3D Printing on a Budget: What Do You Need to Know?
14/04/2023 00:00 Winnie 9928

3D Printing on a Budget: What Do You Need to Know?

It is no secret that 3D printing is growing in popularity both at home and in industry. That is not to say that there are no obstacles that could prevent someone interested in the topic from taking it up as a hobby. The biggest one is the price. 3D printing can be expensive, between the machines, software, post-processing and of course material, the cost can creep up on users. For that reason, we decided to make a guide on 3D printing on a budget. We will take a look at everything from printer choice to filaments to software, post-processing and more to give you an accurate range for the best cheap options to get into 3D printing.

For anyone who is not as well-versed on 3D printing, it is important to note that there are many technologies you can use. FDM, SLA, SLS, LPBF and more all have their benefits and their drawbacks, however for this guide we will be focusing mostly on FDM. Out of all the techniques, FDM is the most accessible to the everyday user, machines and materials often are lower cost than their counterparts.


Budget 3D Printers

There are many different factors that affect printer price. First is, of course, the printing process used. More industrial technologies, especially those using metal, are understandably more expensive. Additionally, the size of the printer build plays a large role.



Though printers are a larger investment up-front, over-time materials will likely be what drives up costs for those who want to get into 3D printing as a hobby. Additionally, with the cheaper 3D printers, you will also be limited in the materials you can use as they will only be compatible with certain filaments. 


Another thing to consider is that some printers will only be compatible with materials from their company. These might be more expensive than others on the market, whereas when users have the choice of material, they can choose the least expensive. Do keep in mind however that as with most things in life, often there is a direct correlation between price and properties of materials. The cheapest will certainly not be suitable for tasks beyond hobby printing. 


That being said, likely if you are looking for cheap materials, you will be buying thermoplastics, namely ABS, PETG, TPU and PLA. The four materials are some of the most commonly used in 3D printing with different properties and pros and cons. They are also the materials that are most often compatible with printers, PLA especially is widespread and able to be used with most FDM printers. 

Even with cheaper materials, you will find a wide range for price. This is due to the properties of the material. For example, with PLA the most basic, cheapest options will have far worse physical properties than the high-range options.

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