The immense growth in technology and innovation has led to many incredible inventions, one of them being 3D printers.
2021 is the year in which you even think of getting affordable 3D printers for your homes and office. Their capability to give three-dimensional printouts help yield exact prototypes of the products and model parts. You also get the ease of printing phone cases, stickers and even toys.
Today, thousands of different 3D printer models are available on the market. But most people are concerned that which 3D printer should they buy?
In order to answer this question, we have written this 3D printer buying guide. In this guide, we’ve made it simple for you to find a good 3D printer from the most popular brands of 3D printing.
This user experience based guide deals with print quality, build quality, reliability, ease of use, print failure rate, customer service, community, running cost, software, and value. Before start purchasing, one should think about what and how often you want to 3D print. Here’s your best guide in a nutshell:
Best Cheap 3D Printers Priced Under $200, $500 & $1000
Here, we have got you the best 3D printers of all time. These are cheap, budget-friendly and you can easily buy them from online stores.
1. Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer
Available on Amazon at the price of $236.00, it is one of the best 3D printers. Weighing 8.6 kgs, it consumes 350 Watt power. Especially recommended for office and home use, it is compatible for use with PCs. You can connect it using USB cables or micro SD cards.
The surface plate of this 3D printer is removable. It helps with the easy handling and cooling of the printer after the printing process. The 3D printer comes with UL certification; this avoids sudden power surges, excessive power consumption and temperature fluctuations.
The memory storage capacity of the 3D printer helps you resume printing after there is a sudden power cut. The Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D printer is easy to set up and assemble.
Buying this printer, you are entitled to 24 hours technical assistance from the Creality team and lifetime professional service. It is an excellent choice for students doing majors in Mechanical and Electrical subjects.
2. ELEGOO Mars 2 Mono MSLA 3D Printer UV Photocuring LCD Resin 3D Printer
Priced at $235.99, it has a 6.08 inches LCD screen for displaying information. Elegoo mars two is easy to maintain and prints quickly. It has a very high resolution of 2k. The time consumed to clean resin is 2 seconds to increase the printing quality and speed.
The printer claims to have a stable and durable performance and long life, saving cost and time. With the LCD screen, you get the power to ensure accurate printing. The aluminium body of the printer makes it sturdy and durable. It has a solid plate and gives congruous printing.
This printer is suitable for global use, as it provides access to 22 international languages like Dutch, Korean, Russian, German and many others. It has a warranty period of about one year on the whole printer and six months warranty on the LCD screen.
3. FlashForge Creator Pro2 3D Printer
You can buy this 3D printer on Amazon for $649.00. It is compatible with Acrylic, polyvinyl alcohol, polythene, and a few more; it is effortless to assemble, set up, and start. The build volume of this 3D printer is 200 x 148 x 150 mm.
The different modes provided by this printer, like mirror mode, duplicate mode, two-colour printing mode, enables quick and consistent printing. There is a design scrapper to provide clean finish models. It also helps with the increased lifespan and functioning of the printer.
The printer comes with 24 hours technical assistance and a year warranty.
4. ANYCUBIC Photon Mono X Resin 3D Printer
Available at $559.99 on Amazon, it is one of the best 3D printers in the market. Offering compatible printing with resin, it has a 4.9 inches monochrome LCD screen. With a resolution of 3840 x 2400, it gives precise 3D models. It is three times faster than other 3D printers, with a 60 mm/ hr printing speed.
It has an enormous printing volume of 190 x 120 x 245 mm. The printer allows you to print multiple models at the same time to save time and resources. It is user friendly and is easy to assemble and set up by beginners. Using UV light source technology gives perfect print results.
The UL certifications ensure it is safe to be used and has lesser power fluctuations. If you are dissatisfied with the product, you can return it within a month for free.
5. R QIDI TECHNOLOGY Large Size Intelligent Industrial Grade 3D Printer
With a compact and clean design, it has two different extruders. One of the extruders is suitable for filaments such as TPU, PLA etc. It has a maximum temperature of 240 degrees celsius. The other extruder has a very high temperature. It is suitable for printing with nylon as well as carbon fibres.
Built with sturdy plastic, it has industry standards. The brand provides 24 hours assistance from the technical team. It weighs 6.17 pounds and has a print volume of 300 x 250 x 300 mm. There is a 5 inches touchscreen. It has a removable plate helping in convenient cleaning and removal.
There is a warranty of one year and 24 hours support and assistance from the company’s technical team.
What to look for when buying a 3d printer
- Printing speed is crucial, so it’s recommended to look at the printing speed. Some 3D printing projects take hours because complex models with lots of edges can result in slow prints. So if you want quick printing, look for a top speed of at least 20 millimeters per second.
- Some printers come as kits that need assembling. Although some machines have a lot of parts, only a person with basic mechanical knowledge can easily put them together. So you can go with a fully assembled 3D printer.
- Most models have single extruders for the filaments, which can only print one material or one color at a time. When purchasing your printer, consider the filament widths which are available in two widths: 1.75 millimeters and 3 millimeters.
- For a decent-sized 3D printer, one should look for a build area of at least 5 x 5 x 5 inches and 13 x 13 x 13 cm. Also, consider the resolutions of 3D printers when purchasing your printer
3D Printing Techniques
There are various types of 3D printers and printing processes available, similar to that of the 2D printers we’re so familiar with.
Nowadays, there are nine major 3D printing technologies.
- Stereolithography (SLA)
- Digital Light Processing (DLP)
- Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
- Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
- Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)
- Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)
- Binder Jetting (BJ)
- Material Jetting (MJ)
As you probably want to buy an economical 3D printer, there are just two consumer 3D printer types which are relevant and most popular: FDM and SLA. Let’s have a look-
FDM 3D Printer
FDM is the most popular 3D printing technique used in desktop 3D printing. A thermoplastic filament is heated and extruded through the nozzle and onto the base in X and Y coordinates, while the building board diminishes the object layer by layer in the Z direction.
FDM printers are the least expensive machines for product development and rapid prototyping in small business and education sectors. These type of printers are capable of fabricating robust parts reliably and quickly. They use the quality of interesting materials.
If you want to buy an FDM 3D printer, you can decide from a variety of brands, there are many companies to choose from and prices vary from $300 to $5000.
SLA 3D Printer
Stereolithography (SLA) is an additive manufacturing method that relates to the Vat Photopolymerization. It works by exposing a coating of photosensitive liquid resin to a UV-laser beam so that the resin hardens and converts solid. In SLA, the laser has swept a layer of resin in the desired pattern.
After that, it begins to harden and the model-building platform in the liquid tank of the printer steps down the thickness of a single layer, and the laser starts to form the next layer. Every layer is built on top of the preceding one.
Like the FDM 3D printer technology, The objects with projections of 3D printed with this type of printer will require support structures similar to FDM 3D printer technology. And the object must be rinsed with a solvent after printing has completed. Most of the times it’s also baked in a UV oven to finish processing. SLA creates smooth surfaced objects with extreme details.
Furthermore, the excellent finishes are achieved when the designer takes advantage of the benefits and limitations of the manufacturing process. It has several common characteristics with Direct Light Processing (DLP), another Vat Photopolymerization 3D printing technology.
Moreover, it is widely popular in industries like jewelry and cosmetic dentistry for creating castable patterns. The cost of an SLA 3D printer is between $3000 and $10,000.
Categories of 3D Printing
We can see the market roughly split into the four most common categories of 3D printing. Here we’re explaining the most popular models based on different categories.
In our Prosumer, printers come with more professionals looks. These have an exceptional build quality that can produce high-quality parts, reliably. 3D printers in this category are best suited for professional designers and small businesses.
These printers are for those users looking for robust machines that can print nonstop with minimal print failure. Workhorse printers manufactured with reliability and are open to slight modifications and tinkering.
Plug ‘n’ Play:
In this category, printers are capable of printing straight out of the box with minimal setup. These printers come with the easiest to use and good printing quality.
SLS is one of the most used industrial 3D printing technologies, has been chosen as the final category. Selective Laser Sintering makes use of a laser to blend layers of powdered material together into finished objects.
So that’s all in this article, hopefully, it was helpful for you.