Best 3D Printers Under $500

3D printers are great ways to make parts and useful items. Let's have a look at some of the best options under $500.

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Entry Level 3D Printers

3D printers are great ways to make parts and useful items. It's a hobby in its own right, but 3D printing can certainly supplement the RC hobby well, heck you can even print airframes these days. As someone who has no direct experience with 3D printers, I have asked friends to print me parts when needed, but recently I've been thinking it is time to get one of my own, but I didn't have any idea what to get. I started researching and there are many options and various levels of quality. I'm working off the idea that I'll want a budget printer with the understanding that some of the parts and print quality will be less than models that cost 2-4 times as much. We're talking sub-$500 printers to get your feet wet, so let's have a look at some of the best options in this price category. If you know of any better 3D printers under $500, please add them in the comments section below this article.

XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 Pro

  • Features: auto-calibration and a fully enclosed printing chamber
  • Printer Type: FDM
  • Material: PLA
  • Build Volume: 150 x 150 x 150 mm
  • Min Layer Height: 100 microns
  • Extruder Head: 1
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material: Yes
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm
  • On-Printer Controls: Yes
  • Connectivity: USB, SD Card
  • Price: $423.23
  • Link: Amazon

Anycubic I3 MEGA Full Metal Frame FDM 3D Printer

  • Features: Fast assembly, multi material support, pause/resume
  • Engraving Area: 210 x 210 x 205mm
  • Nozzle quantity: Single
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm
  • Nozzle temperature: 170-275 Degree
  • Layer thickness: 0.05-0.3mm
  • Memory card offline print: SD card
  • LCD Screen: Yes
  • Print speed: 20 - 100mm/s
  • Platform temperature: Room temperature to 100 degree
  • Supporting material: ABS,HIPS,PLA,Wood
  • Material diameter: 1.75mm
  • File format: AMF,DAE,G-code,OBJ,STL
  • XY-axis positioning accuracy: 0.01mm
  • Voltage: 110V/220V
  • Host computer software: Cura
  • Price: $369.99
  • Link - Gearbest

New Matter MOD-t

  • Features: Easy setup, WiFi Enabled, Resolutions as fine as 50 microns
  • Printer type: FDM
  • Materials: PLA
  • Build volume: 150 x 100 x 125 mm
  • Min Layer Height: 100
  • Extruder Head: 1
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material: Yes
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm
  • On-Printer Controls: No
  • Connectivity: USB, Wifi
  • Price: $269.10
  • Link: Amazon

M3D Micro Retail

  • Features: Plug and play, auto-calibration technology, UL safety rating
  • Printer Type: FDM
  • Material: PLA
  • Build Volume: 116 x 109 x 113 mm
  • Min Layer Height: 50 microns
  • Max Layer Height: 350 microns
  • Extruder Head: 1
  • XY Precision: 15 microns
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material: Yes
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm
  • On-Printer Controls: No
  • Connectivity: USB
  • Price: $315
  • Link: Amazon

Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer

  • Features: Support for All Filament Types, heated build plate, small footprint, pre-calibrated at the factory
  • Printer Type: FDM
  • Materials: ABS, PLA, Exotic
  • Build Volume: 120 x 120 x 120 mm
  • Min Layer Height: 100 microns
  • Extruder Head: 1
  • Printing Speed: 55 mm/s
  • Compatible with 3rd Party Material: Yes
  • Heated Platform: Yes
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm
  • On-Printer Controls: Yes
  • Connectivity: SD Card, USB
  • Price: $198.00
  • Link: Amazon

Thread Tools
Aug 28, 2017, 12:08 PM
Flyer of Things
I'd like to also suggest the Creality CR-10. It has a 300x300x400 build volume, can print pretty much anything, and it's about $400 on banggood right now. It's an open frame machine like the AnyCubic.

https://us.banggood.com/Wholesale-Wa...a-1085645.html
Aug 28, 2017, 12:14 PM
Gliders ain't drones!
Zenmaniac's Avatar
I've had a Monoprice Select Mini for almost a year, and absolutely love it. A little limited by bed size at 4.5" square, but there are after-market kits to replace with a bigger bed. Frankly, I think only one or two times have I needed a larger area.

There are some inconsistencies in quality, but service and replacement from the vendor is good. There's amazing 8000+ member Facebook support group that is very active and willing to help.

I've attached some of the projects I've done, some RC-related, some not.

For noobs, note that 3D printing technology is not at the level of ink-jet printing. It does require a willingness to tinker and futz. So no plug-n-play (unless you get to the $10K level printers).

-= Dave
Aug 28, 2017, 12:17 PM
who has rabbit ears down
Captain Canardly's Avatar
any of these will give great learning lessons, I wish I had done more research for my first one! And getting good files to begin with is as important as the printer!
Thanks Jason!
Latest blog entry: My "Kubiak" Collection
Aug 28, 2017, 12:30 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
Thanks guys. I'm excited to get my first printer! Still deciding on which one though.
Aug 28, 2017, 04:32 PM
who has rabbit ears down
Captain Canardly's Avatar
If you can spend 700$, I'd go with this Prusa, the learning that Dag did was beyond belief ( compared to my makersnot) trust his inputs, and [email protected] his infos. also, go with a kit, more bang for buvk, and a more in depth understanding of all happening ( my next is either a 5K$ Airwolf, or the GMax.
PRUSA i3MK2 TIPS (20 min 27 sec)
Latest blog entry: My "Kubiak" Collection
Aug 28, 2017, 04:50 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
Nice, thanks for the recommendation!
Aug 29, 2017, 11:08 AM
Retired CAD guy
birdofplay's Avatar
Lets not forget the Folger Tech FT-5 larger format kit.
And it's from the USA !

Had mine since late last winter and it's currently printing a T-rex skull as I write . !

Have also done the Spitfire, Cessna QT, vases, Rockets, gears , fidgets, badges etc etc.

Bob @ Hoosier Cutout Service
Last edited by birdofplay; Aug 30, 2017 at 09:26 AM.
Aug 29, 2017, 11:15 AM
wrong descision, wrong time
I have the Monoprice select mini and the CR-10. Both are excellent printers for the price (and are both less than $500). There is a learning curve with all consumer (inexpensive) 3d printers, but once you figure it out things run pretty smoothly.

Its great to be able to make plastic parts for models. Beats waiting weeks for parts to make their way from china, or to take an older model and update it

-Heath
Aug 29, 2017, 08:34 PM
Giant Scale 3D/IMAC & FPV
Eganwp's Avatar
Ya the Creality CR-10 is better than all of those listed above. Not as good as the amazing Prusa i3 MK2S, but a good printer for the cheap price none the less!

- Travis
Aug 30, 2017, 07:18 AM
who has rabbit ears down
Captain Canardly's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by birdofplay
Lets not forget the Folger Tech FT-5 larger format kit.
And it's from the USA !

Had mine since late last winter and it's currently printing a T-rex skull as I write . !

Have also done the Spitfire, Cessna QT, vases, Rockets, gears , fidgets, badges etc etc.

Bob @ Hoosier Cutout Service
Thanks for that reminder BirdofPlay!
Now, after doing serious research, I need to reset the research bar! looks to me to be VERY serious competition to the Prusa, and within Jason's wanted budget! the best part: the Extruded framework: When I was machining, and when we built a 20-20 extruded frame, those puppies would lock in= very tightly! kinda like the "old" CNC Machines: they held a tight tolerance because of the structure weight!= extremely neccessary for 3D printing!
Latest blog entry: My "Kubiak" Collection
Aug 30, 2017, 07:35 AM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
Alright I went with the Anycubic I3 MEGA. Any tips or tricks I should be aware of? Any good articles to help figure out which material is best suited for certain prints? I know I have a lot to learn and I'll be doing a review on this printer from a newbies perspective. Feeling excited right now.
Aug 30, 2017, 08:07 AM
Registered User
DonA's Avatar
Jason

Plenty of reviews for the Anycubic I3 Mega on YouTube.
https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...ycubic+i3+mega

I suggest you find a users group for the printer on Facebook or elsewhere. That will be your best source of information on troubleshooting, tips, etc. Makers Muse and Sanlander on YouTube have several videos of best materials testing etc.

Don
Aug 30, 2017, 09:28 AM
Retired CAD guy
birdofplay's Avatar
CC: On my FT-5 I replaced the melamine connector plates with Aluminum.

An inexpensive but good bang for buck improvement IMHO.
Aug 30, 2017, 10:00 AM
Gliders ain't drones!
Zenmaniac's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Cole
Any tips or tricks I should be aware of? Any good articles to help figure out which material is best suited for certain prints? I know I have a lot to learn and I'll be doing a review on this printer from a newbies perspective. Feeling excited right now.
Definitely start with PLA filament -- it's like the DC-3 of filaments. Easiest to work with and will do 90% of what you need. Second choice used to be ABS, but I think it's being replaced by PET-G as a "tougher" plastic than PLA. Make sure your printer will get to the required temperatures for the media.

Here's a filament guide:
https://www.matterhackers.com/3d-pri...BoC8-sQAvD_BwE

A few tips:

1. The spacing between the hot-end nozzle tip and the bed is critical to the plastic sticking to the bed. You will hear the term "make sure the bed is level", and as a good RC pilot, you are going to think "level to the earth, like wings". Nope. In the 3D printing world "level" means that the spacing between the nozzle and bed is equal over all areas of the bed.

2. Read this before you start. And as you print. A great reference to print quality issues:
https://www.simplify3d.com/support/p...oubleshooting/

3. Temperature is key, even the same filament from the same vendor in different colors may require different temperatures.

4. There are lots of videos.

5. Have fun!

-= Dave


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