Are you looking for a 3d printer under $300? It seems like every other day someone asks this question in a forum or facebook group.
Obviously looking for a cheap 3d printer has its challenges, as the best budget 3d printer will likely be a 3d printer kit because to have a ready-made but affordable 3d printer means a lot of compromises.
Never fear, however. Whether you are looking to build a DIY 3d printer kit, or are looking for pre-built, there are good options to choose from under that magical $300 level. Let’s take a look:
Prusa i3 clones
Sorry but you are NOT going to get a Prusa i3 mk2 even second hand for under $300. They are just too in demand and too well regarded. That said, there are some excellent 3rd party clones of the Prusa i3 that are great value for money.
- Creality Ender 3 - The 3D printing community is abuzz over the Ender 3 (you can reserve one here). This printer was developed and launched to compete head to head with Prusa i3. Our top selection on this list.
- Tevo Tarantula - This i3-alike 3d printer is the first that many people think of when considering a 3d printer under $300, and it would certainly be on most lists of affordable 3d printers. While obviously being designed for a price-point, the fans (of which there are many) of this 3d printer are vocal in their appreciation of it. Unlike most Prusa i3 designs, this printer kit is developed around aluminium extrusion, like many more expensive printers, right up to the Lulzbot Taz. The metal frame gives it nice robustness and rigidity, plus ease of upgrades, another reason for its community popularity. There are many, many community supplied upgrades and modifications, taking the out of the box build from ok to great once some effort is applied.
- Anet A8 - While this printer can usually be found much cheaper than the others on this list, it is actually one of my favourites. As I write this it is possible to purchase this DIY 3d printer kit for under $150 USD. That is, quite frankly, amazing value for the money. Just a few years ago you would have been laughed at for suggesting that 3d printer parts could be purchased for such a low price, but a whole printer is remarkable. Of course there are trade-offs, such as acrylic used in construction as opposed to metal, but for value it’s unlikely that you will beat this Prusa i3 style 3d printer.
- Wanhao Di3 - My most used printer (I have one in an IKEA enclosure, dedicated to ABS), this printer is actually meant to retail at a higher price than $300, but since a new version with better screen was released the price has steadily dropped to the point where it is possible to purchase for $299.99! This printer is also metal framed, but went the folded metal route, so it is light but pretty sturdy. Again, there are many modifications and upgrades available, taking it from good to great.
- Monoprice Maker Select - You would have thought I was cheating, having essentially the same printer listed twice, but there really is a choice to be made between the two. Yes, the Monoprice is a rebadged Wanhao, but locations where you can purchase, the bundled items, and more importantly warranty WILL be different. 3D printers can cause all kinds of trouble, so being able to purchase locally and get live support might make all the difference to you. This printer can also be found for $299.99.
- Folgertech 2020 Prusa - I have no personal experience of this printer but in some circles it is highly regarded, and not least because it is from a small USA based company. Early kits were criticised by some for having missing pieces but it appears that is an issue that was resolved. The 2020 in the name refers to the aluminium used in the construction, giving it a light but firm frame if assembled well.
Yeah, there are probably hundreds more Prusa i3 clones you can buy if you hunt ebay and Aliexpress, but personally I would go with those listed above based on either experience gained personally or by reputation.
Other Affordable 3d Printers
The Prusa i3 design might be the most popular 3d printer blueprint, and certainly in the under $300 category, but it is not the only game in town. Let’s take a look at the other options available at this challenging price point:
- Monoprice Select Mini - The Monoprice above was a rebadged Wanhao Di3 which is already a clone of the Prusa i3. This little guy can be had for $80-$100 less. It has a cantilever style design, with one Z thread. You do lose some build area, going down around 100mm in both the width and depth, but the bed is heated. If you are looking for something small, portable, and affordable it is definitely one to consider.
- Tronxy X1 - Also a cantilever design, a little less compact, a little cheaper, slightly bigger print bed at 150mm x 150mm.
- Cetus3D - Again with the cantilever design, this guy loses some niceties but gains the largest bed of this style at 180x180. That bed is not heated, however, unlike the Monoprice.
- Delta Mini Kossel - The first of our two deltas, the Kossel is pretty much the standard in delta designs, as the Prusa i3 is in cartesian. The mini, as the name suggests, is the compact (and cheaper version). By getting the smaller version you will save a few dollars, but for just a little more you can get one with a much bigger build area.
- Anycubic Kossel Delta - Which leads us to the last on our list, the big boy delta. These guys have up to 300mm height available, so if you tend toward tall prints then do consider paying that little bit more. Deltas are not to everyone’s taste for sure, and they can take some dialling in, but the advocates for these style printers are so in love with them, and the speed you can achieve, you should at least consider it.
So there you have it, ten choices to consider when looking for a 3d printer under $300. You need to choose kit versus pre-built, and there is a choice of three different styles, the traditional cartesian Prusa i3 printer, the cantilever type, and lastly the delta.
I hope this list has helped you decide. Whichever you go for, please share, and come back for more 3d printing tips and reviews.