Common 3D Printer Varieties
There are a number of different 3D printer types to consider, but only a handful of them are geared towards the hobbyist and everyday user. One of the most commonly and affordable options of 3D printer is the so-called Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) model. If you are after a reliable printing solution, this is without doubt the best way to go.
Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
Utilising technology that was first developed in the 1980s, FDM printers have become the most popular choice for consumers today. To facilitate 3D printing, this devices heat and then express thermoplastic material in very thin layers, eventually creating the desired printed element. The build plate of FDM printers drop the object that’s being created incrementally as the process is carried out, allowing for subsequent layers to be properly added.
Deciding on an FDM printer can prove a little daunting at first, not least because there are countless options to consider within the FDM category itself. However, if you’re after something that’s budget-friendly, an FDM printer is almost certainly the direction to go. Not only are the printing units themselves affordable, the material required in order to print in 3D won’t break the bank either.
Stereolithography (SLA) Technology
The other common variety of 3D printer you’ll encounter utilises stereolithography (SLA) technology. These types of 3D printers operate a little differently to FDM models. SLA devices utilise ultraviolet lasers and photosensitive material in order to print in 3D. To achieve the desired result, liquid resin is cooled down until it solidifies.
As with FDM printers, stereolithography devices drops the object that’s being printed incrementally after it completes each print cycle, with new layer being deposited atop the previous ones. Once printing itself is finished, the printed object may need to be further exposed to an ultraviolet source to sufficiently harden the resin material.
While SLA printers will generally produce more precise results and a superior finish, the printers themselves and the material required to print with are more expensive than what you can expect to pay for FDM printing.
One thing to bear in mind about both of these types of 3D printer is that, when printing objects with overhanging shapes, support needs to be provided to ensure the finished product can be printed as desired with no compromise to structural integrity.
This is definitely a key area of consideration if you are looking to invest in a 3D printer. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that faster needn’t always mean better when it comes to 3D printing. In fact, models with a faster printing speed can yield finished products with a lower overall quality. As such, don’t be tempted to part with your cash just because a 3D printer boasts an apparently impressive millimetres per second speed. Printing speed should of course play a significant part of your buying decision, but it should instead reflect your individual printing requirements.
As a general rule, however, you’re best served by more moderate speeds as this will ensure 3D printing at a much higher standard. Another key thing to remember about 3D printing is that average speeds are incredibly hard to calculate. The very nature of 3D printing is that it allows you realise bespoke designs to produce customised objects. There’s ballpark figures that can be used to calculate printing speed, but no hard and fast rule you can turn to.
Another major thing you need to be thinking about is print resolution capabilities. Print resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi) and refers to the absolute minimum level of detail and thickness you can expect from your printing. As a rule, the smaller the number, the better printing results you can expect. Take some time to consider what you’ll be printing with your chosen device and what kind of results you’re expecting. If you’re entering the fray with a budget model, don’t part with your money with unrealistic expectations.
Buy with Foresight
Even though 3D printers are becoming much more affordable, the technology that’s at the core of such devices is constantly evolving and becoming more refined. If you’ve the budget to play with, you may be happy enough to part with your money as an introduction to the world of 3D printing.
The average hobbyist with smaller projects should find their 3D printer fit for task for some time, but the enthusiast who wants to move on to bigger and better things may quickly find their 3D printer of choice outpaced by their project goals.
To ensure you have made a good long-term investment, look for 3D printers that can be readily adapted with new components over time. If this isn’t possible, consider looking for a model that can be used to supplement more enhanced 3D printing at a later date when you invest in a more premium model.
Reviews of 6 Best Budget 3D Printers
If you are feeling inspired by our buying guide, why not have a look our line-up of some of the Best Budget 3D Printers you can currently find on the market in UK.
If you are looking for peace of mind when it comes to buying a 3D printer, the ELEGOO Mars is a good way to go. This tried and trusted manufacturer has been producing 3D printers since 2014 and brings plenty of innovation to the table with this user-friendly model.
This particular model utilises UV photocuring technology in order to print (the first such model from ELEGOO). Although it’s been created with user-friendliness in mind, the ELEGOO Mars is incredibly robust and built to an industrial standard.
Even if you have never used a 3D Printer before, you will have no trouble getting to grips with this accessible model. This printer comes semi-assembled, saving you less hassle when it comes to getting started, with only minimal assembly required in order to commence printing.
A 3.5 inch control panel screen makes operation incredibly straightforward, with real-time displays of printing process so you’ve an accurate estimation of how much time your project will take to be realised.
This printer also comes with CHITUBOX Slicing Software as standard, providing you with an incredibly efficient printing speed. Off-line printing is also supported by the ELEGOO Mars, meaning you can print directly from a USB flash drive, with no need to launch your computer beforehand. Precision is also assured, with a 2560×1440 2K HD masking LCD on hand to deliver impressive resolution as standard.
Make quick work of 3D printing projects with the MEGA Zero. Offering professional printing results from the comfort of your home, this reliable model from ANYCUBIC serves as a great gateway to the world of 3D printing. With an innovative modular design, this 3D printer comes semi-assembled so you can begin printing more quickly, right out of the box.
You can also look forward to a very stable structure, with the Y-axis boasting a dual screw rod design and robust aluminium frame that allows for more precise printing results. This printer also includes a powerful extruder that further enhances printing precision.
Other standout features of the MEGA Zero include the power loss resume function. Should you encounter an unexpected power outage in the midst of printing an object, you only need to hit a single key to resume the print job at a later point.
This is ideal for saving you material waste and unnecessary expense. There’s also an auxiliary levelling function as standard, which quickly locates the corners of your print platform during the levelling process, further enhancing printing efficiency.
The Geeetech Prusa Pro B is an ideal choice of 3D printer for those looking to get acquainted with 3D printing potential. Designed for and tailored toward the DIY market, this 3D printer features a heated print bed that boasts maximum temperatures of 110 degrees Celsius.
What’s more, this 3D printer utilises 8mm acrylic plates and metal carriages to ensure much more stabilised printing, delivering more precise results. The Prusa Pro B is of the PLA 3D printer variety, using PLA material in order to create filaments and print.
However, you’re not limited to this one type of printing medium. If you wish to work with other filament types, you can invest in additional nozzles in order to accommodate printing in other mediums.
One thing to point out about this particular 3D printer model is that it comes in kit form. Unlike the previous entries on this list, this printer doesn’t come semi-assembled.
You are responsible for the entire build here, which might prove a little daunting to the newcomer to 3D printing. However, with plenty of instructional material included and many online references available, you should to the build as an educational experience that will be of benefit to your 3D printing activities.
Here’s another worthwhile printer to consider from Geeetech. The A20 is designed with user-friendliness in mind, right from the off. This 3D printer has been created to provide you with an affordable and effective 3D printing solution.
Even if you’re a complete beginner, you’ll have no trouble putting together this printer out of the box and commencing your printing projects. What’s more, you can look forward to incredibly precise printing results. With a print accuracy rating of just a tenth of millimetre, it’s an ideal choice if you’re after sleeker contours, smoother finishes and more stable overall structures.
There’s also plenty of handy features on offer here that make working with this 3D printer a pleasure. The ventilation extruder has a 360-degree design, which massively reduces the chance of clogging and potential leakage. This also enhances precision, as the printing head can move more delicately and with greater levels of stability.
What’s more, you’ve got a break-resuming feature as standard, which is ideal if you want to put a pause on proceedings and return to the machine at a later point. It’s also a good choice of desktop 3D printer, with the device designed to produce minimal operational noise as it prints.
The FLSUN QQ-S is an affordable choice of 3D printer for those after a device of the Delta variety. Here you’ll find a circular print bed that’s synonymous with Delta devices, with an extruder above the main print bed another signature of this printer category.
Like most Delta printers out there, the QQ-S scores highly when it comes to printing speed, not to mention an incredibly stable printing bed that makes it a good choice for those more delicate jobs.
Compact and quiet, the QQ-S is an affordable enough choice of desktop 3D printer. You have a broad choice when it comes to connectivity, with an SD slot as standard, not to mention USB input and wireless connection also possible. One can also utilise this device to print with a wide variety of materials.
The QQ-S allows you to print in PLA, ABS, HIPS, wood, PVA and more. Other noteworthy features include the robust design, with the entire frame constructed from stainless steel to ensure incredible levels of stability to enhance precise printing.
With its sleek exterior and compact design, this Flashforge 3D Printer is an instant eye-catcher. If you are seeking a desktop-style 3D printer for everyday use, this will tick all the boxes. There is no hard edges to worry about, nor will you have to concern yourself with exposed wires or heating elements.
This is a printer that hits high notes when it comes to safety. On a more technical note, this 3D printer more than delivers in terms of precise results and reliability. Standard features include an assisted levelling function, a filament run-out reminder to ensure you’re never caught short, not to mention a slide-in build plate to make every operation a breeze.
You will also find smart supports on offer here to help your objects maintain integrity when overhanging elements need to be printed. This is a very user-friendly option.
The 3-5 inch touch screen provides you with a clear view of essential information, providing you with instant previews of model files, while also allowing for fuss-free operation. What’s more, this printer is ultra-quiet when it comes to operation, ensuring it causes little distraction as you go about the rest of your business.