Recommendations on 3D Printers?



Do you think this is the one??


@reltham @bill.skeen

What do you think about this one??


That’s just an extruder, not a whole printer.

There are lots of reasons not to buy a Makerbot, but I can say that I travel the world looking at makerspaces, and no matter where I go, practically every single one of them has a broken Makerbot Replicator that they tell me they’ll fix one of these days.

I have an Ultimaker and I like it a lot, but it’s not in the price range you’re looking for. The Prusa is a good bet.

Frankly, if you are not comfortable tinkering with such things, I would not recommend buying a sub-$1000 3D printer.


Personally? I’d stay far away from MakerBot both for quality and historical reasons.

As @Public2 said, if you are looking for a truly turnkey 3D printer, you’re likely going to need to spend north of $1000. Potentially well north.

3D printers below that point are kinda like owning a British roadster from the 70s and prior; great car, lots of fun, but you’re driving it knowing of at least 3 mechanical and 3 electrical problems that really ought to be addressed but will hopefully hold together for the current loll about.


I think that is the one.


I had an original makerbot as my first printer. It actually wasn’t bad! However, Makerbot has moved away from it’s RepRap roots long ago and is owned by Statasys, a large corporatation that makes $100k printers. They really aren’t a good brand of printer to go with now days unless maybe you are a school or a company with a support plan in place.

If you are looking for a decent no fuss printer, with a good company behind it, you should seriously consider Lulzbot. You can get a smaller build platform and the latest machine for about $1200, or can go with the 5 series (also good) for probably closer to your range.

Even with a machine like a Lulzbot there is still a learning curve. They are not like the GF where you can just press print and go out of the box. There is a lot of learning on getting the first layer just right. If you go with anything under $500 you will also have a lot of tweaking to do with the machine to get good results. The more you spend, generally the less futzing you will have to do with your machine.


If you aren’t mechanically inclined, I recommend the CEL Robox that I use. They require a little regular maintenance but other than that everything is easy to use and simple. They have all the features of the Prusa, except the size, and have an enclosed print volume for better thermal stability. They are also faster to heat than the Prusa.
I can personally guarantee that the support will be more responsive than Prusa. Keep in mind though if you look at them that the cheaper ones are old stock and will need to be upgraded. You should be looking for an RBX02 model. I suggest

I have done literally hundreds of prints with my 6 Robox units and they meet the needs of 95% of my and my customers’ size needs. My two Prusa units are only used when I can’t fit my parts on the Robox.

Good luck.


Hmmm…our Makerspace has a MakerBot Replicator 2X - the dual extruder one. It’s actually the most reliable one in the stable. (I used it for years in my family room making e-nable hands before getting a new Prusa and donating the MB to the space :slightly_smiling_face:) A couple of older Prusas, a couple of newer Prusa Mk 3s and some real reprap stuff with no name. Also have one of the MB 3D scanners which sees some use too.


Yup, agree that the Replicator 2’s are great. I had the original and it never gave up. I donated it to a school after using it 3 years and it’s still running great.


My warning about materials beyond PLA, PETG, and ABS is that they get more tricky to print with and often need a lot of experimentation. Think of it like this: PLA and PETG (and even ABS depending on the printer) are like the proofgrade materials of the 3D printing world - there are lots of folks printing in them, they are well supported, and there are a lot of makers out there. Once you move towards things like flexible, carbon fiber, wood, and the like, you’re “beyond the manual”. Most of the “not cheap” printers in your price range will do all of these but with varying degrees of ease. For example: the filament path for the Prusa MK3 is not ideal for flexible material (it finds ways to escape) - with a bit of careful setup, that can be avoided. And then you deal with “strings” since the flexible stuff is just really oozy.

As for the kit: I don’t think there is a 3D printer out there today that won’t need some disassembly/reassembly at times - they jam, ooze, need alignment, need upgrades, etc. Some will do it more than others, but they’ll all need some care at some point. The kit isn’t hard to build - you don’t need to be particularly mechanically inclined - just willing to deal with cables and screws. The instructions are all online, so you can look at them before deciding (there are a lot of steps, but none are particularly hard):


The one I have is this one. I think they stopped making it 2 years ago.

The dual extruder is a feature, but to be honest, I don’t use that feature. I like it because it uses a bunch of standard “Rep Rap” parts, and with simplicity, comes reliability.

Features to look for #1 a heated bed. #2 a heated bed. #3 software #4 Print volume.
Also consider how the print jobs are delivered to the printer. Unlike your Glowforge, you may not want to have it in the same room as you while it’s printing. Once the print starts you are generally OK checking in on the print every once and a while, but they don’t catch fire when you don’t keep an eye on them. Mine uses an SD card, so I sneaker net it over to the printer with each new job.


Assuming of course your budget isn’t large enough to consider an SLA rather than an FDM printer. They print way better than FDM, but usually the print volume is less, are more expensive, and I believe slower.


You are probably right…I am intimidated by these things but am probably smarter than I give myself credit for.


Angus at Maker’s Muse did a review of the original Cetus last year: Skip ahead to about 2 minutes in or so for the Cetus discussion.

It looks like it’s a reasonable printer, but I have zero experience with it. Just passing along the info. Angus has done reviews of a bunch of printers, just go to his channel playlists for his review playlist.
I would echo that for sub-$1000 printers you are going to have to accept that you will need to fiddle and tweak it to keep it printing well.

A few of other factors that go a long way to getting better results:

#1 filament quality, generally you get what you pay for here. I’ve found it very much worth it to spend a little more on higher quality filaments. The cheap stuff often has varying diameter, which reduces quality or ruins results. Also, ALWAYS measure your filament diameter. It’s almost never exactly 1.75mm. If you buy decent quality stuff, then the diameter will be consistent for the whole roll (and often for all rolls from the same manufacturer. However, Even the best stuff is still not exactly 1.75mm. You need to measure and put that measurement into your slicer software configuration. Otherwise you will over or under extrude. This is one of the main things I see people failing to do, and it can dramatically impact your print results.

#2 slicer software. Your results can vary a great deal just by switching which software you use to process your files for printing. They also vary a lot based on your configuration settings you setup. Some people just use the defaults settings for everything, this results in lower quality results quite often. I personally use Simplify3D (which is not free), and for me it produces the best results with the least amount of hassle configuring. Mainly I just set the filament diameter and temps, per filament roll. The software that comes with the Prusa i3 is pretty darn good also.

#3 If you go with a cheaper printer, then you need to figure out a way to test the temps that it produces at the nozzle and on the bed for whatever inputs you give it. For example, if you have some filament that says you should print with a temp of 200-210C, and you set your software for the printer to that temp, you want to be sure that the nozzle is actually getting to that temp. So often cheap printers are either well below or well above the target temp. One of my older cheap hit printers was off by as much as 15C, so I had a translation table I made that had what temp I needed to put in the software to get the actual temp at the nozzle. It makes the difference between getting a result at all and getting a mess.

These are just the 3 main factors I have dealt with over the years. There are lots more to deal with too. Things get less problematic the more you are willing to spend to get a better printer.


I like that…I’ll have to go through his pants pockets to find some extra change for this one! lol


I have noticed that the ones at the original price point require more “tinkering”…and knowledge.

This will not be an easy decision…I might talk myself out of it after reading everything.


I really like my Makerbot Z18


I like this one too. Out of my price range :blush:


I’d still recommend a Prusa MK3. If you need to stay with a lower price, it’s reliable and there can be assistance on it. If you know anyone who can assist you with it, you could be printing right away. I definitely would be able to assist you with PMs. There were quite a few, including @ben1 who helped me out in the beginning.

I think Prusa has introduced a few changes to deal with some of the initial problems with the newest edition.

If you look at some of the more popular 3d printing YouTubers, almost all of them are cranking out stuff with Prusas. They use other ones too. I am fairly partial to mine.

Watch this video. It will inspire you. Marius Hornberger is one of the best woodworking YouTubers. He has a Prusa and he demonstrates the practical things he makes.

On the other hand, if you know someone who can assist you in setting up a CR10 and work through the growing pains, they are good printers. I do have to monkey with the bed leveling regularly to ensure prints have good first layers.


I really like my Prusa mk3, and I also recommend that one. I have had multiple machines from Creality, and also have a CR-10S. It is nice and does a decent job, but is not as accurate as the Prusa, and I’ve put probably $150 in upgrades into it to address some of the issues.

I hesitate to recommend the CR-10 or any machine from Creality now days, unless someone is willing to tear it apart and do the needed upgrades. (This includes the Ender 3). Here are the main issues I’ve found:

  1. It doesn’t have thermal runaway enabled by default in the firmware. This means that the printer can potentially be a fire hazard, because it will keep trying to heat the hot end or bed in the event that a thermistor fails. This can cause a situation where a fire can occur.

The firmware can be changed easily, and updating the firmware isn’t all that difficult, but it may be beyond what a lot of people want to do. It requires using an Arduino IDE and connecting a cable to the printer, changing a line of source code, and uploading the firmware to the machine. I’ve spent a lot of time in the CR-10 “slack” channel walking people through upgrading firmware, and even though it’s not difficult, it is surprisingly challenging for a lot of people that aren’t familiar with Arduino/hardware side of things. I once spent 3 hours walking someone through it (I was multi tasking during a long print).

  1. Another significant issue is that the Creality machines have a PFTE tube running into the hot end. This is no big deal if you are just printing PLA, which usually doesn’t go much above 210-215C. However, even at that temperature, there is some off-gassing that occurs. Above those temps, PFTE tube off-gassing becomes toxic, and the PFTE tube will start to deform above 230C, which can also cause jams. Many people will upgrade to the Capricorn tubing, which resists the deforming, but it still off-gases at the same temps. If you have any pets in the house, especially pet birds, it can be extremely dangerous for them. This can all be remedied fairly easily by upgrading to a Microswiss or E3D (my preference) hot end. Basically $50-60 upgrade, and a few hours of your time pulling the hot end apart. (You’ll also need a new mount).

  2. The v-wheel system on the Creality machines in general is very poor quality. The wheels wear out very quickly, and there are a lot of “bumps” due to the poor quality of the bearings used. This primarily manifests itself in print issues, especially when printing smaller details. Something that is supposed to be round (like a wheel) might come out more egg-shaped. This can be very frustrating. Fixing this is more challenging, but can be done changing out the wheels and bearings, or doing something more extreme like going to linear rails.

There are several other things I would recommend on the Creality machines (upgrade the heated bed, different stepper motors, upgrade the power supply, … the list goes on) but I won’t get into those here because they are more “nice to haves” then “must haves”.

Anyway, this was kind of a long winded reply, but I wanted to give some insight for others reading this post in case they are wondering the difference between something like a Creality machine and a Prusa. The Prusa machine is not perfect either, but in the two that I’ve owned, I’ve not had to do much at all to get the quality of the print where it needs to be. The biggest issues on the Prusa are typically related to wear and tear, especially if you are running it all the time. My mk2 had some issues with the PINDA sensor due to temp drift, which was really annoying, and led to a lot of inconsistent first layers, but they fixed that with the MK3. The new flex plate bed is amazing, but the PEI stickers that they use are still too thin. However, if you take care of the PEI surface properly you won’t run into issues. If you are one of the lucky ones that got a textured plate it’s even easier.