Feb 26, 2016 | By Kira

3D printer price tags have been steadily dropping, opening entirely new possibilities for affordable at-home 3D printing. Machines that once cost upwards of $5,000 are now available for a fraction of that price, allowing users to 3D print cost-effective prototypes, school projects, or even useful household goods.

Even the best cheap 3D printers have their limitations, but as an entry-point to the 3D printing community, these low-cost options are invaluable to students, beginners, designers and inventors who want to explore this exciting new technology without breaking the bank.

To further encourage the adoption of desktop 3D printing technology, we’ve compiled a list of the cheapest 3D printers available today, all of which cost under $500. Even within this limited price range, we made sure to cover a variety of options, including an inexpensive resin-based 3D printer, DIY kits, and plug-and-play models, while keeping an eye out for promising new technologies and as well as reliable and functional features. Some are currently in pre-order limbo, while others have been tried, tested and true for years. What they all have in common is that they are good, affordable 3D printer options for the budget-conscious maker.

Read on for our list of the cheapest 3D printers today for under $500:

1. Peachy Printer Kit V1.0 ($100), the cheapest 3D printer

Type: photolithographic (resin-based)
Build Volume: customizable
Assembly: DIY kit
Availability: pre-order from Peachy Printer

Back in 2013, Peachy Printer launched a Kickstarter campaign to create the world’s first $100 3D printer and scanner. It may have seemed too good to be true, but a few years and $651,000 in funding later, the Peachy Printer Kit V1.0 is officially available for pre-order.

Unlike the other 3D printers on this list, the Peachy Printer is based on photolithographic technology, meaning it uses a controlled beam of light to cure liquid resin into solid, 3D objects. The final model also offers a customizable build volume (users can select different reservoirs, but the standard model will likely ship with a 150 x 150 x 230 mm tank), snap-fit assembly, and runs on Libre open source software.

Of course, shipping has already been delayed a few times, but the company says it has been using this time to keep improving various elements, such as the circuit board and safety features. Official launch dates are expected any day now, and at this point, they couldn’t come too soon.

2. Tiko 3D Printer ($179)

Type: FDM (PLA)
Build Volume: 2.27L (138.3 cubic in)
Assembly: Pre-assembled unibody frame
Availability: subscribe to pre-order from Tiko

The Tiko Unibody 3D printer is another extremely cheap upcoming 3D printer that has generated as much excitement as it has skepticism. That being said, Tiko did manage to raise nearly $3 million on Kickstarter, so consumer excitement seems to have won the day.

This delta-style 3D printer is extremely compact, sitting at just 390mm tall and weighing no more than 1.7kg (3.7lbs). It terms of features, it offers layer resolution of 50-250 microns, cloud-connectivity, an enclosed print chamber, and its triangular shape allows it to maximize print volume. Finally, to keep costs low, Tiko works with non-proprietary filament and fits with standard, 1kg spools. The Kickstarter is being regularly updated, but currently the Tiko website only offers the option to subscribe for pre-order.

3.  XYZPrinting da Vinci Mini ($269) 3D printer

Type: FDM (PLA)
Build Volume: 150 x 150 x 150 mm
Assembly: Fully assembled
Availability: Available Q3 2016 from XYZPrinting

Taiwan’s XYZPrinting already offers a range of super affordable 3D printers (one of which is coming up next), but the upcoming da Vinci Mini is their lowest-priced ever. The da Vinci Mini 3D printer is thirty percent smaller than the Junior model, but offers the same build size, WiFi/USB connectivity, and even comes in a variety of bright colors. The only catch will be if it requires proprietary 3D printing filament, a trademark of the XYZPrinting line.

Revealed at CES 2016 along with a host of other sub-$500 3D printers, the compact, FDM da Vinci Mini 3D printer has already picked up a series of prestigious awards, and with a renowned name like New Kinpo Group, owner of XYZPrinting to back it up, the $269 da Vinci Mini seems like a sure bet for educators, makers and even small businesses.

4. XYZPrinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 ($349) 3D Printer

Type: FDM (PLA)
Build Volume: 150 x 150 x 150 mm
Assembly: Fully assembled
Availability: Order online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Staples, Walmart and more

While we eagerly await the da Vinci Mini, XYZPrinting's $349 da Vinci Jr. is already sitting pretty on retailers' shelves across the country. Striking a balance between affordability, user-friendliness, and consistently good (but not great) 3D prints, the da Vinci Jr. is probably the safest starting point for those who have never touched a 3D printer before, but want to start building a.s.a.p. Designed to be as easy to use as possible while maintaining functionality, the da Vinci Jr. offers a build volume of 150 x 150 x 150, resolution of 100-400 microns, Z Offset calibration, and a fluid, press-and-release extruder for easy extruder replacement.

Sold as the #1 3D printer for homes and schools, the da Vinci Jr. is also available from a whole host of online retailers, making it the single cheapest and most accessible plug-and-play 3D printer you can get your hands on today—that is, until the next-generation da Vinci Junior 1.0 3-in-1 ($549) and da Vinci Junior 2.0 Mix ($499), which were also revealed at CES 2016, finally hit the market.

5. M3D Micro 3D Printer ($349, soon going up to $449)

Type: FDM (PLA/ABS)
Build Volume: 109 x 113 x 116 mm
Assembly: Fully assembled
Availability: Buy it from M3D

A truly successful Kickstarter story, the Micro 3D printer hit the scene in 2014, convincing 12,000 backers that it would be the “first truly consumer 3D printer.” An intuitive and good-looking machine, the M3D Micro offers auto-leveling and auto-calibration, a concealed filament compartment, and even an aerospace-grade ceramic heater system. It definitely has more options than you would expect from such a compact, budget 3D printer, but at the end of the day what matters most is that the Micro is a straightforward, consumer-friendly option that you can order today. You might want to act quickly, however, as the $349 offer will soon be ending.

6. Printrbot Play 1505 3D printer ($399)

Type: FDM (PLA)
Build Volume: 100 x 100 x 130 mm
Assembly: Fully assembled
Availability: Buy it from Printrbot

A well-known name in the budget 3D printer game, Printrbot recently came out with the Play 1505, a steel-framed entry-level 3D printer that has already picked up the “Best for Schools” award in Make: Magazine’s 2016 Buyer’s Guide. Capable of reaching resolutions as low as 50 microns, the portable Printrbot Play is a rare gem that combines plug-and-play ease of use with excellent 3D printing quality. At $400, what more could you ask for?

7. Wanhao Duplicator i3 V2 ($399) 3D Printer

Type: FDM (PLA/ABS/PVA)
Build Volume: 200 x 200 x 180 mm
Assembly: Pre-assembled reprap
Availability: Buy it from Wanhao USA

Wanhao’s Duplicator i3 V2 is an easy-to-use preassembled reprap 3D printer that was specially designed for entry-level makers. The model is based off of Josef Průša’s well-known reprap core, one of the most popular repraps in 3D printing.

The steel framed 3D printer comes with many features to accommodate eager and ready-to-print makers such as an MK10 single extruder with cooling fan, a gcode based micro-controller, and a heated build plate. In terms of software, the Wanhao Duplicator i3 V2 is compatible with Repetier, CURA, MatterControl, and Simplify. If ordered, this affordable 3D printer also comes with a roll of black PLA filament, and a one-year warranty.

8. Solidoodle Press 2.0 ($399) 3D Printer

Type: FDM (PLA/ABS)
Build Volume: 203 x 203 x 203 mm
Assembly: Fully assembled
Availability: Buy it from Solidoodle

Released in November 2015, the second generation of the well-regarded Solidoodle Press, is an affordable option for a user-friendly desktop 3D printer. With its relatively large build volume, the printer itself remains compact in size (380 x 380 x 488mm).

The Solidoodle Press 2.0 3D printer was designed by developers in Brooklyn and is compatible with Solidoodle’s own software, SoliPrint, a straightforward and easy-to-use interface that lets you intuitively 3D print your models. The compact and enclosed affordable 3D printer also comes with a heated build platform with glass bed and can print up to a resolution of 0.1 mm.

9. New Matter MOD-t ($399) 3D Printer

Type: FDM (PLA)
Build Volume: 150 x 100 x 125mm
Assembly: Assembly of parts required
Availability: Buy it from New Matter

New Matter’s MOD-t 3D printer, which was crowdsourced on Indiegogo, is an affordable 3D printer that has put its emphasis on design and simplicity, making it a desirable option for your home. With a clear cover, and a sleek white base, the MOD-t puts what you are printing on display, and adds a touch of style to any home or makerspace.

While the budget 3D printer does have a small build volume, it is capable of 3D printing good quality prints with a 0.1 to 0.4mm layer height. And, its most notable quality: the MOD-t 3D printer is WiFi enabled, so you won’t have to deal with a mess of cables and wires to connect it. If you want to keep your 3D printing costs down while you print, the New Matter MOD-t can also be used with inexpensive non-proprietary filament cartridges.

New Matter also generously donated $200,000 worth of its 3D printers and 3D printing supplies to schools across the United States.

10. Dagoma Discovery200 ($330-$440) 3D Printer

Technology: FDM (PLA)
Build Volume: 200 x 200 x 200 mm
Assembly: DIY kit or Assembled
Availability: Buy it from Dagoma

French startup Dagoma released their Discovery200 3D printer this past fall to give makers an option to purchase a fully assembled and affordable 3D printer ($440) or a DIY assembly kit for even cheaper ($330). The 3D printer itself is made of mostly 3D printed parts for which the .STL files have been made open source, which even allows makers the option to 3D print their own 3D printer.

The generally well-regarded and cheap 3D printer does not possess a hot bed but its creators have explained it shouldn’t hinder the 3D printing process as it works best with PLA materials. Though the 3D printer can be adapted to accommodate ABS, its makers want to encourage ecological 3D printing through the use of more sustainable materials such as PLA. Reviews of the sub-$500 3D printer suggest that the assembly of its parts is straightforward and easy, making The Discovery200 a prime option for a DIY and affordable desktop 3D printer.

BONUS: Mattel Thingmaker 3D printer for kids ($300)

Technology: FDM (PLA)
Build Volume: N/A
Assembly: Fully assembled
Availability: Pre-order from Amazon

Though the Mattel Thingmaker was designed specifically for children, it is still a very affordable 3D printer at just $300, and would be a great way for kids and adults to learn the basics of 3D printing together.

To make it as safe and usable as possible, this budget 3D printer for kids includes certain child-proof features, such as a retractable heated print head, and an automated door lock to keep little children’s fingers out of the print space. The Mattel Thingmaker has also been designed to be compatible with the Thingmaker Design App, created by Autodesk, which allows children to easily choose from a selection of pre-designed toys or customize and 3D print their very own designs. The affordable 3D printer for kids was recently unveiled at this year’s New York Toy Fair and can be pre-ordered through Amazon, with the official market release expected for Fall 2016.


That's it for the list of the cheapest 3D printers you can possibly find today, based on the most promising newcomers, as well as tried-and-true industry favorites. The way the market is moving, however, we're pretty sure there will be more to add (and maybe some to remove) in the very near future. While a sub-$500 3D printer certainly not the best option for everyone, for beginners or those looking to just test the waters, they are the without a doubt the best place to start. If you've used any of these or other cheap 3D printers, let us know in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

You can also check out some of our other top 3D printing roundups below:

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer

 

 

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Paul wrote at 2/29/2016 6:34:11 AM:

Hi, and dont forget the "$259 Reach 3D Printer" at kickstarter : https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2121749597/259-reach-3d-printer best Paul

Tank wrote at 2/26/2016 8:57:08 PM:

You might want to take the Solidoodle off your list. Their orders have gone unfilled for a month or two now, their support system seems completely unstaffed, and they've recently disabled ordering entirely. It seems like they're on the verge of shutting down. ...but I guess it's about par for the list, since item 1 is now almost two years late and is "hopeful" that it will ship in a mere additional 6-9 months, and item 2 is now three months late and the updates on shipping and production schedules seem to be getting more vague all the time.

drofnas@gmail.com wrote at 2/26/2016 8:28:51 PM:

What about the Fabricator Mini for $177 / $215 (depending on shipping warehouse) from HobbyKing.com?

ED wrote at 2/26/2016 8:26:33 PM:

Since you have listed several that aren't available yet the list should have included the Genesis. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1964730400/genesis-surpassing-every-expectation-but-your-budg/description

Panoreth 3D Printing wrote at 2/26/2016 8:23:47 PM:

They just stole my video that is coming out tonight on my channel: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UClEDaBoDaaAhm8mYQcfD52A Also check out my channel for 3ders news every month

Bill wrote at 2/26/2016 7:45:24 PM:

Perhaps you missed the note but Solidoodle appears to have gone under last year sometime. You can't get a Press (or any other printer) from them... and customers have been waiting for them for well over a year now.



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