Asked — Edited

Entry Level 3D Printer

I am looking for recommendations on an entry level 3d printer. Something that I can use to print some parts but also learn without breaking the bank. Any suggestions?


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I am going to throw this out there because I have had really good luck with it over the past couple of months. The Solidoodle 4 is a decent printer. You will want to add a glass bed to make sure the build plate (the plate might be deformed or become deformed) is level and print on Slurry to make sure your parts don't lift.

Here is what I like... It is enclosed so you can open it or print with it closed to allow you to control the heat to the print.

It has a heated build plate and print ABS or PLA. I would recommend ABS but that is a personal pref.

It is supported by simplify 3d. In my opinion Simplify 3d with pretty much any printer makes the printer much better. It isnt cheap but can be used with multiple printers so its not like you would need to buy a copy for each printer.

It has a decent size build volume (8x8x8)

A lot of mod parts if you want to get into that.

It is easy to level the build plate and it stays level. I have leveled it one time in 4 kg of ABS printing. I have checked it multiple times, but it just stays level.

What I dont like about it It is an entry level printer and the parts are as such. You will learn a lot about 3D printers as it breaks. It will. My first break was the Y axis 3d printed parts at the front of the printer. They are weak and I would recommend this being the first thing that you print when you get your printer. Mine lasted through about 4kg of plastic before they broke. Both of them broke within a day of each other. The ones on thingiverse are much better.

There is no cooling fan at the extruder. You can add one with the parts on thingiverse.

No SD card or screen. You have to print from your computer. You can add a screen and sd support but you will not be able to add the cooling fan if you do without replacing the controller board.

All 3D printers require maintenance. you will need to get the allen wrenches and grease to maintain your printer. This one takes pretty regular maintenance. I do this Saturday mornings before anyone else in my house is awake. It lets me focus on getting everything greased and checked or tightened.

When you get the printer, before you use it, tighten all of the screws. They have a way of "loosening during shipping" which is the standard line you will get from support when you first get the printer.

I have been impressed with this printer. I know others who cant stand them because of previous experience with earlier versions.


This is what I got: Da Vinci 1.0

I got mine on sale for $399 with free shipping. Newegg seems to have this sale every so often as do other retailers.

On the plus side it is way better then having no printer. I've printed multiple parts with no problems. It's pretty. It's enclosed. It's simple. I didn't have to build it or program it. You print from a PC with a USB cable. I didn't want to start with a 2k - 3k printer as right now I'm not printing a large robot like an inmoov.

Down side is, I would not trust printing an inmoov robot with this printer, at least not without trying some modes and maybe different software for slicing. Another negative is you need to buy cartridges with the print filament in it. There are refills and mods you can do to use any filament, but I have not experiments with those yet. The cartridges do not bother me in the least.

I'd buy it again in a heart beat for my first 3d printer. I love it. I'd love a 3K MakerBot even more if the 3d printer fairies placed one on my door step overnight. But until then, da vinci! :)


In buying a low cost 3D printer, what minimum bed size would be best? Is the 8"x8"x8" normal? I assume projects like EZ Robots or EZ bits could be printed, but what about parts for something the size of "Alan" or Imoov?



8x8x8 is large enough to print an inmoov. Alan won't be available to 3d print. It is being cold cast and then possibly injection molded later.


Hi @d.cochran Thanks for the reply. I just wanted to get an idea what would be the work area needed. My budget is minimal, but I would buy once and want to have the printer be able to do the job. The "Alan" was to just get an idea of the size and complexity of what is needed in a printer and if a low cost ($500.00 - $600.00 ) printer could do the job. Has your printer been durable, and reliable enough to print a project as large as Inmoov? Parts available and upgradeable? Ron


The issue that I had was with the 3d printed parts that are used to hold the Y axis idler. These (both of them) broke after about 4 KG of abs being printed. There are much more durable parts available that you can 3d print on thingiverse. I now have about 7 KG of plastic through this printer and it has been reliable. I have printed at resolutions of .1mm without any issue after I made some minor modification to the printer. I printed pretty much non stop for the past month or so and am pleased. Remember that this is an entry level printer so the results will not always be what some of the 2-4K printers are. I am also willing to do some sanding and painting to get the highly visible parts on my inmoov to be what I want them to be.

Get a piece of glass to print on. Attach it to the heated build plate with some paper binders. Look up Acetone Slurry and make some. I like making it pretty thin. I put this on the glass before printing. The printed parts stick to the glass very well when using slurry. When you do this, you will need to adjust your Z axis screw that is in the back of the printer to prevent your print head from crashing into the glass. This is a simple thing to do.

The other upgrade that I did was purchase Simplify3d. It is very good and I am convinced has made a very large difference in the printouts that I am getting. I highly recommend the $150.00 investment. Also, if you upgrade your printer in the future, this software will still be able to be used. There are a lot of preset configs for printers.

The other thing I do is use ABS filament from a company about 10-15 miles from my house. It is nice to be able to go get what I need when I need it, and I can look at the "White" to make sure it is "White" before it gets to my house and isn't exactly "White". This removes some frustration.

The first thing I would print out are replacement parts for what is in the 3d printer. Some of the replacement parts are upgrades but all of them can be found by searching for Solidoodle on Thingiverse.

The actual print area is more like 7 3/4 x 7 3/4 x 7 3/4. The inmoov could probably be printed on a 6x6x6 build plate if necessary. It is nice to have a little extra room though.


What am I giving up by purchasing the DaVinci vs the Solidoddle. There is quite a difference in price and I don't understand the difference. I am sure the Solidoddle is a better printer but exactly how or why. Thanks for the explanation.


The Solidoodle 4 sounds like a reasonable way to go. The fan and extra y axis parts are the only modifications you had to make? I have a cousin who has the ability to machine parts from aluminum. Is this a consideration for the more fragile parts? Thanks again, Ron


I am not trying to sell you on a solidoodle as I stand to make nothing by doing so. Here is what I liked about it and what I dont like about it.

Price tag was $600 when the school bought it.

Build chamber is enclosed or can be easily opened.

Heated build plate. Can print ABS which I recommend for strength, weight and workability after the print is complete.

the x and y axis on the build plate do not move. Think about the fact that you are changing the properties of the printer as the print goes on. If the x or y axis on the build plate moves it seems to me that the printer would lose some of its consistency.

Prints using anyones filament and not special filament.

It is really pretty quiet unless it needs grease.

3 point leveling system which is very easy to level

What I don't like the print head is entry level but can be changed with some available mods. The print head isn't bad and has worked through 7 KG of abs so far but, I am sure I would change it out in time.

There is a fan at the extruder but no fan at the hotend which I would prefer for overhangs and bridges. One can be added through a mod.

I wish there were a way to control the printer from a screen on the printer with an SD card reader. You can add one but not this and the fan mentioned above.

The build plate was warped causing me to have to spend about a dollar for a piece of glass to make a level build plate.

Thats all I can think of right now. For what the school paid for it, I thought that I would really dislike this printer but I am really impressed with what it is.


Yes, making the parts from aluminum would be the way to go. These parts are bolted to the frame. I would look for the replacement parts that have the bearing in them if I were to do it in aluminum. You may have to shorten the belts a bit if you go with those but it isn't hard to do at all.


@ dbeard Hello, I am looking at buying an inexpensive printer to learn on, and would upgrade it as time goes on. My goal is to not have to constantly work on the machine, but also upgrade it as needed. I think the Solidoodle 4 is a bit more durable and upgradeable and will better meet my needs for now. Next I will see if any good deals will come my way. Ron


Has anyone used TINKERCAD ? Any other free or good instructional software available to learn on without having a printer? I just want to look, play and learn before I commit to buying the printer and machine software. Ron


@Andy Roid AutoDesk 123D DESIGN


@Aerius Thanks, I will look at it.. Ron


@debeard or anyone have any info, or comments about the XYZ DaVinci 3D Printer? Ron


I think solidoodle has fixed most of their issues. Their billing and shipping leaves some things to be desired though. The solidoodle 4 isn't a bad printer. There are some upgrades that I have done to the one I have but I do that anyway. I would say that I have about $800 tied up in mine. It prints as well as the makerbot 2 and 2x that are at the maker group I'm a member of.

I print at 100 microns without any problem. The printer is about 3 months old and has been printing almost nonstop. I have documented the issues that I have had in this thread. All easilly fixed. Also fxrtst has one that he has had for a couple of years. He has stated that he is happy with his. I would strongly recommend simplify3d for any printer. It makes printing very simple and is loaded with features that you would need multiple freeware packages to get. It is awfully nice having everything in one piece of software.

The smallest solidoodle has an 8x8x8 build volume which really is more like a 7.9x7.9x7.9 build volume after adding the glass and clips to hold the glass in place.


Hello Anthony and @d.cochran

I don't have the $1000.00+ budget for the printer, but I hear the message. That is why I am looking for the best way to go vs cost. I am a tinkerer so I also want something which can be upgraded. The basic design and mechanical quality needs to be there. I assume axis motors and extruders and other parts can be upgraded and adapted to what is on the Solidoodle, but not sure on the DaVinci.

@ d.cochran, I hear Solidoodle 4 is being phased out. Is there any real special parts which I would need to be concerned about getting. I have the ability to make parts (access to a small machine shop). I know you spoke of the brackets that broke but is there anything else? They may drop the price next month so I may get one during the clearance. Still undecided.. Ron


The 4 their entry level builder product. From the email I got from them about a month ago, they are going to keep it around. Their new printer is designed to drop in place and not mess with. It does self leveling on every print. That's not me. They also have the other two which add a couple of other features.


I watched some you tube videos on the Press and I didn't feel confident with it. I started watching videos thinking I might go with that machine, but after the videos I wasn't impressed. I still think the 4 is the way to go. The 4 seems proven out and we know the weak areas and fixes. The other two added cost and don't match my wants. Bells and whistles.

Now I will be watching for prices.. Thanks for the info.



@d.cochran Hi Dave,

Is there a lot of printed parts used on critical areas on your printer? I know there is a lot of steel used. I assume the enclosure, and maybe some supports are metal. Some Youtube videos showed some rough printed parts in critical areas. Has that quality improved? I don't want a plastic support system on the printer I buy which will cause problems.

I am still watching the 4. Price is the last issue.



Here are a list of the 3d printed parts that I see while looking at the printer.

Z axis adjustment screw knob and bracket - Pretty weak and could be changed out Y axis back rod center bearing holder Y axis idler bear holders (these are the ones that I reprinted much stronger) X axis - every part that holds a bearing that slides along a rod is 3d printed. I haven't had any issue with these.


Thanks. I assume a spare could be printed or fabricated out of metal for some of the parts. Files are available for all? Again thank you for taking the time to help me out.


PS: Some day I may ask you for more about how to do Scripting (101).


I found this thread very informative. Now ... what I'm wondering, is there any printer that doesn't require all this constant tweaking, strengthing, maintenence, etc.? Something in the $2,000 to $3,000 range maybe? Doesn't have to be large volume, just really accurate (and stays that way) and easy to use and maintain. The more I read about these things the more I think it's better to become proficient at using the 3D creation/modification software and pay someone else to do the printing as needed. Still, it would be nice to do it myself, but I'm not sure I really want all the hassles.


There are companies that are trying to produce "drop in place and print" printers. I would say that the best one at doing this so far, from the research that I have done is the Ultimaker.

There are issues with ALL 3d printing types. There are 3 different types that I know about that are mainstream. 1 of them is extremely expensive and isn't good for parts like gears and the like. This is through a powder that has resin spit on it from a nozzle. The second is the laser/resin type where laser hardens the resin on a build plate. Still pretty expensive and there is some post processing that is required. It does produce amazing prints though. This type, I would guess, would require less maintenance if it were in a very clean environment. The third is the most common where a print head moves around on rods to lay down layers of melted plastic. This is the least expensive, but I would guess it has the most maintenance required. There are belts, and pulleys, wheels, gears and bearings, along with fans, springs, motors and screws. As such, there will be maintenance to keep the printer printing at a high quality level.

Technology on these printers is improving all of the time. Unfortunately, when a company jumps out with something really revolutionary and fails, they get bashed more then applauded. Makerbot is an example. I wouldn't touch their new printers with a 10 foot pole right now, but they are trying to do some things that are needed in this area. They are trying to push to make the industry much better, but unfortunately, they came out with a product that wasn't tested enough. My guess is that they were trying to rush it to market they were purchased by another company, who wanted to get this product out of the way to work on other projects with them. I don't know what happened but it wasn't good. MakerBot's name got tarnished even though they had a great previous product line.

If you dont want to do any maintenance, and want it to work like a light switch (which sometimes break also) I would not get into 3D printing at all and pay 10X the cost to print the part. If you want to be able to print your own parts, no matter what technology you go with, you will be doing maintenance. Even computer printers, which have been around for what, 40 years or so, have springs, screws, belts, motors and many other components that go bad. The difference is that they are cheap enough to just go buy a new one so people really don't fret much about them. I used to work for a company that used very expensive laser printers to print out hundreds of thousands of documents at a time. These broke a lot and even caught the print shop on fire on a couple of occasions. The reasons for the fires were lack of maintenance on the printers.


@d.cochran Thank you for the information. That's pretty much what I thought. I used to build everything from scratch. Hardware, metal work, software, whatever. But I'm at a point in my life where I no longer find as much pleasure in that as I did so I look more to just buying what I need so I can concentrate on my end goal and not so much the details. Not that all that was a waste of time as I learned a lot and it was fun at the time. Still, I think I'll just pay the 10X cost and let the maker deal with the headaches. Thanks again.


Any time. It sounds like you are making the right decision for you.


I due to a change in plans ( cash shortage LOL ) I bought a Borlee 602 3D printer kit. I will be assembling it when I return from a trip. I have heard good and bad about kits, but I have looked at the features of this one and decided to get it. I will build it and report how it went together and how it works.

Sorry Dave, but the Solidoodle was not affordable and this one comes with Wifi and an SD card reader which allows stand alone printing thus freeing up my computer. Thanks for all your time discussing the Solidoodle 4.




No need to be sorry. I just was offering my opinion based on what I had seen. Glad your getting a printer.

On a side note, the schools solidoodle is going back to the school on the 15th. I too am now in the market for a 3d printer:)


I liked the idea of the SD card option. Wifi I won't use but it is nice to have. I planned on modifications anyway so at least if I build it I will know how it goes together. It didn't get a great review on the assembly quality but again the basic layout of the machine looks ok. I'm a tinkerer so $385.00 is a decent price for a machine which should be upgradeable in the future.

3D printing is still new and many changes and improvements are being made daily. I won't feel like I am throwing away big money if major changes come up down the road.

I will post my results when all is done and I am happy I will have a 3D printer to play with.



Andy Very interested to see how well this printer works for you as I have been wanting a cheaper 3d printer to just play around with and this one fits my price range nicely. Cant wait to hear about it. Thanks Ken


I will be away for about a week. I will report once I'm back and it is complete. Meanwhile check ebay for the kits. Many to choose from and many reviews. Some good info on Youtube.



Ok,,, all done, after much effort, and making parts on my kit. I will start a new thread in a day or so. Got back from vacation and need to finish catching up. Ron



Hi Dave,

How did your old Reprap run when you used it? Does it still live? Ron


I couldn't ever get it to reliably work. It would run great for about a week and then something would change and it would start printing like junk. I tried 3 different controller boards, 3 different hot ends, 2 different sets of stepper motors, many different software configurations and about 5 months of tweeting things. After having about $1800 tied up in the printer I decided to cut my losses and took it all apart so that I would quit spending money on it.

The solidoodle 4 has printed far better with much less headache for 1/3 of what I put into the reprap but I also learned a lot from the reprap.


Dave, Thanks for getting back to me... Sorry to hear you had problems with your Reprap. I hope I have better luck with mine. I will be posting my runs in the next few days. So far the system seems to be dependable and easy to use. I have only run a few smaller parts in pla, and they came out decent. I used a middle setting and got a decent quality but I will try a fine setting on the next part I run. Next week I will try ABS and plan on printing larger projects. Stay tuned.. Ron


I didnt go with a kit, which I should have. I chose the route of piecing mine together from parts and then trying to make it work. I am glad you went with a kit. With a kit you have a starting point. Piecing it together like I did, there was no starting point which caused a lot of issues.

I wish you the best. Let us know.


@69 developer

I have 10 hours of printing on my kit and so far so good. Print errors on my part, but it is running. Take a look at the thread I posted.