Best Variety of Materials
- Original Prusa i3 MK3S+
Best Resin Printer
- Phrozen Sonic Mighty 4K
Best Build Volume
- Anycubic Mega X
3D printers are great tools if you’re a creative maker type that wants to print your own things. There are a huge range of options though, from materials that you want to print with to the resolution of the result and the printable volume. There are budget options available for just a few hundred dollars, top-of-the-line consumer models that can cost thousands, and of course professional-quality ones that can cost a lot more than that.
If you’re just getting into 3D printing, however, you probably, don’t want to drop a huge amount of money on the best printer money can buy, just to discover that you don’t really enjoy it. Budget options are great starting points for newcomers to 3D printing and are generally more than suitable for most people’s needs.
Tip: If you find yourself in a position where you want one thing printed but your printer can’t handle it because it’s too small, it can’t use the right material, or because you just can’t afford a printer, you could also look into a 3D-printing-on-demand service. These make custom prints for you, they’ll be more expensive than making it with your own 3D printer, but you won’t have to invest in the hardware cost of the 3D printer upfront.
To help you pick a good budget option we’ve drawn up our list of recommendations for the best budget 3D printers in 2021.
- Entirely open source
- Can heat up to 300°C
- Upgrade kit can add more features
- 250x210x210mm build volume
- SD card and USB Type-B
The Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ is a Fused Deposition Modelling style 3d printer with a printable volume of 250x210x210mm. The print head can heat up to 300°C and can handle a range of material up to nylon and polycarbonate. Firmware updates are regularly released for this printer which resolve any discovered bugs and also occasionally add new features. The included software is solid but not required as you can use third party software if you prefer.
The MK3S+ is available as both a kit and as a pre-assembled form, although the assembled version costs $300 more than the already pricy $900 kit. There are also upgrade kits for the MK3S+ if you have the previous version. Unfortunately, when using the SD card reader to transfer print files, the interface can get really slow. You should also be careful when mounting the print plate as the magnetic attachment system is quite strong and can result in trapped fingers.
- Included camera can stream to the cloud
- Enclosed build space is safer for kids
- Comes fully assembled and ready to use
- 150x150x150mm build volume
- USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet
The Monoprice MP Voxel is a small cube shaped 3D printer as the name suggests. It comes full assembled and ready to use and includes a spare build plate, so you can take one print out and start the next one straight away. The fully enclosed build area is ideal for environments where kids could try to touch the hot internals can also helps to stabilise ambient temperatures for thermally sensitive printing materials.
The 150x150x150mm build volume is pretty small, but this shouldn’t be a problem for new comers to 3D printing. The required software is specifically designed to be easy to use for beginners but it does lack some advanced features that could frustrate more experienced users. The included lights in the build area make it easy to see your progress, as does the cloud connected camera. Unfortunately, it’s not clear which exact materials work with the Voxel as Monoprice don’t specify the maximum temperature of the print head.
- 3-inch monochrome 4K (3840x2400px) LCD
- Included cover
- Up to 80mm/h
- MLSA (Resin)
- 200x125x220mm build volume
The Phrozen Sonic Mighty 4K is essentially a supersized of the Mini 4K. It features a 9.3-inch (200x125mm) 4K (3840x2400px) monochrome LCD screen that allows for fast printing in a big printing area. The use of a monochrome screen increases the print speed and the longevity of the screen over previous colour models. The included cover is a nice touch as it helps to contain the particularly nasty resin smell.
To help you handle completed prints, given that resin is toxin and requires PPE to safely handle, the print plate includes a set of handles. Unfortunately, said handles also somewhat restrict access to the levelling screw, which isn’t so great. As a cost saving measure the only method of connecting and transferring prints is via USB, the control touch screen is also a little small given that it’s still the same size as the one on the Mini 4K.
- Can heat up to 250°C
- Porous glass print plate
- Large print volume
- 300x300x305mm build volume
- SD card and USB
The Anycubic Mega X is a super-sized version of the Mega S which was itself a larger version of the Mega. Tech wise it’s pretty similar, which means it’s a little out of date, but also relatively cheap. The glass print bed has a porous micro-structure the helps prints stick to it when printing and come off easily afterwards. It also heats up pretty quickly, but only to a maximum of 90°C which is just a little too low and runs the risk of temperature sensitive ABS prints warping.
The print head itself heats up to 250°C, allowing for the use of filaments up to PETG, although flexibles should generally be avoided as they can get caught in the Bowden extruder. The print plate is easy to level, thanks to the well sized adjustment knobs. Unfortunately, the printer runs very loud, at over 70dB so you might want some distance or ear protection while it’s running.
- Can heat up to 255°C
- Textured glass print bed
- Silicone cover protects the print head
- 220x220x250mm build volume
The Creality Ender 3 V2 is the third version of the Ender 3 and features the same 220x220x250 build volume as it’s predecessors. The new textured glass print bed is designed so that prints stick to it when hot and then just pop right off when the bed cools from its 100°C max temperature.
The print head can reach a maximum of 255°C, and is protected by a silicone sleeve which prevents any loose filament from sticking to the print head and making a mess. Under the print bed is a convenient tool drawer. The control screen looks like it should be a touch screen but is actually controlled with the click-wheel. The loading position for filament is really awkward to use.
Those were our recommendations for the best budget 3D printers in 2021. Have you recently bought a budget 3D printer? What was the first thing you printed and what’s the thing you’re most looking forward to printing?