Best Cheap 3D Printer

Cheap 3D Printers – The Top 10 Budget 3D Printers Under $250, $400, $500, & $1000

Updated: November 2018

It’s not so long ago that we thought of 3D Printing as a future technology out of the price range of the average person. Machines cost thousands of dollars and were the size of a closet.

But all of that has changed…

Over the last few years, technology has massively improved, and competition between manufacturers has grown so much that you can now buy a good quality 3D printer for little more than $200.

In fact most of the thousands of 3D Printers sold every day retail at less than $500 each.

This rapid drop in price has been mostly due to an influx of Chinese made products.

Initially some of these models were unreliable and a bit rough around the edges.

But a healthy amount of competition has very quickly raised standards, and now some of the most highly-regarded 3D printers are made in China by companies with a great reputation for quality and reliability, like Creality and Monoprice.

How I Have Chosen The Top Ten

I’ve narrowed my selection right down to what I think are the ten best value 3D printers currently available.

All of these 3D printers come pretty much ready to go out of the box. Some, like the CR-10 require a few bolts tightening and some wires plugging in, but nothing skilled or complicated like soldering.

I haven’t included kit 3D printers that require lots of assembly, because I believe the pre-assembled 3D printers I’ve chosen offer better value without the hassle of assembly.

I’ve set my maximum budget at $1000 because this is more than enough to get you a very good 3D printer.

Now, onto my top ten.

Best 3D Printer Under $250 

Winner: Creality Ender 3

My Verdict

The Creality Ender 3 is the budget 3D printer to beat in 2018 and is my pick for Best 3D Printer under $250. I’ve owned my Ender 3 since June 2018 and I use it all the time for printing miniatures and small cosplay props.

Creality have really hit the nail on the head in terms of quality to price ratio. Out of the box the quality of prints is outstanding at this price.

The Ender 3 uses the same tried and tested extruded aluminum frame and single Z-axis leadscrew as the CR-10 family of printers. The Ender 3 has the added benefit of the power supply unit and control unit being attached to frame so it takes up less desk space and is easier to move around.

Because of the Ender 3’s great price and quality it has developed a cult following of proud owners, and you will find plenty of them willing to give you help and advice on the printers own reddit community r/ender3.

Creality Ender 3

Specs

  • Volume: 220 x 220 x 250mm
  • Resolution: 100 microns
  • Filament: 1.75mm
  • Weight: 44.2 lb
  • Connect: SD-Card, USB
  • Heated bed: Yes
Overall
78%
78%
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Pros

  • Very good price
  • High print quality
  • Usable print volume
  • Easy to assemble
  • Great community
  • Easily upgradable
  • Open Source
  • Possible to print flexible filament

Cons

  • Bed needs re-leveling sometimes
  • Glue or hairspray needed to make prints stick to bed
  • Frame or bed may be uneven and require tinkering to get best results

XYZprinting da Vinci Mini Wireless

My Verdict

The daVinci Mini Wireless is aimed squarely at parents looking to buy a first 3D Printer for their children.

It features a tough plastic casing that shields all the inner moving and heated parts away from small inquisitive hands.

There is virtually no initial setup required once you’ve removed it from the box. In fact, all that’s required to get up and running is to remove all the copious amounts of tape that secure it during transit and then load in the free spool of filament.

XYZPrinting pre-test each printer so when it arrives you can be sure it will work out of the box.

Unlike other printers in this price range, calibrating the build plate is almost a fully automatic process, you just need to follow the instructions the software walks you through, which basically amounts to pressing a button when told to do so.

What’s missing from the daVinci Mini, and hence the reason for the cheap price tag, are a few premium features that are standard on most other 3D printers.

There’s no LCD screen, in fact, there are no controls on the printer itself other than a pause button and a colored LED that changes color to tell you if the printer is on, off or having a problem.

Everything is controlled remotely on your PC/Mac/laptop via the included XYZware software. This is quite intuitive and helpful for beginners but will begin to show its limitations when you start to understand the need for more advanced supports and temperature control that more complex prints require.

Once you’ve gone through a few reels of filament, maybe after a few months of regular use you will realise it’s missing advanced features like freedom to put supports wherever you want and you’ll be thinking about upgrading.

The da Vinci Mini is a great first 3D printer and I enthusiastically recommended it for children and teenagers in particular. Just be prepared to upgrade to something a bit more capable in a few months.

XYZprinting da Vinci Mini Wireless

Spec

  • Volume: 150mm x 150mm x 150mm
  • Resolution: 100 microns
  • Filament: 1.75mm
  • Weight: 44.2 lb
  • Connect: SD-Card, USB
  • Heated bed: Yes
Overall
73%
73%
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Pros

  • Plug and Play
  • Safe for children
  • Very easy to use hardware and software

Cons

  • Locked to XYZPrinting brand filament
  • Non-heated bed limits materials
  • Not upgradable
  • Small print volume
  • Software limits design options

Monoprice Select Mini V2

My Verdict

The Monoprice Select Mini was a game changer when it first arrived, sporting a price tag significantly less than any other fully assembled 3D printer around at the time.

With the Select Mini, Monoprice has opened up 3D printer ownership to almost anyone.

What marks it out from other printers in this price bracket is the inclusion of a heated build plate, its fully assembled design, and full metal construction.

The heated bed makes 3D printing much easier because the prints stick to the plate more readily and cool at the correct rate. This is especially important if you want to print using materials other than the standard PLA, such as ABS or PVA.

With most budget 3D printers you are limited either by virtue of the tech used or by the manufacturer locking you into their brand of consumables. But with the Select Mini, you can use any filament brand you like, any software and most filament material types.

This allows you to experiment with many aspects of 3D printing to work out what you need so you can make a good decision when you decide to upgrade to a better machine.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch and there are reasons for the Select Mini being so cheap.

Firstly, although you can build with filament types other than the most popular PLA, it will take some repeated tries and a bit of ingenuity before you’re successful.

This is because the heated bed does not have quite enough oomph to provide the ideal high temperature required.

It is also not a set it and forget it model. There will be times when it just doesn’t do what it should. You will need to investigate why this is with a bit of Googling and maybe some basic DIY skills get it working again. Fortunately there is a huge community of owners online who are more than willing to help wherever they can.

The Monoprice Select Mini is outstanding value for money. Just a year ago a 3D printer of this ability would be over twice the price. There is now no excuse to not try out 3D printing for yourself.

Monoprice Select Mini V2

Specs

  • Print Volume:  120mm x 120mm x 120mm
Overall
73%
73%
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Pros

  • Very cheap for an unlimited 3D printer
  • Heated bed
  • Smart appearance
  • Small footprint

Cons

  • Heated bed a little underpowered
  • Can be temperamental, not plug and play
  • Small print volume

Monoprice Select Mini Pro

My Verdict

The Monoprice Select Mini Pro is an upgraded version of the immensely popular Select Mini V2. The obvious change is the new bare aluminum casing that looks quite attractive and stands out from the crowd. But the upgrades are more than skin deep. The new model features:

Auto bed leveling – This fully automatic system checks four points on the bed and applies software adjustments to the Z-axis to compensate for any errors. The process takes about 30 seconds at the beginning of a print and is a very welcome addition to save us from the labours of manual adjustment.

Live Z-Axis adjustment – You can adjust the Z height whilst the Mini Pro is printing to ensure you get the absolute best first layer.

Hotter and faster – The hotend is upgraded to an all metal (PTFE free) model and can reach 280C compared to 230C on the previous V2 model.

Removable magnetic build plate – This makes it so much easier to remove your prints when they’re complete as you can take the complete plate to your workbench and prevent risking any damage or force being applied to the printer.

Touchscreen operation – The old fashioned scroll wheel has been replaced with a full color 3.3 inch touchscreen.

Monoprice Select Mini Pro

Specs

  • Print Volume: 120mm x 120mm x 120mm
Overall
75%
75%
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0% (0 votes)

Pros

  • Very cheap for an unlimited 3D printer
  • Heated bed
  • Touch screen operation
  • Smart appearance
  • Small footprint

Cons

  • Can be temperamental, not plug and play
  • Small print volume

Best 3D Printer Under $400

Winner: Anycubic i3 Mega Ultrabase

My Verdict

I’ve had an Anycubic i3 Mega Ultrabase in my workshop for a little over a year, and it’s a 3D printer that I keep coming back to. It’s so reliable and hassle free that

The first thing that strikes you when you unbox the Anycubic i3 Mega is the weight and sturdiness of its chassis. It has a great feel of quality and over-engineering to it that inspires confidence in its ability.

The Ultrabase heated bed is a triumph, with prints sticking perfectly to it but equally being easy to remove once they’ve cooled.

The high quality of the components used mean the Anycubic i3 Mega delivers fantastic quality prints, with minimal layer lines especially impressive. This makes it especially good for printing detailed objects like DnD miniatures.

Although it is officially named as a kit, there is very little assembly to carry out. It arrives in two pieces that have to be bolted together with four bolts, and a few wiring harnesses have to be plugged in to their corresponding connectors. The wiring is all labelled so it’s very easy. If you’ve ever built a PC or are familiar with LEGO technic then you’ll have no problems assembling the i3 Mega.

At this price range, the Anycubic i3 Mega Ultrabase is kitted out with an impressive amount of features:

  • Touch screen control with intuitive icon based system
  • Auto resume after power failure allows you to finish a print after a power outage without restarting.
  • Filament outage sensor pauses your print if the filament runs out, allowing you to refill and get going again quickly.
  • Ultrabase heated bed negates the need for tapes and hairspray and makes printing much more reliable.

Specs

  • Print Volume:
Overall
82%
82%
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Pros

  • Amazing print quality out of the box
  • Ultrabase heated bed works perfectly
  • Resume from power outage feature
  • Filament runout sensor
  • Quality feel to components

Cons

  • A bit noisy
  • Sticker on control panel is a bit tacky
  • Quite heavy to lift and move around
  • Filament holder is a bit clumsy but you can print better designs from Thingiverse

QIDI Technology X-One 2

My Verdict

When you first see the Qidi X-one 2 there are two things you’ll think; This is built like a tank and, wow that’s an interesting color for a 3D printer! The Qidi looks and feels more like an industrial printer than a consumer one. I’m still not sure if I love or hate the way it looks but at least it’s different to the usual all black offerings from competitors.

Initial setup and bed leveling are easy, with the touch screen menu guiding you to each point on the bed. You will be printing your first object in 3o minutes.

The LCD touch screen on the printer is very intuitive and clear with a very nice responsive touch and it even shows a preview of the part you’re printing which is something usually seen on much higher end 3D printers.

Part quality is as good as you can get on an FFF printer. The resolution of the mechanism and the rigidity of the chassis and build plate really help to achieve the best possible and consistent results out of all these budget 3D printers.

The Qidi X-One will last you many years. Not only is it one of the few budget 3D printers built physically strong enough to do so. It also has more than enough features and flexibility so you’re unlikely to want to upgrade to anything else soon, unless you want to move on to dual extrusion or SLA printing.

Qidi Technology X-One 2

Specs

  • Print Volume:
Overall
80%
80%

Pros

  • Enclosed design allows you to print ABS
  • Three point bed makes leveling easy
  • Customer service very helpful
  • Good build quality
  • Touch panel interface

Cons

  • You may not like the looks
  • Small community of owners
  • Loud fans

Monoprice Maker Select V2

My Verdict

The Maker Select V2 features a simple but sturdy design similar in style to the Anycubic i3 Mega. The control box and power supply held in a separate unit next to the printer chassis like the CR-10 family of printers. This design gives it a large footprint than its bigger brother, the Maker Select Plus.

On delivery you will have to assemble the Maker Select, but this isn’t a kit printer. Assembly is just a matter of bolting two halves of the frame together with four bolts, and plugging in the wiring according to how it is labelled. Overall you should be up and ready in under an hour.

Features are sparse on this 3D printer, however the basics are covered with a heated print bed that will allow you to print ABS and Nylon.

There have been many thousands of Maker Select’s sold and so there is a large community of owners online sharing tips and upgrades. There are lots of upgrades you can print yourself, such as fan shrouds and large thumbscrew that will help you get the most from the printer.

Ultimately, the Maker Select V2 is a 3D printer for people who don’t mind a bit of tinkering and upgrading to get the best from it.

Important! You must carry out the ‘MOSFET Mod’ to the Maker Select V2 to prevent a possible safety problem where wires can overheat. This is a simple modification that routes the high power of the heated bed through a component that is better able to handle the power. It will cost you about $10 in parts and take 20 minutes to install. There’s an easy to follow guide on the MOSFET mod here.

Monoprice Maker Select V2

Specs

  • Print Volume:
Overall
67%
67%

Pros

  • Direct drive extruder is good for flexible filament
  • Good quality prints
  • Large community of owners
  • Lots of upgrades available to print

Cons

  • Can need tinkering to get the best results
  • You must carry out MOSFET mod for safety
  • No features like resume from power outage

Monoprice Maker Select Plus

My Verdict

Monoprice have become the go to brand for budget 3D printers and the Maker Select Plus sits neatly in the centre of their range.

It features a very sturdy steel frame with the print bed mounted on top of the control box and power supply. This is very similar in design to the Anycubic i3 Mega and it works well to package everything into a small footprint.

Whatever your skill level you will have no problem assembling the Maker Select, as it is simply a case of bolting the two parts of the chassis together with the included hex key.

You may have noticed that the Maker Select Plus looks identical to the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus, and that’s because they are! Monoprice simply rebrand the Wanaho model, however Monoprice seem to offer better customer service and they actually power up and test each 3D printer before shipping so you are much less likely to get a unit that is DOA. When your 3D printer is delivered it will have a test model attached to the print bed to prove it has been tested!

The Maker Select Plus is all about quality rather than features and so it doesn’t come with fancy things like filament runout sensors, or automatic leveling. However, it does have dual Z-axis lead screws and motors, a direct drive MK10 extruder, and heavy duty bearings.

Because of its great quality and reasonable price, the Maker Select Plus has built up quite a following and you can easily find help and support online. There are also a great many upgrades available to help you get the most from your new Maker Select.

Monoprice Maker Select Plus

Specs

  • Print Volume:
Overall
72%
72%

Pros

  • Excellent quality
  • Touchscreen control
  • Direct drive extruder – great for flexible filament
  • Spacious build volume

Cons

  • No fancy features like filament runout sensor or power outage resume

Best 3D Printer Under $500

Winner: Creality CR-10

My Verdict

The CR-10 family of 3D printers offer larger build volumes than any of their competitors at this price range which makes them the perfect choice for 3D printing large cosplay props like wearable helmets or home decor like vases.

Despite the large volume, the open frame design means the CR-10 is quite light and can easily be moved around or stored in a cupboard if required.

The CR-10 also has a high quality extruded aluminum frame that ensures they are accurate and reliable. All the hardware is good quality.

I bought my first CR-10 printer in Fall 2017 and it’s still sat in my workshop getting regular use.

There are three size options available so you can pick whichever suits your needs. There is no difference in the models other than size, so it’s best to pick the biggest you can afford or fit in your maker space.

The CR-10 quickly built up a large community of users and you can easily get help and advice from the CR-10 community on reddit – r/CR10. Because the CR-10 is such a simple design, if things do go wrong, it’s easy to fault find and fix.

My only niggle is the filament holder forces you to keep the control box a set distance from the printer, taking up more desk space than necessary. The filament holder also tends to be susceptible to tangling so to solve both these issues I suggest printing an upgraded filament holder that mounts on the top of the CR-10 frame like this one.

Creality CR-10

Specs

  • Print Volume:
Overall
78%
78%

Pros

  • Unbeatable large build volume for the price (300mm x 300mm x 400mm)
  • Sturdy aluminum frame gives accuracy and reliability
  • Good print quality
  • Easily upgradable

Cons

  • Separate control box takes up desk space
  • Tricky to print ABS because of large open design
  • Filament holder tends to tangle

Creality CR-10S

My Verdict

The CR-10S is an upgraded version of the standard CR-10. It features dual Z-axis motors and lead screws which improves stability especially when printing tall models.

It also comes with a filament runout sensor that pauses the machine when you reach the end of your filament spool and allows you to fit a new one and restart the print from when it paused.

This is particularly beneficial when printing large models that you will need to leave unattended, which is quite likely if you’re buying a large volume printer such as the CR-10.

Creality CR-10S

Specs

  • Print Volume:
Overall
82%
82%

Pros

  • All the benefits of the standard CR-10
  • Extra stability and accuracy from dual Z-axis lead screws
  • Filament runout sensor to stop failed prints when you underestimate filament usage

Cons

  • Same cons as the CR-10 standard
  • Separate control box takes up desk space
  • Tricky to print ABS because of large open design
  • Filament holder tends to tangle

Best 3D Printer Under $1000

Winner: FlashForge Creator Pro

My Verdict

The FlashForge Creator Pro is a legend in the maker community with thousands of owners who love its reliability, ease of use, and flexibility.

The enclosed chassis design, all metal frame, and dual extrusion capability give it the powers to print almost any material successfully.

The ability to print ABS and dissolvable supports it really where the FlashForge Creator Pro stands out at this price range. This gives you the power to print highly complex shapes with no detriment to surface quality due to support structures.

The printer is shipped mostly pre-assembled, other than the door and top cover which have to be bolted on. And bed levelling is a manual process as there is no automated system built in.

Considering the external size of the printer, the build volume is a little small in comparison.

The best thing about the Creator Pro is its reliability. There are many long term owners of this printer who have used it regularly for a number of years.

FlashForge Creator Pro

Specs

  • Print Volume:
Overall
74%
74%

Pros

  • Dual extruder
  • Enclosed design
  • Reliability

Cons

  • Small build volume
  • Manual bed leveling
  • Print quality comparable to cheaper models

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