Whether you are a 3d printing enthusiasts or want to print out a custom smartphone case, superhero figurine, or more complicated stuff, like hearing aids, or an artificial heart to replace the one your ex shattered, you can now get to do this for your home use and at a really affordable way. That is, with your own 3d printer of just under $500.
For 3d printing enthusiasts, 3D printing has come a long way since it was first introduced. In just the span of 10 years, these machines have dropped from being several thousand dollars to about $200- $300 or less. Yet despite this, they can produce pretty decent materials. They work by melting some materials like PLA or ABS plastic then solidifying them into a 3-dimensional object, one thin layer at a time. We also have laser 3d printers under $500 that target UV light on photosensitive resin material to solidify the object in place.
That said, with all the new best 3D printers flooding the market, choosing one can be quite daunting. And you don’t want to end up with a substandard product that won’t last a week. Luckily, we’ve done the research and came out with our top selection of the best 3d printers under $500 out there today.
Best 3D Printer Reviews in 2021
Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer
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ANYCUBIC MEGA X 3D Printer
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ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer
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3D Printer Kingroom DIY Aluminum Resume Printer
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ANYCUBIC Photon UV LCD 3D Printer
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1. Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer
Best Printer with Removable Surface Plate
The Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer under Comgrow’s Ender 3 line is incredibly popular right now. And for a good reason. Despite its low price point, this fine piece of machinery’s print quality is good enough to rival more expensive models. It has in place some of the more intuitive features to enhance your experience, such as a removable build quality surface printing plate, which protects your 3D printer all around, ensuring that the temperatures are consistent throughout.
The ender 3 pro also boasts a resume print function, whereby you can safely continue 3d printing your stuff after interruptions from pauses and power outages. And speaking of unexpected power outages, the machine comes with a UL-certified power supply, which will keep it safe from any surges. The power supply itself is powerful enough to heat the machine’s hotbed to temperatures of 110 degrees in less than five minutes. It’s no wonder it is our number one.
Why You Should Get This
- The removable build quality surface plate protects the build plate and evens out the temperature on the build surface.
- The power supply is safe enough and capable of protecting the 3D printer from possible power surges.
- It features the Ender 3 Pro function, making it possible to resume 3d printing from the last position following an unexpected power loss.
- The kit is semi-assembled, making it possible for the user to learn more about how 3D printers under $500 are constructed.
- It features an extruder design, which has been upgraded to minimize nozzle clogging and poor extraction.
2. ANYCUBIC MEGA X 3D Printer
Best High Volume 3D Printer
The ANYCUBIC MEGA X 3D Printer is now the incredible hulk of the best 3D printers under $500 on our list. Those unfamiliar with the hulk know that it is a huge beast of a man who smashes stuff. In this case, the ANYCUBIC MEGA X 3D Printer offers you one of the larger build spaces you can get from a personal 3d printer. We are talking 300*300*305mm dimensions that will allow you to print items that 90% of the other 3D printers cannot.
The best 3D printer also features its patented heat bed, coated with a microporous coating that makes sure the print holds steady during 3d printing and easily comes off afterward. It is also equipped with a Y-Axis Dual Sideways Design and a Z-axis Dual Screw Rod design, which improves the overall print precision. It has a print resume as well and is relatively easy to assemble.
Why You Should Get This
- The rigid, stable metal frame greatly reduces shaking to enhance the quality of the printed work.
- It features the dual-lead y-axis rail design and dual-screw Z-axis firmly and stably hold the heat bed in place while maintaining print precision.
- The large build surface measures 300 by 300 by 305 millimeters and can accommodate substantially large models.
- The proprietary microporous coating covers the base bed surface to prevent models from slipping off while 3d printing and sticking onto the surface afterward.
- The TFT touchscreen provides a highly responsive user-friendly interface, just like the screen on a mobile phone.
- It has a Resume Print function that makes it possible to pick up from where it had stopped printing.
3. ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer
Best LCD 3D Printer
Resin-based 3D printers are often known for the quality in the detail of the print. This is perhaps what makes the ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD best 3D Printer stand out from its group of peers. The machine uses 2560*1440, 2k, HD, masking LCD, which allows for more accurate 3d printing. The XY axis resolution on this baby is 0.00185 inches/0.047mm.
The 3D printer is also made smart and easy to use, with a 3.5-inch touch screen fully equipped with the latest version of the ELEGOO CHITUBOX system for easier off-line printing. Its build platform has a self-balancing structure that will let you begin printing just 5 minutes after assembly. The CHITBOX software it uses is cool too. Hollowing out the model before slicing can save the amount of resin used during the process. It uses 40W UV lights and Elegoo resin, so you are guaranteed better 3d printing results.
Why You Should Get This
- Features a standalone industrial design with steel balls that enables you to return to zero using only the Z-axis before you start printing.
- The integrated computer motherboard makes it possible to save designs on a USB stick and directly print it.
- It has a large 3.5-inch color touchscreen display that previews models on a USB drive or SD card, just like on a computer screen.
- It utilizes the latest version of the ELEGOO Mars software that has high printing speed and extremely user-friendly. You get results much faster than you would from open-source software.
- The sturdy structure features an aluminum fuselage and an acrylic cover, which is the reason it is durable and elegant.
4. 3D Printer Kingroom DIY Aluminum Resume Printer
The Kingroon DIY Aluminum Resume 3D Printer is simply a small, cool-looking machine. It is well built, with that sturdy feel you’d expect from the higher-end models. It also comes practically pre-assembled. The only thing you’ll have to do is attach the XZ module to its main body, put the screws in, and you’ll be good to go.
The device is compatible with most 1.75mm filaments. It has an assisted bed leveling mechanism, which makes the setup really easy. It also has an upgraded extruder in place, which reduces lousy extrusion and plugging risk. With a precision guide rail in place, it moves smoothly and noiseless and is bound to give you a long life service. In case you are wondering, the answer is yes; it does have a print resume feature.
Why You Should Get This
- It has the Resume Print feature, which enables the 3D printer to pick up where it left after a lapse of a power outage.
- The upgraded extruder cuts down the likelihood of faulty extrusion as well as plugging risk.
- A precision guide rail provides a noiseless, smooth movement while ensuring the machine serves you for longer.
- The bed allows for assisted leveling, a feature that makes it easy to set up the print bed.
5. ANYCUBIC Photon UV LCD 3D Printer
The ANYCUBIC Photon UV LCD 3D Printer is a smaller version of the ANYCUBIC MEGA X 3D Printer we saw earlier on in the list. This means that you get that same high quality and accuracy you’d expect from ANYCUBIC products, only in making tinier, detailed parts. The build of the machine itself is incredible. In fact, all the faces come with perfect satin finishes, and the bezels, curves, and chamfers are simply flawless.
The 3D printer is easy to set up, with equally easy-to-use software. It only has 4 settings that you’ll have to adjust, which are far fewer than other models like the FDM 3d printer. And you get to do this on a 2.8-inch smart touch color screen. Like other ANYCUBIC 3D printers, the unit comes packaged with a lifetime of technical customer support, so feel free to contact the manufacturers for any queries regarding operation and software.
Why You Should Get This
- The 47 micron XY resolution and 10-micron Z-axis resolution make it possible for you to print detailed 3D models.
- It features the ANYCUBIC Photon Slicer software, which provides an extraordinary user experience and fast, efficient 3d printing.
- The interactive user interface provides a monitor that can preview the model and provide the print status on demand.
- It is made from high-quality CNC parts for repeatable, consistent performance in the long-term.
Choosing the Best 3D Printers Under 500 – The Ultimate Buying Guide
If you are a newbie who’s only just dipping your toes into the world of 3D printers, you might need to familiarize yourself more with the different types of 3D printers under $500 you can get out there and the intricacies that go behind the working of these amazing machines. And since they are expensive, you also need to know how to find the best deals out there.
We shall look at some of them down below to help you make a more informed choice and get the best value for your money.
Type: What Style Of Printing Is Most Ideal?
When it comes to 3D printers under $500, their type is mainly determined by the process that goes into making the object and the material used. They include:
FDM/FFF – (FFF) Fused Filament Fabrication, sometimes known as (FDM)Fused Deposition Modeling is the technique that is most common to the lower-priced 3D printer models. Here, the process is done in 3 steps. First, a plastic filament, in the form of spools, is fed into the machine. It is then melted, extruded then finally solidified into the shape of the object.
SLA – Stereolithography 3D printers work through a process called photo-solidification. Here, a chemical reaction is used to create layers, which finally go into the solid object. The concept behind this is simple; UV lasers are focused on specific points, making the liquid resin solidify in place. SLA printing is precise; therefore, you can expect to get smoother, higher quality prints that are finely detailed.
DLP – Or Digital Light Processing in full is quite similar to the SLA. They both work using vat polymerization to form layers of the object. They use light, which is targeted and focused on the resin. The polymers, in turn, react to the light and harden in place. DLP 3D printers also deliver relatively good quality objects.
SLS – the Selective Laser Sintering 3D printers work with a vat of powder. Here, a laser is focused on a particular point in the powder. The powder, in turn, solidifies, after which the laser moves on to the next location. This is the ideal process in making more complex and detailed industrial parts.
There are many more innovative styles used in 3D printers, but the above are the most common. Most affordable models feature FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) or FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling), making pretty standard material.
Quality and Printing Speed: How Long Is The Wait?
As it is now, 3D printing may very well be among the slowest endeavors in the online platform. The process is delicate and needs time to work well. A typical 3D printer will take up about 12 hours to print a standard project, although this also depends on the type of printer and print quality you want.
You see 3D printers construct the material in layers. In this case, if the layers in question are thicker, it may result in quicker printing, but the layers will be more visible layers to the eye, thus lower 3d printing quality. It really depends on whether you are willing to trade off printing speed for print quality at the end of the day. We shall look more into the resolution below.
Volume/ Printer Size: What Size Of Objects Do You Want To Make?
Different 3D printers will have different limits on the size of 3D print they can produce. This limitation is mainly influenced by the printer’s head movement and the build area. The build area, in this case, refers to a 3-dimensional space that dictates the maximum size of objects that the particular 3D printer can make.
Most 3D printers will have a build area of between 6-9 square inches, with a maximum capacity of up to around 2 feet aside. You must check the specific dimensions of the device you are interested in. Make sure that it is large enough to print the objects you want.
Materials: Can Any Material Work On Your Printer?
Each type of 3D printer uses its own kind of material. Most of the options you’ll get under 500 bucks will use the FFF technique. Well, machines using this technique mostly rely on two kinds of filaments. That is acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and Polylactic Acid (PLA).
The two are similar, with only slight differences in their properties. For instance, ABS needs higher temperatures to melt than PLA. On the other hand, PLA is more flexible but emits fumes during melting, which may be unpleasant. It also needs a heated print bed. However, The PLA prints still look smoother.
Other printing materials you can use for FFF printing include high-impact polystyrene(HIPS), wood, bronze, copper composite filaments, Tritan polyester, nylon, polyvinyl alcohol(PVA), polyethylene terephthalate(PETT), polycarbonate, conductive PLA and AVS, plasticized copolyamide thermoplastic elastomer(PCTPE), and PC-ABS. Since each of the exotic filaments mentioned has different melt points, you can only use them in 3D printers specifically designed for them.
We also have Resin style 3D printers like DLP and SLA, which use liquid resins as the primary material for the printing process. Here, we have 3 main kinds of resin—standard resin, suitable for small desktop objects and prototypes. Secondly, tough resin is ideal for engineering applications and professional settings because it is more resistant and therefore good for high-impact use. Lastly, we have medical-grade resin, mainly used in making medical tools, like hearing aids and dental work.
Size of Filament: What Is The Perfect Size For Your Machine?
When buying a filament, you have to make sure that the filament has the right diameter to fit in your 3D printer. They come in two diameters. 1.85mm and 3mm. Most models use a smaller diameter. The filament itself is usually sold in spools of about 2.2 pounds (1 kg), and their price point can range from $20-$50 for every kilogram. Most 3D printers accept generic spools, but some only use their own company’s cartridges or spools. So you should check for this too.
Printing Resolution: For Finer, More Detailed Output
As we saw earlier, a 3D printer basically works by shaping several thin layers of molten plastic according to the instructions you coded in. The width of these layers, in this case, will be different in different 3D printer models. The layer height is what dictates the resolution of the final product. In fact, the resolution is even measured in microns 0.001mm. Lower microns mean higher resolution.
In this case, the thinner the layers, the more the layers needed to print an object, resulting in finer details. Today’s 3D printers have a resolution of about 200 microns which will produce pretty decent quality prints. You can get more high-end ones with a resolution of 100 microns, with others going as high as 20 microns.
Of course, you will have to pay more for a printer with a resolution going higher than 100 microns. Another thing about the high-resolution printers is that they take more time, sometimes taking even double the time to print one object. If you feel like quality and detail are important to you, you might find the sacrifice worth it.
What Do You Want To Print?
This is basically the first question you should ask yourself before settling on a 3D printer. It dictates the type of printer you should pick and the kind of filament you should use. We shall look at some everyday situations you can use your printer and the most appropriate filaments to use for each one.
Household objects – These include all the small items you’d find in a house or office. Since they are indoors, you don’t expect them to be exposed to moisture or light. The best option would be an FDM printer using PLA, ABS, or PETG for a filament. If you intend to use it with food, you should consider a food-safe filament, for example, PETG.
Outdoor objects – These include items like plant pots or lawn decorations. They will need to hold up against the elements; therefore, you will want to use tough material like PETG or PLA, which won’t be affected by the sun.
Artwork – it is quite possible to make art pieces with FDM printers; however, you may want to consider using a resin printer for this particular use. These kinds of printers are made for detail and intricate, which is essential for art.
Tools – Using adequate infill, you can print some tools with ABS on an FDM printer and get pretty substantial results. However, if you are looking for something more professional, the FDM printer may not quite cut it.
Professional products – You can use your printer to manufacture components for your products, too, only in this case. Resin printers would be most recommended for you to achieve finer details.
Tips When Purchasing To Get the 3D Best Printer Experience
As you research which 3d printer you think is right for you, there are a few other small features you can look into to make the experience smoother.
- Consider the quality of the features– the machine’s components’ quality will have a major influence on how long the machine will last. In this case, you will want to make sure the parts are of the very best possible quality. The printers will often have other tweaks to enhance the performance and user experience, such as heated glass beds, touch screen user interfaces, and dual filament support. They should help you decide whether the printer is worth investing in.
- Safety features – As with most other electrical appliances, printers are prone to damage, especially overheating. For this reason, you’ll find most printers with safety mechanisms to prevent this from happening. This can be in the form of a cooling feature to cool the heated bed after printing, power failure detection, or are preprogrammed to move the nozzle away from the connection with the object before the print is finished. This, in turn, helps prevent heat damage or the formation of excess filament.
- Print resuming functions – since the process of 3d printing is slow, it might not go as smoothly all the time. Some interruptions in the printing process, like power failure, may end up ruining the upcoming print hallway. For this reason, you need print resume features to ensure that your masterpieces actually get completed smoothly, despite any pauses in the process. This way, you don’t have to start over those huge, longer-lasting projects.
- Easy user interface – a high-quality interface can transform your experience from incredibly complicated to easy and simple to use. Once you design your plan on your laptop, it will save you time, so you won’t have to spend extra hours navigating the menu and settings. Nowadays, most printers are geared to have a simple, useable touchscreen interface, so it wouldn’t be too hard to find a good one.
- Heated bed – this is a common feature of most FFF printers. A heated bed comes into play when making the foundation of the object. It helps ensure that the foundation forms well, is solid enough, and sticks in place during the entire process. You can try experimenting with your bed’s temperature settings to find the perfect heat for your particular filament.
- The Adjustability of the Axis – the process of tuning your printer will often involve the loosening or tightening tension of either one of the 3 main axes. You should, therefore, check for a printer that gives you the easiest access to adjusting the belt tension. This way, you won’t have to keep removing the components themselves to make adjustments.
- Dual extruders– this feature is a little rare on low-cost printers; however, they are present in some. With dual nozzles in place, you get to print two materials at the same time. That means more objects in less time.
- Closed frame – some filament material types like ABS or Nylon are susceptible to temperature changes. For best results, you are advised to do the 3d printing indoors or away from direct sunlight. Well, a closed frame will help provide better protection from any temperature changes and room draft.
- Automatic bed leveling – how you position your machine affects how symmetrical the final object will come out. You must ensure that the bed is completely flat before starting on a print. Always having to do this manually can be tiring, which is why you should settle for a model with automatic bed leveling to do this for you.
3D printers under $500 today are more affordable and accessible than ever. Whether you are a hobbyist, designer, or engineer, you can get your very own for your home use. That said, you must have the nature of your use in mind before getting one. You want a device that will be durable enough to serve you for a longer time, with high-quality features that serve that particular purpose. With our top selection plus a little information from our guide, you won’t have to spend more than what is completely necessary.