Technological advancements never fail in dropping one’s jaw. A 3D printer is just like a magic wand given to the whole traditional manufacturing process.
3D printing can feel as if it’s a complicated process to someone who’s new to it. But trust me, it’s not! In fact, it can be a rollercoaster ride full of fun if you select the best 3D printer to begin with.
No one prefers those boring manual methods for creating architectural models, prototypes, custom art designs, and industrial parts. Do you still want to use them when the best affordable 3D printers are here to turn those processes hassle-free?!
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- 0.1 What Benefits Does a 3D Printer Provide?
- 0.2 Comparison Chart:
- 0.3 List of The Best Affordable 3D Printers
- 1 Ultimaker 3 Extended
- 2 Formlabs Form 2
- 3 Markforged Mark 2
- 4 Raise3D N2
- 5 LulzBot Mini 2
- 6 Zortrax M200
- 7 CraftBot PLUS
- 8 Original Prusa I3 MK2/S
- 9 FlashForge Finder
- 10 Robo R2 3D Printer
- 11 Atom 2.5 EX
- 12 LOTMAXX SC-10
- 13 TWO TREES BLUER
- 14 Febtop Tech Optimus C1
- 15 ANET ET4
What Benefits Does a 3D Printer Provide?
The benefits of using 3D printers are numerous.
- They allow printing much more complex designs which were not possible with traditional manufacturing.
- They facilitate time-saving with their rapid prototyping. This boosts up the speed for each step, resulting in faster completion.
- 3D printers are more affordable than ever. Their prices may vary with the size of objects they can print, but you still get the best bang for your buck. Overall they turn out to be much inexpensive than traditional production models.
- 3D printers can work on an as-needed basis. With this, you can save up a lot of space that may have been occupied by printing in bulk. Virtual library stores design files in the form of STL (Standard Triangle Language) or CAD (Computer-Aided Design) so that they can be printed as and when required.
- Their durable and lightweight parts result in greater mobility.
- Traditional manufacturing methods fail to challenge the printing speed of 3D printers. Even affordable 3D printers can print objects in a matter of hours. Print time may vary depending upon the complexity and design of the object.
- 3D printers minimize wastage of products. Material is used for producing parts only, resulting in almost zero wastage.
- 3D printers save up bucks. They themselves carry out the whole manufacturing process and save costs which might be spent on several manufacturing machines for the same purpose.
It’s obvious with these benefits that investing in a 3D printer is a win-win.
Knowing all these advantages you might want to get your hands on one for hassle-free printing expeditions. But which one should you go for?
We’ve taken the brunt to compile this carefully selected list of the 15 best affordable 3D printers. This guide aims to help you in the selection process and match you with the 3D printer that best fits your needs and pocket!
List of The Best Affordable 3D Printers
3D printers are very useful and some can also be a part of your fun routine. Let us explore some of the most affordable and best 3D printers for different purposes.
Ultimaker 3 Extended
Ultimaker 3 Extended is the new addition to the Ultimaker family and a major update to Ultimaker 3.
Even if you’re a beginner to 3D printing, with Ultimaker 3 Extended, you’ll be able to get professional results easily. The features are user-friendly, contributing to their overall ease of use.
Ultimaker 3 Extended has a much larger area to work in, unlike other 3D printers having a comparatively smaller workspace.
It provides automatic bed leveling, which is a pre-condition for flawless 3D prints. The auto bed leveling feature helps you avoid bad adhesion and poor printing quality.
As the movement of the extruder follows the tilting of the bed, an incorrectly positioned bed will end up creating a mess! The auto-leveled bed fixes this problem.
The nozzle lifting system of Ultimaker 3 Extended helps in preventing the tiring dragging of the nozzle which may damage the print. It offers an easy setup, allowing it to be assembled without expert guidance.
ABS, PLA, PVA, Nylon can easily be used without facing major issues. Often problems with lifting occur when using ABS, but this can be completely fixed by the installation of a Lexan door.
- Easy to assemble
- Automatic bed leveler
- Great production quality
- Easy to use for beginners
- Printing with high resolution
- The print head is held by magnets
Formlabs Form 2
Formlabs Form 2 is well known as one of the best affordable 3D printers in the market. It stands firm in all professional requirements. Its reliability can be judged by sustained popularity despite the arrival of Form 3.
The resin tank in Form 2 is one of its most appreciated features. It reduces peeling forces due to which clear and precise parts can be created.
If you want to get that professional, smooth finish; then this is a great choice – professional yet affordable! The resin in cartridges can last for about 2 years. This largely depends upon the resin type.
Don’t miss out on reading their white papers, they provide a better understanding of operating and cleaning of its different parts.
- Very efficient
- Easy to operate
- Works with high quality
- Production of great prints
- Trouble-free printing process
- Extraordinary resolution level
Markforged Mark 2
Since the unveiling of Mark 2 by Markforged, the response has been overwhelming. Considering the problems people were facing with their former models, Mark 2 launched to much critical acclaim.
The Mark 2 prints fiber 40% faster than its predecessor. But don’t try rubbing your finger over it – fiber strings are fine metal wires! They can quickly penetrate deep into the skin.
It adds support to more fiber materials such as carbon fiber, Kevlar, and high strength/high-temperature fiberglass. It also offers the option to print using plain nylon which is comparatively less abrasive and more flexible.
Mark 2 is a desktop machine serving print volume of about 320 x 132 x 154 roughly 12 x 5 x 6 inches. It offers a touchscreen display in front of the machine for easy operation. An aluminum lid at the top helps get better access to extruders and other mechanics.
Only a single type of expensive filament is used with each machine. Mark 2 can also reinforce 15 times smaller parts.
- Cloud storage
- Small LCD screen
- Simplicity of interface
- Enhance printing experience
- Offers a variety of fiber material to work with
- The print setting works flawlessly
- You’ll get an email when either machine detects a shift in steps or prints successfully.
- Minor artifacts with onyx
- No support for alternative software
- No auto bed leveling
Raise3D N2 received the award for being the “Best 3D Printer Overall” despite being a comparatively larger machine.
This big machine comes along with bigger functions and even bigger advantages!
For a first, the print quality is excellent. Results obtained by Raise3D N2 consistently rank high in quality and precision.
It is fully enclosed, which apart from safety, greatly helps in getting a remarkable print performance.
For having a nice smooth Z-travel, Raise3D N2 has high-end ball screws for Z-axis. It uses a filament of 1.75 millimeters and has a dual extruder.
The dual extruder will carry out the process faster as it cuts off the detailed process of interchanging filaments over each other.
USB webcam or a camera can also be hooked off. This way, you’ll be able to do offsite monitoring if you don’t want to be in proximity.
Raise3D N2 does have its own proprietary slicer, as the importance of slicer goes hand-in-hand with the machine’s mechanics. The slicer really helps the Raise3D perform the way it does.
To use Raise3D N2 you just need to commit to a pretty sizable area of the workspace and you’ll be ready to enjoy those exceptional prints!
If you’re looking for the best affordable 3D printer and you have a good volume of space to place it, then this is a great choice!
- Fully enclosed
- Inbuilt storage
- Smooth Z-travel
- High print quality
- Faster performance
- Multi-material support
- Sizeable build envelope
- Can be easily monitored
- Other slicers can be used
- Can be operated with an open door
- Sheer size
- Single extruder
- No software for controlling the speed of the extruder’s fan
LulzBot Mini 2
Those who are new to 3D printing may think of it as a complex process. Keeping this beginner’s consideration in mind, the LulzBot Mini 2 has been designed – cautiously.
Most of the features work out of the box. It is the go-to option for home users and a myriad of professionals including designers, engineers, and architects.
It’s built to provide ease of use but doesn’t lack the flexible industrial strength expected of a printer of this caliber.
The Mini 2 is an open-source printer; it provides the facility to work with a wide range of materials. Its open filament system is compatible with an expanded range of materials to work with like PLA, Nylon 645, TPU, ABS+, and many more.
You can also use a number of 3D software programs with it or you can simply download the LulzBot Edition software.
It’s better to buy a fresh reel with your printer as the test piece is just enough to sample the work.
- Easy setup
- High performance
- Perfect for home users
- Proficient minor detailing can be achieved
- Open filament system
- Easy to run
- Compatible with a number of 3D software programs
- Nice, clean prints right out of the box
- Doesn’t require bed leveling and nozzle cleaning
- Contains a small tool kit, containing all essentials you’ll need for running and maintenance
- The build volume can be a bit restricting
- Hot end assembly is prone to filament getting stuck
- Uses a 2.85 mm filament which is not that common
Although this award-winning 3D printer is aimed at the professional market, it can equally suit beginners who want to produce top-notch work.
Its built dimensions are 200 x 200 x 180 with a resolution of 90-400 microns. It works with a standard 1.75 mm filament and is compatible with all filaments as the nozzle can heat up to 375° Celsius.
If you need repeatable results and intend to create multiple models on a daily basis then the M200 is a great choice.
The printer comes with a perforated bed so you don’t need a glue stick or Kapton tape. The first layer will print super-hot so that the raft will melt its way into the perforated bed, avoiding any wrapping issues.
It has optional side panels which can be clipped in. It works great when printing ABS as it requires enclosed space so that the heat can build up and maintain the required temperature.
The M200’s software allows the use of external filaments. You can use any filament you like and adjust the temperatures accordingly in the software.
There’s not much you need to do with this model; except loading the model and hitting print!
- Unyielding reliability
- Rock-solid repeatability
- Great quality
- A 99% success rate on prints
- Can work for hours
- High precision
- Quiet operation
- Uses a ribbon system to elevate tension and drag wires so they don’t wear out anytime soon
- The spool holder at the back is 3D printed which looks a bit tacky for a product of this price point
- When printing in an enclosed space, panels often pop out of their frames
- No filament alarm or alerts
The Craftbot PLUS recently got awarded “The best plug ‘N’ play 3D printer”. It is remarkably easy to use. Within minutes you’ll be able to open the box and get started with your first print.
The features of CraftBot PLUS will let your creativity shine whether you’re a beginner or an expert. It works the same for all!
Its plug & play design is an onboard LCD touchscreen that allows you to monitor and control prints. It is also compatible with meta controls for giving the best 3D printing experience.
CraftBot PLUS offers an impressive build volume of 250 x 200 x 200 which is fairly standard for a machine of this size.
It uses the entire build volume with confidence. Heat is evenly distributed by the build plate itself so that printing material like ABS doesn’t cause problems.
It uses a manual adjustment for nozzles and bed calibration. Three thumbscrews at the corner of the bed are used for leveling to get that flawless print.
This simple yet effective leveling solution passes through repeated removal and replacement of the build plate so that it remains rock solid through prints.
- Great reliability
- Easy to handle
- A very responsive interface
- Durable glass
- A bit loud and heavy
- Unable to tweak print settings while print is running
Original Prusa I3 MK2/S
The Original Prusa I3 MK2/S garnered a lot of praise when it entered the market. Many prominent industry leaders lauded the model on its arrival.
The Prusa is an open frame, open-source design. It has a genuine E3D V6 hotend. It comes with a standard 0.4 mm nozzle that will take 1.75 mm filament and is capable of doing layer down to 0.05 mm. It also features automatic mesh bed leveling.
It supports PLA, ABS, PET, HIPS, Ninjaflex, and practically any other filament on the market. It operates in either a high-power mode or a silent mode. Because of the solid build frame, it’s also convenient to carry.
- Easy to use
- Homing Z-Axis
- Flawless performance
- Auto Bed leveling
- Robust assembly
- Great mobility
- Sets up in seconds
- The high power mode is a bit loud but can be mitigated using a small 3D printed part placed at the bottom of the printer to isolate vibration.
FlashForge Finder produces high-quality prints while being a reliable machine throughout the spectrum. It is a PLA printer so it has a glass cold bed that is removable.
It comes fully assembled. Build volume is 140 x 140 x 140 mm which is relatively small and will restrict you to a certain type of prints.
Low layer resolution is 500 microns with a high layer resolution of 100 microns. Positioning precision is 11 microns on the X and Y axis and 2.5 microns on the Z-axis. The diameter of the filament is 1.75 mm which is the most widely used.
It allows printing via Cloud, USB stick, and Wi-Fi. The 3.5 inches touchscreen with logical icons helps in carrying out the operation with ease.
This is a great affordable option when you’re setting out in the world of 3D printing. Once you’ve built a solid foundation, you can upgrade to a different model that supports more materials and has a heated bed.
- Comes fully assembled
- Great tech support
- Best for beginners
- Removable build plates make it easy to take out the final product
- Small build volume
- Bed causes wrapping
- Support structures cannot be removed
- Prints only PLA with limited support for PETG
Robo R2 3D Printer
Robo R2 3D Printer is a user-friendly model which is about 25% larger than the average 3D printer. It has a print range from 300-20 microns in the layer height.
It has an onboard slicing feature on its 5-inch colored touch screen which allows you to print 3D models with ease. And with a 4GB storage space, you can store up to 500 models.
The Robo R2 3D printer also features Wi-Fi connectivity which allows you to connect your printer to a mobile device and print directly from your phone or tablet. The data can be stored on your drive or Dropbox.
It has an open-source filament system that allows you to print with up to 30+ materials and has a filament detection sensor that’ll give you a heads up when the filament is running out. There is also a resume printing feature with a speed of 16 mm/s.
The Robo R2 has a camera that allows you to keep a check on the progress and a 24/7 customer support system which even includes a one-on-one repair session on Skype!
- Open-source filament
- Filament detection sensor
- Resume printing feature
- 24/7 customer care support
- The open-top makes it somewhat noisy
- Z-axis needs manual calibration
Atom 2.5 EX
The Layer One Atom 2.5 EX is a fully-consolidated desktop 3 in 1 3D printer that has a dual extrusion feature from its 2-in-1 nozzle. It includes a quick-release heated-up glass build plate and a new hotend design in-line with thick PFTE tubing.
The new OMRON optical limit switches at each stop are super precise which react faster than mechanical limit switches, making calibration easier and more efficient. CPC linear motion guides make the drive system quieter and stronger.
The new Mk3 nozzle is made of titanium and features a more vigorous hot zone while the 150mW laser engraver module allows you to engrave both paper and leather.
This chief model combines industrial-quality precision and durability in a sleek, attractive package. It’s the first-ever 3D printer that came with a 2-in-1 dual extruder feature that allows dual-color printing.
- Dual extrusion nozzle allows two-color printing
- Clean, precise prints
- Ultra-precision with FDM isn’t achievable despite a 0.2 mm nozzle
The LOTMAXX SC-10 3D printer is affordable with a price tag of around $280. With faster print times, it can save up to 30% of the average print time successfully.
The SC-10 provides an extremely large forming size of 235x235x280 which gives an ample amount of space to create.
The high-precision V-slots cooperate with POM wheels and produce precise positioning and keep the frame stable which allows greater silence during printing.
It’s super simple to assemble with just six screws that allow assembly in 5 minutes! There’s also a one-year warranty as well as professional customer service round the clock.
After assembly, the LOTMAXX SC-10 doesn’t need any further adjustments. It’s a plug-and-play device.
The Aeolus Heat Dissipation System is a four-fanned design that prevents excessive heating during the printing process.
There’s auto-leveling, laser engraving, and bi-color printing with a super precision of 0.1mm nozzle accuracy.
- Night mode for super silent printing
- Resume Printing mode allows continuation from the point of interruption
- Five-minute assembly
- Support in 7 languages – English, Chinese, German, French, Russian, Italian, and Spanish
- The mechanical look might not work for some
TWO TREES BLUER
The Two Trees Bluer 3D printer has a sheet metal structure that provides great stability. It is 95% pre-assembled and has a quick installation.
The multi-language interface supports Chinese and French among seven different languages. A 4.3-inch colored touchscreen allows for an easy interface.
The Bluer 3D printer comes with a detachable control box, a silent driver for quiet printing, and a 0.9° precision stepper motor for higher accuracy.
It also has a 300x300x400mm printing size and supports various 1.75mm printing filaments like PLA, ABS, and PETG.
The Bluer can also detect when the filament is running out and timely cut it off. It also has an auto bed leveling feature with intelligent sensing and the Resume Printing option.
It also enables us to adjust the X and Y axis for accurate and precise outputs.
The Two Trees Bluer 3D printer is widely used in the manufacturing of toys and in the architecture and education industries.
- Multi-language interface
- Resume Printing feature
- Filament detection sensors
- Easy assembly and installation
- Colored touch screen
- Not very friendly for newbies
- Hotbed screws are not flat which affect the accuracy
- No cooling installed for stepper drivers
Febtop Tech Optimus C1
The Febtop Tech Optimus C1 is an FDM professional 3D printer that can print layers at 50 microns. An upgraded version of Febtop’s original Optimus, it is a transformable 3 in 1 3D printer, laser engraver, and CNC mill.
It is pre-assembled and has an integrated case body that allows it to be steady while holding an attractive look. You can quickly change between functions by changing the modular tool heads from their structure.
The Optimus C1 has a filament sensor that lets you know when the filament is about to run out so you don’t end up with any failed projects or face issues mid-way.
It also comes with a built-in air-filtration system that reduces toxic emissions during the printing process. The entire operation is smooth and quiet with a noise decibel not exceeding 40db.
It is used in prototyping and small-scale manufacturing of products like table games, small figurines, and miniature pieces. The 0.4mm caliber provides high 0.1mm accuracy.
The Febtop Tech Optimus C1 has a user-friendly touchscreen system that allows interaction with the printer in a most efficient manner. It uses a 1.75mm filament giving you flexibility with a wide array of materials at your disposal.
The maximum layer height is 0.6mm within a building area of 280x280x280mm. It can directly print with certain materials such as PLA, nylons, ABS, resin, and wood while engraving from a range of other materials – from aluminum and wood to PCB boards.
- User-friendly interface
- Quiet operation with built-in air-filtration
- The filament sensor lets you know if the filament is broken or about to run out
- Not for large scale production
The ANET ET4 is a metal frame 3D printer with an intuitive touch interface and an auto bed leveling feature.
The auto-leveling reduces manual labor and the time it takes to print the final product. It also has built-in filament sensors that prevent any breakage or air in the design.
Another important utility is the resume printing option which gives you the added flexibility to work in breaks.
A 28-inch full-colored touchscreen makes interaction an extremely intuitive and user-friendly experience.
ANET ET4 3D printer allows you to print your designs both online and offline so you’re not always dependent on Wi-Fi accessibility.
Its industrial-grade chipset allows accurate, precise, and instant prints while being protected by safety features like overload, over-temperature, and overcurrent.
Precision rollers on the X and Y axis reduce any noise made during printing and produce ultra-high-resolution prints.
The ANET ET4 3D has a 32-bit mainboard with an advanced STM F407 chip. The metal unibody structure accounts for greater stability.
With 6 screws and 3 cables, you can set up this printer in just about 10 minutes.
- Easy assembly and user friendly
- Special features like auto-leveling and filament detection sensors
- Resume printing feature option
- High-resolution output
- Low-quality micro-SD card
- Easy to brick if firmware updates are not performed cautiously
- Difficult to access CURA profile/settings
The popularity of 3D printers is rising with every passing day and so is their usage. Before you embark on your purchase journey, it is crucial to know what to look for (and what to avoid).
The following guide will highlight the important features to look for when purchasing a 3D printer:
- LCD Screen: This is your interface with the printer so it’s imperative that the quality is top-notch and the layout is intuitive. It will display notifications, diagnostics, and general info about the printer.
- Heated Bed: A heated bed will help in printing different material types like ABS.
- Large Build Platform: The larger the build platform, the bigger objects you can create. But it you will compromise on your workspace. You may need to strike a balance here between the two. If space is secondary or not an issue, go for as large a build as your budget permits. Note though; large printers can be a drawback if portability is one of your concerns.
- Easily Accessible Parts: Parts that can be easily found and fixed will allow quick maintenance and hassle-free upgrade.
- SD Card and USB Input: This will allow you to print off the computer.
- High-Quality Filament: When you’re going for a printer with a high price tag, pay even more consideration to a quality filament. They’ll last longer, print better, and run printers a lot smoother. Place filaments in a plastic airtight bag with some silica packets that saves them from getting fragile, brittle, and cracking up. This makes them last longer.
- Printing Speed and Resolution: When it comes to small print jobs, speed might not be a primary concern but if you’ll carry out large-scale production, fast speed is imperative.
- Auto-leveling Bed: Although some users prefer manual bed leveling, this feature makes your life heaven! All you need to do is plug your machine and start printing, skipping all the frustrating and lengthy processes of manual bed leveling.
- Accuracy, Print Quality, and Precision: All these factors are highly variable from model to model. Make sure you don’t compromise on them.
- Closed-Frame: 3D printers with closed frames are quieter, safer, and can maintain temperatures. The opposite is true for 3D printers with open frames.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are 3D printed goods better than those manufactured traditionally?
3D printing works beyond the capabilities of traditional manufacturing. It is improving overall. 3D printing is undoubtedly becoming effective, creative, and cost-efficient. It is better than traditional manufacturing in almost every way.
Which 3D printing filaments are available?
A great number of 3D filaments are now available with diameters of either 1.75mm or 2.85mm. The most common filaments in terms of ease and affordability are PLA and ABS. Other filaments include PETG, PVA carbon fiber, nylon, and flex.
How will you know which filaments your printer supports?
The easiest way to know about supported filaments is by visiting the manufacturer’s website or reading your printer’s manual. Or try Google!
Will using unsupported filaments damage the printer?
Following the guidelines listed by the manufacturer will prolong the printer’s life. Using unsupported filaments can damage the printer’s hotend. Make sure not to heat nozzles above temperatures stated in the guidelines.
Which software is required for 3D?
The 3D slicer is needed for printing a 3D model. Most 3D printers do have their own slicing software. Cura is the most popular open-source 3D slicer while Simplify3D is one of the most adaptable in the market.
There is a wide variety of 3D printers and each of them is unique in its own way. Each has its own set of pros and cons and different purchase points.
While purchasing a 3D printer, you should be well aware of your purchasing intent.
From the printers we reviewed, the Original Prusa I3 MK2/S is a great choice at an affordable price. It allows you to work with every filament you can think of and has great portability.
FlashForge Finder is the all-in-one solution for fulfilling the 3D printing needs of beginners. The drawback is it’s not compatible with many filaments and supports PLA only.
CraftBot PLUS offers an extremely easy-to-use interface and ample build space to create larger products. It proficiently supports ABS unlike most of its competition.
Every printer is best in its own way and serves a particular purpose in the world of 3D. The key is to know what to look for and how much it’s relevant from your perspective.
Once that’s sorted, you now know there are great affordable options to start off with that give you plenty of freedom and creative room to play!