Modern 3D printers are much easier to use than ever. In addition, they are much more productive and reliable than early hobbyists and even commercial models. Perhaps most importantly, they are now installed in such a way that anyone can afford it.
We’ve rounded up the 10 best 3D printers under $ 500. Each one is highly regarded by a decent number of real customers and has one or two features that set them apart from hundreds of other 3D printers on the market.
If you are not already familiar with 3D printer jargon, we strongly recommend that you read HDG Explained: How Does 3D Printing Work? before continuing! Please note that this article contains affiliate links whose sales help us create great content!
Best for large print: Creality CR-10 V2
The “biggest” problem with affordable 3D printers is that they tend to be too small. This means that if you want to print designs that are larger than a figurine, you will have to shell out a sizable wad of money for this privilege.
The Creality CR-10 V2 is at the top end of our budget for this listing and offers a very large build volume of 300x300x400mm. This V2 boasts a number of improvements over the original CR-10, not least of which include improved build materials, quieter operation and resume printing if the build must be stopped for any reason.
If you want large, quiet and reliable printing for $ 500, then there don’t seem to be many competitors for this newly enhanced large printer from Creality.
Print dual budget material: QIDI TECH X-Pro
Most 3D printers have a single material extruder, which means you can only print your design using one type of filament and one color. The X-Pro offers a $ 500 dual extruder printer that can print on a variety of materials as well as two colors at the same time.
This dual extruder system allows for truly complex 3D prints. For example, you can print a model from rigid and flexible materials. This is obviously more difficult than printing from one material, but having a printer that can print from two independent materials at this price is a big deal.
The X-Pro has several smart features. For example, a magnetic bed and side panels. It also has a decent build volume and since it is closed you should have good thermal stability during printing. If you want to tackle multi-material printing, this is the cheapest option we know of.
Fast, space-saving vertical printer: FLSUN Mini Delta 3D Printer
Most of the 3D printers on the market, especially in the budget segment, are Cartesian printers. That is, they use a triaxial printhead with XYZ coordinates in the build volume. Delta robot printers like the FLSUN Mini Delta use a different method to move the printhead to the desired location within the build volume.
The printhead is attached to three arms that move up and down on independent vertical guides. By varying the height of each arm, the head can swing freely in the assembly space.
These Delta robotic printers are faster than Cartesian printers, can print tall models that require cutting on Cartesian printers, and can print curved surfaces better. The downside is that they cannot achieve the same level of resolution and precision as the Cartesian equivalents.
The Mini Delta has a fantastic price tag, takes up little space compared to the overall build volume, and offers a stylish all-metal design. If you want the specific benefits of a delta robot design this is a good budget option.
Best Budget HD Resin Printer: LONGER Orange 30
Not long ago, resin printing was reserved for multi-million dollar engineering structures. Resin printers are now firmly established in the consumer space, and the Orange 30 is one of the best affordable printers we’ve ever seen.
The precision and finest print details that are possible with the Orange 30 are incredible. It uses a 2560 × 1440 LCD screen to mask each of the print layers, allowing for complex structures and stunning prints. It also uses a UV LED matrix for curing, ensuring an even level of UV radiation on the LCD screen.
LCD-based SLA (Stereolithography) represents a new approach to the traditional industrial rapid prototyping method that has been used for decades. It’s a smart way to leverage existing consumer technology to achieve something new. If you don’t want to create structural models and care mainly about aesthetics, this should be at the top of your list.
Best entry-level printer: FlashForge Finder
The first 3D printers that could be bought for home use weren’t meant for the average user. They needed a lot of assembly, customization, and maintenance. Over the years, we have had to create a significant proportion of 3D printers, and this is the main reason why they have not been popular for so long.
FlashForge Finder offers a simple and user-friendly interface for printing. Plus, it’s safe to use, with rounded corners and extensive use of plastic where needed. The printer is controlled by a color touch screen with a user-friendly graphical interface. It’s quiet, leveling, and Wi-Fi enabled, so you can put it wherever you go. This is an almost perfect entry-level 3D printer.
Budget Fast Resin Printer: PHROZEN Sonic Mini
The Phrozen Sonic Mini uses the same LCD curing system as the Longer Orange 30, but at a significantly lower price. The biggest trade-off is lowering the print resolution, but the Sonic Mini can still achieve fine detail better than any extrusion printer in this price range.
One very interesting feature of the Sonic Mini is its wide resin compatibility. You don’t have to use first manufacturer resin or even LCD resin. This printer will even work with DLP projector printer resins! PHROZEN estimates the life of their LCDs at 2,000 hours, so you will likely last years from this entry-level machine unless you decide to upgrade for other reasons.
Best Versatile Program for Everyone: Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Pro
Creality Ender 3 is the definition of “good enough” when it comes to 3D printers. It is an open design machine that has all of the most important functions that an extrusion cartesian printer should have.
It is an open source machine, which means that those who like to tinker and tweak can actually sneak into the machine’s software or benefit from community mods. Although partially assembled to cut costs, assembly is so easy that they recommend it as a project for kids.
Build volume is more than decent, and you get traditionally premium features like resume printing at a great price. If you’re curious about 3D printing and want a good first experience with a fundamentally rugged machine, the Ender 3 looks like what you need.
Best for small-budget hobbyists: JGMAKER Magic
This sub-$ 200 3D printer from JG Maker sits between a regular hobby printer and more serious hardware. It has an open design and decent build volume, so you can print the most useful items, not just little curiosities. Most importantly, it has a thread runout sensor and allows you to resume printing. Fantastic features for the price!
You can also print models from an SD card, which means your printer and computer don’t need to be close to each other. Wi-Fi would be nice, but having a sneakernet solution is better than forcing your car to be tied to your PC.
Adding $ 100 to your budget will translate into dramatic increases in performance, build volume, noise, and overall experience. If it’s too rich for your blood, then Magic is a great choice.
Best educational printer: Creality Cr-100 Mini 3D Printer
Available in a kid-friendly red or yellow truck design, the CR-100 Mini is designed to fit in the classroom or bedroom of any precocious young engineer. This printer does not require assembly, it has automatic bed alignment and low assembly volume. It is not a printer with which to do practical things, but it is ideal for making toy models and teaching toddlers the technology they will almost certainly have to use as adults.
It is small enough to be handled unattended, and cheap enough for schools to do bulk purchases.
Most Expensive Resin LCD Printer: QIDI TECH Shadow 5.5 S
The shadow requires little explanation. It is a high resolution machine with low build volume. It is ideal for anyone looking to create detailed shapes and other models or prototypes that are not designed to carry loads or durability.
At this price point, it is suitable for an impulse buy, but it outperforms most extruder printers at many times the price. If you want to take your Dungeons & Dragons hobby to the next level, this is the best you can get!
Replication in the real world?
While we’re not quite there yet when it comes to real-world replicators like the ones you’ve seen in Star Trek, it’s still mind-boggling that you can buy what makes up a desktop manufacturing plant from these top 3D printers. up to $ 500.
Whether you just want to play with technology or find practical use for your new 3D printer, there is no doubt that this is one of the coolest gadgets out there today.
Do you have any cool ideas as to what a 3D printer can be used for? Share them in the comments and let us know why you need a 3D printer or what you have done with it since you purchased it.