THE BEST LOW-COST 3D PRINTERS
The price of 3D printers in Mexico tends to go from 3500 pesos onward. Taking note that this is the starting price, finding printers for up to 10 million pesos. These printers are focused on other markets of industrial leanings. To give your first steps on 3D printing this brought to us some important points to account, even before even starting to acquire a printer.
There exist many entry barriers which are going to be viewed next. At this point we all think that with acquiring a 3D printer we’re going to start printing and I think we all be a bit misinformed about this point.
Buying the cheapest 3D printer in the market, is nothing more than long and strenuous hours, days, weeks, and even months for some to make it work, and this is because quality is directly proportional to the printer price. What you’re not paying in price, you’ll have to pay it in time. Gather data or information, a bunch of repairings and part substitutions.
However, there are relatively cheaper printers that do excellent printings. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend an Ender 3, Mega i3s, Anet et4, in that order. Due to their being pre-assembled in about 30 minutes you’ll have it assembled. A Prusa Mini is also an excellent equipment to consider, much easier to assemble than its bigger sister MK3S.
On the other hand there are the printers with an elevated price, depending on what is elevated to you, everyone has distinct purchasing power. There are printers such as BCN SIGMA D25, Ultimaker S5, which are focused on the entry level to the industrial sector. This sector is focused on getting to print sooner as possible. Being expensive doesn’t mean it’s going to print better than a cheaper one, but that the difference lies in being focused more to being plug and play, there’s no 3D printer exempt for maintenance. You always want your 3D printer working at 100%, don’t forget that preventive maintenance it’s better than corrective and cheaper. Don’t try to save money, these printers are made to work in their own ecosystem, that means, if you start to use other types of materials, brands, accessories, your printer can start to give you problems, because these ecosystems are made to work in harmony with all their components. You can use non official accessories, other materials, but you will get configuration problems, tests and errors until you find the correct parameters. It can even happen that if you return to the original materials, these don’t give all their performance due to modified parameters. If your intention is learning, then any entry-level range printer can be a good choice to start. These entry-level industrial printers are truly starting options and are recommended to companies that don’t want to experiment but work quickly with 3D printing.
3D printing is magic, more so the first time. But in this magic exist many variables, disciplines and technologies that give life to tridimensional objects. Because of this 3D printing associated with a 3D printing price tends to be complex as of today, of course over the years it has been found the way to improve and make this technological discipline cheaper. Which is giving enormous steps month to month. However, let's be cautious and take with a pinch of salt the merchandising about it.
3D printing is complicated to someone that doesn’t come from engineering, someone that absorbs knowledge easily will find it simple. Everything is relative to the point of view taken. As any discipline it takes time and effort to learn. But it is gratifying and fun. Careers related to engineering will be the first to dominate these fields, that’s because this technology is a mix of various, and includes mechanical, polymers, electronics, etc.
We’re looking at the first part of this process (hardware), we barely start to scratch the surface, you don’t notice all that’s not seen on 3D printing. Just as the hardware is a fundamental part, so is the software. Nowadays, there exists a variety of slicers, as they’re known as 3D printing software, since they slice the 3D part in layers with the finality to build your part in that way.
The more popular options are:
CURA from Ultimake and community: Free and powerful. Possibly the most used by estimates. It’s a software design by the company Ultimaker for its printers, but it has supported the community, so you can add any 3D printer you desire. This software was becoming private some years earlier but the community rose against it, due to the fact that the community has created a lot of technology with no profits. Maybe Ultimaker will try it again later, but meanwhile it’s still free.
Simplify 3D: It can be yours for 149 dollars. It's powerful and stable. I recommend you to acquire it if you’re going to make a business out of 3D printing. This software can work with complex 3D parts without a hitch. It makes heavy files or with lots of polygons wonderfully.
Prusa Slicer: Free and based on Repetier. It has evolved with their printers, however, it needs polishing on some aspects, it’s still powerful but the problem is that it’s not user friendly.
One of the main questions is what is the best 3d printing software. It always depends on what you’re looking for. Some slicers work better with certain figures, others optimize the trips that a 3D printer must do, getting better part finish, having lower printing times, etc.
Taking the price range that these 3D printers tend to have, also taking in account the characteristics that the user could ask, these can be divided in tiers depending on its quality and price.
The market of 3D printers grows yearly with a variety of models, something logical if we think in the huge potential it possesses and its growing quality with more competitive prices. Because of this it can be hard to choose or decide for a specific model, looking at the variety available with different technical characteristics between them, also it’s fundamental with what criteria is utilized to choose a printer, because not taking in account such things can make for a bad experience or a loss of capital.
Just a decade ago, a standard 3D printer was an industrial tool that cost thousands of euros. Nowadays, the typical printer can be on your desk and we would dare to say that it costs less than the device you use to read this article. Today it’s easier than ever to find an excellent cheap 3D printer that adjusts to any budget. For only 200 € you can get an excellent machine that allows you to start in the world of 3D printing in just a matter of minutes.
Despite the great variety of quality printers available for less than 1000 €, we have opted for the Creality Ender 3 V2 as our best choice: a printer that, for a relatively low price, offers great performance, numerous functions and a huge community that probably will continue to grow. Basically, it’s an Ender 3 Pro improved for almost the same price.
If you have more money to spend and you don’t mind giving up a little work space, it’s hard to find arguments against the Original Prusa Mini+. With a price superior to 400 €, the Mini+ offers to the user an excellent printing experience backed up by the great customer support from the company and its flourishing community. Its user interface, the printing bed, the wire mesh bed leveling and its ease of use in general make it a pleasure to work with, this makes it the choice for enterprise users.
The Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ starts from the great benchmark for desktop 3D printers that is the MK3S (the company has recently updated the model MK3S+, with small changes in the design). However, its price of almost 800 € makes it almost inaccessible to many being from a high range. In any case, if you can allow it yourself, don’t doubt it. There is no other equal printer in the market.
We will now analyze some of the low cost printers with good performance that go from 200 € to 500 € respectively.
Voxelab Aquila is a cheap 3D printer that has impressed us enough to relegate the Anycubic Mega Zero and Creality Ender 3 in this list.
First, it’s an affordable 3D printer, with a price lower than 200 €. Depending on the moment it can be purchased for approximately 190 €. It’s accessible to work with it, thanks to a brilliant user interface and ease of use, with simple menus. The same can be said about the slicing program VoxelMaker. It’s a redesigned version of Flashprint and it’s adequate for beginners. Nevertheless, there also exists the option to use other slicer software.
This printer gives us excellent printing quality with little effort, thanks to its carborundum crystal tray, that works perfectly with ABS and PLA filaments. You might want to have a glue stick handy when working with PETG. The cooling process is particularly good on the Aquila, so you might not need great efforts to get the desired results. In short, it’s easy to recommend this printer, whose amazing performance surprises on an affordable machine.
Biqu may have created a cheap printer capable of unseating the Ender 3 V2 from Creality. It shouldn’t surprise us that the B1 it’s basically a clone of the Ender 3, but with some delightful improvements that make it more attractive.
This also shouldn’t surprise us, due to the fact that the company behind Biqu is BigTreTech, a brand whose reputation is based on the development of modifying Creality printers during the last years. Knowing that, it’s no wonder that the company developed the B1 as a new start, a blank page, for the experienced users.
The B1 adds a SKR 1.4 motherboard of 32 bits, completed with <<plug-and-play>> connection ports for future updates, such as automatic bed leveling probes and other similar elements. It also has a terminal function, that allows you to introduce G code directly in the printer, allowing you to make changes in the machine in its own languages, if you wish to do so.
B1 also has an excellent touch user interface, but it also offers you the option to change between a modern and elegant system and the Marlin system, which is older and controlled by the use of a dial.
With a greater printing volume than the Ender 3 V2, a superior kit and very tempting price of approximately 195 €, the B1 is a great alternative to the Creality Ender 3 V2, although perhaps it would be more adequate to experienced users in 3D printing.
Creality Ender 3 V2 it’s not a revision from an older model, but rather an improvement. Taking the simple design from the Ender 3 original, and sophisticating it with useful additions that make it more reliable and comfortable to use, the Ender 3 V2 keeps the balance between high quality printing and a competitive price, in its case of about 220 €.
The building volume keeps being the same as the Ender 3, that is, 220 x 220 x 250 mm. Also, it keeps the Bowden style extruder and its capacity to print with the common filaments, such as PLA, PETG, and if handled carefully TPU. A novelty with the Ender 3 V2 is the addition of belt tensioners, updated electronics that include a 32 bit board and stepper motor controllers with printing silencer, an integrated tool storage drawer, a touch user interface, and a number of improvements.
If we have to compare the Ender 3 V2 with any older model, perhaps the more just will be to do it with the Ender 3 Pro, the one with more in common, and, for a price of barely 50 € above, it’s worthy to make the leap.
Despite its name, the CR-6 SE from Creality is, in essence, an Ender 3. The characteristics from the CR-6 SE are a display of power. Among them, is notable the exclusive automatic leveling system of the printing bed with a tension meter (that works really well), the real time displacement on the Z axis during the printing process, the personalized aluminum extruders, the dual Z axis motors, a touch screen that responds very well, a personalized extrusion assembly and an almost skeletal hotend.
Print quality also borders on excellence. This and the range of features of the machine, combined with a construction volume and price similar to the Ender 5 Pro, make the CR-6 SE unseat the Ender from this list. Its price it’s around 320 €.
i3 Mega from Anycubic is a reliable printer, easy to use and that offers excellent impressions. In the case of the Mega X, Anycubic kept the characteristics that worked well (basically, all of them) and tripled the size of the machine.
As a result, the Mega X it’s a type of tank (not in vain it has to accommodate a construction volume of 300 x 300 x 305 mm), it’s benefited from small changes to improve the general experience, including stepper motors on the Z axis and duel leveling rods on the Y axis. The printed parts adhere correctly to the huge Ultrabase printing bed and a Titan type extruder helps to the good functioning of the extruding system.
What is certain is that, being a novel incorporation to the Mega line of Anycubic, we hoped for more radical changes, such as WiFi connection or automatic leveling of the printing bed. In turn, it’s a XXL version of the i3 Mega, although it’s not bad either, it doesn’t stop being a huge reliable printer. Its price in the market is 360 €.
It might not be perfect, but the Prusa Mini+ is up there with some of the best 3D printers. With a fantastic printing quality, an effortless functioning and class-leading features, the Mini+ is the type of printer we’ll take everywhere.
Among its more useful and interesting characteristics are that it comes with an extractable magnetic printing bed with PEI coating and a developed firmware with a series of hallucinating hardware based functionalities, such as wire mesh bed leveling. It can be said that the best of the Original Prusa is the uninterrupted customer support by the brand. Periodically, it launches firmware updates that correct errors, introduce improvements and even add new functions. Nonetheless, it’s still pending to incorporate WiFi connection.
When we’ve problems with the printer Bowden tube (which seems to be a common problem with the Mini series), we contacted the technical customer support anonymously and they solved our problem quickly with new tubes.
Another disadvantage is that the Mini+ is, undoubtedly, with a maximum work volume of 180 x 180 x 180 mm. For the 415 € tag, we understand that it’s users want a little more slack. In any case, unless this is an absolutely vital aspect of your business, the Mini+ keeps being a good recommendation.
The Artillery Sidewinder X1 is a 3D printer with a huge construction volume, that not only impress with its power and reliability with PLA filament, but also with its inclusion of features well thought out in relation to their potential for large-scale printing, mainly, a Volcano styled hotend.
The X1 has a construction volume of 300 x 300 x 400 mm, with a direct action extruder positioned above its Volcano hotend. This hotend melts and lets a great quantity of filament at all times, which will allow you to increase the printing speed or the layer height (as long as you have the appropriate head) without any risk of extrusion problems. However, the great crystal covered bed moves on the Y axis, so its max speed it’s limited by all the mass in movement.
This huge crystal printing bed is coated with a Ultrabase-like texture, it holds the printed parts when they’re hot and frees them when they cool down. The ordered belt wiring gives the X1 a neat appearance, though between the user base there are few advocates for this type of cables, due to the extended tension that are exposed due to printer movement. During tests, we observed wobbling along the Z axis on the superior part of the construction space, but if you remove the spool holder above the structure, the wobbling should wind down. Its current market price is 435 €.
The Monoprice Voxel is a recreation of the Adventurer 3 3D printer from Flashforge, but the differences and improvements are not merely aesthetical, and the experience in terms of software and printing that it offers contribute to an easy use of the machine, with a soft learning curve. With its extractable bed, its printing control chamber and its WiFi connectivity, it differentiates the Voxel from the majority of models in this list, though the small construction volume and the rigidity of the slicer that it uses can make it seem inflexible to more ambitious users. In any case, if you wish a quick setup and effortless maintenance and management, this is an excellent choice. Its current price on the market is 465 €.