So you want to get your 3D printer up and running? Congratulations, I can say without exaggeration that 3D printers have changed my life. It has opened up the possibility to create physical objects customized to my needs.
Now I feel more comfortable creating in the workshop and creating solutions that I use every day.
But the first steps can be daunting. What kind of printer should I buy, SLA (resin) or FDM (filament), which should I spend my money on? This article will answer these questions.
Let’s start with resin and filament. Resin printers are recommended for those who want to create detailed objects. There is a large market for miniature players, as well as model railroaders, model makers, and all other types of players.
Print quality is very high, but there is a lot of dirt, and some odor and care must be taken with finishing and handling toxic liquids.
Filament printers, on the other hand, are recommended for those who want to make objects that meet specific functional needs, not just displays. 3D printers are used for mounts, jigs, and practical projects. Filament printers can also make large objects, so they have become indispensable in the cosplay world for making masks, gadgets, etc.
As for price, that is also a matter of budget. All of the printers on this list are in the lower price range. There is another list of professional printers, so if you want to spend more money, please see that list.
Best 3d Printer Under 400 Dollars
Professional printers are robust and often have useful features such as automatic bed leveling to make them easier for beginners to use. Still, you can go a long way with most of the printers reviewed here.
Before we begin this list, one final note is in order. The first few printers are marked with a “first choice” label. These are the printers I would recommend to a friend who is not sure which printer to buy. It is the most obvious choice.
Still, the other products on this list offer better prices and other options, so this list of top products are all excellent candidates for 3D printing beginners.
Best 3d Printer Under $ 400 | Comparison Table 2022
|Official Creality Ender 3 3D Printer Fully Open Source with Resume Printing Function DIY 3D Printers Printing Size 220x220x250mm||Comgrow||Check Price|
|Voxelab Aquila 3D Printer, DIY FDM All Metal 3D Printers Kit with Removable Carborundum Glass Platform, Resume Printing Function, Print Size 220x220x250mm (Black)||Voxelab||Check Price|
|Anet ET5X DIY 3D Printer, Auto Leveling with Resume Printing Function, 3.5 Inch LCD Color Touch Screen, Upgraded Over-Current Protection Mainboard, Large Size 11.8x11.8x15.7Inch||Anet||Check Price|
|ANYCUBIC Mega-S New Upgrade 3D Printer with Extruder and Suspended Filament Rack + Free Test PLA Filament, Works with TPU/PLA/ABS||ANYCUBIC||Check Price|
|FDM 3D Printer Kit Pyramid A1.1 Titan Direct Drive, Silent Mainboard, Resume Printing, 3.5 inch LCD Touch Screen, Upgradable to BL Touch, 12" x 12" x16" for Creative Artist, DIY Designer & School Use||FASTTOBUY||Check Price|
|3D Printer Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D Printer with UL Certified Meanwell Power Supply Upgraded Ender 3 with Magnetic Surface Plate Printing Size 8.6x8.6x9.8in/220x220x250MM for Beginners||Creality 3D||Check Price|
|LGT Longer LK1 3D Printer, 300x300x400mm Large Build Size Printer, Metal Frame with Resume Printing - Black||Longer||Check Price|
|CREALITY Official Ender 3 V2 3D Printer with MeanWell Power Supply Upgraded Version of Ender 3 Pro Silent Motherboard Mainboard for Carborundum Glass Platform LCD Screen Printing Size 8.6x8.6x9.8in||Creality||Check Price|
|3D Printer 310x310x400mm Large Build Volume, Newest 98% Pre-Assembled Metal NEWEREAL T-REX M18-S FDM Printers for Beginners, 0.4mm Integrated Nozzle with Direct Drive Extruder Duble Z-Axis Ultra Quiet||NEWEREAL||Check Price|
Best 3d Printer Under 400 | Products Overview 2022
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What is a 3D printer and what is it for?
A 3D printer is a machine able to quickly create three-dimensional solid objects based on what is indicated in a digital file, usually processed through a CAD system. 3D printing is also called additive manufacturing because the printed object is the result of an additive process that involves the arrangement in layers of the material used which, gradually, comes to the final creation of the object.
Each layer, therefore, represents the horizontal cross-section of the object you want to print and if until a few years ago 3D printers were used only for the creation of prototypes – the so-called single piece – or models, today they have become systems full-fledged production. In fact, 3D printing volumes have become so important thanks also to rapid production techniques, extremely precise and, not least, very convenient from an economic point of view.
As it is easy to guess, 3D printing is the three-dimensional evolution of traditional printing and is able to create any object by superimposing layers and layers of material – usually plastic and its derivatives, but also synthetic wood-like, powdered metal, thermoplastic … – up to giving shape to the technical drawing designed on the computer through technical drawing software such as 3d Studio Max and AutoCAD or creative drawing such as Illustrator in its 3d functions.
The main advantage of 3D printing is to be able to reproduce objects with certain geometries that would be impossible to achieve with classic manufacturing techniques and, from the point of view strictly linked to industrial production, it allows to reduce the time between the design phase and that of sales, as well as being able to have the object you need available without necessarily having to create a warehouse.
How a 3D printer works
Wanting to simplify as much as possible, to immediately understand how a 3D printer works we can say that in a traditional printer the head moves horizontally using the ink jet to leave lines on a sheet that flows slowly forward, instead of inside a printer. 3D the head moves along the three-dimensional axes by superimposing one layer of material on the other following a process called additive type.
In this way the 3D model takes shape one layer at a time and from the bottom up, remaining stationary in the same area – it is, in fact, only the head that moves – and allowing the printer to create a model completely autonomously.
It all starts with the 3D project carried out on the computer, after which the 3D printer is filled with the raw material that you want to use to create the object and, once the printing has started, the extrusion of the material starts which takes place in a similar way. to what a hot glue gun usually does: in fact, the material used for printing – usually plastic – is heated until it melts and comes out in the form of filament through the printing nozzle.
The printer knows exactly where to place the material because it follows the information of the digital file to the letter which is divided into thin cross-sections and two-dimensional. The polymer deposited by the nozzle is very thin – 0.1 mm thick – and solidifies very quickly, binding to the underlying layer.
How to choose the best 3D printer Under 400 Dollars | Ultimate Guide 2022
Type and filament
Over the years, the technology that underlies the operation of the 3D printer has evolved so much that nowadays different types have been developed, each able to meet different needs of work, precision, and create the product. final with a certain material.
Among the various types currently on the market, the most common are:
- Filament 3D Printer (FDM): this is the most popular model, especially in the home of fans of this fascinating technology and, as the name suggests, its operation is based on a mechanism that spreads a plastic wire layer by layer according to the model indicated by the software. In this case, the filament deposition manufacturing (FDM) process is used which involves heating the material positioned on the reel, and depositing it in layers in order to create a precise model. Filament printers can have only one extruder nozzle or more nozzles, in the first case they will print, as it is easy to guess, with a single color, while in the second case they will print in multiple colors. This type of printer is especially suitable for those who want to start printing three-dimensional objects and get to know this type of technology,
- Resin 3D printer: this type of 3D printer uses resin as an additive material which, unlike plastic wire, has very fast solidification times. This is a very good solution if you want to create objects in a faster and more precise way, but it offers limited solutions as regards the choice of colors available.
- 3D laser printer (SLS) : this is a type suitable for those who want to obtain more professional results given its ability to work with extreme precision. In detail, the material used is in the form of powder which is heated and brought to the ideal temperature by the laser which, once the ideal fusion has been obtained, proceeds with the construction of the object. Another peculiarity of this printer is that not only plastic materials can be used, but also metallic ones declined according to different colors. It is a solution that requires some familiarity with this technology and is quite expensive, but it produces really excellent results.
- LOM 3D printer for industrial use: it is, as it is easy to guess, a type of printer destined to produce large products, and, also, for this reason, its dimensions are important. The LOM (Laminated Object Manufacturing) manufacturing process is based on the use of thin layers of material that are gradually overlapped.
In our description we have mentioned the filaments several times and, in detail, we have talked about the filament printing which, in essence, is the most widespread and easy to use, especially by newbies. But the materials, or filaments, that can be used in the 3D printer are different and each with specific characteristics.
The main and most common are:
- ABS : it is a type of plastic that melts around 220 ° and offers a good level of stiffness and resistance, but it cannot be used to create objects that will come into contact with food because it is potentially toxic, as well as not being biodegradable.
- PLA : it is a completely natural material obtained from wheat, corn and beet plants, it can therefore be used for the creation of products that will come into contact with food since it is not toxic at all. It is completely biodegradable, but it is not very resistant and fears humidity.
- Composite filaments: more recent, they arise from the union of PLA and other components such as brass, wood, or copper.
The accuracy of the 3D printer you are purchasing can be easily detected thanks to the indications offered by the manufacturer and which are essentially based on two values:
- Positioning Accuracy: indicates the precision with which the extruder nozzles move on the work surface.
- Printing Accuracy: indicates the difference in thickness between the digital model and the final 3D printed object.
In any case, the accuracy of the printer is measured in millimeters, and choosing one with a resolution of 0.1 mm means that the printed object will be faithful to the digital project to the tenth of a millimeter, essentially without any imperfections.
The print size determines the ability of the 3D printer to create more or less large objects. In this sense, it is obvious that models intended for household products will make smaller objects (usually wide, high, and deep between 20 cm and 40 cm) than professional or industrial 3D printers that will produce large objects for more professional uses.
A 3D printer has a fairly slow printing process and can usually be reduced gradually in order to obtain a very precise product.
The printing speed is indicated in mm / s (millimeters per second) and depends on some characteristics such as the material used or the print quality to be obtained. For this reason, retailers usually indicate multiple speed values on the purchase package that can go, for example, from 20 mm / s to 100 mm / s.
Just as with traditional printers, 3D printers also connect to the computer via USB cable or, more easily, via Wi-Fi.
So, when you decide to buy one, it is good to check that it is compatible with the operating system of your PC even if, by now, 3D printers support both Windows and macOS or Linux.
Structure of the printer
Contrary to what many may think, modern 3D printers have a fairly simple structure. Specifically, the cheaper ones do not have any external protection and, in many cases, the user himself must assemble them, but they have the advantage of being able to be integrated with additional components installed slowly and which makes the printer more complete.
On the other hand, models equipped with an external structure are more expensive but guarantee higher performance, greater safety for the user who is protected from the high temperatures of the nozzle, and offer a modern digital display that allows him to always keep the process under control. of printing.
FAQ and Frequently Asked Questions
How to choose a 3D printer?
How much does a 3D printer cost?
The cost of a 3D printer varies based on a number of variables; making things easier, it is good to distinguish between non-professional 3D printers (with a cost of less than $ 2,000) and professional ones that have prices starting from this figure. The devices that can be easily purchased on Amazon have a relatively low cost: they start at around $ 200.00. The total price goes up based on technical specifications and other features.
Are there cheap 3D printers?
Yes, there are cheap and therefore unprofessional 3D printers. On our site, you can read the reviews of the recommended models, both cheap ($ 200.00) and good quality.
Conclusions and final considerations
Thinking about buying a 3D printer Under 400 USD can prove to be a very suitable choice both for those who intend to use it professionally and for those who are simple technology enthusiasts and want to test themselves with a truly innovative product.
The growing demand for these devices has allowed manufacturers to significantly reduce prices – at least as regards the basic models – thus allowing different categories of consumers to be able to use them. When buying, it is essential to take into consideration some fundamental factors that can help you make the choice that best suits your needs.
For those who are beginners, it is advisable to start with an inexpensive and basic 3D printer and then move on, if the experience was to your liking and you want to improve this technique, to something more advanced and professional.