The ins and outs of Cheap 3D printers – Monoprice Select Mini and Ender 3

After purchasing an expensive school printer and getting frustrated with it, we decided to go another way – we bought several of the cheapest but most reliable printers out there! For less than $1500, we have 7 3D printers and they can crank out the projects! The two printers were Monoprice Select Mini V2 and Ender 3.


Monoprice Select Mini: The Good

The Price

The price is the real hero. We could buy four 3D printers and 8 kilograms of filament for just over $800. Thus, we have four color options for students to use. When one needs repair, we still have 75% of our print capacity.

The Print Quality

The print quality of each print is good enough for student projects. We are not very picky in middle school.

Easy to use

These printers are so much easier to use than our old MakerBot. I have the printers print directly from a .gcode file so very little to get wrong To do this, I had to learn how to use Cura. After we have Cura set up, we can print projects with very little work.

The Monorprice Select Mini 3D printer has an LCD touchscreen to print files, preheat the machine, or move the parts. The bed has a built-in heater that helps the prints adhere and keep from warping. Over the course of a year, these printers have put out hundreds of small student projects!

Monoprice Select Mini: The Bad

The largest size that the Monoprice Select Mini will print is a 4.7″ cube. Occasionally I can print three or four student projects at the same time. Given the price, this point is a wash.

All four of the printers needed the same repairs.

The first repair was to replace the bowden connector at the top of the machine.

It was simple to fix this. First, Monoprice sent the replacement parts. Then I removed the filament, took out two screws, and replaced the part. In the future, I will be upgrading the parts.

The second problem was more difficult to fix. The wires to the heated bed are zip tied to the bottom of the moving bed. Over time, the wires bend and break at this point.

Here is a post about soldering new wires in place. If soldiering new wires in your machine is a dealbreaker, save yourself the frustration and expect to pay more.

Should you buy Monoprice Select Mini V2 for your space?

Yes! They are simple to use, easy enough to fix, and put out a lot of projects for cheap. As long as you are willing to fix the bed wiring, it is a great deal. I plan on buying a few more this coming school year and offering more color options to kids.

If you have specific questions, please use social media to connect!

Ender 3s:

The good:

  • Much larger bed
  • Stock machines seem to work OK.
  • The price: $200

The bad:

  • Spent more with some upgraded springs, 3D printed fan cover
  • Took a lot longer to assemble, configure
  • Needs leveling more often

Overall, the monoprice have been workhorses for me and rarely need anything. The ender is a larger printer but needs a little more attention and setup time. We also have larger nozzles on the enders so they can really burn through filament. 

Overall: we currently have 7 machines that cost about $1500 total. Spent hours fixing them, which was also true when we only had one makerbot. Whole classes can be designing and the printers can keep up, as long as you spend the time constantly starting the machines. 

Students are able to find a free machine when they need one, when they get older. Ender 3s are the best documented and upgradeable printer in the world so there are loads of resources out there!

I would rather spend 2k on 8 machines than 3k on one machine, every day. 

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