Nowadays, not every 3D printer ordered goes into printing for profit. 3D printing has brought a new way of expressing creativity. It’s the newest hobby in town. Irrespective of why you need 3D printing, an essential question requires an answer. How much does a 3D printer cost? It’s a tricky question.
To know how much you have to spend on a 3D printer, define your printing needs. The reason being, your printing needs guides you on the dimensions, speed, printing accuracy, and technology your ideal 3D printer should have. These factors then dictate what your budget can afford in the 3D printer market. The following is a guide on how much a 3D printer costs.
3D Printers Classification
Today’s 3D printers are consumer targeted. The physical properties and the technology in each 3D printer are designed to satisfy the target user. Below are the categories of 3D printers according to target users:
The printing needs of each category of users vary, and so do the quality and price of their target printers. On the lowest extreme are the entry-level users. They are out to learn the ropes of 3D printing. Their main goal is to understand and try out the power of 3D printing. These printers can’t make you any money. For this level, a user can get a good 3D printer that suffices their needs for a low $200.
On the other extreme, an industrialist understands the power and applications of 3D printing. They are out to make a profit. Their main goal is to acquire a quality machine to serve the printing needs of their customers. Hence, the 3D printers targeting industrialists are pricey.
Therefore, the cost of a 3D printer for you depends on the user you want to be. To correctly place yourself in the correct user category, you need to be specific on:
- The reason you need a 3D printer
- Your budget
Once you get specific, you can search for a suitable 3D printer in the below categories that suffice your needs.
3D Printer Costs For Different Users
1. Entry-Level 3D Printers
Entry-level 3D printers are targeted at learners. They are among the smallest 3D printers in the market, with cheap printing technology. Their price range is $200 to $400. These printers are decent enough for users to learn 3D technology while exercising their fundamental machine skills.
These printers are mostly sold as kits, and you have to do the assembling. They have substantial room for modifications to fit your experimenting. Hence, you will spend some time upgrading your entry-level printer to workable standards. They also need calibration to work perfectly. Be sure of frequent repairs and change of specific components, for the printer to make what you want. The close attention the entry-level printers require offers a great way to learn the basics of 3D tech. A famous brand in this category is the Prusa i3 MK3S 3D printer.
The downside to these printers is the many limitations they have. First, you need time and patience to have them work perfectly. Their printing sizes are also small, barely going past 4 inches in any dimension of the prints. Further, most entry-level printers offer few options in printing materials you can use. Despite only taking one filament at a time, these printers’ working speed is a low 100mm/s. Sadly, be ready to miss the printing preciseness of more advanced printers. These printers are noisy and can’t run continuously for long.
2. Hobbyist 3D Printers
Hobbyist 3D printers have a cost range of $400 to $2000. The difference between a hobbyist and entry-level 3D printers is noticeable. They are larger and perform better. Their target users are past the learning stage and want 3D printing as a hobby. Be ready for better prints and lesser efforts to get your desired results. These printers offer you more freedom to exercise your creativity.
These printers mostly come assembled by the manufacturer. Very slight assembling, calibration, and modifications are needed before you can print. The prints are larger at six inches in each dimension. Moreover, you get the option to print in more materials and multiple filaments at a go. The printing speed is faster than that of entry-level printers. The noise is minor, averaging 50 decibels. The QIDI Tech I tops the best hobbyist 3D printers list.
There are several limitations to these printers, though. They cannot run for long periods without a lot of maintenance. Most of these printers are not enclosed, and hence limiting you to print in low-temperature materials only. Their noise is also loud compared to other pricey printers. Of course, you don’t expect fine prints like those of advanced printers. But for a hobby, they fit perfectly.
3. Enthusiast 3D Printers
These categories of printers are designed for 3D users past the hobby stage. The enthusiast aims at giving shape to their 3D designs and make some money. They are on the path to printing 3D designs for sale someday. The price range is $2000 to $4000 for these printers. An enthusiast is after sale-quality prints, and these printers offer that. The most popular enthusiast 3D printer being LulzBot TAZ 6.
Printers in this category are large and can print items with 8 to 12 inches in each dimension. The printing speed is reasonable, and the print quality good. But note that speed and quality are inversely related; high speeds result in poor quality prints. Even though some printers require using the manufacturer’s standard materials, you get a more fantastic selection. You can be able to print for longer than with hobbyist printers, using multiple filaments. However, regular maintenance becomes your thing if you run this printer past 160 hours a month.
The major con for these printers is the regular repairs needed if run for long. You also won’t print many items at a time.
Read also: Easy 3D Printing Ideas For Beginners
4. Professional 3D Printers
Professional 3D printers are where the performance category of printers starts. Though pricey in the range of $3500 to $10000, you get value for your money. These printers are ideal for educational institutions and commercial environments.
These printers have everything on another level compared to printers in lower categories. They are durable and usable for long periods with less maintenance. You get consistent superb print quality at high speeds. The user interfaces in these printers are more user-friendly. Also, there is a minor limitation to the paint colors and materials you can use with these printers.
Furthermore, you can print more big-sized items to your desired specifications. Most of these printers are well enclosed to regulate temperatures. You get the best in printing technology, and some printers in this category double or triple as laser –engravers and cutting machines.
When you are evaluating the best professional 3D printer to buy, consider two features. First, request to see an actual print and the setting used to make it. An actual print gives a better impression of the print quality than the manufacturer specifications. Secondly, check on the durability and maintenance requirements of the ideal printer. It would be best if you had durability and low maintenance costs for this pricey investment. A superb printer of choice in this category is the Fusion3 F400-S.
The major con of professional 3D printers is the costly materials. And, you won’t be able to customize them for specified printing.
5. Industrial 3D Printers
This category forms the top crème of 3D printers. Their build quality, printing technology, and print quality are phenomenal. They handle all the printing materials available for use in 3D tech. These printers’ printing methods include FDM, SLS, SLA, Multi Jetting, among others. These are the printers found in large businesses and factories. Nevertheless, they have a very restrictive price range of over $10000.
Industrial printers are enormous, with standalone units for different processes such as printing and laser-engraving. They offer the best quality prints, with no compromise in quality over time or quantity.
These printers feature efficient, user-friendly interfaces with customizable modes. With these printers, there are no limitations in production quantities or quality.
These are not your usual DIYing printers. Their buying price is very restrictive. Besides, you will be paying premium maintenance costs. If you are not into mass production, these printers are uneconomical to have. The printing materials they use are manufacturer-specific and often pricey.
If you are still interested in price of famous printers then took a look at:
3D printing technology is no longer solely for industrial purposes. It offers a great way to exercise your creativity and make money on the side. 3D printing may be the best hobby to cultivate in modern times. But you should know the hobby comes at a price.
To be able to spend the least while getting the best 3D printer is a challenging task. Besides, the recent growth in this industry has made 3D printer options numerous. An easier way to know how much a 3D printer cost is by placing yourself in the relevant user categories above. Of course, you have to specify your printing needs and budget first.
Fascinated by science from an early age, Jason has always been drawn to learning and experiencing technology. From learning about light through his passion for photography, building out PCs, and printing 3D models life couldn’t be better. When he isn’t writing about all things 3D printing related he enjoys reading, watch soccer and enjoy with his family.