Want to know a secret? You DON’T need to buy an expensive 3D printer. A cheap 3D printer produces just as good results.
Then what makes expensive printers expensive? They just have more connectivity options, more features like a camera, a bigger build volume (sometimes), more filament support, and they are more plug & play in nature.
In fact, print quality for both expensive and cheap 3D printers are the same (and some inexpensive 3D printers perform better than costlier ones).
So why waste money. Here are the best cheap 3D printers (in ascending order).
Table of Contents
- Best Cheap 3D Printers at a glance
- What to look for in a cheap 3D printer?
- Should I get an Open-Frame or a Closed-Frame 3D printer?
- What should I look for in 3D Printer Software and Connectivity?
- Should I consider a 3D pen instead?
Best Cheap 3D Printers at a glance
The Mini Delta V2 is unique. It’s a Delta 3D printer, and that means your hair won’t turn grey while you wait for your print – it’s the fastest machine on this list.
With a build volume of 110x110x120mm, the printer is small. You’ll find the Delta V2 more suited for small-scale prints like keychains or credit card wallets. Because of the shape of the build volume, wide prints are difficult to print, but the inverse is true for tall prints.
The 3D printer comes with excellent features like a highly responsive touchscreen and an advanced auto-leveling feature. You’ll be thankful for the latter, because boy, manual leveling is tiresome.
The printer accommodates various filament types like PLA, ABS, and TPU.
How is the delta 3D printer’s print quality? Well here I have to reveal the biggest downside to the machine, the print quality is just okay. When printing, I noticed that the layers weren’t smooth, and there was loose filament visible.
The 3D printer is an open-frame printer, so keep children and pets away from the hot components while the printer is running. On the plus side, the printer is noiseless (an uncommon trait in many cheap 3D printers).
Newcomers. Impatient people. And people on a budget. This is the cheapest 3D printer, and you’ll love it.
Let me tell you a secret. If there’s one 3D printer you need to buy, it’s the Creality Ender 3 V2. Don’t let its low price hoodwink you; the printer can compete with the best 3D printers in the market.
This 3D printer is highly customizable, making its awesomeness even more awesome. Once you buy this printer, it’s very unlikely you’ll feel the need to repurchase another printer.
And that’s not all; if you have any problem, you have an army of Creality fans all over the world to help you out. You can get in touch with this army through various Facebook groups and the official community here.
The Ender 3 V2 comes with features rare at the price point, like a filament runout sensor and a resume-printing option during a power cut. The print volume (220x220x250mm) is also larger than the Monoprice Mini Delta V2.
High-quality prints are a staple of the machine. This is one of the main reasons the Ender 3 has garnered loyal fans; the printer fails to disappoint in the quality department. You’ll just need to tweak a few slicer settings/
Another difference between the Ender 3 V2 and the Mini V2 is the latter is fully assembled, whereas the former requires assembling. Don’t think of this as a minus for the Ender 3 V2 though, you’ll get to learn more about different 3D printer parts while setting up the machine.
In short, Creality Ender 3 V2 is the best 3D printer on a budget. And you won’t regret getting it.
We’ve covered a cartesian printer. And a delta printer. Now let’s look at another category of printers, the resin printer. And the go-to budget resin printer is the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro.
The best part about resin 3D printers is their ability to produce quality prints at a small price (*but with a small build volume). Get rid of the notion that cheap is bad – resin 3D printers break the stereotypical mold.
Sporting a 6.08 monochrome LCD with a 2K HD resolution, the Mars 2 Pro prints with high quality that FDM printers can only dream of.
A common feature of the Mini Delta V2 and the Mars 2 Pro is the aluminum frame, which prevents the printer from shaking during 3D printing, which further creates steady and consistent prints.
And that’s not the only similarity, both 3D printers churn out prints in a jiffy. The Mars 2 Pro, for example, prints each layer at a fantastic speed of 1-2 seconds.
This 3D has a small build size of 129x80x160mm, so keep your size expectations of your prints small.
If you want to print lifelike miniatures or jewelry and don’t mind getting your hands dirty then the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro is the best value 3D printer in the market.
The Anycubic Photon is arguably the most popular resin 3D printer ever. If the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro didn’t satisfy your inner resin 3D printing itch, Photon Mono might just do that for you. It’s similar in many ways, but it also has worthwhile differences.
Like the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro, the printer boasts a 2K HD monochrome LCD and a similar build volume of 130mmx80mmx165mm.
Monochrome LCDs beat standard RGB screens (which many resin 3D printers at the price point use) because they are 40% faster in 3D printing and last four times longer.
Setup can be done by anyone quickly and easily. You won’t need to spend more than 10 minutes assembling the printer, thanks to the detailed user manual that comes in the box.
The Photon Mono offers clean and accurate prints with a high level of detail. The accuracy of prints is similar to that of the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro.
The Photon Mono is quieter than the Mars 2 Pro in its operations (the latter has a loud fan noise). But the Mars 2 Pro has its own advantage up its sleeve – it has a carbon filter. And why is one important? Because it can reduce the emission of toxic resin fumes.
But don’t worry, potential Mono fans, you can bypass this problem by keeping the printer in a well-ventilated space and not staying too close to the printer while it prints.
If you feel the Mono is too small for you, you can opt for its big brother the Anycubic Photon Mono X which has a large build volume of 192x120x245mm.
The Anycubic Photon Mono is a tried and tested printer you don’t have to spend a fortune on. If you can find a discount for the Photon, then I’d recommend this over the Elegoo Mars.
The Anycubic Mega S trumps its competition in one major respect; it produces prints of a higher resolution. And it’s slightly faster than the other cartesian low cost 3D printers in this list.
The printer prints at a resolution of 0.05 mm, whereas most non-resin 3D printers in this list print at 0.1 mm resolution. What’s the big deal with resolution? The smaller the print resolution, the higher the quality of prints.
If an evil wizard were to transform you into a baby magically, you’d still have no difficulty in setting up this printer – it’s that easy to assemble. And time to do so – just 20 minutes. If you’re not the tinkering and DIY-type then I’d choose this over the Ender 3 V2.
The build volume is standard fare for FDM 3D printers with dimensions of 210x210x205mm. Other useful features include the Ultrabase heated bed, which helps the prints to stick during 3D printing (this prevents deformation of prints). The bed also allows prints to pop off easily.
Mega S has other useful features like a filament run-out feature (this alerts you when you need to refill your filament), a power recovery feature (resumes printing in the event of a power outage), and handles several different filaments (PLA, ABS, TPU, TPA, and PETG).
The printer is noisy thanks to the rattling of its metal frame and the loud fan sound (ugh, it’s always the fan huh).
This is one of the best low cost 3D printer if you’re a stickler for print quality.
Do you want an affordable 3D printer for classrooms and libraries? Then take a gander at the Flashforge Adventurer 3.
What makes this a valuable printer for an educational setting? Three reasons:
- It’s easy to use
- It doesn’t make a lot of noise
- The printer is enclosed, which prevents toxic fumes from escaping out and keeps children safe from hot internal components
The printer comes with a camera to remotely watch the 3D printing process (although watching 3D printers do their thing in person is oddly therapeutic). The camera can also be helpful in classrooms to display the printing process to an audience. The camera is also high-resolution, which is useful if you have a fetish for seeing prints live in HD.
Flexible filaments, which even the best budget 3D printers struggle with, can be easily used thanks to the high temperature the Adventurer 3 can function at.
The print quality is good. However, the more complex a print was, the more stringing issues I noticed.
I found the leveling to be a pain as there’s no sensor to alert you if the bed is level. You might also want to print a larger spool holder as the original one is small.
All that said, if you want the best inexpensive 3D printer for educational purposes and for the little ones, you should consider getting this one.
Okay, now we’re getting into the big leagues. Presenting the Artillery Sidewinder X1. No, this is not a fighter jet; this is a Grade A printer for both hardcore enthusiasts as well as newcomers.
This is the biggest printer on this list (along with the next printer) with a build volume of 300x300x400mm. And if printers are your thing (wink wink), you’d be happy to know this printer looks attractive.
Most printers take time to heat up before printing can begin. Not this one. The ceramic glass bed heats quickly, in about 45 secs. And it can even reach 120°C which helps the printer deal with temperature-sensitive filaments like ABS with ease. Insane.
The 3D printer has a direct drive Titan Aero Extruder and it comes with a Volcano Hotend. What’s the big deal with these fancy-sounding parts? Well, these top-quality components produce top quality results. And you’ll be able to print flexible materials like TPU effortlessly (squishy phone covers anyone?).
And that’s not all; the extruder can reach temperatures of 270°C fast as well.
Now let’s talk about the print quality – it’s exquisite. The surfaces are smooth, and it’s hard to find irregularities. If you just get the calibration right, you’ll be producing gold.
One disappointing feature of the printer, however, is the spool holder which can be hard to adjust when changing spools. To not face this headache, make sure to print another separate one here, and you won’t have this problem anymore.
To sum up, if print quality and the ability to print in a variety of materials are of utmost importance- the Sidewinder X1 is a solid mid-range machine and is one of the best 3D printers that both beginners and professionals will love.
The CR-10 V2 is similar to the Sidewinder X1 and is another option if you didn’t fancy the latter (as an extra sidenote, if you see the name Creality in a printer, assume the machine is good).
In summary, the Sidewinder X1 scores big with its setup and hardware, whereas the Creality CR-10 V2 tops out with stock print quality. There’s nothing particularly damning in either case because both can easily be modified to improve their performance with relatively little effort.
Ideally you may want prior experience setting up a 3D printer, because you’d need to do so yourself with the CR-10 V2. Don’t worry though, just watch this video on how to do so.
CR-10 V2 has a similar volume of 300x300x400 to the Sidewinder X1. The larger volume is one of the main reasons these machines are more expensive than the Ender 3 V2.
However the Sidewinder and the CR-10 V2 aren’t twins alike in EVERY single thing – the CR-10 takes more time to warm up the nozzle as well as bed. And it’s a bit louder– 45dB vs. the X1’s 35dB.
Like we mentioned before, the stock print quality is surprisingly fantastic on the machine, especially if you use PLA (just expect a little bit of stringing). It was noticeably better than the stock X1. Unfortunately however, ABS prints fell short of the mark. So if you’d like to improve the quality of prints, you’d have to play around with the settings.
What makes the CR-10 V2 stand out is it’s customizability. You can print many mods from Thingiverse or other online repositories to create the machine of your dreams.
Overall you can’t go wrong with this affordable 3D printer particularly if you enjoy modding and consistent high-quality prints. It’s a reliable, trustworthy machine that’ll serve you for years to come.
Do you want a reliable large-volumed machine that churns out quality prints one after the other? Then Anycubic Mega X is your guy.
Design-wise, the Anycubic steals its aesthetics from its predecessor Mega S. And that’s a good thing because the design works. The machine is also sturdy thanks to the solid build, which is perfect for consistency in prints.
The prints are good right out of the box, so those of you who detest tweaking settings would love this printer. The Mega X also comes with an Ultrabase, which is excellent for print adhesion (better adhesion=better prints).
The 3D printer creates masterpieces out of PLA and PETG. It makes good prints out of ABS also, but just not as good as the former filaments.
Keep your eardrums prepared – the printer is loud. If you remember, the Mega S suffered from a similar issue as well.
And that’s an important point to make; the Mega X is similar to the Mega S in most ways except for the build volume. Which is not necessarily a good thing; the printer could benefit from an auto-bed leveling feature and WiFi connectivity given the price point.
Buy this cheap 3D printer if you want to just press play and have high-quality prints served consistently.
This 3D printer is special and other printers envy it. Are they jealous about its looks? No; the 3D printer isn’t eye-catching particularly. But the printer does have a dual extruder.
So what, you say? Shouldn’t a single extruder be enough? Why do I need to shell out more for this feature? (this printer is the most expensive one on the list)
Well, there are so many cool things a dual extruder can do:
- They follow the age-old adage – two extruders make faster work than one.
- You can make a print with two different filaments.
- You can print in multicolor rather than monotonous single color.
- You can print dissolvable supports.
Magnetic beds in most 3D printers suck as they pry loose often during printing. Not with this printer. The bed sticks to the base firmly, and when you want to pop a print out, just bend it.
Build volume is not as big as the last few budget 3D printers we reviewed, with dimensions of 230x150x150mm.
The 3D printer is fully enclosed, which helps you enjoy printing without toxic fumes destroying your lungs.
Out of the box, the printer doesn’t give the best output. You can notice stringing issues as well as small flaws frequently. Play around with slicer settings to get the best results.
What to look for in a cheap 3D printer?
There’s not much of a difference between an expensive 3D printer and a budget 3D printer these days.
In the past, cheap 3D printers lacked auto bed leveling or proper software. Not the case anymore – most reputable 3D companies have developed their own software.
Then what’s the difference between a cheap 3D printer and an expensive one?
Expensive 3D printers have more connectivity options, a bigger build volume, and more filament support, which even the best affordable 3D printers won’t have.
Should I get an Open-Frame or a Closed-Frame 3D printer?
Choosing an open-frame or a closed-frame printer depends on what you’re looking for.
With a closed-frame printer, you can reduce toxic fumes seeping out, decrease noise levels, and keep your children safe from hot parts.
With an open-frame printer, you get more build volume, so you can print larger models. You forsake the benefits of the closed printer, however.
What should I look for in 3D Printer Software and Connectivity?
In the past, 3D printer software was bareboned. You’d need to own multiple software to get the final print.
Nowadays, most companies make their own software, or they adapt the open-sourced Cura. So software isn’t something you should be concerned about.
Connectivity, however, is where expensive 3D printers have the upper hand. They can support multiple connectivity options like USB Type-A port, USB Type-C port, WiFi, ethernet, SD card, and mobile apps.
Cheaper 3D printers come with fewer of these options comparatively.
Should I consider a 3D pen instead?
You may want to consider a 3D pen if you’re an artist and you want to create art in a new way. With it, you can create intricate prints freehand. It’s a great device that can cost anywhere between $50-$100.
3D pen’s make printing feel more intimate than a standard 3D printing machine. But on the flip side, it’s important to note that standard 3D printing can create objects with more consistency and repeatability.