The 7 Best 3D Printers under $500 to Buy in 2018

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Once a process completed mainly by manufacturers with pricey equipment, 3D printing is now a mainstream trend — and one that's becoming increasingly more affordable. But, even with new consumer-friendly price tags, there are still a lot of factors to consider when purchasing your own 3D printer, from print speeds and compatible materials to overall safety and ease of use. With hundreds of printers available and each claiming to be the best, it’s hard to discern which ones really provide the best bang for your buck. Whether you're looking for a beginner-, budget- or kid-friendly model, continue reading for the top 3D printers on the market today. 

Best Overall: Qidi Technology X-one2 3D Printer

Minimalist in design and shipped fully assembled, the Qidi Technology X-one2 3D printer is a brilliant machine that’s easy to operate. Durably built with a full metal housing, the Qidi is exceptionally sturdy while printing and can accommodate a print up to 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches in size.

Thanks to free software for your PC and the unit's 3.5-inch touchscreen display, programming is a cinch. The UI friendly interface of the display adds to the overall novice-friendly functionality of the Qidi, and with the ability to adjust settings directly on the touchscreen during the printing process, any learning curve is nominal. Compatible with PLA and ABS filaments, the 10mm rod and 10MK nozzle allow for great motor quality that can be heated up to 110 degrees Celsius.

Best Budget: XYZprinting Da Vinci Mini 3D Printer

Modestly priced without sacrificing any functionality, the XYZprinting Da Vinci Mini 3D Printer immediately impresses with easy-to-use software. Ideal for novices and experienced users alike, the Da Vinci offers smooth prints at great speeds.

The machine supports 1.75 diameter PLA filament ordered directly from XYZ. The filament is inexpensive to replace and makes for a fair compromise for such a budget-friendly 3D printer that produces great results. The overall printing resolution can be adjusted anywhere from 100 to 400 microns matching the same resolution that can be found among more expensive competitors. Weighing 24.25 pounds, the Da Vinci is portable enough to be moved from room to room — and built-in Wi-Fi allows you to do just this. Files are easily transmitted directly from a computer and printing is as simple as the push of a single button.

Best for Beginners: FlashForge Finder 3D Printer

User-friendly and widely regarded as one of the safest 3D printers around, the FlashForge Finder is a smart choice for beginners. Measuring 16.5 x 16.5 x 16.5 inches in size, the FlashForge can conveniently be stored on a shelf or desktop.

Compatible with Windows and Mac software, the FlashForge prints using the popular PLA filament with a built-in management system that provides user alerts when it’s running low. Transferring files to the machine for printing can be done in a variety of ways including via USB, flash drive or Wi-Fi as users can navigate a simple menu on the model's 3.5-inch touchscreen. Another benefit for beginners is the FlashForge’s assisted bed leveling for safely printing projects up to a build volume of 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches.

Best Value: Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer V2

Packed with features, the Monoprice Select Mini 3D Printer V2 offers the best bang for your buck when it comes to under-$500 models. The machine has a compact build that won’t take up too much room on a desktop or table, arrives fully assembled and is ready to print 10 minutes after unpacking. 

Utilizing an aluminum heating bed for printing, a cooling fan helps to ensure printing temperatures stay within normal ranges while a small LCD panel display shows your current print status. With a 100-micron resolution and a filament diameter of 1.75mm, the Monoprice has a build volume of 4.7 x 4.7 x 4.7 inches. The model employs a multitude of filaments including PLA, ABS, PVA, wood and metal composites, and it also works with a microSD card or USB connection for transferring prints directly from a PC or Mac computer.

Best Design: XYZprinting Da Vinci Jr 1.0 Pro 3D Printer

While many 3D printers are relegated to boxy designs or cabled messes, the XYZprinting Da Vinci Jr 1.0 Pro sports a beautiful frame that blends in nearly anywhere in your home.

Feature-rich, the Da Vinci Jr catches attention with an open filament arrangement that enables the application of third-party 1.75mm non-toxic PLA filaments. Wi-Fi connectivity ensures that you can connect and print from any corner of your home with a Windows or Mac computer and save files to an SD card as a backup method for transferring prints. A nine-point auto-calibration feature removes the need to make manual printing adjustments and automatically calibrates the print bed with the Z axis. Along with a printer resolution between 100 to 400 microns that produces great results, the Da Vinci offers a respectable build volume for its size at 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches.

Best for Kids: M3D Micro+ 3D Printer

If you want a 3D printer that can be shared with the whole family and doesn’t emit loud noises while it works, the M3D Micro+ 3D printer is our top choice. With a surprisingly quiet design, the M3D doesn’t release heat or foul smells post-printing thanks to its use of non-toxic 1.75mm PLA or ABS unchipped filaments.

Touting a resolution between 50 and 350 microns, the M3D can print designs up to 4.6 x 4.4 x 4.2 inches for a total of 85 cubic inches — and with a built-in calibration feature, designs remain consistent. Considering the machine's design is just over seven inches on each side, the total print volume is an impressive feat for the price. Once removed from the box, setting up the M3D is as simple as plug and play as the machine's software plays nice with both Mac and Windows operating systems.

Best Self Assembly: JGAURORA DIY 3D Printer Prusa i3

Constructed almost entirely of metal parts, the JGAURORA is highly recommended for both beginners and experienced users alike who want to build their own 3D printer from scratch.

Fun to assemble and safe to use, the DIY model's metal build is more stable than traditional acrylic 3D printers and has a respectable build volume of 7.9 x 7.9 x 7.1 inches. Compatible with ABS, PLA, TPU and wood filaments up to 1.75mm, the Prusa can receive directions from a built-in SD card reader and comes with an 8GB SD card that doubles as the machine's instruction manual. An LCD display provides detailed information on the status of the current item that’s being printed on the 2mm-thick metal housing plate that’s stronger than competitive printing platforms. The high Z-axis position and top standard motor for XY axis positioning work to improve the accuracy of each print without driving up the cost.