$300 3D printers are apparently all that people are asking about in the Facebook groups so I thought I would write this up to stop having to repeat myself
Word of warning, all of these printers have caveats, downsides, compromises, and limitations! You are basically trading money you saved for additional time spent, and potentially, future money in upgrades.
Don’t expect an Ultimaker when your budget is at the extreme entry-level.
I already wrote recommendations for different categories of 3d printer, including budget, but this list is for specifically the $300 budget level!
OK, on with the list …
The only half-decent, brand new, non-kit printer at under $300 is the Monoprice Select Mini. It has a heated build plate, and a graphical screen (Tim Baus from the 3D Printing Club Facebook group corrected me that it is not a touch screen – thanks Tim!) but small build area. It’s available from Amazon, which is a plus, and is Monoprice so you should be able to get support/returns.
Personally I would pay the tiny bit extra and go for its big brother, the Maker Select (which is the Wanhao Di3 Prusa rebadged – my most used printer, and second only to the Prusa Mk2 in my affections, which is twice the price). Bigger build area, also pre-built, more opportunities for enhancement, and when dialled in prints beautifully.
If you don’t mind a kit, and don’t mind putting in some work, then look at one of these three:
Anet A8 or other Aliexpress Prusa – The A8 also has a great online community, but also has the downside of acrylic so be very careful with assembly and keep an eye on warping/cracking. As a Prusa variant though these guys are capable of good results. The A8 is $170 at Gearbest right now at the time of writing!
Folgertech 2020 Prusa – I have no personal experience with these but I have heard good things from some owners. Has the advantage over the other two in the kit list that it is metal extrusion based rather than acrylic and has an active online community. Folgertech is a USA company which might be a plus for many.
Your mileage may vary
Don’t expect elegant, easy, out of the box, dream scenarios with these printers. They will all take time and effort, and care and maintenance. Even more than 3D printing generally requires.
You have been warned.
NB. As always also, even though they won’t cost you a penny more, and nothing influences my suggestions and opinions, I do use affiliate links, so if you buy after clicking I might get a couple of dollars in return.
Also published on Medium.