So many new 3D printers — what's the point?

I see new 3D printers basically everyday. And I get that there should be more options, but not when all the options…are very bad… to put in more polite terms. You’ve got cheap reprap kits whose frames come bent and no customer support. You’ve got your kickstarters failing to meet what they’ve promised. And you’ve got these cheap printers claimed to make printing affordable for everyone with a print area smaller than my palm.

Point is, it’s pretty disappointing and I hate seeing people waste their money on crappy junk that just makes their user experience horrible to begin with. /rant

I agree that a lot of what’s being released right now is junk— unless if you buy a $1000 + printer. But I think without these cheaper, shoddier printers, the price for the industry as a whole can’t drop. Plus, I like to think that all these printers are learning from their mistakes, as well as others, through customer complaints. It’s the path that the industry will have to take before becoming affordable for everyone and improve on user experience.

For the kits, if you buy a more reliable one, it’s pretty good. I got mine from Makerfarm and they’ve got great customer support.

I wouldn’t be too quick to knock some of the cheaper models. I’ve seen some pretty impressive results of sub $500 printers. I’m blown away by what the Simple metal can do for under 1000$…Many different printers out there means people are trying different things. It gets prices cheaper yes, but also brings innovation and change. Since I got into this stuff 5 years ago I’m blown away by how good things have gotten.

For me I’d spend a couple of thousand, but a lot of people can’t afford that and it’s great that they have options. My cupcake came as a 450$ kit when I bought it, and while by todays standards results weren’t great, they weren’t bad easy and it sucked me into the hobby.


As the owner of a dozen different types of “affordable” printers, my favorite has always been the Wanhao D4. (the non-publicized underdog, imo)
When they recently released their new $500 version of an i3, and I immediately ordered one, based purely on past experience with their product. Other i3 style printers gave me lots of troubles, but I am confident Wanhao’s engineering has produced a better i3 product, that beginners will enjoy and feel they have received their moneys worth.
But, as of this moment, the new printer is still in the box, on my workbench. I would prefer to test it for several months before making a recommendation, but thought I’d chime-in now, to at least point out there are some experienced manufacturers that are releasing sub-$500 printers worth looking at.

Okay, yeah I guess I’m talking more about the kickstarters mostly or crowdfunded printers.

I guess I see the point in innovating, but again, so many people get turned off by it. I’d love to see this wave of “testing out lots of cheap printers” to be over.

For codie, I’m not quite sure about that wooden frame. Heard bad things about it. And honestly, it’s not that cheap either. For a kit, Makerfarm is quite expensive. Not to mention a few hundreds on shipping, but I guess shipping is a factor for all printers.

@dan_steele Yeah, exactly, I’m talking about people who are new to 3D printing and don’t want to invest a bunch. And the first printer they get turns out to be rubbish and they really should be cutting down the amount of rubbish printers in the market.

@Gene_Crady How have your experience with these affordable printers been? I know a buddy of mine also looked into Wanhao, but they’ve had terrible response times to customers. In the end, I feel like all the money spent buying affordable printers was better spent buying an expensive, reliable one. Which also sucks that you have to throw down that much money for something that’s working.

@codie_warner can’t tag more than 2 ppl, so tagging you here.

Actually, I’m probably the wrong person to voice an opinion on “new” $500 models, b/c I consider older, sub-$1000 models, “affordable”, which usually means snagging them off Ebay below retail, used, and in need of a little repair. My “used” machines sold for 50%, or less, off retail, and were usually repaired in 1 day. The Wahao i3 is my 1st “new” printer. At a pre-order of $375, how could I say no?, I’m a printer junkie:)

Customer service, hmmm, yeah good point, but I never use it, lol. The user forums and YouTube are a goldmine of information on specific printers, with specific problems. Sure, it takes longer, but you’ll learn a lot more than just addressing a single issue.

Also, I think the term “beginner”, might describe 2 different categories of customers, (1)those with NO technical skills, and (2)those with basic technical skills, that are willing to except the challenge of learning every aspect and variable involved with 3d printing. Despite manufactures and media’s claims and advertising, 3d printing is hard. Understanding the art of “balancing the energies” put in to speed, temperature and layer height , for different sizes and shapes, is a critical learning-curve for any beginner to get the best most out of the printer they can afford. Technical and mechanical issues are problems that no beginner should have to deal with, but at lower prices, it is just inevitable.

How many printer brands are there?
Too Many ! But it is pretty cool.

My pet peeve about any tech funded through kickstarter or indiegogo is when people expect them to be 100% flawless. People forget that tech funded and received from these campaigns are realistically beta versions of the products. Feedback from backers is used to improve future product versions for retail. I recommend against people buying their very first printer through crowd sourcing due to unknown issues that can arise with untested tech.

If people want to get a printer, be smart and do some research instead solely deciding based on price. Took me a bit of time of reading people’s reviews online before I made the decision on purchasing my printrbot.

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@tanya_Wiesner I agree 100% plus reading the forums gives people an idea about what they are getting into…Many people I’ve spoken to at makerfaires have printers at home in closets because they bought them expecting to be able to use them to print things like a laser printer, push print and away you go. It’s not that they bought bad printers, but that they bought into the idea of 3D printings being more like a photocopier than a sewing machine…

I always recommend people at least read the latest make magazine 3D printer showdown (they publish one annually).


Yeah, I get that you’re sacrificing when you choose a lower cost, but it sucks that it has to be that way. Even with all the choices out there, there doesn’t seem to be a reliable, cheap alternative— hopefully the Wanhao is finally one that fits these criteria. I will keep my fingers crossed

I think a lot of people expect them to be flawless because they advertise themselves as so. They claim to be revolutionary, and they’re here to fix the pain points in the industry, but then the results are less than stellar.

I agree with the need for research. I certainly did, and I ended up deciding I’m not believing any of these crowdfunded printers because I’ve seen videos and threads of complaints. A little loss of faith here

That’s an interesting way to look at it: “more like a photocopier than a sewing machine”. Wasn’t aware of the 3D printer showdown. That seems like a good read, and I’d love to see if there’s any great new printers that actually cost a decent price. Thanks for the rec

Probably something people should consider when looking for a new printer :slight_smile:

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