Best 3D Printer for Cosplay [2020]: Cosplay 3D Printer Guide

Cosplayers are a passionate bunch. They are willing to spend a lot of money to come up with bigger, better, more elaborate, and more intricate costumes at every cosplay event. Money.com reports that some enthusiasts spend more than $1,000 on one costume alone. What’s more, around three out of four cosplayers buy anywhere from one to four costumes a year.

The thing is, it is rather challenging to find cosplay costumes at retailers.  For some people, they have the option to buy from a costume or props maker. Others prefer to use 3D printing for their cosplay needs. And with all the choices out there, we can understand how daunting choosing a 3D printer can be.

How to find the best 3D printer for cosplay?

You will need to consider the building capacity, filaments supported, and price of different 3D printers for you to decide on the best one for your needs.

If you’re new to cosplaying or 3D printing, don’t worry, we will lay it all down for you to easily understand what you need to look for.

These are the best 3D printers for cosplay in 2020:

  1. Ultimaker 2 3D Printer [Best Overall]
  2. Monoprice Maker Select Plus [Best Affordable]
  3. Ultimaker s5 3D Printer [Best Large Format]
  4. Raise3D Pro2 Plus [Best Dual Extruder]
  5. Dremel Digilab 3D20 Idea Builder [Best Fully Enclosed]
  6. Anycubic Photon [Best Small Format Highly Detailed]

But First, What Are You Printing?

3d printer

The first rule of any purchase is to know what you’re going to do with it. With 3D printers, it helps to know what kind of items you intend to create. You should be able to answer these questions:

  • How big is the design?
  • How durable should it be?
  • Where are you going to use it?

Once you have a clear idea of the things that you are going to print, you can then check out what types of 3D printers you will need for your cosplay costumes and props. To choose the best one for your needs, you will need to consider the building capacity, the filaments that the printer supports, and the price.

Build Capacity: The Size of Prints You Can Produce on a 3D Printer

Cosplay costumes are wearable, so you probably need a 3D printer that has a large build volume (print volume). Unfortunately, most home 3D printers can only handle smaller build sizes. Buying a 3D printer with big build sizes means that you have fewer welds in your cosplay costume. The fewer welds that you have, the more durable your costume or props will be.

There are, however, some options, such as the ADIMLab Updated Gantry Pro 3D Printer, which can handle maximum build sizes of 12.2 by 12.2 by 16.1 inches. The ADIMLab 3D printer has a lattice glass platform and comes almost wholly assembled. It can handle different kinds of plastic, soft rubber, metal, and other types of materials.

People who own this 3D printer likes the fast build times, the affordable price, and the excellent print quality. The technical and customer support is also a plus, while others note that it is easy to use. This printer sells for less than $400, making it one of the most affordable 3D printers that can handle big builds.

You can also consider the Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 3D Printer, which sells for significantly more at around $1,300. This printer, however, has a smaller build size at 7.9 by 7.9 by 7.3 inches. What makes it pricier are the advanced features like the embedded camera that allows you to view what is being printed from your laptop, smart devices, or PC. It also has a touch screen menu as well as WiFi connectivity.

Another option you have is the Creality CR-10 V2 3D Printer, which sells for less than $550. It can handle build volumes of up to 11.8 by 11.8 by 15.7 inches. This easy to use 3D printer has a user-friendly interface and has rapid prototyping features. It’s tough and durable with its all-metal frame plus it has excellent print quality.

Small Build Capacity for Details

However, if you are planning to use your 3D printer for the fine details, check out the home 3D printers that can do the job but are generally more affordable. For example, there’s the ELEGOO Mars 3D Printer Liquid Resin which sells for less than $300.

Even at that price, you can create intricate and elaborate designs with your prints. The printer has a 2,560 by 1,440 2K high-definition layer resolution. It’s also quite fast, printing at 22.5 millimetres per hour. That’s equivalent to printing a 30-megabyte STL 3D model in just one minute. You can print objects as large as 4.7 by 2.7 by 6.1 inches.

The 3D printer uses an industrial steel ball design that makes it easy for you to use. It also features a large touch screen that allows for easy and quick operation. Some of the designs you can pull off with this 3D printer are found in this video:

Another 3D printer that you can buy is the ANYCUBIC Photon UV LCD 3D Printer, which is highly praised for its superior print quality. This printer is best for small builds up to 4.5 by 2.6 by 6.1 inches (also available with liquid resin additive manufacturing capability).

If you have any need for highly detailed costume parts, you would want this printer’s high accuracy, smoother quality, and speed. You can also print several models on one build plate without taking up too much time.

How much detail is possible with the Anycubic Photon to 3D print cosplay? See it for yourself:

Filament Type

When creating a 3D printed cosplay costume or prop, you would probably need to print in different colours and filament types to achieve the look that you want. The type of filament you use is going to affect the durability or strength of your cosplay costume, parts, props, or armour.

Filament Type PLA ABS PETT TPE Nylon PC
Strength High High High Medium High Very
Flexibility Low Medium Medium Very High Medium
Durability Medium High High Very High Very High
Easy to use Yes Medium Yes Yes Medium Medium
Print temperature range (°C) 180 – 230 210 – 250 220 – 250 210 – 230 240 – 260 270 – 310
Print bed temperature range (°C) 20 – 60 80 – 110 50 – 75 30 – 60 70 – 100 90 – 110
Shrinkage/warping Minimal Yes Minimal Minimal Yes Yes
Soluble No Yes No No No No

From this table, you will find that only ABS plastic is soluble: you can dissolve it in acetone, ester, or ketone. If you need the cosplay prop to be very durable, use polycarbonate filament.

If you are going to use TPE, make sure to consider that the finished print may not be as durable as when you use other materials. On the other hand, you can use TPE if you need your print to be flexible, whereas PLA filaments often produce stiff prints. Furthermore, some filaments might be easier to use than others. Now let’s take a look at each filament type more closely.

PLA

hatchbox

Polylactic acid is a very popular filament for 3D printing enthusiasts. It’s easier to print and it needs a low printing temperature. Plus, it does not need a heating bed and also does not emit bad odours when you print.

PLA is available in a wide variety of colours. It is also biodegradable. However, PLA can be quite brittle, so you should not use it for movable cosplay parts, or those that might be dropped or twisted. PLA also deforms when temperatures rise to at least 60 °C.

These types of filaments have a very attractive price. For instance, the HATCHBOX PLA 3D Printer Filament sells for around $23 and you get one kilogram of odour-free 3D printing material that doesn’t warp as much as other materials.

ABS

abs filament

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is another widely used filament for 3D printing, and it’s better than PLA in some ways. This material is used for LEGO bricks and some bicycle helmets.

ABS prints are very durable and they can withstand hot temperatures. The downsides of this are that you will need to print on a heated bed so that it doesn’t warp during cooling. Print with ABS filaments can also be a problem because it emits a very bad odour.

You can buy these HATCHBOX PLA 3D Printer Filament for less than $25 and get 12 different colours and an 80 stencil ebook. All in all, you have 240 linear feet of a filament made only from the finest and premium grade material.

HATCHBOX PLA 3D Printer Filament
$18.99
The HATCHBOX PLA 3D Printer Filament offers one kilogram of odour-free 3D printing material that doesn't warp as much as other materials at a great price!
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/25/2020 12:10 pm UTC

PETG

overture

Polyethylene terephthalate is better known as polymer and is widely used in the manufacture of water bottles. A type of PET, called PETG, is now used for 3D printing.

PETG, where the G stands for glycol-modified, can absorb moisture from the air. This property means that if you don’t print in a dry and cool place, the quality of your print might now be as good as you hoped it to be. It also scratches easily.

Overture Clear PETG Filament sells for less than $25 and you get a kilogram of the material. It’s clog-free and bubble-free and doesn’t tangle as much.

Overture Clear PETG Filament
$19.99
Overture Clear PETG Filament is a TOP fillament Option. You get a kilogram of the material, and it's clog-free and bubble-free, plus, doesn't tangle as much.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/25/2020 12:10 pm UTC

TPE

priline

Thermoplastic elastomers are very flexible because of their rubber-like characteristics. They are also very durable and have been used for household appliances, shoes, and medical supplies.

TPE filaments are soft and easy to stretch. If you need something flexible for your cosplay costume, this is the filament to use. However, TPE can be more challenging to extrude and might be a bit harder to control. Printing with TPE may also take longer than when you use other filaments.

You can also use thermoplastic polyurethane, such as the Priline Yellow TPU Filament, which is both elastic and soft. The rubber-like characteristics make it ideal for flexible props. This product is harder than TPE, which makes it easier to extrude.

Priline Yellow TPU Filament
$24.99
The Priline Yellow TPU Filament is not only a very soft and elastic filament but also its rubber-like construction is PERFECT for flexible creations.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/25/2020 12:10 pm UTC

Nylon

dremel nylon

You should use nylon filaments for printing parts that require flexibility, durability, and strength. Another benefit of using nylon is that you don’t have to buy different varieties for your cosplay costumes: you can just dye each one before you print.

However, it does absorb moisture from the air, which means you will need to print in a cool and dry area for you to make sure that your costumes are in the best possible quality. Further, nylon filaments tend to be more expensive than other types of filament.

Check out the Dremel Nylon 3D Printer Filament. This filament has very minimal rough edges when printed and can have a very durable and stable print. It promises flexibility and durability, more than what you can get from other filaments.

Dremel Nylon 3D Printer Filament
$34.99
The Dremel Nylon 3D Printer Filament has the flexibility your creation needs but promising a very durable quality with very minimal rough edges when printed.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/25/2020 12:10 pm UTC

Polycarbonate

polymaker pc-max

You can also use polycarbonate filaments, which is probably the strongest in this list. It’s resistant to heat and impact. Polycarbonate can withstand high temperatures up to 100 degrees Celsius.

This is a very strong and durable filament, with medium flexibility. Polycarbonate is transparent, which is why it’s widely used in bulletproof glass and scuba masks. Polycarbonate, however, absorbs moisture from the air. It can also be somewhat difficult to use, too, and it’s not as flexible as TPU.

A product like the Polymaker PC-Max 3D Printer Filament allows you to have stronger, harder, and easier prints.

Aside from these filaments, there are also special types that give your prints a different look. There are wood-filled PLA filaments that have wood fibres in them. You can also check out metal filaments such as gold or bronze. There are also biodegradable filaments for those who are environmentally conscious and conductive ones for electronic projects.

Polymaker PC-Max 3D Printer Filament
The Polymaker PC-Max 3D Printer Filament is one of the strongest materials in the Market. GREAT for the hardest pieces.
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So what are the best

Which 3D Printers Should You Buy

monoprice maker

Different 3D printers support different kinds of filaments. Choose one that supports the type of filament that you want and, if possible, choose a 3D printer that can support several types of filaments.

The Monoprice Maker Ultimate 2 3D Printer works with just about any filament. You can use PLA, PLA Plus, ABS, ABS Plus, TPU, PET, TPE, metal, and wood fill filaments with this 3D printer. It also has an auto-levelling bed that guarantees that the first few layers of your prints stick together. It also has a removable glass build plate and filament detector (sometimes referred to as a filament sensor). It costs around $550.

If that price point is too much for your budget, then you can check out the Monoprice MP10 Mini 3D Printer, with its assisted levelling bed and resume printing function. It works with PLA, ABS, PETG, nylon, wood and metal fill.

Monoprice Maker Select Plus
$389.99

The large heated bed, LCD touchscreen, and MicroSD card loaded with printable models make the Monoprice Maker Select Plus a worthwhile purchase.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/25/2020 07:09 am UTC

Price

As you have noticed, most of the 3D printers we have recommended so far are priced moderately. However, there are cosplayers who are working under a tight budget. Some beginners might also like to test out 3D printers first before committing to a more expensive one. Check out the XYZprinting da Vinci miniMaker 3D Printer, which sells for less than $200.

Even at that price, it has everything you’d want in a 3D printer. It’s easy to use and can handle PLA, PETG, and tough PLA. You can buy an optional extruder so that you can print with carbon fibre and metallic PLA. It also features an auto-levelling bed and printing speeds of up to 120 millimetres per second.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are professional custom makers that will want the convenience of getting a 3D printer that can print large objects while also having other nifty features. It has a sizable build capacity at 22.3 by 22.3k by k20.5 inches.

The Ultimaker 2+ 3D Printer sells with a whopping $2,500 price tag. It offers four different nozzle sizes from 0.25 to 0.80 millimetres that you can swap out to obtain better details with a speedy print. It also has a resolution of 20 microns.

Other Things You Should Look for

There are some other technical features that you should consider. For example, you want a 3D printer with high print resolutions and fast print speed. You will also want to choose an auto-levelling print bed for your 3D printer. If you plan to use different filaments, you should choose a 3D printer that has a higher maximum temperature for the bed and nozzle.

Easy to Use

Another criterion for the best 3D printer for cosplayers to buy is how easy it is to use. The good news is that there are a lot of printers out there that are quite intuitive to use so there’s not much of a learning curve for you. There are some basics that you should know, however, such as how to control the temperature, filament consumption, and print speed.

Expect to have a bit of challenging first days: you can’t be expected to have perfect prints the first time around.

FAQ’s About 3D Printers

What is the best 3D printer for cosplay?

The best 3D printer for cosplay would largely depend on what you need. If you need one that can handle large builds, then get the ADIMLab Updated Gantry Pro 3D Printer or the Sindoh 3DWOX DP200 3D Printer. Or you can splurge on industrial-grade 3D printers.

For those who are sticklers for details, get the ELEGOO Mars 3D Printer or the ANYCUBIC Photon UV LCD 3D Printer. Both of these 3D printers have very high accuracy and speed. The prints they make have a good level of detail.

For those who make their own costumes, it helps to have a 3D printer that is compatible with a lot of different filament types. The Monoprice Maker Ultimate 2 3D Printer is ideal for this purpose.

What size 3D printer do I need?

According to Tom’s Guide, you should choose a 3D printer with a build area of 5 x 5 x 5 inches. This size is good enough for most prints that you have to make.

However, if you are planning to build armours and larger pieces, buy something with a bigger build capacity.

Can you 3D print an armour?

Yes. And here are some tutorials to help you do it.

How much does it cost to 3D print a helmet?

It depends on the type of filament you use, and whether you already have a 3D printer at home. According to several enthusiasts, you can expect to spend anywhere from $750 to $2,000 to 3D print a helmet.

The more important question, however, is whether it’s a good idea to 3D print a helmet. The answer seems to be leaning towards a “no” because of the prohibitive costs, the need for a 3D printer with large print areas, and how the helmet might be too brittle for frequent wear.

Looking for the Best 3D Printer for Cosplay Is Now Easier

Having a clear budget and knowing what you’re planning to print will help you choose the best 3D printer. Fortunately, there are now several products available that you can choose the best one for you.

After choosing the best 3D printer that supports the filaments you want to use and falls within your budget, you should also look at how easy it is to use. And then finally, look at the technical details to figure out if it has the print resolution and printing speed you want.

Recommended Reads:

Up Mini 2 Review [2020]: A Good 3D Printer?

Up Mini 2 Review

Ever notice how a lot of 3D printers are big, bulky, loud, machines with really no visually pleasing features? I was showing a friend a certain printer the other day and they told me it looked like a microwave. Pretty spot on if you ask me. Luckily, not all 3D printers can be mistaken for a kitchen appliance.

Designers are changing it up a bit, and one way they are changing the classic design of 3D printers is by changing the size. I mean not everyone wants a massive machine sitting in their room or office. One 3D printer we really like for the change of size is the Up Mini 2.

Brought to us by Tiertime and manufactured in China is a small but efficient 3D printer. It is the newest generation of their previously adored Up Plus model. The Up Mini 2 embodies the saying, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.

While it is a small 3D printer, it holds its own when it comes to print quality, durability, and features.

Also, it carries a price tag that fits its small size. Another great option for the budget-friendly printing fanatic.

The days of paying large amounts of money for high quality results seems to be coming to an end. Below, we will detail all the best features and some of the not so good stuff the Up Mini 2 offers. If you need an inexpensive, small, but powerful 3D printer this might be just what you’re looking for.

Check out the rest of the Up Mini 2 review and let us know what you think of this mini 3D printer in the comments.

Why Go With the UP Mini 2?

Reliability and print quality. It's not the biggest 3D printer by volume, but it's an incredibly accurate and consistent printer with a true desktop footprint.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Core Features of the Up Mini 2

Mini 2 ES LCD Touchscreen:

Touchscreen controls are becoming quite the norm on 3D printers these days. The one on the Up Mini 2 is a great, easy to use and very functional control panel. The touchscreen allows you to control many different parts of the printer including Wi-Fi, nozzle height, initializing the machine, calibration, load and print 3D models, set material type, and a few other settings.
Up Mini 2 Opened
You can also see the print status, temperature, and connectivity status on the screen. The screen also helps pause/play and save the print progress if the door is ever opened during a print or if you lose power.

Sleek Design

From packaging to fully the assembled printer, we are big fans of how it looks. Foam sections protected and secured the most important pieces from moving around during shipping. It’s not much, but it does show the company cares about their product and has high standards. In the box, among other things, you get a printer and Tiertime’s fila station (filament caddy), or filament spool holder (separate spool container), which adds to the overall sleekness of the design.

The all-plastic black and white shell of both the printer and the fila station make the whole machine feel a little cheap, but the all metal frame on the inside of the casing adds to the sturdiness of the printer and extruder. A clear door and LED lighting inside the case allow you to observe the entire printing process. The aluminum handle adds a nice touch to the overall visual look of the printer.

Mini Auto Bed Leveling

The Up Mini 2 cuts back on a lot of the little tedious bits of 3D printing that we hate. One of those things being leveling the bed in-between prints. Luckily, this printer comes with the technology to level the bed for you automatically.

While it doesn’t do this on its own before each print as some others do, it is easy to tell the machine to level the bed using the touch screen. Reports are that the auto bed leveling seems to work well and multiple users are very happy to have this feature.

Small Footprint and Portable:

The name doesn’t lie. This really is a “mini” printer measuring at 10” x 14.4” x 15” (WxHxD) overall dimensions. You will barely notice this machine in your room. Due to the small size of the printer, it only takes 2 and a half minutes to heat up and begin printing.

Moving your printer to another room, house, or office is as easy as extending the solid aluminum handle and carrying it to where ever you need it. It only weighs 20 pounds so you should have no probably getting this printer to where it needs to be.

Mini 2 Fully Assembled:

Less time messing around with small parts means more time printing, which is what we all want, isn’t it? The creators of the Up Mini 2 kept this in mind as they give us a printer fully assembled in its packaging. The set-up of the machine is quick easy if you follow along with the Quick Start Guide.

The only part that requires “assembly” is attaching the print head, which is nice to see how it’s done so you can easily remove and clean this piece as necessary. Besides that, just remove any foam packaging, download, and install the software and you are ready to start printing.

Mini 2Key Specifications

Here are the key specs of the Up Mini 2 3D printer:

Build Area4.7” x 4.7” x 4.7”
Print SpeedNA
Level ControlAutomatic
Filament Types ABS, PLA
Layer Resolution150 – 350 microns
Number of ExtrudersSingle
Nozzle Diameter0.4 mm
Open / Closed SystemClosed
Warranty1 year manufacturers
PriceStarting at $577.00 (check current price)

Pros of the Up Mini 2

Now let’s talk about some of the best features the Up Mini 2 offers.

Enclosed Environment: An enclosed print area is a safe print area (build volume). By trapping the heat in the printing area, you can maintain the temperature throughout the process. This is essential when using filament that requires high heat such as ABS filament.

An enclosed area prevents cool drafts and damp air from taking a toll on your creation and warping the printed object. As well, it adds an extra layer of safety by preventing any unwanted objects, hands, fingers, animals, from getting too close to the machine while it is working.

Small Desk Space: We mentioned above how this printer has a very small footprint. Less than a foot wide and just over a foot deep, you will barely notice a difference in desk space when this machine is setup. Compared to some other printers on the market which require a separate table or desk for them to sit on we are very excited about the functional size of this printer.

HEPA Air Filter: Ever get sick of the melting plastic smell your 3D printer puts off while it is printing? We sure do. And obviously so did the team who designed the Up Mini 2 as it comes with a HEPA air filtration system. This small filter hidden at the bottom of the machine is not a common find in 3D printers at this price range.

Mini 2 WiFi Connectivity Options: We are big fans of having multiple connectivity options that work well. The Up Mini 2 is a prime example of this. You can connect via USB cable or via Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi option works flawlessly. You can access the printers remotely if you are on the same connection as the printer. Easily send files to the printer from your computer even if the two are not near each other. You can also access multiple Up Mini 2s from one computer.

If Wi-Fi connectivity isn’t for you then you can still connect with a USB cable and print directly from the software on your computer and utilize partial tethering. If you need to move your computer once the print process has begun simply unplug the cable and the print will continue running without interruption. These options give you a little more freedom when controlling, accessing, and using your printer, which is a small but convenient feature.

Cons of the Up Mini 2

The Tiertime Up Mini has few flaws, but we still need to talk about those a little bit too.

Small Build Area: The most obvious flaw is the overall print area. But what do you expect when you are buying a “mini” printer? Small area or not the print still creates great objects. To adjust to the size of the print area all you must do is scale down your 3D model or print them in pieces and glue the pieces together to create larger objects.

This printer is impractical if you are looking for something to complete a wide variety of projects in terms of what you are printing. But if you just want to create smaller objects or are a hobbyist printer then you shouldn’t really have an issue with the size of the build area.

Slow Print Speed: Users noted the printer is a little slow when you are going for a high-quality print. There are ways around this slow speed by printing larger layers and changing the print quality setting of the printer. However, if you aren’t in a rush when it comes to creating beautiful objects then this isn’t a major concern for you.

Up Mini 2 Alternatives to Consider

If you like the size of this printer and are interested in a “mini” 3D printer, but aren’t sold on this one, you can still find the perfect printer for you. Another printer you may be interested in is the LulzBot Mini.

The LulzBot Mini is an extremely impressive 3D printer. It has a slightly larger build area, footprint, and much larger price tag than the Up Mini 2. But this machine prints fast at 275 mm/s and has an impressive quality as it can reach layer heights of only 50 microns. It is also a little more versatile machine as it is open-sourced and prints with many different filament types.

Another option to consider is the XYZprinting Da Vinci Mini, which is similar to small (also a great printer for kids).

Finally, the Printrbot Play is a great open frame alternative at a similar scale.

Final Take: Is the Mini 2 Worth it?

What it lacks in print speed it makes up for with quality. While you can find faster printers, the Up Mini 3D printer can hold its own when it comes to the overall quality of the finished object.

Although the layer resolution specs are just slightly less than other printers (150 microns compared to 100 microns for other models), we can’t notice a visible difference and are impressed with the results of the Up Mini 2.

This is an excellent printer for the home use hobbyist who wants to experiment with 3D printing. It’s easy to use, reliable, and consistent with its print quality and has an extremely small footprint. If you want an inexpensive printer to create smaller but beautiful objects than the Up Mini 2 might just be the printer of your dreams.

Why Go With the UP Mini 2?

Reliability and print quality. It's not the biggest 3D printer by volume, but it's an incredibly accurate and consistent printer with a true desktop footprint.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

If you liked our review on Up Mini 2 3D Printer here’s something else you can read:

ABS vs PETG 3D Printing Filament: Which Filament is Best?

ABS vs PETG 3D Filament

One of the biggest factors in the adoption rate of new technology is how easily people can adapt to it.

Users are much more likely to be drawn to something that is easy to understand and straightforward as the quicker they can master it the more they can enjoy it.

Unfortunately, 3D printing is not the easiest to understand or the most straightforward concept, but that’s okay — we’ll make it easy for you here, which is why we are comparing these two filaments: ABS vs PETG 3D, so you can decide which is best to 3D print with.

The Main Differences Between ABS vs PETG 3D

The main differences between ABS vs PETG 3D are:

  • ABS is not a sustainable, environmentally friendly filament, whereas PETG is recyclable
  • ABS is extremely an extremely durable, lightweight filament, whereas PETG absorbs moisture, so you have to store properly
  • ABS requires a heated bed, whereas PETG does not required a heated bed
  • ABS is a thermoplastic polymer typically used in lego building blocks, whereas PETG is a glycol modification material typically used in plastic water bottles

A Little About 3D Printing

Not only do you have hundreds of choices of 3D printers that all seem very similar to the naked eye, but you also need to understand the filament you are using.

The filament for a 3D printer as is important as the jelly in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You can’t have the printer without the filament (3D printing material). These days there are a ton of different filament types for printing. And who really knows the differences between them all. Aren’t they all just spools of plastic?

While some are spools of plastics, they each have very different characteristics. Some are hard, some are soft, some are flexible, some are strong. You get the point. Filament alone can take days upon days of reading and research to just begin to understand some of the basics. Luckily for you, we can do much of the research for you.

Just as anything else, there are some types that are more popular than others. Without a doubt, PLA is the uncontested champion of the 3D printing world. It’s great for all skill levels. It is super easy to use and has a low melting point. It is just an all-around pretty awesome filament. But we aren’t here to talk PLA all day. Let’s discuss some other filaments.

What are ABS and PETG?

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), is a thermoplastic polymer, and it is the second most popular 3D printing filament right behind PLA (polylactic acid ). ABS is popular as it is extremely durable (ideal for mechanical parts with mechanical properties), very lightweight, and relatively cheap to produce and purchase.

You can associate ABS as the material used for LEGO bricks, as well as other consumer goods. It is a very popular material to be used for injection molding.

There are some drawbacks to this filament. It requires high temperatures to reach the ideal melting point (225C). This means you will need to have an extruder that can reach these temperatures (heat resistance) and a heated chamber print bed to avoid warping.

A good ventilation system (e.g. a cooling fan) will help the melted material set and strengthen as it requires such high printing temperatures. As well, ABS puts off a strong, unpleasant odor that can become toxic to humans and pets if too much is inhaled.

Another downfall of ABS is the negative environmental impact. ABS is not a sustainable filament. It is not made of recycled material nor biodegradable material. Any bad prints and unused/unwanted filament will most likely live on for ages in the town dump. Be sure to get your settings dialed in to limit the amount of waste you produce when printing with ABS.

The other filament is an up-and-coming filament that I quickly becoming a favorite of many 3D printing enthusiasts. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the base material with the G representing a glycol modification. This modification adds a lot of durability to PET.  PET is most commonly known as the material used for plastic water bottles.

PETG material maintains a reputation as the best of both worlds for 3D printing’s most popular filaments. It has the tensile strength, temperature resistance, and durability of ABS. Those are combined with the ease of printing PLA and you can understand why PETG is quickly becoming so popular.

Some of the more noteworthy aspects of PETG are that the 3D printer filament is recyclable. It is not the most sustainable material, but it is better than sending PETG print misfires straight to the dump.

Also, PETG is food safe if you want to make any storage containers for edible treats. And this filament does not require a heated bed in order to print without warping (can work on heated or not heated surface plates).

While PETG is quite impressive as a filament, it still has its pitfalls. For example, PETG is a hygroscopic material, which means it easily can absorb moisture. If PETG is not stored in a dry place to keep humidity and moisture from it, the dampened filament will not print how you want it to.

Pelican cases make a great storage box/dry box for PETG. Also, this filament does not do well in UV light. This isn’t the end of the world unless you wanted to print something that would be used outdoors often. The little makes the material become brittle and breaks apart easily.

What makes it popular?

ABS’s strength and durability make it a great choice for a wide range of products and industries. It withstands heat and stress without cracking or weakening, and it is one of the strongest plastic filaments you can buy. The finished product will hide scratches and is highly resistant to chemicals (chemical resistance) and lights. This makes it a great material for finishing polishes, paints, glues, and other post-manufacturing processes.

3d printing abs

ABS will print very smoothly as long as you have your printer settings dialed in. As mentioned before, it has a very high melting point so you will need to ensure you can reach and sustain temperatures throughout the duration of the print. It is recommended you use an enclosed printer as this will make it easier to maintain the temperatures.

PETG, on the other hand, is also known for being a tough and durable filament. A plus-side of this one is it is odorless when melted. While tough and durable, it is also maintained soft and flexible characteristics. This makes it great for prints such as cases, bumpers, and protective pieces. However, this is not the ideal filament for structural or stiff pieces.

Best Practices

It is no secret that filaments can be very tricky to print with. If your printer is dialed in exactly to where you need it, you can end up with a sloppy, stringy, mess of plastic. Nobody wants that. This is why it is very important to pay attention to the specific traits for whichever material you choose.

PETG happens to be one of the more particular filaments and much less forgiving than some other types. Just remember to be patient and check the box on all the details before you rush into a print.

Depending on your extruder and extrusion settings, PETG needs to be printed between 220-245C. While not necessary, a bed temperature around 75C is ideal. You don’t need to get fancy with your bed adhesion. Blue painter’s tape works just as well here as it will for most other filaments.

3D PRINT

Unlike some filaments, PETG doesn’t smear onto each layer from the extruder. Instead, it lays down better on top of each layer. Because of this, you need to leave slightly more room, about 3mm, between the print bed and the nozzle. It is a little tricky to get your printer and nozzle dialed perfectly, but once you get it there, it is nothing but smooth sailing with this filament.

ABS, can also be painful to work with if you don’t take your time (specifically the nozzle modifications). This filament should not be used with an open-framed printer as a lower printing temperature can cause the filament to cool quickly. The rapid cooling will lead to warping and weakening the final print. If you only have an open-framed printer, you can try using plastic wrap to simulate an enclosed printer. Creating a perimeter around your printer will allow you to maintain some of the heat and block unwanted drafts and cool air.

ABS also needs to be used with a high-temperature extruder and a heated bed for best results. After the first few layers have been laid down, you can lower the temperature of the heated print bed. But you want it to be hot at the start to prevent rapid cooling.

ABS vs PETG Price Difference

For ABS 3D Printing Filamentyou are looking at about $20.00 for a decent spool of filament. The PETG Filament is slightly higher at $27.00 per spool.

Both materials are right on par with most other generic types of filament, which float around $20 to $30. Of course, there are specialty spools that can run you anywhere from $50 all the way up to $100.

Also, be aware of where you are purchasing your filament. Some websites will appear to offer legit filament only to send you the bottom of the barrel filament, which does nothing but cause headaches when trying to print. Be sure you are purchasing from a legit supplier. It is always better to spend a little extra to be assured you are receiving a high-quality filament.

Where to Buy PETG Filament?

Just like your classic printers, brands may guage you on their own “custom” filament. They tend to push THEIR brand, regardless of the many suitable (if not even better) alternatives. 

My top recommended filament source is definitely Matterhackers PRO series PETG filament here. It works with all of the top 3D printers, with higher reliability and often a lower price.

Where to Buy ABS Filament?

Similarly, the Matterhackers ABS filament here is second to none. 

Final Takes: PETG or ABS?

We know PLA is the most popular, but a close second is ABS. Just because something is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best.

Depending on who you talk to, a lot of people will argue ABS is the best, and some will even state their case for PETG. Both ABS and PETG are making a name for themselves among 3D printing enthusiast.

While ABS and PETG are quite similar, they each are different and have their unique qualities. Test your settings, and give each a try to determine which is the best for you.

While some will choose one side or the other, many people will find ways to incorporate both filaments into their designs.

Recommended Reads

Wanhao Duplicator i3 Review [2020]

We are a bit spoiled that some of the best 3D printers available are completely open source. There’s the LulzBot TAZ 6 and Mini, or Ulitmaker 3. All three are great 3D printers that are fully open sourced systems.

While it benefits the whole, I am sure companies don’t make nearly as much as they would if their systems were closed. However, they know by advancing the industry there will be more lucrative opportunities down the road.

Take, for example, Original Prusa i3 MK3. This is probably the most commonly imitated of 3D printers. The original is hands-down one of the best 3D printers year in and year out. While there are many duplicates, not many can truly match the overall performance of the original.

Most knock-offs don’t come close to the original printers they are based off due to companies cutting cost to offer a cheaper product. This is just the case with Wanhao and their Duplicator i3 3D printer. But one thing that set Wanhao apart from the competition? They produce a quality, but still inexpensive, Prusa i3 Replicator.

Wanhao is a Chinese based 3D printer supplier. They have been around since mid-2012. Their goal is to provide better and more affordable 3D printers to the world. They surely have seen their very first model, the Duplicator One. Now that they have mastered their supply chain and have a better understanding of what’s important in a 3D printer.

Our Pick
Why go with the Wanhao Duplicator i3?

Dirt cheap, yet durably built to last, the Duplicator i3 is the BEST BUDGET 3D printer we've tested in this price range. The ample build area and heated print bed make it a flexible, reliable and fun machine to work with.

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The Duplicator i3 might be the best budget 3D printer you can find. The best part is you can easily upgrade the machine yourself and make it even better. Let’s dive in now to the details in this Wanhao Duplicator i3 Review and see why this printer is so great.

Cores Features of the Duplicator i3 Printer

  • Design and Structure: The all-metal frame is where the Duplicator i3 sets itself apart from most other Prusa i3 inspired 3D printers. Often you will see plastic or acrylic frames. The all-metal Duplicator i3 is much stronger and more stable than the plastic frames. This leads to the more steady printing process and ultimately, better looking final prints. As well, the parts show that the company truly cares about their product. Often times, we see these low dollar printers with missing parts, holes that don’t align, or unthreaded screws. All the parts supplied from Wanhao are professional looking. Everything lines up perfectly and you get everything you need to assemble the machine. Any cost-cutting by the company is not apparent in their final product.
  • Value: for roughly $300 this 3D printer meets or exceeds our expectations when it comes to overall design and appearance. The decently sized build area of 8″ x 8″ x 7″ is larger than most of the printers in this price range. As well, you will receive a heated bed as the standard which is a great addition for those looking to do some of the more advanced 3D printing.
  • Display: An easy to use knob and navigation screen make controlling the printing process a breeze. It is a well-designed and easy to follow the menu on the screen. The transitions between each page are smooth and let you get prints started in the blink of an eye.
  • MK10 Printer Extruder: A great beginner extruder to get you started with 3D printing. Can easily handle a large selection of filaments, which allows you to get much more creative with your designs and the objects you want to print. Be sure to see our list of all the best metal hotend you can find if you ever want to upgrade (LINK).

Key Specs of the Duplicator i3 Printer:

Build Area (Build Volume)  8” x 8” x 7” 
Print Speed  100 mm/s 
Filament Types  ABS, PLA, Wood, Nylon PVA, PP, Luminescent 
Layer Resolution  100 – 300 microns 
Extruders  1 
Nozzle Diameter  0.4 mm 
Open/Closed System  Open 
Warranty  None 
Our Score   8.8/10 
Price  $325 (check here for latest)

Pros of the Duplicator i3

Pre-assembled: I really enjoy the partially assembled pieces of the Duplicator i3 ships as. It gives you the chance to still get hands-on and partially put together your machine, and it doesn’t take a whole weekend to build.

You can be up and running in about an hour after unboxing everything. There are a few screws to insert and a little leveling is about all the assembly it requires. The box includes written instructions but you can also find many videos online if you need any help or just want more information.

Community: I am a big fan of 3D printers that have a large online following. It makes troubleshooting much easier. Also, it’s a breeze to find a replacement or upgradable parts and models you can create on your own.

The large online communities enable you to harness the creative capability of thousands of other users. It is a great way to learn and take your 3D printer and your skill to the next level. The Duplicator i3 has multiple outlets that are loaded with information. You can check out the 3Dprinterwiki page (LINK) or the “Wanhao/Monoprice/Cocoon i3 Facebook Group” (LINK).

Cons of the Duplicator i3

Manual bed leveling: something we get spoiled with on a lot of 3D printers these days in an auto-leveling bed.

Manually leveling the print bed after each print is one of those tedious tasks where it really isn’t doing much harm as it is fairly simple, most of the time. But it is very nice to not have to worry about doing the job yourself each time. As well, removing some prints will often knock the bed off, which typically means it needs to be leveled every time.

Best Duplicator i3 Upgrades

I have mentioned a couple of times the large online presence of Duplicator i3 users. Of course, when you combine all these creatives in one place you get some great tips and tricks to upgrade your machine.

I will highlight a few of the most popular or crucial to performance for this 3D printer. One of the most common themes with the Duplicator i3 is that it is a decent 3D printer right out of the box. However, with a few upgrades, you can take it from decent to great.

  1. Glass bed and thumb wheels – A quality glass bed gives a truly flat and level surface for printing. This prevents warped surfaces and you can get prints to stick much better.
  2. Thumb Wheels – These will save a lot of headaches when leveling the bed in between prints. They make it much easier to handle the screws and adjust them to the right height.
  3. Cooling fan – Cooling is a necessary aspect of printing the more difficult and advanced parts. You can find tons of models and ideas on Thingiverse or the online communities.
  4. IKEA Enclosure – This simple but very effective upgrade that will vastly improve prints. The enclose provides a controlled environment for printing, which makes it easy to maintain temperatures. Even temperatures avoid warping and improve the overall print quality. It is a must-have for those who are looking to print with ABS filaments.

Conclusion: Wanhao Duplicator i3 Review

Our Pick
Why go with the Wanhao Duplicator i3?

Dirt cheap, yet durably built to last, the Duplicator i3 is the BEST BUDGET 3D printer we've tested in this price range. The ample build area and heated print bed make it a flexible, reliable and fun machine to work with.

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One of the best budget 3D printers available, if not the best. It is hard to find a 3D printer for $300 with an all metal frame, good build area, heated print bed, and so much more. Not to mention a few quick and easy printer upgrades and the Duplicator i3 can out-perform some $1,000 3D printers.

This is a great 3D printer if you are looking to gift one. Or for those looking to get into the industry without emptying out your bank account.

The quality of the machine and the performance you can get from the Duplicator i3 really makes it a great addition to anyone’s collection of 3D printers.

Bottom Line: I highly recommend the Duplicator i3 to all 3D printers. It is the perfect balance between tool and toy. Now, go get yourself one and be ready to never want to stop using this machine.

Further Reading

The Best 3D Printer Hot Ends [Sep 2020]

We often see lists of the best 3D printers or the best slicers. But rarely do we see a lot of the smaller components which make up the 3D printer. Often, these smaller parts have some of the greatest impacts on the overall print quality, performance, and material we can use.

For example, there is the printer extruder (3D printer extruder), nozzle, and filament diameter, which all are major influences on the final product. As well, we could dive into heated bed surfaces, bed temperatures, and displays, which again have a big say in how the final printed object will look and feel.

For the purposes of this article though, I will take you through what I consider to be the best hot ends available.

After the nozzle, printer extruder and print bed, printer hotend is one of the main culprits for print quality issues.

The hot end is one of the most important parts of a 3D printer. This is the part that actually melts the filament and extruders it onto the print bed. It controls the maximum print temperature, the nozzle size and the cooling of the filament to ensure your prints come out perfect every time.

There are two main groups of hot ends you can consider, all metal and PEEK-based. I prefer the all-metal designs as they allow you to print with more filament types, print at higher temperatures, and are easier to maintain as they are less likely to jam. However, you must decide which type is best for your printer and your printing needs.

Now let’s get this list started.

All Metal Hot Ends

MatterHackers also has a GREAT selection of ALL METAL CleanTip hot ends worth checking out. All metal hot ends are easier to MAINTAIN and yield CLEANER prints (higher quality).

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These are the best 3D printer hot ends:

1. E3D V6

E3D Titan Universal Extruder
$58.85

This is a pretty lightweight extruder that has been manufactured using injection molded parts so you’ll get reliability as well as longevity!

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10/25/2020 02:10 am UTC

The E3D V6 is the hot end that all other hot ends wish they could be. This hot end has raised the bar and set the standard for the all-metal hot end market. It’s a durable, quality, and precise hot end that everyone loves once they have tried it.

One thing I really like about this hot end is its versatility. The E3D V6 can be used on just about any 3D printer. All you need is to find the mount for your printer and maybe watch a video if it’s your first time changing hot ends. In no time though, you will have one of the best hot ends on your 3D printer. Most mounts can be found on Thingiverse.

Besides its versatility, you can completely customize the E3D V6 on the E3D website. Anything from nozzle size, to blocks, and temperature ranges. A large variety of upgrades and options allow you to take your printing to the next level.

The E3D V6 can get temperatures as high as 300 – 400 C. You can easily print just about any type of filament with temperatures that high. Also, its built to handle flexible and soft filaments without jamming.

This is a compact and easy to use the hot end that will surely change your 3D printer and print head extrusion system (extruder assembly) for the better. It is easily my favorite hot end on the market and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to upgrade or make a change.

You can get the E3D V6 to handle either 1.75 mm or 3.0 mm filament.

Where to Buy the E3D V6? Amazon is the first place I would check at this listing, however ALSO be sure to check MatterHackers here for their deals.

2. Slice Engineering Mosquito Hotend

Our Pick
Why Go with the Mosquito Hotend?

If budget isn't your main concern, the Slice Engineering Mosquito IS objectively the best hotend upgrade. No heat sink, means better quality prints, fewer clogs, and a MUCH lower maintenance cost (replacement cost) for parts down the road.

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The Mosquito is a relatively NEW player to the hotend market, but it IS a game changer.

The main engineering improvemnt here is that the Mosquito builds on a durable metal frame instead of a heat sink / heater block combination.

This provides many improvements over your typical 3D printer hotend. Namely:

  • With no heatsink required, you can use a maximially efficient copper heat sink that does NOT need to bear heavy weight (mechanical load)
  • No heating inconsistencies which are notorious for causing jams and poor print quality
  • With fewer moving parts (direct extruder), mounting (installation) of the hotend is MUCH easier
  • With fewer 3D printer part components, the long term durablity is increased and replacement costs are far lower

Other benefits include full compatibility with E3D’s 3D printer extruder parts and nozzles, plug and play functionality, and a wide list of supported 3D printers (virtually every FDM printer type).

Where to Buy the Mosquite Hotend? This one is exclusively available via this MatterHackers listing here.

3. Micro Swiss All Metal

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10/25/2020 12:10 pm UTC

Another great all metal hot end is the MK10 conversion from Micro Swiss. Really all of the all metal hot end conversions from Micro Swiss are great hot ends, you just need to find the one for your machine.

This Micro Swiss hotend conversion kit can be used on single or dual extruder setups (dual hotend). If you have dual extruders you can change out just one hot end to allow for a good mix of PLA and high temperature filaments printing together.

This conversion kit is to replace the stock MK10 PTFE lined hot end. The nice thing about this kit is it requires zero modification to your 3D printer. You are simply removing the original thermal tube and PTFE line and putting the all-metal parts in its place.

You can find easy to follow instructions on the Micro Swiss website. As well as a complete list of the 3D printers this conversion kit will fit on. If it doesn’t fit the printer you have, just do some research to find the kit that works for you.

The MK10 hot end conversion kit will fit some Flashforge 3D printers, Idea Builder 3D printers, Wanhao 3D printers, and Qiditech or other replica 3D printers of the brands just mentioned.

Where to Buy Micro Swiss All Metal? Check out Amazon here AND check MatterHackers here.

4. LulzBot Hexagon

Another all metal hotend upgrade for the list (are you starting to see a trend?) this one is the v2 Hexagon hot end. This time it comes from my favorite 3D printing company, LulzBot. They have created two of the best 3D printers on the market, and you can expect the same quality from their all metal hot end.

The v2 Hexagon is a bit pricier than some of the other hot ends available. But this is consistent with the rest of LulzBots offerings. They believe their high quality, warranty-backed products are more than worth the price tag.

While the v2 Hexagon works with all LulzBot’s 3D printers, it is not just a drop and print hot end for these machines. This is due to wiring differences and requires a few extra steps to use this hot end on a LulzBot 3D printer. However, it is designed as a drop and print replacement on all RepRap and DIY/Kit 3D printers.

The lengthened heater block (heater cartridge) of this hot end means you have a bigger melting zone. This enables you to print faster and more consistently with the evenly melted filament. As well, it can reach up to 300 C in temperature.

The v2 Hexagon hot end is designed for 3.0 mm filament and nozzles of 0.35 mm, 0.5 mm, and 0.6 mm nozzles.

5. DisTech Prometheus V2

The next printer hotend on my list is the closest to the E3D V6, this time we have the Distech Prometheus V2. This hot end is machined from a single piece of stainless steel, which eliminates all internal melt-zone areas and allows for smoother 3D printing.

The Prometheus V2 is actively cooled, which allows for very consistent filament melt. The all stainless steel design lasts longer than traditional brass parts. As well, its strength is almost unmatched. You no longer need to worry about it bumping into the print beds or other objects while you are tinkering around with your machine.

This hot end is designed to be used as a drop and print hot end. The compact dimensions make it easy to mount to your 3D printer. As well, it is compatible with most 3D printers available.

The Prometheus V2 is built for 1.75 mm filament size and can come with nozzles of 0.3 mm, 0.4 mm, 0.6 mm, and 1.0 mm.

6. Diamond Hotend (Diamond Triple)

Next on my list is the Diamond printer extruder hotend. You’ll notice this hot end is pretty different from the others on the list with its overall design. The Diamond lets you mix and match filaments and colors more easily than ever. And you only need one nozzle to do so.

The Diamond hot end combines three different filaments paths, and extruders them through one nozzle. This enables you to 3D print with multiple filaments or colors and effortlessly switch between them during the printing process.

This is another all metal hot end with heat sinks and breaks that are based on E3D designs. The stock mounting bracket is fairly limited in the number of printers it can fit. However, as its popularity has grown, more brackets have been designed by the 3D printing community.

The Diamond hot end is made for 1.75 mm filament and has a 0.4 mm nozzle.

Bonus: All Other E3D Hot Ends

E3D turned itself into the standard for 3D printer hot ends, nozzles, and extruders. They have built an entire ecosystem of top of the line 3D printer parts and printer extruder customization. All the parts are interchangeable, which makes all their products fully customizable. You can choose from a wide range of different heat blocks and nozzles specifically for your hot end.

The E3D ecosystem has hot ends such as the Titan Aqua, which is a water cooled hot end. This enables you to reach even higher temperatures.

They also have multi extrusion hot ends. Pick fro the dual filament, dual extrusions or dual filament single extrusions. No matter what you’re looking for, E3D will have the hot end you need and one of the best hot ends you can find.

That concludes the list of the best hot ends on the market. I am a firm believer that the all-metal design is the way to go. It allows for more filament materials, temperatures, and more functionality.

Make sure you research some more hot ends so you can decide which is the best for your 3D printer and the objects you will be printing.

I know there are many other hot ends out there, but these are the ones I have found to be the best for personal use and recommendations/testers. Let us know which ones we missed in the comments below.

All Metal Hot Ends

MatterHackers also has a GREAT selection of ALL METAL CleanTip hot ends worth checking out. All metal hot ends are easier to MAINTAIN and yield CLEANER prints (higher quality).

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Further Reading 3D Printing

Prusa i3 vs Anet A8 [Jul 2020]

The Prusa i3 and the Anet A8 are both DIY kits 3D printers, meaning that you will have to assemble them. Prusa i3 is one of the, if not the most famous 3D printer in the world, with the Anet A8 following it up.

The reason for their popularity is that they are both open source and very cheap for what they offer.

The Anet A8 is an open design with many clones, while the Prusa i3 does have an actual manufacturer where you can buy the original. Still, since it’s ALSO open-source, there are many open-source modifications online.

In the following sections, we will list the features of each 3D printer, available upgrades, as well as a comparison between the two, including a comparison of their features, their Pros, and Cons. At the very end, you will find the final summary and rating of each 3D printer respectively.

Bottom Line Up Front: Personally, I lean more towards the higher resolution and auto calibration of the Creality Prusa i3 available here.

Creality Ender 3 (Prusa i3)
$206.00

For most useres I recommend STARTING with this Creality Ender 3 Prusa i3 model here. It produces more consistent quality prints and is MUCH easier to assemble, let alone being more affordable. Clear choice for me.

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10/25/2020 12:10 pm UTC

Core Features of the Prusa i3 3D Printer

  • Print Volume: The Prusa i3 features a pretty big 9.84″ x 8.3″ x 8″ (250 x 210 x 200 mm) print area, providing most users with plenty of space to print big objects as well as print many smaller objects all at the same time.
  • Resolution: Cheap printers usually have to compensate somewhere, but no this 3D printer. The Prusa i3 comes with a print resolution as high as 0.05mm or 50 microns, something that we are only used to see in very high-end 3D printers. That combined with the interchangeable 0.4mm nozzle makes for a very high quality capable 3D printer.
  • Open source: This is probably its biggest advantage over other 3D printers on the market. Not only is the software open source, the hardware and all the control boards are also open source, allowing experienced users to take advantage of any modification and upgrades. Being so cheap and so popular has also caused a huge community to emerge, with thousands of people sharing tips and tricks as well as troubleshooting in online forums, ensuring that no matter what problems(if any) you face, someone will be able to help you.
  • Material options: Again, being based on an open source design, and having a heated bed, almost any material can be printed using this printer. This is very important to note, as this is not a standard feature from budget 3D printers.
  • Speed: As impressive as the high resolution is, this printer has another trick up its sleeve. It can print at a 100mm/sec rate. It’s not very often that we see such a high resolution alongside such a fast print speed. Of course, printing at such a speed will have a negative impact on the actual printed object.
  • Auto Calibration: A budget 3D printer with automatic bed calibration? Yes, that is indeed the case here. The printer features an automatic 9 points XYZ / skew axes compensation calibration using a capacitive sensor on the print head.
  • LCD screen: The Prusa i3 includes an LCD screen with a torary knob that allows for very fast changes to the printer settings and parameters. The included screen can also display the current printing stats, as well as allow tweaking of the printer while it is printing.
  • Quality parts: Being a DIY kit, a lot of assembling has to be done. All the major parts and interconnects for the structural parts of the printer are high-quality plastics or aluminum, giving this printer an advantage in strength and rigidity over other DIY kits.
  • Full Review: Prusa i3 Review

Prusa i3 Key Specifications

  • Printing Technology: FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm
  • Nozzle temperature: 260 degree
  • Product forming size: 9,84″ x 8,3″ x 8″ (250 x 210 x 200 mm)
  • Layer thickness: 0,05 – 0,35 mm
  • Memory card offline print: TF card
  • Print speed: 100mm/s
  • Supporting material: ABS, HIPS, PLA, PETG etc.
  • Material diameter: 1.75mm
  • File format: G-code,STL
  • XY-axis positioning accuracy: 0.012mm
  • Z-axis positioning accuracy: 0.004mm
  • Working Power: 100W
  • Software: Cura
  • Packing Type: unassembled packing
Creality Ender 3 (Prusa i3)
$206.00

For most useres I recommend STARTING with this Creality Ender 3 Prusa i3 model here. It produces more consistent quality prints and is MUCH easier to assemble, let alone being more affordable. Clear choice for me.

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10/25/2020 12:10 pm UTC

Core Features of the Anet A8 3D Printer

  • Print Volume: The Anet A8 features a very standard 8.6″ x 8.6″ x 9.4″ (220 x 220 x 240mm) print volume which is more than enough for most users, both new and experienced.
  • Resolution: While this is a very cheap 3D printer, because of its open source philosophy, any nozzle size can be used, and everything can be further upgraded. As standard, this printer is able to print at a resolution as high as 0.1mm layer height, making for some very detailed prints. This can be achieved using the included 0.4mm nozzle
  • Open source: This is probably its biggest advantage over other 3D printers on the market. Not only is the software open source, the hardware and all the control boards are also open source, allowing experienced users to take advantage of any modification and upgrades. Being so cheap and so popular has also caused a huge community to emerge, with thousands of people sharing tips and tricks as well as troubleshooting in online forums, ensuring that no matter what problems(if any) you face, someone will be able to help you.
  • Material options: Again, being based on an open source design, and having a heated bed, almost any material can be printed using this printer. This is very important to note, as this is not a standard feature from budget 3D printers.
  • LCD screen: The Anet A8 includes an LCD screen with a keypad that allows for changes to the printer settings and parameters. The included screen can also display the current printing stats, as well as allow tweaking of the printer while it is printing.
  • 3D printed parts: Being a DIY kit, a lot of assembling has to be done. All the major parts are black, pre-cut acrylic pieces and every interconnect and moving parts are 3D printed, meaning they printer can print replacements for itself.
  • Full Review: Anet A8 Review

Anet A8 Key Specifications

  • Printing Technology: FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm
  • Nozzle temperature: Room temperature to 260 degree
  • Product forming size: 220 x 220 x 240mm
  • Layer thickness: 0.1-0.3mm
  • Memory card offline print: TF card
  • Print speed: 40 – 120mm/s
  • Supporting material: ABS, HIPS, PLA, PETG etc.
  • Material diameter: 1.75mm
  • Language: Chinese, English, French, German, Spanish
  • File format: G-code, STL=
  • XY-axis positioning accuracy: 0.012mm
  • Z-axis positioning accuracy: 0.004mm
  • Working Power: 150W
  • Software: Cura
  • Packing Type: unassembled packing

Comparison Prusa i3 vs Anet A8

  • Hardware: These printers look very similar but they are not. The A8 is mostly made from open source, off the shelf hardware and laser cut acrylic parts. The i3 takes it a bit further, using aluminum parts where structural support is needed and generally using higher quality parts such as motors and mainboards.
  • Design: The design of the printers is also very similar but have some small differences. One of the main differences is the filament spool holder. The A8 has the spool of filament just sitting next to the printer, while the i3 has support for a filament holder, as well as a tube channel to guide the filament away from the printer, but without causing any disturbances while printing.
  • Performance: This is where we see the biggest differences between the two 3D printers. The Prusa i3 is just a better-developed printer. It offers very high-quality prints as well as speedy prints. Both printers have a heated bed which makes them capable of printing almost any material. The Anet A8 is a good performer, but can not reach the detail level of the i3. Another big advantage of the Prusa i3 is the automatic calibration of the print bed, something that the A8 lacks but can be implemented, since it is, after all, an open source 3D printer.
  • Community: Both 3D printers have huge communities online regarding performance issues, troubleshooting, upgrades as well as general tips and tricks. The Anet A8 is used mostly by amateurs for fast prototype prints while the Prusa i3 can be seen used for more serious projects, where stability and quality are desired.
  • Assembly: Since these 3D printers come in parts and require an assembly, it is important to know that the Prusa i3 comes with an easier assembly process than the Anet A8, but because of all the user support around these printers, many written, as well as video guides with a lot of details, can be found online.There is also the possibility to buy a pre-assembled Prusa i3, but that will cost more
  • Price: This is probably one of the strongest points of why these 3D printers are so popular. The Anet A8 costs just 169.99 and while the Prusa i3 costs 229. We can now see why the Prusa can afford to have more bells and whistles, like autocalibration and very high resolution.

Conclusion: Anet A8 or Prusa i3?

BRAND/MODELADIMLab Pursa i3
Anet A8
Product forming size9,84″ x 8,3″ x 8″ (250 x 210 x 200 mm)8,7″ x 8,7″ x 9.45″ (220 x 220 x 240 mm)
Printing TechnologyFDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
Nozzle diameter0.4 mm0.4 mm
Layer thickness0.1-0.3mm0,05 – 0,35 mm
Print speed100mm/s40 – 120mm/s
Supporting materialABS, HIPS, PLA, PETG etc.ABS, HIPS, PLA, PETG etc.
File formatG-code, STLG-code, STL
Working Power100W150W
PriceThe Prusa i3 is about $380. Check out the latest prices here.The Anet A8 is $172. Check out the latest prices here.
RatingSpeed: 7/10
Build Area: 8.5/10
Precision: 8/10
Value: 9/10
Speed: 7.5/10
Build Area: 8.5/10
Precision: 7/10
Value: 9.5/10

Both 3D printers are capable of producing very high-quality prints and can be a fun way for anyone to get into the DIY world by assembling a kit like these. There are no other printers on the market as such a low cost that offer so much.

My Bottom Line: The Prusa i3 available here is more expensive than the Anet A8, but the difference in resolution and the addition of auto calibration might just be worth it for some.

Creality Ender 3 (Prusa i3)
$206.00

For most useres I recommend STARTING with this Creality Ender 3 Prusa i3 model here. It produces more consistent quality prints and is MUCH easier to assemble, let alone being more affordable. Clear choice for me.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/25/2020 12:10 pm UTC

Further Research:

If you are still on the fence, consider these resources for further guidance:

Bibo 2 Review: Reasons to Buy/NOT to Buy in 2020

I am sure we can all agree that 3D printers are awesome. I mean we have a machine that create just about anything you want, and can do it fairly easily. However, one thing I rarely see in the growing personal 3D printer industry is a printer that sets itself apart from the others.

Most of them are pretty similar with metal frames, one or two extruders, and a touch screen control panel. But rarely do we see a printer that has a feature like no other. I don’t know, maybe something with laser engraving capabilities is something some of us would enjoy.   

If you are like me and would love to have a laser engraver built-in to your printer, then we are in luck! A Chinese 3D printer manufacturer, Bibo, offers a really cool printer with all the major features we love. It even has the capabilities for laser engraving! I guess dreams really do come true. 

The R&D team over at Bibo is composed of university graduates from some of the top universities in China. They have won several design and innovation contests with their products. Bibo hopes to continue their global success in the 3D market by focusing on creating 3D printing solutions with better precision, efficiency, and stability.

They currently offer an all-around great printer that competes with the best brands on the market while offering some truly unique features.

Below I will go into greater detail of the Bibo 3D printer, and I will be sure to highlight all the best specs, and features, and some things you might not like about it. I hope by the end you will have a much deeper understanding of the ins and outs of the Bibo 3D printer in this Bibo 3D Printer review. 

Bottom Line Up Front: All in all, this is a complete package that I have not heard (or experienced) any major issues. I highly recommend the Bibo 2 3D printer to anyone who can afford it. It is a high-quality 3D printer that will not let you down and continue to surprise with its many features and capabilities.  

Core Features of Bibo 2 

 

These are the features I feel are the most important and impressive from the Bibo 2 3D printer. 

  • Laser Engraving: This 3D print doesn’t just create items, it can engrave them too! The Laser Engraving enables you to engrave designs on wood. The engraver isn’t the most powerful, but it will work well on light materials. I have heard of the laser working on wood, paper, cardboard, and even a few plastic pieces. The 500 MW laser engraver is easily swapped out for the extruders and ready to go. It is time to get creative with some of your engraving designs. 
  • Dual Cooling Fans: The Bibo 2 touch and laser printer comes equipped with two nozzle cooling fans, one in the front and one in the back of the machine This is extremely helpful when printing with filaments that require the nozzle to reach high temperatures, such as PLA. You can automatically control the fan settings throughout the printing process from the touch screen control panel or through your Wi-Fi connected device. 
  • Power and Filament DetectionEver been in a situation where your home or office loses power for some reason? Ever had this happen in the middle of a print only to gain power again and you must start the print over from the beginning? Yeah, it’s the worst. Well, you won’t have to worry about power cuts or running out of filament during a print when using this 3D printer from Bibo. If you ever lose power during a print, you can simply pick up where you left off with your print once your power supply comes back. As well, if you happen to run out of filament during a print, the print will be automatically paused until more filament is ready to go. This will allow you to have flawless prints every time.  
  • Dual ExtrudersSomething I hope to see more and more of in newer 3D printer models going forward are dual extruders. Adding a second extruder to the machine really opens the possibilities of the 3D printer. Add a second color, or print twice as fast, dual extruders are a great feature for any printer. In terms of Bibo’s extruders, they are some of the best I have seen with great stability and precision during the printing process. This is because Bibo uses direct drive extruder technology, which prevents the filament from bending in the transmission tube.  

Why go with the Bibo 2?
$679.00

Excellent design (dual cooling for reliable prints), auto filament calibration and built-in laser engraving make the Bibo 2 a true best in class 3D printing workhouse. One of the best 3D printers we've tested under $1000.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/24/2020 08:10 pm UTC

Key Specifications of the Bibo2

Some key specs to point out of the Bibo 2: 

Build Area  8.4” x 7.3” x 6.3” 
Print Speed  350 mm/s 
Filament Types  ABS, PLA, Flexibles, Dissolvables, Conductives 
Layer Resolution  20 microns 
Extruders  2 
Nozzle Diameter  0.4 mm 
Warranty 1 year
Our Score  8.8/10 
Price  check here for latest price

Pros of the Bibo 2 

Let me highlight some features which testers and myself appreciate the most about the Bibo 2.  

Copy and multi-color printing: My favorite reasons for dual extruders on any 3D printer are the capabilities to copy print and use multiple colors during the printing process. With two extruders, you can now cut your overall print time in half of printing two objects. Each extruder can create the same object on different parts of the print bed.

This is great if you’re printing gifts or prototypes, which you would need multiple copies of. Also, being able to create multicolor structures is a feature that allows you to add a little more personalization into your creations.

Or combine both features and copy print the same object in two different colors or filament types. You have a ton of possibilities with the dual extruders on the Bibo 2. 

Metal box design: I really love everything about the design of this printer. It starts with the all metal frame to increase stability and precision of the print process. Testers noted that the frame resembles an Ulitmaker, but the overall design seems to be influenced by the Makerbot Replicator. Also – fully assembled – it comes with a removable metal enclosure to ensure stable and constant printing conditions.

The Bibo 2 has larger z and x axis guide rods than its predecessor, which adds to the overall strength and stability too.  

Removable glass bed: Something testers continue to rave about when using the Bibo 2 is the heated glass bed. While it is not self-leveling like some other high end 3D printers we are still big fans of the print bed. Since it is demountable, you can easily remove the bed with your finished print on it away from the printer.

This makes it much easier to remove the printed objects and is especially handy when removing complex or large objects.     

Multiple materials: I am very impressed with the range of different materials the Bibo 2 3D printer can handle. Not only does it handle them, but it prints beautiful objects with every type of filament.

Some of the different types of filament you can use are ABS, PLA, dissolvable filaments – PVA and HIPS, flexible filaments – TPU and PLA+, nylons, woods, moldlay, and many more. With the capabilities to print all of these filaments you can truly get creative with what objects you are designing and building.   

Why go with the Bibo 2?
$679.00

Excellent design (dual cooling for reliable prints), auto filament calibration and built-in laser engraving make the Bibo 2 a true best in class 3D printing workhouse. One of the best 3D printers we've tested under $1000.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/24/2020 08:10 pm UTC

Cons of the Bibo 2 Touch Laser

This is a great printer there is no doubt about that. The users and testers have all reported amazing things and hardly any complaints. In fact, we are so impressed with the printer it is hard to find any negatives about the machine. Everything from the packaging, to durability, to print quality, to customer support has really impressed everyone who has used the Bibo 2.

Sure, there laser engraver could be more powerful, but it definitely gets the job done and works exactly how you would want a laser engraver to work on a 3D printer. There are maybe two parts of the printer that we wish were different, but even these are minor, nit-picky things. 

Auto-bed levelingThe heated, demountable glass print bed is great! We just wish it had auto-bed leveling at the beginning of each print. Of course, we don’t mind having to level it ourselves as it is rather painless and easy. But, on the next generation of Bibo we hope to see auto-bed leveling features.  

Build area: The build area is good, but not great, especially for taking full advantage of the dual extruders. We would love to see a slightly larger build area to incorporate bigger prints. Again, this is more of a wish-list request than a negative as the current build platform area is suitable for the majority of prints we want to do at home. But, I can dream for now.  

Other Bibo Alternatives to Consider?

I always like to compare a 3D printer to it’s closest price competitors. There are definitely a few in this mid-tier category of budget ($700-1200).

  • Creality CR-10: A more basic (less capable) printer, BUT almost 60% less expensive than the Bibo. Full Creality CR-10 Review.
  • Flashforge Creator Pro: The Creator has a very similar design and similar features as well. Similar to Bibi, it’s a foreign import so you may have to deal with confusing manuals. Still, they have improve a LOT from the original version we tested here. The latest Creator Pro available here is much better supported and more consistent in terms of quality prints. It comes in slightly more expensive (but comparable) to the Bibo.
  • Wanhao Duplicator i3: The new Wanhao is another Chinese competitor that offers many similar features to the Bibo, except with an open concept design.
  • Anycubic Photon Review: An excellent and reliable 3D printer, particularly for miniatures and/or resin-based printing.
  • Ender 5 Review: Another competent lower market 3D printer, among the best “budget” 3D printers.

Final Take – The Bibo 2 Touch x Laser is great option and affordable too 

Why go with the Bibo 2?
$679.00

Excellent design (dual cooling for reliable prints), auto filament calibration and built-in laser engraving make the Bibo 2 a true best in class 3D printing workhouse. One of the best 3D printers we've tested under $1000.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
10/24/2020 08:10 pm UTC

This is more than a 3D printer. It comes with all the features and add-ons we love and even more than we’re used to. It is reliable, stable, accurate, and powerful. The printer typically sells for around $800 (check this listing for the latest live prices) making it very affordable for a lot of 3D printing enthusiasts.

It outperforms many other printers in this price range and can hold its own against some more expensive printers. When I first saw the price after learning about the printer I was caught off-guard. I thought for sure this machine would be closer to the $1500 range given the fact it has dual extruders, Wi-Fi connectivity, can handle a ton of filament types and even has the ability to do laser engraving.

Bottom Line: All in all, this is a complete package that I have not heard any negatives about. I highly recommend the Bibo 2 3D printer to anyone who can afford it. It is a high-quality 3D printer that will not let you down and continue to surprise with its many features and capabilities.  

Ultimaker 2 vs Cubify CubeX Duo – Which is the Better 3D Printer?

Ultimaker and 3D Systems are two of the major players in the 3D printing industry. Both of these companies offer several different models and choice of accessories for your 3D printing needs and have an excellent reputation for providing value.

I decided to compare two of the most popular units available, the Ultimaker 2 and the Cubify CubeX Duo. Let’s see what each unit has to offer and perhaps the areas where they might be lacking a bit.

Ultimaker 2

This Ultimaker 3D printer is a good match for either professional such as engineers or artists or individuals who desire higher quality 3D printing capabilities. The unit has received above average marks by many experienced users who have used it for both personal and commercial purposes. The Ultimaker 2 is compatible with several different types of filament and can handle printing designs that require a high level of detail. Resolutions down to 0.02 mm are possible, the unit is able to handle an acceptable level of volume type printing projects and is very efficient overall.

CubeX Duo

The Cubify CubeX Duo is widely known as one of the better 3D printers available on the market. The unit is primarily for home users or users that need professional style 3D printing that does not extend quite to the commercial requirements of larger printers. It is capable of extremely high resolutions, comes with dual printing heads and is approximately $1,000 less than its newer version, the Cubify CubeX Trio. For those who are interested in high-quality 3D printing, the CubeX Duo is worth considering.

Getting Started

CubeX Duo

The Cubify CubeX Duo comes with software called Invent and is compatible with Windows and Mac based operating systems but does not work with Linux. The unit does not connect to your PC via USB cable as it uses the available SD card input as the primary source of data input and transfer.

You can use PLA or ABS filament types with this printer but to utilize ABS properly, you will need to purchase an additional heated printing bed as an accessory. The Invent software overall is easy to use and most experienced 3D printers and even beginners will find you can learn your way around in just a few minutes.

The printer is relatively heavy weighing almost eighty pounds but it is hard to argue with the extremely rigid and sturdy construction of the unit. Simply by feeling how the parts come together and the overall solid feel you can tell it is made to last.

Ultimaker 2

The Ultimaker 2 has a relatively easy setup process that consists of only a few steps before you are ready to begin your first 3D printing job. When you first unbox the unit, you simply need to connect it to a source of power and then begin downloading the printer’s system management software.

The unit does not include an auto-leveling function so you may need to manually adjust the leveling of the print area before starting your first project. However, it is not hard to accomplish this task in just a few minutes and Ultimaker provides clear instructions on how to do so. The Ultimaker 2 has an available SD card slot making it possible to use the unit as a standalone printer with no USB connection but it comes with a USB connection as well.

Features and Printing Operations

CubeX Duo

The CubeX Duo offers some of the best resolutions of any 3D printer in the same price range and category. As you might have guessed from its name, “Duo”, the printer comes with dual print heads as opposed to the Trio which has three. The Duo can print products up to 9.5 inches in height and printing times can vary widely depending on the resolution and detail involved. Projects that are extremely detailed with high resolution can sometimes take as much as 10 hours to complete. Given the size capacity and quality of print, this is actually not all that long to wait compared to some other models that do not even offer comparable quality. Resolutions down to 100 microns are possible with the CubeX Duo making it possible to produce very high-quality 3D printed products.

“The software and mechanics of the printer work well together as we did not have any issues with failed printing jobs or having to start over due to some type of error, which can happen often with other models.”

The unit has an LCD screen which allows you to control printer functions with ease once you get accustomed to efficiently selecting options on the screen, it tends to require more pressure than other on-screen type control panels.

While the software is easy to use and printer functions overall seem to be relatively error-free, the Invent software is a bit limited in what features it offers. You adjust resolution and scale design sizes but it is not possible to adjust temperatures or to make many other customizations.

Features

  • Excellent high-resolution prints
  • Software very easy to learn and to use
  • Simple but limited adjustments and customizations
  • Printing speed better than most other models in its category
  • Uses .stl file types
  • ABS or PLA compatible
  • You can choose the active printer head
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac but Linux
  • Printing height up to 9.5 inches
  • Resolutions down to 100 microns are possible

Ultimaker 2

This 3D printer comes with Ultimaker’s proprietary system management software called Cura. The software is included free of charge and may be downloaded for various operating systems including Windows based systems, Mac or even Linux. You can make many types of adjustments to print designs using the software such as scaling the size and moving the design in various ways. Additionally, you can import .obj files along with .stl files.

The layout of the user interface is relatively simple which limits the number of selections, keeping things easy to navigate and learn. Although, the software does allow users a surprising amount of customization choices which is always welcome when working with a large variety of 3D printing designs.

“Resolutions are possible all the way down to a minimum of only 0.02 mm which results in higher quality printing and better overall finished products.”

This is especially true when compared to many other 3D printer models in its category.

Another nice touch is the software displays total estimated printing job times both before the job begins and while in progress. For larger jobs the times can sometimes not be very accurate but overall it is a nice feature to have while working with different designs.

Features

  • Professional quality printing
  • PLA and ABS compatible
  • Impressive printing speed when using lower resolutions
  • Dual print heads
  • Noise level is not ideal
  • A good fit for both professionals and hobbyists
  • Printing dimensions-9 x 8.7 x 8 in.
  • You may make corrections in-process

Downsides

CubeX: The CubeX Duo software is a bit more limited than what is ideal for a printer in its price range. We would like to see more customization features possible and the ability to work with designs in additional ways.

Ultimaker 2: The noise level when using the Ultimaker 2 is less than ideal and may become a problem if you are in an office area or home area that needs a relatively low level of disruption. It certainly is not at a totally unacceptable level like a loud stereo but it is unquestionably noticeable and could disturb those who are close to your working area.

Final Verdict: Ultimaker 2 vs CubeX Duo

Ultimaker 2 3D Printer
Price Disclaimer
While currently the Ultimaker 2 costs a little more than the CubeX Duo we think it is probably worth the extra money, especially if you plan to use the unit on a frequent basis.

If you are new to the 3D printing world then you may want to save a few dollars and will find the limited functionality of CubeX Duo acceptable.

However, for those who are more experienced, the Ultimaker 2 is probably a better choice.

Flashforge Creator X Review [2020]: What’s New with the X?

Creator X reviews

FlashForge Creator X improves on its former self and offers several improved features, which make owning the 3D printer much more attractive to a wider audience.

The old FlashForge Creator model was actually very popular among 3D printing enthusiasts, as it was offered with an attractive price point and provided quality printing work as well.

The old wooden box style frame of the Creator has been replaced with a new and improved metal frame for the Creator X. The frame is much more resilient to wear and tear while also providing better overall structural integrity.

The platform has been improved as well and now comes equipped with a durable high-temperature resistant plate made of aluminum. Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of the plate is the sturdy 6.3 mm thickness, which helps prevent warping and other types of damage during heating procedures.

Additional functionality and convenience are offered with the addition of powerful LED lights that surround the printing area. As mentioned above, the structural integrity of the Creator X has been much improved and not only with the addition of the metal frame.

The designers went a step further and reinforced several points on the machine with fittings for the corners as well. It only takes a minute or two of working with the improved model to feel the significant difference these upgrades have made.

The Creator X sticks closely to its operational roots by remaining compatible with ABS and PLA, while also sporting double extruders and spools. You can check out my original review of the Flashforge Creator here.

Our Pick
NEW: Get the Flashforge Creator MAX Instead

The latest Creator iteration is the MAX, and it's MUCH BETTER. The same quality aluminum frame as the X, but with an upgraded (easy to use) keypad display AND improved overall reliability.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Getting Started with the Creator X

When you order a new gadget or piece of tech machinery, many times it is easy to completely miss noticing how the company packages the item for shipping. There is nothing worse than waiting several days for your new toy to arrive, only to open the package and see that it was damaged in-transit.

The reason I make a point of this with the Creator X is I noticed how well it was packaged. It was tightly secured, had plenty of buffer material around the exterior and overall was well protected against accidental drops or mishaps during the shipping process.

flashforge creator x review

Once you remove the unit from its packaging, there are a few small tasks to take care of in order to get it up and printing. The dual extruders need to be attached to the unit, which is easily completed with the provided screws. Additionally, you will need to install the software you plan to use for operating the unit. It comes with an installation CD, but there are several types of software selections you can make depending on what you are most comfortable with.

What’s Improved with the Creator X?

One of the very noticeable conveniences with the improved Creator X is you no longer have to periodically tighten miscellaneous screws like you did with the old model. The old Creator model’s wooden frame would loosen up relatively easily and needed to be tightened up quite frequently.

Additionally, no more keeping a flashlight at the ready to check on the progress of your work, the new powerful LED lights around the build area provide plenty of visibility for tracking progress. The unit comes with a single spool of ABS filament and one spool of PLA as well to get you started. The colors are selected at random so it may be a good idea to order some additional filament in the colors you prefer when you order the Creator X.

However, the two provided spools are enough to get you up and printing so you can see what the Creator X is capable of doing.

3D Printing Operations Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Excellent quality printing especially for a relatively inexpensive unit
  • ABS printing very easy and smooth
  • ABS filament works well with the tape and build area plate
  • Prints faster than other choices in the same price category

This unit is often compared to a competitor 3D printer, the Makerbot 2X (see full review here). The Makerbot is about $1,000 higher in price but does not come near the type of print quality that the Creator X offers. The printing function is smooth and I would not consider it fast by any means, but also not near as slow as some other models in its category.

The unit offers excellent flexibility and performs well in a wide range of areas that is pleasantly surprising for a 3D printer in this price range. Beginners and experienced 3D printers alike will enjoy working with the Creator X and will have plenty of options at their fingertips with this unit.

Cons

  • PLA filament not as easy to work with as the ABS
  • PLA filament has recurring issues sticking to the build area, although heating helps

Sometimes difficulty working with PLA and getting it to cooperate is not necessarily the fault of the printer. It can also be due to inexperience of the user or not having the settings properly configured.

For whatever reason, we just found the Creator X struggled a bit more than perhaps some other models when working with PLA. In all fairness though, it is probably not a 100% fair assessment as we had limited time and mostly because these processes are so dependent on getting specific settings correct.

Our Pick
NEW: Get the Flashforge Creator MAX Instead

The latest Creator iteration is the MAX, and it's MUCH BETTER. The same quality aluminum frame as the X, but with an upgraded (easy to use) keypad display AND improved overall reliability.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Key Features – At A Glance

Retail Price Approximately $1,200 (see here for live pricing and deals) Dual Extruders and Spools
Measurements out of the box 320 x 467 x 381 mm LCD Display and Directional Controls
Diameter of Nozzle .4mm Max Volume of Build-Five Liters
MicroSD Card or USB Connection Included Installation Software CD: ReplicatorG

 

File Types STL/Gcode/x3g Tools and Spare Parts Included
One-Piece Motherboard 1.75 mm PLA/ABS Filament Compatible

Warranty Information

The FlashForge Creator X is produced by a company based in China and after having a look around at several review sites and other resources they appear to do a good job of customer service and taking care of problems that may occur. Additionally, they offer a 3-month warranty that protects you against product defects. They will replace any defective parts within three months of the purchase date at no cost to the customer and offer technical support as well.

A relatively large sampling of websites from across the 3D printing industry indicate a high level of satisfaction with the Creator X and there does not appear to be any design issues that are constant across the model line.

Overall Recommendation – Is the Flashforge Creator X Worth the Improvements?

The Creator X offers a great value with excellent performance and flexibility. The printer is suitable for those that are new to 3D printing and just want to have a first experience, as well as for more experienced 3D printing hobbyists or tech junkies.

The fact this unit does not arrive as a kit that needs to be manually put together is plus and the setup is relatively easy and painless. As with all 3D printers, there is a bit of a learning curve when learning how to work with the different filaments and features of the unit, but that is to be expected.

Overall, this is a moderate – but significant – step up from previous Flashforge models.

I have no problem recommending this unit as a good value, quality product and user-friendly 3D printer. If you are looking for a first experience or perhaps to make a move up from an entry-level 3D printer, then the Creator X should be on your very short list of top considerations. Be sure to check out this listing, where I’ve found it discounted recently.

Our Pick
NEW: Get the Flashforge Creator MAX Instead

The latest Creator iteration is the MAX, and it's MUCH BETTER. The same quality aluminum frame as the X, but with an upgraded (easy to use) keypad display AND improved overall reliability.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Further read:

Buccaneer 3D Printer Review – Just Another Kickstarted 3D Printer?

Pirate 3D is among the many 3D printing companies that were made possible by the many enthusiastic users on Kickstarter.com. Their Kickstarter campaign began just a couple of years ago and since that time has raised over $1.4 million from over 3,500 different backers.

While many 3D printing companies have enjoyed success on Kickstarter, Pirate 3D’s statistics rank among some of the most successful campaigns ever in the 3D printer space.

The printer is called the Buccaneer and is designed for beginner to intermediate users that want an easy to use 3D printer without having to make a large investment. It is priced well below $1,000 which makes it affordable 3D Printer for intermediate 3D printing enthusiasts and beginners who are trying things out for the first time.

While many 3D printers have been brought to market in this very same way, results can vary quite a bit. Raising money for a great idea is one thing, actually manufacturing a quality printer and delivering on customer expectations is quite another. Now that the Buccaneer is actually out on the market, we decided to have a look for ourselves and see what this new budget style 3D printer can offer.

Design and Appearance of the Buccaneer

Design: The design of this printer is a bit of a mixed bag, as sometimes things look a bit better than they actually are. The printer does have a very nice look to it that is sleek, modern and smooth. It actually looks a little more upscale than some 3D printers that are considerably more money. However, once you get up close and personal with the unit you will realize that looks can be somewhat deceiving. The initial design plan for this printer was for the enclosure piece to be constructed from high-quality aluminum, but I guess this aspect of the design did not make it all the way to the factory floor.

Construction: On the finished product, the enclosure piece is constructed of polycarbonate and then molded around the unit’s frame. The frame appears to be solid and made of stamped steel, so no issue there. However, the polycarbonate is basically a cheap way out and really takes away from the structural integrity of the printer. In a couple of words, it feels and is cheap and unstable. It is a little surprising that the enclosure was not damaged during the shipping process. On a good note, I suppose, they did do a nice job of securely packaging the unit and it arrived without any damage at all.

Enclosure: Once you get past the actual construction of the enclosure piece, its appearance is nice and sports a brushed aluminum look. While many 3D printers come with the inner parts partially or fully exposed, not the Buccaneer. The enclosure fully wraps around the unit hiding all of the internal components. In fact, it would be hard for anyone to tell that it is a 3D printer at all without a much closer inspection. The sleek and modern appearance are by far one of the best design aspects of the printer as many budget style printers look just plain rough like you just pieced it together in your backyard.

Printer Bed: However, the upside of the printer’s appearance also has a downside, because it tends to not be very user-friendly when you are trying to perform printing operations. Since the printer bed is covered from view by the enclosure you are not able to see what is going on when printing functions first begin. With a printer that does not have a heated build plate, it is very important to make sure the foundation of your design begins properly. The Buccaneer makes that a bit tough to do in an easy way.

Features and Printing

  • Poor Delivery on Features: Right upfront we should say that the planned specs and features of this printer changed quite a bit from what was originally listed on their initial Kickstarter campaign to what was finally actually offered on the production unit. On top of the enclosure change mentioned above, the printer was also supposed to include a heated build plate and have the capability of using both ABS and PLA. Unfortunately, those specs never made it onto the final model, which is disappointing. For a more thorough autopsy of what went wrong, check out this article.
  • Price Point: If there is one area the Buccaneer excels in it is simplicity, which is a plus for a printer that is designed as a budget style unit intended for beginners. The setup process is painless and easy to accomplish. In fact, it is so simple you don’t even have to press a power button to get it started, simply plug the 3D printer into a power source and it powers up automatically. Of course, this means you have to remember to turn it off by unplugging the unit too.
  • Ease of Use: There are no complicated controls to learn about on the printer itself, all functions are controlled through your computer once you connect it to the Buccaneer via Wi-Fi and utilize the system management software.
  • Compatibility: The printer is compatible with Windows, Android and iOS devices but oddly does not play well with OS X systems. The whole wireless concept is nice in theory but in practice, it actually does not work very well. The connection utility seems to have a bug and can act very sporadic at times. Even more annoying, there is no option for using an SD card or USB cable as the Buccaneer has no available ports. So it is wireless or nothing.
  • User Interface: The entire user interface is as basic as it gets, which is both good and bad. While the Wi-Fi connection utility is buggy, the system management software is not and seems to run smoothly.
  • Resolutions: You can turn, rotate and change the size of designs in an efficient manner using the software and choose resolutions between fifty and three hundred twenty microns. The range of resolutions is fairly impressive given the price point of the printer.
  • Print Speed: If you aren’t too hung up on quality and can live with the lower resolutions then the Buccaneer can bang out designs much quicker than we thought it would. Overall, the printing speed is above average taking all things into account.
  • Print Quality: The printing quality is nothing to write home about and just okay, nothing too exciting and no major issues. However, one annoyance is due to the lack of a heated bed you must always use a raft as a base for each product you print. Of course, this adds time to printing projects and increases the amount of filament used.
  • Calibration: The auto-calibration functions seemed to work perfectly and automatically adjusted before each project. Not having to mess with manually calibrating the build plate is a nice advantage on a budget printer.

Features – Summary

  • 50-320 microns
  • Build volume: 130 x 96 x 139 (millimeters)
  • Filament: 1.75mm
  • PLA Only
  • No heated bed
  • Nozzle: 0.4 mm
  • Simple user interface
  • Easy setup
  • Fast 3D printing capability

Wrapping Up – Overall Recommendation

I was not overly impressed with the Buccaneer and actually not impressed at all. Anytime you promise high-quality specs upfront and then move to a cheaper design on the final product it is not a good sign.

The price is certainly right as it gives many 3D printing beginners a chance to own a 3D printer at a very low cost (see here for latest pricing).

However, with all of the various issues, bugs and quality problems, we think you can probably find a better overall value than the Buccaneer. If you have very low requirements for quality then it might be worth a look, but buyer beware on this one as it might be disappointing.

However, I’d recommend checking out our buying guide on the best 3D printers if want something better.