One of the most common questions we receive from our audience is how much does a 3D printer cost? It’s a simple question and we understand where it is coming from, however, the answer is a little complicated and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
There is a wide range of 3D printers available for both recreational users and commercial businesses. They come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and many of them have a selection of features and performance specifications that changes the level of requirement depending on the individual needs of the user.
Ultimately it is going to depend on your goals for 3D printing. Not everyone is out to get their hands on the highest quality prints and some people only want a 3D printer to try out for fun.
Others are serious about their prints and are looking for high quality at a reasonable price, while others get paid as their day job and so need a strong and reliable printer that can handle high temperatures and faster printing speeds.
We’ve done our best to group different price ranges into four categories based on the spec and type of printer you will get. So here’s our 3D printing pricing guide starting with the most basic models and finishing with the most expensive printers available on the market.
Beginner Level 3D Printing
As you can imagine, every field has its beginners, intermediates, and advanced people. So not everybody is going to need the fanciest machine to get the job done.
So we recommend a beginner start with the cheaper range because they are easier to assemble, and have fewer features so they don’t get blown away by information overload.
The typical beginner printer will be for those who want to create small to medium-sized models, figurines, and toys that aren’t going to be larger than 3-5 inches.
Due to the smaller size of the printer, you’ll be limited to the amount of heat you generate, which is often a good thing for beginners due to safety concerns. You’ll want to use a filament-like PLA which is a modest temperature material but will be versatile enough to create good prints.
Often these types of machines are slower, louder, and don’t print as fast as the more powerful models on the market, as they don’t require multiple jobs in quick succession.
Some of the most popular models in this price range are the Ender-3 Max from Creality, the Original Prusa MINI+, or the Anycubic Photon.
If this describes you, we would expect you to pay around $100 to $500.
Enthusiast Level 3D Printing
Once you’re well established with 3D printing and have a wider understanding of how they operate, you can graduate to the enthusiast level. This is where true hobbyists live and this bracket features a lot more benefits than the cheaper models.
If you upgrade from beginner to enthusiast, you’ll notice that these machines are much more capable, and boast faster printing speeds, higher bed temperatures, and larger prints.
This option is ideal for those taking their printing skills to the next level and can print with a variety of filaments, including PLA for the lower-end models up towards more heat-resistant options like PETG and ABS.
You can print a wide variety of items up to 12 inches tall, as most models will cater to this height.
Typically machines at this price point will have one or two minor flaws, and this is typically the noise of the motherboard or some minor printing issues like stringing or warping. The final print will usually be acceptable and just requires a touch-up post-print.
This is also the level where most of the upgrades and modifications come into play.
If you’ve been around the 3D printing world for a while, you’ll have plenty of contacts and follow the community closely, you’ll keep up to date with all of the add-ons that help improve the sturdiness of the bed, or reduce the noise of the motherboard, as just a couple of examples.
Some of the most popular models at this price range are the Creality Ender 6 and the Original Prusa XL.
If you consider yourself a 3D printing enthusiast, then expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $4000.
Professional Level 3D Printing
Now we’re getting into powerful 3D printing territory. In this category, you’re going to find strong printers that take precision printing from hobby to trade and this type is where you are going to be carrying out professional printing jobs, and getting paid top dollar for your designs.
Because the cheaper models don’t have many of the support features like enclosure, they are the norm with high-priced models and print sizes become even bigger, so expect more room to be required for your printing space.
In terms of print quality, you wouldn’t expect any less, and this is generally the case as defects are rare unless it has to do with the actual filament or workspace.
They do come with downsides, and many of the models in this price range still make a lot of noise and can be difficult to modify, which many of the junior models don’t struggle with.
Expect to see a wide variety of filaments used in this category, from PLA, ABS, Nylon, and polycarbonate.
Some of the more popular models in this price range are the Form 3L and the PRO2 Plus 3D Printer.
For a professional level printer, expect to pay anywhere in the four figures to low five figures at around $4000 to 15,000.
Commercial Level 3D Printing
If professional printers are the minor leagues, commercial printers are the majors.
At this top-of-the-range level, you can expect to find models that print in high quality at good speeds and are encased in a sturdy frame. You’ll find rows of these high-end printers warehouses churning out product after product.
These printers are often the biggest and heaviest, which translates to handling big jobs at a quicker speed.
They often come as standalone units and require high operating costs, because of this, the downside to this type of printer in this price range is they typically require more maintenance and many of the models charge this.
As you can expect, these models are only recommended for big enterprises or industrial companies that churn out big quantities of jobs. The material that can be made in these is also going to be able to handle the most expensive.
For a top-end model in this range expect to pay anywhere upwards of $10,000.