Table of Contents
- Can I Buy a 3D Printer for Under $100?
- What Should I Expect in a 3D Printer Under $100?
- The Picks: 5 Best 3D Printer Under $100
- What To Look for When Choosing a 3D Printer Under $100?
- Final Words
3D printing is also called additive printing. It prints objects in three dimensions by depositing layer by layer of material over each other. Get yourself a decent quality 3D printer, and you can use it to make just about anything. Be that toys, cosplay costumes, working prototypes, and even a mask necessary in this pandemic.
Modern 3D printers are small, cheap, and incredibly easy to install and operate. That is why these fun and useful machines have found their place in schools, design shops, and even homes of enthusiasts and hobbyists. Some artists even see it as a way of making some extra money to increase their income.
In the past decade, the innovation coming out of the 3D printing industry has been extraordinary. So much so that in 2020, the average consumer can buy a 3D printer for under $100-200. Now, if you know anything about 3D printers at all, even the slightest bit, then you might be thinking, “Well, that sounds a little outlandish and unreasonable,” and that is a fair reaction.
Yes, you won’t be getting the highest-end 3D printer available in the market, certainly not, not even close. Still, to experience all that is great about 3D printing in under $100, there’s obvious intrigue to that in our eyes.
Can I Buy a 3D Printer for Under $100?
The simple answer to this question is yes but to an extent. Allow me to elaborate. A $100 3D printer isn’t going to be able to print the largest items. It won’t have the best technology or even the best-finished outcome when you use it. Let’s be very clear, for under $100, no 3D printer that you buy is going to offer you the same experience that you would get purchasing or operating a premium, high-end 3D printer.
Once you’ve established this and can let go of all suspicions, you can start to appreciate these smaller, cheaper printers for what they are: cool, really fascinating tech that will someday be twice as efficient, while all the same in price and size.
What these cheaper models allow for, besides the opportunity for an average everyday consumer to use one, is the opportunity to look into the future. They allow you to not only see in front of you but the picture in your imagination. That is a future in which you will have a more efficient version of the product in your hand.
High-end printers primarily focus on bringing you the best technology of today. Unlike them, tech products like these cheaper, smaller models allow you to take a glimpse at the potential of the future by utilizing today’s tech to the best of its abilities.
What Should I Expect in a 3D Printer Under $100?
Above all, with a budget 3D printer under $100, you should expect limitations. You can expect a printer not larger than the average jar size, made out of not-very heavy or sturdy materials. Hence, it’s undoubtedly delicate to an extent.
The items you print out will be within the printer’s size, of course, so not too large to begin with. Almost everything you print should fit in your hand. You can also expect slower, less-efficient printing time, as well as a less efficient final product. That is unless this is your first 3D printing experience, in which case you can expect nothing you’ve ever seen a printer do before.
The Picks: 5 Best 3D Printer Under $100
Our first pick, the ANYCUBIC Mega Zero 3D printer, is a viable option for any first-time users. The printer is quite simple to assemble, as it mostly comes pre-assembled in the package. This will save you the hassle of figuring out the specifications of a 3D printer, the mechanics of it all, etc. If that is something you don’t care much for and just want to use the printer, then the Mega Zero is one of your best bets.
It is also very easy to level with its easy-to-locate print platform corners. Additionally, it has a resume print feature. It picks up from where it left off before the power outage. This will save you a lot of time and filaments. For a budget printer, it has a decent printing volume.
It has a high-precision aluminum frame and a closed-loop design, which adds to the overall stability of the printer. The double gear extruder extrudes very smoothly. It can be used with flexible filaments. The power supply that it uses is from a world-known brand and is very safe.
- Printing volume is 220 x 220 x 250 mm
- Printing speed range is 20 to 100 mm/sec
- Layer resolution is 0.05 to 0.3 mm
- Maximum extruder temperature is 250°C
- Compatible with SD card and USB
- The screen is dial operated
- Weighs 6.4 kg
The ANYCUBIC Mega Zero 3D Printer is a viable entry option for first-timers. It provides good quality printing and easy-to-use functions. A child could do the assembly, and it has many extra features (impressive, especially because it’s a budget option). It does not outdo any other product on this list in any area, however.
LABISTS 3D Printer is a fantastic DIY 3D printing kit for children, teens, and other first-timers looking to get into 3D printing. The assembly is unnervingly simple, with just three main parts that you need to connect. It’s just as easy to use with a unique button system that allows you to start, stop, as well as control the whole printing procedure.
The LABISTS printer is by far one of the most popular budget 3D printer options. Although this printer doesn’t have far too many features, their printing quality is one of the main contributors to their great success in this market. It has a small printing area, but you might be okay with that. It is very easy to operate since it starts printing with just one button.
The print bed is not heated, but it can be removed, making the removal of the build easy. It prints only with PLA. The layer resolution is impressively high with 50-microns. It reaches its operating temperature very quickly. It comes with an aluminum nozzle and an improved extruder that doesn’t get blocked. Moreover, it is compatible with microSD cards.
This printer also comes with a two-year warranty. It is designed to work under 60 dB, so it operates very silently. It comes with pre-installed slicing software systems (Labislicer and Cura) that are very fast. Moreover, it works with 30W power, so it won’t cost you much in the long run. It is very easy and fun to operate. It’d make a perfect gift for kids.
- Maximum printing volume is 100 x 100 x 100 mm
- Comes with a detachable magnetic platform
- Comes with self-developed Labislicer slicing software
- Only prints with PLA
- Print speed is 40 mm/sec
- The printing temperature is 190°C
- Layer resolution thickness is 0.05 to 0.2 mm
- Compatible with microSD card
- Weighs 1.9 kg
Although the LABISTS 3D printer doesn’t have many features, it does the core job well: printing. This, along with its price, has made it a popular option amongst beginners.
The ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D printer is one of the highest-rated budget option 3D printers on Amazon. This alone makes it a must-consider as it has sufficient user feedback to call it a good product. One of the best in its market, even. Since it comes semi-assembled, you can start printing in five minutes after it arrives.
This printer comes with a computer board that allows offline printing from USB without being connected to the computer. The ELEGOO Mars is jam-packed with features such as the Fast Slicing software, which performs the printing process ten times better than an open-sourced slicing software.
This printer is one of the best in its class and outdoes many of its competitors in many aspects. It has a 3.5-inch colored touch control screen. You’ll love the Chitubox slicing software. It takes only one minute to slice a 30 MB .stl file. The slicer software hollows out the model before slicing it. This saves a lot of your resin.
- Printing volume is 120 x 68 x 155 mm
- Layer resolution is 0.01 to 0.2 mm
- Maximum speed is 22.5 mm/sec
- Uses ChiTu DLP slicer
- Compatible with USB
- Uses LED display photocuring technology
- Uses UV light of 405 nm wavelength
- Requires 60W power
- Weighs 7.6 kg
Despite being among the priciest item on this list, the ELEGOO Mars is still a superb budget 3D printer and certainly one of the top two on our list. If you’ve got enough to spare to go for this one, then go for it. This printer has excellent all-round functions — good quality print and good quality.
The Creality Ender 3 is the most minimal & simplistic item on this list, aside from the assembly, which may take you an hour or so (as a first-timer). Besides this, the printer is very cut and dry simple, with no extra features or parts. The print quality is excellent — and it ought to be, considering all you can do with it is print.
Suppose you care for the mechanics of a 3D printer, how it works, how it’s assembled, but you’re still a new learner. In that case, this is an excellent way for you to introduce yourself to the world of 3D printing.
This FDM printer comes with a 0.4 mm nozzle. It works with various 1.75 mm filaments. For a budget printer, it has a sizeable printing area. It can make objects with a layer resolution of 100 microns. It is compatible with microSD cards and USB. The complicated parts of this printer come pre-assembled, but you’d need to assemble some other parts.
- The printing area is 220 x 220 x 250 mm
- Maximum printing speed is 200 mm/sec
- Maximum extruder temperature is 255°C
- Uses PLA, PETG, ABS, and TPU
- Has a single extruder
- Compatible with SD card and USB
- Layer thickness is 100 to 400 microns
The verdict on Creality Ender 3 3D Printer is pretty clear. If you’re a beginner looking to get into the mechanics of 3D printers and how they work, are assembled, etc., then the Ender 3 is the right option for you. It’s not so much so a consumer’s item as it is an artistic tool.
The Tresbro Creality Cr-100 is another kid-friendly 3D printer. It’s affordable, compact, and easy to use. Although I won’t sing praises for the print quality too much, as there are products with undeniable better quality prints, it’s certainly not below par. This 3D printer, unlike most, comes pre-assembled and ready to use in the packaging.
The bed leveling on this printer is automatic, which is very useful, especially for beginners and children. It has a clear and easy-to-use touchpad with three buttons. One button is for starting/pausing the print, another button to go back to the main menu, and the last one to control the temperature.
This printer doesn’t have any exposed wires. It has a tiny build, which makes it hard for anyone to burn their hands. This printer has a truck-like appearance and is available in red, yellow, orange, and blue colors. It has a removable magnetic bed from which you can easily remove your completed prints. Unfortunately, it is not a heated bed. However, it is very silent when it builds prints.
- Print volume is 100 x 100 x 80 mm
- Has a single extruder
- Has a heated bed
- Compatible with TF and SD cards
- Supports PLA
- Maximum print speed is 180 mm/sec
- Nozzle temperature is 210°C
- Layer thickness is 0.1 to 0.4 mm
- Weighs 2.8 kg
The Tresbro Creality Mini 3D Printer is the perfect printer for a beginner, particularly a younger one. It’s easy to use and comes pre-assembled in the box so that you just take it out, plug it in, and use it to print. If you’re an artist, technician, engineer, or student of any of these courses, then this printer might bore you more than it excites you. For the average consumer, however, this is a great, simplistic entry option.
What To Look for When Choosing a 3D Printer Under $100?
When choosing a budget 3D printer, the first thing you should be paying attention to is whether the printer comes pre-assembled, semi-assembled, or unassembled. This will be the primary decider as to which printer you opt for, depending on your capabilities as a 3D printer specialist, or lack thereof. Although semi-assembled and unassembled printers aren’t rocket science in assembly by any means, it certainly will test your problem-solving skills to some degree. If you wish to skip this process, opt for a pre-assembled 3D printer.
It is also essential to look into the printing technology’s quality, how many materials it prints, etc. These are just some varying factors that can help you select a better printer to suit your wants and needs.
If you have used a 3D printer with a heated bed, you wouldn’t want to go back from that. The first layers of your print are the base of your build and are very important to the object’s final appearance. A heated bed makes sure that the foundation of your build is well-formed and sticks to the bed. When it comes to the size of the print bed, bigger is always better. You can create large objects with wider build areas. But that also means that you’ll have to pay more.
Most low budget printers work at a speed of 50 mm/sec. This means that your build will take a long time to print. That doesn’t mean that you look for the fastest printer out there. Fast printers tend to make thick layers, which means that the detail will be poor. So, slow and steady printing is better in that aspect. Some printers come with two extruders to speed up this process. This way, you can also use different materials at the same time.
3D printers work by heating and molding multiple types of filaments in various shapes. There are various types of filament materials, but not every printer can support those materials. The most commonly used filaments are ABS and PLA. If you want a specific material, make sure that the printer supports it. Some printers even support clay and Sugru.
Safety and Other Features
You must always exercise caution when it comes to working with hot and electrical equipment. Keep an eye out for printers that have safety measures in place to make your experience safe. Choose a printer with automatic nozzle cooling when the print is complete. If you have bought a printer with a heated bed, look for a feature that automatically shuts it off when the print is done.
It is always a good idea to invest in printers that have a resume print option. If you don’t want your beautiful print to ruin halfway before it is complete, then the resume print option is a must. It makes sure that your printing process is not interrupted with unexpected pauses. The printing process will pick up from where it left off.
When you get your printer, it may require some fine-tuning. Always look for a printer that has easy access to belt tension adjustment. This will save you time and unnecessary headaches.
The final verdict is mostly dependent on what kind of 3D printer you need or have the luxury of affording, and this article’s purpose is to help you best gauge precisely that. Even within the constraints of choosing a 3D printer under a tight budget, there is a wide variety of 3D printer types that you can look into.
If I had to choose a top pick, though, it would likely be the ELEGOO Mars 3D Printer. With such impressive specs all across the board, a sleek, minimalist design, and excellent printing quality (perhaps the best on the list), in my opinion, this 3D printer is the best option for most consumers. It is a good investment, well-optimized for 3D printing. Moreover, it will last you longer than the average budget option product, even if it’s a little on the pricier side.
Technological advancements have led to increased competition, so manufacturers try their best to make better products at lower prices. 3D printers are now more affordable than ever. But you still should not spend more than you have to. Know what you want from your printer and look for a printer that can deliver that, such as a heated bed, a resume print option, and an easy-to-use interface. We have enlisted the five best printers under $100 here. All of them are good picks for budget printers, but the best among them is the ELEGOO Mars 3D printer.