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The best 3D printers under $1,000 let you get creative without going broke

People like cheap things — well, at least things that are affordable — and the market for budget-based 3D printers is bigger and broader than ever before. What was once a mere pipe dream that might cost you your next paycheck is now a reality cloaked in shiny PLA, one you can create on your own accord from the comforts of your living room. Budget-friendly models such as the da Vinci 1.0 and Kickstarted-backed M3D Micro have ushered in a new era of 3D printing which nearly everyone can afford with a little savings. Point being, the printers are no longer strictly reserved for the diehard.

Related: Build your own 3D printer for $50 and change

Budget-based 3D printers aren’t without setbacks, though. Even the best of them can be loud and prone to the occasional software bug, or require expensive filament and procure high maintenance costs no amateur hobbyist should have to contend with. That said, there’s never been a better time than now if you’re just looking to try your hand at 3D printing, even if you will want something more capable down the line. After all, there’s a reason models like the lauded Ultimaker 2 remain the best in field.

M3D Micro ($450)

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The M3D Micro made a big splash when it initially launched on Kickstarter. A $350 3D printer was unheard of, which is probably why it blew past its funding goal in just over 10 minutes flat. The byproduct is a minuscule 3D printer that touts resolution ranging between 50 and 350 microns, with the ability to print objects up 11.5 inches in height and work with either 1.75-millimeter PLA or ABS filament. The lack of a heated print bed makes printing with the latter difficult, but resulting PLA prints are still impressive given the cost. The Micro is also available in a welcome array of colors, and though the bundled software is relatively easy to get used to, the wait time is not.

Buy now from:

Amazon

Assembled Printrbot Simple ($599)

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Printrbot was one of the first company’s to make any sort of headway in the realm of affordable, 3D printing. Now, four years after its successful Kickstarter run, it continues to do so. The Simple Metal is the upgraded version of Printrbot’s entry-level model, and as such, it sports a powder-coated steel frame and an aluminum extruder, not to mention an auto-leveling probe that simplifies the pesky calibration process. The printer is only capable of printing with PLA, but it boasts a respectable maximum build volume of 5.91 x 5.91 x 5.91 inches. The resulting output is as reliable as the printer’s sturdy frame, so long as you can set it up and deal with the its open-source nature, which, fortunately, also makes it one of easiest 3D printers to upgrade.

Buy now from:

Amazon B&H

XYZprinting da Vinci 1.0 ($500)

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The single-extruder da Vinci 1.0 comes from one of the most recognizable manufacturers on our list, but it’s not without good reason. The da Vinci 1.0 — the company’s flagship 3D printer — is both an admirable 3D printer and competent 3D scanner, both of which capitalize on a 2.6-inch LCD touchscreen and easy-to-use software. The printer is preassembled and pre-calibrated directly out of the box, too, and utilizes a large print platform and both PLA and ABS filament to achieve some of the best results available for a budget printer. Unfortunately, you can’t remove the print tray and the da Vinci 1.0 uses expensive, proprietary consumables to get the job done.

Buy it now from:

Amazon Walmart

Robo 3D R1 +Plus ($800)

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Large print capacity often comes at a cost, but with the Robo 3D R1 +Plus, you can create models that measure up to 8 x 9 x 10 inches in size without having to dip in your kid’s college fund. The printer touts a heated glass bed that prevents unwanted warping, too, along with automatic calibration and bed leveling to ensure accurate prints. It’s also compatible with both ABS and PLA filament — whether talking proprietary or universal — which helps keep your options open and costs low. The bundled software is just as straightforward as its setup process, particularly when it comes to optimizing 3D models, though you’ll have to save your files to a microSD card if you’d rather not tether your computer to the device throughout the duration of the printing process.

Buy it now from:

Amazon Best Buy

Dremel 3D Idea Builder ($1,000)

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It’s true that the Dremel 3D Idea Builder retails for just shy of $1,000, yet, for the price, you’re given a product that excels on more than one front and access to a phenomenal customer support network that’s actually well-versed in the technical details (and English). The robust, single-extruder device utilizes proprietary PLA filament and open software, the latter of which lets you download print-ready models from the company’s official site or elsewhere. The resulting print quality is solid, as is the touchscreen display and the device’s various hardware components, but the printing process can be rather loud depending on how far the print head must travel. If anything goes wrong, however, the power tool manufacturer backs it with a 12-month warranty.

Buy it now from:

Amazon B&H

3D Systems Cube 3 ($820)

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Dual-extruder 3D printers rarely come as small as the Cube 3, which is probably because few of them — other than the aforementioned Cube — make use of an removable, active print platform. The intuitive feature allows the print platform to move independently of the head, thus allowing it to print 6 x 6 x 6-inch models with greater speed and accuracy. The printer also comes mostly assembled and calibrates on its own, though it does rely on pricey filaments of 3D Systems’ own design to get the job done. Other hallmarks include the built-in Wi-Fi capabilities and touchscreen controls, which, conveniently, walk you through every action with step-by-step instructions. Our biggest gripe? You’ll often find yourself waiting for the print head to cool in between jobs. Read our full review here.

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Amazon B&H

New Matter MOD-t ($400)

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The Indiegogo-backed MOD-t is a lesson in budgeting basics, even if it does tout features usually reserved for more expensive offerings. The PLA-only printer works with both proprietary and universal filaments, giving you free reign to choose whichever material and manufacturer you prefer, while additional features such as the built-in Wi-Fi and transparent chassis represent welcome additions not typical of most 3D printers at this price point. The print quality is also commendable when things go accordingly, and further benefits from the device’s quiet operation and its ability to accommodate models up to 6 x 5 x 4 inches in size. It’s all operated via a browser-based interface that, for better or worse, does away with onboard controls entirely.

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New Matter