3D printers have been around for a while but still happen to be seen as a new invention. This is because they continue to evolve with the passage of time. As new models pop-up on the market, the older versions take their leave. If you are looking to buy a quality 3D printer without spending so much, we’ve put together a roundup of the best 3D printers under $500. Our focus is on quality and not just on the relatively cheaper prices.
We’ve also prepared a brief buying guide to help you determine what 3D printer under $500 can best serve your needs. Keep reading as we go over some premium printers you should consider right now.
Buying Guide – Things To Consider When Buying A 3D Printer Under $500
Before spending around $500 to buy a 3D printer, there are some crucial factors to consider. Here’s what you need to factor in before making your decision on what product to go with –
The volume of the build
When it comes to 3D printers, you want to keep different specs in mind. What is the build volume of the machine? How large is the output of your 3D printer? This is one of the first things to consider. You hardly ever find a 3D printer that goes above 300 x 300 x 300 mm. But this doesn’t mean it is impossible to find one that has that much print volume under $500.
What you will be printing
If you focus on the sleek look of a printer, you could easily get carried away. Looking at the new features of any product will only mislead you because some of those new additions may not be necessary. Before going ahead to buy a new printing machine, you should be able to identify what you will be creating with the 3D printer.
3D printers under $500 usually give you a reduced level of detail. So, if you’re looking to print intricate artworks or figurines, you could consider going with a budget resin 3D printer. On the other hand, if all you want to do is create a smartphone customized casing or something custom for prototype parts, you can go with an FDM printer.
Printing speed & resolution
Another thing you should also consider is the 3D printer speed, as well as the resolution, after looking at the build quality. When we talk of the resolution, we are simply referring to the layer height. This is used to denote how thick the layer that an FDM printer produces actually is as it passes over the printer’s plate.
Never look down on printing speed because this is very important. You should put this into consideration if you are concerned about how fast you can produce rather than about detailing. When you print faster, it could lead to failure and you don’t want this to happen. So, regarding speed, cast your mind on buying a 3D printer with the right settings instead of focusing on speed.
Many people interested in 3D printers are always scared of the learning curve. But thanks to the evolution of these machines with respect to software and hardware over time, it’s now easier to get the perfect print when using accessories from a 3D printer under $500. The options we present to you are user-friendly but you should also know that you can simplify the printing process if you have a printing machine that comes with the right features.
The best 3D printer, if you’re on a budget, ought to have manual controls and memory card utility. But it may be a challenge to find one that comes with a color touchscreen or even Wi-Fi connectivity. It’s also possible to find 3D printers that have dual extruders, as well as enclosures, but keep in mind that this is also rare.
Compatibility of the material
There are lots of best 3D printer under $500 Reddit reviews which serves as proof that you can actually find excellent budget 3D printers. But when you compare them to higher class machines, you will find that they come with some downsides. One of the biggest drawbacks is one that most times gets many rookies disappointed. That one drawback is material support.
A lot of budget 3D printers are designed to perform PLA or ABS printing with the exception of just a few machines. But where the drawback comes in most of the time is when the more exotic composites become involved. There are certain temperatures that are necessary for the build plate and print head to attain before you can print with composite materials like carbon fiber effectively. To accomplish this, there may be a need for a special nozzle or extruder and this is why the next factor below is important.
Ability to upgrade
3D printers are very cool machines one of the things that makes them awesome is that they can be upgraded in one way or another. You could do the upgrading through third-party accessories or official kits and parts. For many newbies, it’s usually surprising what they can achieve when they spend just a few dollars to upgrade a 3D printer.
Regrettably, it is virtually impossible to upgrade all types of budget 3D printers which is why you should focus on things like:
- The frame
- The machine build
- The availability of upgrade kits from the manufacturer
Regardless of what 3D printer you’re purchasing, whether it is under $500 or a larger machine, you can never go wrong with solid customer support. But when it comes to budget 3D printers, you won’t always have access to support. Sad to say that some producers do not have a site online.
You’ll be more at an advantage if you can find a 3D printer that guarantees you excellent customer support. And this gets even better if you find one with community support as well. You can find the best 3D printer under $500 Reddit pages, websites, and forums designed for specific machines. Customer and community support happen to go along in this case.
Best 3D Printers Under $500
Monoprice MP Mini v2
The Monoprice V2 is a 3D printer that gives you arguably the best value for your money at the moment. You’ll be surprised that big things actually do come in very small packages. This printer is popular among newbies and it’s easy to see why that’s the case at its price.
It has a very small build volume when compared to a lot of other 3D printers in the budget category, but do not make the mistake of underestimating the machine. The Monoprice V2 comes with an entirely metal frame, as well as a solid base. Rest assured that you’ll be getting a very strong 3D printer when compared to other budget printers that usually sport a higher percentage of plastic frame in their build.
Monoprice also guarantees you top-notch customer service, as well as access to a product warranty. You’ll also find that it has good community support where you can get simple modification suggestions to help your printer last longer. The community also offers you resources on how to go about additions and replacements. The Monoprice V2 has a heatbed with low power, restricting it to low-warp materials. It also has a remote extruder that implies you’ll have a challenge with flexible materials. But the main objective of this printer is PLA printing.
- Huge community
- Sturdy construction
- Reliable with good customer support
- User-friendly at this price
- Fully manual calibration
- Flexible materials infeasible
- Limited materials selection
- Small build volume
Monoprice Maker Ultimate
Next on our best 3D printer under $500 2020 review is the Monoprice Maker Ultimate. When it comes to speed and reliability, you’ve got nothing to worry about with this 3D printer. This budget machine has got you covered.
To be fair, this 3D printer is simply a rebrand but it has strong quality control requirements. The printer also deals with power components that are rated to be safe and the manufacturer guarantees you great customer support. The Monoprice Maker Ultimate is one of our most recommended machines of choice in the world of budget 3D printers. Many customers speak well of the machine which has successfully created a wide range of things from model planes and phone cases to greeting cards and trash cans, and even more.
The machine does not come with automatic bed leveling but you can use a simplified adjustment protocol to accomplish calibration. Thankfully, it also comes with sturdy construction that keeps the calibration in place for long. That’s better than what you get from many other products in its category. Additionally, there is one feature where the Ultimate surpasses other 3D printers in this category and that is in the area of speed. It comes with a QuadRap design that gives it an edge. This is different from other machines that have a lateral bed.
- Material flexibility
- Simple initial calibration
- Uses only small space
- Stable calibration
- Devoid of some comfort features
- Reduced comprehensive build volume
- Limited upgrade parts
Creality Ender 3 Pro
This is one machine that has to be built by the user but you’ll get bigger benefits for your troubles. It gives you a much bigger build area when compared to many other pre-assembled printers. The Ender product collection of printers is very popular but you should see the Creality Ender 3 Pro as an upgrade. There are some changes that work to its benefit to make it more reliable than its predecessors.
The machine is certified and tested concerning its output and is very okay for home usage which should put your mind at rest. Also, there are some new stability additions along with a build surface that is magnetic and detachable from the printer. This is great if you’re looking to speed up print removal.
We won’t forget to mention that you will have to do the assembling yourself. The process is not that difficult but the machine doesn’t arrive fully assembled. We also consider it worth mentioning that there have likely been past issues with respect to quality control. Some users have complained about receiving damaged parts or coming across tolerance mistakes which can make assembly quite difficult.
- Fairly rigid construction
- So many aftermarket upgrades
- Print removal is easy and fast
- Community support
- Relatively large build volume
- You’ll have to do the assembling
- Hit and miss performance
- Not the best quality control
- Customer support isn’t the best
ANYCUBIC Photon 3D Printer
What you have here is a machine that is totally different when compared to other printers. The AnyCubic Photon 3D printer offers a better surface finish and greater detail when compared to many other FDM printers available. But its build area is not the biggest you can find. In fact, the build area is quite tiny.
Many machines are affiliated with the Fused Filament Fabrication side of things. That is to say, make use of a heated nozzle to push melted plastic. But in the case of the AnyCubic Photon, we’ve got a Digital Light Projection LCD subset. By this, we mean that this 3D printer uses an LCD projector light to get a vat of resin that is sensitive to light hardened.
That way, the Photon can print at detail levels much higher than what you get with printers that are based on standard filament. However, there are some downsides to this. One such downside is that liquid resin is usually toxic which means you will need good ventilation. This could be a fan duct that must be active every time. But we recommend the Photon highly if what you want is a printer that can perform where high detail is necessary.
- Little maintenance
- Very high detail
- Great customer support
- No need for a host computer
- High upfront costs for the resin
- Handle with extreme care
- Post-processing is quite complex
- Byproducts and resin fumes are quite toxic
Frequently asked questions
Is a 3d printer worth it?
If you are someone who doesn’t really have a desperation to use a 3D printer, then, you can overlook the product. You may also consider not buying a 3D printer if you only have occasional jobs to 3D print. That is to say, you can carry out 3D printing without actually buying a machine.
How hard is it to get into 3d printing?
Contrary to popular opinion and misconceptions, 3D printing is not as difficult as you think but the process can be complex due to how much you need to learn to acquire knowledge once you get in. To get started, simply buy one of the best 3D printers under $500 2020. Then, you can get models online to print by downloading one. Keep in mind that you will have to spend more to get the best of 3D software.
Do 3d printers come with software?
It is common for commercial providers to accompany their 3D printers with a slicing software created just for your printer. But lots of professionals go with Slic3r or Cura rather than use the software of the printer. Both of those tools are great and can perform effectively. You can also customize them to suit your preferences which is great since they are user-friendly.
How long does it take to 3d print?
You may require anywhere from half an hour to a full week or even more to get a part done via 3D printing. But this all comes down to a wide range of factors that determine the amount of time required to 3D print. You have to consider things like the geometry of the part and overall size. The 3D printing tech will also play a role.
Can you 3d print a car?
While most people find it hard to believe, 3D printed cars are actually real and represent the future of the sector. Locating such vehicles at the dealership may not be possible at this moment but you’ll also find very amazing concepts. With the help of these concepts, you’ll be able to see how 3D printing could fit into the car making industry.
This concludes our review of the best 3D printers under $500. But do not see this as an exhaustive list because there are even more printers to explore on the market. However, you can trust our list if you are looking for devices that are not only reliable but safe.
Our roundup of the best 3D printers under $500 focuses on quality and not just on the relatively cheaper prices. Our buying guide can also help you make a good decision. So, If what you want is an affordable machine that could serve as an exploratory tool for adults or kids, or you want something affordable to boost your creativity, you’ll definitely find a 3D printer on our list that matches your expectations. If you need something affordable to spend on, look through our list to find the right budget 3D printer.