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Seems like a few years ago, 3D printing is a very surreal idea that you only see in a futuristic sci-fi movie. Now, it is a technology that is getting more and more popular in various industries than ever before. We have looked into seven 3D printers to give you an idea of what they can do for you and which one you should choose. First, let us get to know what 3D printing is all about before you decide which printer to get.
Basically, 3D printing is creating three-dimensional solid objects from different materials from a digital file. You can print anything from toys, household items, car parts, even prosthetic limbs, and hearing aids. The possibilities are endless, and with these 3D printers we have reviewed, you can have one in your own home or at work at a very affordable price. Let's go!
In the table below you will find the four 3D printers we reviewed. The seven printers you see below are the only ones we would consider buying in the under $300 dollar (and slightly above) price range.
Where to Buy
XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro
3.9 out of 5
QIDI Technology X-one2
PLA, ABS, PVA, TPU
4.6 out of 5
RepRap Guru DIY Prusa i3 V2
ABS, PLA, Wood, PVA, TPE
3.8 out of 5
4.3 out of 5
Monoprice Maker Select Plus
ABS, PLA, PVA, HIPS
3.6 out of 5
GIANTARM Mecreator 2
4 out of 5
AnyCubic i3 Mega
ABS, PLA, HIPS
2.6out of 5
Here are our reviews of the seven 3D printers under $300, in no particular order:
1: XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro
Labeled as a printer for 'professional use,' the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro is one of the most affordable on the market today, and could probably be the most user-friendly there is. It prints different objects at a high volume with a professional grade.
The da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro's affordability and high efficiency make it an ideal entry-level 3D printer for anyone: engineers, architects, and designers, as well as students. It is fairly simple to set up and use, needs no calibration and is currently one of the most reasonably priced 3D printers you can find.
Pen and Plastic Rating
The da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro is definitely a more inexpensive option for your 3D printing needs, but that doesn't mean that this machine has a quality and performance level that matches its price tag. As a matter of fact, this is one of the best designed and easy-to-use 3D printers around, with no calibration needed which means you can have it running as soon as you take it out of the box, about 10 minutes tops.
Manual calibration is a tricky process that if done incorrectly, the printer won't create an object that accurately reflects the 3D model. The da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro has an automatic calibration system that eliminates this hurdle in making your first 3D print.
Featured in this printer is the XYZware for Pro software that is new software designed for users of all skill levels to create more complex, and complicated creative projects. The software allows you to adjust the settings of the speed, nozzle, and temperature.
One drawback of this printer is its size. In the world of the 3D printer, big body doesn't necessarily mean big results as well. It will take up a big chunk of your desk space.
For its very good price, the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro is an overall, high performing 3D printer that is recommended for both the professional and the beginner alike.
2: QIDI Technology X-one2
The QIDI Technology X-one2 is an easy-to-use 3D printer that came from among a number of companies trying to make 3D printing more accessible to more user skill levels. There is very little to no set up required when you get this printer as it comes fully assembled. Unboxing and set-up take 90 minutes, relatively longer than the da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro, though.
However, the X-one2 is packed with features that will make you forget the time it took you to have it up and running as it has very favorable feedback from the online community.
Pen and Plastic Rating
We all know that 3D printing can be expensive and complex. The X-one2 is very simple, easy to use and with its price of less than $400, this is quite a steal. The first thing you'll notice when you unpack this printer is the bright blue steel body that weighs 42 pounds. Having a heavy steel frame means that the printer is less likely to move during the printing session, allowing it to produce better quality prints.
One tough issue with this printer is the ease of loading the filament, which is quite difficult. Let's not get all technical here as this is no big deal as the durable frame and steady printing process can definitely outweigh this minor flaw.
The QIDI Technology X-one2 is a reliable 3D printer that is suitable for newcomers to 3D printing, but it can also provide good quality prints for those experienced users as well. What you will be getting is a stable, smooth, well-made, and cheap 3D printer—a good value for price ratio.
3: RepRap Guru DIY Prusa i3 V2
Made with high-quality materials and designed with ease of use in mind, the RepRap Guru DIY Prusa i3 V2 3D Printer is so simple and easy to assemble that even 3D printing neophytes will have no trouble whatsoever putting this printer kit together. As stated in RepRapGuru's website, they have developed a "printer kit that does not require altering, drilling, soldering or cutting," and based on positive feedbacks on major online stores, it seems that they are being true to their word.
This is quite a remarkable 3D printer for those on a limited budget but still want to get their hands on a quality printer. Let's take a closer look at this affordable 3D printer.
Pen and Plastic Rating
The XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. is among the less expensive 3D printers on the market. XYZprinting has quickly become the largest names in the sub-$1,000 market for 3D printers, and they produce relatively good 3D printers.
Still, we feel a little let down by the print quality, and would rather you go with the Flashforge Finder, if you are a beginner, or with the Robo 3D R1 if you want the best in this price range.
4: Flashforge Finder
Decent quality and high performance in a cheap 3D printer? Sounds farfetched, but with the Flashforge Finder 3D printer, you get all these features and more. This printer claims that it is the friendliest 3D printer in terms of usage, maintenance, and price on the market.
Although it sits on the more sophisticated side, this printer requires a bit of a fuss in setting it up. Let's see if it really is easy to use a desktop 3D printer.
Pen and Plastic Rating
The Flashforge Finder 3D printer's set up is indeed straightforward and relatively easy but consumes more time than the other printers mentioned above. If you follow the user guide that comes with the USB stick that is included in the kit, there will be no hassles getting this printer running.
Flashforge has a software called FlashPrint that you can download from their website. It allows you to look at your design from all angles and at any distance. You can rotate the object, move, scale or add supports. When ready, you just click the 'print' button, you will then be asked for some additional options, and you're all set!
The touchscreen panel is very easy to view and work with, making the Flashforge Finder 3D printer suitable for the home, the classroom, or the office. The great print results and the array of features included are well worth the cheap price you pay.
5: Monoprice Maker Select Plus
The Monoprice Maker Select Plus is a new and improved version of its earlier model, the Maker Select, so you can be sure that this printer is budget-friendly, but loaded with features perfect for those just starting out in 3D printing.
It comes with a single extruder nozzle, a heated print bed, and a 3.25" LCD display. It is fully assembled when you take it out of the box, letting you start with your 3D printing experience ASAP.
Pen and Plastic Rating
Since this printer comes to you already assembled, you can easily start with your printing projects without the trouble of setting up the machine. All you need is to screw it to the base and attach the filament holder. The printer also comes with a PLA filament sample, a micro SD card with some 3D model sample files, and you're ready to print!
You can use open source software or commercially available software, the choice is yours. With its heated print bed, you can do a lot of 3D printing using different materials as you can use ABS-based, PLA-based, XT copolyester, PET, TPU, TPC, FPE, PVA, HIPS, and many others. That's versatility that comes from a cheap 3D printer.
6: GIANTARM Mecreator 2
The GIANTARM Mecreator 2 is Geeetech's latest release that is an optimized and improved version of an older model. Its affordable price and exciting features make it highly recommended for your 3D printing needs without spending thousands.
It has a compact design that uses less space, ideal for home or office use. This is a well-made printer that is easy to use for beginners but can create amazing prints that the more experienced user can enjoy.
Pen and Plastic Rating
This printer has a half-opened and box-type designed frame made from high-quality steel chassis, providing a professional look and durability.
You can use several 3D printer control software to help you with your printing projects— Repetier Host, Slic3r, Simplify, or Printrun. Whatever software you use, you can still enjoy easy and simple printing with the Mecreator 2.
It has a wide range of applications, from household items to medical treatment, versatility and reliability in one reasonably priced printer.
7: AnyCubic i3 Mega
Online reviews of the AnyCubic i3 Mega are generally not very good, and with its low price tag, you would wonder if this 3D printer really works as well as it claims it does. Let's check this printer out and see for ourselves if the reviews are right.
This is not the 3D printer under $300 which we would recommend.
Pen and Plastic Rating
The Anycubic i3 Mega has many modern and smart features that other 3D printers in its price range fail to give you. With its weight of 22 pounds, it is quite hefty, but this does not deliver the results you would expect. Particular when printing ABS as it's heated bed is underpowered.
Most 3D printers at this price range will give you good print quality but are not space efficient, or vice versa. The Anycubic i3 Mega gives you neither of these features, so it's safe to say that you should avoid this model if at all possible.
Why Get a 3D Printer under $300?
After we've reviewed some 3D printers that are available on the market today and learned more about 3D printing in general, we should ask ourselves, why get a 3D printer in the first place?
The answer is novelty and practicality. Aside from it being so much fun, it can actually save you a lot of money. Read on so you can decide if you should really be getting one.
1. Saves you money
Sure, you can buy tons of paper clips from Amazon, but why buy when you can instantly print some? With a 3D printer at home (or at the office for that matter), you can create almost anything from smartphone cases to drinking cups, plus you get to customize them to suit your aesthetic preferences.
2. You can turn it into a business
You can turn your hobby into a potential source of income, or if you're a frustrated craftsman, this is the way to do it and create what your imagination dictates. The possibilities are endless.
3. Easily replace broken stuff
Another money saving reason for having a 3D printer. Instead of throwing away broken things around the house, you can just print a replacement.
4. Educate your kids
A 3D printer can be used as an excellent learning and exploration tool. You and your kids can even be inventors, too, if you play around and experiment with turning their artwork into tangible toys or crazy inventions. Fun, creative, and educational.
5. You get what you want
One of the more exciting reasons to own a 3D printer is personalization. You can print your very own versions of stuff that have already been manufactured, adding your own name, style, or whatever it is you want to be made a little differently.
6. Prototype making
This is a great way to finally see your creations come to life and then submit them to a manufacturer. You can easily test, fine-tune, and make improvements on your design, with minimal cost.
If you set your mind to it, you can think of thousands of uses and benefits of having a 3D printer, soon enough you'll be coming up with your innovations that could enhance your daily life or push that business idea into reality.
What you need to know before buying that 3D printer
Now that you've decided to get that 3D printer, you should consider some things before taking the plunge especially if you're new to this technology. The list above will be a great help to you, but since there are a lot of other brands and models out there, not to mention the technicalities about 3D printing, it is good to learn a few things before finally getting a printer.
If you are looking for a printer in a slightly higher price range, we also did a detailed review on 3D printers in the sub $500 price range... be sure to check it out!
Your reasons for getting a 3D printers
You have to ask yourself why you are getting a 3D printer and what its main role will be in your home or office. Do I need one? Is it for me? You have to be very clear about this as to avoid buying one then sooner or later getting tired of it and eventually wasting your time, money and effort. You can always consider using 3D printing services and networks to get your stuff printed professionally.
- Types of Printers
There a few types of 3D printers and you should know which one to get to cater to your 3D printing needs specifically.
There is the FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printer, the Stereolithography type, and the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). It is highly recommended to research about these types to know which would be the best for you.
- The Price
This is a significant consideration, and if you're a first-time buyer, it's recommended to start with the basics as shown above. Then if you feel that you're really into 3D printing, you may then progress to the more advanced and pricier models, that is, if you realize that a starter kit is not enough for your printing needs anymore.
- Materials to be used
The two most popular materials used by 3D printers are Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). Some printers use both these filaments, and some use more. You need to know which specific material to use for your projects and which would fit your budget.
If you buy a 3D printer for your home or the office, it's always good to think about safety. Most printers contain parts and materials that require being handled with care. Some materials can be toxic as well, and some printers have open type frames that you should consider especially if you have your kids use them.
You may be thinking whether owning a 3D printer really worth my time, money, and effort? The technology is still in its infancy, but it is slowly advancing and becoming more and more accessible and affordable to everyone. The quality is getting higher, and the price is going lower, so it would be ideal if everyone can get their hands on some 3D printing, but it is certainly not for everyone.
There is a learning curve in using 3D printers, and you will have to invest your time in studying how to use the software and the printer itself. Some may find this troublesome, but if you have enough patience and zeal, then a 3D printer is definitely worth your while.
Understanding all the intricacies is a little price to pay for all the excitement, enjoyment, and satisfaction a 3D printer can give you. The possibilities are remarkably endless.
Be sure to head over to our 3D printer landing page for the latest 3D printer news and reviews