3D printing has been taking the market by storm, and though it’s been popular only among designers and engineers in its early stages, it’s now available and accessible for virtually anyone.
And though 3D printers used to be incredibly expensive back in the day, you can find some very budget-friendly ones in our day and age. And if you’re on a really tight budget, here are the best 3D printers under $300.
|3D Printer||Build Volume||Materials||Precision|
|Official Creality Ender 3 Pro||220 x 220 x 250 mm||PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU, PVA, HIPS, Soluble materials||100 – 400 microns|
|ANYCUBIC Mega S||210 x 210 x 205 mm||ABS, PLA, PETG, TPU, third-party filaments||100 microns|
|QIDI Technology X-one2||145 x 145 x 145 mm||PLA, ABS, PVA, HIPS, and other filaments||50 – 400 microns|
|FlashForge Finder||140 x 140 x 140 mm||PLA, PETG||100 – 500 microns|
|Monoprice 15365 Select Mini||120 x 120 x 120 mm||ABS, PLA, wood composites, metal composites, dissolvable PVA||100 – 300 microns|
The 5 Best 3D Printers Under $300 in 2021
1. Official Creality Ender 3 Pro – Best Overall
The Official Creality Ender 3 Pro comes with plenty of advancements over the Ender 3, including a magnetic bed and better mechanical construction.
The latter includes a sturdy extrusion for the Y-axis base, which is basically a 40 x 40 aluminum one that highly improves stability. Not only that, but the bearing wheels are also improved to minimize friction and further enhance dimensional stability.
As for the magnetic bed, the Creality Ender 3 Pro comes with a C-MAG bed that’s equipped with a flexible and removable sheet. This enables you to remove your prints easily after they’re finished, without inflicting any damage or impacting them in any way.
Still, there’s no compromise when it comes to how reliably the first layers of your prototype stick as the surface is textured to provide enough adhesion.
The Creality Ender 3 Pro can print models with a build volume of up to 220 x 220 x 250 mm thanks to the wide build plate, with a precision range of 400 microns and down to 100 microns, enabling you to fasten up the process according to your needs.
Moreover, there’s a print resume feature that allows you to recover and pick up a print where you left off if the printer is disconnected for any reason. Controlling this would be quite easy with the clickable control wheel found next to the LCD display.
Finally, assembling the Creality Ender 3 Pro isn’t a tough task, though it’s not very quick as it takes around two hours to get it up and running. Both the X and Y axes come pre-assembled, which means that you’re left with just the Z-axis to mount.
- Reasonable price
- Easy assembly
- Relatively large print volume despite its compact size
- High-quality prints
- Can be upgraded
- Leveling the bed is a little tough
- Might need more materials for adhesion
- Not very versatile
- Doesn’t have auto-leveling
If you’re looking for one of the best 3D printers under $300, the Creality Ender 3 Pro would be an ideal choice for a hobbyist that wants to print entry-level items with varying sizes and speeds.
2. ANYCUBIC Mega S – Runner-up
The ANYCUBIC Mega S gives you some versatility with its capability of printing with ABS, PLA, PETG, TPU, and third-party materials. It comes with a 210 x 210 x 205mm build volume, which means that you can create prototypes of a relatively large build size. Not only that, but its resolution ranges between 400 microns and down to 100 microns, which means that you get variable printing speed – an impressive feature for a budget printer.
The print bed is an Anycubic Ultrabase heated build plate, which ensures that your models stick to the build area throughout the process, which leaves no space for inaccuracies.
Out of the box, the ANYCUBIC Mega S comes pre-assembled but not fully assembled. Still, this saves you a lot of time and enables you to start working with it faster.
It’s super easy to navigate thanks to the color touchscreen interface, and it comes with an auto-resume feature that spares you the hassle of starting over if your process is disconnected for any reason.
- Comes pre-assembled to allow printing right out of the box
- Minimized clogging thanks to the enhanced extruder
- Doesn’t require additional adhesives
- Alerts when the filament spool almost runs out
- Auto-resume feature
- Excellent for a beginner
- Lifetime support
- A quite noisy operation
- Frame tends to rock when in use
- Warping of the print bed over time
If you’re looking for one of the best budget 3D printers for a beginner with no printing experience, the ANYCUBIC Mega S should be your choice. Despite the fact that it’s a little noisy and rattles during operation, it’s easy to use and comes almost fully assembled for use right out of the box.
3. QIDI Technology X-one2 – Most Accurate
With a layer resolution ranging between 400 microns and down to 50 microns, the QIDI Technology X-one2 is one of the best budget 3D printers for someone who’s looking for high-quality prints.
However, its heating bed isn’t very big, and so the build size of the QIDI Technology X-one2 is limited to 145 x 145 x 145mm. Though it’s not too small, it’s a lot less than what the Creality Ender 3 Pro or ANYCUBIC have to offer.
In terms of versatility, the QIDI Technology X-one2 is compatible with PLA, ABS, PVA, HIPS, and other filaments. For a budget 3D printer under 300, this is pretty impressive, especially that it’s equipped with active cooling and an ability to work with other slicers than Cura.
Moreover, the X-one2 comes almost pre-assembled out of the box, which means that it’s basically a plug-and-play device that you can use within one hour of unboxing. However, being a budget 3D printer, the X-one2 doesn’t come with an auto-leveling heated bed, which means that it’ll need some manual labor to fix up.
Since it’s compatible with ABS, this 3D printer comes with a closed-frame print bed that maintains the temperature at a constant level and entraps all fumes to spare you any odors. This also prevents any dust or airborne particles from falling onto your prototype as it’s being printed and possibly ruining parts of it.
- Very easy to assemble
- Highly accurate prints thanks to the 50-micron resolution
- Sturdy surface plate
- Quite fast at 150 mm/sec
- Closed-frame bed for safety and accuracy
- Doesn’t have auto-leveling
- Lacks WiFi support
If you’re looking for one of the best cheap 3D printers that give you highly detailed and accurate models, you won’t find any better than the X-one2.
4. FlashForge Finder – Largest Size Range
With the FlashForge Finder, you can enjoy 3D printing with a size of 140 x 140 x 140mm and a variable layer resolution between 500 microns and down to 100 microns. Of course, you know this also means that you can control the printing speed to a higher degree than any other 3D printer offers.
However, the FlashForge Finder isn’t exactly the most versatile 3D printer out there as it only works well with PLA filaments and possibly small PETG. Still, working with PLA only means that you won’t have to worry about fumes or odors that other harmful materials produce, namely, ABS.
This cube-shaped 3D printer is user-friendly, and despite the small size, comes with a filament management system that doesn’t cause any hassle while dealing with the cartridges and alerts you when the spool is almost out of filament.
To control the operation of the FlashForge Finder, you get a 3.5” HD IPS color touchscreen, which is super impressive for a budget-friendly 3D printer.
Like the QIDI Technology X-one2, the FlashForge Finder is a plug-and-play unit that comes pre-assembled and calibrated, which means that users can start printing right away and which makes it a fantastic printer for beginners.
Moreover, the FlashForge Finder comes with plenty of reliable connectivity options, including a Wi-Fi network, USB cable, and USB flash drive stick. Its operation is also pretty quiet at only 50 dB.
- Sleek and compact design
- Easy to use
- Quiet operation
- Desktop 3D printer
- Equipped with an overhead light for better visibility
- Rather limiting build volume due to the small surface plate
- Models might warp as the bed isn’t heated
- Lacks auto-leveling
- Only works with PLA filaments
If you know you’re mainly going to be working with PLA filaments and PETG occasionally, the FlashForge Finder is a pretty great desktop 3D printer that’s user-friendly, comes with an adequate printing area, color screen, and variable layer resolutions.
5. Monoprice 15365 Select Mini – Budget Choice
As the name suggests, the Monoprice Select Mini is a mini 3D printer that measures 11.3 x 7.5 x 13.5 inches and weighs 9.9 pounds. Not only is it “mini” in terms of size but in terms of budget as well, like the Monoprice Select Mini comes at the lowest upfront price on the list.
This explains why its build volume is limited to 120 x 120 x 120mm, but this means that its resolution is quite great as it ranges from 300 microns down to 100 microns.
Despite its compactness and affordability, it’s incredibly versatile as it’s compatible with ABS, PLA, wood and metal composites, and dissolvable PVA.
Moreover, the Monoprice Select Mini isn’t a plug-and-play unit, but it’s still very easy to assemble as it only takes around 20 minutes to be up and running, most of which will be spent on calibration and not on actually setting up the hardware of the printer.
This budget 3D printer comes with an aluminum heated bed and an open-frame, which is a little inconvenient when you’re working with ABS but makes sense for the other compatible materials.
In terms of connectivity, it comes with a USB connection and a microSD card slot that you can use to upload files to your 3D printer.
- Lightweight and compact design
- Super affordable
- Easy to assemble
- Good 3D printer for beginners
- Printing speed limited to 55 mm/sec
- Smallest printing volume
- No auto-leveling
Here’s a great list of some of the best 3d printers under $1000
Best Budget 3D Printer Under $300: Selection and Buying Guide
Shopping for a cheap 3D printer isn’t a very easy task, especially if you’re not well-versed in the world of 3D printers. In this section, I’ll cover all the factors that come into play together to shape your experience with your 3D printer.
The printing technology your 3D printers use determines the final output’s quality and accuracy. The technologies available include:
- Stereolithography (SLA)
- Digital Light Processing (DLP)
- Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
- Selecting Laser Melting (SLM)
- Electronic Beam Melting (EBM)
- Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)
- Material Jetting (MJ)
- Binder Jetting (BJ)
- Drop on Demand
Among these, the FDM and SLA (Resin) are the most popular because they’re the easiest to deal with. FDM printers are more suitable for casual users and suit the cheap 3D printer scheme, while resin ones are highly precise and suit professional use.
Since you’re opting for cheap 3D printers, you’d probably better opt for FDM printers. These ones heat up and extrude filaments through a head, which, in turn, produces melted plastic in the Y and X coordinates. During the process, the object is built layer by layer on the table in the Z coordinate.
If you’re looking for cost-efficiency and quick performance, you won’t find better 3D printers than ones that use FDM.
Open vs. Closed Frames
3D printers produce a lot of smells and fumes in the process of creating their final output, and that’s where the debate of open vs. closed frames arises.
Open-frame 3D printers give you more visibility over your prototype or 3D object as you’re printing it. Not only that, but they also give you the freedom to access your bed or extruder more easily. However, they don’t suit just any kind of technology or filament because they don’t trap any fumes or odors.
On the other hand, closed-frame 3D printers come with enclosed structures, including doors, walls, and lids. This not only makes them safer but also much less of a hassle.
There’s no risk of extruder-induced burns, produced odors. Closed-frame 3D printers also produce better results because they don’t allow for temperature inconsistencies like open frame 3D printers do.
3D printers come with beds whose size determines the maximum build volume and, consequently, how big your models and prototypes can be.
But what’s more important than the build volume and bed size is whether it’s heated or not. Heated beds give your object more stability and keep it steady, which gives you more accurate output in the end. This is because they ensure that the 3D object you’re printing sticks well to the bed, which minimizes movement and deviations that you might not even notice with the naked eye.
Non-heated beds are more of a hassle because they force you to turn to glue, which isn’t the most reliable choice. If you’re going to be working with ABS filaments, you can’t work around a heated bed, while PLA filaments allow you to use whichever method suits you more.
Print Resolution and Speed
Dealing with 3D printers takes some patience as 3D printing is a process that requires a high degree of accuracy. The more details on your prototype, the longer it’ll take for 3D printers to create it.
This accuracy is measured in microns, and the smaller numbers mean a higher degree of accuracy and print quality. So, if you’re making a decision between a 100-micron printer and a 25-micron one, opt for the latter as it would give you four times the details and precision.
Of course, when it comes to 3D printers, resolution, and speed are highly correlated. Naturally, you can’t expect cheap 3D printers to be so fast, so you can expect a speed of 100 or 180 mm/s. Generally speaking, slower printing speeds mean a higher level of accuracy, even if you opt for cheap 3D printers.
Types of Materials You Need for Printing
Deciding on what exactly you intend to print would make sifting through 3D printers much easier because you’d know the types of materials or filaments you’ll be working with and match the device accordingly.
If you’re planning on printing appliances for the kitchen, instruments, or toys, you should consider ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene.)
PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) is perfect for containers of different kinds, hygiene products, or packaging because it’s water-soluble, so it serves the purpose. This material is also popular for making support structures that help you perfect particular angles on your 3D object.
For more environmentally-friendly prints, you should opt for PLA (Polylactic Acid), which is ideal for making clothes, packaging for food, and surgical implants.
You should definitely consider the UI (User Interface) of your 3D printer and just how easy it is to use. 3D printers already consume a lot of time for the process, so you don’t need to waste any more time trying to figure out how to navigate the menu, which is why a touchscreen would be ideal.
Still, if you’re looking for budget 3D printers, they might not come with all the bells and whistles, so you can opt for a rotary knob, but make sure it’s still not too complicated to figure out.
Moreover, try to find a resume function that picks up where it stopped if it gets interrupted by a power loss or anything of the sort.
Typically, 3D printers are compatible with either 1.75mm filaments or 3mm filaments. Some printers accept both sizes, but most of the time, you’d have to make a choice.
You should do so by relying on the spools you’re going to buy, which are usually available in 750 grams, 1 kilogram, or 2.5 kilograms. The trick is to find the spools that minimize your expenses and match the material for the kind of output you want to print.
Check also: The Best 3D Printer under 500 in 2021
How Far Will $300 Go For a 3D Printer?
Even the best cheap 3D printers won’t be as effective as high-end or more expensive ones; 3D printers under $300 still ought to serve you well, especially for entry-level projects.
Features like auto-leveling, color touchscreens, print resume, and others may not be as common, while printing speed can be a lot lower than other high-end options, but you’ll still get some highly accurate ones that give you 50-micron layer resolution.
So, it’s not a matter of compromising quality as much as it’s a matter of having more patience and not getting top-notch convenience.
Now that we’re done with our reviews on each best 3D printer under $300, we hope you’re a step closer to finalizing your decision. If you need a quick jog of memory, here’s a recap:
If you’re looking for the best 3D printer under $300 overall, you should opt for the Ender 3 Pro. It’s reasonably priced, easy to assemble, compatible with plenty of materials, offers a decent range of layer resolutions, can be upgraded, and produces quality prints. It’s simply the best choice you can make.
The ANYCUBIC Mega S will make a good alternative if you’re a little tight on budget as it offers all that as well as an auto-resume feature, though it tends to shake and make a lot of noise during operation.
If you’re looking for high accuracy and almost professional-grade prints at an affordable price, the QIDI Technology X-one2 would be the ideal choice for you. It can produce prints with a layer resolution as precise as 50 microns and works with plenty of materials.
Finally, the FlashForge Finder would be the best choice if you’re really tight on budget and looking for the most affordable 3D printer money can get without compromising quality or reliability of performance.