New to 3D printing, which to get?

Hey y’all, long time no post.
I just got my first paycheck at a new job and as is customary, I want to blow it on something big.

I’m looking at getting a 3D printer but I have no Idea what’s out there and thought you lovely nerds would know a thing or two.

Budget is under $1000 Australian (about $740 US). I want to get something good quality that’ll last a while and a reasonably large print bed in case it comes in handy (think custom case for laptop motherboard with broken screen/keyboard size).

What are some good brands/models to look at? Any gotchas or things to look out for?

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Prusa kit - done! Solid machine.


Most printer’s beds are between 10x10 cm and 21x21cm.
Some printers go up to 30x30 cm, but they suffer from mechanical issues and limitations.
For 40x40 cm and above, only industrial grade or some custom diy machines are good.
Also consider that power consumption goes up by the square.

If you want to print high end materials, you’ll need a printer with:
-a full metal heatbreak
-a heated chamber with an air filter.
-a heated bed that can withstand at least 110 C.
Here is the catch: If a printer claims that it can reach (up to) 100~110 C, that doesn’t mean it can hold that temperature without burning down. Some printers use silicone heaters with cheap glue that softens around 95 C.


I got into this space a year ago. I asked people at work (some of who were really into 3d printers) and the response was: if you want to save a few bucks (and are ok with a bumpy DIY experience) get an Ender 5 (don’t get the Ender 3, it’s trouble). If you want a relatively painless on ramp to 3d printing in exchange for more money get a Prusa Mk3. I got the Prusa and can confirm, it was an awesome on ramp to 3d printing. Worked perfectly after basic calibration. Minimal fuss and ceremony and made me legit feel super empowered that I could make an idea real.

The Prusa went from weird space technology to a reliable part of my process which disappeared in the creation process almost immediately (which, for me, was the best possible outcome). I’ve read others worry/stress about printer settings, accuracy drift, configuration at every print, etc. The Prusa is basically set and forget or recalibrate (takes ~20 minutes) if I haven’t printed anything in the last week or two. If you value something “just working” save a bit more and get the Prusa (~1200 USD all in for me to import to the USA with shipping, filament and import taxes). Lead time is something like 6 weeks as it comes from the Czech Republic.

An unexpected skill I acquired was: getting semi-decent at 3d modelling and CAD (for me, Fusion360 hobby edition).

I’m working on a guitar build right now (8 string fan fret using non-organic materials carbon fiber and Richlite) and I used the 3d printer to create a fan fret evertune bridge. For those not into these sorts of things, it allowed me to create a very desirable guitar based on two (mutually exclusive) desirable technologies (fan frets and evertune bridges) which doesn’t exist as the part maker (Evertune Bridges) won’t make a fan-fret compatible part.

If you have any more questions, hit me up! Happy to help.

@Bumperdoo and @NewMountain Thanks for the suggestion on the Prusa mk3, it’s a little over budget, might go for the DIY kit, but from what I can see it’s a pretty good one, reviews seem to be good.
Some of the critical reviews on the site say there may be some issues with the material quality, one mentioning the usage of 3D printed structural pieces. The vast majority of reviews are very positive so user error during assembly may be the cause.
Since you have one @NewMountain , have you had any issues with yours or know of things to look out for with it?

We’ve been printing those types of pieces for years with excellent results on our unit. Buy with confidence.

If you have a local hacker/maker space maybe you should rather go to one of those and use their 3D printer. It is one thing if you are going to use your 3D printer a lot but you have never used one, assumed from the title, so it’s not clear if you will use it enough to get your money’s worth. As a bonus if you go to your local hacker/maker space you can meet cool people and get help with your printing if you need it.

Get a Prusa

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Hi @stenstorp .

I just finished designing and printing some Macbook fan mounts today as it was running lava hot. I love my Mk3. I use it all the time and have only good things to say about it.

I got mine pre-assembled, but in terms of the 3d printed parts, they are visibly 3d printed (you’ll notice 3d prints have a visible “layering” artifact), but both the printer and all the parts have worked flawlessly.

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I know that everyone will recommend a Prusa, they’re good 3D printers. If you want something a little more budget friendly, then consider the Creality Ender 3 v2 (not the v1 – it’s poor). I got the Ender 3 v2 as my first 3D printer and I have not been disappointed. it’s provided me with consistent prints with little fuss.

Prusa is certainly a good choice, mostly because they are the best of all worlds. They have a very nice product with all the bells and whistles you expect from a decent printer (E3D hotend, TMC silent stepper drivers with fault detection, auto bed leveling, removable flexible build plates which work with most materials, filament runout sensor etc.) at a decent price; thank low wages in the Czech Republic for that.

Also the founder Prusa was big in the early open source hobby printing space and this has carried into the company philosophy. All their hardware and firmware (also maybe their software, I’m not sure) is open source. You can modfiy the printer as you like, although this voids the warranty, just like a home built kit.

Another benefit of Prusa is that they are well vertically developed. They have their own slicer as well as materials, so there is no need to dig into slicer settings at the start which can be a bit overwhelming and frustrating, looking up guides on print settings and how to troubleshoot problems etc. This is the main benefit of Prusa, because they do most of the heavy lifting in their well made machine and preset printing profiles so you can get going straight away.

My first printer was an Anet A6 which I bought for £160 in 2017 as a poor student. It was pretty bad (I had to use gaffa tape to hold a faulty part together while I immediately designed and printed a spare part on it lol). The super cheap machines are deathtraps, live mains exposed wires and many stories of peoples house burning down. I spent way more money and time upgrading the electronics and extruder than it was worth, except the learning experience of essentially building my own machine up by gradually replacing all the parts, which is a genuine approach if you want to go in deep as a hobby or you have more time than money.

I am currently studying a masters degree in advanced materials and additive manufacturing (thanks in part to my hobby printing) and industrial additive manufacturing is a completely different ball game to the hobby space. There is more diversity and complexity in industrial machines e.g. Selective Laser Melting or Binder Jetting and sintering for producing metal parts, whereas hobby is pretty much limited to plastics and mostly FDM machines. All the cutting edge developments in hobby FDM printers are coming from the hobby space.

When I built my machine, print speeds of around 60mm/s were common. Now people are building custom core-XY machines which can go at 1000+mm/s, although this is in the ‘speed-printing’ domain, which picked up a lot since lockdowns because people didn’t have anything better to do. Thing is, having the best cutting edge machine is not at all necessary, just good enough and with the ease of use and quality to make what you want.

I got a Prusa Mini+ recently as a prize from a 3D printing design competition, and I must say compared to my custom machine, the ease of use and quality with basically no effort is a breath of fresh air. I recommend the Prusa Mini+ if you are on a budget since that is much cheaper than the MK3, but has most of the features. It is a bit smaller at 180x180x180mm vs 210x210x250mm for the MK3. I rarely max out my printer volume personally but it is a consideration. I have heard some people having issues with the mini, such as layer banding or clogging, doesn’t seem to happen with many machines and I have had no issues with mine so far.

There are many other Chinese printer manufacturers like Creality, Anycubic, Artillery and Elegoo who make lower cost I3 printers but without all the bells and whistles and open source but are generally decent machines with large communities for support. I haven’t been keeping tabs on the industry so I don’t know which exact models to recommend, hence why I default to Prusa which you can never fail with.

The Prusa Mini has a few limitations like being a bowden system so it can’t print flexibles too well (you could modify it to make it direct drive), and print volume. But as a first printer it’s hard to fault. If you find you enjoy 3D printing then save up for a Mk3 (or a bigger one to print the big stuff you were mentioning).


That is a nice stand and all, just got to ask: Are you sure one small fan (or two) directed at the hot spots weren’t enough?

@MazeFrame Legit question. Two real reasons:

  1. The Noctua 200mms were the only fans sitting in a drawer and unused in other projects.
  2. They are very quiet and low pitched. The exact opposite of the macbooks loud and whiny fans.
  3. Bonus: with two fans, they were wide enough to cover both of the side intakes. In all likelihood this make little, if any, difference but it makes me feel like I’m doing as much as I can.

I have a lot of conference calls and do audio work, so I have zero tolerance for apple fan whine. While 2 Noctuas is totally excessive, I also haven’t heard the MBP fans since I set this up :).


Did not think about the frequency of the noise produced. Makes sense though.

I have a 80mm fan strapped to my audio setup and am running that fan at 8-ish volts making it inaudible. Then again, all analog components, none of that digital rubbish :wink:

I pulled the trigger on the Prusa mk3 DIY kit. Now we wait :slight_smile:


Fully assembled and up and running, printing Benchy!


Nice! :confetti_ball:

Also, dang you got that quickly! Mine took 8 weeks to show up.

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Noice. Now enjoy wasting time printing knicknacks from Thingiverse.

Which kind of printer you are looking for? Education related or medical?

I’m a new to 3D printer, I have a Anycubic Photon S. It is said that this is a printer suitable for beginners.