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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.