Technology

The Finest 3D Printers Underneath $ 500

The 3D printing market has changed a lot in recent years. In a decade, the barrier to entry has dropped from well over several thousand dollars to under 200 dollars. However, not all entry-level and mid-range printers are created equal. We have some suggestions for potential buyers and other information about alternatives not included in this list.

For some veterans of the 3D printing scene, this list seems like some of the most recommended printers for newbies. This is by design. Our list only considers printers with tested components from proven, reliable suppliers. That’s why we decided to do this Monoprice MP Mini v2 as our top choice – it’s reliable and easy to use. We have avoided any printer with a frame made up mostly of interlocking acrylic pieces and historically unreliable material.

The best for your money: Monoprice MP Mini v2

Benefits:

  • Reliable
  • Robust construction
  • Relatively easy to use for its price
  • Good customer support
  • Huge community

Disadvantage:

  • Small build volume
  • Limited choice of materials
  • Flexible materials cannot be implemented
  • Completely manual calibration

The Monoprice Mini v2 is a ubiquitous entry-level printer these days, and at this price point it’s not hard to see why. While the build volume is among the smallest on this list, the Mini’s stability isn’t underestimated. Equipped with a full metal frame and a sturdy base, the MP Mini is completely sturdy compared to most cheaper machines in its price range that use plastic frame components more often, which makes for a great out-of-box artist. When you come from Monoprice, the owner has access to their excellent customer service and guarantee.

The Monoprice Mini’s Community is well established. It offers a wealth of advice on simple changes that will increase the life of the machine, and on resources for spare parts and additions. It’s limited to low-deformation materials because of its low-performance heat bed, and its remote extruder means that flexible materials are quite a challenge as well. However, the main goal is to print with PLA (or PolyLactic Acid) which is a safe, environmentally friendly material, and in that regard it absolutely shines.

Largest construction area for the price: Creality Ender 3 Pro

Creality Ender 3 ProCreality3d

Benefits:

  • Relatively large build volume for its size
  • Quick and easy print removal
  • Great community
  • Wide range of aftermarket upgrades
  • Fairly rigid construction

Disadvantage:

  • Must be assembled
  • Bad customer support
  • Quality control not great
  • Hit and miss out-of-the-box performance

The Creality Ender 3 Pro is an upgrade to the popular Ender range of budget printers with a few changes that improve its reliability and actually qualify it for this list. With the addition of a branded AC adapter, the performance of this device has been tested and certified as stable for home use. This offers a good deal of security compared to its predecessor.

It also has some welcome stability features and a magnetic surface that can be detached from the printer for easy removal of the print. It should be noted, however, that Creality’s offerings have had quality control issues in the past such as: B. damaged parts or tolerance errors ex works, which makes difficult assembly difficult.

It is also worth noting the fact that it requires assembly. While by all means not a particularly challenging build, the Creality Ender 3 Pro does not come in a fully assembled state and must be created by the user before use is possible.

Large build area and great features: Monoprice MP Maker Pro

Monoprice MP Maker ProMonoprice

Benefits:

  • Massive build volume for the price
  • Touchscreen interface
  • Automatic calibration
  • Removable magnetic bed
  • Flexible materials more feasible

Disadvantage:

  • Requires a large dedicated space
  • Relatively small community
  • Maximum print speeds are much slower

The MP Maker Pro is of course large and feature-rich. The leveling probe attached to the printhead automatically detects the shape of the bed and makes leveling a lot easier than with typical printers. The magnetic bed allows parts to be removed easily and the touchscreen makes for a much more modern user interface.

The extrusion system uses a direct-mount motor instead of the remote extruders on the last two printers, which allows for slightly more precise plastic control out of the box. In addition, options for flexible plastics such as TPU and TPE are added.

Its main disadvantage is that due to its immense size the Monoprice MP Maker Pro is a slow printer. It is inevitable that moving a plate back and forth over a foot wide in both directions requires much slower speed and acceleration than average, which means that printing on this printer will take much longer than on other smaller machines.

Best resolution and surface quality: Anycubic Photon

Anycubic Photon Best 3D Printer 2018

Benefits:

  • Amazingly great detail
  • Easy to use
  • Low maintenance
  • No host computer is required for operation
  • Good manufacturer support

Disadvantage:

  • Toxic resin fumes and by-products.
  • Complex post-processing
  • Care should be taken in handling
  • Resin has high upfront costs

The AnyCubic Photon differs significantly from the other printers on this list. All of the other machines listed here are in the FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) family of 3D printers, which means they use molten plastic that is pushed through a heated nozzle. The photon falls under the LCD subset of the DLP (Digital Light Projection) category. It uses light projected through an LCD to selectively cure a container of photosensitive resin.

This enables the Anycubic Photon Printing in levels of detail is four to ten times higher than standard filament-based printers. However, this also has disadvantages. Most importantly, the liquid resin in its raw state is quite toxic and therefore any photo resin printer requires proper ventilation (preferably in the form of a fan duct) at all times. However, if you are looking for a printer to make jewelry, figurines, or other extremely detailed purposes, the Photon is definitely your best bet on this list.

Best for speed and reliability: Monoprice Maker Ultimate

Monoprice Maker UltimateMonoprice

Benefits:

  • Significantly faster than any other printer on this list
  • Stable calibration
  • Takes up relatively little space
  • Simple initial calibration
  • Material flexibility

Disadvantage:

  • Reduced overall build volume
  • Limited upgrade paths
  • Some comfort features are missing

Yes, this is the third monoprice printer on this list. In fairness, Monoprice only acts as an intermediary for these printers – in fact, all three devices on this device are rebrands of other machines from one of two Chinese companies. Unlike many comparable brands, Monoprice is of great importance in this item due to its quality control, customer support and use of safety related performance components.

I also have to admit a personal point of potential bias, namely that the Maker Ultimate is my personal machine of choice. At the time of this writing, my personal Maker Ultimate has been doing around 590 hours of printing, creating everything from trash cans, greeting cards, phone cases, model airplanes and most commonly other 3D printers. While there is no automatic bed leveling, calibration is carried out using a simple setting protocol. Due to its robust construction, this calibration tends to stay in place longer than most of its competitors in this price range.

additionally Monoprice Maker Ultimate has one advantage over any other printer on this list: speed. Due to its design, a so-called “QuadRap”, in which a small, square head moves on intersecting rails, it has a considerable edge over the other printers listed here, which all fall into the side bed or “bed”. Slinger ”category.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of options in this price range, but should serve as a good primer for safe, reliable equipment. Whether you’re looking for an affordable first machine to give to a curious child (or even a curious adult), an affordable option to set up a laboratory, or just looking for something new to add to your own creativity promote. It would be hard to go wrong with anything on this list.

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