Entry-level 3D filament printers don’t cost a fortune. We tried eleven models and show what is important when buying.
We use our test results for the FDM printers listed below for comparison. In our opinion, they provide a good cross-section of the current devices in the entry-level and lower middle range. All printers use filament 1.75mm in diameter.
If you want a cheap printer, you have to assemble it first – this prejudice is now largely out of date. The devices from Davinici, Dremel, Renkforce and Wanhao arrive at the customer’s premises fully assembled and sometimes cost less than 300 euros. Even the most expensive printer from the tool manufacturer Qidi comes fully assembled. If you choose one of these models, you just have to unpack it, remove the transport locks and screw on the holder for the filament rolls. The construction therefore takes just 5 to 10 minutes.
There are significant differences in the printers that come to customers as a kit. In addition to very small sets with tens of individual parts and an assembly time of five to six hours, we also have almost pre-assembled printers with only two to three fully assembled components in the test field.
The replica of the Prusa i3 for 99 euros, for example, comes to the user in relatively small parts. Those who save here need good nerves and a lot of know-how to compensate: The installation of the Prusa clone is poor, or sometimes incorrectly documented and accordingly demanding. Before our printer delivered the first results, we had to identify defective hardware and reorder it. If you don’t feel like spending hours screwing, tinkering and tuning, you should definitely keep your hands off the cheap printer.
The Tronxy X5SA and X5SA Pro printers consist of just as many individual parts. Here, too, the construction takes several hours. In contrast to the cheap clone, all components fit together here and the structure is properly documented.
With the Anet ET4, assembling the pre-assembled components is much faster by hand. The actual assembly can be done in under 20 minutes. With the ET4, however, we were troubled by a defective power switch and various little things during the test. Before the printer delivers the first usable results, we still have to fiddle a good day.
With the Creality Ender 3 and the Anet ET5 Pro, assembly is done in 15 to 25 minutes. The final assembly is well documented and thanks to the neat labeling it is also unproblematic for beginners. Those who dare to assemble IKEA cabinets should have no problems assembling these two printers. In contrast to the ET4, there is no need for any repairs by the user. The printers deliver usable print results immediately after assembly.