The Best 3D Printers for Hobbyists on a Budget in 2023
3D printing technology has advanced rapidly in recent years, making high-quality printers more accessible and affordable than ever before. Where industrial-grade 3D printers used to cost tens of thousands of dollars, now hobbyists and casual makers can get started with an excellent printer for just a few hundred dollars.
For beginners who want to explore the creative potential of 3D printing without breaking the bank, there are many great budget options to consider in 2023. Prices continue to become more competitive, while print quality and reliability have improved across inexpensive models.
This article will highlight some of the top-rated 3D printers that cost $500 or less. These printers are ideal for hobbyists who want to print models, prototypes, figurines, DIY projects, and more at home. Whether you're new to 3D printing or looking to upgrade from an older, entry-level printer, the market now offers sophisticated devices specially designed for home and casual users. For a comprehensive overview of the best 3D printers in all sizes and budgets, check out GearBerry's in-depth buying guide on the best 3D printers of 2023. Their guide compares all the key factors to consider when selecting a 3D printer for your needs.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Budget 3D Printer
When evaluating affordable 3D printers for hobbyist use, there are a few key factors to keep in mind:
● Print Quality and Resolution: You want a printer that can produce detailed, clean prints with smooth surfaces. Look for printers that offer resolution of 50 microns or higher.
● Print Speed: Faster print speeds allow you to produce models more quickly. For hobbyists, a moderate print speed of 60-100 mm/s is ideal.
● Print Bed Size: The bigger the printer's build area, the larger models and projects you can print. Look for at least 6 inches on any dimension.
● Filament Compatibility: Many low-cost printers only use standard 1.75mm PLA/ABS filament. If you want more versatility, find one that also accepts flexible, wood, or other materials.
● Ease of Use: Beginner-friendly printers have touchscreens, WiFi, intuitive software, and quick setup. Auto-leveling and calibration are also handy features.
III. Reviews of Top Budget 3D Printers for Hobbyists
1. Easythreed K7 3D Printer
With a price of under $99, the Easythreed K7 is one of the most cost-effective solutions available to enthusiasts in 2023. Despite being inexpensive, the K7 offers decent print quality for simple jobs and is simple to set up and operate.
The 100x100x100mm build volume of this small desktop 3D printer is adequate for creating small models, toys, and miniatures. It employs FDM printing technology with a 0.4mm nozzle and 0.05 to 0.4mm layer resolution. The K7 can print using 1.75mm PLA filament that is commonplace.
One of the biggest pros of the Easythreed K7 is the ease of use. The simple button controls and included slicing software makes it very beginner-friendly. It also has a removable magnetic print bed for easy model removal after printing. The K7 operates quietly thanks to the integrated 32-bit mainboard and TMC2209 silent stepper drivers.
The print quality from the K7 is quite good for the price point. While fine details may not be as crisp as more expensive printers, it can produce smooth prints once dialed in properly. Print speed is decent but don't expect ultra-fast printing. The lack of resume print ability is one downside to note.
It is an excellent starter 3D printer for hobbyists who want to get into the world of 3D printing on a tight budget. While the small build volume limits what you can create, the print quality exceeds expectations for under $100. The K7 is easy to use right out of the box and produces solid prints using PLA filament. It's a great low-risk option to experiment with 3D printing before investing in a more capable machine.
2. Kingroon KP3S 3.0 3D Printer
With a price of just $99, the Kingroon KP3S 3D printer is another incredibly economical choice for hobbyists. Considering the low price point, it provides reliable printing and good print quality. The 180x180x180mm build area and compact design of the KP3S make it ideal for tiny prints.
The two linear guide rails on this printer are one of its unique features since they aid to increase print accuracy and smoothness. It makes use of a direct-drive Titan extruder that can handle TPU filament that is flexible. A heated print bed with a detachable magnetic construction plate is also included with the KP3S for simple model removal.
In terms of print quality, the 0.4mm nozzle and 0.05-0.3mm layer resolution allows you to print detailed miniatures and parts. Print speeds up to 100mm/s are achievable for faster prints. The 2.5” LCD touchscreen gives you control over the printing process. Quiet printing operation is another plus.
While the KP3S does require some assembly, it is fairly easy to set up for beginners. The open frame design also makes maintenance and upgrades accessible. Key upgrades like auto-leveling and print recovery are available to enhance functionality.
For the price, it’s hard to find too many cons with the Kingroon KP3S. The build volume is relatively small, so don’t expect to print anything too large. Support and documentation could be improved as well. But if you want an inexpensive intro into 3D printing, the Kingroon KP3S delivers quality prints while keeping costs low. It’s an excellent starter printer that punches above its price point.
3. LONGER LK5 Pro 3D Printer
Stepping up to the $300 price tier, the LONGER LK5 Pro provides hobbyists with a larger build volume and upgraded features while still being reasonably affordable. With a build area of 300 x 300 x 400mm, you can create bigger prints compared to the other budget options.
The LK5 Pro stands out with its dual blower cooling system, which improves overhangs and bridges by quickly cooling the filament after extrusion. It uses a direct drive extruder and 0.4mm nozzle for good detail on prints. Print resolution ranges from 0.1 to 0.4mm.
This printer comes 90% pre-assembled and has an open frame design with reinforced bars for increased stability. The noise is minimized thanks to the integrated silent motherboard and TMC2208 drivers. The 4.3” full color touchscreen gives you control and previews of prints.
Key functions like filament runout monitoring and power loss recovery assist prevent wasted prints. Print removal is also made simple by the detachable lattice glass bed. Manual leveling isn't too tough, even if automatic bed leveling would be wonderful.
Common materials including PLA, ABS, and PETG may be printed on the LK5 Pro at respectable speeds of up to 180mm/s. For the price, dependability is reasonable. You can print bigger models, prototypes, and other things thanks to the increased build volume. The LONGER LK5 Pro is a reliable mid-range solution for less than $300 if you require more space than smaller, more affordable printers can provide.
4. MINGDA Magician Pro 3D Printer
Priced at $639, the MINGDA Magician Pro is a step up in build volume, quality, and features compared to the cheaper options. With a large 400 x 400 x 400mm build area, you can print sizable models and multi-part projects.
A standout feature of the Magician Pro is the auto bed leveling, which automatically calibrates the print bed for you with just a button press. This makes setup much easier, especially for beginners. The printer is also 90% pre-assembled out of the box.
Print quality from the 0.4mm nozzle is very good. The dual Z-axis rods and rails help stabilize the gantry for smoother vertical movements. Dual cooling fans and a direct drive extruder also contribute to nice prints. Print speeds up to 100mm/s are possible.
The MINGDA Magician Pro has a robust metal frame with acrylic panels for safety. Noise is minimized thanks to the integrated 32-bit mainboard and TMC silent stepper drivers. The 3.5” touchscreen provides control and previews.
Power loss recovery, filament runout detection, and print resuming are all important capabilities that assist prevent unsuccessful prints and material waste. Remote printing is enabled by connectivity options such as USB, SD card, and WiFi.
While not the cheapest printer on the market, the Magician Pro is an excellent choice for amateurs seeking a larger build capacity and improved performance. Compared to lesser printers, the auto bed leveling makes setup considerably easier. The print quality and dependability are also outstanding. If you want to upgrade from a beginner printer, the Magician Pro is an excellent mid-range option.
5. KOKONI-EC1 3D Printer
The KOKONI-EC1 stands out from other budget 3D printers with its integrated AI design features. Priced at $129, it offers an accessible entry point for hobbyists to get started with 3D printing.
This printer has a compact build volume of 100x100x58mm, well-suited for small models, miniatures, and other prints that don't require a large area. It uses standard FDM/FFF technology with a 0.4mm nozzle. Print resolution goes down to 0.011mm, allowing you to create detailed prints.
One unique aspect of the KOKONI-EC1 is the AI avatar and object modeling. You can take photos and the printer will automatically generate a 3D model prototype to print. This makes it easy for beginners to create their own designs. The printer is also controllable via the KOKONI mobile app.
Despite its modest price, the EC1 produces high-quality prints for small PLA products. Print speeds of up to 80mm/s are achievable. The operation is relatively quiet, at roughly 30dB. The frame has an enclosed construction for printing safety.
While the EC1 lacks several features such as a heated bed, auto leveling, and recuperation choices, the novel AI functions make up for it. The mobile app control and online model database are also beneficial.
The KOKONI-EC1 is an excellent choice for amateurs looking for an easy-to-use introduction to 3D printing. The AI modeling aids in the beginning of your printing experience. And the cost makes it very affordable. Expect a small build space and a lack of premium features. However, it punches above its weight in small prints.
6. Anycubic Kobra 3D Printer
At $289, the Anycubic Kobra offers amateurs an affordable mid-range 3D printer choice. It can handle a wide range of prints with a construction volume of 220 x 220 x 250mm.
The LeviQ motorized bed leveling system is a unique feature. It employs a 25-point calibration system to adjust for an uneven print bed. When compared to manual leveling on lesser printers, this simplifies setup significantly.
For flexible filament printing, the Kobra employs a direct drive extruder. It includes a spring steel print bed that is removable and has a PEI coating for good adhesion and easy model removal. Print speeds can be increased to 180mm/s for quicker prints.
Print quality from the 0.4mm nozzle is very good with the right slicer settings dialed in. Anycubic also offers a wide variety of filament materials and colors for expanded printing options. The 4.3” touchscreen gives you control over the process.
While assembled from 5 modular parts, the printer is easy to set up in around 10 minutes. The lightweight open frame design allows for access to components for maintenance and upgrades. Anycubic's service and community support are also positives.
For hobbyists seeking better performance than ultra-budget printers, the Anycubic Kobra is a strong option. The auto bed leveling, faster print speeds, flexible filament support, and large community make it stand out. Reliability and print quality exceed expectations for the reasonable price. If you're looking to step up from your first printer, the Kobra is worth considering.
7. Anycubic Photon M3 3D Printer
As the only resin-based printer on this list, the Anycubic Photon M3 provides hobbyists with a high-resolution SLA printing option for $279. With its 4K LCD screen, the print quality surpasses the FDM printers in terms of detail and precision.
The M3 has a build area of 180 x 163 x 102mm, suitable for highly detailed miniatures, jewelry, and other small models requiring ultra fine features. The 51 micron XY resolution and 10 micron Z axis resolution allow you to print layers thinner than a sheet of paper.
Print speeds up to 50mm/hr are 25% faster than prior Photon models. The laser-engraved aluminum platform also improves print adhesion for higher success rates. Anycubic's parallel matrix light source offers strong, consistent UV curing.
A 2.8” touchscreen makes controlling prints easy. Anycubic's free slicing software works with all their LCD printers without any subscription fees. The open frame design allows for easy resin vat access and part removal.
Being an SLA printer, you will need to take necessary safety precautions when handling resin. The build area is also much smaller than FDM printers. However, the Anycubic Photon M3 delivers exceptional detail and surface finish perfect for high-quality miniatures and parts.
For hobbyists who want to explore SLA printing and don't mind the resin handling, the Anycubic Photon M3 is an excellent budget choice. The print quality exceeds expectations at this price point. Just be aware of the limited build volume and additional steps compared to FDM printing before committing.
Choose Your Best 3D Printers on a Budget
After reviewing this lineup of top affordable 3D printers for hobbyists in 2023, there are great options for every skill level and budget.
The Easythreed K7 is the finest budget pick for novices around $100. While it is limited to smaller prints, it produces good quality and allows you to learn 3D printing on a budget.
The Anycubic Kobra is highly rated in the $200-300 price range. It's more user-friendly than other options because it has auto bed leveling and higher speeds. For the low price, the print quality and performance far exceed expectations.
The MINGDA Magician Pro stands out among mid-range printers under $500 thanks to its big 400mm cubed build area, auto leveling, and numerous features. It is excellent value for money for serious enthusiasts.
If seeking SLA-quality resin prints, the Anycubic Photon M3 is an excellent intro resin printer with an affordable price. Just be prepared for the additional steps resin printing requires.
For first-time hobbyists, the Easythreed K7 is the safest choice to start out and learn the ropes before investing more. But the Anycubic Kobra offers the best mix of print quality, reliability and value as you advance beyond entry-level.
Consider your skill level, budget and print size needs when deciding. But overall this lineup provides quality and capable budget-friendly options for virtually any 3D printing hobbyist.
Finding the right 3D printer or laser engraver can be a challenge with so many options to choose from. GearBerry is an online retailer specializing in high-tech tools and equipment for DIYers, makers, and hobbyists. Their website, GearBerry.com, offers a carefully curated selection of 3D printers on budget. So if you're in the market for an affordable, user-friendly 3D printer or laser engraver, be sure to check out GearBerry's website.