Marilyn knows how to present the dullest topic in an interesting and easy-to-read way. When she’s not teaching English Literature at a local school or writing for our site, Marylin loves to knit and bake for her two grandchildren.
Julie owns a shop specializing in sewing equipment and accessories. No wonder she knows everything when it comes to technical specifications of practically anything we review. In her free time, Julie loves quilting and scrapbooking.
Last updated: January 17, 2021
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Though the professional 3D printers can cost thousands of dollars, you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a decent model. However, the cheaper ones may not live up to the manufacturer’s claims. Luckily, we have done a great deal of research to help you find the best 3D printer under $300 to meet your needs.
When choosing the six models for our reviews, we focused on a few important features. We chose units that use different printing technologies and a variety of printing software, which allows you to pick the one you’re most comfortable with. These units also have different dimensions in both the build area and the size of the unit. So, you can pick an option that allows you to print the size of model you want and fit in the space you have available. Every model in our reviews also features easy-to-use controls and delivers fantastic results every time. To help you choose the best 3D printer under $300 for your needs, check out our detailed reviews and buying guide below.
Those looking for the best 3D printer under $300 may want to check out the Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Pro. This model uses FDM technology to create high-quality 3D prints, plus has a ton of handy features that makes it easy to use, even for beginners.
This printer comes partially assembled, so you don’t need to put it all together yourself. It includes a UL certified power supply, so your printer won’t be damaged if there is a power surge, plus it also heats the bed to 110 degrees Celsius in about 5 minutes, so you can start your projects as soon as possible.
Another handy feature is the removable build surface plate, which helps maintain the temperature during the build process and makes it easier to remove your finished models after they’ve cooled. It also includes a resume printer function, an upgraded extruder design to reduce clogging, and a new Y-axis frame for a more stable printing platform.
What we liked: This 3D printer has a solid build, heats up fast, and has that handy resume print function that prevents wasted products, with high-quality results you’ll be proud to show off.
What could be better: Though the Ender 3 Pro comes partially assembled, it can be a bit tricky to put the rest together. This is because the manual isn’t the easiest to follow, with some inaccuracies in the instructions. Luckily, there are online videos available to help you complete this process.
Those looking for 3D printers may not have to skills needed to fully assemble one. That’s what makes the LABISTS Auto Leveling 3D Printer such a great model for beginners and advanced users alike. There are only a few pieces to attach and a few connections to be made, which takes only about 5 minutes of your time.
As well as the quick assembly, this unit also has an abundance of great features that make it simple to use. This includes the fast heating time of the printing bed and nozzle of only minutes. It is also well built, with a professional extruder for reduced clogging and double fans for protecting the printer and creating high-quality models.
Other features include the unique glass platform, the 2.8-inch touch screen, and an automatic leveling sensor. The filament run-out detector lets you know if the PLA or ABS filament runs out, pausing the print and recording the extruder position, so you can start it up again exactly where you left off.
What we liked: The quick assembly, fast heating, and auto platform leveling make this an easy machine to use. It also has a large build area for creating the perfect models.
What could be better: Though the touch screen makes it a bit easier to choose your settings than knobs and buttons would, it is a bit small for some people. This means you need to be careful when touching the screen to avoid choosing the wrong setting.
The ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer is a durable 3D printer, with an innovative steel ball design that is easy to use, even for beginners. It also comes mostly assembled, so it takes only a few minutes to finish this process before you can start on your printing projects.
This printer is made of all-aluminum fuselage, with an acrylic UV cover. There is a large 3.5-inch touch screen on the front of the unit, which allows you to preview your chosen model and adjust the settings as needed before you start printing. There is also a USB port on the back, allowing you to print offline instead of requiring a computer connection.
The ELEGOO Mars includes the newest version of the Chitubox Slicing software, which is capable of slicing a 30Mb .stl model file in only a minute. You can also hollow out your models before the slicing process, which can save some resin during photocuring.
What we liked: This model is built well, with durable materials, but it is still lightweight and easy to move when needed. The large colored touch screen makes it easy to adjust the settings in real-time. This unit also uses fast slicing software, which is a must when creating multiple projects in a row.
What could be better: Though this is a great unit that creates quality models, the location of the USB port is an issue. This port is located on the back of the printer, making it difficult to access.
The LONGER LK4 Pro is a great 3D printer, with an upgraded sturdy frame that adds durability and even a touch of style. It arrives semi-assembled, with clear instructions to make sure you finish this process right.
This model has a ton of fantastic features, too. The built-in power supply is safe to use, heating the hotbed quickly and maintaining the temperature during the entire printing process. The wiring is hidden, and it even includes a high-speed cooling fan.
The extruder has been upgraded to prevent clogging and bad extrusion for quality results. The tempered glass bed won’t warp, plus it protects the heated bed and makes it easy to remove your cooled printed projects.
Other great features include the ultra-quiet drive, the extra-large build platform, the recover print function, and a filament detection sensor that tells you when the filament is running low. The touch screen is 4.3 inches and full color, with an easy user interface for choosing your settings quickly.
What we liked: There is a lot to like with this 3D printer model. The tempered glass bed is durable and maintains its shape. The filament sensor keeps it from running out unexpectedly. This machine is quiet, with a handy touch screen that makes choosing the settings a breeze.
What could be better: The build plate high-temperature-resistant film on the hotbed is a bit too clingy, which makes it difficult to remove large pieces after they’ve cooled.
Though more expensive than the other models in our reviews, the Flashforge Finder 3D Printer is still a fantastic model to check out. It is fully assembled, with great features that are easy to use, even for beginners, plus it has a clean look that you’ll be proud to show off.
This model is made of a durable plastic alloy that can handle regular use and offers high-quality, stable prints. There is a 3.5-inch full-color touch screen near the top, which is easy to access and uses intuitive icons for simple operation.
The build-plate is non-heated, which means no burns when in use. This build-plate slides in and out, making it easier to remove your printed objects as soon as the machine is finished printing.
Another great feature is the calibration detection system that helps with leveling, with instructions displayed on the touch screen for each step. This model is quiet, only making small beeps when turned on or to alert you to certain events. It also offers USB, flash drive, and Wi-Fi connectivity for more printing options.
What we liked: The best features this model has to offer are the quiet function and lack of assembly. The slide-in build plate and calibration detection system make it easy to use for beginners.
What could be better: The small build area limits how large your printed items can be. Though the non-heated bed is safer to use, it could also lead to warping in your models, so extra attention is needed to prevent this.
If you’re interested in a 3D printer that is as easy to set up as it is to use, the ANYCUBIC Mega-S New Upgrade 3D Printer is a great model to try out. This unit requires you to install a few screws and attach a few wires when it arrives, then it is ready to go.
The Anycubic Mega-S has a decent-sized build area for you to print your chosen designs. It has an updated patented printing platform that has strong adhesion to keep your models secure while they print but still pop off easily after they cool off.
The extruder on this model has also been updated with a solid filament drive and a new mechanical design that allows it to work with most filament types. It also won’t clog easily and prints with higher accuracy than the older models.
Other handy features include the filament sensor, which pauses the prints and sounds an alarm when the filament runs out, the user-friendly TFT touch screen, and the suspended filament rack.
What we liked: The best thing about this model is all the upgrades, like the platform and extruder, which ensures quality models every time. The easy assembly and the filament sensor are also great features.
What could be better: Though the fan on this unit is a decent model, it runs rather loud when compared to other printers. The manual also isn’t very clear, so you may need to find some videos online to be sure you’re using the machine properly.
Things to Consider
Many hobbyists buy 3D printers to create their own models for their collections and to make some great gifts for family and friends. Of course, these people likely won’t want a huge, expensive model for their printed creations. That’s why the best 3D printer under $300 is so handy for these smaller projects. They still create quality pieces, but they do it at a fraction of the cost, plus they are easy to use, even for beginners. Read on to find out what features you must pay attention to before you start your shopping search.
What a printer under $300 is capable of
The main reason people purchase a 3D printer under $300 is to create some fantastic new designs without spending a fortune on the machine or the materials. Though these units may not be able to create the more complicated pieces that a more expensive printer can make, they can create simple designs that are the perfect starter products for beginners and students. Even hobbyists can make cool designs for some interesting collections without paying too much for them.
Another benefit of these types of printers is that they mostly use ABS or PLA filaments, which are the most common materials for these types of projects. This also means that these materials are relatively inexpensive and easy to find.
Cheaper 3D printers do have some limitations. They have smaller print volumes, so they can’t create huge printed models, so you do need to think small when deciding on the projects you want to create.
In fact, the largest build area in our reviews is 8.7 x 8.7 x 9.8 inches, which is found on models like the LONGER LK4 Pro. This means that anything you build needs to fit within the build area of the machine you choose. Though this limits the size, it doesn’t mean you can’t still make some great items, like collectibles, models, cell phone cases, or a variety of other items.
Features to consider when choosing a 3D printer
When choosing a new 3D printer under $300, there are a few features you may want to check out. This will ensure that you’re getting the perfect model for your needs.
When it comes to 3D printer technologies, there are a variety of options to choose from, but since we only have a few options in our reviews, we’ll focus on these. The majority of the models in our reviews use FDM technology, which stands for Fused Deposition Modeling. These printers build your chosen designs using a thermoplastic filament that is heated to the melting point and then run through the extruder, creating layers. These layers overlap each other until the design is complete. Once they have cooled, they can be removed from the build plate and used for whatever you need them for.
The ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer is the only one in our reviews that uses Stereolithography, or SLS, technology. These types of printers use liquid plastic for the material. This liquid resin is poured into a vat with a transparent bottom. Then a UV laser beneath the vat traces the design on the resin, curing and solidifying each layer onto the build platform above the vat. These layers create a solidified structure, which is slowly lifted as each layer is created by the laser.
Another unique feature of this type of technology is that it works from the bottom up, like other 3D printers, but since the resin is beneath the platform, the finished product is upside down when you remove it.
Build area dimensions
The build area is another extremely important feature to check out when looking for a new 3D printer under $300 since this will determine the size of the models that you will be able to create. None of the models in our reviews have huge build area dimensions, but they still allow you to print some decent-sized models for your collections, school projects, or even to sell in your small business.
The printer in our reviews with the smallest build area is the Flashforge Finder 3D Printer, which is 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches. This means that any printed object that you create needs to be small enough to fit into this space. If not, the printer won’t be able to complete the process, so if your design exceeds these dimensions, you’ll need to scale it down or choose a new design.
A few of the models we’ve chosen are larger, with dimensions of 8.7 x 8.7 x 9.8 inches, like the LABISTS Auto Leveling 3D Printer. This means that you can choose designs that are a bit larger to print out. They still won’t be the large finished models that a professional 3D printer will be able to create, but you’ll still get a nice sized model for whatever you need it for.
When looking at the print speed on any 3D printer, you need to remember that no matter what print speed it offers, the actual printing process will be slow. Some machines have varying print speeds, like the ANYCUBIC Mega-S New Upgrade 3D Printer, which has a range of 20-100 mm/s. This means you can adjust the speed depending on the design you are printing.
Of course, the speed of the printing process also affects the quality of the finished piece. For instance, thicker printed layers can be produced at a higher speed, but the result is a lower quality model since the layers are more visible when the piece if finished. Slowing down the speed and printing thinner layers can help improve the print quality, which is a must for those pieces you want to show off.
Not all of the 3D printers available have the option of varying speeds, though. The ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer has a set speed of 22 mm/s, so it will only print this fast, no matter what design you’ve decided to print.
There are a lot of different software options available for 3D printers but unfortunately, they aren’t all compatible with every machine on the market. That’s why many of the printers available have recommended software that they know will work with their particular printer units.
Some of the printers available can only be used with one software option. One example of this is the ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer, which works with ChiTu DLP Slicer software. The Flashforge Finder 3D Printer only works with Flashprint, so if you aren`t familiar with this software, you need to get up to speed with it before starting with this machine.
Of course, you don`t need to be limited to only one type of software if you don`t want to. Many printers are compatible with a few different software options, so you can pick the one that you prefer to use for your designs. If you already have a favorite software option, you can find the printers that are compatible with it and pick the machine that matches your needs.
Input and output formats
The input and output formats have to do with the type of materials you use in the machine and how it is used to create the objects in your designs. The input materials depend on the type of 3D printer you’re using. For instance, the FFF and FDM printers use plastic filaments. The most common filaments used are usually acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) or polylactic acid (PLA), though there are a few other types available, depending on the printer.
The filaments are held in spools that are attached to the printer and fed through it. The filaments are melted down and run through an extruder as the output piece, which layers the material. Once the layer is created, the material solidifies and cools, creating the object in your design.
The filaments you use do have certain properties to consider. For instance, ABS needs a higher temperature to melt than PLA, and it is a bit more flexible. ABS does emit fumes during the melting process and works best with a heated print bed, though. PLA has the advantage of a smoother look in the finished product, but it is a bit more brittle, so needs to be handled with some extra care.
There are two different diameters to choose from when using filaments. These are 1.85mm and 3mm. Most of the printer models use the smaller-diameter filament, though you should check to be sure before trying to input the filament you have into the machine. As we said above, the filament comes in spools, which are usually about 2.2 pounds. There are proprietary spools from certain brands, but most printers can be used with generic spools as well, which helps keep your costs low.
SLA printing works a bit differently. Instead of inputting the filaments into the machine and outputting them with an extruder, these types of printers use liquid resin that is placed in a vat at the bottom of the machine. The build platform is lowered into the tank, and each layer of the design is traced onto it using a UV laser. This laser uses galvanometers, or mirror sets, which turn and reflect the laser for the positioning. Each layer of resin hardens as new ones are traced onto the slowly lifting build plate.
There are a few different options for connectivity when it comes to using a 3D printer. Most models allow you to link the printer to a computer using a USB cord. This way, you can create your designs using your chosen software on your computer and then send them to the machine when they are ready to print. Many printers add an internal memory as well. This means that it will have the design in its memory and can continue printing the design when the computer is unplugged from the printer or is turned off in the middle of the printing process.
Other 3D printers offer wireless connectivity through Wi-Fi, like the Flashforge Finder 3D Printer. This allows you to transfer the file from the computer to the printer without the use of any cords. Despite the cleaner look and fewer obstacles, there is a downside to this option. The files for 3D printing could be up to 10MB, which can take a while to download, slowing down the printing process a bit.
There are also a few other options for transferring your printing files to the 3D printer. Many of the units available include an SD card slot, a USB slot, or both options. This allows you to transfer the files onto an SD card or a flash drive and insert them into the printer, so you don’t even need a computer anywhere near your 3D printer. You can choose or design the files as you see fit in a completely different room from the printer without worrying about getting them transferred when they are ready to print.
Weight and overall dimensions
Though they don’t affect how the printer creates those pieces you have in mind, the weight and overall dimensions of the machine are still important features that you may want to look at before you put out any cash for a new printer.
Most of the models in our reviews are relatively light, ranging from the 16.8-pound ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer to the 35-pound Flashforge Finder 3D Printer. If you’re going to be putting your new 3D printer in a designated spot and leaving it there, then the weight likely won’t matter to you to very much. Of course, if you’re going to be moving it around, the lighter the machine is, the less back pain you’ll be dealing with.
The overall dimensions are also something to consider since they will determine how much space you’ll need for the 3D printer you’ll be purchasing. The bigger it is, the more space it will take up, so if you have your eye on a larger machine, you’ll make sure to leave extra space for it. Some models also have the USB port and SD card slot on the back of the unit, so you’ll need to leave extra space behind it to be able to access these areas, so be sure to take this into account when looking at the unit’s dimensions.
Most of the models in our reviews are relatively quiet, so you can run them while having a conversation without having to yell. The exception is the ANYCUBIC Mega-S New Upgrade 3D Printer, which is a bit louder than the rest of the models due to a noisy fan. This doesn’t make it a bad machine, though, just one you want to keep far from your living areas.
No, the assembly and set-up for the models in our reviews are not difficult. Many of the models in our reviews come almost fully assembled, with only a few pieces, screws, or wires to attach. Even the Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Pro, which requires the most assembly, isn’t that hard to do. The only issue may be the instruction manual in some models, which may not always have the clearest instructions. Luckily, those who need extra help will be able to find videos or instructions online to help complete the assembly process.
For those on a budget or who are just starting with a 3D printer, the models above are all great options. We do have a few favorites that we think deserve a second look, though.
Our top choice is the Comgrow Creality Ender 3 Pro, which is a lightweight FDM machine with a new Y-axis frame, removable build plate, upgraded extruder design, and uses a UL certified power supply. It also features a 5-minute heat-up time and a resume print function.
The LABISTS Auto Leveling 3D Printer is also an FDM unit that includes an auto-leveling sensor, a professional extruder, double fans, and a glass platform. It has a 5-minute assembly time, a large build area, a filament run-out detector, and the heat bed and nozzle heat up quickly.
The ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer is an SLA model, with LED display photocuring technology, all-aluminum fuselage, an acrylic UV cover, and a steel ball design. It comes almost fully assembled, with a 3.5-inch color touch screen, and includes Chitubox Slicing software.