3D Printing: First Purchase Recommendations

When I set out to buy a 3D printer, the internet told me to buy the Creality Ender 3. Some (wrong) people of the internet told me to buy 30 “must have” accessories.

I’ve stuck with the basics for the most part, and this page contains my opinion about what’s actually necessary (not much) to start 3D printing useful things with great consistency and great results.

Is It Capable?

Here are just a tiny fraction of the things I’ve printed with this setup.

How I Decided on the Ender 3

First I went to Amazon and found the Qidi X one 2, which looked like a great printer for the price. Then I asked 3D printing online communities about that…and they steered me away from it. The most common recommendation (by far) was the Creality Ender 3.


You have to put it together


If this website is any bit relevant to you, you probably know how to handle complex tasks like screwing, measuring, leveling, and pushing buttons.

Budget: $300 (ish)

That will buy everything you need to print lots and lots of things. I recommend you buy these things initially, and nothing else until you know how often you’ll be printing.

Here’s what I use and recommend:

Don’t use the glass bed or hair spray until after you’ve used the stock setup for a while.

Later Luxuries: $50 (ish)

For convenience, the following will allow you to print wirelessly and monitor remotely via a live camera stream:

  • Raspberry Pi [Amazon] (no need for a case…you can print one)
  • PlayStation Eye USB Camera [Amazon]

Install OctoPrint (it’s free) on the Raspberry Pi, and the PlayStation Eye will be automatically recognized.

How Long Does a Roll of Filament Last?

A common concern is that filament will be expensive. But from my experience, filament lasts far longer than I expected. For a visual, check out the picture below:

In the above picture, I printed all of these items from that spool of filament up top. Only a tiny amount is gone so far.

Your slicer application will estimate the amount of filament that will be used for your print. This has helped me calculate how much a print will cost.