How Much Does A 3D Printer Cost

What is a cheap 3d printer?

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How Much Does A 3D Printer Cost
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So How much does a 3D Printer Cost?

You could either instantly go to A Cheap 3D Printers List or Read on about How much a 3D Printer Cost to get some insight.

I have been in the 3D printing game for a little over 2 years now, and it all started with a tattoo appointment that went sideways. April 2016 I had an appointment lined up for a new tattoo. On my way to the studio I got the call that the appointment was cancelled because the artist was a no-show.

The knockoff Makerbot
Monoprice Architect. A knockoff of the Makerbot Replicator. – How much does a 3D Printer Cost

3D Printers on Garage Sales..

I immediately opened up a garage sale app on my phone, and went to the listing that I had saved for this used 3D printer that was of sale in my area. I talked the guy down from his original asking price and went to pick it up.

Now it wasn’t the most glorious of 3D printers, with a high end name, and bells and whistles. No, it was a Monoprice Architect. A knockoff of the Makerbot Replicator. The original wooden cased version, but this one just had a single extruder and an option to upgrade to dual.

For a mere $350

I was now the proud owner of a 3D printer! I took this printer home, and search and searched the interwebs for information on how to use it, and searching for fun and exciting models to print with it. Using the Makerbot slicing software that I downloaded, I sliced my first model, a 20x20x20 cube. I put the SD card in the printer and hit print, and boy was I disappointed. I immediately regretted my decision to not reschedule the tattoo.

3D Printer cost
My Shop right Now – Comment if you feel i should add something 🙂

Flash forward 2 years and 8 printers later.., 5 of which I still have including the Architect I cut my teeth on, and I have gained so much knowledge about 3D printing, and printers, and slicers, and plastics, and people! Oh the people! The 3D printing community is full of great people, and a great wealth of knowledge. Facebook is full of 3D printing groups, many of which I was a part of in the beginning, and still am to this day.

The only downside to some of the group posts was that there were an overwhelming amount of posts from people looking for the “best printer under $300.00” at one point. The comments on the posts were flooded with people’s opinions of what they thought were the best printers for whatever dollar amount. But the one thing that lacked in all of the comments on all of these posts was the fact that all printers are almost the same!

Fuming yet?

Now before you start fuming at that last statement let me explain. For the majority of the FDM machines available, they all have the same parts, from your $200 Anet A8 to a $6000 Ultimaker S5. They have a frame of some sort, stepper motors, a PCB that runs whatever motion firmware, a build platform, some sort of guide rails, an extruder, hot-end assembly including heater cartridge, thermistor, nozzle….. You can see where I am going with this. Albeit the more expensive printers come with extra features like auto bed leveling, filament runout sensors, color touch screen displays, WiFi connectivity, an such that make the printing experience a bit easier.

Does the 3D Printer Cost determine quality?

SeeMeCNC
SeeMeCNC And Me

Printers using all of these components can all do the same thing, extrude molten plastic! The trick to it is how much you understand the machine that you have. If you take the time to understand how your machine works, and nail down some slicing settings, then there is no reason your $200 printer can’t produce models just as good, if not better than machines 10 times more expensive. Take it from me, I have produced some pretty amazing models from that $350 used Monoprice Architect that would be hard to tell didn’t come off of my $2000 SeeMeCNC Artemis delta printer.

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say that your prints are the product of the knowledge that you go out there and gain. No one has all of the answers to make your prints come off “perfect”, but by leaning on the community to gain insight on how to make your prints look better, greatly increases your chances.

Talking cheap 3d printers with Barnacules
Made A Lot of new friends from the 3d printing communities.

A Great Community

Looking back, I definitely do not regret rescheduling that tattoo, because had I spent the money on that, I would not have had an opportunity to be a part of such a great community! When it comes time to make the decision to buy your “cheap” 3D Printer, do a bit of research on the machine, see what people in groups online have to say about it, and check out some videos on YouTube. You never know, you could be 3D printing some pretty awesome stuff for not a whole lot of dough!


Also published on Medium.

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21 Comments
  1. Michael says

    I have a 3D printer I bought last March (2017) and I still haven’t seen a printer cheaper. It’s been a great little printer and I have upgraded the size and hot end. It lists for $99. I paid about $150 with shipping a three spools of filament. It’s the iMakr.com STARTT and if your on a budget, check it out. It’a a kit, so you need a good few hours to put it together. Take you time and do it right.

    1. Jim Carter says

      YES! That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Just a little bit of knowledge and some tinkering will take your budget printed far!

  2. Brian Martin says

    Bought my rebranded Wanhao i3 from a store for cheap (they don’t sell them any more they where dumping them). For under $300 I got a decent 3d printer that works and sure I upgraded it with a z brace, stronger y carriage, and all metal hot end now but I really didn’t know if I’d get in to 3d printing at the time. The great part of the cheaper printers is you almost feel like you should tinker with them and play and change things and not feel out a ton of money. Now I have my second printer on order, but I will still be using that Wanhao printer in fact I plan to mod it even more (board and Firmware). Ahh the life of a 3d printer is fun.

    1. Jim Carter says

      Right on! The Monoprice Maker Select v2 was my second. I did the same upgrades. Made the LS3 from Thingiverse with it. It was a blast!

  3. Juanca says

    A P3steel is cheap and does it’s work!

    1. Jim Carter says

      That’s great!!!!

  4. Frostbite says

    I totally agree with you Jim. It isn’t so much the cost of the printer itself, it is the knowledge you bring to the table regarding the various facets of its operation that make the difference.
    I run a Rigidbot Regular which I got as a Kickstarter kit a few years ago at our local Makerspace. Granted, I have put a lot of time and effort into the upgrades in The Beast to keep up with equipment improvements and expansion of capabilities, but my RB1 kit runs more reliably than our expensive Makerbot and Lulzbot. And the prints are just as beautiful and durable as the ones off the machines costing thousands (my RB1 was about $500 for a machine with a 10 x 10 x 10″ build volume).
    Point being, if you are willing to invest the time in learning both the technology and your machine, you can create world class prints with only a $99 unit.

    1. Jim Carter says

      Exactly! It’s great to see people taking the time to learn about their machines and save the big bucks!

  5. Michelle Fay says

    We put paid for a 3Dprinter on a kickstarter site and our friends and never received a thing, they kept the money and ripped everyone off, it was such a shock but one day we may get another chance

    1. Jim Carter says

      It’s a shame that so many Kickstarter campaigns end up like this. Unfortunately a learning experience I’m sure, but never let stuff like that discourage you.

  6. Mike says

    Earlier I had PRUSA printer but after few years I bought HBOT 3D F300 for a bit more $6000 with Simplify 3D slicer and I am happy with the results. Unfortunately, I am doing 150h printouts but the printer is very reliable and repeatable. Do you have any experience with midprice level printers

    1. Jim Carter says

      Oh absolutely! I own a SeeMeCNC Rostock Max v3 with thousands of hours on it. And I’m also lucky enough to have gotten my hands on the SeeMeCNC Artemis 300. It was the first one that left the shop. I was invited to go to their shop in Indiana and assemble it on site. They refrained from helping me with assembly as I was their guinea pig for their almost finished assembly guide. By far one of the best if not THE best printer I own. I also have a CR-10S, not sure what level that falls in though. Reliability and repeatability is important. And once a person fully understands their machine, weather it cost $200 or $2000, they can be able to produce those great results.

  7. Tom Baxter says

    Right on Jim! Almost a year ago I picked up a Monoprice Select mini v1 that cost me $120 and it prints beautifully. I have tinkered and played with it to get it where I want, but ever since I dialed it in, it has been a workhorse. My only limiting factor with the mini is the print volume. $300 printers are at the high end of my budget, but you are right in that with some time and tinkering, almost any printer can print like a dream.

    I also want to say that you are totally right about the 3D printing community and the maker community in general. I have had nothing but positive experiences both online and locally. Look around and you would be hard pressed to find a group of pleasant and welcoming folks more ready to try and help you with anything.

    1. Jim Carter says

      Thank you for the positive feedback and a little of your story. It’s great to hear!

  8. mperkins37 says

    Still havent been able to score one, no job for a while, but soon I hope..

  9. mperkins37 says

    yeah But how much does a GREAT RELIABLE printer cost?

    1. Jim Carter says

      My Monoprice Maker Select v2 was $329 and printed great without any upgrades! Have a look at them on Amazon.

    2. Tom Baxter says

      “Great” is a subjective term. What I consider great, could be mediocre to someone else. With that being said though, what is your price range? & What do you want to print? Are you looking to print cosplay props like armor and weapons? Are you looking to print smaller items like figures, toys, and household items? One of the biggest factors into the price tag of a 3D printer is build volume. If you are ok with a smaller build volume, there are some pretty good offerings. The MonoPrice Select mini and mini Delta are ready out of the box for less than $200. If you are comfortable assembling the printer, and can pay a little more (~$250), you could look at many of the i3 style clones from Anet, Creality, Tevo, etc.

  10. Paula Bojinoff says

    Would love this for my jewelry store

  11. Paula says

    I was thinking of getting one for my jewelry store. Are they easy to use

    1. Jim Carter says

      Absolutely! Like with anything there is a learning curve, but with the many social media network groups and YouTube videos, you can be up and running in no time!

      It’s how I learned!

  12. Kaz Chong says

    Wow nice!

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