Best 3D printer or kit under $400

Awesome write up Frank,
I love seeing this level of description in a thread, we need to award some carma credits for this. :smile:

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My personal favorite is the Azteeg X3 but I hesitate to recommend it given the questionable ethics of the company:

Another great choice is the SmoothieBoard:

The latest version of the PrintrBoard is OK. It has some issues but it is defiantly better than RAMPS 1.4.


Although I’m not considering building a 3D printer soon, I am considering building one next year. I find this level of detail very informative and useful. Frank, if you’re ever interested in teaching a 3d printer construction class, I’m in. Thanks for putting this information together for those of us new to the 3d printer construction world.

If you have time @frank_lima I would love to have you teach a Reprap class.

I second the Azteeg boards, they also have the x5 which uses the smoothieboard firmware.

There are also the Rumba board but I think that probably has the same issues as the Ramps.

I haven’t heard about this, what did Panucatt do?

They claim to be open source (C SA 3.0) but as far as tell the source is not available anywhere.

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Yeah I’ve wondered about that. You should contact them and have them clarify their license status. I wouldn’t mind them being closed-source if they make a good product, they should at least clarify that they are closed-source.

I buy a ton of stuff from Banggood.
Controller boards
hot ends/extruders/printheads:
they also sell kits

also some cheap popular style kits from Geeetech…

$308 On Sale for the next 48hrs, Only 10 left, FREE SHIPPING

For that price that Geeetech is hard to beat. I use that same extruder and I have never had it clog. I have only used low priced PLA & flexible (Inland, Foxsmart, some completely generic I got from a guy on craigslist for $8 a roll :slight_smile: )

ABS really needs an enclosed print bed. I dont see why the Printerbot extruder would be much of an upgrade. Its the same spring loaded lever type of design.

My 2 cents are… maybe worth $0.02


After checking out that laser cut Mendel 90… I just had to make one.

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I’d recommend an auto-leveling firmware and sensor. Wood shifts a bit and you don’t want to spend your time leveling your bed every time the temp or humidity moves around.

In hindsight, and having done no research, I wonder if sealing the wood might not be a good idea. My wooded I3 isn’t sealed.

Omg yes!

The Graber I have now is also wood and manually leveling it is a pain.

I ordered an aluminum bed so I can use a sensor on this one.

I like the duet. Arm based. Polarized conectors. Built in ethernet and web ui. $50. Supports one extruder. Has left over pins for expansion.

Ill be doing a class on building a rostock max 2 delta from scratch sometime after christmas using this duet board.

I print abs on an unenclosed kossel. Albeit not tall parts but it is not strictly required. But there are other plastics that dont need a heated bed or enclosure. Biome3d has nice filament in this range.

Hey @frank_lima,

I’m looking at those same 3 controller boards and am currently leaning towards the Printrboard since I’m building my first printer and it is a bit cheaper than the other two.
You mentioned that you thought it has some issues, could you let me know what your experience has been? Are the issues enough that I should pay the extra for a smoothieboard or Azteeg?


My experience with Printrboards has been mostly good. It lacks protection circuits but it mitigates this with better documentation and unidirectional connectors. I really love my Azteeg X3 but it is quite expensive.


ps. Make sure you get the latest revision from a reputable source (ie. has a good return policy)

My printrbot simple metal with heated bed was $713 delivered to my door. I love it and don’t regret it at all. It was a kit, a friend of mine and I built it in a casual evening drinking some beers and after getting it calibrated it works really good. A little AquaNet on the bed before I print and bob’s your uncle. I just wanted to print some things, not become a 3d printer mechanic and it fits the bill well. I would buy it again without hesitation and I am VERY FRUGAL when it comes to buying stuff…

Thanks Frank! The best documentation I’ve seen so far on the Printrboard is on the reprap wiki:

Do you know of any other locations for good documentation?

I’m currently trying to pick a good wire gauge for a heated bed and I also want to make sure that the Printrboard’s header for the heated bed can handle the current.

Do you have any insight on wiring up the heated bed?

Sorry for taking to long to reply. I just now saw your post.

As far as PrintrBoard documentation this is a good source as well:

This video is the best resource for heated bed info that I know of:

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