A while back, 3D printers used to be pretty expensive. Today, they’ve become super affordable for the average consumer, with prices ranging from a hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. This has made 3D printing an accessible hobby to get into.
In this article, we’re going to concentrate on printers that’d cost you less than $500. With so many brands to choose from, we’ve gone ahead and put together a list of printers that are affordable yet high quality. Keep reading to learn about the best 3D printer under 500.
|Model||Leveling||Print Speed||Slicer Software|
|Comgrow Creality CR-6 SE||Automatic||80-100 mm/s||Creality Slicer, Cura, Reptier-Host, or Simplify 3D|
|Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Max||Manual||30-60 mm/s||Cura, Simplify3D, or Repetier-Host|
|ANYCUBIC Vyper||Manual||20-100 mm/s||Cura|
|Monoprice Voxel Adventurer||Manual||100 mm/s||MP FlashPrint|
|ELEGOO Mars 2 Pro Resin||Automatic||30-50 mm/s||ChituBox|
The 5 Best 3D Printers Under 500 in 2022
Now that you have a general overview of how our top picks fare against each other, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of each printer.
1. Comgrow Creality CR-6 SE – Best Overall
The Comgrow Creality CR-6 SE is a great 3D printer with high print quality. This printer is even capable of making mechanical parts, as it can handle layer thicknesses within the range of 0.1 mm and 0.4 mm.
It comes with leveling-free (automatic leveling) technology and a smart pressure sensor that improves bed adhesion. In addition, the nozzle on the CR-6 SE is modularized, which makes it easier for you to maintain, swap out, and replace the components.
Moreover, this 3D printer features very powerful cooling fans that provide you with precise control over how the filament is extruded and retracted. And if you need to pause a print job, you can easily do so, thanks to the filament runout sensor in the printer’s hot end.
Out of the box, the CR-6 SE is easy to put together, taking a mere five minutes of assembly. This makes it a great choice for beginners who want to get started with 3D printing as quickly as possible.
- Competent automatic leveling
- Extremely quiet while printing
- Easy to set up
- Heats up quickly
- Very stable build
- The filament sensor is a little too close to the extruder
- PTFE tube unsuitable for extremely high temperatures
Beginners and experienced 3D printers will love the automatic leveling feature of the Comgrow Creality CR-6 SE. They’ll also benefit from the level of control over extrusion and retraction provided by the printer’s cooling fan.
2. Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Max – Runner-Up
Living up to its name, the Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Max has a whopping 300 x 300 x 340 mm print size, which means you can make pretty huge stuff with it. Its platform is made with Carborundum glass, which makes it easier to remove prints. Also, the prints adhere properly on this surface, so you won’t experience any wrapping or end up with scratches.
Thanks to its TMC2208 chip driver, which helps reduce the motor’s noise, the Ender 3 Max is incredibly quiet. It also features a heat-resistant nozzle made of copper and rapidly melts filaments.
The Ender 3 Max is powered by the Meanwell power supply, which at 350 watts, makes the printer heat up quickly. It also has a handy filament runout sensor, which pauses the print when the printer runs out of filaments.
- Works non-stop for hours on end (up to 200 hours)
- Print plate is made of textured glass
- Highly modifiable frame
- Very easy to assemble
- The printer requires manual calibration
- Printer UI needs modernizing
The Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Max is a worthy alternative to the Comgrow Creality CR-6 SE. Its massive print size will be appealing to anyone who wants to print out big models.
Read also: The 5 Best 3D Printers Under $200 in 2022
3. ANYCUBIC Vyper – Large Size Alternative
The ANYCUBIC Vyper has one of the largest build sizes out of the printers on this list at 245 x 245 x 260 mm. With this 3D printer, you can let your imagination run wild, thanks to its extra space.
In addition, the printer is incredibly easy to assemble, and it sports a one-click auto-leveling feature and fast 100 mm/s print speeds. Also, its 32-bit TMC2209 motherboard makes it very silent.
And because of the double-gear extrusion system, you don’t have to worry about your filaments getting tangled. It has a double-fan two-way heat dissipation system that helps in cooling the printer.
It also has a resume print feature, which continues the print job from its last recorded position in the event of a power outage. Simply clicking a button on the printer’s intuitive touchscreen gets it going again.
You can operate the Vyper easily using a 4.3-inch full-color touch screen that displays an easy-to-navigate user interface with two language options (English and Chinese).
- Large build area
- Simple to assemble
- Automatic leveling
- Quiet during operation
- Has only a small starter filament coil
- Cura software requires tweaking to work with the printer
- Relatively short one-year warranty
The large 245 x 245 x 260 mm build size of the ANYCUBIC Vyper is great for bigger print projects. In addition, its resume print feature will be appealing to people who live in areas with frequent power cuts.
4. Monoprice Voxel Adventurer – Most Automated
The Monoprice Voxel Adventurer is a 3D printer that provides a lot of automation. It features auto-leveling, which makes adjusting the distance between the nozzle and the bed as simple as a few button presses on the printer’s touchscreen.
Also, its easy-change nozzle is an absolute time-saver. Not only does it take seconds to replace the nozzle, unlike the 20-40 minutes on other 3D printers, but you also won’t need any tools to get the job done either. And it’s safe to use, thanks to its closed frame, which prevents anyone from coming into contact with the hot extruder.
This 3D printer comes with a flexible build plate that makes removing models a piece of cake. All you have to do is remove it, flex, and the model will come away from the plate. This plate can also be replaced with others in between printing jobs and is able to withstand temperatures up to 60 degrees Celsius.
In addition, it has an auto-feeding feature that lets you load filaments easily by simply loading the filament in and tapping the “load filament” button. If the filaments are low, the printer is smart enough to recognize this and will pause printing until you reload filaments.
- Minimal setup required
- Works with different filament materials, including ABS
- Quick print speed
- The object release is easier with the large slide-out platform
- Can’t be modified
- Touch screen is a little bulky
- Wi-Fi connectivity issues
People who want a highly automated 3D printer that offers hassle-free removal of models will appreciate the flexible build plate on the Monoprice Voxel Adventurer. Also, its easy-change nozzle is a great feature that’ll save you a lot of time.
5. ELEGOO Mars 2 Pro Resin – Highest Precision
Thanks to its light source structure, the ELEGOO Mars 2 Pro offers incredible printing precision from the get-go. And since the UV light is emitted more evenly, the printer’s print detail is improved. Moreover, the printer’s 6.08-inch monochrome LCD has a high 2K HD resolution and a long lifespan, taking a mere 2 seconds per layer exposure to cure resin.
Additionally, the Mars 2 Pro features an aluminum body that’s CNC-machined, making it extremely durable. It also comes with a sandblasted build plate with a stronger adherence and built-in active carbon that’s capable of absorbing resin fumes.
Ensuring that an international audience is accounted for, ELEGOO provided the Mars 2 Pro’s user interface with support of 12 languages, including Dutch, Spanish, and German. You can switch between these settings using the printer’s LCD. And this printer uses the Chitu Box slicer, which provides a smoother print surface.
- Sturdy metal build
- Quick layer curing
- Extra FEP sheets included
- Nice print quality
- Cooling fans are loud
- LCD screen not protected by glass
- Low pixel density
The UV light structure of the ELEGOO Mars 2 Pro is a great feature for anyone who wants a printer that’s capable of a high level of print detail. The active carbon in its sandblasted plate will also appeal to anyone who hates the odor that comes with the 3D printing process.
Factors to Consider When Buying a 3D Printer Under 500
When buying a 3D printer under $500, there are a number of factors you’ll need to keep in mind. They include:
There are as many printing styles as there are 3D printer brands. Some of them include Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Stereolithography printing, and Digital Light Processing printing, to name a few. FDM is the most widely used style of printers on the market and is highly recommended if you’re not looking for something more specific.
Printer speeds may or may not be an issue for you, depending on your reason for buying a 3D printer. For example, you’d care more about how quickly a 3D printer works if you’re using it for business purposes than if you just got one to start a new hobby. Incidentally, resin printers tend to print slower than FDM printers.
Print Resume Function
A power cut will stop a print job in its tracks. Therefore, a print resume function allows you to continue the job from the last recorded point and is necessary for your printer.
The printer’s build size is a crucial consideration to make if you plan to work on larger print projects. Good build sizes that offer plenty of room start at 9 x 9 inches and above.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Electricity Do 3D Printers Expend?
It depends on the printer. Printers that have larger build platforms or which print at higher temperatures tend to expend more electricity.
For example, a printer with a 205-degree celsius hotbed may use 70 watts per hour. Given that 3D print jobs may take up to eight or more hours in a day, you can expect to run up a significant power bill.
Can a 3D Printer Be Left on Overnight Without Issue?
No. It’s never a good idea to leave a 3D printer unattended, as a lot could go wrong without a vigilant eye watching. Heated bed failure and poor wiring are just two of the most common causes of fires that occur when a 3D printer is left unattended overnight. Additionally, prints can come loose while the printer is on, resulting in a huge mess.
Do 3D Printers Catch Fire Often?
Rarely. With that said, it isn’t unheard of for a 3D printer to catch fire. For this reason, 3D printer manufacturers explicitly warn against leaving a 3D printer unattended.
With the above list, you’re now aware of the best 3D printer under $500 so that you don’t blow a hole through your wallet. To make things easier for you, let’s recap our three top picks.
We can’t recommend the Comgrow Creality CR-6 SE enough. It’s a great 3D printer for beginners and more experienced printers alike due to its auto-leveling feature, which simplifies the process. Thanks to its powerful cooling fans, you also have way more control over filament extrusion. For these reasons and more, it’s our top pick.
With that said, the other Creality 3D printer, the Ender 3 Max, is an excellent alternative to the CR-6 SE. Like the CR-6 SE, it’s also accessible to beginners while offering the more experienced their money’s worth in terms of 3D printer features like fast speeds and quick heating.
Finally, if you want a printer with a large build size, then go for the ANYCUBIC Vyper. Its auto-resume feature will also come in handy when working on larger print projects.