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, democratizing the technology.
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.
Best DIY 3D Printer Kits 2020 & Price Comparison
|3D printer kit name and brand||Build Volume (mm)||Price||Where to purchase for best price||Alternative Purchase Option|
|Tronxy X1||150 x 150 x 150||$120||Gearbest here|
|Anet A8||220 x 220 x 240||$179||Amazon here|
|Geeetech A10||220 x 220 x 260||$209||Gearbest here|
|Creality Ender 3 Pro||220 x 220 x 250||$229||Amazon here||3DJake UK & Europe here|
|Tevo Tarantula Pro||235 x 235 x 250||$249||Amazon here|
|Creality Ender 5||220 x 220 x 300||$349||Amazon here||3DJake UK & Europe here|
|Flsun QQ-S||255 x 255 x 360||$369||Amazon here|
|Tronxy X5SA Pro||330 x 330 x 400||$479||Amazon here|
|Creality CR-10 V2||300 x 300 x 400||$500||Amazon here||Gearbest here|
|Prusa i3 MK3S||250 x 210 x 210||$749 / $999||Prusa Online Store|
|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.
- Print Quality: How accurate was each 3D printer kit? What are the printers’ minimum layer thickness, resolution, and stability?
- 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.
Disclaimer: This article is editorially independent, and no DIY 3D printer kits featured here have been paid for their inclusion. We do however include purchase links in our guides, which we earn a small commission on.
1 — Tronxy X1 — Cheapest 3D printer kit around!
- Price: $120 — Best price on Gearbest here
- Build volume: 150 x 150 x 150 mm
Whereas the Tronxy X5SA is aimed at being the best 3D printer kit for $500, the X1 is aimed at those who want a 3D printer for the same price as a fancy dinner out — just $120! The X1 strips everything back to basics, you could almost call this the Raspberry Pi of the 3D printing world. You get a small build plate and a small arm with an extruder on it, and nothing more.
Not only is it cheap, but the single arm extruder and hot end design makes it far simpler to build your own 3D printer than some other designs, namely the Prusa which can take longer. It’ll take a couple of hours, but the time savings make it all worth it when you have your scrapyard chic-looking homemade 3D printer that cost just over $100!
You can’t expect the world for the price, so you’ll be limited to only PLA 3D printing as there is no heated bed. You’ll also need to level it yourself as it has no auto-leveling function, and no cooling fan, so you’ll need to improvise with a desktop fan or similar.
To use the Tronxy X1, navigate the LCD screen with the buttons, and connect via an SD card with your models on it. This DIY 3D printer is precise up to 0.1mm layer thickness, which is acceptable for all but the most intricate pieces, and for the price is a fantastic beginner 3D printer for a very low cost.
2 — Anet A8 — Best DIY 3D Printer Kit Under $200!
- Company based: China
- Price: $179 — Available on Amazon here / Best price on Gearbest here
- Print volume: 220 x 220 x 240 mm
The Anet A8 is Chinese company Anet’s version of the Prusa 3D printer kit — a Prusa kit clone for a quarter of the price. Featuring a heated bed meaning it can print ABS and PETG as well as PLA, the Anet A8 manages all this despite costing just $200.
A cartesian 3D printer kit, the Anet A8 is a consistent, reliable printer for the price. With a minimum layer size of 100 microns, the Anet A8 also fairly good quality. Additionally, with its 220 x 220 x 240 mm print volume, the Anet A8 should be able to handle any printing needs you may have.
3 — Geeetech A10
- Company based: China
- Price: $219 / £196 / 299 AUD — Available on Amazon worldwide here / Amazon Australia link here
- Build volume: 220 x 220 x 260 mm
With the Geeetech A10 you basically get the best of both worlds. On one side, you have the small, simple, and quietly effective printer (like the Tronxy X1); on the other, the huge, loud, and complicated but brilliant giant printer (like the Creality CR10 Max). The Geeetech A10 finds a happy medium. It’s accurate (up to 100 microns), quick to set up (even novices could build this 3D printer kit in an hour), and versatile.
The 220 x 220 x 260 mm build volume is more than enough for all but the most ambitious prints, and the Geeetech A10 can print a wide variety of 3D printer filaments. These include not just the standard ABS or PLA, but PVA, HIPS, PETG, wood-filled filaments, and more.
There are a number of really impressive aspects to this kit printer, especially considering it’s only $219. It has a number of features usually reserved for far more expensive types of printer, like remote printing via a 3D printing app, filament detectors so the printer kit is aware when filament runs out, as well as the ability to resume from where the printer failed due to the filament running out.
4 — Creality Ender 3 Pro
- Company based: China
- Price: $229 to $269 — Available on Amazon here / Available on Gearbest here / 3DJake UK & Europe here
- Print volume: 220 x 220 x 250 mm
Creality 3D are becoming increasingly known for making the best 3D printer kits around, and as a result have two printers in our ranking. The first is the Ender 3, an upgrade on the very successful Ender 2, boasting a larger print area (the Ender 2 has 150 x 150 x 200 mm) and general performance increases.
Despite these improvements, the Ender 3 is still a very inexpensive kit. You can pick one up for just over $200, and it only takes around an hour to assemble. It’s super simple to connect to your PC to print — simply transfer your 3D printer models over by USB or SD card and you’re ready to go.
Most of all though, we have to give this tremendous kit points for achieving this level of functionality at such as low price. There are better quality 3D printer kits, but they are almost always significantly more expensive, so if you want a beginner 3D printer or just want to get in on the DIY 3D printer action for cheap, the Ender 3 is a fantastic choice.
5 — Tevo Tarantula Pro
- Company based: China
- Price: $249 / £250 — Available on Amazon worldwide here
- Build volume: 235 x 235 x 250 mm
Similar to the Tronxy X5SA Pro, the Tevo Tarantula Pro is another example of a DIY 3D printer being much improved in a future iteration. Like the X5SA Pro, some had issues with the original Tarantula’s stability and whether it was structurally sound enough — but the Tarantula Pro fixes these issues.
In terms of specs, its got a layer resolution of between 0.05 and 0.35 mm (very good maximum resolution), and a large build volume at 235 x 235 x 250 mm. Moreover, it can print HIPS, PVA and other 3D printer filaments as well as PLA, giving you more options for your 3D printed models. It’s a great printer kit and also costs a lot less than some others — namely the Creality CR10 and Tronxy X5SA Pro.
6 — Creality Ender 5 — The Best DIY 3D printer under $500
- Price: $349 — Available on Amazon here / Available on Gearbest here / 3DJake UK & Europe here
- Print volume: 220 x 220 x 300 mm
Another Creality kit, the Ender 5, makes it on to our best DIY printer ranking! This is unsurprising; Creality 3D printers have been highly regarded for years now, having had massive success with the CR-10, Ender 3, and now the Ender 5. The Ender 5 is $100 more expensive, but boasts a number of improvements which make the extra money seem worth it.
Firstly, it can print taller prints than the Ender 3 — 300 mm high rather than 250 — so that’s 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.
7 — 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.
8 — Tronxy X5SA Pro
- Company based: China
- Price: $479 — 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 aluminium 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 large size — so those with ideas for big prints 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!
9 — Creality CR-10 V2
- Company based: China
- Price: $520 — Available on Amazon here / 3DJake UK & Europe here
- Print volume: 300 x 300 x 400 mm
The Creality CR-10 has a passionate group of supporters which hail it as the best DIY 3D printer kit in its price range. Manufactured by Creality, a Chinese manufacturer, the CR-10 is a fantastic DIY 3D printer kit which can be build within 45 minutes.
- For a larger version, the Creality CR10 MAX has 450 x 450 x 470 mm maximum build volume, and costs $1,100. You can buy it here / or on 3DJake UK & Europe here
- For a smaller version, the CR10 Mini costs around $305 — 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.
10 — Prusa i3 MK3S
- Company based: Czechia
- Price: $749 as a kit, $999 assembled on the Prusa store — Prusa remakes available on Amazon for around $300 to $400 here
- Build volume: 250 x 210 x 210 mm
The Prusa i3 is known objectively 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, whilst weighing just 6.35kg!
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.
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.
- With a Multi Material Upgrade kit, it can also print multiple colors. We explain more in our color 3D printer buyer’s guide.
11 – 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 a hugely interesting feat of engineering. It’s huge, offers incredible accurate 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.