The idea of 3D printing is fascinating to many people because it has so many potential uses. Tools, crafts, and architectural models have been made with this tool. However, if you have an interest in getting one, then you’ll need to know the options for 3D printers. This information can also help you find the best 3D printers under 500 dollars.
Types of 3D Printers
When you’re ready to buy a 3D printer for your workshop, be it at home or a business, you will need to know what type to get. While nine kinds of 3D printing exist, two basic types are available in desktop 3D printers: Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) and Stereolithography (SLA).
Fused Filament Fabrication
This type of 3D printing, which also includes Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Fused Filament Manufacturing (FFM), is the type of printing you will generally find when shopping for a home printer. These printers create objects by building up layers of plastic filaments, which are available in many different colors.
It’s a slow process, so it can take some time to create objects with them, and this type of layering can be uneven and produce weak areas in the projects. With increasing competition and inexpensive materials, you can usually buy this type of printer for less than $500.
SLA printers are more flexible and provide greater accuracy in creating objects. They use ultraviolet lasers by concentrating them on a vat of resin that reacts to the lights and hardens it into shapes. It also uses a layering technique to create the objects the user wants.
These printers can produce better quality objects because they can provide resolutions, or layer thicknesses, of 0.05 millimeters. This precision costs more, so you can expect to pay at least $1,000 for it.
PLA (Polylactic Acid)
This material is environmentally friendly because it comes from corn and sugarcane, so it is biodegradable. It doesn’t require a heating bed to form objects, it’s inexpensive and comes in many bright colors. While it has good strength, it can get brittle and break, and it shouldn’t be out in the sun.
Since it is durable and semi-flexible, it is useful for creating tools and durable parts. However, it requires a hotbed that reaches 480 degrees Fahrenheit (250 degree Celsius), which can be difficult to find in less expensive models.
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
This filament is popular because it’s inexpensive and durable. LEGOs are made from this material. It holds up well to heat, so the objects it can create can have outdoor uses or high-temperature applications.
HDPE (High-density Polystyrene)
It is made from petroleum and is the same plastic from which companies make milk jugs, soda bottles, and plastic bags. It is sturdy but recyclable, so it is also environmentally friendly.
Carbon Fiber Filled
This material contains short carbon fibers that come infused into PLA, ABS, Nylon, and other filaments for stronger, more rigid creations. It doesn’t require heat, and it is affordable.
The filaments for this type of printer comes in two sizes: 1.75 mm and 3 mm, and they are not interchangeable.
SLA printers use a variety of resins to create objects like parts, toys, and other models. The resins include:
This resin has good tensile strength, but it can be brittle, so it isn’t appropriate for making parts. However, since it can render fine details, it can create art models or visual prototypes.
This material has the better impact strength and elongation abilities than other resin materials, so it is suitable for making moveable part prototypes and those that snap together. However, it’s not as strong as thermoplastic materials like nylon.
It lays between the standard and durable resins regarding strength, but it’s suitable for printing parts that need a high degree of stiffness.
Although this resin can reach temperatures of up to 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit), the results can be more brittle than standard resin, so objects can easily shatter upon impact.
Ceramic reinforce resin
This material has the highest tensile strength and resistance to bending, but creations can be brittle. Since it can render fine details, it can take the place of engineering resins when an object needs a high degree of stiffness.
How We Chose Our Ratings
When we research products, we find out what features they have, their applications, and brand reputations. We also read the testimonials and reviews from people who use them, and then we assign a star rating to them.
Each product receives a rating between one and five stars, with five being the best, to help readers quickly find the best products available in any given category, like 3D printers. Below are some of the best 3D printers we found.
Best 3D Printers Under 500 Dollars
These printers are some of the best on the market.
QIDI Technology X-Smart 3D Printer
Along with hobbyists, the X-Smart printer by QIDI Technology is suitable for schools, home uses, and businesses. It has a metal frame that encloses the build plate, which is removable, making it easier to take creations out of the printer. The build plate is 148mm X 148mm, and printing size is 148mm X 148mm X 148mm.
It has a 3.5-inch touchscreen from which to operate the printer. One of its features is breakpoint printing, which allows users to stop and save their printing project and then resume it later. It uses a 1.75mm filament, and a roll of PLA filament comes with the machine.
The printer comes with a four-sided turbofan to cool creations inside of it. It comes with QIDI printing software and is compatible with both Windows and Mac computers. The USB pen drive works with Windows, but it only allows for support print with Mac systems.
ADIMLab_Gantry 3D Printer
This 3D printer comes with a glass bed that heats for your printing projects. To test the printer after getting it out of the box and assembling it, it includes PLA filaments. The tools that are necessary to construct the printer comes with it. It takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes to finish assembly.
The Z-axis has two motors, and the Y-axis comes with a dual track to provide more stability and better accuracy. It can print large pieces up to 310 mm X 310 mm X 410 mm and comes with a set of 3D printer packages.
It prints up to 120mm/s and uses a 1.75mm filament. Also, the heat bed can reach up to 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), and the extruder reaches 260 degrees Celsius (500 degrees Fahrenheit). The printer has a one-year warranty, and tech support is available online.
Comgrow Creality Ender 3 3D Printer
To start using this printer, buyers will need to complete the assembly, which should take about two hours. Before the printers are sent to their new owners, they undergo testing, and technical support is available for the lifetime of the printer.
It can print at a maximum speed of 180 mm/s using 1.75 mm PLA filaments. The heat bed can reach a maximum temperature of 110 degrees Celsius (230 degrees Fahrenheit), which only takes it about five minutes to achieve, and the extrusion temperature can reach as much as 255 degrees Celsius (491 degrees Fahrenheit).
If the power goes out and the printer shuts off, it will resume the printing project once it turns on again. Its extruder is upgraded to provide better extrusion by reducing clogs, and it has a V-Slot that uses POM wheels that helps it run smoothly and reduces noise when it’s working.
SainSmart x Creality Ender-3 3D Printer
SainSmart makes several models of 3D printers, but this is one of their most affordable models. It is a good beginner’s printer for children, students, and new hobbyists. The build area is big enough to create large models up to 8.7” X 8.7” X 9.8” (200mm X 200mm X 250mm).
The design of the extruder helps reduce clogging when using one of the 30 filaments to create objects. It also features resume print, so if the machine loses power, it will continue the project when the power returns. The nozzle speed for the printer is 180 mm/s.
The heat bed can reach up to 110 degrees Celsius in about five minutes and a nozzle temperature of 255 degrees Celsius. When you get the machine, you will need to do some assembly before trying it out. It includes a toolbox with 50g of test filament and a screw accessories box.
FlashForge Finder 3D Printer
The frame and body of this 3D printer by FlashForge is alloy and plastic, which provides for strong, stable printing. The build plate slides out to make it easy to remove your creations, and it reduces the risk of damaging the plate. The plate is safe to touch as it doesn’t get hot.
The dimensions of objects that users can create can be up to 140mm X 140mm X 140mm. The printer has a 3.5″ color touchscreen controller, and it has Wi-Fi, flash drive, USB cable or Cloud connectivity. It comes with printing software that is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.
It operates quietly at 50 decibels, so as not to disrupt a household or colleagues at work. This FFF printer comes with a roll of 300-gauge filament with which to start the first printing project. There is a limited 90-day manufacturer’s warranty.
GEEETech 3D Printer
This GEEETech 3D printer has a body made from a wood plate that is 6mm thick. The borosilicate glass heat bed gets as hot as 110 degrees Celsius (230 degrees Fahrenheit). The extruder heats up to 240 degrees Celsius (464 degrees Fahrenheit).
The machine allows a build volume up to 200mm X 200mm X 180mm for large objects like toys or vases. It uses a filament diameter of 1.75mm and can use PLA, ABS, and flexible PLA filaments. To send print orders, it connects via Wi-Fi, Cloud, USB, or it can use an SD card for stand-alone printing. The Wi-Fi module is upgradable.
Its EasyPrint 3D software has print and control features, along with several free 3D models that buyers can print and enjoy. The user manual, guide and installation manual are available as downloads. The Wi-Fi module is sold separately.
Creality3d CR-10 Mini 3D Printer
If you want a small printer for smaller size models, then the Creality3d mini 3D printer may work well for you. It has a build size of 11.8 X 8.6 X 11.8 inches, so it doesn’t limit printing to the smallest models. If power is lost, it will resume printing once it is up and running again.
The screws on the underside of its z-axis provide the stability that models need for printing. The regular printing speed is 80 mm/s, but it can achieve speeds up to 200 mm/s. This machine uses 1.75mm PLA filaments, which extrude at temperatures up to 250 degrees Celsius (482 degrees Fahrenheit.
The heat bed gets up to 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), with a platform made from 4mm aluminum alloy and a sheet of 3mm tempered glass. It has a 3-inch LCD control screen. It also comes with lifetime technical support.
If you want to get a 3D printer for crafts projects or toys and models, then you should look for an FFF or FDM printer as they are the most common type for desktop printing. Most of the filaments require heat to extrude, so look for one that heats up to at least 250 degrees Celsius.
They vary in price, but the seven printers in the review are under $500. Consider your budget when you purchase a 3D printer because you will also need to buy the appropriate filaments for it. Also, if the machine comes with software, make sure it is compatible with your computer system. Most of them should be compatible with the latest versions of Mac and Windows operating systems.
By reading this information and reviews, you will be able to choose from the best 3D printers under 500 dollars to find one that will suit your needs.
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