3D printers have finally come down in price, making these cool tech toys affordable for the average consumer. For just a few hundred bucks, you could own one of these useful appliances, which can make everything from home goods to toys to models, as seen in the photo above. Here are the best 3D printers available for $500 or less.
1. MendelMax 1.5 RepRap 3D Printer: $150
The RepRap is an open source line of 3D printers that is basically self-replicating: if you own a RepRap, you can use it to print almost all of the replacement parts you’ll ever need, or even print a whole new machine.
2. Micro 3D Printer: $299
The Micro 3D Printer has already received over $1 million in Kickstarter funding. The M3D bills itself as the first 3D printer that’s truly consumer-friendly, right out of the box. It is expected to start shipping in August of 2014.
The Micro also has a bold look, as it comes in five different hues: Silver, Black, Blue, “Red-Orange,” and Green. The printer is extremely lightweight, and is the quietest printer on the market.
The M3D also focuses on the fact that you can use color-changing filaments to build your projects. That means you can create jewelry or toys that change color when you touch them, which is just plain cool.
3. MakiBox A6 3D Printer: $300
The MakiBox is the ideal printer for beginners. It has a small build volume, making this a good option for people who only plan to print small items for personal use.
The MakiBox comes in clear, black, and yellow plastic housings, though you can spend an extra $50 and get a steel case instead, which is more durable. Do note, all MakiBox models are shipped partially assembled, and you may need to purchase additional cables to use the MakiBox with your computer.
4. The Phoenix 3D Printer: $399
The Phoenix 3D printer is designed to work with Phoenix software. This software is great because it lets you pause in the middle of a print job and “rewind” if there is an issue. This reduces waste and stress.
If you want an even better bargain, you can buy an unassembled kit version of this printer for just $375. You also have the option to choose a single or double extruder.
5. Printrbot Simple 2014 3D Printer: $450
Also featured on our list of best all-around 3D printers, the Printrbot Simple 2014 3D Printer costs $450 (or you can buy an assemble-it-yourself kit for $350.)
The PrintrBot printer has one major advantage at this time over most of the other printers on our list: you can get same-day shipping. Some of the other models on this list have a large backlog or orders to fill, or haven’t even been released yet. If you really want to try 3D printing tomorrow, this is the model that’s likely to get to you the fastest.
Considering getting someone an electronics gift this holiday season? Check out our Gifts section for tons of great gift recommendations, or visit our ultimate guides to the best gifts for women and best gifts for men.
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