3D Printer Buyers Advice – Ask Me!

Hi! On this page, I will personally answer all of your 3D printer buying advice questions.

Whether you’re completely new to 3D printing or are looking to upgrade, I’ll help you pick the best 3D printer for what you want to use it for.

It doesn’t just have to be about 3D printers. If you want guidance on what filament to use for a specific use or which paint primer I use, go ahead an ask that too.

The more information you can give me about what you want to get from your 3D printer, the more precise an answer I can give you.

I will let this page become an archive of 3D printer buying advice, so you can search through it to find questions that are relevant to you.

Please ask for advice using the comment box at the bottom of this page. Try to include the following information to help me give the best advice:

  • Budget – How much are you willing to spend, use a dollar (or local currency) amount as saying ‘cheap’ can mean different things to different people.
  • Usage – What do you want to use your 3D printer for? Do you have a specific project or hobby you want to use it for?
  • Experience – What hands-on experience do you have that will help you assemble your 3D printer and fix things if they go wrong? Do you do DIY/Lego technic/Arduino/fix cars etc (don’t worry if nothing!)
  • Limitations – Do you have any limitations that might affect which 3D printer you can get? For example, do you have to keep it in your unheated garage in Winnipeg?

“Hey Dylan, I’m looking for an intro to 3D printing to make small sculptures with. Which printer has a big community? I am interested in modding the printer if I like it. TIA” – John in Ohio

Hi John!

I’d definitely go with the Creality Ender 3 Pro. It has a huge community following with a long list of potential upgrades. Out of the box, it will work just fine, the latest Pro version adds a better power supply, sturdier frame, and magnetic bed for less than it would cost you to upgrade yourself.

If your sculptures are very detailed you might want to upgrade later to an Anycubic Photon DLP printer, but I’d start with the Ender 3.

Check out my guide to 3D printing D&D minis, it sounds relevant to what you want to do.

Thanks for your question!

-Dylan

“I’m looking for a 3d printer to make parts for nerf blasters. I want to use PETG and some of the parts will be 8″ long. I’m in Texas (US) and can afford $300 max.” – BardofBrill

Hi BardofBrill!

Lots of people are 3D printing Nerf parts now, it’s a great way to expand your hobby.

The Creality Ender 3 Pro would be the perfect choice for you. It has the print volume you need and will print PETG with no issues (just watch your retraction settings to reduce stringing). It’s a great printer and you’ll find a lot of help available online to get the most from it.

Happy printing!

-Dylan

“3D printer for customizing Gundam model kits. I already fill and sand the kits so I don’t mind having to clean the prints. I’m looking at the Ender 3 or the Monoprice Maker Ultimate, any preferences? I’m in the USA. I do plenty of electronics, soldering, model making so I don’t mind a full kit printer or modding it.” – Robert

Hi Robert!

Either of those printers is a good choice. The Maker Ultimate gives you a direct drive extruder and touchscreen operation, but I’d say for your use it’s not worth extra money compared to the Creality Ender 3 Pro unless you can get a very good deal that puts it within $150 of the Ender.

With your experience, I’m sure you’ll get some good results from the Ender 3 Pro. You might also want to look at the Anycubic Photon. I’m not too familiar with Gundam but looking at the scales if some of your models are very small you will get more detail from a DLP printer like the Photon.

Good luck!

-Dylan

“I work for an auto parts supplier in the US and we are looking to invest up to $10,000 in a 3d printer that can print large items for prototyping and tooling. It will need a print size of at least 300mm each direction, dual extruder and enclosed. We have experienced engineers and CNC operators so it doesn’t need to be a consumer product. Any advice would be appreciated.” – James Heskoth

Hi James,

You have a good few options that fit your budget. You should check out the Raise3D Pro2 Plus, it meets all of your criteria and gives you nearly 600mm height on the print volume. They have US-based technical support which gets a good rep too.

Hope that helps,

-Dylan

“My startup architecture company in Amsterdam needs an enclosed 3d printer with a filter as it will be sat in a shared office space where customers will be. Although we have experienced technicians I want the 3D printer that is super reliable as clients will be relying on prototypes to be ready. Maximum print will be about 6 inches square by about 12 inches tall (scale model buildings.) Happy to pay 5000 EUR for a reliable machine” – Matt Yulovs

Hi Matt,

I think you should check out the Zortrax M300 Plus. It meets all your criteria and it’s one of the few 3D printers with built-in HEPA filtration. Zortrax has a good reputation and is based in Europe so there are plenty of retailers in your area. It’s a fancy-looking machine which is probably a benefit if it’s on show to prospective customers in your office.

Best of luck with your business!

-Dylan

“Dylan – I’m a US based radiology teacher in need of a 3D printer to make anatomical models for educational purposes, I can scale them so the printer can be small. I have plenty of DIY electronics experience so could handle a kit printer. That might help my low budget of less than $750.” – Richard F

Hi Richard,

Depending on just how big you want to make your models I’d suggest either a Creality CR-10 S5 or a Prusa i3 MK3 kit.

The Creality CR-10 S5 will give you a large print volume of around 500mm x 500mm x 500mm, it’s the sort of 3D printer that is likely to need some tweaks to get the most from it.

As you are happy to build a kit printer I highly recommend the Prusa i3 MK3 kit, which is a very high-quality printer that will just scrape under your budget if you buy the kit version. The Prusa does have a smaller print volume of 250mm x 210mm x 210mm.

Hi feeblegamer!

Your decision should come down to cost as I’ve noticed the price of the different Ender 3 models fluctuates a lot so sometimes the Ender 3X is actually cheaper than the standard Ender 3. The Pro model gives you an upgraded MeanWell power supply, a sturdier frame, and a magnetic print bed (which not everyone likes). The 3X model gives you a glass bed on an otherwise standard model.

Basically, the upgrade models are often overpriced for what you get compared to the original. The Pro model is worth about $50 more than the base model, the 3X is worth about $25 more than the base model. See what prices are available when you want to buy and get whichever is the best value at that time. You can always do the upgrades yourself at a later time.

I hope that helps!

-Dylan

“I’ve heard delta printers aren’t good for beginners. Is this true?” – gio12

Hi gio12!

I generally don’t recommend Delta 3D printers to beginners as they are much more sensitive to calibration being out of tolerance. For a Delta printer to work, it must be fully calibrated in all directions of travel, otherwise, your prints are highly likely to fail and it will be hard to tell which axis is causing the problem. You kind of have to have everything working 100% to get a print.

You are much more likely to have problems like this on a cheap 3D printer, so really cheap Delta 3D printers can take a lot of effort to get working.

With a ‘conventional’ 3D printer. i.e. cartesian or core XY etc, it’s a lot easier to diagnose problems. This is because when one axis is out of tolerance you will generally still get a completed print but with defects that will allow you to diagnose what is wrong.

If you don’t have any 3D printing experience, you’re very likely to find a cheap Delta a frustrating experience.

If you’re keen on a delta (and you should be – they are cool!) I thoroughly recommend you start with a conventional printer first, learn the ropes, and then invest in a good quality delta when you have some practice and it’s worth spending a bit more money.

I hope that helps!

-Dylan

“Hey Dylan, there’s an Ender 3 for sale near me for $200 but it comes with loads of half used filament spools, like 30 spools! Is it a good idea to buy this second hand?” – Mikey

Hi Mikey,

The Ender 3 retails for around that price, maybe a bit more so you’re effectively getting all that spare filament for free. Two things:

  1. You need to be pretty sure the printer is working as it should as you won’t be getting the benefit of a warranty or free 30 days return like you would on a new one.
  2. You need to be certain the filament has been stored correctly in a moisture-free environment and you will need to find a way to do the same. That’s a lot of filament! Each spool needs to be in a ziplock or vacuum-sealed bag with a good amount of silica gel or the whole lot in a big air-tight crate. If the filament has taken on moisture it is effectively useless. It is technically possible to dry it out but it’s a lot of hassle to save a few bucks.

Good luck!

-Dylan

“I’m torn between the Prusa i3 mk3s and a FlashForge Creator Pro. Based on what I’ve read the Prusa sounds better but I’m daunted by the kit and can’t afford the assembled version. Should I go for the kit or can you recommend anything else?” – Christopher

Hi Christopher,

They’re both good printers but the Prusa i3 MK3S is definitely the better of the two. Although building the Prusa kit will take you a good day or two to put together it’s not difficult if you’re used to Lego or putting IKEA furniture together. The instructions are very clear and the quality control is excellent so you won’t be dealing with missing or broken parts.

You can look at the instructions here which should hopefully give yourself a better idea of whether you think you could manage it.

Good luck!

-Dylan

8 thoughts on “3D Printer Buyers Advice – Ask Me!”

  1. Hi Christopher,

    I use Simplify3D and recently bought a Creality Ender 5 Plus.

    If I replace the stock extruder with a Bondtech BMG, will I need to modify the start code (start script in “Scripts”- in Simplify3D)?

    If so, can you provide a line of code which will work?

  2. Hi Dylan,
    My question is more after the fact. I recently bought an Anycubic i3 Mega-S on Black Friday sale ($229 USD) because the reviews I found were solid and the price and build volume were what I was looking for. Having said that, it hasn’t arrived yet so I can return it if you think the machine stinks. So here is the message I should have sent before buying the printer 😁

    I’m a total newbie in 3d printing looking for a low cost way to see if its for me. For the most part, I’m the Creative profile in your guide – I want to print my 3d character and vehicle models so details are important to me. I also am interested in printing parts for cosplay costumes. I think I will largely print PLA but i would rather not be limited of possible. I dont have a tone of tinkering experience but I game todo some to save a few bucks. My budget is around $350 USD and I’d like to have close to 8″ cubed of print volume. Was the i3 Mega-S a mistake? You seem to really like the Ender 3 but I believe that print volume is a bit smaller than I wanted.
    Thanks!

  3. Hi Dylan,
    I left a message here but it seems to have disappeared so I’m going to post again – sorry if this ends up being SPAM!

    I’m a total newbie to 3d printing and recently bought my first 3d printer on Black Friday sale – an AnyCubic i3 Mega-S. The reviews seemed solid and the print volume was decent along with a great price ($229 USD). I then found your site and it seems like you really prefer the Creality Ender 3 and I find myself wondering if you would suggest that over the Mega-S.

    I wanted to dip my toe into 3d printing to see if it was for me, so I didn’t want to spend much to begin with until I was sure so my budgets is sub $350 USD and the lower the better. I mainly want to print some of my 3d character and vehicle models I’ve sculpted in Zbrush and do some prints for Cosplay costumes\props. So print detail is important to me. I plan on putting the printer in my home office (I’m concerned humidity and cold will be a problem in my unfinished garage in suburban Seattle) and so I have a limited foot print to work with (about 17″ wide by 19″ deep) and would prefer if it the printer wasn’t super noisy.

    I think I’m mostly interested in PLA at least to start. Maybe some flexible filaments eventually and ABS would be out since I plan to put the printer indoors without a great ventilation system.

    I don’t have any real tinkering skills to speak of, but if that’s what it takes to save a few bucks, or, more importantly, get the best quality prints out of the machine, I’m game to learn and try my hand at some tinkering.

    I’ve got a ton of other questions, but I don’t want this to get too long or wander off of the topic of the printer choice – but since you have an “ask me page”, you can look forward to a lot of other questions coming your way from me – sorry in advance! 🙂

    1. Hi Chan!

      Thanks for your message.

      In short, you made a good choice with the Mega-S. I have the previous model and I love it.

      The only benefit the Ender 3 has is a bit more of a community around it and it’s generally a bit cheaper, but you got a great price on the Anycubic so I wouldn’t worry.

      You sound like you’ve done your homework, so just dive in and enjoy. If you’re after detail then you might want to think about smaller diameter nozzles further down the line, but get up and running first, print some test pieces and then come back with any questions!

      Happy Printing!
      -Dylan

    1. Hi Dylan,
      I have just set up my i3 Mega-S but before doing some test prints, I’ve been reading up about the VOCs andother harmful byproducts of FDM printing so I thought I’d ask a few questions:
      1. Since I’m planning on having my printer indoors, should I build an enclosure for it and then attach an air purifier with activated charcoal filters or is that overkill? If yes, do you have any suggestions for affordable DIY enclosures I can build and a budget air purifier?
      2. I was intrigued by the eco friendly filaments you wrote about from 3D Printlife which claim non-toxic fumes. So do those filaments not produce the VOCs so many research projects talk about with regard to FDM 3D printing? At ~$27 for a 375g spool 3d Printlife’s filament looks about 4x more expensive than regular PLA, but if it truly doesn’t off gass anything maybe its worth it.

      Thanks Dylan and Happy Holidays!

  4. Hi There Dylan

    Hope you dont mind me asking. I have just downloaded four of your Catan tiles from Thingiverse so I can print off a Catan set. Have you made a farm tile and a Brick tile plus others for an extended set?

    I like the styling and it would be great to print off a full set?

    Thanks and have a nice day

    Rob

  5. Dylan
    I am brand new to 3d printing and am finding your site extremely insightful.
    I am looking for a printer that I can make custom, highly detailed stamps (not rubber stamps) and 4″-6″ long rolling pins to impress in clay.
    I am looking at the 3D Ender – will it allow me to make stamps?
    How difficult will it be to find software to create stamps?

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