The technology behind 3D printing has been around for decades, but it's only recently entered the consumer market in full force. If you've seen what a 3D printer is capable of making, you've probably considered getting one for yourself, whether it's just for fun or possible small-scale commercial purposes. However, the sticker shock of high-end models might well have dissuaded you from buying one.
Luckily, there are plenty of printers for less than $1,600 that do a great job and print high-quality models. Here are some of the top reviewed models on the market right now, in descending price order.
MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer
For under $1,600, the MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D printer is a great choice for users looking for friendly software and a printer that's easy to set up. The MakerBot desktop model prints high-quality models that make the price point even more attractive. Smooth operation and multiple connectivity choices make it a versatile, easy-to-use printer.
The downside is that the desktop version of the Replicator cannot print tall objects, so if you have any designs that require a lot of vertical space, this printer might not be for you. The filament is also relatively expensive, but compared to the cost of the printer, it won't break the bank. For those users who want to save some money but still want a taste of the higher-end of 3D printing, the MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D printer does a good job of balancing both worlds.
Available here for $1,581.92.
LulzBot Mini 3D Printer
The LulzBot Mini 3D printer is a plug-and-play device capable of high-resolution prints. It features a self-leveling bed, making calibration much easier, especially for beginners. This printer accepts a variety of filament types, including third-party spools, which means you can select the material best suited to your needs or budget. It's a versatile solution that works with all major platforms and supports open source hardware and software.
The only drawback is that LulzBot's print quality is reportedly inconsistent. Still, it's capable of high-quality prints and, for the low cost, provides a solid 3D printing experience at an affordable rate.
Available here for $1,250.00.
Robo 3D R1+
Despite the low cost, the Robo 3D R1+ features a larger-than-average print platform, allowing you to create models that are 8 x 9 x 10 inches. This is a great buy for users who want to make detailed, large models but can't afford a higher-end printer. The Robo 3D R1+ also features wireless connectivity, making it easy to upload and download designs quickly. The calibration process is also simple, enabling users to make adjustments directly from the software.
Models from the Robo 3D R1+ are generally high quality but sometimes require a little cleanup. This isn't unusual, however, and for the price point, the prints are very precise. The device is also open source, allowing for modifications if you're experienced enough to pull it off. It accepts multiple types of filaments.
Available here for $499.99.
XYZprinting da Vinci 2.0 Duo:
The XYZprinting da Vinci 2.0 Duo is one of the most affordable dual extruder 3D printers on the market. Dual extruders allow for the use of two types of filament at once, meaning you can create more complex designs and use multiple colors without changing out your material. This saves a great deal of time and effort. Beginners who want to create more complex models or multi-colored models easily would benefit from using this plug-and-play model.
Available here for $449.00.
XYZprinting da Vinci Mini
Those looking for a simple, quick and affordable printer will love the XYZprinting da Vinci Mini. It's one of the lowest-priced devices out there and features easy-to-use software and plug-and-play capability. It prints quickly, except at the highest resolution, which prints quality models (as long as they aren't overly complex). This is one of the best devices for beginners who are just interested in testing the waters of 3D printing, without making a large investment.
The Mini, as the name suggests, has a small 6 x 6-inch print bed, so you can only print tiny models. The Mini also only accepts XYZ's PLA print filament, so you'll have to buy the right type. However, it's an inexpensive filament that comes in a variety of colors.
Available here for $189.95.