The 8 Best 3D Printers under $500 to Buy in 2018

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Qidi Technology X-one2 3D Printer

Minimalist in design and shipped fully assembled, the Qidi Technology X-one2 3D printer is a brilliant machine that’s easy to operate. Durably built with a full metal housing, the Qidi is exceptionally sturdy while printing and can accommodate a print up to 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches in size.

Thanks to free software for your PC and the unit's 3.5-inch touchscreen display, programming is a cinch. The UI friendly interface of the display adds to the overall novice-friendly functionality of the Qidi, and with the ability to adjust settings directly on the touchscreen during the printing process, any learning curve is nominal. Compatible with PLA and ABS filaments, the 10mm rod and 10MK nozzle allow for great motor quality that can be heated up to 110 degrees Celsius.

Best Budget: XYZprinting Da Vinci Mini 3D Printer

Modestly priced without sacrificing any functionality, the XYZprinting Da Vinci Mini 3D Printer immediately impresses with easy-to-use software. Ideal for novices and experienced users alike, the Da Vinci offers smooth prints at great speeds.

The machine supports 1.75 diameter PLA filament ordered directly from XYZ. The filament is inexpensive to replace and makes for a fair compromise for such a budget-friendly 3D printer that produces great results. The overall printing resolution can be adjusted anywhere from 100 to 400 microns matching the same resolution that can be found among more expensive competitors. Weighing 24.25 pounds, the Da Vinci is portable enough to be moved from room to room — and built-in Wi-Fi allows you to do just this. Files are easily transmitted directly from a computer and printing is as simple as the push of a single button.

Runner-Up, Best Budget: Monoprice Mini Delta 3D Printer

For budget buyers who don’t mind a smaller build volume, the Monoprice Mini Delta 3D printer is a smart buy. Arriving fully assembled, the printer consists of three arms on rails that move up and down independently of the print head. Printing is handled on the 110 x 120mm build volume plate.

With each print, the printer will continuously self-calibrate, eliminating manual bed leveling. With a range of different heat temperatures, the Mini Delta can work with a variety of materials including PLA, ABS, and wood or metal composites.

Selecting a print is done through open-source downloadable software and loaded via Wi-Fi, USB stick or SD card. Once loaded, you can adjust the options using the buttons on the front display. The machine is relatively user-friendly, so the learning curve isn’t too steep.

Printing speed is upwards of 150mm per second which is relatively quick for the budget-friendly price. Due to the small build volume, you’ll often see final results within 20-30 minutes. 

Best for Beginners: FlashForge Finder 3D Printer

User-friendly and widely regarded as one of the safest 3D printers around, the FlashForge Finder is a smart choice for beginners. Measuring 16.5 x 16.5 x 16.5 inches in size, the FlashForge can conveniently be stored on a shelf or desktop.

Compatible with Windows and Mac software, the FlashForge prints using the popular PLA filament with a built-in management system that provides user alerts when it’s running low. Transferring files to the machine for printing can be done in a variety of ways including via USB, flash drive or Wi-Fi as users can navigate a simple menu on the model's 3.5-inch touchscreen. Another benefit for beginners is the FlashForge’s assisted bed leveling for safely printing projects up to a build volume of 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches.

Best Value: Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer V2

Packed with features, the Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer V2 offers the best bang for your buck when it comes to under-$500 models. The machine has a compact build that won’t take up too much room on a desktop or table, arrives fully assembled and is ready to print 10 minutes after unpacking. 

Utilizing an aluminum heating bed for printing, a cooling fan helps to ensure printing temperatures stay within normal ranges while a small LCD panel display shows your current print status. With a 100-micron resolution and a filament diameter of 1.75mm, the Monoprice has a build volume of 4.7 x 4.7 x 4.7 inches. The model employs a multitude of filaments including PLA, ABS, PVA, wood and metal composites, and it also works with a microSD card or USB connection for transferring prints directly from a PC or Mac computer.

Best Design: XYZprinting Da Vinci Jr 1.0 Pro 3D Printer

While many 3D printers are relegated to boxy designs or cabled messes, the XYZprinting Da Vinci Jr 1.0 Pro sports a beautiful frame that blends in nearly anywhere in your home.

Feature-rich, the Da Vinci Jr catches attention with an open filament arrangement that enables the application of third-party 1.75mm non-toxic PLA filaments. Wi-Fi connectivity ensures that you can connect and print from any corner of your home with a Windows or Mac computer and save files to an SD card as a backup method for transferring prints. A nine-point auto-calibration feature removes the need to make manual printing adjustments and automatically calibrates the print bed with the Z axis. Along with a printer resolution between 100 to 400 microns that produces great results, the Da Vinci offers a respectable build volume for its size at 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches.

Best for Kids: 3Doodler Start Essentials 3D Printing Pen

There’s no stopping kids’ creativity, and the 3Doodler Start Essentials printing pen creates endless 3D possibilities for children eight years and older. Designed specifically for younger users, there are no external heated components that can lead to burns. It also uses a biodegradable plastic that melts at lower temperatures than the more commonly used PLA filament. Because of this, the pen’s nozzle and plastic casing can be safely touched when in use.

While printing, the filament hardens quickly, limiting the need for additional (parental) help with each project. The ergonomic design of the 3Doodler assists kids with proper positioning so it’s comfortable to use, and the non-toxic filament has no harmful odor and is eco-friendly. It is also less prone to “spider webbing”, which is what happens when a 3D pen is pulled away too fast and leaves a trail of excess material.

An automatic clear function also reduces the potential for filament jams, and the auto feed feature removes the need to continuously hold a button to get the filament to flow. A USB rechargeable battery removes the need for a power cord. 

Best Self Assembly: JGAURORA DIY 3D Printer Prusa i3

Constructed almost entirely of metal parts, the JGAURORA is highly recommended for both beginners and experienced users alike who want to build their own 3D printer from scratch.

Fun to assemble and safe to use, the DIY model's metal build is more stable than traditional acrylic 3D printers and has a respectable build volume of 7.9 x 7.9 x 7.1 inches. Compatible with ABS, PLA, TPU and wood filaments up to 1.75mm, the Prusa can receive directions from a built-in SD card reader and comes with an 8GB SD card that doubles as the machine's instruction manual. An LCD display provides detailed information on the status of the current item that’s being printed on the 2mm-thick metal housing plate that’s stronger than competitive printing platforms. The high Z-axis position and top standard motor for XY axis positioning work to improve the accuracy of each print without driving up the cost.