How Much Does A 3D Printer Cost?

Before you set out to the mall, you should ask, “how much does a 3D printer cost?”

3D printer prices vary from cheap to expensive, depending on the brand you want to purchase. Other factors that determine the cost include, quality of the printer, features, size, and durability.

how much does a 3d printer cost
Photo Credits: Keith Kissel, Flickr.com

A 3D printer costs about $200. However, this depends on the type, size, and quality of printer you want. An average 3D printer price ranges from $500 – $10, 000.

If you are a do it yourself (DIY) person, you may want to go for a cheap printer. In the same vein, commercial manufacturers will opt for industrial 3d printers which are expensive. This is because manufacturers are getting great satisfaction from the use of 3D printers and are willing to invest in high-quality machines.

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On an average scale, one can get a 3d printer costing around 700 USD. But there are some cheap printers that can be purchased with an estimate of 200 USD.

In the past 3 years, the cost of 3D printers has declined to a reasonable extent. Around 2013, it was difficult to get a top-quality brand with an estimate of 2000 USD. Today, with less than 1000 USD, one can afford to buy a 3D printer.

Before you set out to purchase a 3d printer, for home or commercial use, you have to be clear on certain things.

What Should I Know Before Buying a 3D Printer?

Before buying a 3D printer, First, you should be clear on why you need a 3d printer. Second, your budget for the printer should be known. Third, look for a top speed 3D printer, 3D printers do not have the same speed. Then, check the X, Y, and Z axis features. This determines the height of layers they can create.

There are various categories of 3d printers.

The Categories of 3D Printers

The categories of 3D printers include:

1. Budget or DIY 3D printer

2. Entry- level 3D printer

3. Hobbyist 3D printer

4. Enthusiasts 3D printer

5. Professional 3D printer

6. Industrial 3D printer

Each of them has unique features and varying costs that will be discussed in detail as you read on.

Budget or DIY 3D Printer (Less than 300 USD)

This category of printer is quite affordable, but it uses very cheap filaments. This means that the quality of the printer may be low. The DIY 3D printer is purchased as a kit. This makes it easy for you to customize the features to suit your needs.

Are Cheap 3D Printers Any Good?

Cheap 3D printers are good. They are affordable. As a result, you have the opportunity to get a 3D object printed at a minimal cost. Therefore, it does not only save cost, It also increases value.

Because this printer comes as a kit, it needs to be assembled, calibrated and some parts will need to be repaired.

What Are the Types of Budget or DIY 3D Printers?

The types of Budget or DIY 3D printers are

1. Flashforge creator pro

2. Flashforge dreamer

3. Prusa i3

4. Prusa mendel (iteration 2)

5. Kossel DIY 3d printer

6. RepRap Guru Prusa i3

7. Tronxy X1 Desktop DIY 3d printer kit

8. Startt DIY 3d printer kit

9. Tevo tarantula

10. Creality 3d ender

So, if you are on a very tight budget, you can opt for a budget or DIY 3D printer.

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Entry-Level 3D Printer (Between 200 USD to 500 USD)

If you are excited and desire to delve into 3D printing, this is the category you should be considering. It is affordable and possesses unique features.

What Are the Features of Entry-level 3D Printers?

The features of entry-level 3D printers include:

1. It has a removable surface build. This helps to regulate the temperature as the object is formed.

2. It comes in a semi-assembled kit

3. It consumes less energy

4. It has a safe power supply. This helps to protect the printer from unexpected power upsurges.

However, entry-level printers have setbacks that can affect the printer.

What Are the Drawbacks of Entry-level 3D Printers?

The drawbacks of entry-level 3D printers are:

1. It is slow and makes a lot of noise when in operation.

2. It does not allow a combination of filaments. But you can use up to 2 filaments to print.

3. It can only print small objects

4. The print resolution is usually low or inferior.

Just like the DIY 3D printer, you will need to assemble an entry-level 3D printer after purchase. Examples in this category are the Prusa Mk 3, Creality Ender 3, and FlashForge Finder.

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Hobbyist 3D Printer (Between 300 USD to 1,500 USD)

This category is suitable for people with some years of experience and need to 3d print more items. It has a higher cost than the entry-level 3D printer category.

What Are the Advantages of Hobbyist 3D Printers?

The advantages of hobbyist 3D printers include the following:

1. It can produce good quality items

2. It can print faster than entry-level 3D printers

3. It can use a combination of filaments to print objects. This feature makes it more flexible.

4. It can print bigger objects unlike the entry-level 3D printer

How Do You Maintain a Hobbyist 3D Printer?

You can maintain a hobbyist 3D printer by using it less often. Also, do not overwork it because the machine was not built to run for a long time. Therefore, it is necessary to handle it with care.

Furthermore, if you want to increase the shelf life of this machine, have a regular cleaning and maintenance routine.

This printer cannot be used for commercial purposes but can be used in schools or by a hobbyist. Hence the name hobbyist 3D printer. A good brand of hobbyist 3D printer is the FlashForge Creator Pro.

FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro, Metal Frame Structure, Acrylic Covers, Optimized Build Platform, Dual Extruder W/2 Spools, Works with ABS and PLA

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Enthusiast 3D Printer (Between 1,500 USD to 3,500 USD)

Have you have been 3D printing for a while and have become enthusiastic about it?

You need to reward yourself with the enthusiast 3D printer which has better features than the previous printers.

What Are the Features Of Enthusiasts 3D Printers?

The features of enthusiasts’ 3D printers include:

1. It is faster, solid, and friendly to use.

2. It is flexible. As a result, it can use a combination of filaments to print unlike some machines that require the use of a particular brand of filament.

3. It is more quiet. When it is in use, it does not make noise like hobbyist and entry-levels 3d printers.

4. It is durable

Since it is not an industrial printer, it cannot be used for a long time. If you do so, you may end up doing more maintenance than necessary. An example in this category is the LulzBot TAZ 6.

LulzBot TAZ 6 3D Printer

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Professional 3D Printer (Between 3,500 USD to 6,000 USD)

Have you moved from being just a hobbyist or enthusiast and you need to turn your passion into a great source of income?

You certainly need to opt for a professional 3D printer.

What Are the Features Of Professional 3D Printers?

The features of professional 3D printers are:

1. Durability. It is very durable and has a high printing resolution.

2. Speed. It has a good speed of operation which makes it a fast machine.

3. Quality. It is consistent and of good quality.

4. Flexibility. It can use a wide range of filaments to produce a 3D object.

5. Less noise.

The materials for printing are sold by the manufacturers of this kind of printers. You cannot use any other filament apart from that. Also, some of the printers come with screen touch and WiFi features.

In case of any malfunctioning, which is rare, the customer service will be available to handle it. This category of printer gives off less noise during operation and it does not need to be assembled. It is ready to use as soon as it is out of the box.

What Should I Do Before Purchasing a Professional 3D Printer?

Before purchasing a professional 3D printer, ensure that you have all the skills required. Take out more time to master the craft of 3d printing. Then, check out reviews from buyers. Furthermore, this will yield maximum returns on investment as soon as you venture into business.

Since this printer is expensive, you do not want to make a mess of it.

People who use the professional 3d printer include small and large businesses, universities, high schools, middle schools, and clubs for robotics.

How Long Can a Professional 3D Printer Last?

A Professional 3D printer can last for up to 5 years or more. This is because it has been built for such a purpose. However, this depends on how it is properly used and managed.

This will help you to know if the machine needs maintenance and the frequency of the maintenance. You will also get to know the benefits and drawbacks of the printer. Examples of professional 3D printer are Fusion 3 F-400 S and Flashforge Guider 2S 3D printer.

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Industrial 3D Printer (Between 20,000 USD to 100,000 USD)

how much does a 3d printer cost
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What Industries Use 3D Industrial Printers?

Industries that use 3D industrial printers are?

1. Automotive

2. Aerospace

3. Healthcare

4. Engineering

5. Manufacturing

6. Pharmaceutical industries.

It is very large and expensive. It costs as much as a new sports car. Hence, if you decide to purchase one, it means you are in for important business.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages Of Industrial 3D Printers?

The advantages of industrial 3D printers include:

1. Speed.

2. Durability. The body is made of metal and its parts are very durable.

3. User- friendliness. It has a friendly user interface that enables customized printing, but the parts need to be properly maintained.

4. Complex designs. It can be used to create complex 3D parts and objects

5. Quality and Consistency.

On the other hand, the disadvantages are:

1. It is cost-intensive to run.

2. It can only use a particular brand of filament

3. High maintenance cost

However, you cannot use any type of filament on the industrial 3d printer. Just like the enthusiast and professional 3d printers, you need to get a particular brand of filament. And that type of filament is just as expensive as the printer.

Before you decide on getting a printer in this category, ensure that you have weighed the benefits and the drawbacks. You also need to have many years of experience in 3d printing.

As a result of the high maintenance and high cost of operation involved in industrial 3d printer, its demand is declining.

An example of the industrial 3d printer is ExOne S-Print. It can print very complex objects directly from computer-aided design (CAD) data. This implies that you do not need any physical design or model before printing.

Many 3D printer companies are producing more professional 3D printers that can match the industrial printer. Hence, more people are opting for professional printers which are cheaper than the industrial brand.

Next Steps

We have discussed the various categories of 3d printers. So, depending on your budget and what you need to do with the machine, you can make a choice. Check out what you can make with a 3d printer.

However, do not forget to factor in the cost of electricity, filament, software (if needed), and maintenance.

Is a 3D Printer’s Feature Dependent on Cost?

The features of a printer are dependent on its cost. Consequently, if you plan on getting a cheap 3D printer, it means you will have features that are limited. For instance, low-cost printers usually offer a poor resolution, slow rate of operation, and you can only print a small-sized object.

Just like computers, 3D printers are being remodeled on a daily basis. Soon, the very powerful machines will become more affordable.

How Much Does A 3D Printer Cost- Related FAQs

Is a 3D Printer Worth It?

A 3D printer is worth it. It is indeed a worthy investment. However, getting more value or worth of a 3D printer is largely dependent on the reason you purchased it. For occasional usage, it is best to hire it, whereas, for everyday use, owning yours is a viable option.

It, therefore, means that the worth of a 3D printer is determined by how well it is utilized. In times past, 3D printers were extremely expensive and only big manufacturing firms could acquire them. However, there are so many affordable 3D printers from about $200-500. These printers also come in DIY versions too. 

Is it Cheaper to Use a 3D printer?

It is cheaper to use a 3D printer. It offers the possibility of massive production at a minimal cost. With a 3D printer, items can be manufactured without waste. This is because the production process involves the use of accurate measurements according to the specifications required for manufacturing the item.

The materials for producing 3D prints are readily available, depending on the type of object or item you intend to produce. Plastic filament, which is the most common material for 3D printing, costs about $30 per Kilogram. 

Some people have their reservations about 3D printers. But, be that as it may, large scale production of items is cheaper with 3D printers.

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Does a 3D Printer Consume More Energy?

3D printers, depending on the size, type, and function, are not known to consume more energy. A 3D printer can use as low as 50 watts of electricity per hour. 

Electricity is the major power supply of 3D printers and this can be regulated. The object, or item that is printed plays a major role in how much energy will be required to print it. Some materials consume more energy and time in the printing process.

Unlike DIY and hobbyist 3D printers, industrial 3D printers are susceptible to more energy consumption. 3D printer energy consumption is therefore relative to certain factors.

Can I Leave My 3D Printer Unattended?

You cannot leave a 3D printer unattended. This is because 3D printers are not predictable and might encounter any challenge when you are not around. It is unsafe to run a 3D printer at home for long periods. There is a higher risk of fire outbreak, machine overheating, or damaged fan.

Running a 3D printer requires printing layer by layer. It, therefore, requires maximum and rapt attention while printing to ensure that there is no diversion from the intended design. 

Attending to your 3D printer is particularly important. If you cannot be on standby, you can try using a web camera, fire detector, or isolate the printer when in use, to ensure safety. 

What Is the Best 3D Printer for Home Use?

The best 3D printer for home use is the Monoprice Voxel. It can be used to produce various household items like plates, cups, spoons, toys, flower vases, mugs, and a lot more. It makes use of plastic filaments that are easily affordable and readily available.

Monoprice Voxel comes in different sizes and specifications. It is box-like and has incredibly unique and durable hardware that is safe for use at home. Its price ranges from $300 – $400.

It is fully enclosed; has easy Wi-Fi access; and a touchscreen with 8GB memory capacity. It indeed brings 3D printing to your doorstep.

Can You Make Your Own 3D Printer?

You can make your own 3D printer. Here’s how:

  • Get a 3D printer kit from a 3D printer store. 
  • Go through the user manual or guide on how to start.
  • Clear a flat surface or workable area for assembling the parts of the printer.
  • Start by assembling the base. Fix the screws and nuts to the right positions. 
  • Ensure the motherboard is rightly fixed.
  • Place the 3D printer in a well-ventilated area. Put your materials in it
  • Afterward, to get started, download 3D files and start printing. 

Depending on the type of object you want to print, DIY 3D printers can take a longer time to complete printing.

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