After testing and reviewing various FDM 3D printers through the years, we are putting together a detailed guide about the Best Budget 3D Printers. Here we will list a number of the FDM machines that are cheap to buy, in around the $300 price range, but at the same time, are user-friendly.
This Guide Covers
- What to Consider When Buying a Cheap 3D Printer
- Nice to Have Features in Budget 3D Printers
- The Best Budget 3D Printers
- Examples of Other Builds
What to Consider When Buying a Cheap 3D Printer
It is crucially important to read and follow the instructions when assembling most budget 3D printers. Think about flat-pack furniture that comes with basic tools and extensive instructions. This will make assembling a 3D printer less strenuous and it is similarly important to do it correctly by following the provided instructions. In addition, watching a video guide and troubleshooting may be necessary.
– Fully or 80% Assembled. Some printer assembling is so straightforward that it requires just a few screws to put it together. This could be a go-for option for beginners. It will take no more than 30 minutes before starting printing on such a machine after unboxing.
– DIY Kits. In the last decade, there appeared a few cheap, sub $100, DYI Kits on the market. Putting such printers together was a tough task. Today’s experience to deal with a DIY Kit is much better. The wiring components come preassembled so there is no soldering necessary.
– PRO. What does PRO mean? Usually, it is a slightly expensive (plus $100-200) version with extra features or/and build volume.
– Quickly Outdating Versions. Similar to mobile phones, every year 3D printers get upgraded to the new versions, like v2, v3, etc. Such printers have minor improvements. As these improvements are often insignificant, “A New Product Launch” is done mostly for marketing purposes. To save money, it may be reasonable to buy an older but trusted or recommended version.
Can a Cheap 3D Printer be a Good Buy?
In the past, we would recommend staying off buying any machine cheaper than $500 unless the user has a good tech background. Today mostly all entry-level machines are in around the $300 price range. And guess what? They do the job. Such machines will print most of the objects available on STL file repositories.
Nice to Have Features in Budget 3D Printers
To keep the machines in a cheap price range, manufacturers may sacrifice some of the nice-to-have features. For the better user experience, the following should be considered.
– Flexible Removable Build Plate. Today, flexible 3D print build plates became much better. When printing of them, there are no issues with bed adhesion or print removal. Various sheet coating formulas see improvement each year. This feature is so addictive that it is hard to switch back.
– Heated Bed. Important for bed adhesion and material shrinkage-related issues.
– Automatic Bed Leveling. There is nothing wrong with manual calibration, and in some cases, after one calibration, it may be a time-saving option. But the whole 3D printing process may feel overwhelming enough for beginners, so why not make it easier?
– Community. Not related to the quality of a particular product BUT a very important point. Historically, the first versions of budget 3D printers, of any brand, in fact, were tweaked to perfection by the enthusiasts. And such groups and forums sometimes work as customer support and troubleshooting centers.
Please mind that some of the features listed above may not necessarily come with the product. It may depend on the type of machine. As it can be a different build some of the functions are not practical or feasible to be implemented.
Best Budget 3D Printers
All the products that got into our guide at this stage are Cartesian FDM 3D printers. They have a similar frame and build structure with the well-optimized stability and volume, and are well-accepted by desktop 3D printer users.
Anycubic Kobra is the company’s newest FDM model. Kobra is a user-friendly 3D printer that can be set up and used in less than 30 minutes after opening the box. Direct drive extrusion, automatic leveling system, flexible sheets, all are set up to start printing quickly even for the beginners.
It only requires around 15 minutes to get everything set up. To assemble Kobra, only seven screws are required: four in the frame and three for the LCD screen. Install the ribbon cable plug into the printhead assembly after you’ve set up the printer. Read a full review by Will Zoobkoff.
Anycubic is a well-known brand in resin desktop 3D printer market. In 2022 they launched five new FDM machines, from medium to max build volume size. Anycubic’s community team is very active on social media and is engaging with influencers. There should be no lack of reviews of their products.
Elegoo Neptune 3 and Neptune 3 Pro
Elegoo Neptune 3 is an FDM 3D printer that has many features for a surprisingly affordable price. A flexible removable print sheet, an automatic leveling system, and a decent build volume can be the decision-making options for many buyers. Read a full review by Max Funkner.
For the experienced user, it takes approximately 15 minutes to go through the instructions and to fully assemble this machine. For the first-timers, it might take longer.
Bowden extrusion system has its own Pros and Cons. The light extrusion system provides better quality prints but struggles with such materials as flexible TPU. Also, changing the filament may take longer than usual.
Elegoo is another established brand, better known for their affordable resin machines. And for a few past years, they have been bringing to the market affordable FDM machines as well. You can find all Neptune series machines on the official website. Neptune 3 is a serious contender to be the Best Budget 3D Printer of the year.
Andrew Sink highly praised the newer version of Neptune 3, the Neptune 3 Pro, naming it The Best FDM 3D printer under $250 in 2022. Read the full review here.
The Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro is an FDM 3D printer with a 225mm x 225mm x 280mm build volume, a dual-gear direct drive extruder, dual Z-axis leadscrews, automatic build platform leveling, and more features than can easily fit in a single sentence. With an intro sale price of $230, it’s easy to see the Neptune 3 Pro becoming a widely-adopted printer in the consumer market.
Mingda Magician X
$20 Off Discount Code: GS2E02SB34
Mingda Magician X is the smallest model in the Magician line, yet it doesn’t lack functionality. In contrast to the typical metal FDM printers, the Magician X’s base is made of plastic. Magician X is a strong budget 3D printer out of the box. You can create very high-quality prints with a few easy adjustments. Mingda Magician X is definitely worth looking at if you’re seeking to buy your first 3D printer or want to add one more to your current printing setup. Read a full review by Will Zoobkoff.
Mingda. Mingda became a player on a desktop FDM 3D printer market in 2020 after the launch of Mingda D2 and Mingda Rock machines. Please find the full reviews published on our website.
An open-source Creality’s Ender-3 was one of the first cheap but relatively reliable 3D printers on the market. Many printers listed in this article, in fact, are Ender-3 clones. It is the most optimal build so far.
Basic Ender-3 comes with a competitive $189 price tag. But when the nice-to-have features we listed above are added, the total price may easily go up to $300 and more. On the Ender-3 series page you can find all possible variations and new upgraded versions of the product.
Other i3, Ender-3 Clones
Flashforge Voxelab Aquila X2, Monoprice Joyle, SUNLU S8.
The Best Examples of Other Builds
Here we will list the best examples of inexpensive 3D printers that have other than Ender-3 frame builds. Such machines may be built for the specific needs or with safety-comes-first in mind.
Fully Enclosed Flashforge Adventurer 3
Even though this machine is nearly twice as expensive as any Ender-3-like machine, safety-wise, a fully assembled and fully enclosed option is one of the best options to go for in many cases. For a family with young kids, for example. A fully enclosed environment will also help to deal with bed adhesion and material shrinkage-related issues.
Flashforge Adventurer 3 and Monoprice Voxel are basically the same machines but carry different brand names. Because some inner parts in Voxel have Flashforge’s labeling, we came to the conclusion that it is also produced by Flashforge. Please read a full review by Andrew Sink.
Stable Elegoo Neptune x
The Elegoo Neptune X is a 3D printer that stands out from the competition with a fixed platen that allows the entire platform to descend in the Z axis while remaining stationary in the X and Y axes. The overall appearance of the Neptune X is more industrial than the typical i3 clone (Creality Ender 3, Anycubic Kobra, etc.), and the weight of the assembled printer gives it a sturdier feel as well.
The stationary heated build platform and Bowden-style extruder are a powerful combination; allowing for fast travel moves without rocking the platform back and forth. If you’re interested in a printer that doesn’t follow the crowd, the Neptune X is a printer worth reviewing. Read a full review by Andrew Sink.
Even though this product is at least twice as expensive as a typical budget 3D printer, we must mention it here. The multiple award winner Prusa Research is the only European company that keeps competing successfully with China-based manufacturers. Buying any of the original Prusa printers is like joining the club. Their community is loyal to the brand and keep it in a strong position. Prusa Research has successfully launched Printables, an engaging, gamified file repository, which added to securing their place on the market.
The Original Prusa MINI has all nice-to-have features, like heated bed, flexible build plate, etc., for carefree printing. Prusa Research developed PrusaSlicer software which is also highly respected in the community.
Kingroon KP3S is one of the smallest desktop 3D printers. Despite its small stature, it’s a printer that is clearly designed to take performance seriously. Linear rails on the X and Y axes, a direct drive extruder, and a color touchscreen LCD are all features you wouldn’t expect to find at sub-$200 price point. Unfortunately, the external power supply feels like an unfinished DIY project, and also takes up some of the desk space saved by the small frame of the KP3S. Read a full review by Andrew Sink.
Kingroon KP3S is a partially assembled 3D printer, with the Z stage and cantilevered Y gantry fully assembled as one piece and the build platform on the moving X axis assembled as a second piece. The assembly for this printer is lightning-fast, with no electrical connections needed on the printer itself.
Monoprice Mini Delta V2
Monoprice Mini Delta V2 is one of the smallest and least expensive 3D printers on the market today and it offers a variety of upgrades over the original Mini Delta from Monoprice. Mini Delta V2 ships fully assembled and requires minimal effort to get up and running, ideal for anyone interested in a stress-free printing experience. The small footprint of Mini Delta V2 also means small build volume, and the ø110mm will be a seriously limiting factor for anyone interested in printing larger parts. Read a full review by Andrew Sink.
Monoprice Mini Delta V2 arrives fully assembled, with only unpacking required by the user. After powering the printer on, it will automatically self-calibrate, prompt for material loading, and print a quick 9-minute demo print to verify full functionality. Mini Delta V2 has a handle on the top of the printer, a playful addition which drives home the idea that this printer is intended for home, school, or workshop use and not intended for serious manufacturing.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive 3D printer, we hope our buyer’s guide gave you some ideas. Still, keep in mind that you may need to have some technical skills to get the most out of these printers. We’ve outlined the strengths and drawbacks for each option so that you can make an informed decision before purchasing. It is always advisable to read the full reviews to help you choose the right machine for your specific needs or circumstances. Have you decided which printer is right for you? Why? Please let us in the comments.
Read more: Best Resin 3D Printers
Here you will find the best resin 3D printers. This type of machines is widely used by professionals and hobbyists. Let’s briefly look at the differences between SLA, DLP, and LCD processes, the latest innovations and see where such machines are used. As the technology evolves and more machines come out onto the market this guide is constantly edited.