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Cheap 3D printers

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Glyn Davies08/11/2018 13:03:48
118 forum posts
27 photos

Hi Sorry if this is a question I could answer with a quick search, but - I just had a look on Amazon for 3D printers and couldn't believe how cheap they are, Some less than £200.

My question - if I buy a printer with a heated base plate, can I create prints in ABS or PLA from CAD models that I export as STL files? Is it really that cheap and simple? Will the printer come with software to slice the STL file and then print it?


Ian Parkin08/11/2018 14:04:58
704 forum posts
181 photos

Yes to all

slight proviso ...I've found that abs needs to have a warm environment as well as heated bed so build an enclosure round it


Neil Wyatt08/11/2018 14:10:57
17109 forum posts
690 photos
76 articles

Cut your teeth on PLA first.

You may need to download slicing software, I use CURA which is free and excellent.


XD 35108/11/2018 15:10:16
1392 forum posts
118 photos

With cheap printers you really need to do your homework as there are a lot of rubbish units out there .

Take a look at makers muse YouTube channel he has done a lot of reviews on many machines and as he is a professional in the 3D printing industry he knows what he is talking about .

There are a few new materials out there now that are beginning to replace abs which suffers from shrinkage really bad if you don’t use a heated enclosure , pla on the other hand is much easier to get a handle on .

Also take a look at thomas sanladerer youtube channel and cnc kitchen as there is a wealth of knowledge there especialy about filaments .

Neil Wyatt08/11/2018 15:17:41
17109 forum posts
690 photos
76 articles

At the bargain end, many people claim success with the GEEEtech printers.

I have had great results from my Factory3D printer which is a British company so support and a good assembly manual plus some uprated parts, but a little more to pay.

If you want the cream of the crop in kits, go to Prusa but at a premium cost.


Muzzer08/11/2018 16:28:56
2904 forum posts
448 photos

I recently bought a Cetus3D printer for under £340 delivered. This included the bonus pack which contained 2 large reels of PLA and several different sized nozzles. Took minutes to screw the subassemblies together and I had it up and running in no time. This one has wifi and like most it comes with its own software and slicer. It also has an iOS and Android app which is perfectly capable of running jobs and monitoring progress.


At the weekend I created a plastic terminal cover for a servo motor in Fusion 360 and saved it as an STL file, then printed it out on fine resolution over night.

Here's what it looked like in the Fusion modelling environment

fusion model.jpg

and also rendered in Fusion just for fun.

beluga bum.jpg

Pretty impressed with the finish - it's just as good as what I was getting from the Ultimaker 2 which costs about £4k last time I looked.


There's an optional heated bed and you can get your own off ebay etc for £30-40, complete with digital controller if you want to use ABS etc.

Once the raft and supports are removed, the final result is pretty darned good. The M20 x 1.5 threaded hole was just right for the cable gland and the surface finish is excellent.


There's no enclosure and the std printer has unheated bed but the quality of the work is very pleasing. The printer itself uses Hiwin machine slides, which is a pretty neat approach. You can do a lot worse for the price and delivery was something like 2 days from the UK warehouse.


Glyn Davies08/11/2018 19:40:42
118 forum posts
27 photos

Thanks for the replies - time to dip a toe I think!

Ian Skeldon 208/11/2018 20:42:36
421 forum posts
29 photos

Hi Glyn,

Not sure of what you mean by cheap but I bought a creality ender, just over £200 I think. It's been fantastic, I downloaded cura after asking for advice in here and have produced a number of usable items and have even checked them for dimensional accuracy. I am genuinely blown away by the quality of the prints, however, there is a but, and the but is that I haven't printed with ABS, only PLA.

The printer does have a heated bed and settings built in for ABS but I can't say how good (or not) it would print in abs.

John Shepherd09/11/2018 11:31:18
216 forum posts
7 photos

I was grateful to receive a Prusa 3D printer from my Son when he moved onto another design.

It performed ok but what annoyed me was the poor engineering :

1. Threaded rod and plastic parts to form the base for the bed.

2. Linear bearings held in place with cable ties (later models used U bolts on the bed bearings but that was not much better IMO.

3. Printing surface mounted on springs so that it could be adjusted to make it level. I accept that levelling adjustment is needed, particularly as the bed base plate cannot be relied on to be flat, but this introduces instability and side to side movement.

4. Stepper motors coupled to Acme lead screws with simple joints using grub screws (no flats on either as well).

5. The vertical frame was not braced in the original design.

6. The bed runs on 8mm dia rails that can only be supported at each end. This is not as rigid as it could be.

I accept that some of these issues have been addressed in later models but my mods so far include:

1. New base using 30 x 30 extrusion and aluminium end plates for the base.

2. Replaced all linear bearings with ones enclosed in housings that have mounting holes and made an aluminium X carriage to replace the plastic one.

3. Printing surface mounted with silicone spacers to give some adjustment, but with much reduced side to side movement.

4. Used Flexible Plum Couplings with a clamping action rather than grub screws to connect stepper motors to lead screws.

5. Braced the frame using aluminium supports.

6. I am about to replace the round rods and bearings on the bed with flat linear rails that can be supported along their entire length.

There are several other minor mods including those to wiring, belt fixings and tension adjustment etc. and I do get prints I am satisfied with.

I suppose my point is that a cheap printer is just a kit of parts as a base for development, like some of the cheaper Chinese machine tools judging by the number of modifications that appear in MEW etc.


Brian G09/11/2018 11:51:45
653 forum posts
25 photos

The heated bed draws quite a high current, and will be running hotter with ABS than PLA. The first mod I carried out was to replace its cables with heavier ultra-flexible silicone insulated cable (I got mine from Component Shop, who sell it for RC models) running in a 3d printed cable chain. No kinks and no flexing where the cable joins the hotbed should mean no hotspots.

To be honest, given the low price of cable chain against the time taken to print it, if I were doing the job again or adding cable chain to the print head I would just print the end fittings.


Trevor Roberts09/11/2018 11:57:12
8 forum posts


Myfordboy has done quite a lot on 3d printers.


Edited By Trevor Roberts on 09/11/2018 12:00:36

Muzzer09/11/2018 14:20:45
2904 forum posts
448 photos

Yes, his was one of the positive reviews that steered me towards the Cetus.

And here's my first impressions with photos.

And the pros and cons from my viewpoint as a summary.


Edited By Muzzer on 09/11/2018 14:23:30

Bandersnatch09/11/2018 17:19:43
1406 forum posts
40 photos

I've been having a lot of fun lately with the Monoprice Mini.

Build volume isn't enormous (120x120x120) but it's amazing what you can get in there. Also amazing is the print-quality. Bed temp is limited to 60 deg C. which is fine for PLA. They say you can do ABS too. I have some doubts but I haven't got around to trying yet. The machine is small and light (10 lb) so easy to move around.

A local online auction site has returns/refurbs of these coming up frequently and I've collected 3 so far at ~$100 Cdn each. All of them have worked - the first had filament stuck in the extruder but it's trivial (5 min) to clear this on this machine. The others worked out of the box.

The latest machine that I recently bought cost me $78 (plus tax) and was literally brand new. All I did was level the bed.

Above all, these machines are fun!

XD 35109/11/2018 21:39:24
1392 forum posts
118 photos

I have a geeetech which is a prusa copy but they have fixed a lot of the issues the origional prusa had like cable ties holding the bearings etc although they still use threaded rod to hold the base together . I went the aluminium unit and added a few modifications of my own . There is another thread about 3D printers that has some photos of the mods and i have made a few more since then .

You will find that all printers have their good and bad points and the closer you get to the cheap end of town the more problems you will find .

Pete Cordell10/11/2018 16:04:04
9 forum posts

I have a P802MA from well know online auction site, after fixing it to a piece of 50mm board (for stability) and adding two 210A MOSFETS(to move the high power load off the main board) one for the bed and one for the hot end, and also a Scrub Surface Hot Bed Sticker (so prints stick to the bed and can be removed)I have been pleased with it

Steve F11/11/2018 14:24:30
70 forum posts
22 photos


I have 2 X 3D printers from different ends of the price scale. A CEL Robox at the high end and a Creality Ender 3 from the low end. Both print PLA and ABS.

The Robox is very much a draw something, pick your filament type and print machine. No fiddling or tinkering it just does what it is supposed to very well. Its a closed system with CELs' own software and hardware. The filament spools are chipped so when you insert them the printer adjusts itself to produce the ideal print. I can use non CEL filament but i have to configure the print manually. ABS likes to be printed and kept warm for the duration of the print to prevent warping and splitting. The Robox has an enclosed build chamber for this, It can also print PETG & Nylon

The Creality Ender 3 was £150 delivered from the UK and for that money it is well worth it and you cant go wrong. It comes as a semi kit. It is open source so you can replace parts easily if needed and run a variety of open source software. All free. It prints PLA, PETG and ABS. It has a non enclosed heated platform. If printing ABS you are relying on heat from the bed to rise up through the print to keep it warm. This works and i am printing ABS now but the problem is how high you print off the bed. So that's your limit with ABS. For me 60mm high is fine but i dont know how high you can go. PLA & PETG dont have this problem.

I you do want to print ABS choose your filament carefully. Some ABS likes a really hot bed over 100 degrees and this printer (mine cant) might not be able to reach and maintain this temperature in an un-enclosed environment.

ABS from 3DJake called NiceABS prints at 250 with a bed of 85 for me and prints just fine.

Look for Ender3 reviews etc on youtube.

So Ender 3 £150 + 2 X 250gm 3D Jake PLA + 2 X 250gm 3DJake Nice ABS £41.50 (over £40 delivered free) = £8.50 for beer.

This will be the start of a huge learning experience



Michael Gilligan11/11/2018 15:04:18
14786 forum posts
635 photos
Posted by Steve F on 11/11/2018 14:24:30:

I have 2 X 3D printers from different ends of the price scale. [ ... ]


Thanks for the very informative post, Steve

It's good to have the opinion of someone with experience of printers at both price-points.


Steve F11/11/2018 15:41:58
70 forum posts
22 photos

Thanks Michael

I'm glad you found the long post helpfull

Just seen it today **LINK**

Ender 3X with extra glass bed & free nozzles £139 delivered from Germany (no import duty). Mine came fom Germany and only took 6 days.

Its a good price for an all metal framed printer ,no acrylic panels

or you could make your own. Ender 3 open source design files here **LINK** but it might cost more.



Russell Eberhardt11/11/2018 16:26:44
2539 forum posts
85 photos

That looks to be the same as the Geeetech A10. I wonder who copied whom.


Neil Wyatt13/11/2018 20:15:50
17109 forum posts
690 photos
76 articles

HI John,

I would argue that many of the shortcomings you identify are not really issues. Many of the approaches are anathema to an engineer used to metalworking, but with 3D printing there are essentially no tool loads at all. I will admit to having made a few mods - such as replacing zip ties with U bolts and adding upper bearings to my threaded rods. In the real world of 3D printing, these are really just cosmetic and have no impact on the prints at all. The worst 'upgrade' is replacing the threaded rods with ballscrews. By doing so, people drastically reduce the Z-resolution to no practical gain whatsoever. As an experiment I've tried printing 0.02mm layers on my machine which sues threaded rod for the z-axis drive and it works fine.

The heated bed should have two solid mounts and two sprung ones so movement is not possible - the springs should also be far too stiff to allow movement. Equally the loads on the bed are too small to be a problem for 8mm rods.

Yes some frame designs are poor, I haven't had issues with mine which is an aluminium plate and 10mm threaded rod; a key element is having a solid mounting below the printer as much as bracing the frame.

I have more concerns about the quality of some connectors and wiring arrangements because of the potential for fire in the event of a failure.

My advice is to create prints and solve only those issues that actually affect your prints rather than those which seem too flimsy or inaccurate to someone used to machine tool loads.

Instead of rebuilding the small machine, instead plan a larger machine where you will have greater benefit from increased rigidity and accuracy - that's my approach. I've identified that I would like a printer with a 300mm cube as the build area. When this appears it will probably be built around aluminium extrusions, but I will stick with rolled allthread for the leadscrews, for example.


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