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Buying a 3D Printer For Your Home
Updated: October 2019
Buying a 3D printer to use in your home can be a daunting experience as you navigate through websites and reviews and try to find a model that balances your requirements with what the rest of your family wants, as well as keeping within your budget.
In this article, I will explain what you need to look for when choosing a 3D printer for your home, how much it cost to buy and run a 3D printer at home, and then I’ll recommend some 3D printers that I think are perfectly suited for use at home.
Each 3D printer I recommend has its own strengths, so I’ve categorized them to help you pick the one that suits you and your family best.
3D printing has become one of the fastest-growing hobbies in the world. In recent years the price of consumer-grade 3D printers has dropped significantly, while the number of new models has risen exponentially. With this increased demand for 3D printers for home use, 3D printers have become more reliable and are packed with features that make them easy to use.
What’s more, 3D printers no longer look like a piece of laboratory equipment, manufacturers like Sindoh and Zortrax specialize in models that look sleek and discreet and would not look out of place in any room of your home.
3D printing is a very rewarding hobby that almost anyone can find enjoyable. Whether you’re a DIY addict, cosplayer, or sculptor; 3D printing is a great partner for your interests and will spur you on to more exciting things too.
Cost of a Home 3D Printer
3D printing is not an expensive hobby, in fact, if you want to it can be remarkably cheap. Nonetheless, it’s important that you know what your money can buy you and how much you should factor in ongoing costs once you’ve invested in your 3D printer.
Cost of Buying a 3D Printer
3D Printers continue to reduce in price. There is a range of 3D printer models available to suit all budgets.
A good quality, reliable 3D printer starts at under $250 for the Creality Ender 3, while a top of the range model with sleek looks like the Sindoh 3DWOX 1 retails just under $1600. If you want to go all out and splash your cash on a prosumer model, the new LulzBot TAZ Pro is around $5000.
Cost of Running a 3D Printer
Once you’ve bought your 3D printer, ongoing costs are quite low, which is one of the reasons 3D printing is so popular.
3D printers use a small amount of electricity. Usually in the region of 50 to 200W of power. Most of this power draw is during heating of the print bed and nozzle, both of which are intermittent as the printer brings them up to temperature and then stops heating.
An average home 3D printer will use around 0.1kWh of electricity which would cost approximately 1.2 cents/hour depending on your tariff. So, twenty-four hours of running, which would result in a sizeable print would cost you around 30 cents.
The other main running cost will be material costs.
Spools of plastic filament that contain the material used to make your prints are available in common sizes of 250g, 500g, and 1kg and retail around $25 to $35 for a good quality brand, like Hatchbox, in the largest size.
The amount of filament you use will depend entirely on how large your prints are and how many you make. Even running flat out, you are unlikely to get through a whole 1kg spool of filament in a single weekend.
Another benefit of 3D printing is that the prints you make are not solid plastic all the way through. Instead, they are mostly hollow, with a wall thickness that you specify and a feature called infill, which creates a thin internal structure, just enough to give your print strength and rigidity without using masses of filament unnecessarily.
For more info read my article on the price of 3D printers.
Cost of 3D Printing Accessories
The final cost of 3D printing is any accessories you will need to help you get the most from your 3D printer.
The only essential tools you need will be some wire cutters for trimming filament. A craft knife and sandpaper for cleaning up your prints and a paint scraper to help you remove your prints when they are stuck to the print bed.
Thankfully, most 3D printers come with all the essential tools you’ll need to get up and running.
Now we know how much 3D printing will cost, let’s take a look at some specific 3D printer models that fit perfectly into the home. Each has its own set of features and strengths that make it suitable for different applications and different budgets.
Best 3D Printer for the Home
Sindoh 3DWOX 1
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My top choice for the best 3D printer for home use is the Sindoh 3DWOX 1. SIndoh 3D printers are specially designed to be as easy to use as possible without any of the tweaking or fault-finding needed with lesser models.
The 3DWOX 1 is the latest model from Sindoh and it features many innovations that make it easy to use and a perfect fit for home use. From its unbeatable low noise level to its inbuilt HEPA filter, this is a 3D printer designed for the home.
Firstly, it’s a fully enclosed 3D printer. This means all the printing takes place within a sealed box. All air that exits the printer goes through a HEPA air filter that removes any plastic smells and vapors. This is almost essential for any 3D printer used in the home for your own comfort and that of your family.
Being an enclosed 3D printer is also very beneficial for reliability. As plastic expands and contracts as it changes temperature, 3D printing in an environment with a stable temperature will give you much more accurate and reliable prints. For materials like ABS which are particularly susceptible to temperature change, an enclosure is essential.
The unique feature of the 3DWOX 1 is the filament loading system. This works much like a normal office paper printer. The plastic filament spool is contained in a cartridge that is simply loaded or unloaded with a push and a click.
This is much simpler and quicker than most 3D printers that require you to feed your filament through a narrow tube to load it.
There are plenty of other features that make the Sindoh stand out above the competition including a sensor that warns you when you have run out of filament and allows you to load more. A remote monitoring system that allows you to view your 3D printer from your smartphone to check its progress remotely.
- Setup is easy and plug and play
- Open material system.
- Flexible, removable print bed
- Remote print monitoring
- Filament runout sensor
- Very good print bed adhesion
- HEPA filter
- Quiet operation
- Camera position cannot be changed
- Not a good choice for tinkerers
- Resolution: 50 microns
- Volume: 8.2 x 7.9 x 7.7 in
- Filament: 1.75 mm ABS, PLA, PETG, ASA, and others.
- Weight: 45.6 lb
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB, and Ethernet
- Controls: 5-inch color touch screen
Most Affordable 3D Printer for the Home
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The FlashForge Finder is one of the cheapest 3D printers available but that doesn’t mean it won’t perform and print anything you throw at it
The Finder is aimed at families with children and so it’s designed to be as simple to operate as possible and also very safe with all the mechanics safely hidden away and a safe to touch, non-heated print bed.
The print bed is unheated which means there’s no chance of any hurt hands but you can only print using PLA plastic. Fortunately, PLA is the most popular plastic used in 3D printing and it’s family safe.
Like all FlashForge 3D printers, the Finder is built to a high standard and it feels very sturdy.
The look is very appealing to younger users and it certainly doesn’t look out of place in a family home.
All controls for the printer are found on the color touch screen which makes operating it easy and straightforward.
The FlashForge Finder has a great online following of owners and is highly regarded amongst the 3D printing community as so many enthusiasts cut their teeth on it.
- Very easy to set up and use
- Safe for the whole family
- Limited to PLA material
- Non-heated bed
- Not upgradeable
- Small print volume
- Filament Type: PLA
- Resolution: 0.08mm – 0.4mm
- Build Size: 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches
- Controls: 3.5-inch color touchscreen
- Connectivity: WiFi, USB & Flashdrive
Best Large 3D Printer for the Home
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If you want to print big items on your 3D printer, like cosplay costumes or Millenium Falcons, you’ll need a 3D printer that can go large.
The QIDI-Tech X-Max is my choice as the best large 3D printer for the home. Not only does it have a huge 300mm x 250mm x 300mm / 11.8″ x 9.8″ x 11.8″ print volume, but it’s also reliable, well-built, and easy to use.
In terms of features, the X-Max is packed to the gills. From the fully enclosed frame with HEPA filtration and noise reduction (40dB!) that makes it reliable and safe for home 3D printing to auto bed leveling, dual z-axis, and a removable, flexible bed.
Not only that but, it also has a few unique features that make it stand out from the competition. In fact, the X-Max has an almost unique ability to print with almost any 3D printing material.
This ability makes it a perfect choice for combining with your existing hobbies. If you want to 3D print hard-wearing materials for your auto, or 3D print aquarium fixtures, or RC car tires, etc, you will need to be able to print in materials other than PLA which a lot of other 3D printers cannot cope with.
The X-Max’s trump card is that it can print all the standard materials like PLA, ABS, and TPU. But, in addition, you can swap the extruder, flip over the print bed, swap to the internal filament holder and the X-Max becomes an exotic material specialist, allowing you to print in Nylon, Carbon Fiber, and Polycarbonate.
To enable the Qidi X-Max to handle all these materials, it comes with two separate extruders, a reversible print bed, and two filament mounting positions.
This allows Qidi to supply you with two very different extruders, each perfectly suited to 3D printing different materials.
Not only are there two extruders, but there are also two positions to mount your filament spool as well. The first position is on the outside of the printer, and it allows the filament to reach the extruder with the most direct patch, directly above the print head. This is perfectly suited to materials like PLA.
The second filament position is within the 3D printer’s enclosure. This ensures the whole spool of filament is kept at an optimum temperature ready for printing. This is perfect for filaments that are more sensitive to temperature changes, like ABS and Nylon.
I have to give a special shoutout to Qidi’s technical support who year after year garners the most glowing reviews from their customers. Seemingly nothing is beyond the limits of their assistance. So, even if you’ve never heard of Qidi you can buy one of their 3D printers safe in the knowledge that they will go above and beyond to make sure you have a great experience with their products.
In conclusion, the Qidi X-Max is a monster of a 3D printer. It gives you the ability to print almost anything you want without limitations of size or material. If you’re looking to buy a large 3D printer that will fit into your home, look no further.
- Very easy to set up and use
- Safe for the whole family
- Prints almost any material
- Large print volume
- Great customer service
- Not upgradeable or tweakable
- Large footprint
- Filament Type: PLA, ABS, TPU, Nylon, Carbon Fiber
- Resolution: 0.08mm – 0.4mm
- Build Size: 300mm x 250mm x 300mm / 11.8″ x 9.8″ x 11.8″
- Controls: 5-inch color touchscreen
- Connectivity: WiFi, USB & Ethernet
Buying a 3D printer to use at home can be a tricky process as you try to meet not only your requirements but those of your whole family.
Hopefully, my guide has helped you by giving you the facts you need to make a more informed choice so you can spend your money wisely.
3D printing is a fantastic hobby that thousands of people find very rewarding. It inspires creativity and logical thinking in equal measure and really offers something to everyone.
Good luck with your 3D printing journey!