How much does a 3D printer cost? This is one question many beginners, hobbyists, and enthusiasts ask. While the answer may be a little complicated, our aim is to simplify the process and help you choose the right one for your level of expertise. There are many different 3D printers available on the market. While some are small, cheap, and targeted at DIYers, others are packed full of features and come at a much higher price.
That, however, doesn't suggest that you'll have to spend a fortune in order to get a good printer. Over the years, the cost of 3D printers has dropped considerably and you can now find good 3d printers under $300. While they may not offer some of the functions you'll find on a $20,000 printer, you'll still be able to use them to create fun projects. Many of these cheap printers are targeted at beginners, hobbyists, or those who would like to learn the ropes of 3D printing.
So, how much does a 3D printer cost? Basically, you can find beginner models for $200. The average consumer models start at around $700, while the commercial or high-end consumer models will cost you thousands of dollars. In this article, we'll be answering some of the questions you may have about 3D printers while providing you with an informative guide on the best printer for your level of expertise.
Is Buying A 3D Printer Worth It?
If you're an engineer, an artist, an inventor, a hobbyist, or maybe you simply love tinkering, getting a 3D printer will definitely worth it. 3D printers are very useful for creating machine models, parts, contraptions, gears, and other complex shapes. It's a technology that's being used in many different fields including aerospace, medicine, all forms of engineering, etc.
If you love creating, fixing, and tinkering with things, a 3D printer can prove to be a great addition to your gear. However, if you are not into any of the fields or hobbies mentioned above, getting a 3D printer may not be worth it. Additionally, before getting a printer, you need to ensure that you're technical enough to operate one. This is because these printers require regular updates/upgrades and the learning curve can be a bit steep.
You'll need to buy filaments regularly, learn how to make 3D CAD designs, or use some other modeling software. Also, you may need to tinker with the settings of your machine before finding the right one. As a total beginner, using a 3D printer will take up a lot of your time and you may spend a lot of money on filaments and other materials. However, once you begin to get the hang of it, 3D printing can quickly turn into one of the most enjoyable jobs or hobbies one can engage in.
How Much Does It Cost To Use A 3D Printer?
Besides the initial buying cost, the cost of using a 3D printer can add up quickly depending on the model you buy. For the very cheap models, you'll need to constantly buy upgrades for your printer. Therefore, it's recommended that you buy a high quality printer with better features so you don't have to run upgrades every now and then.
Another element that can add up to the cost of a 3D printer is the filaments. Usually sold for about $25 per kilogram, it's advisable for a beginner to buy filaments in small quantities. This is because you'll need multiple colors to create your models and buying a kilo of each model can run into hundreds of dollars very fast. Another thing you'll spend is time. If you're just learning the ropes, you'll need to take your time to learn about your printer, how to make a great 3D print, the right software and upgrades, color combination, material compositions, and many other important factors.
Can You Make Money With A 3D Printer?
Absolutely, yes. In fact, there are many different ways to make money with 3D printers. Below are four of the best ways to make money with these printers:
- Creating and Selling Prototypes: You can make money by offering to create prototypes for your local engineering firms. Since 3D printing involves learning how to create 3D designs, you can sell your designs or create designs for engineering firms.
- Sell Your Prints: You can sell your printed objects online. Create a website or a social media campaign and sell your designs. You can also create custom prints for your customers; they'll provide you with a design and you print the design for them.
- Sell Your Designs: You don't necessarily need to print before making money. You can simply sell your 3D designs and forgo the entire printing process.
- Teach Others: Many people are interested in the printing knowledge you have. Engineers, students, do-it-yourselfers, and hobbyists will be more than happy to learn from you. You can simply charge them a fee, and teach them how to use and set up their own printers, the best materials to use, the best ways to print, etc.
What Is The Best 3D Printer For Beginners?
As we noted above, the cost of 3D printers has decreased significantly as there are now models that come with little features but cost less. There are basically five different types of 3D printers in relation to price. These are the entry-level, hobbyist, enthusiast, professional, and industrial printers. The price of the machines in each category depends on the features, size, and capability of the machine. Let's take an in-depth look at each of these categories:
Entry-Level 3D Printers
Entry-level 3D printers are for complete beginners. They are primarily used to go up the learning curve. You can buy them to learn the ropes of 3D printing before deciding to go for higher models. Although you won't be able to create complex prints, you'll be able to understand how a 3D printer works.
This printer type comes with limitations. First off, you won't be able to print over 3-4 inches in any dimension, whether it's height, width, or length. Also, many of these printers won't allow you to use more than one filament at once. They are also slow and noisy and the quality of their output isn't as pretty as what you'd get on expensive models. Also, the highest resolution most entry-level printers offer is 100 micron.
Additionally, entry-level printers aren't big on the durability scale. However, they make for great learning tools and can serve as a good stepping stone to delving deeper into the world of 3D printers. Now, to answer the question, how much does a 3D printer cost? Well, a typical entry-level printer will cost you between $200 to $400.
Hobbyist 3D Printers
Those considered as hobbyists are those who dived a little into the world of 3D printing, loved it, and developed a real passion for it. They simply want to enhance their 3D printing skills, creating models just for fun. Although the 3D printers in this category are a little better than the entry-level models, they still can't offer an output that goes beyond a fun creation. Their build volume is larger and you'll be able to make more models with these printers. Hobbyists 3D printers allow you to create designs that are between 5-6 inches in dimension. Their prints are finer than what you get on entry-level printers and they tend to have better software too.
They are faster than the entry-level models and they allow you more flexibility in choosing your materials. This simply means that you can get even more creative with the machines in this category. However, it's important to note that while they may be better than the entry-level options, they aren't very durable and their output isn't robust. This implies that they may not be able to take too much load and you may not be able to run them for long periods. So, how much does a 3D printer cost? They're usually between the $300 to $1500 price range. There are many different products on the market in this price range and choosing the right one can be an arduous task. We recommend taking a look at this guide to 3D printers under $500 by HotRate.
Enthusiast 3D Printers
Becoming a 3D printing enthusiast simply means that you've decided to up your game and you now consider it to be more than just a hobby. It's a great leap that requires a better and greater machine than those in the hobbyist category. Printers in this category come with a robust and large build volume. They are quieter and a bit faster than the hobbyist machines. Also, they can print up to 12 inches in any dimension, and they allow you a wider choice of materials.
However, they come with their own cons too. Some of them work with brand-only filaments, which means that you can't just buy any type of filament and run it in your printer. Also, while their prints and output are usually better than what you get from hobbyist printers, you can't use them to run production. This is because they are not professional machines and cannot be used for long periods.
You'll need to ensure that you run regular maintenance checks and repairs. Enthusiast 3D printers are ideal for regular use but may break down if they're being used continuously. How much does a 3D printer cost in this category, you may ask? Well, be ready to spend between $1500 to $3500.
Professional 3D Printers
Do you believe you're quite skilled and would like to monetize your 3D printing skill? Or maybe you simply want to take your hobby to the next step by creating professional models? Whatever the case may be, a professional 3D printer is one that's capable of working for you. The print quality they offer is top-notch and they are able to print up to 12 inches in any dimension. Additionally, they are flexible when it comes to material. You can use different print materials in your machine without worrying about color or texture. They can also print faster than printers in the categories we've mentioned earlier without losing out on quality.
The printer price for a professional printing machine is quite high. Therefore, in order to ensure that you're getting the best 3D printing machine, make sure you read real user reviews. Consider the pros and cons of the machine you want. Read up on its maintenance, the best materials to use, the best set up, etc. Create a list of important factors and go through them one at a time.
The printer price for machines in this category is expensive so checking all the right boxes before making a buying decision is very important. So, back to our original question, how much does a 3D printer cost in this category? A typical professional 3D printer costs between $3,500 to $6,000. They are usually used by robotics clubs, schools, as well as large and small businesses.
Industrial 3D Printers
Industrial 3D printers are meant for serious printing businesses. They are simply the best and fastest machines in all categories. Their features are top-tier, they are highly durable as they're built with metal. Also, their interfaces are user-friendly, and they are very efficient. Industrial 3D printers are large in size and can accommodate many different types of custom prints. They are also high in price, but that's to be expected given the fact that they are meant for businesses and their construction is top-notch.
Industrial 3D printers are large and heavy, which might be a problem if you don't have enough space. Also, the cost of 3D printing with these machines can run into thousands of dollars over time. Obviously, these machines will use more electric power, material, and will require high-level maintenance than printers in the other categories. This is why it's recommended for only businesses and manufacturers. So how much does a 3D printer cost in this category? The printer price for industrial 3D machines ranges from $20, 000 to $100,000.