It was hardly ten years ago that 3D printers burst on the scene in a big way — at least for hobbyists, artists, and others at the bleeding edge like entrepreneurs hoping to do fast prototyping. Some pundits predicted 3D printing would be utterly ubiquitous within just a few years, but printers remain too fiddly and niche to catch on in every home and be a great option for every consumer. But that’s ok. 3D printers continue to get better and better, and the latest models are the best ones ever made. Prices also continue to fall, and Prime Day is a good time to step up to your first, or a better, printer while saving in the process. Don’t forget — if you’re not an Amazon Prime member yet, you can sign up in minutes, and use your new membership to save on Prime Day. You even get 30 days for free.
If you’re in the market for a 3D printer, this is a good time to be looking. Depending upon your needs, you can choose from among simple, budget models, printers that can work with multiple color filaments, create high-resolution prints with show-quality output, and more.
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1. Save $250 on Creality CR-10S Pro V2 3D Printer (with 20% off coupon)Pros:
- Large print volume
- Silent motherboard
- No wireless printing
- Intimidating assembly required
- Operation not asn user-friendly as some 3D printers
The Creality CR-10S Pro V2 3D Printer is a surprisingly smart choice for both beginner and experienced printers, despite the fairly affordable price tag. It can handle a broad range of materials, so you can print PLA, ABS, or any other popular filament type that doesn’t require a temperature beyond 165 degrees Celcius — that’s the extruder’s limit. Aside from that, though, the sky’s the limit on print materials. You get a large 12 x 12 x 15.7-inch workspace for printing. You can send jobs to the printer via USB or SD Card (but sorry, not wirelessly).
The CR-10S might give newbies some pause because it requires a substantial amount of assembly out of the box, including bolting the main gantry into place and leveling the X-axis. If you’re not a DIY sort of person, those steps can be a bit intimidating — but if you don’t mind handling a screwdriver, it’s actually fun. Once assembled, though, this printer starts to shine. It has a heated bed for better adhesion, and it includes an automatic leveler that measures the print bed in 25 places to prepare for your prints, automatically compensating for any differences in height.
In addition, the printer features an upgraded “silent” motherboard for reduced noise during printing, a high-quality extrusion mechanism for very smooth filament feeds, and a digital touchscreen on the printer for controlling the printer operation and checking status.
With this 3D printer deal on Amazon, you can save $250 off the original price. Be sure to remember to click the coupon to get the extra 20% off the sale price.
2. Save $60 on Phrozen Sonic Mini LCD Resin 3D PrinterPros:
- Incredibly affordable
- Excellent print quality
- Fast printing
- Small resin vat means small built volume
- Lower resolution than average
- The flat built plate doesn't let resin driop off build
Perhaps the best value today in a Masked Stereolithography (MSLA) 3D printer, perhaps more commonly called a vat polymerization printer. Instead of building a 3D object my paying down bead after bead of melted plastic, an MSLA printer uses light to selectively cure a vat of resin. The result is that a print can appear to materialize as it’s extracted from a pool of resin. Traditionally pricier than Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) printing, prices are starting to drop. The Phrozen Sonic Mini LCD Resin 3D Printer is among the most affordable yet, and is also a very easy to use and capable printer.
The printer arrives essentially complete and ready to start printing. All resin printers have somewhat modest print sizes, and the Sonic Mini is no exception; it has a 4.7 x 2.6 x 5.1-inch build volume, but in exchange, it has a pretty speedy print speed of 50 mm per hour, with the resin curing in just one second. The print quality is excellent; unlike conventional LED designs, Phrozen has built the Sonic Mini with a parallel UV LED matrix backlight system which gives the printer excellent accuracy and build quality. And don’t worry about getting locked into a limited array of resins. The Sonic Mini works with both LCD and DLP resins, and they’re readily available for sale (including on Amazon).
The user interface — both on the desktop and printer itself — is quite friendly and easy to use, but the printer doesn’t directly connect to the PC. You’ll need to save your print project to a USB flash drive and then “sneakernet” it to the printer and plug it into the USB port there.
Right now you can save $60 on the Phrozen Sonic Mini.
3. Dremel Digilab 3D20 3D PrinterPros:
- Very user friendly
- Enclosed printer
- Excellent printing software
- Printer bed can't be heated
- No wireless connection to PC
Unlike a lot of 3D printers that are more “engineered” than “designed,” the Dremel Digilab 3D20 3D Printer is designed from the ground up to be a good choice for families — young and old hobbyists and tinkerers. It’s a less intimidating initial experience because it’s fully assembled out of the box, and requires no manual calibration to get started. The printer itself is designed with user-friendliness in mind. It has a full-color LCD control panel on the front face of the printer, and the entire printer is fully enclosed to contain fumes and prevent anyone from touching the hot filament or extruder.
You get a medium-sized build volume; the maximum printing size is 5.5 x 5.9 x 9 inches, and the build plate isn’t heated. That limits the materials you can use, and in fact the Dremel printer is intended for PLA filament only. Yes, that’s limiting if you’re already an advanced 3D printer, but limiting yourself to PLA will keep beginner projects achievable and lead to far less frustration. The printer works with Cura, a surprisingly easy and powerful 3D design and printing program.
The printer is usually $679, but it’s $475 for Prime members right now during Prime Day.
4. Save $70 on the SainSmart x Creality Ender-3 PRO 3D PrinterPros:
- Versatile print materials
- Heated and magnetic print bed
- Requires manual calibration
- No wireless printing
- Open design means fumes can't be enclosed or vented
You can spend a small fortunate (or even a large fortune) on a 3D printer, but the SainSmart x Creality Ender-3 PRO 3D Printer represents a real value. This open-frame 3D printer can accept a wide variety of filament types including PLA, TPU, ABS, PETG, and even wood-based filaments, though if you’re just starting out, you’ll probably keep to safe and non-toxic PLA printing. The printer features a generous 8.7 x 8.7 x 9.8-inch print volume and in addition to the heated extruder, includes a heated print bed. In addition, the print bed is magnetic and easily removable, allowing you to get your prints off the plate pretty easily.
One especially handy feature is a “resume print” option that lets you pick up where you left off if the power is lost in the middle of a job. Ordinarily, the entire print would be lost when that happens, but the SainSmart lets you resume from the last layer — saving both time and filament. It has some other innovations, like an extruder design that has a reduced risk of clogging. On the downside, the printer requires a manual calibration during set up. That’s not extraordinarily difficult, but it’s too bad since many printers can calibrate on their own.
With this 3D printer deal on Amazon, you can save $70 off the original price of $306.
The Limitations and Realities of 3D Printing
If you're new to 3D printing, it's easy to get excited about the potential for instantly printing things at home, but be pragmatic about your expectations. 3D printing isn't anything like what is currently depicted in sci-fi movies; printers can be slow and fiddly, and you'll need to create or find online the plan files for anything you expect to print.
A lot of variables factor into how successful any given print will be. The ambient temperature can affect your print, for example, and if your plan file isn't designed smartly, the print will collapse, deform, or have other problems while it prints.
The print material (ie, kind of filament), whether your printer has a heated bed, and how smart the software is (for example, doesn't it print supports to help prop us a weirdly shaped design) can all affect your results.
The bottom line is that you should read a lot of reviews before making your choice, and make sure you understand that good prints often require practice and trial and error so you're not disappointed and turned off by your early experiences with 3D printing.
Essential Resources if You're New to 3D Printing
If you've never used a 3D printer at all, or you're trying to get your kids into the 3D printing game, many libraries and maker spaces offer opportunities to test out the technology.
For kids, it comes simply as they're likely already learning coding and other STEM skills in school. If your kids are little or you're a little kid at heart, 3D printing pens are a great way to test the waters without breaking the bank.
The Best 3D Printers for Home Use
If you're a hobbyist on a limited budget, you're probably printing small projects and you're not likely to drop thousands on a big machine. Still, you want to have reliable results.
The Monoprice Mini is less than $300. It's an open frame desktop printer and is compatible with both PC and MAC software. The daVinci Mini Wireless 3D Printer is another great option that's upgradable if you opt to move from regular filament to metallic and carbon fiber filament. It's less than $300.
When Are Resin 3D Printers the Right Choice?
Often it comes down purely to price point and simplicity. Resin printers can create prints that are visually stunning, with far better quality than what you get with a traditional Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) printing. But the decision might also come down to project size -- most resin printers have a workspace no larger than a smartphone, and you'll have to approach your prints very differently since they require more supporting structure during the print.
For more information on resin printers and knowing if and when to make the switch, check out the article When Does Moving to Resin 3D Printer Make Sense?
Are Large 3D Printers Worth the Price?
Of course, it depends on what you intend to print. Recently, the University of Maine 3D printed a boat. While we doubt you're looking at something quite that large, you might want to know whether it's better to buy large, or purchase multiple small printers.
Maker Hacks, for example, recently explored the question in the article Should you buy one, big 3d printer or multiple, smaller printers?
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