The best budget 3D printers bring the power of 3D into the home at a price hobbyists and beginners can appreciate. Some types of 3D printers are better for detail work, while others aim for speed and simplicity. How you plan to use the printer, the space you have available, and your technical skills can help you decide which type and model are right for you.
When looking for a 3D printer, you’re not just looking at the printer itself. You have to consider the support materials and 3D printing software, too. These printers can be used to manufacture parts, create one-of-a-kind gadgets or merch, or build miniatures. The best budget 3D printers fit within your available space, print with speed and precision, and (of course) fit within your budget.
— Best Overall: Original Prusa Mini
— Best SLA Printer: ELEGOO Mars 2 Pro 3D Printer
— Best for Miniatures: ANYCUBIC Photon Mono X 3D Resin Printer
— Best for Beginners: Monoprice Mini Delta v2 3D Printer
— Best Under $200: Voxelab Aquila 3D Printer
How We Picked the Best Budget 3D Printers
Budget 3D printers can expand your creativity in all kinds of directions. We made our choices based on the build volume, object quality, ease of use, and material compatibility. Of course, other factors came into play, but these were the areas we evaluated first.
Build Volume: Build volume tells you the limits of the final object’s size. Budget models have relatively small build volumes. However, we looked for models that balanced build volume with the object quality, printing, speed, and durability of the printer.
Object Quality: The quality of the objects the printer creates dictates what you can do with the printer. We looked for a mix of printers, from those that could create finely-detailed miniatures to beginner models that focus on speed and ease-of-use, sacrificing some object quality.
Ease of Use: A new 3D printer can be intimidating. We looked for models with user-friendly interfaces and software.
Material Compatibility: A wider range of compatible materials lets users shop around based on price and the project.
Best Overall: Original Prusa Mini
Why It Made The Cut: The Prusa Mini offers impressive quality, performance, and reliability at a modest price, making it the best budget 3D printer.
— Build Volume: 7 inches L x 7 inches W x 7 inches H
— Dimensions: 14.6 inches L x 13 inches W x 15 inches H
— Compatible Materials: PETG, ASA, Flex, ABS, PLA
— Professional-grade object quality
— Helpful user guide
— Excellent support resources
— Includes user-friendly software
— Difficult first calibration
— Comes with a small amount of filament
The Original Prusa Mini is an open-frame printer that comes as a budget 3D printer kit. It rivals a Creality 3D printer when comparing models that come for under $500. You have a few choices to make when you buy, like a filament sensor and the printer color.
Assembly isn’t too hard, but the initial printing does require some tweaking and adjustments. Make sure to read through and watch the provided materials before you begin. They’re very helpful and thorough.
However, once it’s set, The Prusa performs well above its pay grade. The included software, PrusaSlicer, gives users the option of using a simple, advanced, or expert interface based on your experience.
The open-frame design means you need to keep kids and pets at a safe distance. Once you get this thing buzzing, it’s awesome. It consistently produces high-quality objects. You can adjust the quality based on the level of quality you need — the less detail/quality, the faster the Prusa prints. Our only real complaint is that it only comes with a sampling of filaments.
Best SLA Printer: ELEGOO Mars 2 Pro 3D Printer
Why It Made The Cut: The Mars 2 Pro’s ability to put the finer details on your build coupled with built-in air filtration makes it the best budget SLA printer.
— Build Volume: 5.14 inches L x 3.25 inches W x 6.3 inches H
— Dimensions: 7.87 inches L x 7.87 inches W x 16.4 inches H
— Compatible Materials: UV resin
— Built-in filtration
— Quick layer curing
— High-res prints
— Fan volume
— Side-mounted resin vat
The Mars 2 Pro may have a somewhat small build volume, but it’s what the Mars 2 Pro can do in that space that put it on our list. The overall dimensions are compact enough that it’s easy to store at home. If you do want to do larger builds, you can manufacture them in pieces and put them together post printing.
The quality, precision, and detail you can produce with this printer are what stand out. The Mars 2 Pro uses the Citu Box software, which is super easy to use.
This model has built-in filtration that removes the toxic resin fumes. For safety’s sake, you’ll still want to use it in a well-ventilated area and avoid getting resin on your hands or inhaling fumes. However, that filtration adds to the overall ease of use. We also love that it arrives assembled with all of the tools you need to get started.
Our only complaints are the side-mounted resin vat and the fan volume. The resin vat slides into place from the side and if you’re not careful, the FEP sheet in the vat can stick to the display surface. The cooling fans are loud enough that you probably don’t want to be in the room while it prints.
Best for Miniatures: ANYCUBIC Photon Mono X 3D Resin Printer
Why It Made The Cut: The ANYCUBIC Photon Mono X 3D Resin Printer can connect to WiFi, prints intricate details, and a UV light source.
— Build Volume: 7.55 inches L x 4.72 inches W x 9.64 inches H
— Dimensions: 7.87 inches L x 8.66 inches W x 15.75 inches H
— Compatible Materials: 405nm UV resin
— Large 8.9-inch screen
— WiFi capable
— Compatible with Chitubox and Lychee Slicer softwares
— Detailed models and fast printing speed
— No USB drive included
— Noisy cooling fans
The ANYCUBIC Photon Mono X 3D Resin Printer offers (relatively) fast, detailed printing. Though the print volume isn’t huge, it can create highly-detailed objects that look amazing. The build of the printer hints at durability and stability that are well beyond the price tag.
The ANYCUBIC is WiFi capable, making it easier to connect to your chosen software. And software is another place it shines. It’s, of course, compatible with ANYCUBE’s software, but that software isn’t the easiest or most versatile option. Thankfully, this printer is also compatible with Chitubox and Lychee Slicer, both of which offer easier control and better printer options.
The downside is that it comes with noisy cooling fans. You probably want to let it print while you’re in another room. The other issue is that it doesn’t come with a USB drive, so you’ll have to provide one yourself.
Best for Beginners: Monoprice Mini Delta v2 3D Printer
Why It Made The Cut: Simple to set up, inexpensive, and easy to use, this model checks every box to make it the best budget 3D printer for beginners.
— Build Volume: 4.7 inches L x 4.3 inches W x 4.3 inches H
— Dimensions: 17.5 inches L x 11.8 inches W x 11 inches H
— Compatible Materials: ABS, PLA, PETG, TPU
— Easy setup and operation
— Sturdy build
— Can use many filament types
— Affordable price
— Small build volume
— Mediocre quality
— Doesn’t come with many filaments
Beginners, the Monoprice Mini Delta v2 3D Printer has everything you need to jump into 3D printing without spending a fortune or getting frustrated. It has a sturdy aluminum frame. Setup isn’t hard, nor does it take very long. This model can use several filament types, giving you more options as you learn what you like to make and what materials work best for them.
An adaptive touchscreen offers responsive control that’s fun to use. This model automatically levels, so beginners don’t have to make adjustments. That takes out some of the most frustrating parts of setup.
While it comes with a few filaments, you’ll have to buy some pretty early on. However, this model accepts filaments from many third-party vendors, so you can shop around for a good price. It also prints with nice speed.
The downsides are that you’re pretty limited in the size of your creations. The object quality isn’t the best either. However, if you’re just getting started, you can worry about quality as you build your design skills. For another option that’s great for beginners, read a full review of the Anycubic Vyper 3D Printer.
Best Under $200: Voxelab Aquila 3D Printer
Why It Made The Cut: This model’s calibration right out of the box, screen interface, and included software make it the best budget 3D printer under $200.
— Build Volume: 8.66 inches L x 8.66 inches W x 9.84 inches H
— Dimensions: 18.82 inches L x 20.28 inches W x 24.61 inches H
— Compatible Materials: ABS, PETG, PLA
— Large, easy-to-use LCD interface
— Voxelmaker software is easy to use
— Relatively large build volume
— Quiet when printing
— Noisy fans
— Requires manual leveling
— In-depth assembly
The Voxelab Aquila 3D Printer offers a large, easy-to-use LCD interface. Plus, the included Voxelmaker software is equally easy to use, with a shallow learning curve. Beginners won’t have too hard of a time getting started on their first print.
The Voxelab is also surprisingly quiet when printing. Noise levels go up drastically once the cooling fans kick in. However, you get a relatively large build volume for a printer at this price. The quality of the objects is good for the price, too.
However, all leveling is manual, and there aren’t a lot of helps to figure it out. Plus, the Voxelab has some pretty detailed assembly instructions. If you’re new to 3D printers, the assembly alone might be a little overwhelming.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Budget 3D Printer
How It’s Used
The objects you want to print make a huge difference in what qualifies as the best 3D printer. Projects like display models or decorations require impressive visual quality and a higher degree of detail that usually comes with the top resin 3D printers. However, resin tends to be softer than filament, so it’s not a great choice for manufacturing automotive or other mechanical parts. Instead, you need sturdy, durable builds that usually come from FDM printers.
What you plan to print also affects the print bed size you need. Miniatures and small objects don’t need a large print bed. However, manufacturing parts and gears do. Get started with the best 3D printing software.
Know Your Budget
It’s easy to get carried away when shopping for a 3D printer, even a budget model. The “budget” category could be considered anything under $1,000, though we’ve picked models well below that mark.
Consider whether you will use the printer enough to invest $500? Or will it be a hobby tool that warrants a $250 to $300 budget? If children are involved, consider a model that fits within your budget that’s durable and easy to use. They may even do better with a 3D pen for less than $100 before trying out a full 3D printer.
What kind of materials do you want to print with? If you’ll be making large models that you want to paint or add coatings, a filament printer offers the type of materials and durability you need. If production quality reigns supreme, resin printers offer greater detail, though the final result will be softer.
Make sure to check out the types of materials the printer can use. You may not need a model that accepts a wide range of materials. On the other hand, you might want to spend a little more on a model that accepts several materials so you can shop around for the most convenient (and cheap) materials.
Q: What is the best budget 3D printer?
The Original Prusa Mini gets our top spot for the quality of the objects it builds and the number of filaments it supports. It’s a professional-grade printer that’s under $500, and it comes with excellent support resources.
Q: How much does a budget 3D printer cost?
We looked for budget 3D printers under $500. Many of the professional 3D printers cost several thousand dollars, as can high-end home models.
Q: What is the cheapest 3D printer ever?
The cheapest 3D printer ever has to be 3D printing pens. While you could argue they’re not technically a printer, these handheld devices create freeform 3D designs. They don’t have the precision of a standalone printer, but they’re an excellent introduction to the technology.
Q: Is 3D printing worth it?
The ability to 3D print can be worth it for many people. Sometimes buying a budget 3D printer is less expensive than having a professional 3D print service do the job for you. Mechanics, designers, and builders of all kinds can use a 3D printer to manufacture parts or enhance their designs. These printers can be used to create decor, merchandise, or miniatures, depending on your interests and hobbies. A budget model is a great way to dive into 3D printing without a huge financial commitment.
Q: Is buying a 3D printer profitable?
Buying a 3D printer can be profitable, but it all depends on how you use it. For example, you could make and sell custom miniatures. However, to be profitable, you’ll have to calculate the cost of materials plus the time it takes to print, paint, and ship the miniatures to determine how profitable it is. They can also be profitable if you frequently need to manufacture parts for a business. Instead of ordering them and waiting for parts to arrive, you can make them yourself.
Q: How difficult is it to use a 3D printer?
The difficulty of a 3D printer depends on the model. Some are easy to use and come with all kinds of resources to teach how to use the machine to the fullest. Others are more finicky and require a lot of trial and error to get your designs to come out how you’ve imagined.
Q: How much does it cost to run a 3D printer per hour?
It’s very hard to estimate a cost per hour for a 3D printer. You have to factor in a number of variables, including the printer type, material cost, model complexity, and model size. It can cost anywhere from a few dollars to several thousand dollars to complete a printing job, depending on the variables involved.
The Original Prusa Mini produces professional-grade objects at a budget-friendly price. It’s also compatible with a range of filaments giving you options when it’s time for a refill. Beginners get a good start with the Monoprice Mini Delta v2 3D Printer. This printer comes pre-assembled and doesn’t require calibration. It might have a small build volume, but it can build fast.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.