Best 3D Printer Under $500 (Buyer’s Guide)
Everyone has a budget to work with, and if you are looking for the best 3D printer under $500, then you’ve come to the right place. In this review, we will cover some of the fantastic options available in this price range.
After reviewing the best 3D printers under 500 dollars, our top pick is the Ender 3. Here’s why:
- High performance for a low price
- Excellent customer service and huge online community
- Fantastic for beginners as well as experienced professionals
While we are big fans of the Ender 3, there are also many other 3D printers that offer impressive features, ease of use, and robust designs. Here are a few other models to consider:
Best 3D Printer Under $500
The following list of 3D printers are all priced under $500, but check out our review of the best 3D printers under $300 for even more excellent options at lower prices.
That being said, you will probably want to upgrade to a higher level 3D printer at some point. For those who are ready for an upgrade, the printers on this list should do the trick.
First, let’s start with one of our all-time favorites: the Ender 3 Pro. This is a great 3D printer to start with, and while you might want to upgrade eventually, this printer gives you a robust set of basic features to start with. It compares very favorably to other 3D printers at higher price points.
1. Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer
The Ender 3 is a beloved 3D printer across the 3D printing world. It has dedicated followings on reddit and dozens of reviewers swear by it on Youtube. The reason for the fanfare is simple: the Ender 3 offers a premium design for low prices.
The Ender 3 was designed in the style of the classic Prusia i3 Mk2, one of the most successful 3D printer models ever developed under the RepRap lineage. But with a price point at around half that of the Prusia series printers, the Ender 3 offers the same quality for a bargain.
- Highly customizable open-source design
- LCD screen, removable build plate, robust power source
- Resume print function allows the print to continue after interruptions like power outages
- Lifetime 24 technical assistance from Comgrow
- Huge online community to help you get started and explore everything the Ender 3 can do
Best 3D Printer For The Price: The Ender 3 Pro
As we have said, the Ender 3 offers probably the best price to quality ratio of any 3D printer available on the market right now. At the same time, it is a budget option compared to the other 3D printers on this list, and you may wish to upgrade the extruder, the printer bed, and the power supply after a while.
Thankfully, the price is low enough that you can make all of these upgrades and still keep the total price under $500. In addition, due to the open-source design, there are many options for upgrades and additions to choose from that the online community has developed.
Check out the Ender 3 subreddit for more recommendations about how to get the most out of the Ender 3. Also, just search Thingiverse for “ender 3 mod” and enjoy the vast number of mods available for free.
- Cheapest printer on this list
- Easy to use and quick assembly
- Open-source design
- Highly customizable
- LCD screen
- Metal frame
- Large online community
- 24 hour customer service and technical support
- Few advanced features
- Poor Quality Control
- Upgrades may be necessary for best results
- REMOVABLE BUILD SURFACE PLATE: Provide all-round protection to your 3D printer build plate and ensure consistent temperature throughout the build surface. Easy to remove the printing models after cooling.
- SAFE POWER SUPPLY: Ender 3 Pro comes with a UL Certified power supply, protecting your printer from unexpected power surges, that can heat the hot bed to 110℃ in just 5 minutes.
- RESUME PRINT FUNCTION: Ender 3 Pro can resume printing from the last recorded extruder position after suffering unexpected power outages.
- SEMI-ASSEMBLED KIT: This easy-to-setup kit comes partially assembled, allowing you to learn about the basic construction of 3D printers as you finish putting it together. A fun STEM educational experience in mechanical engineering and electronics.
- WHAT YOU GET: Ceality Ender 3 Pro 3D pinrter, lifetime technical assistance and 24 hours professional customer service.
2. ANYCUBIC Photon S 3D Printer
The Anycubic Photon S is an SLA 3D printer, which means that it uses resin instead of plastic filament to create objects. Light is shot through the resin and focused on specific points to harden the resin and print the object.
That means that, unlike with FDM 3D printers, the Anycubic photon S can produce highly detailed prints with smooth surface finishes and no visible layer lines. Due to the superior print quality that SLA 3D printers offer, they are gaining popularity among both hobbyists and professionals who require exact, high-resolution prototypes and functional parts.
The Anycubic Photon S is the upgraded older sibling of the Anycubic photon UV, which is arguably the most popular SLA printer on the market today. The main differences between the two come down to added features that vastly improve the reliability and performance of the printer.
- Dual Z-axis linear rails for reduced z wobble
- Upgraded UV light source for faster print times
- Touch screen with easy to use menu and progress display
- Sanded Aluminum platform for enhanced adhesion
- Double air filtration system: effectively reduce the spread of noxious vapors from the resin
Highest Quality Prints And Faster Print Speeds
Most SLA printers offer finer detailing than FDM printers. But the Anycubic Photon S pulls out all of the stops with a fine-tuned and upgraded UV LED light source and Dual z-axis rails for greater stability while printing. It is easily the best 3D printer under $500 in the SLA category.
The Dual Z-axis rails are particularly useful features to have because they cut down on the effect of z-wobble on prints. Sometimes vibrations and shaking of the printer can translate into ugly artifacts and misprints in the final objects. The dual z-axis rails prevent that from happening as easily.
In addition, the Anycubic Photon S comes with built-in air filters so that vapors from the resin do not spread around the room that you are printing in. One of the problems with using SLA 3D printers is that vapors from the resin are toxic to breathe, and safety masks should be used at all times when handling the resin. The built-in air filters cut down on the likelihood of harmful exposure to the fumes.
- High-resolution prints and superior print quality
- Low print failure rates
- Built-in air filters
- Easy to use and quick assembly
- LCD screen with progress display
- Dual z-axis linear rails for reduced z wobble
- More powerful UV LED light source
- Maybe a steeper learning curve than with a basic FDM printer
- Must use safety protection like face mask and gloves
- Great starter 3D Printer, Super easy to setup since it comes almost entirely preassembled, come with all the proper tools to get started, and just a single grub screw to level instead of having to level each corner. Great introduction to 3D printing
- With the Dual Rails, No worry about Z wobble issue; The dual Z axis rail make the bed very stable, this helps with the movement and to make sure the bed does not shift in the middle of printing; Better choice for large x-y objects with super-fine details
- Upgraded LED Array, With the UV upgraded lighting, it makes the resolution and the accuracy in your printing that much better and tighter than any other 3d printer in its class. The pitting in the skin, the hair and the texture in the clothing all can shows up
- More Function, 1 Touch screen, offer a new-Level use experience 2 Sanded Aluminum platform, greatly enhance adhesion make it more stable during printing 3 Double air filtration system, effectively reduce the divergence of odor 4 CE Certified Power Supply
- Photon Owner's Group, On Facebook as the people there are very knowledgeable and love to help with issues; They are eager to give suggestions and advice for everyone to get the best of their Photon and photon S
3. Monoprice Maker Select Plus
The Monoprice Maker Select Plus is a fantastic upgrade from their lower-tier but still impressive Monoprice Maker Select Mini (which is one of the cheapest 3D printers available that is still worth buying by the way). While not quite the best 3D printer under $500 in our opinion, it has a huge online following due to its superior quality-to-price ratio.
With the Monoprice Maker Select Plus, you get a fully customizable standard RepRap design with a few added features to make your printing experience much easier. That being said, it is still a relatively entry-level 3D printer and a few upgrades will go a long way toward improving the printing experience.
For instance, suggested upgrades would be adding bed level sensors for auto-leveling, sensors for power loss detection, and an all-metal hotend.
- Highly customizable, robust design
- Comes mostly assembled with minimal assembly required
- Touchscreen interface
- Can often be found on sale for less than $400
- Many mods available and large online community
Excellent For Beginners And Easy To Upgrade And Mod
The Monoprice Maker Select Plus is the perfect 3D printer for new hobbyists who may not print on a daily basis but would like to tinker with a 3D printer on the weekends. It is easy to get started with this machine right out of the box and there is tons of information online for mods that will increase performance significantly.
Suggested mods to implement immediately:
- Diiicooler for decreased stringing and better bridges
- The MOSFET mod for fire safety
- Z-axis mod will increase your print quality by stiffening up the frame which will decrease ghosting
- Bed will warp and need to be upgraded eventually
Other mods, such as replacing the stock thermister or installing an all-metal hotend, may not be necessary. If the thermister wears out, go ahead and replace it. And if you are printing with high-temperature filaments, add in an all-metal hotend. Otherwise, no need to bother with them.
- High quality prints
- Comes assembled
- Touchscreen LCD screen
- Highly customizable with many mods on Thingiverse
- Large online community and good customer service
- Poor Quality Control
- No auto-leveling for the printer bed
- Support for All Filament Types: The heated build plate and wide range of extruder temperatures allow this printer to work with any type of filament, from basic filaments, such as ABS and PLA, to more advanced materials, such as conductive PLA, wood and metal composites, or dissolvable PVA.
- Compact Desktop Design: Featuring a small footprint and basic, open frame design, this 3D printer is compact enough for any desk
- Ready to Print include sample PLA filament and a MicroSD card with preinstalled models, Build area 7.9 x 7.9 x 7.1 inches, printer frame dimensions 15.7 x 16.1 x 15.7 inches
- Heated aluminum build plate nozzle cooling fan for printing all filament types. Complete kit with sample PLA filament, bed scraper, and MicroSD card with preloaded model files. Micro USB and MicroSD card connectivity. PC and Mac compatible. Compatible with Cura, Repetier, and other software.
Conclusion: Best 3D Printer Under $500
While there are many fantastic cheap 3D printers, the best 3D printer under $500 is the Ender 3. It is super easy to set up and has a massive community online. If you have any problems, someone has likely already found a solution to it.
However, if you need higher resolution prints with superb details and professional quality finishes, check out the Anycubic Photon S 3D printer. It is faster than other SLA 3D printers because it has upgraded UV LEDs, and it also comes with built-in air filters to cut down on fumes form the resin.
Finally, for a highly customizable starter printer that is perfect for entry-level hobbyists, check out the Monoprice Maker Select Plus. It features a robust design and a ton of useful mods that you can implement to improve the performance of the printer immediately.
If you are looking for other cheap options, check out our guide to the best 3D printers under $300. You will find the Ender 3 on that list, as well as the Maker Select Plus’ smaller sibling, the Monoprice Maker Select Mini. These are all great machines to start your 3D printing adventure with.
Leave a comment if you think we missed anything. And as always, happy printing!