Best 3D Printers Under $500: Top 3 Picks Of 2017

3d printers have taken an evolutionary step forward as they have become very easy to use and affordable for any household. Engage with your creative side with the unlimited possibilities that come with owning a 3d printer.

You are able to make any design you create come to life or even pick out of millions of already made designs on the internet and simply print them out. Here I will be comparing the top 3d printers of 2017 under $500, giving you the ease to pick the best one for your needs.



Spec

Print material

Auto Calibration

Maximum print size(inches)

Heating bed

layer thickness 

Customer support

Assembly time

Warranty


#1

HITCOP Desktop 3D Printer 

PLA,ABS,Nylon

10.6"x8.3"x7.7"

100-400 microns

4 to 8 hours

1 year full warranty

#2

 XYZprinting Da Vinci Jr. 1.0 

PLA

5.9"x5.9"x5.9"

100-400 microns

Already assembled

1 year warranty with conditions(read details)

#3

The New Matter MOD-t

PLA

6"x4"x5"

100-400 microns

Already assembled

90 day full warranty

 

Click on the table of contents below to skip to something specific you are wondering about or keep reading on.

 

1) HICTOP Desktop 3D Printer, Black


The HICTOP Desktop 3D Printer is a very impressive printer having the ability to use a wider range of materials to print with.In addition, is able to print faster and more accurately giving you quicker and higher quality prints. A very nice feature included in this printer is the heating bed which hugely improves the quality of the print and reduces any chance of error.

Being a DIY 3d printer it does not come assembled, this can take an average of 4-8 hours to put it all together. Unlike the other two printers, the HICTOP does not  have a cover so everything is open. it does have very hot parts while it’s printing which could be a safety issue for small children or pets.

 

How do you know which is the fastest 3D printer?

The 3D printing speed is determined by how fast the extruder can move in millimeters per second. The speed can generally be changed in the settings because a slower speed can result in better detail and accuracy when it comes to smaller prints but with bigger prints the difference in quality is much less noticeable so you can use a faster setting if you are pressed on time. The HICTOP 3D printer has a max printing speed of 120mm/s which is very fast and is comparable to a $2000 printer.

 

How do you know which printer will give you the highest quality?

The printing resolution is normally measured in millimeters(mm) or microns and is the thickness of each layer  printing. The smaller the layer thickness the more detail it produces which results in higher printing resolution. The layer thickness that the HITCOP is able to produce is 100-400 microns which is generally what you will get for this price range.

 

What is a heating bed?

A heating bed is when the surface where objects are printed on has the ability to heat up to 50C-100C depending on the material you are using to print. Heating beds gives you a huge advantage as it avoids warping or deformation which can happen if the material cools at different rates.This feature reduces the chance of errors and increases the accuracy and quality of the print.

Out of the three printers featured, HITCOP is the only one with a heated bed. Printers without a heating bed need tape which you have to place on the printing surface before every print, this is so the print does not stick to the printing bed.

 

How big can the prints be?

The dimensions of the print are measured by width x depth x height (the XYZ axis) in inches, for this printer it has a maximum print size of 10.6” x 8.3” x 7.7” inches being able to give the biggest prints out of all the three printers.

If you are trying to print a bigger object than your printers max print size, you can always print several pieces and put them together, this is very common.

 

What is a DIY 3D printer and what are the advantages?

DIY 3D printers stands for do it your self 3D printers, this means you have to put it all together and it does not come assembled like the other printers. HITCOP is the only DIY 3D printer on the list and it takes a couple of hour to put together. This gives you a chance to closer see how a 3D printer all comes together and how it works. This is great for learning more about 3D printers.

A big plus is that you get a lot more for your money because its cheaper for the manufacturer to make DIY 3D printers. The HITCOP has a larger printing volume, a heated bed, quicker printing and the ability to print with more types of materials. Other advantages are that you can easily change parts later on and modify your 3D printer to improve it. It can also use any brand of filament not limiting you to one brand and even use different sofwares/platforms. Unlike some ready to go 3D printers which can take their own brand of filament and platforms.

 

2) XYZprinting Da Vinci Jr. 1.0 3D Printer

The XYZprinting Da Vinci Jr. 1.0 3D printer is currently one of the most affordable 3D printers on the market being about $200 less than the HITCOP printer with a slick design and an easy to use interface. This makes an excellent first 3D printer as it is ready-to-use right out of the box which is really nice for those who don’t want to spend 4-8 hours building a 3D printer.

 

What material does this 3D printer use?

It uses a biodegradable type of plastic called PLA ( polylactic acid) which is created from renewable materials. PLA is the most common material used by inexpensive 3D printers. Although this printer will only take its own brand of filament which are more costly than third party brands giving this printer a disadvantage over printers which are compatible with cheaper third-party brands of PLA.

 

How much does 3D printing cost for the XYZ printer?

Currently XYZprinting filament costs between $20-$33 depending on the color for 600g of filament. With one roll of filament you could roughly make about 150-200 chess pieces. The printer already comes with 300g of clear filament.

 

What is auto calibration in a 3D printer?

3D printers have 3 axis XYZ which have to be positioned on the right spot one by one so the 3D printer can print accurately, this step is very important. Calibrating your printer just right can take some time/practice and can be considered one of the trickiest thing about 3D printing.

A huge plus that all three printers in this review have is that they all come with an auto calibrating system which calibrates the printer for you.This feature makes it much easier to work with and saves you time.

 

Is it easy to use?

This printer is one of the most user-friendly printers in the market, you just load the filament and connect it, set up the printing bed by sticking the layer of plastic that it comes with, calibrate your printer with the automatic z-offset calibration feature, plug the printer to your computer via usb and you are ready to print. This whole setup generally takes 10-20 minutes after taking it out of the box.

 

What are the warranties on this 3D printers?

I believe HITCOP is offering the best type of warranty which is one year and if something breaks or does not work they send you a new part.

The XYZprinting gives you an initial 30 day warranty where if anything goes wrong you can return it or get it fixed completely free. Then you have a 6 month warranty which if you register with them becomes a extended one year warranty, but the issue is that if you have to return the whole printer after the 30 day warranty you have to pay shipping which can be up to half the price of the printer.

The New Matter MOD-t provides a 90 day warranty where if your printer is defective you can return it with no additional fees.

 

3) The New Matter MOD-t 3D Printer

The New matter MOD-t 3D printer is a smooth, attractive and friendly printer. Being a very safe printer with wifi connectivity making it an easy to use printer.Geoffrey Fowler of the Wall Street Journal says its “the printer that I  recommend for your first foray into 3-D” because it’s incredibly easy to use, it already comes assembled so you can be printing within 10 minutes of unboxing it. You really don’t have to know anything about 3d printers to use this beauty and with wifi you can print with your smartphone, tablet or computer.

 

What type of 3D printers are this?

All three 3D printers I am reviewing in this post are fused deposition modeling(FDM) 3D printers which are the most common type of 3D printers commercially sold as they are cheaper. The (FDM) type printers essentially melts thin layers of plastic and stacks this layers one on top of each other creating your print. Of course, there are much more expensive 3D printers such as stereolithographic printers that use liquid and lasers beams to form a 3D print.

 

Is it safe?

Many lower-cost 3D printers are open and have no shielding and this can be hazardous if you have younger children or pets as the printer’s extruder heats up to 250C to melt the PLA to form your print. The new matter 3D printer has made sure to make it kid friendly by adding a transparent shield so they can watch as the magic happens without getting hurt.

It is always recommended that the printer is in a ventilated area as it does give out some fumes from melting the plastic but no scientific proof has yet shown that the fumes have an impact on our health.

 

Where can you get designs to print?

There are many websites where people upload their designs and you can download them for free and print them as long as your 3D printer can read the format is written in which is most commonly STL. You can also join this sites and share your own designs.

 

How can i make my own designs?

There are many free tools to produce your own design from scratch. One of the most popular free tools is tinkercad , which works with any operating system but it does have a learning curve. Another cool way of producing your own design which is very easy to do is using an app such as 123D catch with your tablet or smartphone which scans an object and makes a 3D model of the object that you can then print.

 

What are some useful applications of 3D printing?

The great thing about 3D printers is the customizability. Being able to make pieces the exact shape and size you want them to be. This is really useful for projects and for designing your own creation. As i mentioned above you can see and download many designs already made, this can give you an idea of the possibilities of what you can print.

Some common prints are phone cases, toys, super heroes figures, pencil holder, custom tool holders, plastic gears, chess pieces and a lot more.

 

Verdict

All three printers are excellent, each having their own advantages. Depending on what you are looking for such as a very cheap and ready to go 3D printer for beginners you might go with the XYZprinting da vinci printer. If you want a more family friendly printer I recommend The New Matter MOD-T 3D printer with its wifi capability, giving you more freedom by being able to simply use your smartphone or tablet to print from anywhere with a very easy to use interface. Both this printers are also enclosed printers making them safer for families.

Personally, I am tech savvy so I would choose the HICTOP Desktop 3D Printer with the advantage of higher quality prints and a lower chance of errors because of the heated bed. Also it has the ability of making bigger prints which is very nice. Although you do have to put it all together being a DIY kit, this gives you the advantage of being able to modify and easily replace parts on your printer.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Ingrid - August 4, 2016 Reply

I am so amazed that I can get a 3D Printer for my home. I mean 300grams of filament for 200 chess pieces. I could make all sorts of gadgets for work and the kids! Love it! Technology never ceases to amaze me thanks for answering a lot of my questions!

    Attila H - August 5, 2016 Reply

    Hi thank you for you comment!

    You can print a lot of things because most prints are actually hallow in the inside so you don’t waste any material. Although if your want to print something that is completely solid you can but most people print hallow prints to save on material. When it comes to making gadgets there is infinite possibilities and tons of already made free designs in the internet. You and your kids would have a lot of fun with one of this!

    Have a great day!

Cait - August 4, 2016 Reply

Wow! I didn’t know that a 3D printer was so affordable to have at home. I found the information on creating your own designs very helpful. These are great products. I especially like the XYZprinting Da Vinci Jr. 1.0 3D Printer. Thanks for the great information.

Marge - August 4, 2016 Reply

Hi! 3-D printers are so amazing! I’m surprised that you can get one for under $500. Are there different kinds of plastic that you can use in it? I’m specifically wondering if you could print something using food grade plastic.

    Attila H - August 5, 2016 Reply

    Hi, Thank you for your comment!

    Yes you are able to print with PLA plastic which is a biodegradable food grade plastic and the most commonly used for this type of 3D printer. PLA is cheap and very commonly found in a huge variety of colors and forms.

    Have a great day!

Dawn - August 5, 2016 Reply

Hi,
I also didn’t realize it was this affordable to have a home 3D printer. The safety issue of having no cover, with kids about is very relevant to me, and also apart from safety, curious fingers could definitely cause the printer to not function the next time. A cover would be a necessity for me.
Thanks – Dawn

Elizabeth - August 5, 2016 Reply

Which one requires the least expensive materials to print? And is it easy to get new supplies?

    Attila H - August 5, 2016 Reply

    Hi thank you for you question!

    All three printers actually are able to print with a biodegradable plastic which is called PLA and is the cheapest and most commonly used. It is really easy to find PLA printing material in amazon and other places as many companies are making it in every color and even special effects like glow in the dark, magenetic PLA and more.

    Have a wonderful day!

Carl - August 5, 2016 Reply

wow, very informative, idid know about the heating bed, and i would imagine that it would give you the best possible outcome. and so many designs as well, this will be great to keep the kids occupied

    Attila H - August 5, 2016 Reply

    Hi!

    Thank you and the printing bed is quite important when it comes to quality even though some companies advertise that is not required so thats why some printers don’t come with the heating bed but it does hugely improve your success rate and quality of your final print. It is great for kids to let their creative side run wild and have tons of fun, it is also a great teaching tool for them to learn about design and even some math.

    Have a nice day!

Suze - August 5, 2016 Reply

Wow, a lot of really good information here Attila! Like many of the other people who have commented here, I had no idea that you could buy a 3 D printer for the home at such an affordable price. I have a question about copyrights. If you were to make your own item by copying it – I’ll use Lego as an example. I decide to make whole sets for gifts for my kids and their friends, so I copy a Lego set I have in my home. Does this infringe on copyright laws or is that still a bit of a grey area?

    Attila H - August 11, 2016 Reply

    Yeah 3d printers have become very affordable for private users! As long as you are just gifting it and not selling it it should be fine.

    Thanks

Lauren - August 5, 2016 Reply

Wow, it seems like 3d printers are becoming more affordable! I have a coworker who loves his HICTOP and really recommends it. He brings in cool little gadget he makes all the time. Thanks for the post!

George - August 6, 2016 Reply

I wanted to find out more about 3D printing and came across your site. Could you tell me some practical applications for 3D printing? It looks amazing and more affordable than what I imagined. Thanks!

    Attila H - August 29, 2016 Reply

    Hi George,

    Yes of cores there are many practical uses for 3d printers. You could print a custom phone case, self watering pots, earphone holder, business card case, interactive toys for your kids, a custom guitar wall mount, your favourite movie figure and really there is no limit to what you could make or even download a already made design from the internet.

Dave - August 6, 2016 Reply

I had no idea 3D printers had become so affordable and user friendly!!
Thanks for the great info.

Quinn - August 6, 2016 Reply

Thanks for the information. I am amazed at the relative affordability of 3D printers now and it seems only a short time they have existed! What is the warranty on these printers?

    Attila H - March 3, 2017 Reply

    Hi Quinn! Thank you to for asking. I have now added the warranty for each printer in the comparison chart and a detailed section talking about each warranty. Basically Hitcop has a one year warranty, xyzprinting has a 1 year warranty but with conditions and the new matter 3d printer has a 90 day warranty. As far as warranty goes HITCOP offers the best one.

Jackie - August 7, 2016 Reply

Wow, great article, I had no idea the technology was this advanced, and that we could all get one for home. It will be fun to look up all the designs and make things from home – my kids will definitely have fun, but I will make sure I get one with the shield.

    Attila H - August 29, 2016 Reply

    Its also great for kids to learns about the principals of building and it opens up their creativity. Its a great teaching tool and tons of funs :). I am sure your kids will have a blast creating things and yeah its a good idea to get an enclosed 3d printer specially for younger kids just so its completely safe for them.

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