Best Ender 3 Alternatives for 3D Printing


The Ender 3 is a staple 3D printer, but people wonder what the best Ender 3 alternatives are for 3D printing. This article will get into a list of great Ender 3 alternatives you can get yourself today.

The best Ender 3 alternatives for 3D printing are:

Let’s go through these 3D printers to get an idea of how they are,

Anycubic Kobra

Like the Ender 3, the Anycubic Kobra (Amazon) is a medium-sized, budget-friendly FDM printer aimed at beginners. However, unlike the Ender 3, the Anycubic Kobra comes bundled with modern upgrades that make 3D printing even easier.

Let’s take a look at some of its features

Features of the Anycubic Kobra

  • Automatic Bed Leveling
  • Flexible, Magnetic PEI coated Print Bed
  • Direct Drive Extruder
  • 3-inch Color LCD touchscreen
  • Silent Trinamic Stepper Drivers
  • Ultra-Portable Lightweight frame
  • Sensorless X and Y-axis Homing
  • X, Y-axis Belt Tensioners
  • Print Resume after Power Cuts.

Specifications of the Anycubic Kobra

  • Build Volume: 222 x 222 x 252mm
  • Maximum Printing Speed: 180mm/s
  • Layer Height/Print Resolution: 0.1mm
  • Maximum Extruder Temperature: 260°C
  • Maximum Bed Temperature: 110°C
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75mm
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm
  • Extruder: Single
  • Connectivity: MicroSD Card, USB.
  • Bed Levelling: Automatic bed leveling
  • Build Area: Open
  • Compatible Printing Materials: PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG

Like the Ender 3, the Anycubic Kobra is a kit printer, which means it comes with some assembly required. However, the Kobra is much easier to assemble since most of its complex parts, like the X and Z gantries, come pre-assembled.

Part of the reasons behind the Kobra’s budget price is the materials used in its build. You can find plastic mixed in with the traditional aluminum in components like the extruder and the frame.

However, this doesn’t seem to affect print quality, as it still manages to pump out pretty decent prints.

Speaking of the printing, the Kobra has a pretty decent setup. It pairs a direct drive extruder with a hotend capable of reaching temperatures of 260C.

As such, you’ll be able to print filaments like PETG and TPU with ease. To make printing easier, the Kobra has an automatic bed leveling sensor to help with every hobbyist’s greatest headache, bed leveling.

This also helps with sensorless homing, preventing the need for limit switches.

The bed is a heated bed made of a PEI-coated metal plate. With this, you can easily flex your prints off the bed’s surface when you’re done printing. It also gives the prints a nice, textured bottom.

On the software side, the Kobra has a touchscreen preloaded with a simple, intuitive UI. It also comes with MicroSD and USB slots for adding new prints to the printer.

Pros

  • Offers automatic bed leveling
  • The PEI print bed produces easy-to-remove prints with a nice, textured bottom finish.
  • Easy to assemble
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons

  • Plastic parts can feel a bit cheap
  • Doesn’t have a filament runout sensor
  • There is only one Z-axis motor

The Anycubic Kobra is one of the best starter kit printers for under $300. It’s easy to assemble, and operate.

This is a machine that will get you nice quality prints with no fuss. You can get yourself the Anycubic Kobra from Amazon today. For an Anycubic machine at a more comparable price, you can check out the Anycubic Mega S on Amazon as well.

Elegoo Neptune 2S

At first glance, the Elegoo Neptune 2S (Amazon) seems like just another Ender 3 clone (it actually is). However, it packs in just enough new features to separate it from the OG while still being competitive in the budget range.

Features of the Elegoo Neptune 2S

  • Quick Heating 250W Print Bed
  • PEI Spring Steel Magnetic Bed
  • Metal Dual-Geared Bowden Extruder
  • 5-inch Color LCD touchscreen
  • 32-bit Mainboard with TMC Silent Stepper Drivers
  • Filament Runout Sensor
  • Print Resume after Power Cut Function

Specifications of the Elegoo 2S

  • Build Volume: 220 x 220 x 250mm
  • Maximum Printing Speed: 180mm/s
  • Layer Height/Print Resolution: ±0.1mm
  • Maximum Extruder Temperature: 260°C
  • Maximum Bed Temperature: 100°C
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75mm
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm
  • Extruder: Single
  • Connectivity: MicroSD Card, USB.
  • Bed Levelling: Manual
  • Build Area: Open
  • Compatible Printing Materials: PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG

The Elegoo Neptune 2S comes semi-assembled, so you’ll have to take about an hour to assemble it and get it running. The good news is that it isn’t more challenging to assemble than say the Ender 3, thanks to its wider extrusions.

The print quality from the Neptune 2S right out of the box is quite good. The dual-geared metal extruder makes it easier to print various materials without clogging.

Elegoo claims they upgraded their PTFE tube to a stronger, blue variant. However, from user reviews, the new PTFE tube doesn’t seem to hold up like the Capricorn PTFE tube.

The PEI build plate makes removing prints from the quick-heating print bed after printing easy. You usually don’t need to flex the bed. The prints just pop off the plate after cooling.

Under the hood, the Neptune 2S has a 32-bit mainboard and silent stepper drivers for better performance. It also has a print resume function that helps continue printing from where the printer stopped after power cuts.

The Elegoo Neptune 2S doesn’t have automatic bed leveling, which can be disappointing for some. However, they’ve made manual leveling as easy as possible with the new, wider bed knobs.

It has a 3.5-inch touchscreen with options for preheating the bed, homing, leveling, filament change, etc. This makes using the printer without G-Code a whole lot easier

Pros

  • Feature-packed touchscreen
  • Filament runout sensor helps avoid print failures
  • Print quality is quite good

Cons

  • Can be a bit hard to assemble for beginners
  • No automatic bed leveling
  • Stock PTFE tube can fail quicker with higher temperature materials

There is no question about the performance of this printer. Once you get past the assembly hassles, it works like a charm and delivers good prints consistently.

However, you might have to replace the PTFE tube with a stronger brand like Capricorn PTFE Tubing for the best experience.

Check out the Elegoo Neptune 2S from Amazon for a great Ender 3 alternative.

Original Prusa Mini+

Best 3D Printers Under $500 - Original Prusa Mini - 3D Printerly

The Original Prusa Mini+ (Prusa website) is a compact, little FDM machine from the famous 3D printer manufacturer Prusa. Although its design is a bit strange, the Mini’s performance quickly puts any questions to rest.

The Prusa Mini delivers superb print quality that puts it solidly at the top of the budget market. Some of its features include:

Features of the Prusa Mini

  • Compact, Minimalist Design
  • Removable, Flexible, Magnetic PEI coated Print Bed
  • SuperPINDA Automatic Mesh Bed Leveling System
  • 8 inches 65000-color LCD
  • G-Code Preview Available On the LCD screen.
  • LAN Port Available
  • Sensorless Homing
  • 32-bit “Buddy” Motherboard with Silent Trinamic Stepper Drivers
  • 3:1 Geared Bowden Extruder

Specifications of the Prusa Mini

  • Build Volume: 180 x 180 x 180mm
  • Maximum Printing Speed: 200mm/s
  • Layer Height/Print Resolution: 0.1mm
  • Maximum Extruder Temperature: 280°C
  • Maximum Bed Temperature: 100°C
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75mm
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm
  • Extruder: Single
  • Connectivity: USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi (Optional)
  • Bed Levelling: Automatic bed leveling
  • Build Area: Open
  • Compatible Printing Materials: PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG, ASA

The Prusa Mini takes a different design direction from other popular printers. Instead of the usual Cartesian build, the printer has a cantilevered design with the X gantry sliding up and down on only one Z upright.

This design, coupled with its modest 180 x 180 x180mm build space, gives the Mini a clean, compact, portable look.

The Prusa Mini delivers top-notch print quality consistently, thanks to its geared 3:1 ratio extruder. Prusa says this extruder and its hotend can handle materials ranging from PLA to TPU.

The automatic bed leveling system is another key to the Mini’s consistent print quality. The SuperPINDA probe maps out the bed to create a virtual mesh for printing before any print.

For user interaction, the Mini has a 2.8-inch full-color screen, which is one of the printer’s best parts. It is intuitive and has several useful features, like the Once-Click print, which displays a preview of the model before printing.

Also, in addition to the standard USB port, the Mini has a LAN port. This makes it easy to connect it and several other printers over a network in places like a school or print farm.

You can also extend its connectivity options with a Wi-Fi upgrade.

Lastly, the one thing you’re going to benefit from is the large user community. Prusa builds top-notch printers, which have attracted a large online following with extensive documentation of common issues.

So, no matter the problems you might be having, you can be sure to get help right away.

Pros

  • Compact, sleek design takes up minimal space.
  • Plenty of useful features on the LCD.
  • Excellent print quality
  • Automatic bed leveling is a great time saver

Cons

  • Small build volume
  • You have to buy the filament runout sensor separately
  • Doesn’t have a handle for easy carrying

The Prusa Mini is not as big (or cheap) as some of its peers in the budget range. However, the quality it provides is unmatched.

If you’re looking for a printer that provides great print quality consistently over a wide range of materials, the Mini is a great option. Get yourself the Original Prusa Mini+ from the official website.

Ender 3 S1

The Ender 3 S1 (Amazon) is a sleek-looking, space-age version of the base Ender 3. It comes with several design changes, giving it a high-class, premium look compared to previous generations.

However, the changes in the Ender 3 S1 aren’t just cosmetic. It also comes with various cutting-edge features that give it a significant performance bump.

Features of the Ender 3 S1

  • Dual Geared Sprite Direct Drive Extruder
  • CR Touch Automatic Bed Leveling
  • Dual Lead Screws for Greater stability
  • X and Y-axis Belt Tensioner Knobs
  • Built-In Storage Space
  • 3-inch LCD screen
  • Filament Runout Sensor
  • Print Resume After Power Cut
  • USB-C Input Port
  • 32-bit Silent Mainboard

Specifications of the Ender 3 S1

  • Build Volume: 220 x 220 x 270mm
  • Maximum Printing Speed: 150mm/s
  • Layer Height/Print Resolution: 0.1mm
  • Maximum Extruder Temperature: 260°C
  • Maximum Bed Temperature: 100°C
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75mm
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm
  • Extruder: Single
  • Connectivity: USB Type C, SD Card
  • Bed Levelling: Automatic bed leveling
  • Build Area: Open
  • Compatible Printing Materials: PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG, ASA

The Ender 3 series has been a superb budget printer over the years, but nobody would ever call them a premium brand. The Ender 3 S1 changes that narrative with the new upgrades it brings.

Right out of the box, the Ender 3 S1 comes 96% assembled, which makes it easier for new users to put it together in a very short time. The redesigned base has a sleek new look with a built-in drawer for storing tools.

A significant improvement to the frame is the wire management. All cables are properly covered and hidden to give the printer a cleaner look.

The new Sprite extruder is perhaps the most important upgrade on the Ender 3 S1. It’s a double-geared direct drive extruder, which lets it print flexible filaments with ease.

The extruder platform is also reconfigurable, meaning you can mount a new print head, like a laser engraver, on it. This expands the S1’s capability transforming it into more than a 3D printer.

The print quality from the Ender 3 S1 is quite good, even without too much tinkering. However, some users feel an all-metal hotend would’ve been a better addition than the stock PTFE-lined hotend.

Contributing to exceptional print quality is the dual Z-axis. These two motor-driven lead screws help keep the X-gantry stable, to avoid print defects like layer shifts and sagging.

The Ender 3 S1 also comes with Ender’s proprietary automatic bed leveling system, the CR-Touch. It eliminates the age-old leveling problems commonly found in Ender 3 printers.

The CR-Touch measures the distance from the nozzle to the build plate at different sections. It then uses these measurements to adjust the height of the nozzle accordingly.

Pros

  • Easy to assemble
  • Great print quality
  • Reconfigurable extruder platform
  • Dual Z-axis leadscrew provide better stability
  • CR-Touch automatic bed leveling
  • Silent operation

Cons

  • No all-metal hotend
  • Poor fan placement

The Ender 3 S1 is a big step up from the previous Ender 3 generations. It is easier to assemble, use, and its print quality is just fantastic.

If you’re an Ender 3 fan and want to upgrade while staying in the family, this might be the right printer for you.

Check out the upgraded Creality Ender 3 S1 on Amazon today.

Voxelab Aquila S2

The Voxelab Aquila S2 (Amazon) is another budget competitor in the Ender 3 clone wars. Where it sets itself apart from the rest is its high-temperature performance.

The S2 sports an all-metal hotend that lets it print at temperatures reaching 300°C, which opens up a whole world of materials to it. Let’s see what else it has.

Features of the Voxelab Aquila S2

  • All Metal Hotend Capable of Reaching 300°C
  • Powder Coated PEI Removable Bed
  • Direct Drive Extruder
  • Silent N32 Mainboard with Trinamic Stepper Drivers
  • 3-inch LCD with Dial
  • X and Y-axis tensioner knobs

Specifications of the Voxelab Aquila S2

  • Build Volume: 220 x 220 x 240mm
  • Maximum Printing Speed: 180mm/s
  • Layer Height/Print Resolution: 0.2mm
  • Maximum Extruder Temperature: 300°C
  • Maximum Bed Temperature: 100°C
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75mm
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm
  • Extruder: Single
  • Connectivity: USB, TF card
  • Bed Levelling: Manual
  • Build Area: Open
  • Compatible Printing Materials: PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon

The Aquila S2 is a kit printer, so it requires some assembly to get it up and running. Assembling it can be challenging for first-timers because the instructions can be somewhat hard to follow.

There is no automatic bed leveling on the Aquila S2. Similar to an Ender 3, the bed comes with bed spring wheels under it for manual leveling and making adjustments.

ON top of the bed, we have a magnetic PEI spring steel bed for printing. The flexible bed makes it easier to pop prints off the bed once they’re done printing.

The real star of the show on the Aquila S2 is the high-powered hotend capable of reaching temperatures of 300°C. With this, you can print materials like ABS, Carbon fiber easily.

Also, the S2 has a direct drive extruder, making it easier to print flexible materials like TPU. When combined with the hotend, the S2 can deliver high-quality prints with a wide range of materials.

Under the hood, we have a novel 32-bit N32 mainboard that offers print recovery and silent printing. It also has two standard USB and microSD ports for sending models to the printer.

Rounding up the features is a 4.3-inch full-color LCD controlled by a dial. Although it isn’t a touchscreen, it is still relatively easy to use.

Pros

  • Can print at temperatures of up to 300°C
  • Good quality prints
  • Direct drive extruder

Cons

  • No filament runout sensor
  • Cheap plastic extruder which clogs with flexible filaments
  • No automatic bed leveling
  • The fan is quite loud

If you’re looking for a budget machine to handle high-temperature filaments right out of the box, then the Aquila S2 is your best bet. However, it is lacking in some areas, like automatic bed leveling, which can be a dealbreaker for some.

Also, its performance with flexible filaments leaves little to be desired.

Check out the Voxelab Aquila S2 as an Ender 3 alternative. You can also get the original version, the Voxelab Aquila for a more comparable price.

Flashforge Adventurer 3

The Flashforge Adventurer 3 (Amazon) is one of the genuinely beginner-friendly, plug-and-play FDM printers on the market. Its simple, intuitive design makes it an easy-to-use machine capable of delivering good prints consistently.

Not only is its design functional, but it also packs several other valuable features that are quite novel for its budget price point.

Features of the Flashforge Adventurer 3

  • Compact, Minimalist, Enclosed design
  • Plug and Play Assembly
  • Removable, Flexible Build Plate
  • Integrated HD Camera and Illuminated Build Space
  • Interchangeable Nozzle Assembly
  • Cloud Printing and Print Monitoring
  • 8-inch Touchscreen LCD
  • Filament runout sensor

Specifications of the Flashforge Adventurer 3

  • Build Volume: 150 x 150 x 150mm
  • Maximum Printing Speed: 150mm/s
  • Layer Height/Print Resolution: 0.2mm
  • Maximum Extruder Temperature: 240°C
  • Maximum Bed Temperature: 100°C
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75mm
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm
  • Extruder: Single
  • Connectivity: USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Polarcloud, Flashcloud
  • Bed Levelling: Semi-automatic bed leveling
  • Build Area: Closed
  • Compatible Printing Materials: PLA, ABS

The Flashforge Adventurer 3 is a compact, sturdy printer with an enclosed build. The enclosed build is safe for underage users and prevents cold air drafts from ruining prints.

It also keeps the operations of the printer at a whisper-quiet 45dB.

The Adventurer 3 comes fully put together, so there’s no need to go through any extensive assembly process before starting it up. All you need to do is plug it in, load up your filament, and you’re ready to print.

However, the filament spool on the machine is only compatible with proprietary Flashforge spools. So, you will have to make some adjustments while using other third-party filament spools.

It does come with a filament runout sensor that alerts you when the filament is about to run out. The Adventurer 3 has a modular nozzle assembly that you can easily swap out for a spare.

The build volume is also well illuminated with LEDs. It also has a camera that lets you monitor prints through Wi-Fi.

Where the Adventurer 3 really sets itself apart from the rest is its sheer number of connectivity options. It has a standard USB port, cloud, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

You can initiate and monitor your prints over the air from just about anywhere using the Adventurer’s wireless connections.

The Adventurer 3 doesn’t have automatic bed leveling per se. However, leveling the bed is not as much of a hassle as you’d expect it to be. You can quickly level it through the touchscreen display.

The Adventurer 3’s setup is only capable of printing PLA and ABS. It consistently produces some good-quality prints without the need for much tinkering.

Pros

  • Enclosed build volume makes it quiet and safe
  • Plug and Play Operation
  • Wi-Fi and Cloud Printing Capabilities

Cons

  • Small build volume
  • It can only print ABS and PLA
  • Spool Holder is incompatible with third-party spools

The Flashforge Adventurer 3 is one that’s truly designed for beginners. If you’re an experienced hobbyist looking for something advanced to tinker with, it might not provide the functionality you want.

However, it’s a perfect choice for kids and newbies who just want to print models.

You can get yourself the Flashforge Adventurer 3 from Amazon today.

Biqu B1

The Biqu B1 (Amazon) is an entry-level 3D printer that packs some surprises into a pretty standard-looking package. It takes the standard budget Ender 3 platform and adds several innovative touches to provide a unique printing experience.

Let’s look at its features.

Features of the Biqu B1

  • Removable Spring Steel Build Plate
  • Nozzle RGB Lighting
  • 32-bit SKR v1.4 Mainboard
  • Dual Mode 3.5-inch LCD Touchscreen
  • Filament Runout Sensor
  • USB-C Extruder Connector

Specifications of the Biqu B1

  • Build Volume: 235 x 235 x 270mm
  • Maximum Printing Speed: 100mm/s
  • Layer Height/Print Resolution: 0.1mm
  • Maximum Extruder Temperature: 270°C
  • Maximum Bed Temperature: 100°C
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75mm
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4mm
  • Extruder: Single
  • Connectivity: MicroSD Card, USB.
  • Bed Levelling: Manual
  • Build Area: Open
  • Compatible Printing Materials: PLA, ABS, PETG

The Biqu B1’s design comes from the standard budget Ender 3 mold. Although it has a larger Z-axis, almost all dimensions remain the same.

The Biqu B1 is a kit printer, so you must assemble it yourself. However, its parts are well-labeled, and the installation procedure is well documented in the manual.

One of the main selling points of the Biqu B1 is its excellent design touches. For example, the cables connecting the fans, thermistor, and hotend are routed through a single USB-C cable.

This helps simplify the cable management giving the printer a clean look. The B1 also has RGB lights installed around the nozzle’s rim to illuminate the build plate while printing.

You can set these lights to any color you want through the printer’s touchscreen.

The B1 doesn’t have automatic bed leveling, so you’ll have to level your print bed manually with the bed springs. However, it does come with a BLTouch holder and port installed in case you want to spring for an upgrade.

The print bed is a PEI spring steel plate that performs just as well as anything out there. However, some users have reported that the paint on the bed flakes off after a couple of weeks.

The Biqu B1 pairs its impressive hotend with a rather disappointing non-geared Bowden drive extruder. However, you can still get some pretty decent prints from it.

The real star of the show is the touch screen on the printer. With this, you can manually do various tasks like input G-Code commands, heat the body, and move the multiple axes.

All these are powered by a 32-bit SKR mainboard that allows silent operations. It also has extra ports for those willing to tinker and add more components to the printer.

Pros

  • Spring steel bed is easy to use
  • Printer has a clean, uncluttered layout
  • RGB lighting gives the printer a unique look
  • SKR board provides additional ports with more functionality

Cons

  • Touchscreen menu can be a bit complicated for some
  • Hard to put together

The Biqu B1 brings some exciting features and performance to the table. The best way to think of this machine is as the tinkerer’s holy grail.

The B1’s design and components are geared towards encouraging people to experiment. If you can see the potential in this machine and you’re willing to shell out money for upgrades, then the B1 just be right up your alley.

You can find the Biqu B1 on Amazon for a decent price.

There you have it. These are some of the best alternatives to the Ender 3 on the market.

All of them have their various strengths and weaknesses. To choose the best machine, go through their features and find out the one that’s best tailored to your needs.

Good luck and Happy Printing!

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