Archives September 2020

Anycubic Chiron Review [2020]: Is It The Best Pick For You?

For most people, when they think about 3D prints, they often associate it with smaller objects such as an action figure, a small boat, or perhaps a tiny model of your house. But there are times when large-scale printers make more sense. The problem is that 3D printers with a huge build volume often means you pay an arm and a leg for the privilege of owning it.

Not with the Anycubic Chiron. This 3D printer shows the world that bigger printers need not be expensive. It’s priced at less than $500 but offers a wide range of features that you will typically find in an excellent 3D printer today. Plus it allows you to print bigger things.

Sounds like it’s too good to be true? Read on and find out. We will touch on the features and reasons why Anycubic Chiron is more than worth its price. We will also explore some alternatives to the Chiron, as well as help you decide on whether to buy this 3D printer or not.

Anycubic Chiron: What You Need to Know

The Anycubic Chiron 3D printer has a build volume of 15.7 by 15.7 by 17.7 inches (400 by 400 by 450 millimeters) allowing you to print large scale models with ease. What’s more, the printing platform works with most filaments. Your prints will adhere to the heated bed with ease, while it’s easy to pry them off the platform when it’s cold.

The short-distance extruder allows for a smooth release of the melted filaments. This process allows the printer to ensure higher print accuracy between 0.002 to 0.012 inches (0.05 to 0.3 millimeters).

This printer comes with a full-color touch display that allows you to control the settings and operate your printer. The user interface is intuitive and easy to figure out.

anycubic chiron review

The Anycubic Chiron also comes with a filament sensor that will alert you if the printer runs out of filament or if it breaks while printing. Other features that you should know about the Anycubic Chiron include:

  • Technology: Fused Deposition Modeling
  • X, Y, Z positioning accuracy rated at 12.5, 12.5, and 2 microns
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.016 inches (0.4 millimeters)
  • Print speed: 0.79 to 3.94 inches per second (20 to 100 millimeters per second)
  • Compatible materials: PLA, ABS, HIPS, Wood, TPU
  • Ambient Operating Temperature: 46.4 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (8 to 40 degrees Celsius)
  • Maximum extruder temperature: 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius)
  • Connectivity: Memory card and data cable

Pricing

Anycubic Chiron sells for around $430 and that comes with a pound (0.5 kilograms) of PLA filament. You can opt to order the printer with 5.5 pounds (2.5 kilograms) of filament for $50 more.

What’s in the Box

The Chiron comes to you with a bit of assembling necessary. The good news is that putting it together will take you 30 minutes to 1 hour at most. Plus, the package gives you everything you need to assemble the 3D printer, including:

  • 10 M5 Screws
  • Glove
  • PLA Filament
  • Pliers
  • Power cord
  • Scraper
  • SD card
  • SD Card reader
  • Tool set
  • Tweezer
  • USB cable
  • User manual

What You Would Like About the Anycubic Chiron

The Ultrabase Pro print bed with its microporous coating can really hold on to your models so they don’t topple over while printing is in progress. Plus, unlike other heated beds with a good hold, it’s easy to pry off the finished prints after you have let the bed cool down completely.

What’s more, the Anycubic Chiron works with a wide assortment of filaments so you can use the materials that you need. Everything is easy to do, from assembly to printing.

But this printer’s main selling point is the huge build volume without the expected expensive price tag.

Anycubic Chiron Features

What Might Turn You Off from the Anycubic Chiron

For those who feel clumsy, you might want to skip on the Chiron as you will need to assemble it before you can use it. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to figure out how to assemble the machine and the instructions help too.

While this printer offers automatic bed leveling, there are some issues. For one, you will need to manually adjust the bed first to make sure that it’s level. Calibrating the bed can be quite a pain as well, so it’s a shame that the auto bed leveling is not up to par with some of Chiron’s competitors.

Pros

  • Huge build volume
  • Removable stepper drivers
  • Ultrabase Pro bed is excellent
  • Intuitive user interface and touch display

Cons

  • Loud fans
  • Auto leveling needs work

Anycubic Chiron: The Bottom Line

The Anycubic Chiron gives you the chance to print large models without any problem. This printer has one of the biggest build volumes you can find right now. And because of that, you should know that you will need a big space to accommodate it as well.

Fully assembled, this printer measures 25.6 by 24.1 by 28.3 inches (651 by 612 by 720 millimeters). That’s right, it’s more than two feet all around.

There are some issues with the automatic bed leveling, but it’s something that you can probably remedy by doing what the manufacturer: do the adjustments manually at first.

Print quality can be excellent if you can find the right profiles for this printer. And with its below-$500 price tag and huge build volume, you will not regret buying this 3D printer.

Alternatives to the Anycubic Chiron

For those people who like to have their 3D printers come to them fully assembled, you should look at these products. The same goes for those who are looking for an alternative to the Chiron.

The good news is that there are options for you. In fact, there is quite a handful of 3D printers that offer huge build volumes at different price points.

1. Raise3D Pro2 Plus

With a jaw-dropping price tag at $6,000, Raise3D Pro2 Plus is sure to raise some eyebrows. However, all indicators seem that it has enough features and good things to justify that price.

For one, this 3D printer gives you a huge build volume of 12 by 12 by 23.8 inches (305 by 305 by 605 millimeters). While it can’t match the width and depth of prints that the Chiron can give you, it certainly allows you to significantly taller 3D objects.

Raise3D Pro2 Plus

What’s more, the Raise3D Pro2 Plus comes with electronic extruders. These dual extruders have retracting hot ends that can print even the most complicated parts. Plus you can also use multiple filaments.

This printer also uses interchangeable nozzles with diameters of 0.008 inches (0.2 millimeters) that translates to even finer details. This is also a very accurate and precise 3D printer with astounding print quality. It boasts of a layer resolution of 0.01 millimeters.

You will also like the seven-inch touchscreen on this printer, which allows you to easily control the printer, change the settings, and see what’s going on. You can review the status of the printing, even see how much work has been done so far, as well as get other information that you may need.

Further, because the extruders can get as hot as 572 degrees Fahrenheit (300 degrees Celsius), it works with more filaments such as:

  • ABS
  • ASA
  • HIPS
  • Nylon
  • PC
  • PETG
  • PLA
  • PP
  • PVA
  • TPE
  • TPU
  • Carbon fiber infused
  • Glass fiber infused
  • Metal fill
  • Wood fill

You can also do things wirelessly such as upload a design to the printer over the air. You can also control and monitor your prints even when you’re halfway across the world. The 3D printer also safeguards the air quality in the room where it’s working with the HEPA air filter included in the machine.

Lastly, you’d like the excellent build plate system that is made with aerospace-grade aluminum. This plate system can get very hot to ensure better adhesion.

Pros

  • Resumes printing after a power loss
  • Tells you when you’ve run out fo filament
  • Can be accessed, tracked, and controlled remotely
  • connectivity options include Wi-Fi, USB port, live camera, and LAN
  • Works with a wide assortment of filaments
  • Consistently excellent print quality
  • The fully enclosed print area for better heat management
  • Integrated software
  • Heated magnetic aluminum bed
  • HEPA filter

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Has a large footprint measuring 24.4 by 23.2 by 43.5 inches (620 by 590 by 1,105 millimeters)

2. Modix Big-60

The Modix Big-60 gives you a huge build volume at 23.62 by 23.62 by 23.62 inches (600 by 600 by 600 millimeters). That’s roughly two feet all around and that’s definitely larger than the build volumes of both Anycubic Chiron and Raise3D Pro2 Plus. It retails at $3,700.

You will need to assemble it yourself and it might require a couple of people to finish. Fully assembled, this machine measures 36 by 42 by 53 inches (906 by 1,060, by 1,356 millimeters) so you need to earmark space for this printer.

Modix Big-60

The Modix Big-60 has gone through three iterations. The latest version 3 comes with a lot of new features that you will love. You get a professional 3D printer that has a black and red color scheme. It uses high-quality aluminum and other quality materials for its construction and the V3 has the E3D Aero extruder.

This printer has one extruder, but you can set it up so that it can work with a dual-extruder setup that allows you to print with two filaments.

The V6 Volcano hot end features interchangeable nozzles. The printer can work with a variety of materials, even the rare and exotic ones. What’s more, you can fit it with different nozzles as long as the diameter falls between 0.02 to 0.05 inches (0.4 to 1.2 millimeters).

The touchscreen interface is huge at seven inches. You can use the interface to operate the printer, as well as to see the status of your prints in real-time. the Modix Big-60 can also connect to your Wi-Fi network, allowing you to control the machine from your computer or mobile phone.

Pros

  • Automatic bed leveling
  • One of the largest build volumes around
  • Heated bed featuring a dual-zone heater
  • Filament sensor

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Needs to be assembled

3. Creality CR-10S Pro V2

The second version of the Creality CR-10S Pro gives you a build volume of 11.8 by 11.8 by 15.7 inches (300 by 300 by 400 millimeters), which is smaller than the build volume you see on the Anycubic Chiron. Plus at $630, this 3D printer is more expensive as well.

Creality CR-10S Pro V2

But why is it on this list despite the smaller build volume and more expensive price tag? It’s because this 3D printer is known to be reliable and powerful.

For one, it looks great with its sleek and modern design. the wires are safely hidden away so it doesn’t look cluttered. Printing on the Creality CR-10S Pro V2 is also very easy.

The printer comes with a powerful 480-watt Mean Well power supply, Capricon filament tubing that is heat resistant, a filament sensor, and an easy to understand user interface. This printer can also resume printing

Pros

  • Automatic bed leveling
  • Mean Well power supply
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Some placements are not intuitive, such as the power switch located towards the back and the input slots are placed towards the front
  • Your print sometimes stick to the print bed

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we try to answer some of the questions that readers often ask us about large 3D printers.

1. Aside from the Anycubic Chiron, are there any other large 3D printers that sell for less than $1,000?

You have options like the Tronxy X5ST-500 and the Creality CR-10 S5 that has a build volume of 19.7 by 19.7 by 23.6 inches (500 by 500 by 600 millimeters) and 19.7 by 19.7 by 19.7 inches (500 by 500 by 500 millimeters), respectively. Both of these single-extruder 3D printers accept third-party filaments and costs around $700 to $800.

You can also check out the Tronxy X5SA, which has a build volume of 13 by 13 by 15.7 inches (330 by 330 by 400 millimeters) and sells for less than $400.

3D Printer Tronxy X5ST-500 Creality CR-10 S5 Tronxy X5SA
Price $700 $800 $360
Build Volume (mm) 500 by 500 by 600 500 by 500 by 500 330 by 330 by 400
Extruder Heads 1 1 1
Min. Layer Height 100 μm 100 μm 40 μm
Printing Speed 100 mm/s 200 mm/s 100 mm/s
Open Source No Software No
Third-party Filament Yes Yes Yes
Heated Bed Yes Yes Yes
Filament Diameter 1.75 mm 1.75 mm 1.75 mm

2. What is the biggest 3D printer that you can own today?

While the world of 3D printers changes constantly, several professional 3D printers can now print larger models. For instance, there’s the BigRep PRO that has a build size of 40.2 by 38.2 by 38.6 inches (1020 by 970 by 980 millimeters).

This printer comes with a dual metering extrusion system and the spool chamber is safe from humidity. It also has a closed print chamber. The company doesn’t mention pricing details for this machine, but you can spend at least $150,000 on this machine.

Another huge 3D printer is the Cosine Additive AM1 that gives you a build volume of 43.3 by 33.5 by 33.5 inches (1,100 by 850 by 850 millimeters).

3. Why do you even need a large scale printer?

Would you need to print really large objects? Yes, there are instances when you will want to have a large scale printer, such as:

  • Single-body parts. For instance, if you’re printing a cosplay costume, you can probably get away with printing out smaller parts and then assembling it later on. However, these will not be as durable as printing a particular part as a single piece.
  • Reduced weight. Take for example you want to 3D print a stool, which is usually made with wood. If you print a stool using plastics, the resulting object will be a whole lot lighter than a wooden stool.
  • Faster prints when compared to your ordinary hobbyist 3D printer. On top of being more durable, being able to use a large 3D printer will make the whole process faster because you don’t have to cut up your large model into smaller components. You also save time from having to assemble these smaller parts.
  • Batch printing is easier. With a large printer, you can save time when you print in batches. Say you need 100 pieces of an iPhone case. With ordinary printers, you will probably need to print in several batches to get those 100 pieces. Large scale printer needs significantly fewer rounds.

Should You Buy the Anycubic Chiron?

The Anycubic Chiron is an FDM printer that can give you high-quality prints and has the features that you will expect from a high-end and more expensive printer.

It works with a wide range of filaments, has a heated bed that can automatically level itself, and a full-color touch display for the user interface. In short, it gives you everything that a reasonably priced 3D printer can give, plus some extras.

But what sets it apart is big the build volume is. With the Anycubic Chiron, you can print 3D models that are more than a feet big all around. Plus, this printer is a fast worker as well, clocking in at 0.79 inches per second for high-resolution prints but can go as fast as four inches per second.

You get all that while dropping only less than $500 for this printer. There are better printers, such as the Modix Big-60 and the Raise3D Pro2 Plus. However, these machines will see you dropping some serious money.

So for its build volume, features offered, and affordable pricing, you can’t go wrong with the Anycubic Chiron.

Best Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus Upgrades to Consider in 2020

Finding the best Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus upgrades can turn this already very competent 3D printer into a great machine.

The Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is a slightly different model than the Wanhao i3 that we have reviewed before.

We’ll go over what the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is, why adding upgrades can drastically improve its performance and finally, we’ll show you the best upgrades that you can buy.

What is the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus?

Manufactured by Wanhao which is a Chinese company, the Duplicator i3 Plus comes in at the budget end of the pricing scale. That being said, 3D printers have come away down in price in recent years so even though it is a cheaper printer, that doesn’t necessarily mean it has poor performance.

In fact, the Duplicator i3 Plus provides better print quality than many 3D printers that cost much more money.

The printer comes with a decent build volume of 200 X 200 X 180 mm so it is ideal for home use as well as small businesses. With an extruder temperature of 240°C to 260°C it can handle various types of filament and the print speed is good on this machine as well.

Overall the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is a budget printer that offers a high quality experience. You can pay a lot more money for a 3D printer that won’t produce the same results however that isn’t to say that it can’t be improved upon.

Duplicator i3 Plus

Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus specifications

  • Build Volume: 200 x 200 x 180 mm
  • Connectivity: USB, SD Card
  • Filament Size: 1.75mm
  • Hotend Temperature: 240°C – 260°C
  • Print Speed: 10-100mm/s
  • Materials Supported: PLA, ABS, PVA, Stainless Steel, NinjaFlex, Nylon, HIPS, Woodfill, LayBrick, CopperFILL, BronzeFILL, MOLDLAY, Conductive, Carbon Fiber, Polyurethane

Why do you need to add upgrades?

It isn’t that the i3 Plus is a bad printer at all but some choice upgrades can really make the difference in how your prints turn out.

You can certainly use the Duplicator i3 Plus straight out of the box and you will be able to print off high quality objects. Many people don’t upgrade or modify this 3D printer and have never had any problems.

That being said, there are some reasons why it is a good idea to buy some additional parts or upgrade existing components on this printer.

Better 3D printing

As we said, the print quality on this 3D printer is very good but it can always be improved.

By adding in some small upgrades to the i3 plus you will be able to get better and higher quality prints. Some owners will happily keep the stock components on this printer and that’s completely fine however a few upgrades can really take this printer to the next level.

Extra features

Aside from simply improving on the existing parts of the i3 plus, some upgrades can actually add to the overall functionality. This includes adding in additional features to your printer.

For example, adding a camera to keep an eye on your prints or even upgrading the machine so that it is able to connect via WiFi. Out of the box the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus has USB and SD card connectivity so adding to this is a good idea.

Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus Features

Improved reliability

Getting reliable and consistent prints is important as a print coming out in high quality. The i3 Plus does a good job at printing reliably however it can be improved upon.

With upgrades to the bed leveling system and the glass bed which we will have a look at later one, the overall performance of your printer will be much better. It means not only will you have high quality prints but you will have these prints on a consistent basis.

What parts of the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus can you upgrade?

The vast majority of components in a 3D printer can be upgraded or modified and this includes the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus.

Some are easier than others. The upgrades we have listed below are all fairly straightforward even if you happen to be new to 3D printers. While there are perhaps more complicated upgrades out there, we want to show you the best ones to get you off to a good start with this printer.

These are the main parts of the i3 Plus that most people tend to upgrade to improve print reliability, quality, and overall performance.

Z Braces

Adding a Z brace to the i3 Plus will improve its stability and make the printer more rigid.

What this means is that you should get more reliable prints on a frequent basis. Because there are several moving parts on the 3D printer, a Z brace stabilizes everything to ensure better quality prints. While this isn’t such a big problem on more recent versions of the Di3, it will ensure better stability to your printer overall.

Print Surface

Adding a glass bed to the print surface is something that a lot of people do to their 3D printer and it isn’t just an upgrade that is limited to the i3+. Most 3D printer owners end up adding on a glass bed at some point if their printer doesn’t have one.

It has several benefits including providing a smooth finish to your prints and an easy removal process of your models from the printer. The advantage glass has over other surfaces such as plastic is that it can withstand high temperatures. This means that it won’t warp or peel so it will rarely need to be replaced. Glass is also easier to clean before and after printing too.

wanhao duplicator i3 plus review

On-board computer

Another common upgrade on the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is the on-board computer.

There isn’t a ton wrong with what is provided with this 3D printer however adding something like a Raspberry Pi can improve its overall performance. It will also ensure that you get increased functionality as well with the 3D printer and can include things like WiFi and adding an on-board camera.

Belt Tension

The springs wirth the i3 Plus are known as having a few problems. This can cause issues with the print quality and a common upgrade is to increase the belt tension.

Doing this will mean that the X and Y belts are more secured which cuts down on movement and will mean better printed models and objects.

Cooling Fan

While there isn’t too much wrong with the stock fan provided, upgrading to a better one will improve this 3D printer overall.

With a better fan, you will notice improved bridges, overhangs, and needle points if you are printing with PLA and other materials. It is a fairly easy modification but one that will bring a lot of advantages.

Buying upgrades v printing upgrades

I’m going to show you the best upgrades you can get for the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus but before I do, I need to tell you about buying an upgraded part or printing an upgrading part.

The beauty of already having a 3D printer is that some parts you can actually print off yourself! While this isn’t true for everything – a new motherboard for example – some smaller parts can actually be made yourself.

On our list of best upgrades for the Duplicator i3+, there is a combination of parts that can be bought and parts that can also be printed.

Best upgrades for the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus

So, let’s find out the best upgrades you can get for your Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus.

#1 Z Braces

Adding Z braces to your Duplicator i3 Plus will improve its stability and add much-needed rigidity to the printer.

z braces i3 plus

This is actually one of the upgrades for the Duplicator i3 Plus that you can print off and attach yourself if you wish. In actual fact it is a fairly easy upgrade and you don’t need to drill any new holes although you do need to replace some short 3mm screws with 10mm screws.

#2 Wisamic Borosilicate Glass Plate Bed

Upgrading the print bed on the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus can make a world of difference to how your prints turn out. It can also make the whole process a bit easier as glass is a lot easier to clean prior to printing and also once your objects have been completed.

The Wisamic Borosilicate Glass Plate Bed is an ideal upgrade for your i3 Plus. It is made from 100% borosilicate glass which means it can cope with high temperatures that this 3D printer needs to reach its potential. You also won’t need to replace this anytime soon due to its durability while you’ll get a consistent heat across the build surface.

Getting your completed prints off the glass bed is a lot easier as well. Given its inexpensive cost and the advantages it brings to your Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus, this upgrade really is a no brainer.

#3 Belt Tensioners

This is another upgrade that you can print off yourself and it can have a positive impact on how your prints turn out.

The springs on the i3 Plus are known for not being particularly stable but some belt tensioners for the X Belt and the Y Belt will mean that everything is a bit more secure.

It is quite a simple fix for a problem that can plague this 3D printer. Even if you are a beginner with 3D printers, printing and installing belt tensioners is fairly straightforward and all the instructions are there to make sure you get it right.

#4 Raspberry Pi with Octoprint

Enhancing the power of your 3D printer while also adding in additional functionality is something that can be achieved with a Raspberry Pi upgrade. Especially when it comes to fairly budget 3D printers, upgrading its processing power and on-board computer can really allow it to reach its potential

By installing this onto your 3D printer and also using Octoprint which creates a web interface for your printer, you will find the i3 Plus easier to use too. With these additions, you can add WiFi functionality and control your 3D printer from another computer as well.

It is another modification that isn’t massively difficult either but will make a ton of difference to how your 3D printer functions.

#5 Raspberry Pi Camera Module

Adding in a camera will let you keep an eye on your prints as they are progressing and the Raspberry Pi Camera Module is a very useful addition.

Raspberry Pi Camera Module

This is another fairly inexpensive upgrade but something that will really add a big functionality boost to your 3D printer. You can also get a mounting arm for the camera as well which you are able to print off yourself.

Combined with the Raspberry Pi with Octoprint, this will greatly extend how your Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus operates and make things a lot easier when printing high quality objects,

#6 DC Brushless Sleeve-Bearing Cooling Blower Fan

The fan with the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus certainly isn’t the worst on the market but there are issues around the noise it makes. The stock fan shroud doesn’t work too well either so it is certainly worth looking into a new part.

This is why the DC Brushless Sleeve-Bearing Cooling Blower Fan is a recommended upgrade to provide better noise control and it will also help with improving bridges, overhangs, and needle points. You can also get a cooler mod for the i3 Plus which can make a huge difference too.

Installing a new fan onto this 3D printer isn’t a difficult job so you should be able to do this with ease.

#7 Filament Guide

The last upgrade that you should get for your Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is a filament guide.

This will help with feeding the filament into the 3D printer and should help towards higher quality and more consistent prints. This is an upgrade that you will be able to print off yourself too which is a bonus. Quite a small modification to your i3 Plus 3D printer but it is one that can make a world of difference to print quality and reliability.

Frequently Asked Questions and Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus Upgrades

Should I upgrade my Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus?

It is something you should seriously think about. The i3 Plus is a perfectly good printer out of the box and you will be able to print off good quality models. However, with the upgrades that we have listed here, you can take this 3D printer from being a good one to a great machine with new possibilities and potential.

Will upgrading my Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus improve print quality?

It should do. Even though the print quality is pretty good as standard you can increase the quality and reliability with these upgrades. For example, the Z braces, glass plate and filament guide will all help with more reliable outputs.

Is Wanhao a good 3D printer manufacturer?

This Chinese based company is known for producing good quality 3D printers for an affordable price. We have reviewed several of Wanhao’s 3D printers recently including the i3 and the D7.

Can I install these upgrades on my own?

Yes, you should be able to. None of these upgrades are particularly hard to install. Some will take a bit more work than others and if you are new to 3D printers it might take more time. However, you should be able to put these modifications onto your 3D printer on your own.

Do I need to spend a lot of money to upgrade my Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus?

Not necessarily. Most of these upgraded parts are all very inexpensive and some you can even print off yourself. Because the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is a reasonably inexpensive 3D printer you can buy some of these upgraded parts and it will still be cheaper than many other models on the market for the same quality.

Can I print some of these upgrades myself?

Yes. Some of the upgrades we have listed can be printed on your 3D printer and then installed. There are also guides as well as printing and installation instructions which will help you to get started.

Conclusion

For the most part, you should be able to print off high-quality objects on your Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus. If you are totally new to 3D printing or just a beginner, it can take a while to learn the basics and get consistently good prints.

The Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is a very good printer as it is and for the price, it really isn’t that expensive when you consider the quality you get. However, extending its functionality and ensuring that you get reliable prints on a consistent basis will actually save you time and money.

This is why these upgrades are important. They not only provide better-printed objects and models but they also improve the features of your printer as well.

The best upgrades for the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus are:

These upgrades for the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus Upgrades can turn your already well functioning printer into a powerful one without the huge cost.

Solidworks vs Inventor: How to Decide Which Is The Best Pick?

Solidworks vs Inventor

When designing a prototype or creating something that you’d like to print, you can rely on CAD software to help you with the task. Two of the most recommended programs are SolidWorks vs Inventor. These two give you a range of excellent and easy to use tools to help you create and fine-tune 3D objects for your printing needs.

But if you look into these two more closely, you’d find that some things are different and these differences may help you decide to choose one over the other.

Main Differences Between Solidworks vs Inventor

The main differences between Solidworks vs Inventor are:

  • SolidWorks costs more upfront, whereas Autodesk Inventor is available on a subscription basis that may be cheaper at first, but tends to add up over time.
  • SolidWorks is known for being easy to learn and intuitive to use, whereas Autodesk Inventor comes with a steep learning curve.
  • SolidWorks has a growing and large user community that you can tap if you have problems or questions. whereas Autodesk doesn’t have such an offer within their products.
  • SolidWorks works with resellers that can give you better technical and customer support either via phone or e-mail, whereas Autodesk Inventor users are told to use e-mail for their questions.
  • SolidWorks has more career opportunities available for users, whereas Autodesk has a slim selection of companies and industries that require their employees to have Autodesk Inventor experience and skills.

So what should you know about SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor? Which one is better for you? What are the features and tools that they offer? Pull up a chair, get yourself some coffee, and read on!

What is SolidWorks?

SolidWorks is a suite of tools that allows you to make, publish, simulate, and manage everything about your project and data. The range of products offered is very easy to use and learn. SolidWorks makes designing a lot easier.

Solidworks vs Inventor

The first SolidWorks package was released in 1995, which makes it older than some millennials. Dassault Systemes originally made it to be a complete 3D modeling program that works on Windows, but it has since added features that allow it to compete with the best computer-aided engineering and computer-aided design software.

Over the years, SolidWorks also launched simulation and virtual reality features. Today, design and engineering professionals use SolidWorks for stress testing and prototyping.

SolidWorks Features You Should Know

SolidWorks comes with several tools and features that can make life easier for you. First, they have the sustainability tool that will give show you how your design will impact the environment.

SolidWorks also offer you a range of simulation tools that helps you see how your design will hold up to different temperatures, stress, or pressure. In short, you can see how that particular design will perform in real-world conditions without you having to build it first to test it.

SolidWorks Features

But what makes SolidWorks a more noteworthy program is their use of virtual reality and augmented reality. No longer are you just confined to simulations, you can test your design in different situations and environments.

SolidWorks’ design review can also accommodate millions of components because of its large size. What’s more, you can work with all the components you need without draining your CPU’s resources.

How Much does SolidWorks Cost?

SolidWorks charge both for its license and upgrades. You pay $3,995 for the license and then pay another $1,295 for upgrades and support.

  • SolidWorks Standard is the cheapest option but it already has all the design and modeling tools that other versions offer, plus basic rendering and animation tools.
  • SolidWorks Professional adds tools and features for design checking, visualization, and costing, as well as photo-realistic rendering. Professional also allows you to use a scan of a part and reverse engineer it.
  • SolidWorks Premium is the most expensive version and gives you access to all the features offered by SolidWorks. You will probably need this version if you use simulation tools extensively, as well as routing features.
Product Permanent license Annual subscription
Design
SolidWorks Electrical Professional $9,995 $2,750
SolidWorks Premium $7,995 $1,995
SolidWorks Electrical Schematic Professional $5,995 $1,695
SolidWorks Electrical 3D $5,995 $1,695
SolidWorks Professional $5,490 $1,495
SolidWorks Standard $3,995 $1,295
Design validation
SolidWorks Plastics Standard $4,995 $1,499
SolidWorks Simulation Professional $4,177 $2,375
SolidWorks Simulation Standard $3,995 $1,000
SolidWorks Plastics Premium $22,495 $5,624
SolidWorks Plastics Professional $14,995 $3,794
SolidWorks Flow Simulation $13,995 $3,919
SolidWorks Simulation Premium $11,595 $3,675
Data management
SolidWorks PDM Professional Viewer $2,995 $995
SolidWorks PDM Professional CAD Editor $1,895 $495
SolidWorks PDM Professional Contributor $1,350 $395
Technical communications
SolidWorks Composer $5,490 $1,495
SolidWorks Inspection Professional $3,995 $999
SolidWorks Inspection Standard $2,295 $599
SolidWorks MBD Standard $1,995 $499
Sustainable design
SolidWorks Sustainability $2,995 $995

As you can see, there are a lot of flavors for SolidWorks, so it’s best to talk to a reseller about what you need and allow them to match your requirements with the right version.

What Might Need Improving About SolidWorks

One of the things that you might not like about SolidWorks is the fact that it doesn’t offer students and teachers a free license for their software. Users from the academe can download the student edition, which will cost them $99, and that only lasts for a year.

See how SolidWorks compares to others:

What is the Autodesk Inventor?

Autodesk Inventor came four years after the first SolidWorks came out. The inventor directly challenged SolidWorks as it is also a tool for a mechanical design that allowed you to work with both 2D and 3D designs. It also had a good set of simulation and documentation tools.

What is Autodesk Inventor

How Much Does the Autodesk Inventor Cost?

Autodesk uses a subscription model for Inventor, requiring you to pay $1,985 per year. You can save by paying for a three-year subscription at $5,360.

Autodesk Inventor Features Worth Noting

Autodesk Inventor has some editing tools that make your work faster. First, it automates the math behind complex designs. for example, if you’re designing a kinetic blade, the program will do the advanced math behind the scenes, so you can concentrate on designing while Inventor takes care of the minute details.

You can also do some direct editing and free-form drawings, on top of the parametric design. Software like the Inventor and SolidWorks use parametric modeling, wherein your design’s geometry will be based on and changed by certain values.

The free-form modeling and direct-edits capabilities of Inventor allow you to break free of parametric modeling. Further, the Inventor has simulation features that can help you see how your 3D designs work in real-world situations. You can simulate pressure on the joints, or see what happens when a welded part gives way.

Autodesk Features

Aside from these design and simulation features, Autodesk Inventor is also noteworthy because of its speedy loading times. The program loads your design in lightning-fast times because it can ignore the resources-hogging geometric data when you open a design.

Lastly, Autodesk Inventor offers students and teachers a free subscription. The three-year free plan will be excellent for academics to save a lot of money and still be able to use and learn Inventor, as well as other Autodesk products.

What You Won’t Like About Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk Inventor is notorious for being too difficult for beginners to learn. Autodesk products are not known for ease of use and for being user friendly.

What makes matters worse is that Inventor doesn’t have a thriving online community that can help you when you hit a wall. Autodesk tries to make up for this by releasing support materials and tutorials.

Autodesk also prioritizes users who paid for more expensive licenses for their products. So even if you’re first in line, you get bumped off if there’s somebody else who paid more to use Autodesk products.

See how Inventor compares to others:

Autodesk Inventor vs SolidWorks: The Comparison

If you’re choosing between SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor, we can just imagine how difficult it is for you. These are both very capable CAD and CAM software that focus on machine part design and 3D rendering.

These are also forerunners in the space, with established companies behind them. They have excellent tools for visualizations and simulation.

However, to make it easier for you to decide, here’s what’s the same and what’s different with each one.

What’s the Same?

Both programs share a lot of 3D modeling capabilities as both use parametric modeling but also allow you to directly edit your designs. They both offer policy-based automation, parts library, and design tools for weldments, configurations, and even for creating with metals and plastics.

Further, they can also do the same things when it comes to visualization, utilizing animations, exploded views, lighting, materials, textures, and other visualization tools.

The Differences Between Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks

However, these two programs do have several differences that make one better than the other. What are these?

3D Modeling Features

Autodesk Inventor has 3D modeling features that are absent from SolidWorks, including t-splines, electrical harnessing, and tube routing. However, SolidWorks does have a large design review that allows you to work with a lot of components without slowing things down.

Simulation Features

Autodesk Inventor allows you to do finite element analysis both at the assembly and part level, you can only do part level FEAs with SolidWorks. It also has a shape generator that allows you to fine-tune your design so that it’s lighter or smaller, but still structurally efficient.

You can also do dynamic simulation and injection mold analysis with Inventor. Meanwhile, SolidWorks allows you to quickly conduct symmetry checks and geometry comparisons.

SolidWorks also has closed pipe computational fluid dynamics, which lets you see how gas and liquid can flow through your design. However, the biggest advantage that SolidWorks has over the Autodesk Inventor is its ability to use virtual and augmented reality to simulate real-world situations that can affect your design.

Costs

When it comes to costs, SolidWorks is more expensive upfront: a one-time license fee of around $4,000 for the Standard version. You can also opt to buy a subscription add-on for around $1,300. However, pricing for SolidWorks can vary depending on the version you buy and which reseller you work with.

Autodesk Inventor only charges $1,985 a year. What’s more, Autodesk offers you a free three-year subscription for their products if you are a student or a teacher.

Ease of Use

One of the things that you’d like about SolidWorks is how intuitive its user interface is, and how easy to use it is. Autodesk Inventor can sometimes frustrate users who are just learning to use it.

Demand

More companies are using SolidWorks than Inventor. You can see this in the jobs that require these skills. If you are currently trying to figure out which between these two is more in demand, here’s the number of job openings on Indeed and LinkedIn for SolidWorks and Inventor.

SolidWorks

Indeed.com: More than 6,000 jobs in the United States

Solidworks vs Inventor

LinkedIn: More than 25,000 jobs worldwide.

Autodesk Inventor

Indeed.com: Around 400 jobs in the United States.

LinkedIn: More than 1,000 jobs worldwide.

Solidworks vs Inventor

Side-by-Side Comparison: Autodesk Inventor vs SolidWorks

To make things easier for you, here are the costs and features of both SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor, side by side aaa.

  SolidWorks Autodesk Inventor
License fee $3,995 N/A
Subscription (per year, per user) $1,295 $1,985
3D modeling features
Part modeling Yes Yes
Assembly Yes Yes
Parametric modeling Yes Yes
Mesh modeling No Yes
Hybrid modeling No Yes
Direct editing Yes Yes
B-rep surfacing Yes Yes
Rules-based automation Yes Yes
Parts library Yes Yes
Bolted connections Yes Yes
Configurations Yes Yes
Weldments Yes Yes
Sheet metal Yes Yes
Plastics Yes Yes
T-splines No Yes
Design accelerators No Yes
Electrical harnessing No Yes
Tube and pipe routing No Yes
Large design review Yes No
Simulation features
Design for manufacturing Yes Yes
Interference checking Yes Yes
Wall thickness Yes Yes
Part level finite element analysis Yes Yes
Draft analysis Yes Yes
Sustainability analysis Yes Yes
Assembly level finite element analysis No Yes
Shape generator No Yes
Dynamic simulation No Yes
Injection mold analysis No Yes
Symmetry check Yes No
Closed pipe computational fluid dynamics Yes No
Geometry comparison Yes No
AR and VR simulation Yes No
Visualization features
Animations Yes Yes
Exploded views Yes Yes
Walkthroughs and flyovers Yes Yes
Camera view controls Yes Yes
Lighting Yes Yes
Materials Yes Yes
Textures Yes Yes
Ray trace photo rendering Yes Yes

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we answer some of the questions you might find yourself asking when deciding between SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor.

What is CAD software?

Computer-Aided Design software allows design professionals to create more precise designs without spending too much time on it. You only create a 2D shape of the object you’re creating and the software will expand that into a 3D model that you can modify. You can add holes, snaps, and threads to the object as you see fit.

Do you need CAD software for your 3D printing?

For the most part, you can also use 3D modeling software for your 3D printing needs. A 3D modeling program lets you work with 3D shapes instead of starting with a 2D printing. Some 3D modeling software even allows you to shape your 3D object like you would shape real-life clay. Check out software such as SculptGL for programs that offer this functionality.

But which one is the better bet for 3D printing enthusiasts? 3D printing
gear and other simple objects can easily be done with CAD software. But if you have more complex projects such as a character or a figurine, you will want to use a 3D modeling software.

Then again, if you are prototyping a part that you are already designing on CAD software, then you will be happy to know that you can still print these parts, just be sure that your software can save it into STL files so that you can provide the printer with the G-codes it needs to print your object.

Are there any alternatives to SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor?

Yes, there are worthy alternatives to both Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks. some of these are free, while others offer something more than what Inventor and SolidWorks can give you.
Fusion 360, a cloud-based CAD program that allows you to create complex designs and collaborate with a team of designers. What’s more, you can use the resources of the cloud to render your designs. You can store all the steps you made with the design, including the corrections and changes made along the way. Fusion 360 gives you a wide range of features and design capabilities. You pay $297 per year or it comes free for personal use.
FreeCAD is a free program that also gives you parametric 3D modeling. If you’re still starting with CAD designs, this is a good place to start.
AutoCAD is another Autodesk product and is one of the best and most established CAD programs out there. It comes with a steep learning curve and is better suited for 2D drafting, but it does have some 3D capabilities that you shouldn’t snub. You pay $210 per month or $1,690 per year if you choose this program.
CATIA brings together tools and features for CAD, CAM, and CAE. As such, designers, engineers, and product designers can use this for their work. This program also allows for easy collaborations. Made for professionals, this software can be quite expensive with rates starting at $10,000.
OpenSCAD is free CAD software that allows you to create solid 3D models. It allows you to extrude 2D drawings and create a 3D object. Programmers and coders will like using OpenSCAD but the general public will probably find it difficult to use.

Autodesk Inventor vs SolidWorks: Which Should You Choose

When deciding between SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor, you will probably lean towards SolidWorks more. It’s easier to use and has a better set of features than Inventor. What’s more, if you’re using it for 3D printing, SolidWorks has its roots in 3D modeling.

What’s more, SolidWorks has a vibrant and helpful user community. But don’t discount Autodesk Inventor just yet. This software comes from a company that may be considered as a pioneer in the CAD software space, and they do have free options for students and teachers to learn their software. They also have an excellent range of tools for 3D design.

Lulzbot TAZ Workhorse Review: Everything You Need to Know

Lulzbot is pretty well-known for developing reliable 3D printers. They’re powerful machines worth the price. They use open-source software and accept plenty of filament types, so their ease of use helps them adapt to personal and professional use alike.

When they released the TAZ Workhorse, they had big shoes to fill. This beast has a 14% bigger build volume and is equipped with all the essentials. It’s marketed to produce even better, more accurate results.

It’s said to enhance the experience of its predecessor, the TAZ 6, so I wanted to give it a shot and decide for myself.

Specifications

  • Build volume: 280 x 280 x 285 mm
  • Printer dimensions: 832 x 510 x 520 mm
  • Net weight: 16.78 kg
  • Technology: FDM
  • Layer resolution: 0.05 – 0.4 mm
  • Extruder Quantity: Single
  • Maximum extruder temperature: 290℃
  • Filament diameter: 2.85 mm
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.5 mm
  • Materials: ABS, PLA, PETG, PETT, PVA, PVB, HIPS, TPU 85A, TPU 95A, Nylon 645, carbon fiber reinforced blends, copolyester, polycarbonate
  • Maximum print bed temperature: 120℃
  • Slicer software: Cura Lulzbot Edition
  • Connectivity: USB serial, USB flash drive
  • Software input formats: OBJ, STL, G, GCODE, 3MF, X3D, JPG, PNG
  • Power supply: Auto-switching MeanWell RSP-500-24
  • Input rating: 110VAC – 240VAC
  • Output: 24V DC, 500 watts, 21 amps

Setup

The Lulzbot TAZ Workhorse comes packaged securely in a box with foam inserts to hold it in place. After removing the printer from its box, you’ll notice the clean, effective packaging. It’s packaged with all of the tools you need for maintenance as well as some documentation.

Included is a guide for using the printer with images of all the components with clear explanations so you can familiarize yourself with the machine.

It comes completely assembled, so the setup is relatively simple. In conjunction with the automatic leveling, the self-cleaning nozzle, and the pre-programmed filament profiles, it’s a breeze to start printing right away.

Lulzbot TAZ Workhorse

Features

While the Lulzbot TAZ Workhorse contains many of the features that were well-loved by users of previous versions, it also contains some notable features unique to this particular machine. While the company attempts to keep a fair balance between balance and practicality, they also strive to bring extraordinary performance to the table.

With that, they’re delivering the following features that help make this printer even better than the last.

Sturdier frame

The TAZ Workhorse is designed to offer greater stability over the previous version. It features a sturdier frame than the last with strengthened components so it can withstand the stress and motion of higher performance.

Heated build plate

The build plate is made of heated borosilicate glass coated in PEI. It enhances adhesion at the first layer, which helps when printing with ABS and nylon. However, it’s also capable of plenty of other materials, too.

Modular bed:

The modular print bed system on the Workhorse ensures you won’t wait long for it to heat up. It’s useful and versatile, considering that you wait mere seconds for it to reach maximum print bed temperature.

Supported materials

Much like the TAZ 6, the Workhorse supports a wide range of materials, which is really quite impressive when comparing it to other printers. You can now print with high heat composite polymers thanks to the steel tool head.

E3D hot end and 360 cooling

With a lightweight tool head design, hardened steel E3D Titan Aero hot end, and 360-degree part cooling, you get excellent accuracy and precision. The combination of these features means fast heating, excellent components, and fast cooling for more versatility.

lulzbot taz workhorse features

Automatic calibration

This isn’t a new feature, but it’s a necessary one. However, it’s a unique concept. New to the Workhorse is a proprietary X/Y/Z Backlash Compensation System, based on professional-grade CNC machines.

With this idea, the Workhorse can use the calibration cube to measure backlash and calculate the lost motion in the mechanical system to help users get the most accuracy in their prints.

Belt-driven Z-axis

This is something unique to Lulzbot machines, but it’s been in every one of them. The printer does a better job of controlling or eliminating wobbling in the Z-axis by making it belt-driven. The design is made of threaded rods and is also effective at surging the cycle times.

Automatic nozzle cleaning

The benefit of cleaning your nozzles frequently is that you can keep your hot ends in better working condition and prevent filament jams. The Workhorse cleans the nozzle automatically before starting any new print.

You don’t have to do it manually and you can ensure that your hot end will remain free of jams and in optimal working order for every job.

3.5” graphical LCD

The touch screen included on the Workhorse is a 3.5” LCD. It’s interactive and intuitive so it’s easy to understand for beginner users who want to get started right away while still including the features that advanced users want and need.

Swappable tool heads

The ability to swap out tool heads means you can use other nozzles for more advanced printing. While it comes with a hardened steel HE tool head and a 0.5 mm nozzle, you can swap it out.

The HE tool head with an SL tool head has a 0.25 mm nozzle, which is great for printing small layers with much more precision. However, if you’re printing with high strength parts, you can swap it for the HS tool head and 0.8 mm nozzle.

You can also switch the tool head out for an HS+, which has a 1.2 mm nozzle. Being able to swap between a wide variety of sizes gives you better control of printing with more finicky materials. It prints quality prints with a lot of reliability.

lulzbot taz workhorse package

Open design

This printer is open from all sides. It features a sleek, professional design, but it’s important to use caution when printing. Keeping it away from children is important.

What is nice about this design is that it gives you a view of your print progress from all sides. And much like other open design 3D printers, it works best with PLA.

Full assembly

The Workhorse comes fully assembled so you can start printing right out of the box. It also provides default profiles for multiple filament types so you can speed up the print process without a lot of configuration, which is nice for testing the machine.

Performance

The quality of the Lulzbot TAZ Workhorse is excellent. It’s a great printer for professional use, but even extreme hobbyists may want to spring for it as well. It can produce fine details, great precision, and high-resolution prints, especially when using the right nozzle and adjusting the settings accordingly.

This is a very competitive printer in the professional range because it can produce medical or automotive parts with ease while costing quite a bit less to purchase and maintain than other professional models.

The Lulzbot series is known for its impressive quality, but the Workhorse is even better. It can also print faster than many similarly priced 3D printers, although you may lose some quality at higher speeds, which is typical.

The Workhorse is capable of creating sharp edges and geometric shapes with ease. It’s a practical printer for industries like aerospace as well, but if you like to tinker at home and you’re looking for an upgrade, this may be the one for you.

What you will miss out on are some features like Wi-Fi connectivity and a dual extruder design, which you can find in some even cheaper printers, but you’ll likely sacrifice quality.

Software

The Lulzbot TAZ Workhorse uses open-source software. It comes with the Cura Lulzbot Edition. It’s pre-programmed with a lot of advanced tools and features to make operation easier.

It comes with the pre-programmed filament profiles but you can also manually change the settings if you want more customization. You have complete freedom to slice the design quickly and with user-friendly controls.

Cura has a lot of features, but it’s also relatively easy to use, so it’s a great option for beginners and advanced users alike.

Cura Lulzbot Edition

Customer Service

When dealing with complex machines that cost quite a bit of money, it’s nice to know the company is on your side when something goes wrong. The Lulzbot TAZ Workhorse comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Their customer service department is available 7 days a week and their website has plenty of self-serve information regarding the setup and use of your Workhorse 3D printer. The community of users is also huge, so you can use forums as a resource when needed, too.

Price

The Lulzbot TAZ Workhorse is a pretty affordable option considering it’s a professional-quality device. It’s also pretty accessible for serious hobbyists who want an excellent quality printer because they care about the results.

It’s ideal for high-end applications and commercial use, but if you have a limited budget, it might be tough to stomach the upfront cost.

Thankfully, the upfront cost is the most you’ll likely ever spend, aside from any upgrades you might want to make. Maintenance of the Workhorse is relatively inexpensive.

The FDM printing process is incredibly affordable and with a wide compatibility of filament types, you can always choose the cheapest ones. You have a lot of flexibility in your budget once you get the printer home.

Because the printer is made with quality parts, maintenance is pretty minimal. The nozzle takes care of itself and the machine should work for years without any trouble.

Pros:

  • Incredible accuracy
  • Automatic nozzle cleaning
  • Automatic bed leveling
  • High-speed printing
  • Heated, PEI coated bed
  • Swappable tool heads
  • E3D extruder

Cons:

  • No Wi-Fi
  • No remote access
  • Expensive for home users

Alternatives

There are a lot of 3D printers on the market, so if you’re looking for something for personal or professional use, you may want to evaluate some of these alternatives.

Lulzbot TAZ Pro

Lulzbot TAZ Pro

The features of the TAZ Pro are nearly identical to the Workhorse, but the price is not. It’s quite a bit more expensive than the Workhorse; however, it may be the right choice for you if you’re looking for a dual extruder design.

The touch screen is also quite a bit bigger than the Workhorse, at 5 inches. It still uses the same software, has the same build volume, has swappable tool heads, includes the same inputs, and accepts the same wide variety of materials.

Lulzbot TAZ 6

lulzbot taz 6

This predecessor to the Workhorse rings up at a slightly lower price point, but it’s still dependable and has only a slightly smaller build volume. It auto-calibrates has a self-cleaning nozzle and accepts a wide variety of print materials.

However, you’ll find differences like USB and SD connectivity. The downside is that you’ll experience a slightly slower setup, but it’s a reliable, high-speed printer that produces acceptable results for many users.

Ultimaker 3

Ultimaker 3

While the Ultimaker 3 design is a bit weary, it’s instantly recognizable to those who are familiar with this series. It features a mostly enclosed case with an open front, which some people like and some people don’t.

It features an antiquated scroll wheel menu, but again, this will be familiar to long-time users. The true benefit to this printer is the dual extruder design, the high-temperature hot end capability, and the Wi-Fi connectivity.

While you can also connect via USB, Wi-Fi makes the printer easier to access and use. It also supports open-source hardware and software as well as multiple filament types. While you can still print with a single nozzle for acceptable results, it truly shines when both extruders work in tandem.

Formlabs Form 3

formlabs form 3

This printer is a resin 3D printer that uses fused filament fabrication (FFF) technology, which up to this point hasn’t been as good as SLA in terms of exact detail, castability, or biocompatibility. However, the Form 3 challenges that with an excellent one-click printing feature.

It’s slightly more expensive than the Workhorse, but it’s easy to use and is an obvious recommendation for small or medium businesses that need an exceptional amount of detail in their prints.

FAQ

If you still can’t decide which 3D printer is right for you, these frequently asked questions may help you out.

If you’re on the fence about whether a budget 3D printer is right for you, check out some of these frequently asked questions to set the record straight.

What is the best 3D printer for beginners?

Many 3D printers on the market today are ideal for beginners. The Anycubic Photon is a great option for resin printing while the Flashforge Adventurer 3 is one of the easiest 3D printers to use overall.
However, if you’re looking for value, you might want to take a closer look at the Monoprice Select Mini V2. While there are a lot to choose from, it will depend on the features you need and your budget.

The Lulzbot TAZ Workhorse may be pricey, but if you’re looking to advance your skills, it’s an excellent option because it comes fully assembled, is easy to use, and includes a lot of features you’ll grow to love as you get better acclimated to the 3D printing tools it offers.

How much does it cost for a 3D printer?

The cost of a 3D printer will vary based on size, manufacturer, and features. There are plenty of affordable options like the Anycubic Photon or the Artillery Sidewinder X1. Ringing up at less than $500, you’ll get a great beginner 3D printer.

However, if you want additional features or a printer that offers more advanced operations, you’re going to get a better value out of a printer that costs a bit more. Extreme hobbyists and small businesses will have better success with a printer that costs anywhere from $1000-5000.

What you choose to spend will depend on your budget and the features you need. There are affordable options for recreational users or more expensive options for serious users.

What is a 3D printer good for?

You can tackle all kinds of projects with a 3D printer. Small businesses can create prototypes while large businesses can manufacture parts. They’re excellent learning tools for children and students.

Schools throughout the world purchase 3D printers to give their students more hands-on experience with evolving technology, but even recreational users at home can enjoy printing small projects.

The Verdict

Lulzbot produces some of the most reliable 3D printers on the market, and the Workhorse is no exception. They have a great reputation for being easy to use while still producing fantastic results.

While you might find that it’s lacking in the dual extrusion space, you’ll find versatility in the number of materials you can use, the swappable nozzles, and fast cooling.

The Workhorse contains nearly every awesome feature that each of its predecessors had, but with some great new ones. You can rely on this sturdy printer for high-end results. It’s a wonderful option, albeit slightly more expensive, for beginners and professionals alike.

Anycubic i3 Mega vs Ender 3 Compared: Which One Is Right For You?

Anycubic i3 Mega vs Ender 3

Anycubic i3 Mega vs Ender 3 is a tough comparison to make – especially if you’re just starting out with FDM printers.

The world of 3D printing is filled with innovative technology to help unlock your creative potential. However, with so many options available, things can get a little confusing whether you’re new to 3D printing or expanding your horizons.

Fused Deposition Modeling, or FDM, is an excellent option to create high-quality prototype models. They are also relatively inexpensive compared to other Stereolithography Apparatus (SLA) printers, which is why FDM printers are so popular.

That said, its popularity means there are a number of manufacturers all with different claims on why their products are right for you. It can quickly get difficult to understand what and why a particular characteristic of a product should matter to you.

If you’re stuck indecisive between the Anycubic i3 Mega and Creality Ender 3, we’re here to help. This comparison guide explores everything you need to know about each product–their pros, cons, and all the details in between. By its end, we’re confident you’ll be able to make a decision regarding your preference.

Without further ado, let’s get into the comparison.

Main Differences Between Anycubic i3 Mega vs Ender 3

The main differences between Anycubic i3 Mega vs Ender 3 are:

  • Anycubic i3 Mega has a more user-friendly and straight-forward assembly, whereas more time is required to set up the Ender 3
  • Anycubic i3 Mega has a build volume of 210 x 210 x 205 mm, whereas Ender 3 has a larger build volume of 220 x 220 x 250 mm
  • Anycubic i3 Mega is more expensive, whereas Ender 3 is a comparatively more affordable FDM printer
  • Anycubic i3 Mega has a lower print speed resulting in more processing time, whereas Ender 3 has a higher printer speed

However, these differences only paint a portion of what each product has to offer and why you might want to pick one over the other. Therefore, you make your final decision, go through our detailed comparison to make a purchase you can be confident in.

Exploring Anycubic i3 Mega and Ender 3 features

anycubic i3 mega 3d printer

Your ultimate decision should be dictated by your preference and the projects you wish to undertake. But, there are a few key factors you need to be laid out in front of you to figure out which printer is right for the job.

Let’s jump right in.

Design & Construction

FDM printers are a great consumer-level option as per current 3D technologies. It’s fast, low-cost, and is able to build sturdy models. These printers extrude thermoplastic filament from its heated nozzle, to melt the material on its flat platform. It builds its models layer-by-layer adjusting the nozzle as it needs.

There are two main kinds of filaments you can use with FDM printers: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), Polylactic Acid (PLA), Polyethylene terephthalate (PTEG), high impact polystyrene (HIPS), Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), and Wood (or wood-infused PLA).

Most FDM users will use only one type of filament in each of their projects, but the options may or may not be a feature you want to have. That said, both these printers are highly rated by PLA users as being one of the best.

Moving on to the specifics.

The Anycubic i3 Mega is built from a rigid, metal frame that lends to its stability while providing the printing process with a stable base. It comes mostly assembled, except for a few screws that need to be installed. It is, however, an easy process that a quick read of the manual can help with. Additionally, its Ultrabase print bed provides added stability during the printing process.

The printer also has double x limit switches which provide more level accuracy. It prints in resolutions as fine as 0.05 mm or as large as 0.3 mm. It can be used with the following materials:

  • PLA,
  • ABS,
  • HIPS,
  • PETG,
  • Wood

On the other hand, the Creality Ender 3 has a larger build volume of 220 x 220 x 250 mm. Unlike the i3 Mega’s advanced Ultrabase print bed, it has a standard aluminum build plate that heats up. Ender 3 offers fine details up to 0.1 mm to around 0.4 mm large.

The Ender 3 can be used with the following materials:

  • ABS,
  • PLA
  • TPU
  • PETG

Notably, the i3 Mega uses a touch screen interface, whereas the Ender 3 has a monochrome screen that is controlled using a turn-knob.

Overall, both printers have a solid base with durable construction. The Ender 3 is clearly designed for larger prototypes. It may work as an excellent 3D printer for schools. Whereas, the i3 Mega is more suitable for smaller prints.

Printing

ender 3 printer

Unlike SLA printers, the prints from an FDM printer are not as intricate. However, they still are able to capture a decent amount of detail and deliver a smooth finish. This is why it is considered an ideal option for prototyping.

Ender 3 delivers remarkable quality prints for its price which have a smooth, solid finish. There is an issue, however, the plate bed of the printer is lacking in a little refinement. Being a standard plate bed, it isn’t as stable and would definitely benefit from having an auto-leveling feature.

Moreover, the nozzle may end up slamming into the bed which could ruin the layer’s progression. Aka, you might have to start all over again. But, a few adjustments and awareness of the issue should keep it problem-free for the most part.

Much like the other Anycubic printers, the i3 Mega lives up to its mid-tier status. Its build plate, construction, and stability allow the printer to replicate its quality with its print.

Therefore, the Anycubic i3 Mega is definitely a winner in terms of print quality between the two devices.

Software

anycubic printer

The software of a printer can be a determinant of what you can do with the hardware of a printer. A 3D printer could be built with the best, innovative technologies, but fall short in terms of its software capabilities. It could alter what you can design and how well the printer is able to transform it into a reality.

Ender 3 uses a popular third-part slicing software known as Cura. It does come with a standard version, but you can download the latest version from their website. The software can build your model which is then transferred for the printer to read through a USB or a micro-SD card.

Anycubic has a similar slicing software based on Cura, but it uses a custom version. Likewise, the prototype file is transferred through a USB or SD card.

In the case of software, it comes down to personal preference. Ender 3’s Cura is a market-leading up-to-date product that potentially has more flexibility. But, Anycubic’s software is specifically designed and tested against their product. Additionally, you can receive direct support from the company, if needed.

User-Friendly Features

Lastly, coming towards which printer is more user-friendly. Regardless of which one you pick, you’re likely looking for an affordable 3D printer that fits your budget without feeling like a compromise. Therefore, it helps if your device is user friendly with an as little learning curve as required.

As we alluded to above, the i3 Mega has a simple assembly process with a few screws and an inspection of the manual to get you through it. The Ender 3, however, has a more lengthy assembly process. This means you might have to take some time to understand which part goes where making it less of a plug-and-play printer.

Moreover, the main feature offered by Ender 3 is their Resume Print option. This essentially protects your print from any sudden damage from having a power outage or filament issue.

The i3 Mega also offers this, but it has a few other user-friendly options. Such as its Ultrabase heated plate for even stability, touchscreen interface, and a number of accessories to help you along the process. It may come down to what you specifically need, but the i3 Mega overall has a better user experience to offer.

Specifications for Anycubic i3 Mega vs Ender 3

Anycubic i3 Mega Ender 3
Build Volume: 220 x 220 x 250 mm Build Volume: 210 x 210 x 205 mm
Software: Cura Slicing Software (custom( Software: Cura Slicing Software
Connectivity: USB, SD card Connectivity: USB, Micro-SD card
Layer Resolution: 50 – 300 microns Layer Resolution: 100 – 400 microns
Print Speed: 20-60 mm/s Print Speed: 180 mm/s
Filament Types: ABS, PLA, HIPS, PETG, Wood Filament Types: ABS, PLA, TPU, PETG

Comparing Anycubic i3 Mega vs Ender 3 – Pricing

If you haven’t already checked out their price, can you tell which one is cheaper?

Price is not a measure of quality, but it does help our budget. When considering purchasing any 3D printer, remember its associated costs. From the accessories, you need to its materials. This should help you figure out a budget for your purchase. And, you can always upgrade when you need a more professional set-up.

Both Anycubic i3 Mega and Ender 3 are affordable options that would suit a variety of different functions. But, when it comes to the market price, the Anycubic i3 Mega is comparatively more expensive. The Anycubic is a better option if you’re looking into 3D miniature printing.

Important to note, however, that the i3 Mega has better features, is more user-friendly with finer detail capabilities.

The much cheaper alternative, Ender 3, still provides high-quality finishes and only comparatively falls slightly short. Its print speed, however, is much higher. Therefore if you’re looking for quick prints, the latter could be the right option for you. Also, if you’re starting out this might be a good affordable way to dip your toes in the world of 3D printing.

Anycubic i3 Mega vs Ender 3 – Ease of use

anycubic printer 1

Looking at the overall package both devices offer, it is clear that the Anycubic i3 Mega is easier to use. It has a professional set-up with a focus on delivering fine detailed, quality prints and software the company has tested.

The Ender 3, on the other hand, is a good printer, but it does require a little more finessing than the former printer. It is also considered ideal for hobbyists who are enthused by their 3D printer to unlock its full potential by trying out different options.

Anycubic i3 Mega vs Ender 3 – Support

If you’re concerned about receiving support, both companies have you covered with easy and quick customer service. To get in touch with their representatives, visit Anycubic Support or Creality Support.

Moreover, both companies have a fantastic and ever-growing community of 3D enthusiasts of various levels. You can talk to like-minded individuals to sort out most issues and get to printing beautifully constructed models.

Anycubic i3 Mega vs Ender 3 – Pros and Cons

Anycubic i3 Mega Pros

  • Relatively inexpensive for the astonishing quality it provides
  • Straight-forward, simple set up
  • Mechanical filament sensor
  • Touch-screen
  • Ultrabase Heated Bed for even heating and stability
  • Works well with PLA, PETG, HIPS, ABS, and Wood

Anycubic i3 Mega Cons

  • Cannot be upgraded
  • Noisy

Creality Ender 3 Pros

  • Affordable options as an FDM printer
  • Large print volume
  • High quality, but quick printing
  • Customizable to fix any issues
  • Can be used with a number of materials including PLA, TPU, ABS, and PETG
  • Comes with industry-popular Cura Slicing software
  • Solid built

Creality Ender 3 Cons

  • The plate bed needs to be adjusted
  • Printing quality can be improved

Are there any alternatives?

Prusa i3 MK3S

prusa i3 mk3s

It is a little known secret that most FDM printers are fashioned to be a low budget option to the Prusa printers. Therefore, if you have the cash to spend, it might be a good option for you to check out.

The Pursa i3 MK3S has an impressive build volume of 250 x 210 x 200 m and layer resolution up to 50 microns. Therefore, you can get some really fine detail and high-quality prints from the device.

Its structure and design stand out due to their stability and accuracy. The company listens to the consumer to upgrade their devices to enhance user experience and provide better results.

It uses a USB drive or SD card to transfer prints while using their own custom PursaSlicer. The software is rich with features and the company frequently updates it.

However, it is compatible with other third-party software if the users wish to try others. Overall, if you have the cash to spend, this award-winning FDM printer might be right for you.

Monoprice MP Select Mini V2

monoprice

If you’re looking to stay on a budget, the Monoprice MP Select Mini is a good option as well.

Monoprice manufactures a host of electronics and the MP select mini is one of their forays in the 3D printing space. It is rather small with a build volume of 120 x 120 x 120 mm, but it can be a good option for miniature or other smaller models.

An impressive feature of the printer includes the addition of WiFi connectivity along-with USB and Micro-SD cards. It also is backed by a community and large following so getting support for various projects would not be difficult. The company recommends using Cura or Repetier-Host as slicing software when working with the device, but other users do mention its capabilities with other software as well.

Due to all this, the Monoprice MP Select Mini V2 is an excellent option for you to peek at.

FAQs About Anycubic i3 Mega and Ender 3

What Are FDM Prints And What Can You Do With Them?

The Fused Deposition Modeling printer, also known as the Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), printer is a 3D technology that builds models using a continuous flow of filament.

It typically uses thermoplastic material in the forms of PLA, ABS, PTEG, HIPS, TPU, or wood. The material is fed to the device’s nozzle or extruder head that deposits it on a heated bedplate. The nozzle moves according to its input to build models on a layer-by-layer basis. A small amount of thermoplastic material is deposited on each new layer.
The end result is a smooth, uniform, and sturdy model.

FDM printers are typically used to create a product or part prototypes. It can also be used for producing some end-use products depending on its purpose. They have also been used in the food industry to produce packaging and as 3D modeling printers in the medical industry.

What To Look For When Buying FDM Printers?

You might want to consider different elements depending on the projects you want to complete. However, we suggest keeping the following questions in mind when purchasing an FDM printer:
•What build volume do I need?
•How crucial is layer resolution to my project?
•Can the bedplate auto-level for ensuring stability or will adjustments need to be made?
•Are there any build upgrades required?
•What kind of nozzle or heated bed plate does the device have?
•What connectivity options are available?
•Which software can I use with the device?
•Does the company offer spare parts?
•What post-processing procedures are required?
•What is the device’s print speed?
•How budget-friendly is the device for you?

What Do Anycubic i3 Mega and Ender 3 Come With?

The Anycubic i3 Mega printers come with:
•Pliers
•Screws
•Scraper
•Tool set
•Card reader
•Glove
•SD Card
•User manual
•Tweezer
•Power cord
•USB cable

The Ender 3 comes with:
•Pliers
•Screws
•Toolkit
•Screwdriver
•Wrench
•Scraper
•Ties
•Manual

What, if any, Other Slicing Software Can Be Used With Anycubic i3 Mega or Ender 3?

Aside from their own slicing software, both printers can be adapted to be used with other slicing software, such as
•Netfabb Standard
•PrusaSlicer
•OctoPrint
•MatterControl
•Simplify3D
•MakerBot Print

Do I get a warranty with Anycubic i3 Mega or Ender 3?

Both companies come with their own warranty policies. To learn more, visit their respective website at Anycubic Warranty Policy or Creality Warranty Policy.

Our Verdict: Anycubic i3 Mega vs Ender 3 – Which is better?

To conclude our Anycubic i3 Mega vs Ender 3 comparison, both printers are good and affordable FDM printing options. Although there are differences in quality, build volume, and overall functionality; however, that shows their different applications.

As such, we recommend Anycubic i3 Mega to be a suitable option for medical or other product prototype building. It can help you and your clients visualize designs. Or, alternatively, it can reliably build small parts required by manufacturers and other companies. In fact, if we had to pick one, we’d go with the Anycubic i3 Mega for its versatility and wider application.

The Ender 3 is ideal for the hobbyist. Individuals looking to upgrade their cosplays using 3D printing, for example, could greatly benefit from it. Alternatively, beginners and those at the start of their learning journey could find Ender 3 to be a good affordable option. That also makes it ideal for school or college students to elevate their skills.

Artillery Sidewinder X1 Review: Is It Worth Buying?

Artillery is pretty green. They’ve only been around since October of 2018, but they got off on the right foot, releasing a 3D printer that goes toe to toe with plenty of other quality, budget 3D printers.

Their first printer, the Artillery Sidewinder X1 rings up at less than $500, which is a steal in this sector. But don’t let that fool you. It still has an impressive list of features.

Artillery also plowed through plenty of negative user feedback to produce subsequent iterations that work more smoothly. The manufacturer always seems to have an ear to the ground with quick fixes for an already rock-solid printer.

They’re currently on their fourth generation Sidewinder X1, and it definitely lives up to my expectations.

Specifications

artillery sidewinder x1

It’s not always all about the specs, but it’s a quick peek at the size, design, and features.

  • Version: Artillery Sidewinder S1 V4
  • Year: 2019
  • Assembly: Pre-assembled
  • Technology: FDM
  • Mechanical arrangement: Cartesian-XY-Head
  • Build volume: 11.8 x 11.8 x 15.75 inches (300 x 300 x 400 mm)
  • Outer dimensions: 550 x 405 x 640 mm
  • Weight: 16.5 kg
  • Layer height: 0.05 mm
  • Nozzle type: Volcano
  • Nozzle size: 0.4 mm
  • Extruder type: Direct drive
  • Maximum extruder temperature: 240°C
  • Maximum heated bed temperature: 80°C
  • Bed leveling: Manual
  • Print bed: Rapid-heating AC bed
  • Print chamber: Open
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Display: Touchscreen
  • Connectivity: SD, USB cable
  • Print recover: Yes
  • Built-in camera: No
  • Filament sensor: Yes
  • Filament diameter: 1.75 mm
  • Materials: ABS, HIPS, PLA, flexible PLA, PVA, TPU
  • Third-party filaments: Yes
  • Operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Recommended slicer: Cura, Simplyfy3D, Slic3r

Setup and Settings

The Sidewinder X1 comes pre-assembled in an organized box, and the setup is seamless. The only things you have to do are attach the gantry to the base with screws, plug in the ribbon cables, and bolt the filament holder to the top.

Unfortunately, there are no bed leveling sensors, so it’s a manual process. However, it does come with an assisted leveling system to make the task less complicated.

Artillery doesn’t have a proprietary slicer, which is nice for those who like open-source slicers like Cura. Cura offers a full range of controls that allow you to experiment and fine-tune your settings.

The default Artillery settings will work fine for beginners, though. The only thing you may have to do is reduce the print speed for better quality. It’s tempting to reduce printing time, but large prints will wobble much more at high speeds and the printer performs much better at low speeds.

Technology

artillery printer

A 3D printer is really only as good as the technology it’s equipped with. After all, you could have a fantastic design and huge print volume, but if it’s built using low-quality materials, you’ll never be able to experience its true potential, or yours.

Artillery is based in Shenzhen and I discovered after some research that they also market their devices under the brand name Evnovo. The Sidewinder X1 is their first 3D printer, but they’re currently offering the fourth version, with many improvements over the first.

If features top of the line capabilities like a sturdy chassis, large print bed with fast heating, and a direct drive extruder system. These have all been present since the beginning, but the latest version is just so much better, so let’s dig into more detail.

Design

While the Artillery Sidewinder X1 takes a lot of inspiration from the Creality CR-10-style, it’s so much sleeker in my opinion. Plus, the technology is more than a mere clone as well.

The mainboard, touchscreen, and power supply are all stored on the base unit so it looks more uniform, it’s much more convenient, and it adds to the design rather than detracting from it.

It has a sleek and professional appearance which is a huge step up from similarly priced alternatives.

The Sidewinder X1 is also much different from competitors in terms of the use of ribbon cables. From a design perspective, this 3D printer moves to the top of the list. Other budget desktop printers have huge, mangled messes of cabling, but this one offers neatly arranged ribbon cables instead.

In previous iterations, these ribbon cables were nothing but complicated. They broke and they wore out thanks to the printer’s rapid motion. While I have had limited contact with the machine compared to those who use their daily, the ribbon cables on this iteration seem to handle the stress much better.

Thankfully, the company listens to user feedback and fixes issues. They also threw in an extra set of ribbon cables, just in case. There are also some interesting workarounds on Thingiverse if you’re interested in prolonging the life of your cables.

Framework

While it’s fairly common to see sturdy Y-axis rails, even on budget printers these days, a hefty X-axis rail is harder to come by. But, as you may have already guessed, the X1 has it. A 20 x 60 mm extrusion lends support to the direct drive setup.

A dual lead screw design operates the Z-axis, equipped with anti-backlash nuts to keep everything synchronized. There’s also a connector belt with a pulley to prevent desyncing over time.

It’s not the most elegant solution (dual end stops would be better), but it functions fine for a printer at this price point, and you really can’t expect much more.

There are 20 x 40 mmm extrusions on the base unit, held in place by four screws. This solid scaffold prevents wobbling of the Z-axis, which is especially handy when you have such a tall build space.

It could be improved with an angle connector to prevent even more wobbling because the X1 does tend to wobble toward the top. Aside from that, this printer has a sleek and sturdy appearance.

Print Bed

At the heart of every 3D printer is a bed, and the Sidewinder X1’s heart beats for you. It offers a huge 300 x 300 x 400 mm space with a porous glass surface coated in ceramic.

The volume of the X1 is definitely above average, but it really shines when you evaluate its ability to go from zero to printing in mere seconds. 45 to be exact. The print bed heats from room temperature to maximum temperature that fast.

Artillery equipped the bed to heat so quickly by mounting the heater on the underside of the glass with no metal plate in between the two. It’s AC heated rather than DC heated, so it’s heated with 220/110V rather than 24V. It’s one of the only printers to do it this way.

Of course, there’s always a downside. In this case, you run the risk of electric shock, especially with connectors exposed to motion a lot of the time. However, all of the wires are insulated, so that alleviates the problem somewhat.

While the spec sheet indicates a max heated bed temp of 80°C, it is actually capable of 120°C, which comes in handy when printing with temperature-sensitive materials. Unfortunately, the bed doesn’t do a great job of temperature dispersion, so it’s cooler along the outer edges, causing adhesion problems with larger objects.

The ceramic glass plate does offer great bed adhesion though because it expands with heat and shrinks again as it cools down. The final prints literally pop right off. One other drawback is that you can’t remove the bed. With such a large print volume, it would be nice to remove the bed for better access, but as the prints pop off so easily, it’s not really necessary.

Extruder

The extruder is where the real magic happens. The Sidewinder X1 is equipped with a direct drive Titan Aero extruder and a Volcano hot end. Direct drive extruders are rare at this price point, but Artillery included it because, well, it’s better.

Just like the print bed, the hot end heats up to its max temp rather quickly. And once again, despite an advertised max temp of 240°C, it can actually reach 270°C. It’s safer and more effective at around 240 or 250°C just to ensure the cold end isn’t damaged.

The Volcano hot end has an elongated melt zone, giving you high flow rates and enabling the use of nozzles with larger diameters like 0.8 or 1mm.

It has two fans. The one that cools the extruder does a fine job but the one that cools the prints could be better. You’re better off reserving your first print job for a fan duct alternative to improve this piece. Not only is it one of the smallest pieces of the printer, but it’s also the loudest.

UI and Connectivity

connectivity

The 3.5-inch color touchscreen is a lot more than you’ll get with many other comparable 3D printers. It’s easy to use and features different colors for each submenu. Every feature is accessible from this menu, unlike other firmware that offers only a subset of operations on the touchscreen.

The Sidewinder X1 offers support for both USB and micro SD. The USB connection makes it easy to plug your computer directly into the printer while the micro SD is ideal for those who don’t work in the same room as they print.

Performance

Overall, the performance of the Sidewinder X1 is excellent. However, as i mentioned before, you may want to print an alternative fan for cooling your print jobs in addition to a filament spool holder.

Changing the filaments is less than ideal and could be made easier. The stock filament holder has two parts bolted to the frame. If you only use one brand of filament, you can adjust these screws once and be done.

However, if you swap brands or switch back and forth frequently, you’ll constantly be adjusting the holder. It’s also not the easiest part of the printer to access if it’s sitting on a shelf or against the wall. Using the ever-so-common PLA filament really didn’t put the printer through its paces, so I increased the difficulty to really test it out. PLA is always a solid choice. Everything turns out well, even at a higher speed.

However, it also handles ABS well without any warping, despite the print bed’s inconsistent heat dissipation. It helps to use a lot of glue beforehand, just to make sure. It’s always surprising to find an open printer that prints well with ABS, and the Sidewinder X1 does.

You’ll run into quite a few problems if you try to print with PETG, which was surprising, given its ability to handle inconsistent temperatures well. Unfortunately, PETG resulted in some blobs and failing in the first layer. This problem isn’t specific to the Sidewinder X1 and is actually common in Volcano hot ends. You can manage it by adjusting the retraction settings and enabling the Cura coasting feature, but you may still encounter problems.

The direct drive extruder handles flexible filaments with no feeding problems. It may string a bit occasionally, but that’s what I expected. Overall, the Sidewinder X1 can print with plenty of different materials, but the everyday use of PLA is where it really shines.

Usability

Like I said before, the menu is colorful and easy to use. You touch it and it responds accordingly. Built-in features like resume print and the filament runout sensor work great. As a bonus, the heated bed stays heated while you add more filament.

You can even come back hours later to add the material and restart the print without worrying about it detaching. Nifty, right?

And while you can’t bump the bed when switching out filament, you can move axes via the touch screen before resuming. Obviously, in the case of a power outage, the bed does not stay heated, but it will still resume the print with no problem once the power comes back on.

The Sidewinder X1, with the exception of the cooling fan, is rather quiet in comparison to other alternatives. It operates at about 45 dB.

Pros:

  • Sleek design
  • Fast heating
  • Silent operation
  • Surprising performance
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Less than ideal filament holder
  • Uneven heat dissipation

Alternatives

At this price point, you’ll find quite a few comparable alternatives. Here are some of your options.

Mingda D3 Pro

mingda d3 pro

This is another lesser-known brand that offers an excellent alternative to the Sidewinder X1. It has an even larger print volume than the Sidewinder X1, plus it has a removable heated bed, giving you better access to your completed prints.

This one also has a direct drive extruder and a touch screen, but it ups the ante with auto-leveling. It features a similar design and falls in the same price point, so it seems like it might be a better value.

It’s a bit harder to set up and wire management isn’t as great, so there are some trade-offs.

Creality CR-10

creality cr-10s

The Sidewinder X1 takes its design cues from the Creality CR-10, so it’s pretty comparable in terms of not only design but price and functionality. The print volume is identical but Creality offers other models with even bigger print volumes whereas Artillery doesn’t.

The assembly is easy and the control box is intuitive, but the print bed is removable, which is an improvement over the Sidewinder. Downsides are that the print bed takes a long time to heat up, print setup can be tedious, and the filament holder is prone to tangling.

Prusa i3

the original prusa i3

The Prusa i3 is another open-source 3D printer offering an affordable price and plenty of features. The print volume is double that of the Sidewinder and it has a removable bed, but performance is sometimes less than reliable.

It operates best with the Slic3r software, although you can use Cura if you prefer. It has an auto-leveling feature and features a very sturdy frame, offering support for its large build volume. However, it’s about double the price of the Sidewinder.

FAQs

What is the best 3D printer for beginners?

There are plenty of great options for beginners. The Anycubic Photon is great for printing with resin, the Monoprice Select Mini V2 is the best value for the price, and the Flashforge Adventurer 3 is the easiest to use.
It still all depends on which features you want, how much you want to spend, and how much room you need to grow your skills.

How much does it cost for a 3D printer?

3D printers vary in price quite a bit. Some of the more affordable solutions, like the Artillery Sidewinder X1, are less than $500. However, there are plenty of upgrades that add to the cost, not to mention higher quality printers that cost in excess of $1000. Some even cost multiple thousands.
How much you spend depends on the features you need. Beginners and recreational users will likely not spend as much money while serious hobbyists or small businesses might opt for something more feature-rich and more costly.

What is a 3D printer good for?

3D printers are good for all kinds of projects. They’re great for small businesses to create prototypes or for large businesses to manufacture objects. They’re also great learning tools for small children as well as students of all ages.
Universities everywhere invest in 3D printers so students can work with the latest technology, but even if you’re just a hobbyist at home, you may enjoy a 3D printer for small projects and replicas.

Final Thoughts

The Artillery Sidewinder X1 features innovative technology like the AC heated bed and direct drive extruder. It also has a rather large print volume and decent performance. However, you’ll probably have to replace some of the less-than-perfect parts right away.

It also tends to wobble at the top of the Z-axis, but it’s an affordable printer that’s incredibly user friendly and capable of quality prints that may surprise you.

The list of features is impressive, the technology is superb, the price is right, and it beats out most of the competition in terms of ease of use and fun.

Ultimaker S5 Review: Is it Any Good?

Consumers and small businesses demand excellent 3D printers to meet their recreational and commercial needs. Large-format 3D printers are fantastic options for product development and creating prototypes without investing in a full-scale solution.

For individuals who want to take on big projects at home or small businesses needing a large, professional 3D printer the Ultimaker S5 with its large print volume and detailed results might just be the right solution for you.

Ultimaker S5

Design

ultimaker s5

A large print volume means a large printer. You need a lot of room for the Ultimaker S5, but it’s worth it. It’s a large white box, measuring 20.5 x 19.5 x 19.5 inches. This helps accommodate the 13 x 9.4 x 11.8 inches of print volume, which gives you 1442 cubic inches.

The bottom of the print area features a heated glass print bed that you can easily remove to take your prints off. Because it’s heated, you can print more easily with materials like ABS. It can heat to 140 degrees Celsius, meaning it can also accommodate high-temperature nylon.

For a time, Ultimaker also offered an aluminum print bed with your purchase, so you may be able to get ahold of one of these for a varied print experience.

The Ultimaker S5 has two interchangeable print heads that are easy to remove via the on-screen menu option. You can swap them out for print heads designed to accommodate different materials and you can also print with two colors at once.

The printer comes with three printheads. Two of these are AA 0.4mm print heads for ABS and PLA and the third is a BB 0.4MM print head for PLA. However, there are more options available if you want to print with other materials.

Controls

The Ultimaker S5 has an interface included and you can control it easily from the screen onboard the printer. You can also control it from the Cura software on your computer or the Ultimaker app on your smartphone.

You can control almost everything from the LCD screen on the printer. It will allow you to load filament and start a print from your USB drive. The display keeps you apprised of your print’s status and will tell you which filaments, print heads, and bed temperatures are in place.

However, the most comprehensive way to control your Ultimaker S5 is through the Cura app. Cura is an open-source 3D printer app that Ultimaker uses for its printers. Ultimaker has customized the app to make it easier to use with your specific printer, and you can get it on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Load your model, scale it, and adjust it directly on the print surface. You can even load several models at once and the program will create supports automatically.

While Cura is feature-rich, there can be a learning curve associated with it, especially if you’ve never used it before. A prime example is its lack of print quality selection. Most 3D printer applications will allow the user to choose the fastest, best quality, or something in the middle.

Instead of making it simple, Cura has a slider for layer height, which is the primary factor when determining print quality, but that’s not too intuitive for first-time users. However, it does allow you to create print profiles, including layer height and other features, making it easier to select what you want in the future.

After setting up your print configurations, the app will slice the model and create the print files. It might sound complicated, but it really doesn’t take too long. You then send the file to the printer using Wi-Fi. You can also hook it up to Ethernet or use a USB drive instead.

The great thing about the Ultimaker app is that you can monitor these prints on your smartphone, and it’s available for both Android and iOS. The printer contains a built-in webcam, so you can watch it work, pause, stop, or cancel.

And while the app doesn’t allow you to start a new print via the app, you can scroll through recent prints and reprint one of those.

Printing

ultimaker s5 printer

The print process is relatively simple and straightforward. Because it features Wi-Fi, an Ethernet port, and a USB port, you have several options for printing however you like it best. You can connect it and control it through your home network and then monitor it while you’re away.

You can control your print queue as well as the actual printer through the software and give multiple users access to add their own prints to the queue. Everyone will be notified when their prints are done.

One important step to remember is also a minor aggravation. You have to press the button on the screen, indicating the print has been removed. If you forget to do this step, the printer will show that it’s still in use.

You could back up the print queue for other users if you don’t clear the bed and press that one tiny button. However, if you’re using it in an office environment with a lot of other users, this one extra step could prevent destroying your job as well as others.

Print Speed and Quality

Even in the lowest quality mode, the Ultimaker S5 can be a bit slow. Even printing a small test could take up to 6.5 hours on the lowest quality setting. Increasing print quality only increases time.

Comparable 3D printers are much faster, but simply changing out the stock print heads for some other alternatives could help improve your print times for a minimal investment. Something with a large hole would allow more melted filament through at a time, laying the levels down faster.

The benefit of this painstaking print speed is excellent quality and detailed results. The Ultimaker S5 can produce much smoother and higher quality results than most other FDM printers on the market today.

It handles these jobs without issues and consistently produces smooth curves, sharp points, clean edges, and intricate details, even on the most complex models.

Print Materials

The heated print bed and variety of print heads available contribute to the wide range of materials the Ultimaker S5 is capable of using. As it comes, you can print with PVA, TPU, CPE, Nylon, ABS, and PLA. The PVA is especially useful for generating flexible supports that are easy to remove by dissolving in warm water.

The other nice thing about your wide range of filament options is that Ultimaker doesn’t use proprietary materials. You can obtain your filament from any manufacturer you prefer. Plus, the Cura software has presets for 11 different materials and most manufacturers offer material profiles that you can download and add to Cura.

Ultimaker’s filament does come with NFC tags to identify color and type, making it easy to change the filament frequently and ensure the app recognizes the right one.

Alternatives

There are a lot of 3D printers out there. If you’re looking for something comparable to the Ultimaker S5, here are some other options for you to consider.

LulzBot Taz 6 – Best Print Volume

lulzbot taz 6

The LulzBot Taz 6 has a print volume that’s almost as big as the Ultimaker S5, at 1238 cubic inches. However, the design of the LulzBot is a bit less professional. It’s open and features a more basic look.

The Taz 6 prints quite a bit faster, even on the highest quality setting, so if print speed is a factor, you may want to consider this alternative. But don’t be fooled by the print speed. If you want print quality, you won’t find it here. The highest quality print on a Taz 6 is comparable to the lowest quality print on the S5.

The primary reason you might go with the Taz 6 over the S5 is for recreational or hobby printing, large print volume, and a more affordable price.

Markforged Mark Two – Best for Professionals

This particular printer may be out of reach of hobbyists. It’s definitely geared toward businesses and has an insanely high price point. However, for businesses that need a variety of high-quality print materials, this is the way to go.

The Mark Two accepts materials like fiberglass, carbon fiber, and kevlar. The build volume isn’t bad either, at 12.6 x 5.2 x 6 inches. It’s a true workhorse backed by a manufacturer known for making quality 3D printers.

Raise3D Pro2 Plus – Best for the Budget Minded

Raise3D

This 3D printer falls in line with the Ultimaker S5 when it comes to price. They both cost about the same amount, so it can be out of reach for some users who don’t want to spend thousands.

However, it shares some design features, like the fully enclosed print area and dual extrusion. It also has a huge print volume of 12 x 12 x 23.8 inches. It has the capability to handle incredibly large prints and plenty of tricky materials.

FAQs

What is the best 3D printer for beginners?

If you’re just starting out and you don’t know what you’re getting into, the Ultimaker S5 is something to work up to. It’s better to start with something smaller and more simple, like the Monoprice Voxel.
The print area is smaller, it’s more affordable, and it gives you a space to learn without the overwhelming amount of controls available on something more professional.

What is the best 3D printer for home use?

Even for experienced 3D printer hobbyists, the Monoprice Voxel is a great option. However, the Formlabs Form 3 or the Ultimaker 3 are great options for a bit more print volume and customizable settings.
They’re still affordable, but Form 3 allows for multiple users at once while the Ultimaker 3 features the same great software as the Ultimaker S5.

What is the best 3D printer on the market?

The Ultimaker S5 is definitely on the list. While pricey, it offers high-quality professional prints, customizable settings, and extreme accessibility via multiple access points. However, there are plenty of others out there.
The best printer for you is going to be the one you can afford that has everything you need. You don’t need something as big or capable as the Ultimaker S5 if you’re not producing high-volume or high-quality prints frequently.

Final Thoughts

If you’re serious about 3D printing and you have a sizable budget, the Ultimaker S5 is the way to go. It prints flawlessly using a wide variety of materials. The heated print bed and the interchangeable nozzles make it easy to print and the print volume is nothing to sneeze at.

It’s ideal for small businesses, schools, or people who do a lot of 3D printing at home for more than just recreation. However, for many print enthusiasts, it’s too large, too expensive, and offers much more than they’ll ever need.

The good news is that Ultimaker makes a lot of different 3D printers that are easy to use and offer great quality. They’re smaller and cheaper, but everything a hobbyist needs.

For those who truly do a lot of printing for work or school, the Ultimaker S5 is the best, most flexible option.

Further read: 

Freecad vs Fusion 360: Which Should You Choose?

In this FreeCAD vs Fusion 360 comparison review, we’re going to explore the features of these two amazing computer-aided design software. There is a wide range of 3D modeling software available (previously covered here) and both FreeCAD and Fusion 360 are widely recognized as great tools for creating incredibly detailed designs for 3D printing.

So which software tool is better?

In this comparison, we will be exploring the main features of each software, the user interface, supported file types, and ease of use. We’ll be comparing the minimum system requirements of each and exploring the toolsets and extensions that you can use. In addition, we’ll be showing you some of the alternative software available to design the products that you want to 3D print.

Main Differences Between FreeCAD vs Fusion 360

The main differences between FreeCAD and Fusion 360 are:

  • FreeCAD is open source and therefore will always be completely free, whereas Fusion 360 has free licenses only for educators and students.
  • FreeCAD has a steeper learning curve, whereas Fusion 360 is relatively user-friendly and intuitive.
  • FreeCAD is still in development, whereas Fusion 360 is a complete product.
  • FreeCAD is free to extend, whereas Fusion 360’s extensions and plugins are of an additional cost.
  • FreeCAD allows you to maintain control of your files, whereas Fusion 360’s files are stored in the cloud.

These are both extremely high functioning software that can be used for complex designs, and many of the features are likely to be used only by those with a background in engineering, however, there is plenty to attract a hobby user, learner, or small business user too. So let’s get into the details and find out more about FreeCAD and Fusion 360.

What is FreeCAD?

freecad

FreeCAD is a 3D modeler used mostly for designing real-life objects of any size. It’s primarily aimed at those working in mechanical engineering and product design, and with its scriptable CAD, there are options for electrical or architectural design too.

FreeCAD was released in October 2002 by authors Jürgen Riegel, Werner Mayer, and Yorik van Havre who wanted to create open-source CAD software to work on all platforms.

One of the key things to know about FreeCAD is that, as an open-source project, it is completely free for all to use. Because it is open-source, you can also add functions to the software using Python programming.

So who uses FreeCAD? A poll on the FreeCAD forum suggests that most people (52%) using FreeCad are doing so for their hobbies – whether the hobby is Computer-aided design or they are making personal real objects. 36% of users said they used it for professional purposes, largely mechanical engineering design and FEM (finite element method) analysis.

Key features of FreeCAD:

  • Architecture
  • Full parametric model
  • Rendering
  • Sketcher
  • Robot simulation
  • Modular architecture
  • Geometry kernel
  • Path mode
  • Standard formats.

What is Fusion 360?

fusion 360

Fusion 360 was designed by Autodesk, the creators of well known and respected AutoCAD, which has been around since the 1980s. In this development, the designers were given free scope to redesign CAD tools, aiming to create a futuristic CAD tool from scratch, thinking about all the things they felt a premium CAD tool should have going into the future.

Designed with educators and students in mind, it aims to help them prepare for the future of design. It is a combined, cloud-based 3D CAD, CAM, and CAE tool. In one platform you are able to conceptualize various versions of your design, combining multiple modeling elements. A variety of analysis methods mean that you can ensure the form, fit, and function of your products.

In addition, you can add electronic intelligence using the Schematic design, PCB layout, and routing capabilities embedded in Fusion 360. With managed user permissions, version control, and cloud storage you can easily manage your data and gain more control.

Fusion 360 allows great collaboration and teamwork in real-time. It’s very easy to then move into 3D printing to see how your prototype works. Within the system, you can test your design using digital simulations of real-world conditions. 2D manufacturing drawings or animations bring it to life for potential investors or customers.

Key features of Fusion 360:

  • Overview
  • Sketching
  • Freeform modeling
  • Surface modeling
  • Parametric modeling
  • Mesh modeling
  • Direct modeling
  • PCB Design Integration

FreeCAD vs Fusion 360 – Features

freecad 1

To help you decide which software would be a better fit for you, we need to look at how they compare in different features and functionality.

User Interface

There are several key components of the new Fusion 360 interface, which was introduced in 2019 and has, to be honest, had mixed reviews. There are four key areas of this interface:

  1. First, when you log in, you get a new blank project. In the top left is the Application bar.
  2. The second key component of the interface is the data panel, where you can see your project and within them, your project files and collaboration.
  3. The third element of the user interface is your own profile area and help section.
  4. Finally, the fourth element is the main toolbar. This differs according to the type of workspace you are planning to use.

The User Interface on FreeCAD is based on Qt, a well known graphical user interface (GUI) used often in Linux but also available in Windows and macOS.

For the uninitiated, it can be a little clunky and over-complicated. It consists of the main view area (and 3D view); a panel containing the tree view and task panel, property editor, selection view, and report view; a Python console; a toolbar area and workbench selector.

Supported File Formats

FreeCAD mainly uses its own file format – FreeCAD Standard file format (.FCStd) – which is a standard zip file holding the files within a particular structure. Within this, Document.xml files have definitions of geometric and parametric objects, GuiDocument.xml has visual representations of these objects, and prep-files include items such as thumbnails of drawings.

In addition to FreeCAD’s own file format, files can also be exported and imported as STEP, DXF, OBJ (Wavefront), SCAD (OpenSCAD), IFC, SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), IGES, DAE (Collada), IV (Inventor) and STL (STereoLithography) file formats.

Fusion 360 supports Autodesk Alias (.wire), AutoCAD DWG files, Archive files from Fusion 360, Sim 360 and Autodesk Inventor, Catia V5 files, DXF files, FBX, IGES, NX, OBJ, Parasolid and Pro/Engineer files, Rhino files, SAT/SMT files, STEP files, and STL files. Files can be imported into Fusion 360 and then converted into native files within the software.

Ease of use

Both of the software’s are quite complex with many different functions and it will take a little time to get the hang of all the things they can do. There are many tutorials available on the internet to support you learning different features not to mention the “Get Started in Fusion 360” in the Autodesk help area and the FreeCAD forum.

FreeCAD, in particular, has been described by many users as having a “steep learning curve” but nearly all said that once they had got the hang of it it was a user-friendly software.

System Requirements

FreeCAD has minimum system requirements of

  • Windows 7 or younger, Ubuntu 12.04 or younger, Mac OSX or younger.
  • FreeCAD does not support parallel processing but using a good CPU won’t hurt.
  • The more complex your model the more RAM will be needed. A 64-bit operating system and 8GB of RAM would be a minimum.

Fusion 360 has a minimum requirement of

  • Windows 8.2 or 10, Apple Mac)” Catalina 10.15, Mohave v10.14, High Sierra v10.13.
  • A CPU with a 64-bit processor, 4 cores, 1.7 GHz Intel Core i3, AMD Ryzen 3 or greater.
  • 4 GB of RAM (integrated graphics recommended 6GB or more).
  • The Internet should be at 2.5Mbps or faster download and 500Kbps or faster upload.

Toolsets and Extensions

fusion 360 1

Both FreeCAD and Fusion 360 can be used to make detailed and precise drawings and models for your design.

In FreeCAD the functions are divided into workbenches. Each digital workbench has its own set of tools grouped by task So for example you may use one workbench for drawing a 2D shape and another for working further on them. There is a wide range of built-in workbenches, for example:

  • Draft Workbench – for basic 2D and 3D CAD operations.
  • Arch Workbench – for architectural parts.
  • Part Workbench – for working with CAD parts.

You can also easily program your own additional workbenches using Python, and there is a wide range of Addon Workbenches made by others in the community.

Fusion 360 has previously had two levels of function: Standard and Ultimate. Both already had a range of functions with tools for modeling, rendering, simulation, data management, and manufacturing all self-contained within the software.

They have now introduced Fusion 360 Extensions. This means that those with a Standard license looking for a different set of tools for their project, can purchase the appropriate extension bundle – for example, a Manufacturing Extension to give you tools for metal additive manufacturing – for a specified time period and these tools will immediately become available to you.

The Alternatives to FreeCAD and Fusion 360

Sketchup

sketcup

Sketchup used to be known as Google Sketchup. It’s software for creating 3D models. It has a very user-friendly and intuitive interface allowing you to use push/pull toggles to make a flat surface into a three-dimensional object in your design. In addition, it has an extensive database of models other users have created that you can download and use for your own projects.

Sketchup comes with a wide range of pricing plans depending on what you want to use it for, from a free, web-based version through to a professional architect license.

Rhinoceros 3D

rhinoceros

While Rhinoceros 3D is really a 3D modeling program rather than CAD, it’s probably one of the most versatile modeling software you can find for sale just now.

It has a wide range of design functions and can import a wide range of import files. The best thing about Rhinoceros 3D is that you are able to create such a wide range of shapes with incredible precision, from drawings and sketches and even a 3D scan.

Other Free Options

Here are a few other CAD options that will help you with your 3D printing and that are available for free use.

  • TinkerCAD is another tool from Autodesk. This is a web-based tool giving you easy to use a simple interface yet still allowing you to design complex 3D files. It’s super for design beginners and allows you to save as STL files and also to choose whether to print as solid or hollow.
  • Blender is probably best known for creating 3D computer graphics, but it is also more than capable of producing models for 3D printing. However, it is quite a complex tool to master and has many features that would not be useful to you for your 3D printing.
  • Ultimaker Cura is a great beginners option as it provides tips and recommendations while allowing you to create your own 3D designs.

For some other reviews and comparisons of CAD and other 3D printing software, you could look at our Solidworks vs. CATIA comparison, or check out our verdict on Fusion 360 vs. AutoCAD. We also have a great comparison of AutoCAD vs. Inventor or for another Fusion 360 comparison, we look at how it measures up against Onshape.

FAQs

What is a Computer-aided design?

Computer-aided design – known as CAD for short – is the use of computers to help you design an object. The use of the computer makes it much easier to modify and improve a design, and with extra tools allowing for assessment and analysis and then the addition of 3D printing, you can go from design to prototype all from the screen of your home computer.
CAD helps to improve design quality, supports collaboration, and improves productivity.

How difficult is it to learn CAD for 3D printing?

Both FreeCAD and Fusion 360 are complex software that will require some practice and exploration to get to grips with.
The great thing is that there is a large community of designers on the internet who use both types of technology and not only are you able to find ready-made designs that you can use and customize, but you will also find countless tutorials to support you as you learn the systems.

Is it possible to import files from one type of software to the other?

While FreeCAD and Fusion 360 both have their own preferred file type, these are largely compatible and interchangeable and can also be imported and exported between a wide array of other modeling software. For example, you can import an AutoCAD drawing into Sketchup.

Is FreeCAD really free?

Absolutely. As open-source software, you can use, distribute, or modify the software for personal or commercial work. It really is free!

Can I save my design locally on FreeCAD or Fusion 360?

On Fusion 360 your designs are normally saved in the Cloud. To save them locally you need to click on the details of a design in your dashboard and then click Export and choose which format you would like to download it to your computer. In FreeCAD the files are saved locally.

The Final Word: FreeCAD vs. Fusion 360: Which One Is Better for 3D Printing?

FreeCAD is a great open source project and the contributors and builders are continuing to work on it and add to it with every generation. The fact that it is completely free and will certainly remain so is a huge advantage, and we know that it is only going to get better in the future.

It is flexible and the parametric modeling allows you to design based on existing models. A great feature is the model history, allowing you to make alterations and track your changes. It is great for geometric designs, but not so suitable for organic shapes such as figurines of plants or animals.

However, at this time we would recommend Fusion 360. It is a more complete product with a far more user-friendly interface. The free license for educators and students makes it accessible and if you are working commercially, you’ll find the price-points for the licenses are certainly manageable.

Not only that, but it has an enormous functionality and has the capability to manage, create, and manipulate organic and natural shapes. There are a range of learning options and the extremely active Fusion 360 forum where you will always find somebody willing to give you support and advice.

We think that while FreeCAD is a super piece of software, and definitely a project to support and get involved with, from the point of view of 3D printing, Fusion 360 is the better product.

Elegoo Mars Review: Pros and Cons

The rise of 3D printers has been quick. In the UK alone, 17 percent said that they will buy a 3D printer. This is probably the reason why there are several manufacturers right now who are offering their own 3d printers.

The ELEGOO Mars is one of the more popular recommendations with its incredibly low price and excellent print quality. This 3D printer is also very easy to learn and a very compact design.

What other things should you know about ELEGOO Mars? And are there alternatives if you’re not impressed with the ELEGOO Mars? Read on and find out more about this 3D printer and whether it is the perfect one for you, or if you should keep looking for something else.

What Is the ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer?

elegoo mars uv

When you buy a budget 3D printer, you kinda expect it to suck. After all, the most common tradeoff for getting an affordable printer is that the quality is often compromised.

Not with ELEGOO Mars, though. This affordable 3D printer does not scrimp on the quality of the prints. It looks great too.

ELEGOO Mars is a photocuring LCD 3D printer that uses photopolymer resins to create the prints you want. The low-priced printer promises high-quality prints because it does not use fusion deposition modeling. FDM is when the 3D printer uses hot plastics that are pushed out of extruders for your prints. FDM printers produce smoother surfaces on your prints that are also more detailed. The problem is that FDM printers can cost quite a lot.

ELEGOO Mars cures the resin to create the prints you want. As such, it does not use the expensive FDM technology and you can buy this printer for around $370.

Specifications and Design

But how is the print quality? To say that these are some high-quality output that can rival prints from more expensive devices will surely not be enough. Let’s look at the specs.

ELEGOO Mars measures 7.87 by 7.87 by 16.14 inches (200 by 200 by 410 millimeters) and it has a build volume of 4.7 by 2.6 by 6.1 inches (120 by 68 by 155 millimeters). This 3D printer is a bit on the small size, which can be good or bad depending on how you view it.

The small size means that the printer does not take up a lot of space, so you can be more flexible when deciding where to put it. But the smaller build volume would limit the size of the prints that you can have with this printer.

The ELEGOO Mars has an aluminum base with an orange cover. It does not look like most other 3D printers, with their boring black or white build.

At the front of the base, ELEGOO puts a sensitive touch display that allows you to tweak the controls and settings for your prints. There is a USB port at the back, which is where you put in the flash drive that contains the print files.

Printing with ELEGOO Mars

Aside from being the little printer that could, ELEGOO Mars also prints differently than other printers. We are used to seeing printers with extruders pushing out plastic filaments to create 3D models.

ELEGOO Mars has a vat of resin and the build platform is dipped repeatedly into it. Ultraviolet light will cure the resin layer by layer. So as the build platform goes in and out of the resin tray, another hardened layer is added to it.

What You Will Like About the ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer

The ELEGOO Mars comes to you already set up. Plus the box already has everything you need to print your first 3D model. That includes the printer, enough resin, gloves, filter funnels, masks, wire cutters, measuring cups, flash drive, and scraper, among others.

Not only that, the ELEGOO Mars has a pretty smooth printing process. That is everything is easy to do even right down to how easy it is to take out the resin tray and put it back.

It is clear that this 3D printer has been thoughtfully designed, so there is no need to push and pull with force worrying about breaking some part or another.

What You Might Not Like About the ELEGOO Mars

elgoo printer

One thing about the ELEGOO Mars that you might find bothersome is this 3D printer makes a loud beeping noise when it starts and finishes a print. You cannot turn it off and it can be pretty annoying.

Another thing is that the consumables can be expensive. ELEGOO manufacturers their own resins, which are available in two volumes: 500 and 1,000 grams (17.6 and 35.3 ounces) and can cost anywhere from $1.13 to $1.60.

And that’s just the resin. You will also need to stock up on gloves because it is not safe to touch the resin without wearing them. Then you also need more filter funnels. Further, you might not like how this 3D printer allows you to do smaller sized 3D objects because of its smaller build volume.

ELEGOO Mars: The Bottom Line

If you have been wishing for a budget-friendly 3D printer that does not produce garbage 3D prints, then the ELEGOO Mars is the answer to your prayers. This affordable 3D printer produces high-quality prints and it does not look cheap at all.

There is a lot of things that go for it as well. The intuitive user interface with its large 3.5-inch, 2560 by 1440 pixels 2K high-definition touch display, makes it very easy to use.

There is a very simple process from setup to printing, so you don’t have to be a techie to learn how to use this device. If you’re looking for a budget printer or just want to try resin printing, this it the best 3D printer for you.

Pros

  • A budget-friendly printer that produces high-quality prints
  • Easy to use with minimal assembly required
  • Eye-catching design that melds aluminum and an orange cover
  • The very simple printing process
  • Compact size

Cons

  • Accessories and supplies can add up to the cost
  • High-pitched beeping noise that you cannot stop or deactivate
  • Smaller than the typical build volume

Alternatives to ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer

With dozens of 3D printers out there, the ELEGOO Mars has a number of excellent competition. If you are looking for a similarly affordable 3D printer that doesn’t hurt your pocket, here are some alternatives.

1. X-one2 3D Printer

qidi printer

If you are looking for an even more affordable 3D printer, then you can check out QIDI Tech X-one2 3D Printer.

This printer is pretty much plugged and play and you can start using it the moment you get it out of the box. It is an FDM printer with a single extruder and can work with different filament types such as ABS, TPU, and PLA. It also comes with a 3.5-inch touchscreen that allows you to operate the printer and set its configurations easily.

What’s more, it has the features that you would expect from other similar but more expensive printers. It has an enclosed build that helps to keep the temperature constant while keeping dirt, dust, and curious fingers out of the printing area.

It also comes with a heated print bed, which allows you to print with PETG or ABS filaments. It also allows for third-party filaments to be used when you are printing.

However, this printer only gives you a printing size of 5.5 by 5.5 by 5.5 inches (139.7 by 139.7 by 139.7 millimeters), which is significantly smaller than the ELEGOO Mars’ already tiny build volume.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Simple operation, just feed the printer some filament and start printing

Cons

  • Small build size

2. Comgrow Creality Ender 3 3D Printer Kit

ender 3

The Creality Ender 3 has several excellent features that make it well worth its low price. For one, you can resume printing after a power outage. It also uses an advanced extruder that lessens the possibility of failed extrusion and plugging risk. It is also very quiet and durable.

This fully open-source printer has its source codes available to the community, allowing anyone to make changes and improve the product. What’s more, this printer gives you a build volume of 8.7 by 8.7 by 10 inches (220 by 220 by 250 millimeters).

However, the low price and the decent build volume has some tradeoffs. First, you will need to assemble it. While the whole process is quite easy to do, especially if you follow the manual or find a good YouTube tutorial, it will still take time.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Precise printing at more or less 0.1-millimeter precision
  • Open-source
  • It is possible to get high-quality prints
  • Easy assembly

Cons

  • Difficult to level
  • You need to manually calibrate the printer
  • You will need to assemble this 3D printer kit

3. QIDI TECH Shadow 5.5 S 3D Printer

qidi tech shadow

If you would like a non-FDM printer and get something that works with resins, then check out the QIDI TECH Shadow 5.5 S 3D Printer. This 3D printer sells for around $150, making it much more affordable than an ELEGOO Mars.

What’s more, this 3D printer looks great with its tempered glass construction in red and gold. The Chinese manufacturer might have been going for a bit of an Iron Man look, but that should not be too much of a complaint.

The QIDI TECH Shadow 5.5 S 3D Printer has a build volume of 4.52 by 2.55 by 5.9 inches (115 by 65 by 150 millimeters). It is able to print with resolutions of 2,560 by 1,440 pixels and you can use third-party resins with this printer.

That means you get excellent details on your 3D prints, and the printer works quietly. Two air filters inside the build chamber infuse the fumes with activated carbon, so there is less stench coming from the resin. However, there are complaints about the printer arriving with dings on the body.

Pros

  • Great for beginners because of the included instruction
  • The air filtration system can fight the stench that normally comes resin printers
  • High-quality prints at a very attractive price point

Cons

  • Quality control issues with the printer, with some components arriving dented, beat up or broken
  • The company does not provide any customer service

FAQs

1. What is FDM printing?

Fused deposition modeling or fused filament fabrication is when your 3D printer extrudes melted material to form your 3D object. FDM technology is the most commonly used in 3D printing, and most people will encounter FDM 3D printers first before any other technology.
FDM technology has some benefits, such as lower costs and a wide range of materials you can use with it. It is also faster because you don’t have to do a lot of post-processing.

2. What is stereolithography?

Stereolithography, or SLA, is a type of 3D printing technology that uses resins to create your model. Unlike FDM, which pushes melted materials out of the extruders, SLA printers use light or lasers to cure resin: turning it from liquid to hard plastic.
FDM printers have their extruders and filaments, while SLA printers have their light sources and vat of resin.
SLA printers often produce stronger models that are water-resistant or waterproof. These 3D printers are also very precise and accurate, with very fine details
You can also have a very smooth finish with SLA printers. Not only that SLA printers are typically less expensive than FDM printers and you can use a wide variety of materials with different characteristics. For instance, your resin can hold a lot of secondary materials such as ceramic or glass.

3. What are the things to remember if you are buying a printer like ELEGOO Mars?

There are some precautions you should take when it comes to working with SLA printers in general.
for one, there is the possibility that it will give off a strong odor or stench while printing. This is the reason why you should always find an SLA 3D printer that has good ventilation or air filtration system.
What’s more, the resins used for this kind of printer tend to come with a lot of caveats. First, you should wear the right protective equipment.
You will need to wear gloves that are made with neoprene or nitrite. You should also use safety goggles and a dust mask when you are sanding parts of your newly printed object.

Is the ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD Printer a Good Buy?

On its own, there are a lot of reasons why you should buy the ELEGOO Mars. For one, it is a budget-friendly printer that delivers excellent print quality. It has a sizable build volume that allows you to create sizable prints.

However, if you zoom out and check out other budget-friendly printers, you would find that it is not a novelty that something so affordable can deliver awesome looking and detailed prints. For instance, you can get two FDM printers that are cheaper than the ELEGOO Mars.

The QIDI Tech X-one2, for one, has similar features as the ELEGOO Mars, but it does have a smaller build area. Nevertheless, it is very easy to operate and learn.

If you like an alternative that uses resin, then check out another QIDI product: the Tech Shadow 5.5 S. This 3D printer can deliver a high-resolution print that retails for less than $150. If you are handy with your hands, you can check out the 3Dpritner kits such as the Creatlity Ender 3D Printer. This printer needs some assembly to work properly.

Overall, it is difficult to find a better 3D printer that can combine low costs and excellent 3D prints, with a vibrant community of users who can help you should you hit a snag.

Further read:

Dremel Laser Cutter vs Glowforge: Which Will You Love?

In this Dremel Laser Cutter vs Glowforge comparison, we’re going to explore the features of these two fantastic laser cutters to help you decide which one is best for you, either to use alongside your 3D printer or by itself. These are both high quality, powerful laser cutters that can be used for a wide range of projects for home or small business use, hobbies, and crafting.

We will look at both of these popular laser cutters, describing the features of each device, how user friendly they are, what they cost, and finally our recommendation for you.

Main Differences Between Dremel vs Glowforge

The main differences between Dremel vs Glowforge are:

  • Dremel is UL approved, whereas Glowforge is not.
  • Dremel is modular allowing easy replacement of the laser tube, whereas Glowforge requires to be sent off to the service team.
  • Dremel has a full-color touch screen, whereas Glowforge does not have any control screen on the device and must be managed through your computer.
  • Dremel’s Digilab software is run from the laser cutter while offline, whereas Glowforge requires internet access.

Exploring Dremel and Glowforge features

dremel lc40

We’re focusing here on the features of the Dremel LC40 and the Glowforge Plus laser cutters.

Cutting

A laser cutter can be used for both cutting and engraving or etching. If you have a 3D printer already, you’ll most likely be using your laser cutter to cut out flat shapes from various materials to use with the pieces you build with your 3D printer.

The Dremel LC40 laser cutter uses a 40W laser tube to cut a variety of materials. It works really well to cut a range of materials cleanly, such as wood cardboard, and acrylic. The result is a clean and very accurate cut.

The Glowforge Plus also uses a 40w laser to cut into objects. The Glowforge is able to engrave with 1000 DPI resolution, with a kerf size (the width of material removed in the cut) of 0.008” – 0.025”.

Both have excellent feedback on their cutting, providing clear, accurate, and very detailed cuts. The Dremel outperforms the Glowforge in cutting speed, though they are both pretty good at this. A basic design can take as little as two to three minutes to engrave, while a detailed full-sheet engraving or cutting might take a couple of hours.

Cooling

It’s no surprise that a cutter using a laser beam to burn through materials will get very hot, which is why they come with cooling systems. You’ll also need to keep them in a well-ventilated space as the material being burned can give off smoke or fumes too, so this is something to think about when you’re deciding where to put your cutter.

The Dremel LC40 has something called the HexBox, an external box that will sit on the shelf below or above your laser cutter and recirculates cool water around the unit and through the laser tube, significantly reducing overheating and allowing the laser cutter to be used for longer periods.

The Glowforge Plus uses an internal closed-loop liquid cooling system using the ambient air drawn in from the room to remove the heat. While this does help save space, on a warm day or in a hotter climate, this can mean that cutting is paused to allow the unit to cool down. The system is designed for function between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Software

glowforge plus

The software that your laser cutter uses turns images or designs into cutting or engraving. There are a few different types of software being used for this in different laser cutters and Dremel and Glowforge both use different ones.

The Dremel LC40 accesses the software through a web browser but runs from the laser cutter. This means that you don’t need an internet connection to work the machine. The software interface is incredibly intuitive and also includes a library of materials with suggested cutting and engraving settings.

A really popular feature of this software is the grids, rulers, and snaps which help with placing designs easily and accurately. The Auto-Array function also automatically duplicates designs on the material. In addition, the LC40 keeps the last 30 jobs you did in its onboard memory so you can run them again from the touchscreen on the machine.

The Glowforge Plus software comes as a free app. The software is web-based so you do need an internet connection to start your print off, but it does work fine with slow connections and once you’ve started your print, you can continue offline. The software has a lot of preset functions and projects, and especially if you are using their Proofgrade™ materials which are tested and specially formulated for their machines.

Platforms

You’ll want your laser cutter software to be compatible with all the different platforms and operating systems that you use. You would be disappointed if you bought a laser cutter and then found that it didn’t work with your Mac!

Fortunately, both Dremel and Glowforge software is compatible with almost any operating system from Windows, iOS, and Android.

Specifications for Dremel and Glowforge

Dremel Glowforge
Cooling: external water cooling system Cooling: Built-in closed-loop water cooling
Software: Dremel software Software: Glowforge cloud-based software
Beam Power: 40w Beam Power: 45w
Tech: CO2 Laser tube Tech: CO2 Laser tube

Comparing Dremel and Glowforge pricing

As laser printer technology advances and becomes more accessible for small business and hobby users, the prices are gradually reducing.

TheDremel LC40 is slightly more expensive for the standard package. This includes the Hexbox, an external cooling system, and a one year warranty. You can purchase additional fans or ventilation units depending on your use and where it will be positioned.

The GlowforgePlus (the model being reviewed here is a little cheaper. Other models available are the slightly cheaper Glowforge Basic and the more expensive Glowforge Pro. For that price, you get the laser cutter, inbuilt cooling system, and one year of warranty. You can also purchase an additional air filter if you are unable to have the cutter next to an open window.

Dremel vs Glowforge ease of use

dremel

Over the last decade, laser cutters have moved from industrial machines to be accessible by students in schools and crafters in their homes. As a result, it’s become very important that you don’t need a degree in engineering to work on them, they have to be user-friendly so that anybody can use them on an occasional basis. So how do these two machines measure up?

The Dremel Digilab LC40 has a large, color touchscreen on board the machine. It takes you intuitively through common tasks and troubleshooting and means that you can run projects from right there on the machine. Its intuitive ease of use is one of the major advantages of the Dremel and has made it very popular with users. In particular, school users have found that students can confidently use the Dremel even with no experience at all.

The Glowforge, while not benefiting from any sort of screen on the machine itself, is still user-friendly and easy to get the hang of. The cloud-based software makes a lot of sense and has a lot of easy to use features. It is also regularly updated within the cloud.

What support is available for Dremel and Glowforge

Customer service and technical support is a really good indicator of how important the customer is for a company. Even if you’re an experienced user, there may be times when you have a technical question that you need help with. So how helpful are they at Dremel and Glowforge?

Dremel’s support page gives options for Phone, e-mail, and live chat support, and a good selection of articles and trouble-shooting guides to choose from. Reviews suggest that technical support is generally very quick, friendly, and helpful.

Glowforge also has a great support page on their website. They have great step-by-step guides on the page for everything from getting set up and using the laser cutter to maintenance and moving. In addition, they have email and live chat options on the website, social media channels, and a great search function for their extensive selection of support and troubleshooting articles.

Not only that, but there is also an active Community Forum where you can interact with other Glowforge users for advice, tips, technical questions, and inspiration.

Pros and Cons

Dremel

Pros

  • great level of precision in both cutting and engraving.
  • Can cut into various materials and engrave metal
  • It comes with an interface touch screen that is convenient and user friendly
  • Great safety features including water-cooling for the laser tube, air assist, and the on-board ventilation fan.
  • Wireless operation so you can organize your workshop to suit you
  • UL certified

Cons

  • The external Hexbox cooling system which takes up space
  • The price is quite high
  • Honeycomb bed is a bit flimsy

Glowforge

Pros

  • Easy to use and intuitive
  • Can scan drawings into the cut
  • Proofgrade™ materials are quality, tested materials available from Glowforge to take the guesswork out of materials and settings
  • Great design catalog available

Cons

  • Software is cloud-based so needs internet to use
  • No LCD screen on the device

Are there any alternatives?

Orion Motor Tech 40W Laser Cutter

orion motor tech

For those with a budget in mind, you might wish to consider the Orion Motor Tech laser cutter. It features an integrated cooling fan, digital controls with LCD display, and a stability clamp for irregular items.

While this laser cutter is better for engraving or for cutting thinner materials, if that’s what you’re looking for then this is a great investment, especially if you’re willing to upgrade to better software or even hardware like the exhaust fan or water pump.

Ten-High 40W Laser Cutter

ten hugh 3020

Another great laser cutter you could consider is the Ten-high. This laser cutter has some super features and might be what you are looking for. This is a small model with a lot of energy and great function. The 40w machine is ideal for engraving, and the 60w, 80w, or 100w versions might be a better choice for regular cutting.

FAQs About Dremel and Glowforge

Do I need a laser cutter and a 3D printer?

It depends on what you are using them for. For some projects, you can use a laser cutter to cut pieces from a wide variety of materials, combined with building other parts using a 3D printer. Having both means that you have a much wider variety of projects that you can do. There are some machines coming on to the market that combine 3D printing with laser cutting.

Can I use the Dremel or the Glowforge laser cutters without accessing the internet?

The Dremel software is internet-based but the projects are managed from the laser cutter itself, so you don’t need to be connected to the internet. On the other hand, the laser cutter from Glowforge is cloud-based so does require an internet connection.

What materials can the Dremel and the Glowforge laser cutters operate on?

A huge number and variety of materials! Some metals can be cut, others only engraved (lasers do not work well on aluminum due to its reflective properties), silicon, ceramics, glass, plastics and polymers (avoid PVC, PVB, PTFE/Teflon as these can give off poisonous gases), wood and gemstones.

How long will the Dremel and Glowforge last?

The average lifetime of a laser tube is about 80 to 1500 hours under normal operating conditions (it will wear out faster with cutting than engraving).
That means that you are likely to need to change it every couple of years. You’ll notice that this needs doing when you are struggling to cut something you have been able to cut previously, or if the laser appears to burn rather than cut. You would be able to change the Dremel tube yourself, where the Glowforge would need to be sent off for a replacement. Other than the laser tube, with careful handling and maintenance, your laser cutter should last many years.

Can a laser cutter overheat?

They can do, and this is both a fire risk and harmful to the laser tube. It’s a good idea to avoid placing it in direct sunlight, allow plenty of air ventilation, make sure the cooling system is working correctly, and give your laser cutter a break every now and then if you are doing a lot of cutting. The Glowforge has an inbuilt cooling system, and the Dremel has the external Hexbox.

How does laser cutting work?

A high-powered laser beam runs through a lens and then into a material, melting or burning it away and leaving an edge with a high-quality, clean finish.

What are the advantages of laser cutting?

Laser cutting offers great precision and detail in cutting. It works on a wide variety of materials and offers a clean, smooth cut. Laser cutting uses very little power, so apart from the purchase of the laser cutter, it is not an expensive cutting method and is also much faster than conventional cutting methods.

Our Verdict: Which is Better between Dremel Laser Cutter vs Glowforge?

dremel lc40 printer

Both the Dremel Digilab LC40 and the Glowforge Plus offer a huge range of features that would make them very popular in schools, in small businesses, and for home users. While not a cheap option, their ease of use has made laser cutting manageable for a whole new group of users. Both laser cutters perform extremely well. So which is the best?

This is a very close run race, but we would recommend the Dremel. The key reasons are the intuitive, easy to use interface, the excellent attention to detail, and the additional built-in safety features. The touchscreen on the Dremel and the ability to operate with or without the internet are big positives, plus the more advanced cooling system.

Of course, there are a few negatives, such as the extra space taken up by the external cooling system, and the “Community” on Glowforge is a great way to interact with other users and get quick feedback and advice – something Dremel should definitely consider adding to their Customer Service options.

The Glowforge Plus is still a brilliant laser cutter. The Proofgrade™ materials take a lot of the guesswork out of your projects and the quality and customer service are fantastic. Another very user-friendly and high-quality laser cutter. You would definitely be happy with either of these two laser cutters.

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