There have been a lot of changes in the world of technology recently and one of them has been the growth of 3D printing. At the same time, new can also be expensive, and this can be true when it comes to finding the right 3D printer. The good news is that there is a way for someone to find the best 3D printer for under $500 as long as they know how to look for it.
When it comes to finding the best 3D printer for under $500, there are a lot of points to know. In addition to price, it is important to consider the filaments, printing beds, build quality, and additional features. There are several steps to follow.
Now, these terms might have sounded like industry jargon; however, once you have read the entire guide, you will be able to find the right 3D printer for your needs. This might seem like a lot, but you will be able to quickly break down your needs, compare them to the current printer options on the market, and find the right 3D printer. Take a look at some of the helpful information that we have below!
An Overview of the Benefits
3D printers have gotten a tremendous amount of attention during the past few years. This is because of their potential to completely change the way people not only print documents but also produce molds, items, and manufacturing tools.
Traditionally, those who have wanted to produce items in mass quantity had to use processes such as injection molding or extrusion. The problem is that these processes are costly, time-consuming, and unwieldy if any changes had to be made. This led to the rise of 3D printers. Now, a computer file can be used to produce a 3D object, layer by layer.
With so many industries embracing the power of 3D printers, it should come as no surprise that numerous industries, including manufacturing, are turning to 3D printing as a way to cut costs and improve the efficiency of their production processes.
With this in mind, there are several benefits of 3D printers that everyone should note. These include:
- Speed: This is one of the biggest advantages of 3D printers. This comes from rapid prototyping. This is the ability to manufacture, test, and mass-produce a customized part as quickly as possible. This is what truly sets 3D printing apart from the more traditional options on the market.
- Cost: Anyone who has to do small production runs, including prototyping, must go with 3D printing because it is far more cost-effective. Traditional methods require a large number of expensive machines, which drives up labor costs. With a 3D printer, only one or two machines are required. This includes fewer people, helping to drive down costs.
- Flexibility: There is nothing that is more flexible than 3D printing. If something has to be changed at the last minute, this is as easy as editing the computer software. There is no way for traditional methods to replicate this type of flexibility. Even those with limited CAD (computer-animated drawing) experience can use a 3D printer with relative ease.
These are just a few of the many benefits of 3D printers. Sadly, new technology can be expensive. While it is true that there are plenty of expensive 3D printers on the market, there are ways to find the best one to meet your needs at the best price possible. This might even include a 3D printer for under $500.
How To Find the Best 3D Printer at the Best Price?
Now, for those who are looking for a 3D printer, they might have heard that this is an expensive venture. The good news is that this is not always the case. There are plenty of budget 3D printers on the market and you do not necessarily have to sacrifice quality at the altar of price; however, in order to make the right decisions for your needs, there are several factors that you need to consider when you are trying to figure out the best 3D printer for your needs. Some of the factors that you need to consider include:
What Are You Planning on Printing?
The first factor that you need to consider when you are looking for the best 3D printer is what you are planning on printing. Now, it might be easy for you to be overwhelmed by a fancy 3D printer that has all of the latest features on the market; however, you might not need this level of detail.
For example, if you want to produce intricate works of art, then you need to find a 3D printer that will produce results with a high level of detail. On the other hand, if you are planning on making prototype parts or a case for a smartphone, then you can afford to go with a fused deposition modeling (FDM) printer, which is usually cheaper. Before you get your heart set on a fancy 3D printer, make sure that you actually need everything the printer provides.
The Volume of the Build
When you are looking for the best 3D printer, there are a handful of parameters that you will want to keep in mind. This is particularly true if you are looking for the best 3D printer that is under $500. One of the most important is the build volume. The build volume is important because this will dictate the largest item that your 3D printer can produce.
Even the top 3D printers that qualify as “budget” printers are rarely going to exceed 300 x 300 x 300 mm, which is not that large; however, there are a few exceptions for under $500. If you have to produce something that is larger than this, then you might want to consider looking at other options. Try to measure what you need to produce before you start looking for 3D printers. Then, consider the build volume.
The Printing Speed and Resolution
Once you have the build volume in mind, you need to think about both the resolution and the speed of the 3D printer. These are two separate parameters that tend to go hand in hand. The resolution refers to the height of each layer. The finer the resolution, the better the detail; however, each layer will also be smaller.
On the other hand, if each layer is going to be smaller, this could end up leading to a slower printer. If you print too fast, your prints might start to fail, which could be an expensive mistake. You want to find the printer with the highest print speed and greatest resolution possible; however, this could also drive up the price.
Added Features of a 3D Printer
One of the factors that has always made people a bit wary of investing in a 3D printer is the learning curve. Hardware and software advancements over the years have made it hard for people to keep up and you might feel this way about 3D printers; however, there are a few added features that you might need.
Some of the most important added features include heated beds, filament run-out detection, manual controls, and a memory card slot. Some printers might also have WiFi or a color touchscreen; however, these are usually unusual for budget 3D printers. Decide which features you truly need and which you can live without.
The Compatibility of the Materials
These are plenty of outstanding 3D printers for less than $500; however, they are going to have a few drawbacks. One of the biggest problems that you might encounter is material support. Most 3D printers that fall in this price range can print with PLA or ABS, aside from some of the cheap options; however, if you have exotic components, you might be disappointed.
For example, if you want to print using carbon fiber or other composites, the printer head and build plate will need to heat up to a certain degree. This could require a special nozzle or extruder. This qualifies as an upgrade and it might not be cheap.
The Ability to Upgrade
If you need to upgrade your printer, then you need to find a model that can tolerate this. Most 3D printers are able to be upgraded in some way. This could include official parts of even third-party accessories. An extra $100 can go a long way.
On the other hand, not every 3D printer can be upgraded. Therefore, before you decide to make an investment, you need to pay close attention to how the machine is built, whether the manufacturer has extra parts, and how easy it is to upgrade the machine. The overall quality of the frame might put a damper on any plans to upgrade the printer. Be sure to consider this before you make a decision.
Support from the Community
Finally, one of the most important factors that people tend to overlook is the support in the community. 3D printers are still relatively new appliances and you are going to have questions eventually. When this happens, you want to have reliable experts you can turn to for help.
Before you buy a printer, at least make sure the 3D printer has an official website where you can go for help. Sometimes, there are actual live chat or customer service representatives who can help you on the spot. If not, check to see if there are sites and forums dedicated to specific 3D printers who can help you when you need it. Customer service is an important part of finding the right 3D printer.
A Review of the Top 3D Printers for Under $500
Now that you have an idea of what to look for in a 3D printer, it is time to review some of the top models that you can find for under $500. Remember that the best model for one person might not be the best option for someone else. Be sure to consider what the printer can do and match this with your needs. This will help you make the best decision.
The Qidi Tech X-Smart
[ I note this is unavailable in some areas so the QIDI X-Maker is a comparable product.]
The Qidi Tech X-Smart is one of the most popular 3D printers for under $500. This is an interesting option for anyone who wants a small machine that can handle easy jobs at high speeds. It has been built with an aluminum frame that ensures it is stable along with a brand new extruder that ensures prints are cool regardless of whether you are using PLA or ABS. In addition, there is a removable metal print plate, WiFi connectivity features, and a 3.5-inch touch screen. As an added bonus, it comes with a 6-month warranty along with great customer service.
- Build Volume: 165 x 145 x 150 mm
- Price: $399
The Creality Ender 5
The Creality Ender 5 (sometimes cheaper here) is another popular option for a budget 3D printer. This brand has produced a number of affordable 3D printers and this is their most popular so far. This is a precision 3D printer that has a heated bed fixed to the Z-axis. This, combined with the straightforward metal frame design, means that it can be upgraded easily, if desired. This has a high print speed that can reach 180 mm/s. The Y-axis also has a dual shaft that makes it unique among budget 3D printers. While there isn’t automatic bed leveling, it does have a magnetic bed. These are some of the reasons why the Creality Ender 5 is a significant upgrade when compared to the Ender 3.
- Build Volume: 220 x 220 x 300 mm
- Price: $349
The Creality CR-10 mini
Another low-cost, efficient, durable 3D printer is the Creality CR-10 mini (also occasionally cheaper here) . Another Creality choice, this is ideal for those who are just looking to get their feet wet in the world of 3D printing. It is known for being easy to use along with a larger build volume than most of the printers at this price point. It also comes with an auto-resume feature, a memory card slot, and a heated bed. It can handle PLA with aplomb and shares numerous features with the full-size CR10.
- Build Volume: 300 x 220 x 300 mm
- Price: $305
The TEVO Tornado
Anyone who is looking for a budget 3D printer that has a large build volume should look no further than the TEVO Tornado (available here as well for cheaper) . This is a large, aluminum 3D printer that has plenty of build space. The TEVO Tornado has also been built using an all-metal E3D hot frame, allowing this printer to reach higher temperatures. This means that it can print faster than many of its competitors. Another added benefit is that this printer can handle PLA, ABS, and even carbon fiber, another added benefit. Finally, there is a Titan extruder, along with an AC-powered heatbed, make the TEVO Tornado a user-friendly 3D printer for under $500.
- Build Volume: 300 x 300 x 400 mm
- Price: $339
The Creality CR-10
The Creality CR-10 (or also available occasionally on amazon here) and the TEVO Tornado are direct competitors with each other. The Creality CR-10 is a solid printer that has been designed to b both durable and sturdy. It has an outstanding aluminum extrusion frame along with V-slot wheels. This printer has a large build area and gets the job done quietly. The assembly process is easy and it even has a Bowden extruder. The downside is that this printer is limited to PLA due to its low maximum temperature; however, it does reach a top print speed of 200 mm/s, which will rival anything else on this list. These are some of the biggest reasons why the Creality CR-10 is a popular 3D printer.
- Build Volume: 300 x 300 x 400 mm
- Price: $399
These are a few of the top 3D printers available for under $500. Think carefully about which of these will work best for your needs. Take a look at some additional articles we have on filament and the different types to know which one will best suit your needs.