Over recent years, 3D printers have become an increasingly popular piece of machinery for anybody interested in art and crafts, helping to bring extraordinary and detailed designs to life in a way that traditional methods never could.
They are also becoming popular with teenagers and children, who are turning to the amazingly realistic printing abilities in order to produce their own toys, models and figurines that can be used for a variety of games.
But, whilst there’s no doubt that 3D printers are an impressive piece of technology, they do often come with a hefty price tag. Of course, there are some cheaper models available, but are they any good?
Well, we’re here to answer that question. Below, we’ve compiled a list of five of the best 3D printers, all of which come in at under $500! They’re all really good at what they’ve been designed to do as well, meaning that you’ll get an amazing piece of equipment for an absolute bargain.
There is also a fair amount of technical jargon to try and wrap your head around when you’re shopping for a 3D printer as well, so to help combat that and to clear up any confusion we’ve also created a handy buying guide that’s packed with all the information you could ever need to know, and that will help you find the perfect 3D printer for your needs the first time around.
So carry on reading, and pretty soon you could have an amazing 3D printer that you can create a variety of amazing designs on, at a fraction of the price you’d expect to pay!
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Best 3D Printer Under $500 - Comparison Table
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Best 3D Printer Under $500 - Reviews
Built with dual Y-axis motors and a down-shift Z-axis, the Creality Ender 5 3D Printer from Comgrow is designed to deliver smooth prints and significantly reduces any failure points no matter what you’re creating.
It’s innovatively designed cubic structure helps to make the printer a lot more stable when it’s in use, resulting in higher printing accuracy and a faster printing speed.
This shape also gives you a large printing space of 220mmx220mm, and a height of 300mm, giving you the opportunity to create bigger projects.
This printer also features V-shaped wheels which add to the printer’s stability when it’s in use, help reduce the amount of printing noise, and are a lot more able to handle standard wear and tear, extending your printer’s usage time.
The heating bed is super quick to warm up, and can reach 110ºC in as little as just 5 minutes, so you’ll be able to get on with your printing much quicker.
It’s also removable, which gives you easier access to your print when it’s done, and the ‘Resume Printing Function’ means that in the case of a sudden power outage, the printer will carry on printing where it left off, saving you from having to reprogramme it all over again.
Perfect for anybody that’s new to 3D printing, the MEGA X 3D Printer from ANYCUBIC gives you the ability to produce intricate creations with ease, and is also super easy to assemble so you can get printing straight away!
Featuring a Y-axis dual sideway design and a Z-axis dual screw rod design, this printer has an improved print precision that is able to print out extremely fine details, and it’s large 300mm x 300mm printing area allows you to create even larger models, toys, jewellery and more.
The surface of the heat bed has been treated with a patented microporous coating that ensures the stability of the print whilst it’s in progress, but also allows you to easily remove the finished product without it sticking.
The easy to use touch screen also makes this printer extremely user friendly, and doesn’t overcomplicate or offer too many options.
It’s super powerful extruder is compatible with a variety of different filaments, giving you the opportunity to expand your creativity, and the filament sensor will automatically pause printing when the filament runs out, picking up exactly where it left off when the new filament has been loaded in.
If you’d like to create toys, figurines and models that are much larger than a standard 3D printer might be able to cope with, then the CR-10 3D Printer from Creality could be the answer to all of your creative dreams.
Featuring an extra large build platform measuring 12”x12” square, and a height of 15.5”, this 3D printer gives you the opportunity to not only create bigger models, but also features a glass bed ensures a 100% flat surface for any size of print.
A glass bed also removes the ‘metal on metal’ rods, and completely cuts out noise.
Constructed using a high quality aluminum frame for extra sturdiness and durability, this 3D printer uses POM thermoplastic ‘Triangle-Slot’ wheels, which provide amazing dimensional stability even when being used for extended periods of time.
It also features a unique Bowden extruder design that reduces that weight on the X-axis, resulting in better performance on taller prints.
It’s microSD card slot allows you to upload your designs directly to the printer, where it will print your design with accuracy thanks to it’s large, ergonomic levelling nuts.
These nuts help to secure the hotbed to the printer’s Y-axis gantry, allowing for fine tuning and more accurate adjustments which deliver consistent and detailed results.
If you’re super keen to get on with your next printing project, you may be drawn towards the S8 Large Size 3D Printer from SUNLU not only for it’s amazing printing abilities, but also for the fact that it arrives at your door 95% ready assembled!
The large print area measuring 310mm x 310mm square, and with a height of 400mm, gives you all the room you need for creating larger models, figures or toys.
Meanwhile, the heating bed can reach a temperature of 80ºC in just two minutes, and the printing nozzle only takes around five minutes to reach it’s optimum temperature of 110ºC, which means that you’ll be able to start printing even quicker.
This printer also features 3 inductive sensors set separately on the X,Y and Z axis which, when paired with the high precision limit switches, automatically calibrates the printer and helps to ensure high speed printing whilst maintaining excellent stability throughout.
Other amazing features include a filament warning that will automatically pause your printing when you’ve run out of filament, and a power loss detection and recovery feature that ensures your printing continues from where it stopped in case of a power failure, saving you time and money against reprogramming the machine or wasting filament.
Ideal for creating figures, models, toys, jewelry and so much more, the Photon S 3D Printer from ANYCUBIC gives you the opportunity to really flex your creative muscle and produces amazing results whatever the project.
It’s smart touch screen design makes the printer extremely user friendly, and features an interactive interface that allows you to preview and monitor the progress of your print in real time. It also delivers high speed printing of 20-30mm per hour, regardless of how large or small the project is.
An XY resolution of 47 microns and Z height down to 10 microns means that this 3D printer is able to produce amazingly detailed prints, and it’s high quality CNC parts offer unrivalled performance, ensuring your printer is still giving you fantastic results for years to come.
This amazing 3D printer also includes the latest version of it’s very own slicer software, giving you the opportunity to print intricate creations with extreme precision and detail, with layers that are so fine they are almost invisible to the naked eye.
Best 3D Printer Under $500 - Buyers Guide
3D printers have a fantastic range of uses, from bringing mythological gaming character designs to life, to creating jewellery, and helping take a school artwork project to the next level.
However, as with all technology, it’s important to make sure you’re choosing the correct 3D printer for your individual needs. To help you do this, we’ve outlined some key points below to give some thought to, and that will help you purchase the right machine that can cover all of your creative bases!
One of the first things you need to think about when you’re looking to purchase a 3D printer is the size of it. Whilst it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get a huge, industrial sized machine on a budget of under $500, there are still some models that may take up more room than you first envisaged.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to always check the measurements of the 3D printer that you’re looking at before purchasing, and make sure that you’ll have enough room for it to sit safely and securely in it’s designated area.
A particularly large printer will also be hard to store when it’s not in use, so unless you’re planning on making it a featured part of a room, we’d recommend going for a model that’s easy to pack away in a cupboard when it’s not needed.
The next thing you need to consider is how much you’re planning on printing, and the frequency with which you’ll be using your 3D printer.
For example, if you’re looking to design and create fantastical models to go questing with on a game of dungeons and dragons, you might want to look for a 3D printer that will allow you to create multiple models at the same time.
Or, if you plan on using it for an art project or for design work, it would be a good idea to go for a 3D printer that can create intricate and detailed prints, rather than relying on the quantity of prints it can produce.
Another thing you might want to think about is the actual size of the design you’re looking to print out as well. You don’t want to be caught short with a half-finished project because your printer is unable to fit your design into it’s working area, so if you’re looking to create particularly large models it would be best to look for a 3D printer that has a workspace that can accommodate that.
As with all technology, 3D printers vary in design from brand to brand and, although there is some aesthetic reasoning behind this, the different designs can also provide you with different features too.
A 3D printer that is fully enclosed by an outer housing is pretty much guaranteeing your safety, as you won’t be able to access the print as it’s happening. This makes the perfect choice for children, where inquisitive fingers could lead to injury!
Other 3D printers are designed with an open frame set up next to the printing chamber. These are the best choice for anybody that is interested in seeing the inner workings of the machine as it prints, and will allow you to see every detail of your design being printed out before your eyes.
Regardless of what design you decided to go for, you should always make sure that your 3D printer has been built using strong materials and that it has been constructed with a sturdy frame. This doesn’t only offer better stability for your print, but also ensures that there is less risk of the machine being easily knocked over by accident.
Just like a standard printer needs ink to print onto paper, a 3D printer requires material in order to produce your designs. The materials used in a 3D printer are known as ‘filaments’, and the most commonly used are ABS or PLA.
When you’re purchasing a 3D printer, it’s important to note what sort of filament the machine is compatible with so that you can ensure you’re able to easily find replacement filaments.
Some printers are only compatible with certain filaments, whilst others will allow you to use multiple types, so you should also give some thought to the intricacies of your designs and decide whether using just the one type of filament is enough for your needs.
This is the part of the machine that will support your design as the printing nozzle creates it, laying down hundreds of thin layers of filament in order to build up the finished product.
When you’re looking at the printing bed, the first thing you need to do make sure of is that it is completely level. An uneven printing bed will result in a wonky print, which is obviously less than ideal for any project.
The material that the printing bed is made of can play a large role in it’s surface level, and the best choice to go for here would be glass. This is due to the fact that glass will not bend or warp as some metals can under the heat of the nozzle and the filament, and will ensure that you’re always getting an even surface each time you print.
Printing beds are also available as either heated or unheated. This choice needs to be considered mostly when you’re deciding which filament to use, as some materials work better with a heated printing bed than others.
It’s also worth looking into whether your 3D printer has an automatic levelling feature. This helps to take the guesswork out of whether or not your printing bed is totally even, and means that you don’t have to worry about fiddling around with levers and knobs to get it correct yourself.
Take some time to think about how quickly you need your 3D printer to work for you as well. If you’re absolutely desperate to bring your designs to life as quickly as possible, then a printer that works at a fast speed would be best. However, if you’re in less of a hurry or have a much more intricate design to produce, a slower machine could be the best choice.
The speed your printer works at will usually be measured in the amount of millimetres it can print out each second, and this can range anywhere between 100mm per second up to 150mm per second.
Although this doesn’t necessarily feel like a massive difference, that 50mm gap can have a significant effect on the time your printing takes, so be sure to give it some thought before you make your purchase.
Whilst the days of noisy, screeching printers are far behind us thanks to advances in technology, there is still the question of how to keep your 3D printer from creating an unnecessary amount of noise as it’s working.
Thankfully, there are some machines that have got this issue solved, and have been constructed using special components that help bring noise pollution to an absolute minimum.
So whether it’s V-shaped wheels, POM wheels or specially designed printing beds, take some time to look at what your 3D printer offers in terms of reducing noise and printing as quietly as possible in the background. Remember, 3D printing can take a long time, so the last thing you need is to have a constant, unbearable sound ringing out for hours on end.
It’s hard to come by any sort of technology these days that doesn’t require a little bit of human influence to help get it up and running, and 3D printers are no exception to this rule.
Take the time to check how much assembly the printer you’re looking at will require, as well as how easy it will be to assemble once it arrives at your door. You ideally want clear instructions that will allow you to get your machine up and running quickly without causing any headaches!
Thankfully, a lot of 3D printers come with readily assembled parts, and some are basically already built straight out of the box, so if you’re concerned or unenthusiastic about building your printer yourself, this is definitely a good thing to look out for.
The internet is full of downloadable design software that will help you create amazing models, figurines, jewellery, toys, and so much more that you can then bring to life with a 3D printer.
However, before settling on your final decision, it’s important to check what software your 3D printer is compatible with so that you can ensure you’ll be able to print out your designs.
Many 3D printers include their own software, which is a great additional bonus, but if you’ve got a preferred software that you enjoy using, look for a printer with an SD card slot. This will allow you to upload your designs to the printer without having to rely on being chained to it’s own software.
Some 3D printers come with a couple of extra features that are fantastic at not only helping create your amazing designs, but will also help to make your life a lot easier in certain circumstances.
One of these features is the ability to pause printing if there is an unexpected power outage (whether it be an accidental unplugging or a county-wide power cut), and then picking up exactly where it left off once power has been restored.
This feature prevents you from having to reprogramme your 3D printer to start the project all over again, and will save you both time and money by not wasting any filament that has already been used in the printing process.
Frequently Asked Questions
How expensive are 3D printers?
It’s not surprising that 3D printers do come with a fairly hefty price tag, after all they are a remarkable piece of technology. However, you may be surprised to learn that you can still find some really good models for under $500, which will be more than capable of creating amazing 3D prints across a variety of designs.
Are cheap 3D printers any good?
Depending on what you’re using your 3D printer for, a cheaper model may be just as capable of carrying out certain tasks that a larger, more expensive model can. However, although cheaper 3D printers are an excellent option for personal hobbying or crafting, you may want to invest in a larger model for any business needs.