Tech

Print larger at no extra charge: giant 3D printers from 199 euros

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One of the purchase criteria for 3D printers is the size of the installation space. TechStage shows which size makes sense and explains why bigger is sometimes better.

The 3D printer market is constantly evolving. In addition to improved technology and falling prices, the increasingly larger installation space is particularly exciting. In the past, if you wanted to print large objects, you had to print them in several individual parts and then glue them together. Much more convenient are printers that also allow large printouts in one piece. Examples of such large-capacity printers are the X5SA (test report), X5 SA Pro (test report), Sapphire Plus (test report) or ET5 Pro (test report) models. But when is it worth buying a large printer?

Resin printers offer the smallest print size. The costs for the devices and the resin have fallen sharply, but the printing costs are still significantly higher than with the FDM process. In addition, handling the resin is far more complex than using filament, which is why the devices are only really useful for a few applications. More on this in the guide UV resin or plastic filament: 3D printers in comparison.

Currently, fewer than 20 such printers are listed in the price comparison. The models we have tested so far, Elegoo Mars (test report), Anycubic Photon (test report), Longer Orange 30 (test report) or Nova 3D Elfin (test report), all offer a very small installation space of around 132 × 74 × 150 mm. Inexpensive resin printers, such as the Anycubic Photon Zero, are available from 140 euros.

Resin printers are only suitable for very small print objects.

For a few months now, larger resin printers have finally been on the market. The price differences to the small devices are enormous. The Anycubic Mono X with an installation space of 192 × 245 × 120 mm for around 800 euros is such a model. A test device is already on its way to the editorial office. A single test will be carried out soon.

As small FDM printers we define devices with a maximum size of less than 20 × 20 × 20 cm. These printers are compact due to their construction and also fit on the desk or on the shelf. However, such printers often do without a heatable print bed, which limits the filament selection. If you want to process materials such as ABS or PETG, you have to look carefully. However, this is not a problem when using PLA.

Due to the short process paths, only low mechanical loads act on the individual components and so the structure is often not very stable. An extreme example of this is the rickety Labists X1 (test report), which we cannot recommend despite the competitive price of less than 80 euros. Even with more massive models, the individual axles are often only attached to one side of the frame. This has no influence on the print result if sensible components are used, as we saw when testing the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Mini (test report) or the Davinci Mini w + (test report).

Mini printers are generally less stable, but have a decent print image – with a few exceptions.

If you only want to print small model building parts, figures or the like, you will also achieve your goal with a small installation space. However, a look at the price comparison shows that this is not reflected in the purchase price and that the small FDM printers are relatively expensive. The Wanhao Mini i3 with an installation space of 120 × 100 × 135 mm, for example, currently costs around € 170. Significantly larger printers are available for the same price.