Feeling brave enough to build a 3D printer from scratch? Assembling your own with a cheap DIY 3D printer kit is an attractive low-cost option if you’re on a tight budget.
It’s also a fantastic way to learn the nuts and bolts of how 3D printing works — quite literally. There’s no better way to understand the fundamentals of fused filament fabrication (FFF) than by putting together your own machine. It’s highly satisfying, too.
How long will it take to build your own 3D printer? Typical assembly times vary from kit to kit. Much also depends on the quality of the instructions provided. Usually these are available online, and you can freely review them before you make a purchase.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this option is going to be more complicated than buying a fully assembled and tested machine. While there will be supporting documentation and guides available to help you on your journey, you’ll be flying solo for the most part.
Whichever cheap DIY 3D printer kit you choose, we wish you the best of luck in your quest. And if we’ve missed any from the list below, let us know in the comments and we’ll consider it for inclusion in a future update.
The most affordable 3D printer kit on this list is the Startt from iMaker, which has an astounding price tag of $99 dollars. It’s a Prusa i3 clone that’s expressly pitched as a educational product to appeal to parents and teachers, and the print quality is best described in terms of “good” and “adequate”. Perhaps not the most advanced or sophisticated DIY 3D printer kit available on the market, but it’s intriguing how far the price of a basic machine has fallen whilst still being able to perform key functionality.
The Tevo Tarantula is a cheap DIY 3D printer kit with an all-metal frame construction. Extruded black anodised aluminium is used for the frame material, with laser cut acrylic plates for the control box, and ball bearing V-Groove wheels for smooth and quiet operation. An optional upgrade to consider is an auto-levelling feature which uses a proximity sensor and modified firmware to detect the aluminium print bed. This is nifty because you won’t need to re-adjust the print bed each time a print is performed.
The Anet A8 is a cheap DIY 3D printer kit with a large build volume and standard NEMA 17 motors to navigate the print-space. Best of all, the A8 comes stock with an extruder and heated bed that makes it capable of printing a diverse selection of filaments. Assembly instructions are provided via a series of video tutorials.
3D Printer Review: Anet A8 Review: Delightful DIY 3D Printer Kit
The Smalls is a brand new kit from Printrbot, specially designed for the hacker, maker, or student on a tight budget. Build volume begins at 4″ x 4″ x 5″, with the option to expand capabilities using a range of special upgrade kits. This DIY 3D printer kit is the absolute minimum bare-bones; from what we can see, there isn’t even a cooling fan for the hot-end. So not ideal for absolute beginners, but potentially a fun project for those who already know what they’re doing.
If the phrase “100% French Quality” offers any reassurance to you, then take a peek at the Dagoma Discoeasy200. This is a simple and affordable DIY 3D printer kit, where no prior technical knowledge is required (but is probably helpful). The printer doesn’t have a heated print-bed, so your choice of filament is limited to PLA, but it does feature the E3D V6 hotend, which is one of the finest 3D printing components currently available.
The Anycubic Upgraded Linear Plus is a Delta style 3D printer kit with new and improved components compared to its predecessor, the Anycubic Linear Version. If the naming convention sounds a little confusing, that’s because there’s a third Delta in the Anycubic 3D printer stable that’s operated by pulleys (and therefore less accurate but cheaper). You have a broad choice, essentially, but this is the latest version of their most popular kit, so that makes it our pick of the bunch.
Placed alongside a standard spool of filament, the Vertex Nano is positively tiny! But that doesn’t mean this cheap DIY 3D printer kit is a novelty toy. Quite the opposite, it has a stiff metal frame and some nifty features like a magnetic build plate, a direct drive extruder, and an all-metal hotend. Yes, the 80 x 80 x 80 build volume will feel limited, but small and fast fabrication is often more useful than big and slow.
The MicroDelta Rework is a cheap DIY 3D printer kit where, as the name implies, the design has been substantially reworked and upgraded. The designers promise ease of assembly, where the unit is completely ready to use in just 3 hours. Moreover, it has modern features like auto-levelling and an aluminum machined extruder. Beating at its core is a 32 bit electronic board that’s optimized for Delta robot movements. It’s also upgradable for items like a heated bed, dual extrusion, and LCD controllers.
The Kossel Mini is a Delta 3D printer based on the open source Rostock design, but with greater precision, simpler build and a host of upgrades. This is the basic version, a cheap DIY 3D printer kit including almost everything you need to get going (except for the power supply). It doesn’t feature a heated bed, so you can only print with PLA, but it does have a LCD and SD card reader, so permanently tethering it to your PC is not necessary. Additional upgrades are available from the same source, complete with free technical support and documentation.
Okay, strictly speaking this might not be considered a kit. The Anycubic i3 Mega is already part assembled and packed flat for ease of transport. Once it arrives at home, you’re required to do the final assembly yourself with a screwdriver and eight screws. Think of it as getting a bike delivered, where you have to do the final bits like adding pedals and a handlebar using a hex key. The difference here is that you get a pretty decent 3D printer with some modern specs. Result!
From SeeMeCNC, the Hacker Series is a range of cheap DIY 3D printer kits for the experienced maker. The H2 Delta, for example, is squarely aimed at those folks who already know how to build, troubleshoot, modify and repair their machines (or want to learn how). It’s great value for the money, and the components are covered with a 12 month warranty, but it’s worth keeping in mind that machines designated Hacker Series come with limited technical support.
The helloBEEprusa is a remix of the Prusa i3, designed with the education sector in mind. It comes with a quick-start manual, all the components are in numbered and labeled boxes, and there’s a series of videos to guide you through the assembly process.
This DIY 3D printer kit not only has a generous build volume of 185 x 200 x 190 mm, but also a dual extruder, so you can print a soluble filament as support for more complex parts. It also has a heated bed for a better adhesion of print jobs. Really and truly, the helloBEEprusa is incredible value for money.
The Vertex is an affordable and open-source DIY 3D printer kit from Belgium. It features a transparent plastic body and a glass build plate, with optional upgrades like a heated print-bed and dual extruder support. Otherwise known as the Velleman K8400, this machine is capable of printing both ABS and PLA, with a minimum layer height of 50 microns and a build volume of 180 x 190 x 200 mm.
Deezmaker is a big supporter of open source hardware, and has a reputation for offering very reliable 3D printers. The Bukito is pitched as being super tough and robust, and ideal for use by travellers and sports enthusiasts. How does that work, exactly? Well, the topline feature is that it can run off portable batteries, which makes it possible for stunts like printing upside down or attaching it to a drone (which has been done).
This cheap DIY 3D printer kit follows a trio of “design commandments” self-imposed by manufacturer IMade3D. They’re pretty straightforward — easy to assemble, easy to use, and great print quality — but you’d be surprised how few machines manage to tick all three boxes.
The ease of assembly part comes from the transparent acrylic frame that’s held together by plastic zip ties. No screws, bolts or nuts are required here. The ease of use comes from the quick release extruder, quick release build plate, quick release hotend, and bed auto-levelling. The results, meanwhile, are impressive, with a potential print resolution at high as 20 microns.
If you’ve been researching the best cheap DIY 3D printer kits for any length of time, you’ll have seen a great many clones of the Prusa i3. It’s a popular design because it’s open source and capable of producing excellent results. But you should consider buying an Original Prusa i3 directly from the chap who designed it, Josef Prusa.
The current MK2 model features an avalanche of upgrades, including a bigger build volume, faster printing, automatic bed leveling, and a heated bed with “cold corners compensation”. It really does look the business, though heavy demand has led to a backlog of orders.
The OrdBot Hadron is an open source remix of the original Printrbot design, built around aluminum Makerslide rails and a full metal Hexagon hotend. The frame of this DIY 3D printer kit is extremely rigid, providing stability and high print speeds. Optional upgrades allow for the addition of a second extruder, SD card slot, or LCD screen. For both beginners and experts, the OrdBot is a worthwhile project that’s worth rolling up the sleeves for.
The BQ Hephestos 2 is based on the Prusa i3 open frame design, with a considered approach to assembly and features, including an auto-leveling sensor probe and a powerful hotend that’s perfect for printing with flexible filaments.
Don’t Miss: BQ Hephestos 2 Review: 3D Printer In-depth Test
Most impressively, BQ claims this DIY 3D printer kit can be assembled in less than an hour. There’s no heated bed, however, so high-temperature filaments like ABS and Nylon are not an option here.
The Printrbot Simple Pro is a substantial upgrade to the venerable Printrbot Simple. It’s still small and portable, with a sturdy metal frame that can sustain dents and dings. But new in this model is the LCD touchscreen control panel and wifi connectivity, a more powerful 32 bit motherboard, enlarged build volume, and cosmetic touches like LEDs to illuminate the print bed. The kits are currently out of stock, unfortunately; if you’d like to get your hands on one, you’re advised to enquire with Printrbot direct.
The Rostock Max V3 is pretty much the ultimate Delta design in fused filament fabrication. This cheap DIY 3D printer kit has a HE280 all-metal hotend — capable of printing any material up to 280 degrees — and an accelerometer probe that allows for simple, automated calibration of your printer. It also has a heated bed, three cooling fans, and an EZR extruder for faster print speeds and a filament drive optimized for printing with flexible filaments.
The Sharebot Kiwi-3D is an affordable DIY 3D printer kit with a build volume of 140 x 100 x 100 mm. It was initially launched exclusively as a DIY project for FabLab courses and makers in Italy, but it became so popular that the company began selling it to the public. After assembling this kit you’ll have a fully functioning 3D printer, and learned all aspects of this amazing technology in the process.
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