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How to Get a Free 3D Printer – Serious Solutions

Picture of Jonathan Witte
by Jonathan Witte
Aug 18, 2019
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Want to get into 3D printing but not so keen on the initial costs? Check out these ways to maybe get your hands on a free 3D printer!

How to Get a Free 3D Printer Alternative Methods

Keep your eye on the prize!
Keep your eye on the prize! (Source: Kickstarter)

Getting started with your very own 3D printing station is both fun and exciting, but there’s just one problem – 3D printers aren’t free.

Of course, there are many low-cost 3D printers out there, but maybe you want to save even more or want something a little more reliable than a simple budget machine.

In that case, you came to the right place. In the following, we’ll look at a few ways that could result in you getting a free – or very cheap – 3D printer. Good luck!

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How to Get a Free 3D Printer Online Contests

MyMiniFactory contest statistics.
MyMiniFactory contest statistics. (Source: MyMiniFactory)

MyMiniFactory

MyMiniFactory, like many other 3D file catalogs, has a huge inventory of models free to download as well as premium models for purchase. But unlike sites like Thingiverse, MyMiniFactory hosts a variety of design contests, with prizes ranging from gift cards to professional 3D printers.

Each contest is held by larger creators or businesses trying to promote their product. Head on over to MyMiniFactory’s competition page to see the selection of available contests.

Instructables

Instructables started off as a platform for users to show others around the world how to make their one-of-a-kind projects. Now owned by Autodesk, the platform also holds many contests where 3D printing can be used as a part of the design process.

In past contests, specific awards have been given just for using 3D printing or CAD software designs. If you want to show the world your project and possibly get rewarded for it, check the Instructables contest page.

Pinshape

Pinshape is an online catalog that allows you to buy, sell, and download 3D models from creators around the world. In order to increase usage, contests are run to bring new ideas to the platform.

For example, the recently closed “Game Design” contest challenged users to create a video game model and then finish it off with a cool paint job or electronics. Both first and second place prizes contained 3D printers.

To see the current list of design contests, check out Pinshape’s contests.

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How to Get a Free 3D Printer Giveaways

In January we gave away a Snapmaker!
In January we gave away a Snapmaker! (Source: All3DP)

3D printing companies often look to promote their products and therefore seek out organizations or individuals with large community presence. In the end, all parties get something, including the lucky winner, who takes away a brand-new printer!

Even we at All3DP, with our far-reaching presence in the 3D printing community, occassionaly host giveaways. To benefit from these events (and similar ones elsewhere), the key is simply to keep your eyes open.

Although rare, you will sometimes see 3D printer companies directly offer giveaways. Lulzbot, for example, has been known to give printers away. That said, you’re probably better off keeping your eyes on resellers like MatterHackers or YouTube channels like RCLifeOn.

To stay ahead of the action at All3DP, you can subscribe to our newsletter.

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How to Get a Free 3D Printer Classified Ads

An M3D printer going almost for free on eBay.
An M3D printer going almost for free on eBay. (Source: ebay.com)

Gone are the days when classified ads were confined to newspapers and magazines! Sure, they’re still there, but nowadays, the trend is for people to buy, sell, and give away all sorts of items through online platforms.

If you haven’t yet discovered classified ad platforms, now’s your chance. One of the most well-known is eBay (after applying some filters), but other examples include Craigslist in the USA, Kijiji in Canada, and Shpock in Germany. (By the way, many classified ad platforms also have app versions.)

Although it may seem unintuitive, it’s not uncommon for one to find normally expensive items being given away completely for free (or very little money). Often this is because someone simply wants to get rid of something, for example because they’re making space in their home or they’re moving. This makes large items like TVs or washing machines popular finds. Why not see if you can find a 3D printer?

It’s true that most of what you’ll find will be secondhand. Nevertheless, classified ads represent a real possibility to find significant items for free, or at least very cheap.

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How to Get a Free 3D Printer YouTube or Social Media Sponsorships

The 3D Printing Nerd having difficulty with his 3D printed coin sorter.
The 3D Printing Nerd having difficulty with his 3D printed coin sorter. (Source: 3D Printing Nerd / YouTube)

If your skills are not in the CAD field, then this may be an option for you. Many people who love video editing and filming have built huge fanbases through YouTube. Channels like 3D Printing Nerd and Make Anything are very popular and often receive sponsorships from larger companies to review their printers.

If you have an opinion or ideas about 3D printing you want to share, creating YouTube videos could be your calling. Naturally, this method is not quite as straightforward as designing models for contests, but it is an option if you have a passion for filmmaking and 3D printing.

Other worthwhile platforms also exist, such as Facebook and Twitter, where people are sponsored for their accomplishments. Certain groups or organizations are often found and sponsored through popular social media sites to promote their product. This is another great way to bring people to your organization and it doesn’t require CAD or filmmaking skills.

Feature image source: RCLifeOn / YouTube

License: The text of "How to Get a Free 3D Printer – Serious Solutions" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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