Top 5 3D Printers Under $300

Top 5 3D printers under $300 USD
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There’s an age old question in 3D printing: What’s the best 3D Printer I can get for under $300 USD? It’s a question that makes even the most seasoned 3D printing expert shake with frustration. The worst part is that everyone has their own opinions on what 3D printers under $300 should be. Should it be a kit or complete? PLA only or multi-material capable? A Kickstarter project?

I’ve compiled a list of 5 options when it comes to buying a sub $300 printer. Now keep in mind that this list will likely be obsolete in a couple of years as 3D printing gets even cheaper and more reliable.

5. Fabrikator Mini II

HobbyKing Turnigy Fabrikator Mini 2 3D Printer under $300 USD

Turnigy Fabrikator Mini II – $200.49 (Source: HobbyKing.com)

Specifications

Build Volume: 100 x 100 x 100 mm
Foot Print: 172 x 183 mm
Max Bed Temp: 60°C
Max Extruder Temp: 250°C
SD/Micro SD Support: Yes
Min Layer Height: 100 micron

You’re forgiven if you’ve never heard of the Fabrikator Mini, or Hobby King for that matter. You’re probably wondering what this V2 nonsense is all about as well. So let’s start with the origins of this printer: The TinyBoy, a small, open source 3D printer framed entirely with acrylic. The original TinyBoy had a footprint of approx 6” x 6” (or 150 mm) and a build volume of 3.15” x 3.15” x 3.15” (or 80 mm) with an unheated bed. The name fits. This design was picked up by HobbyKing and marketed as the Fabrikator Mini. It gained some popularity as it could be had at just under $200 during sales.

Now the V2 moniker makes sense. You’ll notice that the frame is made out of aluminum rather than acrylic. A nice step up. The build plate is a nice 4” x 4” (100 mm) and the footprint of the Fabrikator Mini in increased to a still minuscule 6.75” x 7.2” (172 mm x 183 mm) making this the perfect printer for tight spaces. The best part is that it now comes with a heated bed that can reach 60°C so prints stick a lot more easily. You’re still going to run into trouble if you want to print ABS, Nylon or PETG though. The maximum printing temperature is listed as 250°C.

The Fabrikator Mini II is favorably reviewed although it doesn’t have as large of a community around it as some other printers in the same price range. What it does offer is a complete printer for extremely cheap. I know this list is for printers under $300 but this proves that there are full capable, although small, options in the $200 range as well.

Pros

  • Small size
  • Heated bed
  • Solid aluminum body
  • PEI on bed
  • Print from micro SD or USB
  • Plug & Print

Cons

  • Small build size
  • Limited bed temperature
  • Limited material options
  • Smaller user community

4. Kodama Obsidian

Kodama Obsidian 3D Printer under $300 USD

Kodama Obsidian – $99 (Source: Kickstarter.com)

Specifications

Build Volume: 120 x 120 x 120 mm
Foot Print: 270 x 290 mm
Max Bed Temp: 100°C (Upgrade)
Max Extruder Temp: 250°C
SD/Micro SD Support: Yes
Min Layer Height: 50 micron

I know I’m going to get wrung out for this one but I can’t help it. The Obsidian is a Kickstarter funded 3D printer brought to you by the same people that made the Trinus. It’s a plug and play printer that is absolutely gorgeous and the hope is that it will reach or even surpass the quality output by the Trinus through it’s optional upgrades.

The stock features of this printer are a 4.7” x 4.7” 4.7” (or 120 mm) build volume, a max printing temperature of 250°C, an advertised max print speed of 70 mm/s and a minimum layer height of 50 microns. It comes with a detachable bed and a quick release nozzle.

There is a bit of a caveat to this printer though. Along with it being a Kickstarter project (although well passed its goal) the Obsidian features a lot of upgrades and they add up quick. Do you want a screen and power outage recovery Plus model? That’ll be extra please. What about a heated bed, camera, touchscreen and remote app control on the Deluxe model? Fork it over.

With all of the upgrades it will come to $250 + shipping for Kickstarter backers that elect to go all in. While this still gets us in under our $300 limit it won’t always be this cheap. Once the campaign is over the price will go up to $199 for the base set, $249 for the Plus. Upgrading all the way to deluxe likely pushes us into the $350 range that I dare not speak of. If you do elect to back the Obsidian you’ll have to be patient. The Trinus was set to be delivered in August 2016 and shipping didn’t start until October with the final Kickstarter delivery 8 months after the promised ship date. This is well within the norm for a crowd funded project but you should always proceed with caution anyways.

Pros

  • Very cheap (on Kickstarter)
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Removable bed and nozzle
  • Plug & print
  • Great optional features

Cons

  • Small build size
  • Features are extra upgrades
  • High footprint to build plate ratio
  • Kickstarter project
  • Limited material options (before upgrade)
  • No user community yet

3. Tevo Tarantula

Tevo Tarantula 3D Printer under $300 USD

Tevo Tarantula – $198 (Source: Aliexpress)

Specifications

Build Volume: 200 x 200 x 200 mm
Foot Print: 430 x 440 mm
Max Bed Temp: 110°C
Max Extruder Temp: 260°C
SD/Micro SD Support: Yes
Min Layer Height: 50 micron

Tevo took the 3D printing world by storm in early 2016 and subsequently created one of the  strongest communities around a cheap open source 3D printer with the Tarantula. They have since gone on the larger, more expensive printers like the Black Widow and Little Monster Delta but it all started with the Tarantula.

If this printer looks familiar that’s probably because it has what’s come to be known as i3 styling. A bed that moves in the y-axis and an extruder that moves in the x and z-axis. It sets itself apart from a lot of the other i3s out there by exclusively using v-slot extrusions and Delrin rollers on all axes. The Tarantula is a kit, meaning you’ll need some know-how in electro-mechanical assembly or learn very quickly via YouTube tutorials. The base model comes with a heated bed capable of reaching over 100°C for your exotic material needs, an 8” x 8” x 8” (or 200 mm) build volume and a footprint that takes up around 18” x 18” (450 mm).

As it is open source, the Tarantula is highly upgradable beyond what Tevo offers. Standard Tevo upgrades include a larger bed, dual extrusion, induction sensor auto levelling and a flex material extruder. Common DIY modifications include print cooling, dual z-screw, hotend swapping and upgraded electronics.

There have been a few reports of shoddy power supplies which can pose a hazard, particularly if they’re not properly set up. It’ll also take quite a bit of tweaking to get everything right and you may have to venture into the realm of firmware to make changes, particularly if you upgrade your machine. Another complaint is that the stock setup only uses 1 z-screw which causes some cantilever effects as the extruder moves back and forth and can even break the z motor mount.

Pros

  • Open source
  • Easily upgradable
  • Larger build area
  • Large user community
  • Fully capable heated bed

Cons

  • Know-how required to build
  • Included instructions lacking
  • Tevo brand upgrades overpriced
  • Occasionally questionable electronics

2. Monoprice Maker Select Mini

Monoprice Maker Select Mini 3D Printer under $300 USD

Monoprice Maker Select Mini – $220 (Source: Monoprice.com)

Specifications

Build Volume: 120 x 120 x 120 mm
Foot Print: 287 x 190 mm
Max Bed Temp: 60°C
Max Extruder Temp: 250°C
SD/Micro SD Support: Yes
Min Layer Height: 100 micron

Monoprice is well known in North America for providing awesome pieces of tech for lower prices than anyone else. They leverage their large buying power with Chinese suppliers to get their gear extremely cheap and usually upgraded from standard China wares. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that when they jumped into the 3D printing game they had some of the most budget friendly printers available including the Maker Select V2 and Maker Select Mini, both of which come in under $300. The Maker Select Mini is a rebadge of the Malyan M200 with a couple internal tweaks hinted at by Monoprice.

The Maker Select Mini has a build area of 4.7” x 4.7” x 4.7” (or 120 mm), a heated bed that’s reported to max out at 60°C (though others have been successful with achieving higher temperatures), a max printing temp of 230°C and comes ready to print. A 32-bit processor us a huge plus. Compatibility with all open source slicing software plus Simplify 3D is pretty much standard at this point. It’s a dream machine for those who don’t want to go full in on the hobby and shell out for a large printer or build a kit.

It does have it’s downsides though. The limit on the bed temperature means that printing materials that like warmth such as ABS, Nylon and PETG will be very difficult. Compounding with the open architecture you’ll likely have curly edges and split layers with anything but PLA. The bed is small. Under 5” per dimension really limits what you can print. If you’re just going to be making fidget spinners and trinkets then go for it. Finally, a quick Google search will also reveal a number of people who have either received lemons or a machine that broke shortly after it arrived. There’s a solid community of users that can help with any issues that arise.  

The general consensus on the Maker Select Mini is that it is a good little machine, however at the price you should be prepared to spend a bit of time asking the community for troubleshooting advice if you’re not a seasoned 3D printing veteran. The Maker Select Mini is no longer available on the Monoprice website but is still up on Amazon.com for $220 and the newer V2 directly from Monoprice for $220.

Pros

  • Plug & print
  • Heated bed
  • 32-bit processor
  • Good user community

Cons

  • Small build size
  • Limited bed temperature
  • Limited material options

1. ANET A8, Monoprice Maker Select V2 (And other i3 clones)

Anet A8 3D Printer under $300 USD

Anet A8 – $199 (Source: Aliexpress)

Specifications

Build Volume: 200 x 200 x 200 mm
Foot Print: 510 x 400 mm
Max Bed Temp: 110°C
Max Extruder Temp: 260°C
SD/Micro SD Support: Yes
Min Layer Height: 100 micron

The Anet i3, Hictop Prusa, Sunhokey i3, TronXY i3 or whatever you want to call them are my winners for the most worth it 3D printers under $300. Not only can you get it for under $200 with free shipping it can be had right from Amazon for $230 on Prime! About the same as the Maker Select Mini but the i3 clones are just so much more capable than the Monoprice printer. The printer has an 8” x 8” (or 200 mm) build plate, fully heated bed, and fully open source so it is almost infinitely upgradable. The listed maximum printing temp is 260°C but this can be changed with an all metal hotend upgrade. As with almost all printers it will print from an SD card or direct connection to a computer.

What I love is that these printers are only as good as their assembler. Some know-how will be required because most of the i3 clones come as kits. It gives the opportunity for first time users to learn the ins and outs of their machine. These kits are so popular that you shouldn’t have a problem finding tutorials on building them should you get stuck.

Monoprice Maker Select V2 3D Printer under $300 USD

Monoprice Maker Select V2 – $299 (Monoprice.com)

Also in the realm of the i3 clones are the likes of the Wanhao Duplicator 3 and Monoprice Maker Select V2, both of which hover around the $300 price mark. These printers are almost fully assembled and require only minimal work to get up and running. As with all i3 style printers these have a huge community of people who have made upgrades, modifications and tuned their machines passed what more expensive machines can do out of the box. When comparing to the i3 kits, the semi-assembled Wanhao and Maker Select V2 provide great value for those who don’t want to spend the time assembling and could be worth the extra $100. Like the kits they have a full 8” x 8” (200 mm), heated build plate capable of hitting 110°C. This allows for printing of the most common materials including PLA, ABS, PETG and Nylon.

Pros

  • Open Source
  • Large Community
  • Larger build area
  • Fully capable heated bed
  • Sub $200 kits

Cons

  • Know-how required to build kits

 

As with all sub $300 kits or printers some caution must be shown because electronics aren’t always properly assembled and in rare cases they this can lead to short circuits, sparking or even fire. These printers should never be left unattended while printing.

This is the list of my favorite 3D printers under $300. Did I miss any of your favorite sub $300 printers? Let me know in the comments below.

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