So a ton of folks have asked me “Yasu, what printer do you recommend for me to get started with?” And I do have to commiserate with really anyone getting started in 3d printing as there are so many choices and it’s incredibly easy to get a very bad first impression of 3d printing by buying the wrong printer.

So to remedy this and help all my friends in cosplay who have been seeing the amazing stuff being 3d printed in the last 2 years I’m creating this starter buying guide on what are good first printers to buy depending on your budget and needs are.

Under $200 – Monoprice Maker Select Mini

Generally speaking, spending less than 300 for a 3d printer means you’ll be making sacrifices in either reliability, print quality, or print volume–which is generally why I try to advise saving an extra few hundred to splash out on better higher budget printers.

However, the Monoprice Maker Select Mini offers quite possibly the best price without making too many hard sacrifices. Here’s what you need to know:

100 micron print quality, a well tuned machine can get amazing print quality. at 100 microns the print lines are very hard to see and can easily be filled over with 1-2 coats of filler primer.

As you get into 3d printing you’ll often find that one of the biggest challenges and pain point to printing is getting parts to stick to the bed. The Mini comes equipped with a heated bed–something that will go a long way to helping get more successful prints.

Unlike many other printers with retro 8 bit status screens or no screens at all the Maker Mini comes with an easy to use and navigate color LCD screen. Which as a beginner is more handy than you might expect.

A commonly overlooked thing is the design and frame itself is critical to getting good quality and precise prints. The slightest wobble or vibration in the frame can ruin that. This usually rules out Acrylic or Wood frames both of which are used in budget printer designs. The MP Mini in contrast is all metal designed made with a mix of sturdy aluminum and steel extrusions.

While the print volume is relatively small at 120mm x 120mm, the mini can handle printing most props that have been broken into individual parts with ease and precision.

While I’d still recommend getting one of the other higher budget printers, you can still get into the game for less than $200 with the MP Mini.

Under $500 – Monoprice Maker Select or Monoprice Maker Select Plus

The Monoprice maker select best proves itself as a 3D printer that printed an entire set of  T- 60 armor from Fallout 4.  it’s an impressive feat considering that this printer can be had for less than  $400 and is my go to recommendation for any Cosplayer looking for  their first 3D printer.

As a starting point the monoprice maker select has a decent-sized  print volume that measures 200 millimeters by 200 millimeters by 170 millimeters, which is enough to tackle most prop and armor builds with a relatively minimal number of separate parts.  all of which is on a heated bed, which makes the process keeping print stuck to the build plate much easier and expands the number of different filaments you can print with.

The hot end is capable of reaching temperatures as high as 260 degrees Celsius which is hot enough to handle a wide range of filaments including pla, abs,  petg, flexible filaments, woodfill, and carbon fiber PLA and abs. This variety is incredibly helpful as a prop maker as a allows you the flexibility to get a wide range of different part  strengths and  textures but you might need to replicate a specific prop.  

compared to the MP Mini, the sturdy all metal T- style frame allows  the maker select print roughly  30 or 40% faster . which can make a substantial difference over the long run when doing larger builds such as the t60 armor.

One particular feature I personally like about the Monoprice maker select is that it is a very well-known and popular design, which means much smarter people than myself have created a variety of different modifications that take and already good printer and turn it into an exceptional one. these modifications are often as easy as printing them and then  screwing them on.  so there is very little risk but plenty of upside to adding these modifications to your Monoprice maker select.

Monoprice, recently launched the Monoprice maker Select Plus which incorporates a large number of these modifications into the design add an additional cost of $100 more than the select. the Select Plus also boasts  over little Nifty features like a full color touchscreen, automatic filament loading and unloading, and more  features that give you more control over your prints.

In general is very hard to go wrong with the Monoprice maker select at less than $400.