Vaquform Review [2021]: Is It The One For You?

If you’re the type of person who likes to make accurate and versatile content that isn’t going to blow a hole in your wallet, then vacuum forming might be the method for you.

Vacuum forming is a popular 3D printing alternative, yet a relatively unknown method for creating 3D projects and objects. If you’re creating a short run of shallow plastic products, then you might consider using vacuum forming.

Of course, like any process, there are benefits and drawbacks to using this type of method. In this Vaquform Review, we’ll talk about what those pros and cons are, how vacuuming forming work, and discuss everything Vaquform has to offer.

Let’s start by learning more about vacuum forming.

What is Vacuum Forming?

Vacuum forming, in its simplest terms, is using heat to make and form a specific design. This goes through a process that involves pressure forming, which uses a mold and heat to contour and shape the object. Vacuum forming uses only a single mold at a time and relies on a vacuum to create suction.

Using the suction and heat, the sheet is drawn around the mold until the desired object is formed. Simple enough, right? Let’s dig a little deeper into exactly how this process works.

How Does Vacuum Forming Work?

Vaquform

Vacuum forming is a relatively straightforward process. It requires a plastic sheet that clamps to a frame. Once the sheet is in place, it is heated until the plastic is malleable.

The intention is to make it soft enough that it can take on a specific shape. However, be careful that you don’t heat the sheet to the point that it melts or loses its integrity.

Next, you use the vacuum to pull the plastic until it fits around the desired mold. Thus shaping the sheet around the desired contours and curves.

Before you remove the mold, be sure that the plastic has cooled off. If you have an especially large piece, you might be able to get away with using a fan to cool it off quicker.

Once the sheet has cooled off enough, you can smooth the edges and trim off the excess plastic until your final object is revealed.

Vaquform: What you Need to Know

Vaquform started out as a Kickstarter project but has since made a name for itself as a rapid process for creating amazingly detailed objects. This revolutionary desktop vacuum former works very well alongside CNC routers and 3D printers.

This time-tested technique for manufacturing high-quality objects requires users to have a plastic sheet and a powerful vacuum seal. With Vaquform, users have just what they need to make detailed molds and create amazing projects.

Vaquform is considered a state-of-the-art, industry-leading, consumer-friendly platform. Its technology is one of the best in the market and offers plenty of value for anyone interested in vacuum forming.

Features

Vaquform Features

Users will enjoy features like the IR probe, which is used to monitor the temperature of the plastic throughout the process. There’s also an LCD interface that allows users to control and define parameters throughout the process. Additionally, Vaquform’s 9 x 12-inch forming area is larger than most of the 3D platforms you’ll find in the market today.

That makes Vaquform ideal for an artist’s studio, a design office, or an engineering lab. Really, the options are limitless. A powerful heater is the same one you’ll find in many commercial vacuum formers, which is a testament to how seriously the company takes its dedication to detail and quality.

Vaquform comes equipped with an internal database that understands exactly how much heat is needed for materials. That means it will notify the user when the wrong temperature is being used. All the user has to do is use the LCD screen to tell Vaquform exactly what profile they want, select it, and press that start button.

Suction

Vaquform also offers high-powered suction. With a combination of high-speed vacuuming, high airflow, you’ll get all the suction you’ll need. Additionally, a dual-stage hybrid system eliminates nearly 90% of the air stored under the sheet. You can expect about the same amount of power as you’ll get from a typical household vacuum.

Essentially, it breaks down into two stages:

  1. High airflow with low vacuum power
  2. Low airflow with high vacuum power

The final result is a design that offers incredible precision and immaculate corners.

Overall, Vaquform is great for all types of projects. Whether you’re doing an art project, create a customized mask, or making replicas of already existing molds, the platform is great for all materials. This consumer-friendly device is great no matter what type of creation you’re designing.

Pros and Cons of Vaquform

Vaquform is a platform chosen by many professionals and designers due to its high-quality features and flexibility. But there are plenty of other benefits you’ll find when using Vaquform. Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of this vacuum forming platform.

Pros

  • More affordable than other manufacturing processes
  • Low-cost tools
  • Large working surface area
  • Quicker turnaround time than traditional production processes
  • Twice as fast as other methods
  • Increased efficiency and productivity
  • Products get to consumers faster
  • Highly flexible
  • More design options
  • Customizable
  • Supports molds in a wide variety of materials
  • Easily modified

Cons

  • Only supports simple geometries
  • Compatible with parts that have thin walls
  • Final products may not have consistent walls
  • Can be difficult to produce designs with deep concaves
  • Not as efficient for massive production runs

Vaquform Alternatives

If you don’t think Vaquform’s offering is your cup of tea, there are several alternatives available on the market. Here are a few you might consider:

Pitsco Vacuum Former

Pitsco Vacuum Former

Pitsco’s vacuum former offers a way to learn more about the industry while studying how the materials and design aspect of the process works. This vacuum former will heat, stretch, and shape plastic sheets up to 6 x 6 inches. These are perfect for creating small objects or experimenting with the vacuum forming method.

This vacuum former includes a heater that will only operate when the switch is pressed down. That makes the Pitsco vacuum former an excellent option if you’re new to the industry.

It also offers a 13 x 9 inch oak base that sits at 8 inches tall. However, something to keep in mind if you do decide to go with this vacuum former is that it requires a 120v power outlet.

If you’re looking to learn more about vacuum forming and the technology behind it, the Pitsco vacuum former is an excellent choice. It’s a small option that will let you get started without spending a lot of money or getting too overwhelmed.

HD 2424 Vacuum Former

HD 2424 Vacuum Former

If you’re looking for a vacuum former that’s a little off the beaten path, pay close attention to the HD Press 2424 vacuum former. This unique vacuum former uses membrane vacuum technology to create amazing objects. Made out of high-quality plastic, this device is ready to be used on a regular basis.

With this model, you can create amazing objects without wondering if you’re putting too much strain on it. There’s a heat-sink included above the vacuum grid, which allows you to perform repeated vacuum forming. Plus, thanks to the durable membrane attached to the lid of the HD 2424, users can create multiple objects throughout the same run.

The HD 2424 is perfect if you don’t have a lot of room in your home and is great if you want something you can just plug in. Just hook your vacuum former up and start creating straight away. It’s designed in a way that allows minimal air volume, which applies a quick vacuum if you’re working with a hot piece.

Also included with the HD2424 is easy to remove lid and a vacuum release vent. The vacuum former is crack resistant since it consists of ABS plastic.

Other options are made of PVC or wood and prone to splitting. So if you’re interested in holster making, cosplay, small prototypes, special effects, or aerospace, the HD 2424 might be the vacuum former for you.

Formech 450DT Vacuum Former

Formech 450DT Vacuum Former

One of the most recognized names in the vacuum forming industry is Formech, who brings its latest technology to the Formech 450DT.

This new vacuum former offers users a high-resolution digital touchscreen, which provides a high-level of control over the entire process. The display is intuitive, easy to understand, and straightforward.

This vacuum former comes with a memory that can handle up to 20-programs, which means it can quickly and easily recall your most recent or often used projects.

The Formech 450DT is great for inventors, designers, and students. Basically, anyone who wants to learn more about vacuum forming technology on an industry-leading device.

FAQs

There are plenty of questions about vacuum form technology and what it entails. Here are some of the more common inquiries you’ll find.

Question: What can you use vacuum forming to make?

Answer: Believe it or not, there are many household products that can be made with vacuum forming technology. Consider the plastics in your home. Utensils, plates, bowls, appliances, and more. All these are objects that you can make with vacuum forming.

Question: What is the difference between vacuum forming and thermoforming?

Answer: There isn’t a lot of difference between the two, but there are some. For example, thermoforming is the process where the plastic sheet is heated, formed, and then placed onto the mold.

On the other hand, vacuum forming is taking the sheet, heating it up, and then preparing it for molding. Simply put, vacuum forming is a type of thermoforming.

Question: What year was vacuum forming invented?

Answer: The first vacuum forming machine was patented in 1964. This was largely due to the creation and development of new methods and materials introduced to consumer society, which wholly embraced these processes. Speed of production made thermo and vacuum forming great ways to manufacture products in mass quantities.

Question: What industries use vacuum forming?

Answer: There are many corporations that use vacuum forming to manufacture a wide range of plastics and other products. These industries include automotive, retail, stage and film, orthodontics, product development, and many others.

Final Thoughts 

Even though vacuum forming is not a well-known industry, it still has plenty of real-world applications. From creating costumes to forming retainers, there is a wide range of opportunities using vacuum forming machines.

Vaquform is an excellent option in this industry. It offers plenty of features, many of which you won’t find on other vacuum forming machines. Plus, going from a Kickstarter campaign to a successful business is an amazing feat in and of itself.

At the end of the day, Vaquform is a great option if you’re thinking about getting into vacuum forming. It’s an excellent way to create flexible and customizable products. Think about it. Aren’t you just dying to start making personalized content for all your friends?

Anycubic Mega X Review [2021]: Should You Go For It?

Imagine you’re rolling through the McDonald’s drive-thru and you order a Big Mac, fries, and a Coke. Classic order. Good on you. Now, you ask them to supersize it. Because you simply can’t get enough of the greasy goodness.

Apply this logic to the Anycubic Mega S. That’s what Anycubic did when they made the Mega X. It’s like a supersized Mega S, with all the same great features in a bigger package. It’s a mid-sized FDM printer that’s definitely worth your money.

Are you looking for a great 3D printer that rings up at less than $500 and meets, or even surpasses your expectations? Then you may have come to the right place.

Mega X 3D Printer | AnyCubic

No assembly hassle, get started quickly. Provides better printing experience, compatible with TPU.

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Specifications

  • Technology: FDM
  • Weight: 14kg
  • Printer dimensions: 500mm x 500mm x 553mm
  • Arrangement: Cartesian XZ head
  • Build volume: 300mm x 300mm x 305mm
  • Feeder system: Bowden drive
  • Extruder type: Single
  • Maximum extruder temperature: 250°C
  • Nozzle size: 0.4mm
  • Layer resolution: 0.05-0.3mm
  • Print chamber: Open
  • Print Bed: Heated bed with Anycubic Ultrabase
  • Bed leveling: Manual
  • Maximum heated bed temperature: 90°C
  • Frame: Metal
  • Display: Color touchscreen
  • Connectivity: USB, SD card
  • Wi-Fi: No
  • Built-in camera: No
  • Filament sensor: Yes
  • Filament diameter: 1.75mm
  • Materials: PLA, ABS, HIPS, wood
  • Third party filaments: Yes
  • Slicer: Cura
  • Operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux

Setup

The Anycubic Mega X only comes semi assembled, but putting it together is pretty simple. It’s packed neatly in the box and the instructions identify exactly what everything is and how to attach it. You can view the instructions via a paper manual or the USB stick provided.

Anycubic provides clippers and a spatula, as usual, but the Mega X also ships with a 1kg spool of PLA. Spare parts include PTFE tubing and a hot end.

Assembly mostly includes mounting the gantry on the base with a few screws. Connect some cables together, set the MeanWell PSU switch to the correct voltage, and you’re done in minutes.

Before printing, you’ll have to level the bed manually. The printer has large adjustment knobs that make this task rather trivial. You can auto-home the print head and adjust the knobs as needed, leveling with just a sheet of paper.

Some budget 3D printers use tiny knobs to achieve the task of leveling, making it really difficult, so in comparison, the Anycubic Mega X makes it boring, but easy. There’s no need to endure the torture of small, hard to reach knobs anymore.

Features

Anycubic gained some market traction at the low end with their i3 Mega and then followed it with an improved version in the Mega S. After gaining user trust, they kept the same design and ease of use they knew worked but improved the scale with the Mega X.

Compact, smart design

The base unit of Mega X includes the mainboard, power supply, and touchscreen. The cable management is neat, which is a welcome change compared to a lot of other budget units that come with wads of cables all jumbled together.

The metal frame offers a robust, sturdy chassis. The Z-axis features led screws and the Y-axis carriage runs along dual rails, supporting the bed, and making the entire structure even more steady.

This printer has a solid foundation that offers consistent printing. Not only is this rarely found in the budget price point, but the Mega X also features dual Z-axis end stops. It can combat unevenness you may find in the X-axis and relevels the X-axis every time it returns home.

It has mechanical end stops on the X-axis, but it uses a contactless sensor for the Y-axis end stop. This offers a more premium design that maintains a look and feel far above its price point.

Anycubic Ultrabase

The Anycubic Ultrabase has set the precedent for many bases to imitate. It’s a 300mm x 300mm bed sitting on top of four screws for manual leveling. While it’s roomy, it’s also innovative. This glass bed is coated with a porous material that offers excellent adhesion while making it easier than ever to remove your jobs when they’re complete. It’s especially unique when printing with PLA.

It can heat to 60°C in two minutes with a maximum temperature of 90°C. It also does a fantastic job of distributing this heat across the entire surface, enabling effective adhesion for quality prints without huge flaws.

This is exceptional for large print surfaces, especially when it comes to preventing warping. It can still be a problem when printing with ABS, but it’s to be expected when the temperature maxes out at only 90°C.

Single extruder

This single Titan extruder has a hot end capable of a maximum of 250°C. It uses PTFE tubing to help filament navigate its way to the melt zone. It’s nearly impossible to print hotter than this without getting off-gas of the PTFE, which can be toxic.

This is more than hot enough for consumer materials, so it’s a fantastic feature in a budget 3D printer. You should have no problem using Mega X at around 245°C with PETG, which is a high temperature material.

The downside to Anycubic filament holders is that they stick out sideways on the bottom. While it takes some of the weight off of the frame, it means the filament gets fed upside down.

This, combined with the filament runout sensor, which is mounted on the side of the gantry, means the filament is constantly strained. However, thanks to a feeding mechanism that works well, you’ll get continuous feeding.

It just takes some working with to change the filament, because it’s inserted upside down. Thanks to the plastic funnel that Anycubic provides, you can easily guide your filaments into the gear mechanism.

Rigid filaments are much easier to insert than flexible ones, as you might expect.

Connectivity

One of the most important things about 3D printing is your ability to oversee the print process, even when you’re not actively designing your print. With a 3.5-inch color touchscreen (something you more frequently see on higher end 3D printers), you have all of the options you need.

The menu can be somewhat confusing, but the software has everything you need to set up the printer just the way you want it. You can load your prints via a USB cable or an SD card.

Unfortunately, aside from what’s already been mentioned, there’s nothing new over the Mega S. Given that there’s a few years difference in release date, many users are disappointed by the lack of updates here when it comes to Wi-Fi, quieter printing, or auto bed leveling.

Performance

If you’ve had any experience with the Mega line before, you know that they produce great results for the price you pay. You’ll see this theory confirmed in Mega X, too.

Just like any other budget 3D printer, you’ll likely have to make some adjustments to get your Mega X to function properly. However, that’s not uncommon.

Thanks to the Anycubic Ultrabase, your prints will adhere well and easily pop off when they’re done. This adds to your overall experience by making it more seamless throughout. The best thing about it is you don’t have to use glue, which makes it a messy and less than a desirable affair.

It leaves your print surface looking like it did when you took it out of the box, but it also gives your print projects smooth first layers for an aesthetically pleasing result every time.

Mega X can handle many different materials, but it’s all based on your technical settings. While some flexible filaments will come out flawlessly, others will tangle up in the gear mechanism helplessly.

You’ll have to adjust the print and feed speed accordingly to get to a manageable flow without any backing up or coiling. It can be a bit of trial and error, which is excruciating at times, but once you get there, it handles almost anything like a champ.

Unfortunately, you may never find a way around the warping of ABS. No matter how much you change the temperature or fan settings, the Mega X just isn’t suited for something as finicky as this temperature sensitive material.

The upside is that it still handles PETG and PLA well, so you’re not limited in your choice of materials.

Mega X 3D Printer | AnyCubic

No assembly hassle, get started quickly. Provides better printing experience, compatible with TPU.

Check Price Buy at Amazon.com
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Usability

Mega X allows you to use any open source slicer. While Cura remains one of the most popular options, you can use anything you’re comfortable with, which opens up the usability of the machine quite nicely, although Anycubic recommends Cura.

While the UI can be confusing, the menu items are large and easy to read. You may find at times that the submenus are unclear and contain tools that don’t seem to belong. The button press sound can also be quite obnoxious.

And while the Mega X is a sturdy machine, it’s also a noisy one. The Z-axis screws are the most deafening, but they only move when homing at the beginning of the print. The other aspects of the printer aren’t particularly quiet, either, from the drivers to the cooling fans.

The filament runout sensor works well, and once reloaded, the print job will pick up where it left off without any problems. The downside here is that it’s a mechanical sensor that will only trip with a lack of filament, rather than a costly optical sensor that will trigger with a filament blockage.

The print resume function works less than ideally. Sometimes it resumes the print after a power outage, and sometimes it doesn’t, leaving you to start your job over from scratch.

Alternatives

If you’re seriously considering a budget 3D printer like the Anycubic Mega X, you may also want to take a look at the following options before making a buying decision.

Anycubic Mega S

This previous iteration sports the same sturdy build and nearly identical features. The build volume is about two-thirds the size, at 210mm x 210mm x 205mm, an 3d it’s quite a bit cheaper, too.

It’s a great option if you don’t mind the smaller print volume but you want all of the same features. You really won’t miss a thing and your wallet will be a little fatter from the cash you saved.

i3 Mega S | AnyCubic

One-piece hanging design, simple and beautiful. The feeding of filament is smoother and the storage of filament is more convenient.

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Artillery Sidewinder X1

The Sidewinder X1 was Artillery’s first attempt at a 3D printer. It’s another budget solution with a sleek look, but it has a bigger build volume of 300mm x 300mm x 400mm. It also has a direct drive system.

While the print quality out of the box isn’t quite as good as the Mega X, it can be really great for a budget solution if you spend some time getting the settings just right. Plus, with the exceptional print volume, you really won’t find much else in this price range that offers quite as much.

Artillery Sidewinder X1 3D Printer Kit | 3D Printer Online Store

Artillery Sidewinder X1 is a all-in-one cartesian 3D printer with ultra quiet stepper drivers, direct drive extruder, dual Z axis, AC heated bed, TFT touch screen.

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Original Prusa i3 MK3S

This printer is slightly more expensive but still rings up at under $1000. However, it has almost everything you’d ever want right out of the box. It heats up quickly, has a flexible metal build plate, and features a direct drive system.

The excellent print quality leaves little to be desired, and the automatic bed leveling makes setup a breeze. You’ll get a really great value out of this printer, so while it may not be a budget solution per se, it might just be the best option on the list.

Original Prusa i3 3D Printer Kit | Amazon

This provides a great print setup with the printer so you don't have to dive into complex new programs by the time construction is done. You can start printing right away! Of course, you can dive into the repaired.

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FAQs

Is owning a 3D printer worth it?

It’s really cool learning how to print in 3D, but not everyone may find it valuable. You can spend a lot of time and money on it and it may not end up being worth it for you, resulting in a huge strain on your budget.
Thankfully, budget 3D printers offer a great entry point into the world of 3D printing, so you can get your feet wet before spending too much money. Any of the 3D printers here are great budget options for you if you’ve never done it before.

Can you make money using a 3D printer?

Sometimes you can sell items you make with your 3D printer and you can even use your at-home 3D printer as a commercial services on websites like Hubs. Just list it as a service or take orders for prints.
Just remember that poor quality items and printers won’t make as much money, so it’s probably not a good idea to do it with a budget printer. However, if you upgrade to a more professional device, this may be an option.

What are the disadvantages of 3D printing?

3D printing is fun, but there are always disadvantages. In the world of budget 3D printing, one of the main disadvantages is a lack of features. You’re not going to find the build volume or the range of materials that you would find in a more expensive, professional quality printer.
You’re also not going to get the same high quality results. Design inaccuracies will leave you with imperfect prints, and if you’re not careful, you can struggle with copyright issues.

Is it cheaper to build a 3D printer?

If you’re looking at building a quality 3D printer made out of high performance parts, it’s generally cheaper to buy the parts individually and build it yourself. However, if you’re entering the 3D printing world at the budget level, you’re better off spending a few hundred bucks on a budget printer.

You have to keep in mind that building a 3D printer isn’t easy. You have to get the right components and know what you’re doing, or the printer won’t work. It’s a big time commitment, and if you’re going to but a cheap 3D printer, it’s well worth spending the money to save yourself the time.

The Verdict

The Mega X is a great, large volume budget 3D printer. The Anycubic Ultrabase gives you a seamless experience all around while the print quality may just exceed your expectations.

It has a sleek appearance with a sturdy build. Despite the price, they chose not to include any cheap parts. Plus, with steel construction, once you set up the printer, there’s no need to go back and readjust it later.

The large touchscreen makes it easy to use and the ability to use your own choice of open source software open up its usability to anyone who has their own personal preferences.

It doesn’t differ much in terms of features from the Mega S and it would have been nice to see some improvements like auto bed leveling and Wi-Fi connectivity, but for those who like the Mega series and want the extra build volume, it’s a great option.

Mega X 3D Printer | AnyCubic

No assembly hassle, get started quickly. Provides better printing experience, compatible with TPU.

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Flashforge Creator 3 Review [2021]: Our Honest Opinion

Flashforge Creator 3 Review

This great 3D printer is designed and marketed toward universities for use in their engineering departments. It’s a professional system at an affordable price, making it accessible for anyone who needs a machine for a group of people.

It’s a desktop-sized printer and is priced at the high end of the market for those looking for an at-home piece of equipment, but it’s still rather accessible if you’re a serious hobbyist. It’s loaded with features that make it a worthwhile investment.

Specifications

  • Technology: Fused filament fabrication (FFF)
  • Build volume: 300mm x 250mm x 200mm
  • Printer weight: 40kg
  • Printer dimensions: 627mm x 485mm x 615mm
  • Layer height: 0.05-0.4mm
  • Filament diameter: 1.75mm
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm
  • Position precision: X, Y: 11 microns / Z: 2.5 microns
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, 3D cloud, USB, Ethernet
  • Print bed: PEI sheet on the glass
  • Heated plate: Yes
  • Maximum plate temperature: 120°C
  • Third-party filament: Yes
  • Printable materials: ABS, PC, PLA, PVA, HIPS, PETG, nylon, W.P.C.
  • Built-in camera: Yes
  • Extrusion: Dual
  • Maximum extruder temperature: 300°C
  • Touchscreen 4.5 inches
  • Software: FlashPrint
  • File input types: OBJ, FPP, PNG, JPG, JPEG, STL, 3MF, BMP
  • File output type: GX/G
  • Supports: Mac, Windows, Linux

Setup

At first glance, you might notice that the Flashforge Creator 3 is rather compact. It makes a nice addition to your workspace and doesn’t take up too much room. However, the total build space is much larger than most others on the market, making efficient use of the space.

It’s also built of a full metal chassis, affording you good stability so you get great quality out of your prints. The clear, plexiglass doors give you visibility to your jobs while the enclosed area maintains an optimal environment.

When it comes to set up, it may be a time consuming and tricky process, but much of it is enabled and monitored through the touchscreen and Flashcloud program. It requires setting up the camera, loading the material, calibrating the bed, and setting up the Wi-Fi.

The camera is positioned nicely, but setting it up can be the most finicky part of the process. Once you’re done with it, it’s easy to monitor and really convenient.

The touchscreen allows you to select multiple languages, view previews, and manage settings. It also makes loading materials easy. The screen guides you through the entire process, although it does take some practice.

Bed calibration is also guided by the touchscreen and prompts you to turn dials on the inside of the machine. It takes about two minutes to complete the entire process effectively. The calibration check before each print ensures the bed is leveled correctly.

There’s also a button for troubleshooting bugs on the Z-axis. While this is useful, it would be nice to see the printer correct itself instead of needing further input from the user.

Wi-Fi setup takes another couple of minutes, and after it’s done, you can send files directly from your computer to your printer. You can also load files onto a USB drive and load prints this way, although not nearly as convenient as using Wi-Fi.

Features

As with any 3D printer, it’s all in the features. This is where the value truly lies, and the Flashforge Creator 3 is pretty impressive. The full list of features may have you jumping at the bit to shell out the big bucks.

IDEX

The Flashforge Creator 3 brings a whole other level of amazing to the dual extruder idea. Not only does it feature dual extruders, but each extruder moves independently of the other. This independent dual extruder system, or IDEX for short, includes a range of modes.

Mirror mode can print two identical projects at the same time, which is useful if you’re replicating items and saves time if you need more than one of the same print. And because each extruder can use a different material while working simultaneously, it’s ideal for printing complex geometrical patterns.

Built-in HD camera

Plenty of 3D printers these days have built-in cameras so you can monitor your prints from another location. However, the camera included in the Flashforge Creator 3 displays your job in all of its HD glory.

No need to watch your printer up close for hours while it completes the job. You can walk away and still keep an eye on what it’s doing. This is a fantastic feature for people who have multiple printers at work at the same time or who simply don’t want to have to babysit the printer.

Fully enclosed design

Designed with students in mind, the fully enclosed structure offers additional safety for all users. This feature makes it a great printer for younger users and beginners who aren’t yet familiar with how 3D printers work.

It’s also an excellent way to learn how to print with tricky materials that are more sensitive to temperature. It helps to maintain a steady internal temperature without the fluctuations of an open-air design.

It also features an enclosed area for the filament spool on the side of the machine that protects it from moisture in the air.

Flexible removable build plate

The build plate has a ton of really great features that enable great prints. It’s heated, to prevent warping and improve the quality of the print job. Not only that, but it’s removable, which makes it so much easier to get your final job out of the enclosed machine.

But wait. That’s not all. The bed is flexible, so after you remove it, simply bend it slightly, and the print should pop right off.

Auto shut-off

If the printer detects any filament feeding problems, it will automatically stop printing. That way you can adjust or clean as needed and then restart your job. This will help make sure all of your prints are successful without errors or mistakes.

3D cloud

Flashforge offers a cloud management system with all of its 3D printers so you can upload and store your files. You’ll have your own library of models online and you can use the onboard touchscreen to access them.

Just navigate to your list of prints, select one, and your printer will get to work building right away.

Software

The Flashforge Creator 3 uses proprietary FlashPrint software to slice all print jobs. It’s easy for beginners to use, but it’s robust enough for experienced users to find the tools they need to create advanced jobs.

If you’ve used other slicing software before, you’ll find that the controls match closely enough that you’ll know you’re way around, and the program is quite intuitive. The menu is laid out well and easily recognizable.

Buttons on the left offer quick access to buttons you might use frequently like cutting, rotating, scaling, or repositioning.

Once you load and position your design, you are directed to support options so you can select the type of supports your print needs. Generate your own support placement or auto-generate supports. You can also manually add or remove supports.

After designing your print, you can select your settings such as material, print speed, resolution, retraction, temperature, and more.

While it’s not open source, FlashPrint still seems to be familiar and easy to use. In fact, it’s one of the easier slicers on the market. The interface and options are straightforward.

Performance

Overall, the Flashforge Creator 3 produces incredibly high-quality prints. You’ll experience a smooth surface with little to no imperfections such as stringing. You may find some defects in areas where you lack the right supports, but they’re easily cleaned up using a scalpel or grit paper.

The quality of each print demonstrates that while the X and Y axes struggle to repeat the same print identically each time, the retraction capabilities are perfect. Every print is of excellent quality.

If you truly wanted to test the capability of this printer, you could print objects of high complexity without supports and you would see very little stringing that could be cleaned up easily with grit paper and a scalpel.

With the right supports, your prints are nearly perfect. Surfaces are smooth and defect-free, even with finicky and sensitive materials, but may require adjusting some settings to get it right.

Alternatives

If you’re shopping around for 3D printers, there are plenty of options on the market. It may make your head spin trying to figure out which one is best for you. If the Flashforge Creator 3 is a contender, here are some others you may want to take a look at.

CraftBot Flow

 

The CraftBot Flow is another IDEX 3D printer, offering a small, but robust machine for slightly fewer dollars than the Creator 3. CraftUnique’s Flow Generation line improves on their previous CraftBot 3 printer with a sleek, white exterior design, a steel frame, all-metal hot ends, Wi-Fi connectivity, a built-in camera, and 4GB of external storage.

It has a build volume of 425mm x 250mm x 250mm, but if you’re looking for something bigger, you can also get the CraftBot Flow IDEX XL with 425mm x 250mm x 500mm.

Ultimaker 3

 

Where the Ultimaker 3 falls short is the dual extruder design. However, it does feature a dual print core design that enables rapid retooling. It enables the inactive core to move out of the way, reducing contamination while still allowing for printing with multiple materials.

Wi-Fi connectivity and excellent performance offer a professional experience at roughly the same price point, while the Ultimaker 3 Extended gives you the same high uptime with a larger print volume.

Ultimaker S3 3D Printer | Matter Hackers

The Ultimaker S3 dual-extrusion 3D printer delivers high-quality, composites-capable performance in a smaller footprint. Enjoy the seamless experience of wireless 3D printing with Ultimaker Cloud, or simply navigate with the full-color touchscreen on the front to start your 3D prints via USB.

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Raise3D Pro2

For truly unmatched professional quality, the Raise3D Pro2 is a dual extrusion printer that features effortless operation. The 7-inch color touchscreen and Wi-Fi connectivity make it easy to operate, well, all the time, no matter where you are.

It also has a huge build volume and a fully enclosed chamber as well as high-temperature hot ends. While it only has a single printhead design, it does have two independent nozzles with heating blocks that move out of the way when idle.

There’s also a built-in camera, a HEPA filter, and a removable print bed.

Raise3D Pro2 3D Printer | Matter Hackers

The Pro2 from Raise3D is a highly upgraded 3D printer which includes dual-extrusion, ample build volume, and wireless connectivity. 

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FAQs

Is owning a 3D printer worth it?

3D printing is pretty cool, but it’s not worth it for everyone. A lot of people spend tons of time and money on 3D printers and printing, but you have to decide whether it’s worth all of the effort and the strain on your personal budget.
For a school or university, it’s probably worth a few extra bucks to spring for something that offers excellent quality prints and will last. Even for a serious hobbyist, it may be an excellent addition to the home office.
However, you need to be sure you’re going to get good use out of it, so if you’re unfamiliar with them or you’re not 100% on board with buying one, it may not be the best idea.

Can you make money using a 3D printer?

Sure, you can sell items you make with your 3D printer. You can even offer up your at-home 3D printer as a commercial service. Websites like Hubs allow you to list your 3D printer as a service or take orders for things you produce.
However, be careful with this because if you aren’t familiar with how to print or you’re not printing quality items, you may not be able to make much money and people won’t be happy with the end result.

What are the disadvantages of 3D printing?

While 3D printing is fun and can be an excellent resource, there are some disadvantages. For instance, there are a lot of materials available, but the selection isn’t endless. The build size is also restricted by the volume of the printer you choose.
Design inaccuracies can leave you with imperfect final results and if you choose to sell your items, you can sometimes run into copyright issues with current manufacturers.

Is it cheaper to build a 3D printer?

Generally, yes, it’s cheaper to build a 3D printer than it is to buy one. You can save money on the assembly by doing it yourself, plus you can customize your printer with the high-end parts you want and only spend a little bit more.
However, keep in mind that it’s nothing like building a PC. It’s hard work getting the right components and fitting them together. It’s a work of engineering and if you’re not up for the task, it’s worth the extra money to buy one. Building it incorrectly will result in a printer that doesn’t work and then your money will be wasted.

Final Thoughts

While it has some flaws, the Flashforge Creator 3 is definitely worthy of the price you’ll pay. It’s a high-end printer that produces quality prints using a variety of materials like ASA, ABS, PLA, PLA wood, PETG, PC, and nylon. You’ll also experience a lot of success with materials that are more demanding, like polymers.

Some of the setups is tricky, but most of it is quick and easy, thanks to the touchscreen assistance. The UI is logically arranged for clear and consistent use.

The IDEX design is a great opportunity for students, professionals, and hobbyists to experiment with projects that use two different materials and how they work together.

FlashPrint, Flashforge’s slicer is one of the easiest slicers on the market to use for both beginners and professionals, and the controls are arranged in a way that’s organized and makes sense.

Without supports, you may find some stringing that needs to be cleaned up afterward, but other than that, it’s easy to use and produces excellent results. Plus, the Wi-Fi connectivity and the built-in camera allow you to use it from anywhere.

The Creator 3 is always fun to use and most users will be impressed. It’s intended for experienced users, but even beginners can use it safely because of its intuitive controls. Anyone can unlock its full capabilities.

Check out similar 3D Printers in the Flashforge Creator series:

Kodak Portrait 3D Printer Review [2021]: All You Need to Know

kodak portrait 3d printer review

You’ve probably noticed that the market for 3D printers is more competitive than ever. When looking at low-cost 3D printers for home use in the hobbyist market, there are too many to count.

The historic company, Kodak, enters the market here with the Kodak Portrait. However, this printer wasn’t actually developed by the company itself. They licensed their name to an Argentinian startup named Smart International for manufacturing.

Kodak has an image to keep up, and the debut of this machine helps to maintain that image. It has all the features you need with easy plug and plays operation.

When getting up close and personal with this printer, it’s hard to find any flaws, which is something you can’t say about many other 3D printers on the market.

Kodak 3D Printer Portrait - Where to Buy
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Specifications

  • Manufacturer: Kodak (Smart International)
  • Technology: FDM
  • Arrangement: CoreXY
  • Filament diameter: 1.75mm
  • Compatible materials: Kodak ABS, HIPS, Flex 98, Nylon 6, Nylon 12, PLA Tough, PLA+, PETG, PVA
  • Accepts 3rd-party materials: Yes
  • Layer height: 20-250 micron
  • Extruder type: Single print head, dual hot end
  • Feeder system: Bowden
  • Nozzle size: 0.4mm
  • Maximum heat bed temperature: 295°C
  • Maximum extruder temperature: 105°C
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, LAN, USB
  • Built-in camera: Yes
  • Bed leveling: Assisted manual
  • Display: 5-inch color touchscreen
  • Extras: Moisture blocking filament cartridges, HEPA + activated carbon air filter

Kodak

Setup

The Kodak Portrait comes fully assembled. After unboxing, you’ll find a toolkit and all the accessories you need, like an unclogging needle, a calibration card, and lubrication. You also get two spools of PLA filament, spool holders, and filament cases.

The instructions will guide you as to how to secure a few of the additional accessories to the printer before use. It takes a mere ten minutes to get it up and running.

You’ll notice right away how robust the printer is, with its full steel chassis and plexiglass panels. It helps to reduce shaking while giving you a great visual of the build area.

While bed calibration is automatic and seems to be simple, it can prove tedious at times. You can choose from multiple languages, intuitive temperature profiles, and compatible materials.

Spool feeders are accessible via the backplate, so if you set your printer up against a wall, they can be difficult to reach, which is one downside to the set up of this particular printer.

Features

The Kodak Portrait is a professional-quality 3D printer priced low enough for in-home use. It competes nicely with other hobbyist machines and uses dual extrusion FDM technology. The feature list will have you drooling.

Dual print cores

The Kodak Portrait allows for printing with multiple materials at the same time thanks to dual print cores. It follows a similar design as the Ultimaker 3. The system can accept any combination of all-metal hot ends or PTFE.

It requires some manual work to remove the print head housing and switch out the materials. When you’re ready to switch, the nozzle retracts clear of your print to prevent oozing and assist with cleaner transitions.

Filament cartridges

Not only does the Kodak Portrait have a dual Bowden extruder, but it feeds from reusable filament cartridges. These filament cartridges are moisture resistant, and while they’re not very high tech, they allow you to print for a long time without worrying about moisture build-up.

These lockable clear plastic cases that include compartments for silica pouches are a thoughtful and rare inclusion. In some cases, they may be too small for your filament reels, but they are the perfect size for Kodak’s spools.

Print area and temperatures

At 200 x 200 x 235, the print area on the Kodak Portrait is average. However, it does have a removable glass bed that holds into place with magnets. The bed heats to 105 degrees Celsius and the hot ends heat to 295 degrees Celsius, which makes it easy to print with a wide range of materials.

Bed leveling can prove to be difficult. At first glance, you might think that using the touchscreen is no problem. However, it’s painfully slow, making it difficult to tell which direction the bed is moving.

What’s more, there’s no bed level sensor, so it’s impossible to know whether it’s level or not, and you can’t level it manually via any nuts, levels, or knobs. You’re at the mercy of the software.

kodak portrait review

Steel frame

The all-steel frame and clear acrylic sides offer a sturdy, enclosed print chamber with visibility to your print. In conjunction with the heated bed and hot ends, it’s the perfect environment for printing with temperature-sensitive materials.

It even has a HEPA and carbon air filter for attacking the VOCs the printer releases during the print process.

It has a CoreXY arrangement with linear rails in the X and Y axes that offer great stability. There is a precision ball screw in the Z-axis.

Cloud-based printing

If you’ve been shopping around for 3D printers long, you’ve likely noticed that there’s a healthy mix of those with Wi-Fi capability and those without. Being able to control and monitor your prints from another machine or another location altogether can offer a convenient experience, for sure.

The Kodak Portrait offers effortless operation via a cloud-based printing feature called 3DPrinterOS. They made sure to color it in the signature Kodak yellow and brand it Kodak 3D Cloud.

It offers simplicity in printing and removes the guesswork, trial, and error. It’s accessible via a web browser so you can get to it from anywhere you have an internet connection. With this approach to print management, you can use your 3D printer anytime, anywhere.

The printer also has Raspberry Pi 3 built-in so you can operate it directly via the 5-inch color touchscreen. Offline operation is also available using the Kodak 3D Slicer and connect using LAN or USB.

kodak portrait

Performance

It may take some adjustments to get the Kodak Portrait printing as it should. Temperatures, print speeds, and fan speeds will all need to be tinkered with to yield outstanding prints using a variety of different materials.

However, the Kodak Portrait has the ability to print using a wide variety of materials and offer excellent results with smooth curvature, great detail, and no stringing.

It can recreate shapes with consistency. When printing shapes repeatedly, the standard deviation is almost indistinguishable and prints at professional-grade status, although it will sometimes struggle with micro-movements on the XY plane.

Any system that claims to be professional should be able to print with professional materials, and the Kodak Portrait doesn’t disappoint. Even with filaments that are notoriously troublesome, like PETG, it handled them with no major issues.

There was some stringing on the corners and layer lines, but has excellent overhand abilities and can handle even uncooperative materials like nylon.

When it comes to dual extrusion, you may be skeptical, and for good reason. A key feature of the Kodak Portrait is the dual nozzle assembly, but does it work as well as they want you to think?

You’ll be happy to know that it’s truly excellent. It maintains strength while keeping a strong interface between the two materials. It’s a valuable feature for professional users and at-home designers.

printers on the market.

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Alternatives

If you’re interested in the Kodak Portrait, there are some other alternatives worth a look. Make sure you shop around to find the best one for you.

Ultimaker 3ultimaker 3

The Ultimaker 3 falls in the same price point as the Kodak Portrait, and with many of the same features. It has the same dual print core design and Wi-Fi connectivity. However, where it differs is the open front design and dual extruder.

The Ultimaker 3 is also an excellent performer that won’t disappoint. You may find the screen on the unit lacking, though. It’s not a touch screen, it’s not color, and it’s not very large. Nonetheless, it’s a quality machine at a price point that many can afford to justify.

Ultimaker 3 3D Printer
$4,933.75
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06/11/2021 01:45 am GMT

Prusa i3Prusa i3

The Prusa i3 is a quality machine at an incredibly affordable price. The completely open design allows you complete access to your print but can make it more dangerous for beginners and younger users.

Where it shines is the value it offers at the price. You can choose to purchase the kit and build it on your own or purchase it fully assembled.

Formlabs Form 3Formlabs Form 3

Here’s another professional printer that rings up at a slightly higher price point. However, they’ve completely reinvented what it means to print with just a click. It’s so easy to use that it might just be worth the money.

It features efficient print management via a web dashboard and great for prototyping. It also comes with some of the best software available, making the workflow even easier to use and understand.

FAQ

If you’re not sure which 3D printer is right for you, here are some frequently asked questions to help you understand more about which may be the best choice.

What is the best 3D printer for the money?

The Formlabs Form 3 and the Ultimaker 3 are two of the best printers for the money. They offer great value with professional prints and great features. The Kodak Portrait is following closely in their footsteps with awesome features that you would normally have to pay a lot more money for.

While there are more great 3D printers on the market than you can count, these are some that always seem to float to the top of the list.

What should I know before buying a 3D printer?

There are several things to think about before buying a 3D printer. Price is a big factor. It should fit in your budget. And while the Kodak Portrait may be pricey, it’s well worth it. Value is also something to consider. The printer should include all the features you want at a price that you feel is worth it.

Other things to consider are materials, safety, quality, type of printer, file type, software, and connection types.

What software do you need for 3D printing?

There are a lot of really great 3D printing software options out there. While some 3D printers, like the Kodak Portrait, come with their own proprietary software, others use open source software that’s easy to use and repurpose for many uses.

Great 3D printing software options include Ultimaker Cura, Autodesk AutoCAD, Autodesk Fusion360, and Solidworks.

Final Thoughts

Despite the auto-leveling issues, the Kodak Portrait is an awesome printer. It has plenty of great features that blow the competition out of the water, even at a similar price point. It has a household name stamped across the front, even though it’s manufactured by a third party.

It features a sleek design with an enclosed space that keeps it safe and professional while enabling it to host a variety of difficult materials. It’s a high-quality printer and an interesting option for those who want a professional printer in their home.

Kodak 3D Printer Portrait - Where to Buy
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Lulzbot TAZ Workhorse Review: Everything You Need to Know

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

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

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

Specifications

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

Setup

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

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

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

Features

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

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

Sturdier frame

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

Heated build plate

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

Modular bed:

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

Supported materials

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

E3D hot end and 360 cooling

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

Automatic calibration

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

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

Belt-driven Z-axis

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

Automatic nozzle cleaning

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

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

3.5” graphical LCD

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

Swappable tool heads

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

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

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

Open design

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

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

Full assembly

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

Performance

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

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

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

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

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

Software

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

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

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

Customer Service

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

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

Price

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

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

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Alternatives

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

Lulzbot TAZ Pro

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

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

Lulzbot TAZ 6

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

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

LulzBot TAZ 6 3D Printer | Matter Hackers

The Lulzbot Taz 6 is a GREAT choice with its very minimalistic and open design that makes it easy to see all the way around your design.

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Ultimaker 3

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

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

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

Ultimaker S3 3D Printer | Matter Hackers

The Ultimaker S3 dual-extrusion 3D printer delivers high-quality, composites-capable performance in a smaller footprint. Enjoy the seamless experience of wireless 3D printing with Ultimaker Cloud, or simply navigate with the full-color touchscreen on the front to start your 3D prints via USB.

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Formlabs Form 3

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

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

Formlabs Form 3 3D Printer | Amazon

The Light Processing Unit (LPU) inside this printer uses a lens and mirror system to deliver accurate and repeatable prints with smooth surface finish, high detail, and incredible clarity.

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FAQ

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

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

What is the best 3D printer for beginners?

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

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

How much does it cost for a 3D printer?

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

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

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

What is a 3D printer good for?

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

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

The Verdict

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

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

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

Artillery Sidewinder X1 Review: Is It Worth Buying?

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

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

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

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

Artillery Sidewinder X1 3D Printer V4 | 3D Printers Online

Artillery Sidewinder X1 is a all-in-one cartesian 3D printer with ultra quiet stepper drivers, direct drive extruder, dual Z axis, AC heated bed, TFT touch screen.

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Specifications

 

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

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

Setup and Settings

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

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

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

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

Technology

 

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

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

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

Artillery Sidewinder X1 3D Printer V4 | 3D Printers Online

Artillery Sidewinder X1 is a all-in-one cartesian 3D printer with ultra quiet stepper drivers, direct drive extruder, dual Z axis, AC heated bed, TFT touch screen.

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Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

Framework

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

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

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

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

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

Print Bed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extruder

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

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

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

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

UI and Connectivity

 

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

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

Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Usability

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

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Less than ideal filament holder
  • Uneven heat dissipation

Alternatives

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

Creality CR-10

 

creality cr10s

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

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

Our Recommendation
Creality 3D Printer CR-10S | Creality 3D Official

The CR-10S comes with a convenient monitor that will detect when the printer has run out of filament, automatically pausing the print, and will alert the user to restock the Filament before continuing. Say goodbye to wasted Filament and time.

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Prusa i3

 

Prusa i3

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

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

Original Prusa i3 3D Printer Kit | Amazon

This provides a great print setup with the printer so you don't have to dive into complex new programs by the time construction is done. You can start printing right away! Of course, you can dive into the repaired.

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FAQs

What is the best 3D printer for beginners?

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

How much does it cost for a 3D printer?

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

What is a 3D printer good for?

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

Artillery Sidewinder X1 3D Printer V4 | 3D Printers Online

Artillery Sidewinder X1 is a all-in-one cartesian 3D printer with ultra quiet stepper drivers, direct drive extruder, dual Z axis, AC heated bed, TFT touch screen.

Check price Buy at Amazon.com
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Ultimaker S5 Review: Is it Any Good?

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

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

Ultimaker S5

Design

ultimaker s5

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

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

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

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

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

Controls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Printing

ultimaker s5 printer

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

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

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

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

Print Speed and Quality

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

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

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

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

Print Materials

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

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

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

Alternatives

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

LulzBot Taz 6 – Best Print Volume

lulzbot taz 6

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

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

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

Markforged Mark Two – Best for Professionals

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

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

Raise3D Pro2 Plus – Best for the Budget Minded

Raise3D

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

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

FAQs

What is the best 3D printer for beginners?

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

What is the best 3D printer for home use?

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

What is the best 3D printer on the market?

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Further read: 

FLUX BeamBox Review: Our Complete Guide

While we here at All 3D Printing tend to focus on 3D printers, there are some one-off devices that need to be included. These are items like laser cutters, engravers, or any other tools that creatives might make use of on a regular basis.

There are plenty of 3D printers available that come with these features included. They’re usually hybrid devices that give users a way to perform multiple tasks. Sometimes they make things easier, sometimes they don’t. Regardless, they are designed to perform more than one function.

One such device is the Flux Beambox. This combination of laser cutter and engraver is pretty new to the market, but it still offers plenty of features for its users. But is the Flux Beambox worth the price attached to it?

Let’s take a look at what this device has to offer.

Flux Beambox

Flux says that with its Beambox, you can easily bring your designs and ideas to life. The device has a sleek design along with a user interface that’s easy to use no matter what your experience level. It’s the perfect item to add to your design studio.

The Flux Beambox is fully capable of engraving or cutting a wide variety of materials and plastics. Basically, no matter what kind of material you’re using, you’re always just a few steps shy of creating an incredible finished project with the Flux Beambox.

Flux Beambox Design

Even though the Flux Beambox design isn’t going to set the world on fire, it gets the job done. The device is a simple square-shaped black box. On the right side of the box is an LCD screen that allows you to control how the Beambox behaves. It’s a simple and straightforward design that isn’t going to create a lot of confusion or anxiety for its users.

Features

Flux Beambox has plenty of features for its users. It offers all the tools and options you would expect to find on a quality laser cutter and engraver. Here are just a few of the features you’ll experience with the Flux Beambox.

Water Cooled

No one wants their device to catch on fire while in the middle of an important project, which is why the Flux Beambox using a closed-loop water cooling system. This system aids in keeping the device at just the right temperature when its in use, circulating water throughout the machine.

High-Quality Ventilation

With a top of the line, ventilation fan integrated right into the Flux Beambox, you don’t have to worry about fumes or smoke getting in your way while you’re working on your latest project.

Built-In Camera

With an HD quality built-in camera, the Flux Beambox offers users a way to preview their work using their laptop or smartphone before they get started. This provides a way to view the finished product is exactly the way the user wants it before they get started cutting or engraving.

Prioritize Safety

Not only is the Flux Beambox a completely enclosed device, but it will also immediately pause a process if something goes wrong. The case is enclosed to protect you from fumes and laser lights, but Flux doesn’t believe that’s enough in terms of safety.

That’s why, if the device senses that the lid is opened in the middle of a task, then it will automatically stop. Plus, if you run into an issue and the box doesn’t shut off, Flux has an emergency power switch that you can use to shut the device off immediately.

High-Resolution Laser

Flux Beambox comes with a carbon dioxide laser that works in the 10,640nm wavelength. The thickest cut you’ll get with this laser is 10mm, however, keep in mind that you may get different thicknesses depending on the material you’re using.

You can get thicker cuts if you go across the same cutting area several times or you slow down the machine.

Flux Beambox Rotary

For those interested in Beambox addons, the device offers a rotary add-on that lets you unlock the full potential of your unit. This add-on allows users to engrave on curved objects, like bottles or other pieces of glassware.

The rotary add-on is easy to install on your Beambox and opens up a whole new world of creative opportunities.

Smartphone Monitoring

Additionally, since the Beambox is powered by the Flux in-house software, users have the option to install the Android or iOS software that works with the devices. With the companion app, users can edit text, modify images, make adjustments, and more, right from the convenience of their smartphone.

Beam Studio

Also part of the Beambox is its Beam Studio software. Integrated into the Flux units, Beam Studio works with Linux, Windows, and macOS. It’s easy to use interface gives users the ability to quickly and easily access all the features that come with the Flux Beambox.

Flux Beambox Product Specs

Laser 50W CO2
Speed 0-300 mm/s
Cutting Thickness 0-12 mm (thickness will vary based on material)
Wavelength 10640 nm
Total Weight 105 pounds
Dimensions 9.8” x 40.5” x 26.3”
Work Area Depth 3.14”
Work Area 23.6” x 14.7”
Power AC 110v/220v
Touch Panel 1024 x 600 LCD
Camera HD CMOS
Camera Preview Area 23.6” x 14.1”
Mode Graphic/Vector (gray scale/monochrome)
Connectivity Options Ethernet and Wireless
Operating Systems Supported Linux, Windows, macOS
File Types Supported PNG, JPG, DXF, SVG

Flux Beambox Alternatives

If the Flux Beambox doesn’t sound like something you’d like or isn’t in your budget, there are plenty of alternatives available on the market. Here are some of the more prominent options you’ll find.

VEVOR Laser Engraver – Best for Anything Non-Metal

The VEVOR 40W Co2 Laser Engraver is a great device if you want to cut through leather, paper, wood, cloth, plastic, ceramic, or rubber. However, if you want to cut through metal you’ll have to find another machine to get the job done.

Users get a generous engraving area of 12 inches by 8 inches, along with a cutting speed of roughly 0-1.38 inches each second. Additionally, the VEVOR laser engraver also offers a minimum shaping character or 0.04 inches by 0.04 inches.

A built-in fan ensures that smoke or fumes from the laser engraver are properly removed, and a USB port lets you connect the unit to your computer. Plus, it will work with almost any type of scanner or printer you have.

The VEVOR laser engraver also offers support for TIF file types, along with JPG, PLT, BMP, EMF, and WMF files. This precise and strong laser engraver comes with high-quality motors, a versatile and accurate control board, and a water cooling laser tube to ensure the unit is always the temperature it should be.

VEVOR 40W Co2 Laser Engraving Machine | Amazon

This CO2 engraving machine integrates the newest light, machine and electricity mechanical movement to design this high precise and high speed three generation modal CO2 LASER Engraver. 

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Mophorn’s Laser Engraver – Best for Budget Minded

Mophorn’s laser engraver is a machine that requires 40W of power. With this device, users can cut through leather, wood, plastic, crystal, and fabrics. It also works well for seal engraving toys or garments.

With an engraving area of 12” x 8”, you’ll have plenty of room to get your work done. Plus, an engraving speed of 0-300mm per second, along with a cutting speed of 1-10mm per second, means you can work as fast, or slow, as you want.

The cutting precision when you’re engraving using the Mophorn is 2500dpi, with an accuracy of 0.01mm, which is pretty darn precise. Plus, the unit comes with CorelDraw, so it will support all the file types that the software supports. Even though the Mophorn laser engraver is on the cheaper end, it still has a high-quality laser that will get the job done.

Mophorn Laser Engraving Machine | Amazon

This CO2 engraving machine, with engraving area of 12"x8" (30x20cm), integrates the newest light, machine and electricity mechanical movement to design this high precise.

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Ten-High CO2 Engraver Machine – Best for a Variety of Materials

If you use a lot of different materials for your projects, then the Ten-High Engraver might be the machine for you. With the ability to cut and engrave a wide assortment of materials, the Ten-high Engraver is one of the most versatile machines on this list.

This machine works with a variety of materials, including glass, bamboo, wood, paper, leather, and glass. Basically, if it’s not metal, the Ten-High Engraver can handle it. Plus, the Ten-High engraving machine comes with LaserDraw, which is specially designed for the unit itself.

The engraver is also compatible with CorelDraw software, however, CorelDraw does not come with the machine. Plus, the unit will work with any Windows OS you may have, but keep in mind that it’s not compatible with macOS devices.

If you do have a Windows machine, you can connect the Ten-High engraver to it through a USB cable. Unfortunately, this device is not wireless, so you have to be close to the system so you can connect to it manually.

TEN-HIGH CO2 engrave Machine | Amazon

Precision metal mold laser head, adjustable laser energy, wear-resistance, heat resistance, red light positioning system once positioning, positioning can be seen, accurate and efficient.

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Orion Motor Tech Laser Engraving Machine – Best for Those Who Need a Large Work Area

Last on our list is the Orion Motor Tech Laser Engraving Machine. At first glance, many confuse this device for a generator or a toolbox, since its black and red design gives it a more rugged look than you’d typically find with an engraver. However, this engraver is designed to work with a wide variety of materials, so you aren’t limited in that area.

In addition to what most other engraving machines can handle, the Orion Motor Tech machine will work with marble, ceramic, mylar, crystal, vinyl, leather, plastic, and rubber. Plus, this machine has one of the largest work areas you’ll find on the market.

The Orion Motor Tech engraver supports a work area of 20 inches by 28 inches, so you have plenty of space to get your work done. Like many other units on the market, the Orion Motor Tech engraver has its own software that comes with the device.

But, unlike other options, this machine gives you the ability to work with many other software selections on the market. You may already own many of these, like CAD or CorelDraw. The Orion engraver also has a built-in air compressor, so any toxic vapors or fumes that you produce are immediately removed.

Part of having a large work area is having a large device. The Orion engraver weighs upwards of 500 pounds, so once you get it where you want it, it’s not moving. Be sure to place it somewhere you can keep it safe. Probably not on your computer desk though.

Orion Motor Tech 40W CO2 Laser Engraver Cutter | Amazon
$499.99

The 12” x 8” engraving surface is equipped with a stability clamp for irregular items and a level board for regular/bulky objects to accommodate products of various dimensions.

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06/11/2021 04:09 am GMT

FAQs

There are plenty of questions that come along with laser cutters and engravers. Here are some of the more commonly asked ones:

How does laser cutting work?

Laser cutting requires using a high-focused, high-powered laser beam to cut through materials. This leaves a smooth, clean-cut when you’re finished. Some laser cuttings work using a continuous beam, while others might use a pulse beam.
A laser cutting starts when the laser puts a small hole in the material and then continues from that point until the cut is complete. You can control the laser’s heat output, length, and intensity, which means you can cut your materials in a variety of ways.

What metals can be cut with a laser?

There are plenty of metals that can be cut using a laser. These include aluminum, nickel, steel, copper, brass, titanium, and many others. Metal is one of the most common materials you’ll find that is cut with lasers.

How accurate can you get when using a laser to cut materials?

Arguably the largest benefit of using a laser to cut your materials is the precision and accuracy that it offers. If you use a narrow, focused laser beam, you can cut your material to a width that’s as small a 0.1mm. That’s pretty accurate if you ask me.

Where to Buy the Flux Beambox

The most reliable online retailer for the Flux Beambox model is definitely with MatterHackers at this listing here. They have best in class pricing, excellent customer service, and specialize in 3D printing and cutting. 

Is the Flux Beambox Right For You?

This is a tricky question to answer because everyone’s needs are going to differ. If you like to use a single device to engrave and cut, then yes, the Beambox might be a solid choice for what you’re doing. But if you want more out of your machine, then you may have to look elsewhere.

There’s plenty to like about the Beambox, including the number of features it offers and the fact that it is relatively small. Sure, 100 pounds is a lot of weight, but in the world of laser engravers, it’s not too bad.

Overall, the Flux Beambox is a solid choice. It’s a quality laser engraver and cutter that will get the job done. It supports a wide variety of materials and has user safety in mind. Plus, it works with your smartphone. If that doesn’t have you running out to get one, I don’t know what will.

Further Reading on Engravers and Laser Cutters:

MakerGear M3 Review: Is the M3 Worth it?

The idea of owning a 3D printer is exciting and invigorating as you consider the possibilities that exist. But even though these devices are now manufactured for users like you and me, they were initially made for large corporations or universities.

Fortunately, there exist printers that blur the line a little between mass manufacturing and individual use. The MakerGear M3 is one such 3D printer. Let’s take a closer look at this interesting 3D printer.

Great Pick
MakerGear M3-ID Desktop 3D Printer

MakerGear’s M3 3D printer is a high-quality printer that can easily make the transition from manufacturing to home workshop. We absolutely loved our trials with this model. MakerGear is a TRUSTED brand and this is one of their most precise printers yet.

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MakerGear M3

3D printers typically fall into one of two categories: consumer and industrial. The MakerGear M3 falls into the latter category, manufacturing commercial-grade printers for schools and businesses that need them.

Founded in 2009 in Beachwood, Ohio, MakerGear is one of the largest industrial-grade 3D printer manufacturers in the United States. The company focuses heavily on creating and producing 3D printers with the best degree of precision on the market.

MarkerGear’s M3 device is a solid steel unit with an aluminum framing. This 3D printer is easy to calibrate and sets up quickly. Once it’s done, you don’t have to mess with calibrating it again. The M3 has a compact and simple design that still offers plenty of room to print your favorite objects.

Plus, the device supports all metals and can reach a temperature of up to 300-degrees Celsius, which means you can print with nearly any material you want. The intention of the M3 is to provide a device that removes the pain point that’s often associated with stock printing kit extruders.

When 3D printers first came into the market, the extruders were typically poorly designed and implemented, causing users problems they didn’t expect. Even the best 3D printers at the time experienced these types of issues.

That’s why MakerGear chose to become one of the best 3D equipment and printer manufacturers in the world. Their goal is to create 3D printers that set the standard for durability and precision.

MakerGear M3

Setting Up the MakerGear M3

Overall, setting up your MakerGear M3 is generally simple and straightforward. This 3D printer offers users exceptional quality when printing. Plus, the craftsmanship of the M3 sets the standard for all other companies that manufacture 3D printers.

MakerGear M3 User Guide

One of the best things about the MakerGear M3 is that it comes with a user guide that walks you step-by-step through unpacking and setting up your 3D printer. The M3 offers wifi connectivity through Bonjour Print services, while also including OctoPrint as part of its default package.

OctoPrint, for those not familiar with the software, is a Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS interface that you can pull up in your browser. MakerGear walks you through getting the M3 connected to your wireless network so you can access the printer’s full potential.

Another cool feature you get with the OctoPrint software is how the top of the models are printed. OctoPrint pauses the hot end of the printer between layers while the small surfaces are printing.

This type of behavior allows for the material that exists between the layers to cure, which helps to prevent blobs and clumps from forming. As a result, users get a clean top surface that is free of blemishes.

Nozzle Changing

Changing the nozzles on the M3 is a bit different than what you’ll experience with other 3D printers. The hot end of the printer is completely taken off while the nozzle is changed out using a proprietary tool.

This task is performed by using a threading process that won’t allow the nozzle to go straight into the heater block. As a result, users experience less damage and fewer installation errors in both the heater block and the nozzle.

setting up makergear m3

MakerGear M3 Features & Specs

If you’re in the market for a well-built, reliable, sturdy 3D printer, then the MakerGear M3 just might be the printer you need. Hobbyists will have no trouble using this 3D printer, however, keep in mind that it’s intended for large manufacturers.

As a result, the M3 has no shortage of features. Let’s take a closer look at what the MakerGear M3 has to offer.

Wireless Connectivity

The MakerGear M3 will connect through either Ethernet or wifi connectivity, which users can set up through their browser. Once this is set up, users can control their OctoPrint software and begin printing objects.

Additionally, users can begin to load their favorite designs by using .obj or .stl files. When these are uploaded, they can make adjustments and edits, then send the finished product to the M3 for printing.

Profiled Rails

Instead of using standard round rails for its 3D printers, MakerGear implements profiled rails, which creates precision linear motion. Located on both the y-axis and the x-axis, these rails are used to provide excellent accuracy on the x-y plane.

The printer has shown to have an accuracy as small as 20 microns as it creates objects. With the help of the profiled rails, MakerGear is significantly reducing the chances that imperfections and issues will occur while a 3D object is printing.

Steel Components and Frames

The pieces for the MakerGear M3 printer that users can’t buy straight off the shelf are all made of steel. None of the pieces are 3D printed or made of inferior materials. This is quickly evident when you lift the machine, as it checks in at a hefty 26.5 pounds.

Calibration Using True Leveling

Part of the MakerGear M3 that users like is its True Leveling feature that aids in calibrating the 3D printer. This is a particularly useful feature because many 3D printers use a calibration method that requires the user to jump through a series of hoops to get their device properly calibrated.

This is completed by asking the user to look at three pictures and determine which one is closest to what they see in regards to the offset distances between the bed and the nozzle. This step is continued until both the picture and the offset are where they should be.

Hot End

This feature is exclusive to MakerGear 3D printers with its uniqueness lying in the configuration and size of the hot end. The device’s heater block is small, which allows for consistent heating of the filament that lies on the z-axis.

As a result, users get a consistent filament feed throughout the printing cycle. Plus, MakerGear printers offer unique nozzles that you won’t find on many other printers. These nozzles have female threads as opposed to male threads.

Giving their nozzles this type of flexibility allows MakerGear users to have the option of doing a cold nozzle changeout. Typically this type of change would result in damage to the heater block, however, since the nozzles are female threads, users won’t run into this issue.

makergear m3 print

Cooling

Most 3D printing companies on the market create a cooling system for their devices that is something of a hybrid. Typically these systems work for both the filament and the hot end at the same time.

However, MakerGear’s M3 3D printer, the fans are already set up so that they provide cooling explicitly for the area intended, with no bleed over occurring. For example, the cooling fan for the filament is pointed directly at it and sits parallel to the print bed.

Additionally, the hot end fan aim straight at the gearing mechanism used for the extruder. This, along with the heat break that sits in the middle of the heater block and the heat sink, means users won’t experience heat creep. Plus, it ensures that the nozzle and heat block are continually hot throughout the print.

Multiple Models

Users will discover two available models of the MakerGear M3. The original MakerGear M3 includes the standard heated build plate, a .35mm nozzle, and wifi connectivity. The MakerGear M3 Dual Extruder also comes with wifi connectivity and a heated build plate.

The latter model also includes two direct-drive tool heads, both of which have an extruder combination and a moving hot end. As a result, users can print objects with two different colors.

Accessories

Also included with the MakerGear M3 are plenty of accessories. These include tweezers, brushes, filament guide tubes, hex keys, an M3 driver, extra fastening clips, and a feeler gauge.

MakerGear M3 Specs

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MakerGear M3-ID Desktop 3D Printer

MakerGear’s M3 3D printer is a high-quality printer that can easily make the transition from manufacturing to home workshop. We absolutely loved our trials with this model. MakerGear is a TRUSTED brand and this is one of their most precise printers yet.

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Here’s a look at some of the specs and properties associated with the MakerGear M3 3D printer:

Technology FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
Build Volume 203mm x 254mm x 203mm
Extrusion Single Extrusion
Filament Diameter 1.75mm
Build Plate Temperature 20-130 degrees Celsius
Print Head Speed Range 30-450 mm/s
Assisted Leveling Method True Level Calibration
Nozzle Temperature 180-300 degrees Celsius
Nozzle Heat Up Less than 2 minutes
Build Plate Heat Time Less than 4 minutes
Connectivity USB, LAN, Wifi
Operating Sound Less than 65 dB
Supported Materials ABS, Nylon, PET-G, PET-T, PLA, TPE, HIPS, TPU, wood composites, carbon fiber composites, metal composites

Alternatives

Of course, there’s always the possibility that the MakerGear M3 isn’t your cup of tea. If that’s the case, here are some alternative 3D printers to consider.

Creality Ender 3 Pro – Best for the Budget Minded

Creality Ender 3 Pro

If you’re on a budget, the Creality Ender 3 Pro is a solid option.

This 3D printer comes with both a heated bed and LCD, which is basically unheard of at its price point. Of course, part of the reason it’s so affordable is due to the fact that you have to assemble the printer yourself.

Arguably the best thing about the Ender 3 is that it has an amazing community. You’ll find all the answers to your problems on the Ender 3 subreddit, plus ideas for prints and modifications. Overall, if you have the time and the patience to put your own 3D printer together, Ender 3 might be right up your alley.

Official Creality Ender 3 3D Printer Fully Open Source with Resume Printing All Metal Frame FDM DIY Printers 220x220x250mm
$165.00

For most users, 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. A clear choice for me.

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06/11/2021 03:54 am GMT

Vivedino T-Rex 3 – Best for Those Who Want Everything

For those that don’t mind shelling out a little extra money to get what they want, the Vivedino T-Rex 3 is perfect. With this printer, users get dual independent extruders, auto-bed leveling, massive build volume, Trinamic stepper drivers, and an AC heated bed.

The drawback, unfortunately, is that the microcontroller for the T-Rex is a bit underpowered for a 3D printer of its stature. As a result, users experienced reduced speeds, which make printing a painfully slow process. Still, this is an impressive 3D printer with plenty of features.

Taz Workhorse – Best for 3D Printing Enthusiasts

This vibrant and exciting 3D printer will quickly draw you in if you’re a 3D printing enthusiast. The Taz Workhorse offers a strong frame, large build volume, and one heck of a sticker price. You’ll pay for this amazing 3D printer, but there are plenty of users out there who believe it’s worth it.

For example, the Taz Workhorse has a steel nozzle, which allows users to print with exotic filaments. The include filaments that have wood, sand, and metal fillers, which could quickly wear down a brass nozzle.

The drawback to this printer is that it’s only a single extruder, but there are plenty of positives to outweigh the few negatives. Its build area is one of the largest in its market, plus the Workhorse lineup is well-known for being durable and reliable, something you don’t find with a lot of 3D printers.

FlashForge Creator Pro – Best Portable 3D Printer

FlashForge Creator Pro | 3D Printers Online

FlashForge Creator Pro makes some of the best printers for beginners that you can buy. For the moderate price tag, you’re getting a workhorse of a 3D printer.

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The FlashForge Creator Pro comes with handles on each side, so you can easily move it wherever you need it. Plus, the Creator Pro is a durable printer, so you don’t have to worry about causing damage when you move it.

On the downside, the Creator Pro isn’t as reliable as other 3D printers. For example, one common problem users experience is the extruder jamming up on them. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world, it can be a pain if you have to consistently deal with this type of issue.

Sill, the Creator Pro is an excellent 3D printer with a fantastic community. If you’re looking for a solid 3D printer that won’t kill your budget, the Creator Pro is an excellent option.

FAQs

There are many questions associated with 3D printers, but here are some of the more commonly asked ones:

How do I prevent clogs?

If you want to prevent clogs in your 3D printer, your best bet might be what’s called a Cold Pull. This involved using old filament to stick to the current filament so you can pull it out of the printer. Another option is to remove the nozzle and soak it in acetone to loosen up any clogged filament.

What color filament is best?

Many users will tell you that the best filament color to use is typically plain white. This is especially true if you don’t plan on painting your printed objects. While other colors are pretty easy to use, there are users who experience brittle or spotty prints when using a color other than white.

Where can I find ideas for printing?

One of the best places online for printing idea is Thingiverse. This is a massive online warehouse full of 3D printing files. Anything you can imagine is more than likely in this repository.

Final Thoughts the MakerGear 3D Printer

MakerGear’s M3 3D printer is a high-quality printer that can easily make the transition from manufacturing to home workshop. However, it’s in a manufacturing environment that this printer really makes a name for itself.

If you want precision and quality and you plan on printing a lot of objects, the MakerGear 3D printer is a great choice.

Further Reading on Desktop 3D Printer Options & Professional 3D Printer:

Anycubic Photon Review [2021]: Will This Work for You?

You can’t beat the reliability and affordability of resin printers. They’re also easy to use and offer a great alternative to SLA printers because they’re safer and easier for beginners. There is a learning curve with some, but it’s worth figuring out so you can reap all the benefits.

DLP, or digital light processing, is a method of 3D printing that uses light to cure the project. Rather than heating up a filament and printing something hot onto a heated bed, it simply cures one layer of the project at a time using liquid resin and UV rays.

Once the layer is cured, the print bed moves to allow for the next layer to be printed. This offers a high level of accuracy, even in the most detailed prints. This liquid resin print doesn’t need to be heated first, and it makes it much safer than an SLA printer.

Our Pick
We love the AnyCubic Photon | AnyCubic

Dead simple to set-up, comes pre-assembled, intuitive touch-screen and exceptional level of detail. This machine empowers CREATORS, without expecting you to be a mechanic. The small - but precise - print bed is perfect for miniatures.

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Anycubic Photon 3D Printer Features

The Anycubic Photon is one such DLP printer. The LCD screen resolution is 2K and the build volume is 115mm x 65mm x 155mm. It’s slightly smaller than some other DLP 3D printers, but it’s all fantastic for the price point.

A lot of times, DLP printers have a powerful resin smell, but the Anycubic Photon has a carbon filter and a fan that helps get rid of some of that. However, there are times when you may notice it a bit more, especially if your printer is set up in a small area.

You can use gloves and a mask when pouring the resin and that will help protect you as well. A large room with windows is best for using this printer. This is a great way to experiment with this type of 3D printing without spending a lot of money.

Anycubic Photon Setup

This Anycubic 3D Printer comes with everything you need to set it up. Fortunately, there’s not a lot of setups involved. In fact, it comes mostly pre-assembled. In the box, you’ll find the printer, an owner’s manual, a power cable, gloves, and a mask, filters, a resin tank, and a bottle of resin to start resin based printing.

The included 8GB USB flash drive also comes preloaded with models to try. They’re already pre-sliced, so you don’t have to design your own in order to test the printer. Many DLP printers require you to install the print bed before using, and they also don’t offer any resin included in the box, so the Anycubic Photon is already ahead of the competition.

Although the printer comes fully assembled, you do have to screw a knob on the door and level the bed. First, make sure the screen and the print platform are dust-free.

Before you level it, plug it in and remove the resin tank. You can start the leveling process with the touch screen and then manually adjust it to get it just where you want it. It’s similar to how you level an FDM printer, so if you’d had experience with that, you’ll learn how to do this very quickly.

If you don’t know how to do it, you can lower the platform to make it easier. Then pour the resin in the vat and you’re ready to go.

Anycubic Photon Printing

Before printing any of your own designs, test the printer with one of the test jobs on your USB stick. The lattice cube shows off how the Anycubic Photon creates intricate layers and exceptional print quality. It’s a fun way to watch your printer work and see how your jobs will turn out, even those with the most detail. You don’t have to adjust any settings or understand the software to print this first job.

This is the perfect way to get familiar with your printer, taking it slow, and making sure that first, your print job sticks to the bed. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to level it and then try again.

You’ll notice that this particular job results in impressive quality and a smooth surface with the intricate details you might expect from a much more expensive printer. Cleaning and allowing to cure gives you a flawless exterior on a solid print.

If you’re printing something simpler, you’ll still enjoy a layerless look that you’ll only find on high-end 3D printers. For some complex projects, you’ll need to add a few more supports, but you can trust the printer to generate them automatically and slice them in or create them yourselves. When the job is done, it’s easy to snip them off.

Anycubic Photon Software

No other manufacturers have the same software because the Anycubic Photon has a proprietary program. Unfortunately, you won’t be familiar with it right out of the gate, but it’s not hard to get up to speed.

If you’re not familiar with how to use a 3D printer, you shouldn’t modify anything at first. You can leave the default settings alone and still print high-quality jobs. It’s also very simple to adjust the layer thickness, exposure time, and off time.

Support generation is one of the easiest things to do with the Anycubic Photon. It’s far above any other 3D printer when it comes to auto-generating the supports you need for difficult projects. However, if you feel like you’d rather create your own, you can manually insert them wherever you need them for complete control over your jobs. You can adjust placement, length, shape, density, and radius.

You can also rotate, scale, and view your model in a variety of ways with the Photon slicer software. It’s quick and easy. The resulting .photon file can be used with the Anycubic Photon, but not with any other 3D printer. The software is lacking a bit in design, but it explains tasks and operations so they’re easy to understand, and it’s not hard to figure out or use.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up and use
  • Compact size
  • Custom slicer with excellent support generation
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Jobs may stick to print bed
  • Small build volume
  • Lack of customizations

Anycubic Photon Alternatives and Competitors

When it comes to 3D printers, there’s surely no shortage of them, no matter what kind of 3D printer you want. Here are a few other options if you’re looking for a DLP resin printer.

Phrozen Sonic Mini 3D Printer

This is a really great budget resin printer. The layer cure times on this machine are as little as 2 seconds. That’s unheard of in the realm of resin 3D printers. There aren’t many others that can achieve this lofty goal if any at all. It prints insanely fast.

It’s also worth mentioning that this 3D printer has a huge print volume at 276mm x 155mm x 400mm. Why they called it a “Mini” I’m just not sure. You could print almost anything. Costume accessories? Done. Drone replacement parts? Yup. Large items that you would normally have to print in pieces? Absolutely.

You’ll pay for speed and size here, but you could argue it’s worth it if you’re interested in size and speed. After all, they matter.

Phrozen Sonic Mini | 3D Printers Online Store

This is a really great budget resin printer and it prints insanely fast. You could print almost anything!

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Peopoly Phenom 3D Printer

This one boasts another large print volume equal to the Phrozen Sonic Mini. Both far surpass the Anycubic Photon. If build volume is what you’re looking for, you will want to take a serious look at this one.

Again, it’s another 3D resin printer than can handle big projects fast. The productivity of this beast is unmatched, especially when you consider high detail prints. It’s widely used by businesses and professionals because it’s so reliable.

Elegoo Mars 3D Printer

If you’re not looking for something quite so large or suited for commercial uses, the Elegoo Mars is a great choice on a budget. It offers simplicity and excellent print quality. The print preparation workflow makes it incredibly easy to use.

DLP printers are already pretty straightforward, but this one makes it even easier. The print bed is self-leveling, the software is open source, and the performance is beyond anything else in the price range.

Further Read: Here check how Elegoo Mars Compares with Anycubic Photon

ELEGOO Mars | Amazon

The Elegoo Mars is great for beginners. It’s forgiving and rewarding at a great price point so you can enjoy consistent successful prints, high-quality performance, and little effort.

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Formlabs Form 3 3D Printer

Formlabs has been around for a while. They make professional-grade 3D printers, and the Form 3 is the third generation of this liquid resin printer. It has a wide range of practical features, meaning it’s a fantastic choice for commercial use.

It’s rather expensive, so it may not be the right choice for individuals unless you are an avid user of 3D printers and need one that is higher quality than most.

Formlabs uses precision, high-quality manufacturing, but many of their products use proprietary resins. Thankfully, the Form 3 has what they call an open mode that allows you to use any resins you’d like.

Here you can read everything about Formlabs Form 2 vs Ultimaker 3.

Formlabs Form 3 3D Printer | Amazon

The Light Processing Unit (LPU) inside this printer uses a lens and mirror system to deliver accurate and repeatable prints with smooth surface finish, high detail, and incredible clarity.

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FAQs

Is Anycubic a good brand?

Anycubic is known for making incredible printers on a budget. They’re easy to use and they 3D print in high quality, even on more detailed designs. Sometimes they’re a bit harder to set up, but fortunately, the Photon doesn’t prove to be too difficult at all.

Is Anycubic resin toxic?

There’s some debate about how toxic resin is, but wearing a mask and gloves can help reduce your exposure and the effect of the resin on your eyes and skin. However, there are plant-based resins you can use with the Anycubic Photon that don’t have the same effect.

Whether you want to risk exposure or not, there are definitely a lot of options when it comes to compatible resins for your DLP 3D printer.

Are resin 3D printers better?

The short answer is yes. You yield better results when printing with resin. It’s certainly faster, it can be safer, and it is generally cheaper. While SLA printing and FDM printing rely on a lot of factors to achieve a successful print, DLP tends to be simpler and more efficient.

Do 3D resin printers need ventilation?

All 3D printers need proper ventilation to be used safely. Resin can be toxic when inhaled in an enclosed environment continuously. It’s important to ensure that you’re using your 3D printers properly.

Resin, when inhaled, can cause irritation in the lungs and the esophagus. If you don’t use gloves when pouring resin, it could come in contact with the skin and cause irritation during resin 3D printing.

The Verdict: Anycubic Photon Review

While leveling can prove a bit more difficult than other 3D printers, it’s worth all the setup hassle to get the print quality that the Anycubic Photon offers. You need to make sure the prints stick to the bed, but when they cure, you’ll be more than happy with the result.

Manually creating supports is easy, and you can position them however you like, but it also auto-generates sufficient support most of the time, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Proprietary slicing software creates files you can only use with this printer because the files aren’t interchangeable, but it’s easy to use, and there’s not much of a learning curve for beginners. You don’t have access to a lot of customizable settings, but it’s a great, quality, affordable solution for beginners and advanced users alike.

Our Pick
We love the AnyCubic Photon | AnyCubic

Dead simple to set-up, comes pre-assembled, intuitive touch-screen and exceptional level of detail. This machine empowers CREATORS, without expecting you to be a mechanic. The small - but precise - print bed is perfect for miniatures.

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Further Reading on 3D Printing and 3D Printer Options: