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Best 3D Printers Under $500

Updated July 2023
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
Comgrow Creality Ender 3 V2
Comgrow
Creality Ender 3 V2
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Ideal for DIYers
Bottom Line

Simple to use and faster than other affordable models on the market makes this a top choice that is backed up by our trials.

Pros

Equipped with a silent motherboard that improves speed while keeping it quiet during the printing process. Included touch-screen makes it easy to navigate settings. We love how easy to use it was once it was set up compared to other options on the market.

Cons

Comes disassembled, so the initial set up can take a while.

Best Bang for the Buck
Scrib3d P1 3D Printing Pen
Scrib3d
P1 3D Printing Pen
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Portable Convenience
Bottom Line

Our testing found that this printing pen is perfect for kids or anyone wanting their first 3D printing device.

Pros

You can change its temperature to work with different filament types. Our tester noted it takes as little as two minutes to get ready before you can print. It has a sleep mode so you can take a short break without taking it all down.

Cons

It shouldn’t be used by children young enough to be tempted to touch the ultra-hot, just-printed filament.

Longer Orange 30 3D Printer with 2K High-Resolution
Longer
Orange 30 3D Printer with 2K High-Resolution
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Best for Fine Detail
Bottom Line

A well-priced model that is ideal if you intend to print smaller objects that require fine detail.

Pros

Full touchscreen that displays real-time status updates. Equipped with a small-angle UV/LED matrix for better light uniformity and improved curing. The metal resin tank is accessible and easy to clean. Convenient touchscreen controls.

Cons

Doesn't come with any resin. Instructions could be more user-friendly for beginners.

Creality 3D Ender 3 S1 Pro 3D Printer Kit
Creality 3D
Ender 3 S1 Pro 3D Printer Kit
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Best for Beginners
Bottom Line

This 3D printer from Creality3D can handle most filaments.

Pros

It has a maximum build volume of 220 by 220 by 270 millimeters with a maximum hot-end temperature of 300 degrees and a maximum heated bed temperature of 110 degrees. There’s a 4.3-inch color touchscreen.

Cons

Its connectivity is limited to USB Type-C and SD cards.

Elegoo Mars 3 Resin 3D Printer
Elegoo
Mars 3 Resin 3D Printer
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Tested Choice
Bottom Line

A budget-friendly resin design that is easy to set up and creates high-quality objects compared to traditional filament machines.

Pros

High-quality internal fans that keep the machine cool during longer printing sessions. Has a simple plug-and-play design that works right out of the box. 36 different LEDs ensure precision printing. Our team enjoyed watching it print.

Cons

We wish it came with more instructions for the initial printing process.

HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best 3D printers under $500

3D printing feels a lot like magic. With a set of plans downloaded from the internet, you can use a 3D printer to create practically anything you want. Thousands of users around the world experiment with 3D printers every day, creating everything from custom furniture and smartphone accessories to action figures and plant holders. The phenomenon is definitely in its infancy, but it’s growing fast.

Until recently, 3D printers were prohibitively expensive for most people. Now, that’s changed, and you can easily find a reliable, easy-to-use home 3D printer that's financially within reach of a lot more consumers.

If you’ve been on the fence about whether to get into 3D printing, now’s the time. 3D printers are more affordable than ever, and more importantly, there are models that are easy enough for anyone to use — no experience is necessary to start printing right away.

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Before you buy a 3D printer, download the manual and read it thoroughly. The manual will give you a sense of the overall quality of the printer. If the instructions are insufficient or hard to understand, the printer may be frustrating to use. Stick to a 3D printer with a manual that’s clear and easy to understand.

Key considerations

Picking the perfect 3D printer means finding one that fits your lifestyle. Consider these questions before you begin comparing models.

  • What 3D printing software do you want to use? You’ll need to use software to create printing plans or send existing plans to your 3D printer. Every 3D printer comes with its own software. Sometimes, that’s a proprietary app; other times, it’s an open-source app. Spend time watching demo videos and video reviews of the different applications to get a sense of which would be best for you.
     

  • How much available space do you have for a 3D printer? 3D printers range in size from slightly bigger than a breadbox to the size of a mini-fridge. Don’t assume that any 3D printer you buy would fit on your desk. Measure your available space ahead of time and shop accordingly.
     

  • Will you mostly be using plans you download from the internet, or will you be experimenting with making your own plans? You don’t have to make your own plans to enjoy a 3D printer, and in fact, you can save some money if you choose a model geared toward casual users. If you’re going to be creating unique objects or modifying existing designs, you’ll need a 3D printer that provides more granular control and the flexibility to adjust detailed options; this will cost a little more.

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Did you know?
If you’re not sure what to print with your 3D printer, spend some time searching the web for example projects. You’ll find 3D printing examples for every situation, and you may even find inspiration to create your own.
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Features

You’ll find a wide variety of 3D printers under $500, some of which are more capable than others. Watch for these key features as you shop.

  • Wireless connectivity: You’ll need to load your 3D printing plans to your 3D printer, and it’s easier to do that wirelessly than it is using an SD card or thumb drive. Look for 3D printers that support WiFi; you’ll save yourself time and headache.
     

  • Filament compatibility: 3D printers create objects out of filament. There are different kinds of filament, and price tags vary. Most 3D printers use polylactic acid (PLA) filament, which is composed of renewable resources. Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to a few models, check to see what types of filament these printers work with and whether you can find filament made by third-party manufacturers.
     

  • Touchscreens: Many 3D printers feature touchscreen interfaces, so you can interact with them much like you would a copy machine. These setups are perfect for demonstrating the process or for children who want to learn the basics of 3D printing.
     

  • Software compatibility: Some 3D printers work with proprietary software from the manufacturer, some work with open-source software options, and some work with both. As you compare models, pay attention to what software each one runs and whether you could use different software with it. Ultimately, the software is the part you’ll be interacting with, so it’s important to get a model with interfaces that make sense to you.

Price

Basic 3D printers typically cost between $150 and $300. Models in this range are bare-bones with small build plates that limit the size of what you can print. If you’re looking for an entry-level 3D printer or plan to print objects no larger than a Funko Pop, you don’t need to spend more than $300.


Better 3D printers can be had for between $300 and $500. The models in this range represent the best value across the entire 3D printer market. They’ve got moderately sized build plates and worthwhile features like WiFi and a smartphone app, and they make it easy for anyone to start printing in minutes. If you want the most straightforward, capable 3D printer under $500, this is the price range to aim for.

Tips

  • Before you buy a 3D printer, explore different manufacturer support forums to get a sense of how active and helpful other owners typically are — or aren’t. It’s likely that at some point, you’ll need to find help. Perform your research ahead of time, and you’ll know how and where to ask for help when you need it.
     

  • Look for third-party filament options to keep long-term costs down. If you print often, you’re going to need replacement filament. Look around ahead of time to see which 3D printers work with third-party filament. It’s also worth checking out bulk deals; you may be able to save money by buying several spools of filament at once. Spend time calculating which 3D printers are best in terms of long-term expenses, and buy one that will stay within your budget over time.
     

  • Be patient with yourself as you learn. 3D printing is an art form, and it can take practice to get it right. Whether it’s learning to use the software or figuring out how to correct issues during printing, you’re bound to experience a few setbacks. That’s normal. Consider 3D printing a skill that you need to practice, and give yourself time to get good at it.

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3D printers use heat to make filament pliable enough to be molded into solid objects. They’re safe to use, but an adult should always be present, even if the printer is marketed for children.

FAQ

Q. How much tech background will I need to use a 3D printer?
A.
It depends on the 3D printer, but in most cases, you don’t need to be super technical to use one. You’ll need to be able to download 3D printing plans from the web, load them into your 3D printing software, and send them to be printed, much like you would send a document to a traditional printer. If you’re worried the process will be too challenging, get a 3D printer with a touchscreen. These printers are simpler to interact with, so you spend less time planning and more time enjoying the objects you print.

Q. What do PLA and ABS mean in 3D printing?
A.
Both PLA and ABS are different types of filament, or plastic, used by 3D printers to create objects. Each costs roughly the same as the other. ABS is more durable and flexible, but it requires more heat to work during the printing process, and it generates an unpleasant odor. PLA can be used in a 3D printer at a much lower temperature, and it creates a sugar-like odor during printing. Most 3D printers for home use are designed to work with PLA filament.

Q. How expensive is replacement filament, and how long does it last?
A. Replacement rolls of filament vary in price from $15 to $30 for a 1kg spool, which will have enough plastic to make roughly 100 standard-size chess pieces. Filament doesn’t go bad or expire, so you can keep a single spool until it’s empty.

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