Increasingly, makers are turning away from desktop FDM 3D printers, preferring to buy a cheap 3D printer kit and build their own DIY 3D printer from scratch. Some of these are RepRap 3D printer kits, and some are specially designed kits.
The 3D printer kit revolution has reduced prices, led to a number of key breakthroughs, and has made 3D printing more accessible than ever before.
These 3D printer kits can take just a few minutes to assemble, or take hours or even days. They can also vary greatly in price, print accuracy, maximum build and print speed. Some even use technologies other than fused deposition modeling — you can now buy DIY SLS 3D printers and SLA 3D printers.
|3D printer kit name and brand||Build Volume (mm)||Price||Where to purchase for best price||Alternative Purchase Option|
|Creality Ender 3||220 x 220 x 250||$189||Creality Store here||Amazon here|
|Prusa Mini||180 x 180 x 180||$399||Prusa Store here|
|Creality Ender 3 V2||220 x 220 x 250||$279||Creality Store here||Amazon here|
|Creality Ender 5||220 x 220 x 300||$349||Amazon here||3DJake UK & Europe|
|Flsun QQ-S||255 x 255 x 360||$369||Amazon here|
|Tronxy X5SA Pro||330 x 330 x 400||$399||Amazon here|
|Anycubic Vyper||245 x 245 x 260||$429||Anycubic Store here||Amazon here|
|Creality CR-10 / V3||300 x 300 x 400||$369 / $459||Creality Store here||Amazon here|
|Prusa i3 MK3S||250 x 210 x 210||$749 / $999||Kit available on Prusa store here||Fully assembled on Prusa store here|
|Peopoly Moai||130 x 130 x 180||$1,295||Matterhackers here|
Advantages of DIY 3D printers
- Open source: Most homemade 3D printers are also open source 3D printers, meaning they can be tinkered with, upgraded, and modded freely with the creators’ permission. Many Creality, Prusa and Anet printers are open source, as well as desktop 3D printers like BCN3D and Ultimaker printers.
- Open build areas: 3D printer kits rarely feature closed chambers or enclosures as standard. This would affect the printing of filaments like Nylon or PEEK, but is less of an issue for standard filaments like PLA or PETG.
- Easily upgradable parts: DIY 3D printer owners are frequently switching out parts, such as nozzles, hot ends and extruders for better quality parts.
- Lower price: For the quality and size, you get a better deal if you build your own 3D printer.
- Larger build volume: The open build area means that you can have a larger 3D printer build area for the same size, neglecting the need for an enclosing frame. Therefore, low cost kits like the Creality CR-10 can have huge build volumes.
Build your own 3D printer: what makes a good DIY 3D printer?
We used several criteria to determine which 3D printer kit made it into our ranking:
- Cheap DIY 3D printer kits: We only included FDM 3D printer kits under $1,500. The printers are listed in price order, cheapest first.
- Print quality
- It it easy to build your own 3D printer: Not everyone is a technology wizard. Therefore, any kit that can be assembled quickly, easily, and is simple to operate, is at an advantage.
The best 3D printer kits
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1. Creality Ender 3
- Price: $189 — Available on Creality Store here / Available on Amazon here
- Build volume: 220 x 220 x 250 mm
The original Ender 3 is still one of the most popular 3D printer kits in the world, more than three years after it was originally released. The low price, great build area, and reliability have cemented the Ender 3 as one of the best 3D printer kits around.
The reliability is a major selling point in such a cheap 3D printer kit. Whereas most DIY printers in this price range are plagued by issues caused by low-quality parts, the Ender 3 is dependable and consistent, partly due to its upgraded extruder to prevent clogging or poor extrusion.
The resume printing function is useful if you’re prone to power cuts or want to print for several days straight and don’t want to risk a huge ruined print, and the Ender 3 is fairly quick to assemble, and shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.
However, it doesn’t feature auto-leveling — you’ll need to install a BLTouch or similar kit for that.
2. Prusa Mini — Great Prusa 3D printer kit
- Price: $399 — Available on Prusa Store here
- Print volume: 180 x 180 x 180 mm
- Print speed: up to 200mm/s
The Mini 3D printer version of the wildly successful Prusa MK3S, the Mini retains the 0.05mm layer precision and can still calibrate itself, but costs less than half of the i3 MK3S. With the Mini, you can build your own 3D printer — and one with Prusa-level reliability! — for just $349.
It’s more compact, with a smaller build volume, and features removable spring steel sheets that make removing finished prints extremely easy — just flex the build plate and prints will come off with ease.
The extruder cannot reach the same temperatures during printing as the MK3S, though you can still print a number of tougher filaments like ABS, PETG, ASA and flexible filaments. The Mini retains the fast 200mm/s max printing speed, and can be upgraded to feature a filament sensor.
Overall, it’s another reliable 3D printer by the trusted Prusa brand who have proven over the years that their printers are some of the best 3D printer kits around. If you have the money, go for the MK3S, but for those on a budget, the Mini does a great job.
3. Creality Ender 3 V2 — Best DIY 3D Printer Under $300
- Price: $279 — Available on Creality Store here / Available on Amazon here
- Build volume: 220 x 220 x 250 mm
Building on the success of the Ender 3 and improving and fixing its few flaws, the Ender 3 V2, while the same size build volume, is a much enhanced DIY 3D printer.
The upgraded motherboard makes the printer quieter than ever, and the extra power makes for a much more stable and precise printing experience.
The upgraded extruder is also a great touch. It’s easier to load and feed filament into via the rotary knob, ideal for PLA and flexible filaments. The large 4.3-inch screen makes the interface more intuitive, and the Ender 3 V2 is really easy to use overall.
Another extra is the carborundum glass platform, which can heat up faster than ever and improves adhesion so you can be sure of a great first layer. Overall, if you have the extra $100 to spare, consider going for the Ender 3 V2 over the original.
4. Creality Ender 5 — The Best DIY 3D printer under $500
Another Creality kit, the Ender 5 is another great 3D printer you can build at home. The Ender 5 is $100 more expensive, but boasts a number of improvements that make the extra money seem worth it.
Firstly, it can print taller prints than the Ender 3 — 300 mm high rather than 250 — important if you print tall structures like tall vases or monument 3D models. The structure is also stronger, having adopted a cube shape like the Tronxy X5SA which helps with stability, reducing vibrations or movements from external events, and improving part surface finish and quality.
Moreover, the minimum layer height of 50 microns is extraordinary for such a cheap machine. Review after review repeats how crisp the surface finish of their prints look with the Ender 5, so it’s fair to say the Ender 5 is a smash hit.
- For an extra $50 you can upgrade to the Ender 5 Pro printer kit, at $399. It’s available to buy here.
Note: while the Ender 5 can be tweaked to increase print speed without a noticeable loss in print quality, we recommend you don’t get too extravagant with this. Stick with 60 mm/s or below for models with intricate parts — it’s worth a bit of extra printing time to guarantee crisp prints.
5. FLSUN QQ-S — Great Delta DIY 3D printer
- Price: $369 — Available on Amazon worldwide here
- Print volume: 255 x 255 x 360 mm
- Print speed: up to 300mm/s
One of the best DIY delta 3D printer machines out there, the Flsun QQ-S features notable improvements on the original Flsun QQ. It comes 90% assembled, so though technically still a 3D printer kit it will take under an hour to get up and running.
- We were lucky enough to test the FLSUN QQ-S, make sure to also check out our FLSUN QQ-S review.
Not only does it have a fantastic build volume for the price — especially the ability to print tall parts! — but it also comes with an upgraded lattice glass print bed, allowing for faster heating up to 100C in under 5 minutes, less warping and better adhesion during 3D printing. This is perfect for materials such as ABS filament, which are known to warp significantly under the wrong conditions.
Another advantage that beginners will enjoy is that as delta 3D printers don’t move the print bed — the print head does all the moving — the printer only needs to be auto-leveled once. It comes with a titan extruder, and can print with common printing materials like PLA and ABS, PVA, and HIPS for supports, as well as wood-filled filaments and flexible filaments.
It’s accurate, too, able to print at up to 50 microns. Overall, it’s a fantastic delta 3D printer kit that prints accurately, and super fast — it even made it into our fastest 3D printer ranking. It’s also one of the easiest DIY 3D printers to build, coming almost fully assembled — you just need to attach the gears and rods to hold the structure up, and then attach the extruder and filament holder.
6. Tronxy X5SA Pro — Huge Self-Assemble 3D printer
- Company based: China
- Price: $399 — Available on Amazon here
- Build volume: 330 x 330 x 400 mm
Kit 3D printer kings Tronxy showed humility and dedication to improve the X5SA Pro, fixing a number of small issues that affected the original. The X5SA Pro addresses the X-axis issues and has made it more stable, and upgraded the materials forming the printer kit’s structure. Now on the X5SA Pro, most of the printer is made from aluminum and is heavier and more stable, reducing vibrations and generally improving print performance.
As for the X5SA’s specs, it’s a large 3D printer DIY kit with similar printing sizes to the Creality CR-10, and boasts a 330 x 330 x 400 build volume. It claims increased precision vs the original Tronxy X5SA, and has a maximum accuracy of 125 microns. It’s impressive, reliable and one of the best cheap 3D printers you can get with such a large size — so those with big 3D printing ideas will enjoy both this and the Creality CR-10.
It’ll probably take you around four hours to build this printer kit, but it’ll be worth it once you start printing!
7. Anycubic Vyper
- Price: $429 — Available on Anycubic store here / Available on Amazon here
- Build volume: 245 x 245 x 245 mm
A key feature on the Anycubic Vyper missing from many printers in this price range is that the Vyper self-levels. This is a huge relief for busy makers who would rather not re-level their printer every few prints, and who just want to get to the fun part — printing! The 16-point bed leveling process accounts for differences between the nozzle and bed and can be done in just one click.
The 32-bit motherboard is beefed up compared to previous Anycubic 3D printer kits, offering silent printing and improved stability. We tested the Anycubic Vyper and found it to be consistent in printing, easy to operate with the 4.3-inch touchscreen, and it was incredibly easy to assemble — we built it in 10-15 minutes.
The new PEI spring steel magnetic print bed can be lifted off the platform easily for easy removal of your finished parts, and is designed to be scratch and heat resistant and to work well with standard filaments such as PLA, ABS, PETG, and TPU.
The Vyper also features an innovative new two-fan dual cooling system, cooling down parts quicker and enabling faster printing without causing errors — the Vyper can comfortably print at 100mm/s.
8. Creality CR-10 / V3
- Price: $369 / $459 — Available on Amazon here / Available on Creality Store here
- Print volume: 300 x 300 x 400 mm
The Creality CR-10 has a passionate group of supporters who hail it as the best DIY 3D printer kit in its price range. Manufactured by Creality, the CR-10 is a fantastic 3D printer build kit that can be built within 45 minutes.
- For a larger version, the Creality CR10 MAX has 450 x 450 x 470 mm maximum build volume, and costs $999. You can buy it here / or on 3DJake UK & Europe here
- For a smaller version, the CR10 Mini is available — you can buy it here / or on 3DJake UK & Europe here
The Creality CR-10 has an accuracy and print volume which is competitive with printers 5 times more expensive. With it’s minimum layer thickness of 0.05mm and fantastic 300 x 300 x 400 mm build volume, the Creality CR-10 is a great printer for just $370. It’s easy to use, making it the perfect 3D printer for beginners.
9. Prusa i3 MK3S — best 3D printer kit
- Company based: Czechia
- Price: $749 as a kit — Available on the Prusa store here / $999 fully assembled — Available on the Prusa store here
- Build volume: 250 x 210 x 210 mm
The Prusa i3 is known as the undeniable king of DIY 3D printer kits. These RepRap kits are fantastic, sporting an impressive print volume of 250 x 210 x 210 mm, and being able to print at speeds up to 200mm/s! It’s also accurate, durable and a complete workhorse, with layer heights from 0.05 mm and a bendable print surface to make removing finished prints as easy as possible.
Accessible via USB stick or by SD card, the Prusa i3 MK3 kits are designed to be simple to use as well as effective. With layer resolutions up to 50 microns, the Prusa i3 homemade 3D printer is so effective that it outperforms far more expensive 3D printers. It can print tougher filaments than more expensive printers too, with a Bondtech extruder that can reach temperatures of up to 300C, making printing Polycarbonate, ABS, Nylon, and other difficult filaments no problem.
Additionally, you can print up to 5 colors simultaneously with your Prusa if you purchase their multi-material upgrade kit, costing $300. This makes colorful model printing a breeze, and opens up for far more extravagant printing projects.
- With a Multi Material Upgrade kit, it can also print multiple colors. We explain more in our color 3D printer buyer’s guide.
- You can buy the Multi Material Upgrade Kit 2.0 here.
You can choose to either assemble the kit yourself or buy the printer pre-assembled, though this costs a few hundred dollars more. Overall, the Prusa remains the undisputed king of DIY 3D printer kits, with its competitors needing to do a lot of catching up to dethrone it.
10. Peopoly Moai SLA Kit — Homemade resin 3D printer kit
- Price: $1,295 — Available on Matterhackers here
- Build volume: 130 x 130 x 180 mm
The only resin 3D printer featured in our 3D printer kit guide, the Peopoly Moai is an incredible feat of engineering. It’s huge, offers incredible accuracy and precision, and best of all, you can build your own 3D printer at home from scratch.
For those looking for an effective SLA 3D printer, and who do not want to pay full price, the Moai kit could be the perfect printer for you. It is so accurate that it can mechanically print up to an astonishing 5-micron layer height, according to Peopoly, though you’ll likely never reach this accuracy because you won’t need to, nor would most resins or models accommodate this.
Featuring a 70-micron laser spot size, once you’ve built this homemade 3D printer you’ll be ready to create resin molds for 3D printed jewelry, dental models, engineering pieces, as well as prototypes for rapid prototyping or fun characters if you use the Moai as a 3D printer for miniatures.
The Peopoly Moai is open to use third-party resins, for those who want to save money on lower-cost resins and are fine with the slight quality drop-off. The printer itself however does not come with any resin, so you’ll need to purchase that with the kit. It is only to be expected that the Moai will take some time to assemble, as resin 3D printers are more complex than their FDM 3D printer counterparts, but most makers will be able to build their own 3D printer within 4 hours.
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