3D printers can be used to create everything, from toys to prototypes. At the time of writing this article, some people are using 3D printers to churn out protective gear for the coronavirus pandemic. With this kind of flexibility and innovation, it’s no surprise that 3D printers have found their way into classrooms, design shops and even homes of hobbyists. These days, some great high quality printers can be found under $1000, which seems like a sweet spot for budding hobbyists or early professional use cases.
3D printers come in many sizes, shapes, and prices. They can range from a couple hundred dollars to four-figure price tags. You should also note that the right 3D printer to get started in a house or classroom is certainly not the one you want to use for prototyping or other commercial uses. This article is for people who just want to get their feet wet with 3D printing and want a great buy under $1000.
How to Choose The Right 3D printer?
Not sure how to decide which printer is right for you? Here are a few things you can consider when shopping for one:
Two main types of 3D printers exist: FFF (fused filament fabrication) and SLA (stereo lithography).
The FFF printer category includes FFM (fused filament manufacturing) and FDM (fused deposition modeling) devices. and work by melting a plastic filament in a moving printhead to form the model. SLA printers, on the other hand, use an ultraviolet (UV) laser to solidify the resin, focussing the laser to form a solid model.
FFF printers generally cost lesser, are simpler and easier to use, but SLA models are slowly lowering the price difference.
With your choice of printer, you will also need to pay attention to the type of material it uses for printing. The filament used by FFF printers is available in several different materials, such as PLA(a brittle, biodegradable material), nylon, TPE(a soft, rubberlike material), ABS(the same plastic used in Lego blocks), and HDPE(a light, tough polystyrene). Many of these materials are also available in a wide range of colors, particularly PLA and ABS. There are 2 sizes for the Filaments: 1.75 mm and 3 mm, which are not interchangeable.
SLA printers have slightly lesser options than their counterparts, but printers of these kind produce models than can range from very rigid to flexible and rubbery depending on the resing used. The best 3D printers are those, which can use a wide range of materials. Each of the materials come with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Note that some printers only allow use of approved materials or materials produced by the same company that made the printer. That boils down to the fact that manufacturers can sell the hardware cheaply and then make their margin back on the consumables. Most newer 3D printers place no restrictions on the type or origin of the material but it’s always great to double check before making a purchase.
Printers have certain limits on the dimensions of the 3D print they can produce. The limit is defined by the size of the print bed and how far the printer can move the printhead. This measure is usually in cubic inches, but it is important to pay attention to each of the individual dimensions. These only determine the maximum size 3D print the device can create.
Print speed and quality
3D printing is a slow process and there’s no way to get around this at present. A 3 to 5-inch model can typically take between 5 to 11 hours to print, depending on the print quality and design selected. The print is constructed in layers and the thicker these layers are, the quicker the print is produced but lower is the print quality, as the layers become more visible. Thus, you can find a trade-off between print speed and print quality.
The best 3D printers don’t have to cost a lot but the the ones used by professional designers and creators will certainly put a big dent in your budget. Nevertheless, you can find very capable 3D printers for around $1,000, and prices are even under that for machines aimed at novices, educators and home printing enthusiasts.
Our Picks for The Best 3D Printers Under $1000
1. Flashforge Dreamer 3D Printer (Best Value)
Technology: FFF | Layer Resolution: 100 to 500 microns | Materials: ABS / PLA / PVA | Build Volume: 230 x 150 x 150 mm | Printer Size: 485 x 400 x 335 mm | Printer Weight: 24.3 pounds
Flashforge is a leading brand in the market that offers the best 3D printing devices. This model of the brand looks like an MRI machine and it is available in three different colors – white, black and gray. The FlashForge 3D printer introduces LED strips inside the printing area providing a better monitoring option by lightening the printing chamber. The outer case is made up of high-quality plastic while most other components are made up of high-quality acrylic and aluminum.
It is lightweight and easy to transport. This printer uses standard dual rods for the X and Y axis with the manufactured stepper motor to move it, while the Z-axis moves along a threaded rod. The printer’s heated build plate is made of solid aerospace-grade aluminum with a 6.3 mm thickness, allowing for temperatures in the range of 120 Celcius. This printer supports tons of different materials like ABS, limonene dissolvable, PLA, HIPS, brass fill, wood fill, and copper fill. It uses a filament with a 1.75 mm diameter and supports filaments of other brands.
- Dual fan setup
- Triple extruder fans
- 5 inches color screen
- USB, Wi-Fi, and SD card connectivity
- Open source slicing software compatible
- The plastic body may melt during printing
2. BIBO 3D Printer (Best for Commercial Use)
Technology: FFF | Layer Resolution: 0.05 – 0.3mm | Materials: ABS, PLA, Dissolvable filament (HIPS), Flexible filament (TPU) | Build Volume: 8.4 x 7.3 x 6.3 inches | Printer Size: 18.4 * 14 * 14.7 inches | Printer Weight: 40.2 pounds
The BIBO 3D printer is unlike many other printers in the market, being open and self-contained. This thing makes it safe to use, especially with kids around it. The enclosed unit can maintain the heat during the printing process. The aluminum construction also makes it more solid as compared to other printers with a plastic body. It offers a Wi-Fi feature that allows you to connect it with your computer wirelessly, along with smartphones or portable devices. The provided laser engraving element allows for easily engraving wood, leather, and plastic, which isn’t usually offered by other models around. It is facilitated with an SD card containing manual assembly instructions and is compatible with popular slicing softwares for creating models.
This printer is provided with a spool of PLA filament and supports many different types of filaments. It is provided with an acrylic cover kit that helps to maintain high temperatures during printing. This allows you to easily remove your final model with the help of the included glass bed. It carries with it auto bed level adjustment that keeps you away from leveling it by yourself. The printer generates heat in the range of 100 °C, which is perfect for working with different kind of filaments. It also has a touch screen – just press the button on-screen and select the desired operarion to perform. The dual extruders allow for producing dual-color objects by providing the instructions with the help of coding file. All these functions collectively make it the best 3D printer for the price under $1000.
- Laser engraving element
- Acrylic cover kit
- Dual extruders
- Allow multi-color objects generation
- Produce relatively small objects
3. Dremel Digilab 3D20
Technology: FFF | Layer Resolution: 100 micron | Materials: PLA | Build Volume: 9 x 5.9 x 5.5 inches | Printer Size: 18.5 x 13.4 x 13.8 inches | Printer Weight: 15.43 pounds
Dremel Digilab 3D Printer works in a similar way to other traditional printers. Just take it out of the box, connect the power supply, and start printing. Unlike most other 3D printers, this product is completely preassembled. Dremel 3D20 can be said to be one of the most trustworthy printers for consumers available in the market. The open system of this printer allows you to download and print models available over different websites too. It has a colored LCD screen with touch facility to interact with its various settings and options. This enables you to modify and change the settings easily and managing the files in an SD card to provide a smooth printing experience. These things make it one of the best 3D printer for a price under $1000.
Tthe fully enclosed body helps it to maintain a stable temperature inside the box. The filament of this product is non-toxic, recyclable, and plant-based; safer to use at home even if there are gonna be kids playing around. It also keeps them away with the help of a contamination box. This can help you generate a high-quality model with fine finishing. The extruder generates heat in the range of 230 C. It is provided with a build plate with a high resolution of 100 microns. It is capable of a printing speed in the range of 80 to 120 mm per second with a 0.4 mm nozzle.
- Attractive price
- Easy to use
- Fully preassembled
- Good print quality
- Supports PLA filament only
4. FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro
Technology: FFF | Layer Resolution: 100~500 microns | Materials: ABS Pro, Elastic, ABS, TPU, Conductive Filament, PVA, HIPS, PETG, PLA, Flexible Filament, Metal Filled Filament, PLA Color Change, Pearl, TPE, Wood Filled Filament, and PP | Build Volume: 8.9 X 5.8 X 5.9 inches | Printer Size: 227 * 148 * 150 mm | Printer Weight: 24.2 pounds
FlashForge 3D printer is a closed unit model, thus having deficiencies of more raw building volume for open models. It also provides consistent temperatures every time you use it. Moreover, it requires a proper ventilation system during the printing process. This model comes preassembled with a universal power supply irrespective of country-specific supply options. The front door of this model can open up to 180 degrees giving you more space for model removing. This printer is also facilitated with dual extruders that enable printing-related structures with multiple colors at the same time. Just dip the finished object in water, that’s it.
A wide range of filaments are supported by the printer. For example, it enables you to use ABS Pro, Elastic, ABS, TPU, Conductive Filament, PVA, HIPS, PETG, PLA, Flexible Filament, Metal Filled Filament, PLA Color Change, Pearl, TPE, Wood Filled Filament, and PP. You can adjust the layer resolution between 100 to 500 microns. It will provide object imperfections of some types with high resolution on small objects and comes with an aluminum build plate of 6.3 mm that can absorb temperatures up to 130 C. The recommended temperature, however, is 90 C to avoid sticking of object material. The connectivity options are great with the help of standard Wi-Fi on board as well as support for SD cards and USB drives. This provides you better connectivity options as a great 3D printer under $1000.
- Compatible with wide range filaments
- Fully closed unit
- High-quality build plate
- Open-source software compatible
- Not feasible for small models
5. QIDI TECH X-Pro
Technology: FFF | Layer Resolution: 0.05 mm-0.4 mm | Materials: PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG, HIPS | Build Volume: 9.1 * 5.9 * 5.9 inches | Printer Weight: 39.7 pounds
The X-Pro from QIDI TECH is released with many of the latest features like a dual extruder for precise printing. This provides the concept of 3D printing in a simpler way and it is super easy to use with many user-friendly features. Its safe operation makes it the best 3D printer for school students under the price of $1000. Additionally, it comes provided with a dual turbofan for a four-sided air blow that makes the printing quality quite high and stable. It provides printing precision between 0.05 mm to 0.4 mm with a printing speed of 60 mm to 150 mm. It also gains a maximum nozzle temperature in the range of 250 C. The heating bed plate is built with a 6mm thick aviation-grade aluminum, capable of being heated up to 110 C.
With all of that, a guide rod of 12mm along with a movable curved plate is included, which is quite suitable for removing an object after the print completion. This reduces the risk of damaging the build plate. This printer is also equipped with a power breaking-point function that allows to start printing from a specific point instead of starting it from zero. It can save the breakpoint automatically quite intelligently. QIDI provides its slicing software with a unique auto slicing function and works as per your instructions of specified quality and time. The product is also well-suited with simplify 3D software. A large 4.3” LCD screen is installed and is fairly easy to use, helping you to monitor the whole printing process. It also is one of the best looking 3D printers under $1000 and is worth a consideration.
- Removable curved plate
- Auto power detector
- Upgradeable components
- Large LCD screen
- Perfect for school projects
- Weighs in quite heavier than most other printers
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6. QIDI TECH X-Plus
Technology: FFF | Layer Resolution: 0.05 mm – 0.4 mm | Materials: PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG, Nylon, PC, Carbon fiber, etc | Build Volume: 10.6 x 7.9 x 7.9 inches | Printer Size: 26 x 22.5 x 22 inches | Printer Weight: 50.6 pounds
The QIDI TECH X-plus comes with the best features of 3D printers collectively at one place making this one of the best 3D printers under $1000. Fine quality printing, quick leveling, air purification, Wi-Fi connectivity, etc. are all some of its salient features. The QIDI Tech X-Plus comes with a modern design with an elegant look to place in your office or home. This 3D printer is perfect for 3D printed prosthetics, architectural level models, rapid prototyping and movie crutches. It is also great for educational institutes to carry out practical experiments and learning. A set of dual Third Generation Extruders is on offer, that works with different capabilities as per your needs.
One extruder is used for general purpose materials like ABS, built-in TPU, or PLA while the second one is used for advanced printing materials like Nylon, PC, carbon fiber, etc. which require constant temperature during printing. A movable curved plate reusable plate is also included. This late can be used from both sides, with the front side for general filaments and backside for more advanced materials. It provides a slicer software v5.0 with a redesigned UI that is smarter and easier to operate than before. It is also capable of changing the slicing software algorithm which can help increase quality by up to 30% and speed by 20%.
- Dual side usable plate
- Perfect for educational purposes
- Compatible with a wide range of filaments
- Turbofan system
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Slicing software needs improvements
7. Snapmaker 3-in-1 3D Printer
Technology: FDM | Layer Resolution: 50 – 300 microns | Materials: PLA, ABS, etc. | Build Volume: 4.9 x 4.9 x 4.9 inches | Printer Size: 11.4 x 13.2 x 10.7 inches | Printer Weight: 21.5 pounds
The Snapmaker All-Metal is a 3-in-1 Printer which comes with Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, capable of printing models with the max dimensions of 125 x 125 x 125 mm and with a resolution of 50 to 300 microns. This printer comes with detachable modular modules that facilitate you to convert it into a laser engraver, CNC Carver, and a 3D printer. It also allows you to convert any drawings into physical objects and if you want to upgrade your working level to an industrial level, this is the best 3D printer for cookie cutters and perfect for all levels under $1000 only. All of its 3 levels use a 3-axis linear motion system to carry out work.
It is completely made out of aluminum alloy, which is considered more durable. A 3.2 inches color LCD is also fitted in this printer consisting of a drag and drop feature. “Its versatility is achieved by using interchangeable heads, modular connectors (RJ25 and RJ45) jacks, and modified firmware that enables three applications of 3D printing, laser engraving, and CSN carving.” according to the manufacturer. “This printer offers beams of 500 mW, compatible for printing with different materials like leather, bamboo, wood, plastic, fabric, and paper. This allows the users to print logos and images on softer fabrics. The CNC module can work from 2000 to 7000 RPM while working with various advanced materials. The head of this 3D printer has a printing speed in the range of 10 to 150 mm/s.
- Modular design
- 3 in 1 technology
- High resolution
- Using FDM technology
- The laser module is underpowered
8. CR-10 S5 Creality 3D Printing Printer
Technology: FDM | Layer Resolution: 0.05 – 0.4 mm | Materials: PLA, ABS, TPU, Copper, Wood, Carbon Fiber, Gradient Color | Build Volume: 19.68 x 19.68 x 19.68 inches | Printer Size: 590 * 700 * 615 mm | Printer Weight: 55.1 pounds
When Creality launched the CR-10, it hit the market insanely due to its large build volume. CR-10 S5 is famous as the biggest printers available for consumer-grade 3D printing. If you are gonna buy it, you must have additional space for it to put it easily. The printer comes almost pre-assembled, and the only thing you have to do is connecting the Z-axis with the base and connecting it to a power supply. It is ready to use in this simple step. This printer’s filament detector indicates you when filament goes out. When filament goes out, the sensor picks up the information and stops the printing process. You can resume it again later after filling up the filament.
In this printer, the heated bed uses MOSFET technology for safety. The manufacturer also uses two Z-axis rods and a motor in this model. This will provide you with reliable working. The design of this printer uses dual lead screws that are helpful for long printing. It offers a heated bed compatible with working with a variety of materials and is connectable through the USB connector and microSD card. It uses a removable bed glass to pick the finish models easily. Kapton tape is provided in this model to avoid printing directly on the bed. Its extruder generates the heat in the range of 260 C and that of heated bed in the range of 90 C with printing speed around 200 mm/s. This printer is compatible with different filaments, and open source can allow you to use any slicer software that you want.
- Easy to assemble
- Huge build volume
- Compatible with a variety of filaments
- Need more space to place it