The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (2022)

While we'd hesitate to call 3D printing a mature technology, you might say it has reached its teenage years. Through their first decade-and-change, 3D printers have come down in price, grown easier to set up and operate, and become more reliable. And you may pay less than you expect: Many once-high-end features have migrated down to inexpensive models.

PC Labs has been reviewing 3D printers since 2013. Today, the state of 3D printing is strong, but that wasn’t always the case. For the first several years, it was often an adventure getting one of these printers up and running, let alone successfully through our testing regimen. Issues with filament-based—aka fused filament fabrication (FFF) or fused deposition modeling (FDM)—printers were abundant.

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (1)

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (2)

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The Best 3D Printer Deals This Week*

*Deals are selected by our commerce team

  • Comgrow Creality Ender 3 3D Printer(Opens in a new window)$189.00(List Price $249.99)
  • Monoprice Voxel Wi-Fi 3D Printer(Opens in a new window)$389.99(List Price $449.99)
  • Anycubic Photon Mono X 3D Printer(Opens in a new window)$379.99(List Price $479.99)
  • Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer(Opens in a new window)$236.00(List Price $339.99)
  • Flashforge Adventurer 3 Wi-Fi 3D Printer(Opens in a new window)$313.65(List Price $449)

More About Our Picks

Original Prusa Mini

4.5 Outstanding

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (3)

Best Overall Budget 3D Printer

Bottom Line:

It requires assembly and calibration care (plus shipping from the Czech Republic), but the Original Prusa Mini is a compact, open-frame 3D printer that consistently produces superb-quality output for a great price.

Pros

  • Top-notch object quality
  • Supports a variety of filament types
  • Useful, professionally printed user guide
  • Great support resources
  • Versatile, user-friendly software

Cons

  • First-layer calibration can be tricky
  • Only includes starter packets of filament
  • Requires monitoring if young children or pets are around

Read Our Full Review

$399.00 at Prusa ResearchSee It(Opens in a new window)

XYZprinting da Vinci Mini

4.0 Excellent

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (4)

Best Budget 3D Printer for Schools, Community Centers

Bottom Line:

The XYZprinting da Vinci Mini is a consumer-oriented 3D printer that provides a winning combination of low price, ease of setup and use, solid print quality, and smooth, misprint-free operation.

Pros

  • Very low price.
  • Reasonably priced filament.
  • Good print quality.
  • No misprints in testing.
  • Easy setup and operation.
  • Quiet.
  • Prints over a USB or Wi-Fi connection.

Cons

  • Occasional problems in trying to launch prints.
  • Removing printed objects from the print bed is sometimes tricky.

Read Our Full Review

(Video) Top 5 - Best Budget 3D Printers (2022)

$199.95 at WalmartSee It(Opens in a new window) $199.95 at AmazonSee It(Opens in a new window)

Toybox 3D Printer

4.0 Excellent

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (5)

Best Budget 3D Printer for Children

Bottom Line:

The Toybox 3D Printer works well as a model designed for children, offering reliable printing from a browser or mobile device and a few thousand toys to print, plus creative options to output drawings or photos. Just bear in mind the tiny build area.

Pros

  • Reliable, misprint-free printing
  • Easy setup
  • One-touch operation
  • Well-composed help resources
  • Access to more than 2,000 printable toys and projects
  • Lets you create your own printable designs

Cons

  • Tiny build area
  • Not ideal for importing 3D files created elsewhere

Read Our Full Review

$299.00 at AmazonSee It(Opens in a new window)

Monoprice Mini Delta V2 3D Printer

4.0 Excellent

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (6)

Best Budget 3D Printer for Beginners, Non-Techies

Bottom Line:

3D printing gurus will be intrigued by the Monoprice Mini Delta V2's use of the delta rather than Cartesian coordinate system, but beginners will just enjoy its low price, ease of use, and speedy printing.

Pros

  • Sub-$200 price
  • Quick, nearly misprint-free printing
  • Easy setup and operation
  • Sturdy steel-and-aluminum frame
  • Supports multiple filament types

Read Our Full Review

$176.55 at AmazonSee It(Opens in a new window)

Anycubic i3 Mega S

3.5 Good

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (7)

Best Budget 3D Printer With an Open Design, Big Build Area

Bottom Line:

The Anycubic i3 Mega S, an inexpensive open-frame 3D printer, produced decent-quality prints in our testing. To get the most out of it, though, may require precise calibration.

Pros

  • Modestly priced
  • Large build area for an inexpensive printer
  • Supports a variety of filament types
  • Generally solid print quality
  • Uses well-known Cura software
(Video) TOP 3: Best Budget 3D Printer 2022

Cons

  • Finicky print-platform alignment
  • Supported coils of filament are small
  • Poorly placed spool holder

Read Our Full Review

$229.98 at AmazonCheck Stock(Opens in a new window)

Anycubic Vyper

3.5 Good

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (8)

Best Budget 3D Printer for the Biggest Build Area Possible

Bottom Line:

Anycubic's modestly priced Vyper whips up large 3D prints on its open-frame design, and provides automatic print-bed leveling. Just know that some minor assembly is required—and printed objects may require a bit of cleanup.

Pros

  • Relatively large build area
  • Automatic bed leveling
  • Simple assembly

Cons

  • Short (one-year) warranty
  • Includes only a small starter filament coil
  • Using Cura software with the Vyper requires tweaking a couple of settings
  • Test prints showed some "hairy" filament residue

Read Our Full Review

$343.99 at AmazonSee It(Opens in a new window) $319.00 at AnyCubicSee It(Opens in a new window)

Creality Ender-3 V2

3.5 Good

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (9)

Best Budget 3D Printer for Tinkerers and DIY Types

Bottom Line:

Hands-on tweaking defines Creality's budget-price Ender-3 V2, an open-frame 3D printer that you build from a kit. It produces generally above-par prints, but its print bed can be tricky to keep leveled.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Slightly above-average print quality
  • Good-size build area for its price
  • Supports several filament types

Cons

  • Manual print-bed leveling can be tricky
  • Setup instructions could be deeper, more legible
  • Questionable quality control on some parts

Read Our Full Review

$246.00 at AmazonSee It(Opens in a new window)

Flashforge Finder 3D Printer

3.5 Good

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (10)

Best 3D Printer for the Very Tightest Budgets

Bottom Line:

The Flashforge Finder 3D Printer is moderately priced and offers good print quality, but it proved tricky to get up and running in our tests.

(Video) Honest 3D printer buyer’s guide: Find the best machine for you!

Pros

  • Quiet.
  • Good print quality.
  • Connects via USB 2.0 cable, USB thumb drive, or Wi-Fi.
  • Reasonably priced.

Cons

  • Some objects pulled off the platform during testing.
  • Poor documentation.
  • Modest build volume.
  • Limited to printing with polylactic acid filament (PLA).

Read Our Full Review

$729.00 at AmazonCheck Stock(Opens in a new window)

Polaroid PlaySmart 3D Printer

3.5 Good

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (11)

Best Budget 3D Printer for Dabbling in Small Objects

Bottom Line:

The Polaroid PlaySmart 3D Printer is a compact, stylish 3D printer with above-par overall print quality, but, alas, a tiny build area for the money.

Pros

  • Small, lightweight for a desktop 3D printer.
  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Supports PLA, PETG, and wood composite filaments.
  • Multiple-color support.
  • Wi-Fi camera monitors print jobs.
  • Prints from USB drives, SD cards, or mobile devices.

Cons

  • High price for its capabilities.
  • Small build area.
  • Too-brief warranty.

Read Our Full Review

$699.00 at AmazonSee It(Opens in a new window)

XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro

3.5 Good

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (12)

Best Budget 3D Printer With Closed Design, Roomy Build Area

Bottom Line:

The XYZprinting da Vinci Jr. 1.0 A Pro is a moderately priced closed-frame 3D printer with a large build volume and overall good performance, but a potentially balky filament-feeding system.

Pros

  • Spacious build area
  • Works with third-party filaments
  • Self-leveling print bed

Cons

  • Build plate is not heated
  • Limited to PLA- and PETG-based filaments
  • Guide tube is prone to detaching

Read Our Full Review

$199.95 at AmazonSee It(Opens in a new window) $449.95 at Best BuyCheck Stock(Opens in a new window)

Monoprice Voxel 3D Printer

3.0 Average

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (13)

(Video) TOP 5: Best 3D Printers 2022

Best Budget 3D Printer for Cheap Filament

Bottom Line:

The Monoprice Voxel is an under-$400 3D printer that's easy to set up and use. It exhibits generally good print quality, but it was unable to print two of our test objects.

Pros

  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Budget price for printer and filament spools.
  • Supports PLA, ABS, and several composite filament types.
  • Versatile software.
  • Prints over Ethernet or Wi-Fi, or from a USB thumb drive.

Cons

  • Frequent misprints on certain test objects.
  • Slightly balky touch screen.

Read Our Full Review

$389.99 at AmazonSee It(Opens in a new window) $389.99 at WalmartSee It(Opens in a new window)

Filament feeders had to be coaxed into delivering filament from the spool to the extruder. Print beds had to be manually aligned. The extruder or hot end had to be positioned just right to minimize the gap between the nozzle and the build plate (the flat surface on which the object is printed). Objects frequently stuck to the build plate, and required careful, sometimes unsuccessful, efforts to pry them off. These and other issues required painstaking effort to resolve, often combined with calls to tech support.

Not so much anymore. While they can still be rebellious at times, 3D printers have grown up a lot, and achieving the 3D printer basics has gotten a lot less likely to end in a shouting match over small things.

What to Look for in a Cheap 3D Printer

The big difference is the change that has come to the cheaper models. Nowadays, many of those ornery 3D-printing issues have been resolved (most of the time, anyway), even for consumer and bargain-priced 3D printers. Automatic print-bed leveling is the norm, and you can usually remove 3D-printed objects from heated and/or flexible build plates with a minimum of coaxing. Most 3D printer manufacturers have either developed and refined their own software, or have adapted an open-source printing platform such as Cura(Opens in a new window).

What separates more expensive 3D printers from cheap ones ("cheap" defined as $500 or less, for the purposes of this article) is often a select group of features. These include the build volume, the type of frame, the varieties of supported filament, the software, and the connectivity mix. Let's run through those in turn.

What's the Right Build Volume for a 3D Printer?

A 3D printer’s build volume is the maximum dimensions (HWD) of a part that it can print. (We say “a part” because a 3D-printed object can consist of multiple parts that are printed, then glued or otherwise pieced together.) While the smallest build volume of any 3D printer we have tested is 3.9 by 3.9 by 4.9 inches, we consider any build volume smaller than 6 by 6 by 6 inches to be small, any between that and 10 by 10 by 10 inches as medium, and any printer with at least one build dimension of more than 10 inches as having a large build volume.

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (14)

(Photo: Molly Flores)

As a general rule, inexpensive 3D printers have small build volumes, while more expensive ones have larger build volumes. This depends in part on the type of printer. Closed-frame 3D printers—and most semi-open models, which have a rigid top, base, and sides but are open in front and, often, back—tend to have small build volumes, while open-frame printers, lacking as rigid a physical structure, often have relatively large build volumes for the price. You'll want to weigh the build volume against the kinds of objects you will print.

Should I Get an Open-Frame or Closed-Frame 3D Printer?

Which brings us to the frame "form factor" question: open-frame versus closed-frame. Closed-frame 3D printers are boxlike devices, with a rigid base, walls (with a see-through door in front), and top. Among their advantages? They muffle the operating noise, as well as reduce the odor from melted filament (which is potentially an issue with ABS plastic), and they provide some protection for people or pets who might inadvertently touch the hot extruder. A downside: They tend to have smaller build volumes than open-frame 3D printers, which have fewer (often, no) walls to constrict them.

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (15)

(Photo: Zlata Ivleva)

Low-cost 3D printers include both open-frame and closed-frame models, as well as a few stereolithography printers. If a relatively large build volume is a priority, you’re likely to get more bang for the buck with an open-frame model. Open-frames do have some clear downsides by definition: They tend to be noisy, emit odors when certain plastics are melted, and provide little protection for someone who might touch the hot extruder.

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (16)

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Also, recognize some potential negatives of open frames, depending on the model. Some require assembly, being essentially kits, and most require more setup care than a closed-frame printer, plus more maintenance to keep them running smoothly. Still, these very traits should not deter—and may even appeal to—hobbyists and DIY folks.

What Should I Look for in 3D Printer Software and Connectivity?

Gone are the days when tinkerers had to cobble together several different programs to get a 3D printer to run. Manufacturers either include their own 3D printing program or modify an existing platform such as the open-source Cura.

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (17)

3D printing software performs three main functions: processing an object file (resizing, moving, rotating, and in some cases duplicating it), slicing it (into virtual layers, based on your chosen resolution), and printing it. These are almost universally combined into a seamless process. Some high-end printers have software that supports a wider range of settings you can tweak, but even the basic suites work at least reasonably well.

More likely to vary among the cheaper set is the array of connection options from model to model. Nearly all have a USB Type-A port to fit a thumb drive for printing from document files. Most also have a USB Type-B port for connecting directly to a computer, and some offer Wi-Fi, too (or as an alternative), while a handful let you connect via Ethernet to share the printer across a local network.

Some printers support storing 3D files on an SD or microSD card (which may also contain the printer’s system files). Most 3D printer manufacturers (even the discount ones) have a mobile app to launch and monitor print jobs, and a few provide access to cloud services from which you can print.

While high-end 3D printers tend to have an abundance of connection choices, discount models vary widely in their choices. Some are generous and some are basic, so it pays to assess what a given model offers.

What Should I Look for in Filament Support?

Filament support tends to be a key area that separates the cheaper models from the higher-end ones. (See our guide to understanding 3D printing filaments for more particulars.) Inexpensive 3D printers tend to support a limited number of plastic filament types, some of them only PLA and/or ABS.

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The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (20)

(Photo: Molly Flores)

PLA (polylactic acid) is a biodegradable, plant-based polymer, while ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is the same tough plastic that Legos are made from. Objects printed from ABS are durable and nontoxic, though the material can be tricky to work with. ABS can emit an acrid, unpleasant odor during printing, and the bottom corners of objects being printed with it have a tendency to curl upward a bit, especially if you are using a non-heated print bed. This can lead to unsightly prints, and/or prints prematurely pulling off the build plate, ruining them.

Many entry-level and low-price 3D printers stick exclusively to PLA. If you want to experiment with a larger variety of filaments—which include water-soluble filament, wood- and metal-laced composites, and both tough and flexible varieties—you may have to pay more, although a few discount models support a wide range of materials.

Should I Consider a 3D Printing Pen Instead?

Although they aren’t printers per se, inexpensive 3D pens are close kin to 3D printers—using the same filament types and a similar extrusion system—and we include them in the 3D printing category. Rather than tracing out a programmed pattern, you use the 3D pen much like a normal pen, except that you draw with molten plastic. You can trace a pattern or draw freehand, and even draw in three dimensions as the plastic quickly solidifies and hardens once extruded.

The Best Cheap 3D Printers for 2022 (21)

Most 3D pens cost less than $100, and some cost $50 or less. At a glance, 3D pens may appear to be toys, but some artists and craftspeople have taken to them, as it is possible to make quite complicated and beautiful objects with them. If your aim in 3D printing is something closer to freehand design and free expression than computer-centric, structured, and repeatable output, you might give one a try.

So, Which Cheap 3D Printer Should I Buy?

Buying a budget 3D printer needn’t mean a world of sacrifice. Plenty of capable and reliable models sell at less than $500, and while they may not be as feature-rich as their more expensive cousins, there's no sense in paying for things you don’t need.

Many casual 3D-printing experimenters will be fine with printing over a USB cable or from a thumb drive, and sticking to PLA may be the best choice for a starter 3D printer. If you focus just on the features you want, you may be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Here we feature the best under-$500 3D printers we have reviewed. Also check out our guide to our favorite 3D printers overall.

(Video) What are The BEST 3D Printers? | After 3 Years of Testing Here’s My FAVORITES!

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