||0, 01 mm (10 micron)|
|Maximum print speed||50 cm 3 per hour (for 0.3mm nozzle)|
|Maximum printhead speed||300 mm per second|
|Printer installed nozzle diameter||0. 3 mm|
|Print Technology 900 13||FDM|
|Printable resin type||1.75mm (ABS, PLA, PVA, HIPS, Flex, Rubber, PC, PP, Nylon and others)|
|Software||RepetierHost, Slic3r, profile installer|
|Connectivity and peripherals||USB-A (USB flash drive), USB-B (port), WiFi, Ethernet|
|Mains supply and power consumption||220 V, 50 Hz, 350 W|
|Printer dimensions (wxdxh)||370x360x460 mm|
|Maximum height (with flat cable) 9 0147||660 mm|
|Printer weight||20 kg|
Features of ZENIT 3D printer
- The degree of heating of the interior can be estimated using the indicator light.
- The presence of the LCD-display allows you to control printing offline.
- The ability to print with ABS plastic is provided by a special heated bed.
- Strong all-round steel frame protects the printer from mechanical damage.
- Improved feed mechanism prevents filament from getting stuck in the extruder.
- Ability to print from a USB flash drive
- During operation, the model is blown by a built-in adjustable fan.
- Built-in light illuminates the work area.
- The assembly process uses high quality components and materials, the case is completely closed.
- The motherboard is highly reliable.
- Domestic equipment manufacturer guarantees 100% technical support.
- Manufacturer’s warranty period is 3 years.
- 3D printer.
- Mains connection cable 220 V, 50 Hz.
- USB cable.
- USB flash drive — 1 pc.
- Palette knife (shovel for removing the model from the table).
- Teflon tube (PTFE) and tube holder.
- Plastic spool holder / plastic holder
- Nozzle cleaning needles — 3 pcs.
- Intracanal tube — 3 pcs.
- Accompanying sheet with product serial number.
- Declaration of Conformity.
- Warranty card.
- Calibration sheet.
- Special film for the desktop (glued on the table, the second one is included in the delivery).
- PLA plastic for printing a test piece.
- 3D printer door and tools for fixing it (hexagon wrench — 1 pc., hinge — 2 pcs., screw — 4 pcs.).
Already own this printer ? Go to section Support
UltiMaker S5: Ultimaker
MATERIALS . MORE APPLICATIONS .
The widest selection of materials on the market. Choose from advanced engineered polymers, glass or carbon fiber composites, recycled filaments and stainless steel.
On the website of the official distributor iGo3D.ru
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ADVANCED 3D PRINTING
UltiMaker S5 features a 4. 7″ color touchscreen display for easy navigation. Before printing, you can see a preview of the prepared model.
Built for Interaction
Print via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or USB. Thanks to NFC technology, the printer will automatically detect the material of the installed original spool. The 3D printer supports all common types of third-party materials.
Integrated power supply
The UltiMaker S5 power supply is integrated into the 3D printer and does not take up additional space on the table.
UltiMaker Cura is free, easy-to-use 3D printing software trusted by millions of users. Customize your 3D model with 400+ options for the best cutting and printing results.
Cura Connect software allows users to significantly increase the efficiency of multiple 3D printers by combining them into 1 cluster.