How much money would you expect to pay for a 3D printer capable of providing great results? We believe you’ll be as surprised as we were with what is currently available in the world of 3D printing for an incredibly affordable price.
But, is it possible to purchase a reliable and accurate 3D printer for under $500?
We will take a look at what type of performance and results you can expect within this budget. Once we have compared the best 3D printers under $500, we will reveal our top choice and why.
So, let’s get straight to it…
- 1 Top 7 Best 3D Printers Under $500 In 2021 Review
- 1.1 1 Longer LK4 – Best DIY 3D Printer Kit Under $500
- 1.2 2 Creality Ender 3 Pro – Best Value 3D Printer Under $500
- 1.3 3 Monoprice Select Mini V2 – Best Wi-Fi 3D Printer Under $500
- 1.4 4 JGMaker Magic – Best 3D Printer with Large Build Area Under $500
- 1.5 5 FlashForge Adventurer 3 – Best Enclosed 3D Printer Under $500
- 1.6 6 Creality Ender 5 Pro – Best Award Winning 3D Printer Under $500
- 1.7 7 FLSUN QQ-S Pro Delta – Best Self Leveling 3D Printer Under $500
- 2 A Buying Guide For The Best 3D Printers Under $500
- 3 Alternative Options
- 4 So, Which Of The Best 3D Printers Under $500 Should You Go For?
Top 7 Best 3D Printers Under $500 In 2021 Review
1 Longer LK4 – Best DIY 3D Printer Kit Under $500
This 3D Printer from Longer called the LK4 is described as a DIY kit. This is with good reason as you are required to build some of the machine yourself. Don’t worry, the electrical parts are all already installed and protected, though.
You will, however, need to install the belts, extruder, and print bed yourself. Depending on how mechanically inclined you are, this could take between 30 minutes to one hour to complete, especially since the instructions require some additional imagination.
Results worthy of investment…
Once you have initially assembled the printer, it will still require some fine-tuning. There are multiple adjustable screws located around the machine. Adjusting pressure and tension will be required, particularly around the legs and print bed.
It is worth spending time and perfecting this process in order to achieve successful prints. Once everything is set correctly, the print results are competitive and comparable with similar machines.
Prints to be proud of…
Included is a 2.8-inch color touchscreen allowing for easy operation and offline printing. Keeping things easy, the control board has a resume print function. So, in the event of power disruption, the extruder’s last position will be recorded and remembered.
Built using an aluminum frame, this not only looks great, but it also makes the printer sturdy and provides better printing quality. Beneath the frame is a heated bed, capable of reaching 100°C in 4-minutes, assisting with adhesion and warp prevention.
- Affordable option.
- Sturdy aluminum frame.
- Easy to use color touchscreen.
- Assembly and many adjustments are required.
- Included build instructions are difficult to follow.
2 Creality Ender 3 Pro – Best Value 3D Printer Under $500
Another of the best 3D printers under $500 is the Creality Ender 3 Pro. It, too, will require some adjustments to be made in order to achieve those perfect prints. We feel this adds to the experience overall, resulting in more satisfaction.
It is also possible to make some DIY upgrades to this printer, thanks to the highly supported online community. The occasional issue may require troubleshooting but will significantly improve the overall quality of your prints.
Multiple print options…
Two main printing materials are most effective with the Ender 3, which are PLA and ABS. Using PLA did manage to achieve more detailed and accurate results. While ABS prints are possible, we still recommend the use of PLA.
Given the affordability of the printer, do not expect too high levels of detail, even with the use of PLA. As an example, on a test print of an articulated movable platform jack, the mechanism worked, but not smoothly.
Sending files to the printer can be done via either a Micro-SD card or USB. There is an LCD interface that shows plenty of useful information while printing. You also have the protection of a resume printing function.
Even though the Ender Pro 3 does have proprietary slicing software, you are still free to use any other you prefer. Once the models have completed printing, the inclusion of a heated bed allows for easier removal.
- Great value for money.
- Decent print quality for the price.
- Heated print bed.
- Poor results with ABS plastics.
- DIY upgrades are required for better results.
3 Monoprice Select Mini V2 – Best Wi-Fi 3D Printer Under $500
Monoprice is a California-based electronics and accessories company that aims to make affordable technology. It has done so with the Select Mini V2 3D printer. This is the cheapest out of four 3D printers that Monoprice offers.
It doesn’t come with some of the fancy features and super high specs of the thousand dollar plus machines. It can, however, print just as well, thanks to open sourcing and supportive online communities.
Small price, useful features…
Although we said that some fancy features are lacking, it doesn’t mean there aren’t still fantastic, useful inclusions. Such as an all-metal hot end to help prevent clogging. There is also a heated bed to boost adhesion and prevent warping.
Above the bed, you’ll find a unique pad material similar to BuildTak. This not only helps with adhesion during printing but additionally makes it easier to remove completed projects. To balance the hot end and bed is an internal cooling fan, which prevents any overheating.
Performs above expectations…
We also mentioned that even though this is an affordable printer, the results are on par with more expensive models. The maximum resolution is 100 microns (0.1 millimeters), which is average, but it can still achieve accurate results.
Printing can be communicated via either a Micro-SD card, direct USB, or using Wi-Fi. Monoprice even has a new mobile app designed to take advantage of the Wi-Fi connectivity, something most budget machines lack.
- Useful features for an affordable price.
- Surprisingly accurate print results.
- Wi-Fi connectivity with App support.
- Small build area.
- Struggles with ABS plastics.
4 JGMaker Magic – Best 3D Printer with Large Build Area Under $500
This 3D printer from JGMaker is another kit style machine. Even though some assembly is required, there are only a dozen pieces to connect to the mainframe. It won’t take too long, and your printer will be ready to go.
The Magic offers a good balance of quality and price. Even though this can be considered an affordable, entry-level 3D printer, both beginners and experienced users will enjoy the features and performance of this machine.
The Magic uses an open frame design that easily allows you to check progress during printing. The frame is constructed from aluminum providing a sturdy platform and reduced vibrations, which results in more accurate prints.
Thanks to the heated bed, you can be sure of adhesion and reduced warping. Once completed, the build plate is removable, making it easier to retrieve your projects once they’re finished printing.
Easy quality prints…
Communicating designs to the printer can be done using either a Micro-SD card or USB. The Magic is compatible with both Cura and JGcreat software applications. Both are easy to use and understand, offering a vast range of controls.
Print quality offers smooth finishes with precise detail, along with one of the largest build areas here. It is capable of reasonably intricate designs and should last a long time before you need something with higher capabilities.
- Sturdy aluminum body.
- Smooth and precise prints.
- Large build area.
- Assembly is required.
- Not many upgrades available.
5 FlashForge Adventurer 3 – Best Enclosed 3D Printer Under $500
While all of the products so far have an open design, with most requiring some assembly, this is our first closed 3D printer. From the manufacturer FlashForge, the Adventurer is the first in its series.
Being a closed design makes this printer completely plug and play, making it perfect for beginners. For curious minds, there is even a built-in 2MP camera for monitoring your projects during printing.
Advanced features for a low price…
Even though this is a closed device, there are transparent panels on the front door, left side, and top. This lets you keep your eye on your projects being printed atop the heated and removable bed.
Projects can be sent to the printer using Wi-Fi, which can be set up in under two minutes. Once the project begins, the Wi-Fi can then be disconnected, thanks to the printer’s onboard storage. Additionally, files can just as easily be read using the USB port on the printer.
The Adventurer 3 is compatible with multiple filaments. However, as with most low budget printers, using PLA yields the best results. Prints are of fantastic quality, free from stringing, and with only minimal layer visibility.
Where some of the other printers start to come undone when it comes to using ABS, the FlashForge is capable of excellent results. This is in part, thanks to the superb part quality and reliable design helping this machine reliably print consistent models.
- Plug and play 3D printer.
- Easy to use with Wi-Fi.
- Consistent, reliable prints.
- More expensive than other printers.
- Prints can occasionally be difficult to remove from the bed.
6 Creality Ender 5 Pro – Best Award Winning 3D Printer Under $500
As far as 3D printers go, we could not have a category of best under $500 without mentioning the Creality Ender Pro 5. Packed with features and having a modular design that requires minimal assembly, there’s a reason it’s received so many awards and distinctions.
Some of these reasons include its quiet operation, premium Capricorn Bowden tubing, affordability, and also its reliability. Suitable for both beginners and enthusiasts, it would be hard to be disappointed with this machine.
Although still specified as a DIY kit printer, it is quick and easy to assemble. Just attach the Z-axis to the base and wire up the printer, then you’re nearly ready to print. You should be able to go from unpacking to printing within an hour.
A heated print bed can reach temperatures up to 135°C. It must be leveled manually but is relatively easy to do with easily accessible large nuts. Once projects are complete, the flexible magnetic print bed easily detaches from the build plate.
Accurate print results…
This machine is able to print fine details and create really smooth prints. That is if you are using PLA filament. As with almost all of the printers in this price range, PLA is the most preferred because it requires less heat for successful results.
The Ender 5 Pro is capable of printing using ABS for smaller objects; however, more extensive projects tend to warp and crack. Overall offering reliability, decent print volume, and build quality, the Ender 5 Pro is a solid choice.
- Award-winning 3D printer.
- Minimal assembly required.
- Accurate prints with PLA.
- Magnetic bed is flimsy.
- Wires can stick to the bed sometimes.
7 FLSUN QQ-S Pro Delta – Best Self Leveling 3D Printer Under $500
For our final product, we have the FLSUN QQ-S Pro Delta. Another DIY kit style 3D printer. Many of these printers are not fully assembled due to their size. Removing part of the frame allows for easier packaging and transportation.
Assembly is relatively straightforward and can be achieved in around 45-minutes. One of the significant advantages this machine has over the others is the self-leveling bed. This is usually the most frustrating and time-consuming process with any 3D printer.
Easy to operate…
The QQ-S Pro also features a color TFT touchscreen interface. The menu system is straightforward to operate and very user-friendly. Interestingly, projects can be printed from a Micro-SD card. There is a USB port, but this can only carry assembly instructions.
Projects must first be created using the Cura software. This is one of the best 3D printing slicers available and is suitable for both beginners and advanced users. Once your design is complete, transfer the file to your SD card and stick it into the back of the printer.
Prints fun projects with ease…
Once again, using ABS filament is possible; however, you will achieve more accurate, consistent results using PLA. In fact, this printer was able to provide some of the highest detailed results of all.
There are some preloaded files on the included SD card for trying out your new printer. These obviously work very well, as they have been engineered specifically for this printer. However, we were just as impressed when using our own saved designs.
- Automatic bed leveling.
- Color TFT touchscreen interface.
- Detailed print results.
- Noisier operation than other printers.
- The printer itself is rather tall.
A Buying Guide For The Best 3D Printers Under $500
Now that we have shown you how many fantastic 3D printers are available for under $500, you must be itching to buy one, right? Well, before you do, you should definitely check out our handy buying guide.
We will cover the primary differences between these products in an effort to help you make that final decision. All of these machines have plenty to offer, although some are better in certain areas than others.
For The Beginners
If it’s your first time investing in a 3D printer, then you probably can’t wait to get started. There are several factors to consider if that’s the case. The first thing is the ease of setup. You won’t want to be spending hours making adjustments when you could be printing.
The FlashForge is purely plug and play; however, it is the most expensive option. Another option is the FLSUN, as it only requires minimal assembly. Importantly it also has a self-leveling bed and is the cheaper of the two.
More Advanced Uusers
If you’re looking to upgrade from an absolute entry model printer, there are still some great options for you too. We would recommend considering something with a larger build area and open-source software compatibility.
Our recommended machines are the JGMaker Magic and the Creality Ender 5 Pro. Both of these printers offer a generous build area. They both can also provide more room for experimentation with different filaments.
If you are still wondering which printer to buy at this point, maybe our final section will help. Join us as we announce what we think is the best 3D printer under $500 and why, but before that, are you thinking of checking out some…
If you want to see what adjusting your budget will get you, then check out our Best 3D Printers Review!
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Back to 3D printers under $500…
So, Which Of The Best 3D Printers Under $500 Should You Go For?
To help us decide on which 3D printer deserves the title of best under $500, it should meet our following criteria: It must be easy to use, offer great features, provide accurate results, and represent excellent value.
The printer we believe achieves all of this is the…FLSUN QQ-S Pro
Having a self-leveling bed removes one of the most frustrating aspects of 3D printing. It also provides accurate prints, is easy to use, and offers quality features at an affordable price.
Enjoy your 3D printing!