Whether you want to dive into 3D printing as a hobby or use it to start a small business, you may not want to just spend thousands of dollars right off the bat. Purchasing a budget 3D printer is a good way to get started or, if you're an experienced maker, to build out your farm.
The good news is that you won't lack for choices. There are dozens of capable budget 3D printers that sell for less than $300 and even some that go for below $200. The bad news is that, with a huge variety of makes and models, it can be difficult to find the right one.
At Tom's Hardware, we test dozens of consumer / prosumer-level 3D printers each year, measuring their speed, output quality, features and ease-of-use. To help you choose, we've listed the best budget 3D printers on the market right now, along with the pros and cons of each.
Check out our Shopping Tips section below and go through a short checklist of things to keep in mind before making your purchases. If you have room in your budget for more premium options, check out our list of Best 3D Printers overall for more recommendations.
Best Budget 3D Printers
Best Budget FDM
Best Budget FDM 3D Printer
This is a solid FDM printer packed with great features that we really like such as automatic bed leveling, a direct drive extruder, and a heated double-sided PEI build platform. It performs as well as the original Kobra at an affordable price.
Best Value FDM
Best Value FDM 3D Printer
The Kobra Go gets the job done for less. This workhorse machine comes as a do-it-yourself kit with a color LCD knob-controlled screen navigation; it's easy is so easy to use and outputs smooth and clean quality prints.
Best FDM for Beginners
Best Budget FDM 3D Printer for Beginners
The Creality Ender 2 Pro is affordable, portable and easy to use. This tiny machine is perfect for novice makers who want to try out 3D printing without a huge financial or workspace commitment. A good choice for classrooms or STEM labs.
Best Budget Resin
Best Budget Resin 3D Printer
This resin printer produces excellent 4K+ prints. Its smaller size makes it easy to handle while taking up less space on your workbench. It has the widest build plate of any hobby level resin printer, giving you more room for printing beefy models.
Best Value Resin
Best Value Resin 3D Printer
This rock-solid resin printer impressed us with its high-resolution quality outputs. The ease of use, solid construction, and high-quality components make the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro a fantastic value for anyone with a sub-$300 price range.
Best Resin for Beginners
Best Resin 3D Printer for Beginners
The Photon Mono 2 is designed for anyone who wants to take on resin 3D printing for the first time. It comes with an extra-large screen protector for the LED glass. You also get quality 4K prints with a smaller-sized vat and a petite footprint that requires minimal space.
Best Budget FDM 3D Printer
The Anycubic Kobra Neo is the best low-cost FDM 3D printer in the market today. It's an ideal 3D printer for budget-conscious beginners or could be used as a reliable backup machine for long-time makers who needs more than one machine for their multiple projects. This printer is very similar to the company's flagship Kobra in design and is also packed with great features that we really like such as automatic bed leveling, a direct drive extruder and a heated double sided PEI build platform.
The Neo is very easy-to-use as it is shipped 90 percent assembled so you can get your print projects started right away. It has a solid 220 x 220 x 250 mm build volume and a PEI flex plate that makes it easy to take your prints out without the need for scraping and damaging your plate in the process. In our testing, the Neo did an incredible job printing a very detailed dragon bust (Fotis Mint’s Red Dragon Bust) which came out with minimal stringing and showed off precise details of the model we chose.
Unlike the Kobra, this machine does not have touch screen for your setting configurations. But we felt that the knob controlled 2.4-inch color screen worked just fine to navigate the menus. Currently retailing at $169, the Neo comes at an affordable price range and has everything a new maker needs to start their 3D printing journey.
Best Value FDM 3D Printer
The Anycubic Kobra Go is very similar to the Neo in terms of its design. It has identical build volume, interface and even hardware. However, what distinguishes the Go from the Neo is that it is shipped as a do-it-yourself kit instead of a ready out-of-the-box package. The kit would require you to assemble the printer yourself. If you don't mind spending an extra 40 minutes on setup and are up to the challenge to building your own printer, then the Kobra Go is just the machine for you.
Though seemingly light on premium features, the Go does include automatic bed leveling and PEI flexible build plate which are two of the most useful functionalities we look for in a 3D printer that makes it easy to use. In terms of output, the Kobra Go does well with detailed prints when you slow it down and use good filament. (Check out our Best Filaments for 3D Printing for suggestions.) In our test, we printed Clockspring’s Illusionist Vase at a .16 mm layer height with 65mm/s speed which resulted in a perfectly smooth print.
Additionally, the Anycubic Kobra Go supports more file formats and more filament types than the Neo so the Go gives you more options to play with. Retailing at $179, it offers so much value for your investment.
More: Anycubic Kobra Go Review
Best Budget FDM for Beginners
The Creality Ender 2 Pro is a solid choice as a starter machine for new makers. It is easy to assemble and operate, designed for portability and outputs great quality prints. The machine weighs under 10 pounds and has a top mounted handle for easy transport. It can easily fit small workspaces or stored away when not in use.
Compared to most printers, the Ender 2 Pro does have a smaller build volume of 165 x 165 x 180mm. Despite its size, the Ender 2 Pro is a reliable performer which includes an interruption recovery feature, so you won't lose your work if something happens in the middle of your print.
In our tests, the Ender 2 Pro delivered detailed print quality. (Check out our Best Filaments for 3D Printing for suggestions.) Our prints of 3D Benchy and a crystal dragon came out looking fabulous with all the fine detailing we were looking for.
Assembling the Ender 2 Pro took no time at all. Out of the box, it is shipped 90% pre-assembled so you only need to screw in a few bolts and the machine is ready for use. And with its silent stepper drivers and quiet cooling fans, you can enjoy printing in peace for once. It also comes with a flexible textured bed that holds models tight while printing and molds peel right off once you are done.
Additionally, the Ender 2 Pro can be upgraded with 3rd party hotends and premium bed plates making this a machine that can advance with you as you hone your 3D printing skills yourself. It currently retails for $179 but is often on sale for much less.
Best Budget Resin 3D Printer
With its excellent 4K+ prints, easy set-up and large build volume, the Anycubic Photon M3 easily takes the crown as the best entry-level resin 3D printer we have reviewed.
What sets the Photon M3 apart from its competitors is its wide 163 x 102 x 180 mm build plate, which allows it to produce larger models in very fine detail. In our testing, we printed Louise Driggers’s Unicorn of Darkness and came out with impressive results. The 180mm tall model took over ten hours to finish, but the detailing on the unicorn's horn and ornate mane was so clear and sharp.
The M3 includes an etched build plate that holds models very well during printing and lets you remove them easily when done. It also comes with handy safety features such as a pour spout for the metal vat and a screen protector for the LED glass to keep the machine safe from accidental dripping.
Originally sold at $300, it is now available for $70 less than MSRP. This makes it an even more attractive and affordable choice as budget high resolution resin 3D printer.
Best Value Resin 3D Printer
If you are looking for a quality high resolution resin 3D printer at a reasonable price-range, then you should include the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro in your short list. This machine comes with premium features such as integrated air filtration, 2K mono LCD resolution and solid metal construction, but without the premium price tag.
The Mars 2 Pro has a spring-loaded self leveling build platform that simplifies the set up configuration and makes it easy to calibrate. We also appreciate the built-in air filter which is a big plus for anyone sensitive to the smell of resin during the print process. (However, to minimize any danger of inhaling fumes, you still need to use the Mars 2 Pro in a well-ventilated room.)
In one of our tests, we used Printed Obsession's Doom Guy model with the Elegoo Standard Photopolymer Clear Green resin and it printed perfectly on our first try. The print time took over eight and a half hours but was well worth it as the 2K resolution masking LCD picked up all the fine details of the 3D model.
For fast high-res resin 3D printing at an affordable price, the Elegoo Mar 2 Pro earns our best value recommendation.
Best Budget Resin for Beginners
The Anycubic Photon Mono 2 gets our nod as the best start-up printer for anyone who wants to get into resin 3D printing without breaking the bank. Designed specifically for first time resin users, this printer comes mostly assembled for easy setup, user friendly and includes an anti-scratch film screen protection.
It is light-weight and small for easy storage when not in use. But despite its compact size, the Photon Mono 2 features a bigger build volume than its Photon Mono cousins. We were able to fit six presupported minuatures on the build plate at once during our tests.
The Photon Mono 2 is a great printer for miniature models and small builds. It also comes with its own custom slicer, the Photon Workshop V3. Priced at $209, this machine is a solid and affordable option if you are looking to get started with resin 3D printing.
Shopping for a Budget 3D Printer: Top Tips
Here are a few important points you should keep in mind when considering buying budget 3D printers.
✅ Cost? How much can you afford to spend? If your budget is really tight, you can grab a model that's less than $200 but a sub-$300 budget will get you farther.
✅ FDM or Resin? The two main types of 3D printer are FDM, which involves spools of filament that are extruded onto the build plate or resin (aka SLA), which uses light to shape liquid resin. FDM printers are easier-to-use and don't have the safety concerns that come with handling noxious chemicals. If you can handle them properly, Resin printers give you a bit more detail, particularly for miniatures. Given the ease of use, though, we think FDM are best for most people.
✅ Features: Look for auto bed leveling, easy setup and a good UI. On FDM printers, getting a PEI build plate or direct drive design are real pluses. For resin, look for a high output resolution (2K or 4K).
MORE: Best 3D Printers
MORE: Best Resin 3D Printers