Top 8 Best 3D Printers Under $500
The 3D printer is one of today’s best technological discoveries. This machine is not your ordinary printer. It is capable of bringing your idea to life. Engineers, architects, and businessman are investing in this machine as it makes their lives easier. 3D printers have become so popular that many manufacturers have began offering their own versions.
Alunar’s Prusa i3
The Prusa i3 is perfect for people who want to experience 3D printing but with a limited budget. This printer has some features that you would expect to find on the more expensive models. The Prusa i3 is one of the most affordable 3D printers on the market today.
Despite having a price tag of less than $400, this machine boasts of an 8.3”x8.3”x8.3” volume and a heated printed. These two features are usually seen on printers close to a thousand dollars. With a heated print bed on this unit, it means you can use it to print in ABS. Assembling this unit can take time but this is a good way to learn about how the machine works and understand the technology.
XYZ Printing Da Vinci 1.0
Taiwanese company XYZ Printing recently decided to enter the 3D printing industry with an inexpensive and high-quality Da Vinco 1.0. This model is the company’s very first 3D printer, and you will be impressed by its specs as you would normally find them in higher-end models. With 7.8 inches cubed of print volume, the Da Vinci 1.0 is the biggest 3D printer in this list.
This product also features a 100-micron layer resolution, an LCD display, and a semi-closed casing. However, the machine uses proprietary filament cartridge, which means it only accepts manufacturer-produced cartridges. This downside still cannot outweigh the specs that this printer can offer, especially if it only costs around $499.
HICTOP Prusa i3
The Hictop Prusa i3 is one of the best entry-level 3D printers around, selling for only under $400. This beginner-friendly printer is perfect for anyone who wants to try the new technology. It lets you print in both PLA and ABS, and even comes with a heated platform. You can also use 1.75mm or 3.0mm filament. These features alone can already convince you that this model is worth the investment. It will be difficult for you to find an affordable model with such feature at this price.
Solidoodle 2 Pro
Solidoodle is a big player in the 3D printing industry. The company has recently lowered the prices of its 3D printing models, including the Solidoodle 2 Pro. This model features a 100-micron print layer height, as well as a print build volume of 6 inches cubed. It comes with a heated aluminum built plate, while the power supply is reduced to 70W from 120W.
One downside of this model is its difficult setup process. It may take you several hours to adjust the printer and set it right before you can achieve your desired print. You will not go wrong with this model, though, as the results are still worth the tedious effort.
Buccaneer 3D Printer
Buccaneer has a shiny finish that looks appealing. It has a Plexiglas base that is see-through and covered with aluminum top. Do not be fooled by its stylish look because this printer does wireless printing. There is no more need for a USB cord for this model. Moreover, it prints in PLA and comes with an unheated table. With a print area of 5.9”x3.9”x4.75”, the Buccaneer is compatible with both Windows and OS X. It is priced affordably and does not take too much time to assemble.
PrintrBot Simple Maker Edition Kit
PrintrBot provides 3D printers in both assembled form and in kits. The Simple Maker Edition Kit has had several revisions, with a metal version released recently. This model is one of the smallest on the list. It has a build volume of four inches, which means that you cannot print large objects.
This model does have a 100-micron print resolution to ensure a highly-defined print. While this version uses PLA, other PrintrBot models use ABS. The auto-levelling probe allows for easy adjustments. PrintrBot has a forum dedicated for potential Simple customers where you can ask current users about their experiences and tips.
QU-BD One Up
The QU-BD One Up features a build area of 3.9”x3.9”x4.9”. The machine uses PLA filament and open source software. One good thing about this printer is that it supports Windows, OS X, and Linus. For a meager sum, the One Up is the cheapest 3D printer on thelist. You can choose to upgrade to ABS heated bed and printer extruder with an additional $74. Another option is to add $279, so you can upgrade to Two Up, which comes with a larger print bed.
The M3D Micro is one of the latest models that came out. You will be surprised to see how small it is, but it has features that can definitely compete in the under $500 range. It weighs barely over two pounds and has a 7.3-inch cubed frame. While its small print volume may turn you away, its tiny footprint and lightweight construction will surely work great for anyone who wants a compact-size 3D printer.
This Micro printer offers a plug-and-play option that makes it easier to use, especially for those who do not want the hassle of tinkering. With such an affordable price and compact size, this model is one of the better options in this range. It is the ideal 3D printer for people who want solid and user-friendly features without taking too much space.
If you have a tight budget but would like to experience the 3D printing technology, then one of the models mentioned above will surely catch your attention. It is ideal for beginners to invest in an entry-level printer first before going for the more expensive models. It will allow them to learn the technology better without having to break the bank. Once ready, they can always invest in a higher-end printer to accommodate their increasing desire and need for advanced features.
3D Printer Buying Guide
The 3D printer has revolutionized the printing industry and made the seemingly unconceivable possible. Using 3d printing technology, we can now use the printer to build objects from scratch. With plastic as the material, these printers can create a replica or miniature of almost any object. The objects printed are limited, however, to a certain size depending on the printer’s build area.
Printing using 3d technology is simple enough in essence. The computer captures an image of the object you want to build by utilizing the model you create with the printing software. This model is transformed into layers which the printer can then produce and build into the model, layer by layer. If you wish to buy your own 3d printer, you will need care in choosing the right product.
These are the features you need to consider:
1. Modeling software is the printer using
There are several types of printing and modeling software available for opening, converting and printing 3D images. You can download some of them from the internet or you can rely on software that’s included with the printer you purchase. Most basic printers come with only a basic software though, so if you want more advanced capabilities such as a modeling software that lets you create images, you will need to upgrade to a different program.
2. Number of extruders the printer has
The actual printing work is done by the extruder where the material is liquefied and then laid out per layer. The extruder also regulates the actual thickness and width of each layer printed. Printers usually contain only one extruder so that they are only able to print in a single hue or material. More advanced but also costlier printers have more than one extruder to print in various colors and using more than one material.
3. Printer’s vertical resolution or thickness of layer it creates
The vertical or Z resolution refers to the thickness or width of each layer generated by the printer. These thicker layers or lower resolution indicate higher printing speed but more defined layers in the model which don’t look very smooth. Thinner layers or higher resolution produce better-looking, smoother models but consequently take more time to print. You can also get more control over the layer thickness if you select a printer with more advanced features.
4. Printer’s horizontal resolution or printing details
The horizontal or XY resolution indicates the finest detail the printer is capable of in each layer. Lower horizontal resolution specifies greater detail since this means that the printer can accomplish even tiny movements to bring more features.
5. Speed of extruder and printer
Printer speed ultimately varies depending on a number of factors. Aside from the capability of the extruder itself, the print speed will depend on the material used and the vertical resolution of the printer, as well as the design of the model. The more complex the model, with multiple edges and curves, the longer it will take to finish printing. A print speed of 20 millimeters per second is already acceptable but anything over that is ideal.
6. Material used by the printer
A variety of materials can be used for the printer to build upon, such as resin, nylon, and a substance composed mostly of wood. The most common material though which most printers use is plastic filament. These filaments are either PLA (polylactic acid) or ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and they are available in spools of 1.75 millimeters or 3 millimeters. You will need to take note of the filament width of your specific printer so you can buy the exact one when it needs replacing.
7. Printer’s maximum build or print area
Larger build volumes or areas mean you can print larger objects but the print speed is also affected by the size of the model to be built. The 3d printers used for large businesses are capable of printing bigger objects while desktop printers used in homes and small businesses are limited to smaller sizes. The measurement for the build area is often expressed in width, depth and height and in inches or centimeters.
All things taken into account, your purpose for the printer will likely be the deciding factor in your purchase. Although the cost of the printer is also important, if you keep these features in mind, you’ll be able to choose the best 3d printer for your needs.