Despite early 3D printers costing consumers six-digit fees to purchase, advances in technology and processing power over the last decade have brought the price for decent 3D printers to under $1,000 for beginner models. From professionals and students to hobbyists and amateurs, 3D printing has become a skill anyone can pick up and try.
When choosing the five best 3D printers for our list, we considered several metrics to decide what made a specific 3D printer better than the rest. First, there are two main types of 3D printers: FDM and SLA printers. Each uses a different technique for creating their 3D models when printing. FDM, or fused filament manufacturing printers, use an actual printhead to manually create the model, similar to older paper printers that used ink cartridges melted on metal print heads to make your printout slowly.
SLA printers aren’t just newer than traditional FDM printers—they’re also far more similar to the digital printers we see today. SLA, or stereolithography printers, use an ultraviolet laser (like those seen in DVD or Blu-Ray players) to create a physical model of your three-dimensional design. Much like traditional 2D printers, FDM printers are cheaper than we’ve seen in the SLA camp and are easier to use, clean, and operate.
A 3D printer will have varying degrees of speed, quality, and volume as to the size and shape of objects. No 3D printer can create a physical object in seconds or even minutes, but there are variations in how long each print will take. We’ve considered all these factors when trying to find our favorite affordable 3D printers. The good news is, while nothing in the budget 3D printer category will be the best money can buy, anyone shopping for a superb 3D printer this summer will want to make sure they pay attention to all five units on this list.
Whether you’re looking for a creative gift for the young inventory in your life or just diving into the world of 3D printing for the first time yourself, these are the best affordable 3D printers you can get your hands on in 2022.
01 Original Prusa MINI+ kit
The Original Prusa MINI+ kit is a superb budget-friendly 3D printer because it comes with various innovative features despite being a compact device. The printer features a build volume of 7 “×7″ ×7″ (18×18×18 cm). It makes your life easier because of its sensorless homing, automatic Mesh Bed Calibration, and replaceable nozzles. You won’t have a hard time navigating through the printer’s controls because it comes with a 2.8” colored LCD screen, which will also show you a preview of your sliced model before you begin the printing process. Once you’re ready to print, it’s as easy as confirming your print and clicking a single button. Removing your printed objects from the printer will be a breeze because of the removable spring steel sheets and magnetic heatbed. You can rest assured that the first layer of your prints will always be accurate and perfect because the printer’s high-quality sensor in its SuperPINDA probe probes several areas of your heatbed and creates a virtual heightmap. In terms of connectivity, users have the option to connect the printer to their devices using an ethernet cable. It also allows wireless printing using the optional ESP Wi-Fi module upgrade. The Original Prusa MINI+ kit is a reliable device to use that is 100% safe since it comes with safety features like a high-quality power supply, three thermistors, fan rpm monitoring, and self-diagnostics. Despite all these safety nets, you still must keep a close eye on your printer if you have kids or pets around.
- Price $429
- LCD screen 2.8″ graphic 65k color screen
- Advanced sensors 3 thermistors + SuperPINDA, fan RPM sensors
- Max travel speed 200+ mm/s
- Max nozzle temperature 280 °C / 536 °F
The Creality Ender-3 V2 is ideal for those with a tight budget because it will only cost you less than $300. The printer is equipped with a self-developed silent motherboard with fast and stable motion performance, low decibel operation and silent printing, and strong anti-interference capabilities. You can expect long-time printing and fast heating with this printer because of its UL-Certified MeanWell power supply. Its power supply is hidden inside the printer, so you’re guaranteed top-notch safety. Users will find it easy to load and feed filaments into the printer because of the rotary knob on its extruder. You get a 4.3″ smart color screen and a user-friendly interface for a more convenient operation. If you suffer a power outage, the printer will remember the last recorded extruder position and can resume your printing process from where you left off once you get your power back. The Creality Ender-3 V2 has a Carborundum glass platform that allows the hotbed to heat up faster and enhance the adherence of your prints. You will instantly notice incredible smoothness on your first layer. Since this is a highly affordable printer, it has areas where it needs to significantly improve on. Some examples are its manual print-bed leveling because it can get tricky at times, and other parts of the printer don’t have the best quality compared to its competitors. People have also noticed how its setup instructions should’ve been more legible.
- Price $279.00
- LCD screen 4.3″
- Advanced sensors N/A
- Max travel speed 180mm/s
- Max nozzle temperature 255°C
05 Monoprice Mini Delta V2 3D Printer
For those who are getting into 3D printing for the first time and don’t necessarily need a printer ready for professional-grade work, you can opt for the Monoprice Mini Delta V2 3D Printer. This is a 3D printer built for beginners who only plan to make small prints. The printer has a limited build volume of 110 x 120mm. Users can print immediately after unboxing the product because it gets shipped to you fully assembled. The Monoprice Mini Delta V2 3D Printer has a touchscreen panel with large icons for easy navigation, and it’s easy and quick to get the hang of things. Starting your print is simple and fast because of the printer’s advanced auto leveling system. The printer won’t make too much noise because of its quieter driver motors. Users won’t have to use cables to print from their devices because the printer can connect using Wi-Fi. The PoloPrint Pro app is available for Android and iOS users. Once you’re not a beginner anymore and want to play around with your printer, you are free to tinker with the printer since it’s open-source friendly. You can use it with Cura and various open-source 3D printing slicing software packages.
- Price $227.29
- LCD screen 4.3″
- Advanced sensors N/A
- Max travel speed 0.4mm
- Max nozzle temperature +356 ~ +500°F (+180 ~ +260°C)