Vectorworks vs AutoCAD: Which Software is Right For Your Needs?

Vectorworks vs AutoCAD

Our comprehensive Vectorworks vs AutoCAD comparison is going to show you the best CAD program to use out of these two pieces of software.

While AutoCAD is often the go-to program and has significant market domination, we’ll find out if Vectorworks is a credible alternative. We’ll explore all the features of these two programs and what they offer. We’ll also go into how easy they are to use, their pros and cons as well as other CAD softwares on the market.

In the end, you’ll find out which one is better.

Main Differences Between Vectorworks vs AutoCAD

The main differences between AutoCAD vs Vectorworks are:

  • Vectorworks allows you to buy a perpetual license, whereas AutoCAD does not let you buy a perpetual licence.
  • AutoCAD has a mobile app for editing designs, whereas Vectorworks does not have a mobile app for editing designs.
  • Vectorworks has BIM modeling capabilities, whereas AutoCAD does not have BIM modeling capabilities.
  • AutoCAD has a steep learning curve, whereas Vectorworks is a bit easier to learn
  • AutoCAD’s native file format is compatible with most CAD programs, whereas Vectorworks’ native file extension is not

Exploring Vectorworks and AutoCAD features

Both Vectorworks and AutoCAD are used by architects, engineers, and across various industries. While they often do serve different purposes, there are many features we can compare them against each other.

Drawing and design

autocad

Both of these programs provide the ability to create both 2D drawings and 3D models that are used in many industries including engineering, construction, and more.

AutoCAD has been the go-to software for the 2D drawing for many years. It has also incorporated 3D functionality into the software as well. Many people like the fact that AutoCAD feels like free form drawing on paper at times and it does offer a lot of flexibility for creating models.

Vectorworks also does a very good job at creating drawing and models, especially in 2D. It offers native BIM capabilities. There are many different programs with Vectorworks that serve different purposes. Vectorworks Architect is the one to compare with AutoCAD but there is also Vectorworks Spotlight for lighting, Vision for events, and Vectorworks Landmark for landscape architects.

Customizable Options

One of the big things we look out for with any software and especially CAD programs is how customizable they are. Being able to change layouts, hide tools and create a unique workspace helps with productivity and efficiency.

AutoCAD is well noted as offering a good experience if you want to customize certain parts of it. You can change the layout, show tools that you use the most, create aliases for commands as well as create a user interface that is unique to you. This massively helps AutoCAD feel like a custom program and it should boost how efficient it is to use.

Vectorworks also provides a range of customizable options for their program. Like AutoCAD, it is very easy to do and it allows you to add and remove tools and menus, configure context menus, create new positions for tools and palettes, and more.

Vectorwork Architect

File compatibility

You can open and use a varied range of files with both Vectorworks and AutoCAD. In fact, you can open up AutoCAD files (.dwg) in Vectorworks and we haven’t come across any problems with doing this.

One area where Vectorworks is perhaps better than AutoCAD is with BIM information as it has native BIM capabilities. Vectorworks has much more of a focus on a BIM workflow. Vectorworks also has its own file extension (.vmx) however this isn’t generally compatible with many other CAD programs.

Performance

CAD software can take up a lot of processing power due to the complex nature of how they work. So, how do Vectorworks and AutoCAD compare when it comes to performance?

Comparing them can be quite subjective because it is going to depend a lot on what computer spec you have. Obviously, a computer with a higher spec is going to run these programs better than one with limited capabilities.

AutoCAD has always run pretty well on any computer we have used it on (as long as it has half-decent specifications). AutoCAD does offer information on how you can speed up the program on your computer by changing around different settings.

Vectorworks is pretty similar to the recommended specifications for your computer to run this program on. There isn’t a big difference between the two really.

To run them smoothly you’ll need around the same RAM (16GB recommended), similar processors, and graphic cards. Depending on what toolsets you are using, you will need some decent storage space on your computer as well.

Platforms

Most CAD software is available across several operating systems and platforms. Choosing one that not only gives you the functionality you need but also can work across different devices is important. This is definitely true if you need to access it in different locations.

AutoCAD works on many different operating systems and this includes Windows and Mac. You can also use AutoCAD on a mobile device. This is one of the big advantages of AutoCAD in that you have a great range of functionality on iOS, Windows, and Android mobile devices. If you need additional storage, AutoCAD provides cloud storage options.

Vectorworks is similar to AutoCAD in that it can work on both Windows and Mac. One drawback of Vectorworks is that it doesn’t have an app where you can edit designs. There is Vectorworks Nomad which displays your designs and you can access this on Android and iOS devices but it doesn’t let you actually do any editing.

Support

The last feature we’re going to look at with Vectorworks and AutoCAD is their support options. Getting the help when you need it is vital in case you run into any problems.

AutoCAD does provide several support options. You can contact Autodesk by email as well as by phone or you can use the live chat on their website. If you want to do some research yourself, you can use the help section which offers a range of answers to common questions. There is also a dedicated AutoCAD forum where you can engage with other users.

Vectorworks has phone and email support in addition to a live chat option. Their website offers a list of Vectorworks partners that you can get in touch with for training.

You’ll also find a knowledge base on their website that has informative articles and how-to videos while the forum is another great resource that is pretty active.

Not much between AutoCAD and Vectorworks when it comes to supporting and getting the information that you need.

Comparing AutoCAD vs Vectorworks – pricing

vectorworks

You can purchase AutoCAD on an annual basis. This gives you a valid license for 12 months. There is the option to take up a monthly subscription to AutoCAD although your yearly amount will be higher. If you envisage using AutoCAD for a few years, you can get a 3 year licence too.

Students can get a one-year free license and Autodesk offer a 30 day free trial of AutoCAD too.

With your AutoCAD subscription, you get a range of different tools included such as:

  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD Map 3D
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • AutoCAD MEP
  • AutoCAD Plant 3D
  • AutoCAD Raster Design

Vectorworks – and Vectorworks Architect which is the closest program to AutoCAD – does cost more than AutoCAD if you look at the price of AutoCAD’s one-year subscription. However, the big difference here is that with Vectorworks Architect you get a perpetual license. This gives you lifetime access to Vectorworks Architect as well as 2G of cloud storage and one-year tech support.

You can add a maintenance addition to your purchase which boosts your cloud storage to 20GB and also gives you upgrades to the newly released version as well as priority support if you need it. Students can also get a free license to Vectorworks and you can request a 30-day free trial too.

So, Vectorworks Architect will work out cheaper in the longer run. You only need to purchase it once and over the course of say, 5 years, it will be less expensive than AutoCAD.

There are also many other programs that Vectorworks have including:

  • Vectorworks Fundamentals
  • Vectorworks Landmark
  • Vectorworks Spotlight
  • Vectorworks Designer

These all need to be purchased separately.

Vectorworks vs AutoCAD – ease of use

vectorworks architect

With the sharp rise in affordable 3D printers, many people have been turning to CAD software and other programs to create models and designs. This has led to some of these programs become more user-friendly. So, how do Vectorworks and AutoCAD compare?

AutoCAD is renowned for being pretty difficult to use. It is in no way impossible to master however it will take a while to get a good grasp on its functions and features.

It has long been the standard software to use for drawing and designs and this is why so many people preserve with it. There are good resources on the Autodesk website if you do run into trouble when using AutoCAD.

Vectorworks is a bit easier to use than AutoCAD. Many people prefer Vectorworks because it doesn’t present such a steep learning curve like AutoCAD often does. Commands are more intuitive with the icon UI layout which a lot of users prefer. Like AutoCAD, you can find a lot of good resources and training for Vectorworks to help you along.

Pros and Cons

AutoCAD

Pros

  • Can draw and designs in both 2D and 3D
  • Very customizable so you can create your own layout
  • Compatible with a large number of file formats
  • Available for Windows and Mac in addition to offering a mobile app
  • Can get cloud storage if you want
  • Can be used offline without internet access
  • Has been the go-to CAD software for decades

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer a perpetual license like some other CAD software
  • Is quite complex so will take a while to learn
  • Need decent computer specifications for run it smoothly

Vectorworks

Pros

  • Ideal for 2D and 3D modeling
  • Can get a perpetual license for lifetime access
  • Compatible with a wide range of different file formats
  • Works on both Windows and Mac computers
  • Can customize the layout to suit your needs
  • Easier to use than AutoCAD and has an intuitive icon UI
  • Decent support options with helpline online resources

Cons

  • Native Vectorworks format isn’t compatible with most software
  • No mobile app for editing (but does offering one for viewing and commenting)
  • Need decent computer specifications to run it smoothly

Are there any alternatives?

TurboCAD

Turbo Cad

An alternative to both Vectorworks and AutoCAD is TurboCAD.

We’ve had a look at this CAD software a few times and you can see how it matches up directly with AutoCAD here.

TurboCAD is a powerful piece of CAD software that is ideally suited to 3D modeling. It can take a while to get to grips with how it works but it is favored by many people. It works on both Windows and Mac computers and it also features a suite of apps to boost functionality on mobile devices.

Like AutoCAD and Vectorworks, it is highly customizable and can run on most half-decent computers pretty smoothly. Overall a decent alternative that comes in a lot cheaper for lifetime use than Vectorworks and AutoCAD.

TinkerCAD

If 3D printing is your main objective with CAD software then we would recommend going with TinkerCAD.

Regardless of what type of 3D printing you are going to do – whether it be working with an open source 3D printer, dual extruder 3D printers or to print specific objects, this is a great piece of software.

It is pretty basic so we can’t really compare it directly to AutoCAD or Vectorworks. It’s only focus is on offering three simple tools that can be used to create a wide variety of 3D printing models.

Perhaps the best thing about TinkerCAD is that it is free! You don’t have to pay anything to get access to it. This isn’t going to replace AutoCAD or Vectorworks however if you just need some basic software for 3D printing, this is a great option to get started with.

Frequently Asked Questions about AutoCAD and Vectorworks

Question: Is AutoCAD free for students?

Answer: You can get a one-year free license to AutoCAD if you are in education and there is also the option for a 30-day free trial as well.

Question: Is Vectorworks free for students?

Answer: You can get a 12 month Vectorworks license if you are a student and this can be extended after a year if you are still in education. If you are a recent graduate, you can get a discounted version of Vectorworks too.

Question: What operating systems is AutoCAD available on?

Answer: You can get AutoCAD on Windows and Mac computers while there is also a mobile app for iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

Question: What operating systems is Vectorworks available on?

Answer: Vectorworks is available on Windows and Mac OS. There is an app – Vectorworks Nomad – although it doesn’t allow you to edit designs.

Question: Can I customize these CAD programs?

Answer: Yes. You can customize both AutoCAD and Vectorworks. This will allow you to create custom layouts, hide tools, create menus and more so you can boost your productivity.

Question: Are AutoCAD and Vectorworks easy to use?

Answer: AutoCAD is seen to be harder to use than Vectorworks. Neither are really simple to use especially if this is your first step into CAD software. However, many users do report that Vectorworks is a bit easier to learn.

Question: Can I use AutoCAD and Vectorworks for 3D printing?

Answer: Yes. You can export STL files with both AutoCAD and Vectorworks and this is the default file format for the majority of 3D printers.

Question: Can I get training with AutoCAD and Vectorworks?

Answer: Yes. There are numerous online resources on both the Autodesk and Vectorworks website. This includes forums and guides while there are also official training courses you can use to boost your skills.

Conclusion – Go with Vectorworks mainly because of its lifetime license

Perhaps it seems obvious that you should choose AutoCAD if you need a piece of powerful CAD software. After all, it has been the default program for most professionals for a long time.

However, we are going to suggest that you choose Vectorworks.

When it comes to the actual functionality of both programs, there isn’t much difference and Vectorworks pretty much does what AutoCAD can do in a design, drawing, and modeling sense.

The big plus for us is that you can get a perpetual (lifetime) license with Vectorworks. So, if you want to get Vectorworks Architect, you simply purchase it once and you don’t need to pay again. This definitely beats AutoCAD’s subscription model.

While we would like to see a Vectorworks app – one that lets you edit drawings and designs at least – it isn’t a huge drawback for us. Vectorworks is not only a powerful tool but it is more intuitive and straightforward than AutoCAD. It offers good support options, is highly customizable and we can see why a lot of professionals are turning to it.

AutoCAD will still have a loyal following but Vectorworks definitely gives it a run for its money and the fact it works out cheaper in the long run, edges it for us.

Microstation vs AutoCAD [2021]: Which is Right For You?

Microstation vs AutoCAD

Our Microstation vs AutoCAD comparison is going to explore which software is better.

While AutoCAD is the most well-known software on the market and has been for a long time, how does Microstation compare? In fact, Microstation (operated by Bentley Systems) has been around since the 1980s, too so they have been around for roughly the same time period.

We’re going to look at the different features that both Microstation and AutoCAD offer, how they shape up in terms of pricing and ease of use, as well as their pros and cons.

We’ll also have a look at a few alternatives that you can consider as well.

First of all, let’s have a look at the main differences between Microstation and AutoCAD.

Main Differences Between Microstation vs AutoCAD

The main differences between AutoCAD vs Microstation are:

  • Microstation is better for 3D modeling, whereas AutoCAD is better for 2D drawings
  • Microstation doesn’t have a dedicated mobile app, whereas AutoCAD does
  • Microstation is more limited with its support, whereas AutoCAD has a good range of contact and support options
  • Microstation is more engineer orientated, whereas AutoCAD is more design orientated

Exploring Microstation and AutoCAD features

Both Microstation and AutoCAD have some similar features. While AutoCAD is generally used by architects, engineers, and those in the construction industry, Microstation is more often used by design teams for infrastructure.

Microstation vs AutoCAD

Drawing and design

You can use both Microstation and AutoCAD for 2D designs. However, AutoCAD does have more features than Microstation.

AutoCAD has been the main player for 2D designs for many years. It provides a wide number of tools and features to aid with drawing and design, including sketching tools, snap to grid functionality, and common logs. AutoCAD has also incorporated 3D in recent times as well.

While you can undertake 2D drawings with Microstation, it does last many of the features that AutoCAD provides. With Microstation, you do get sketch tools, command logs and the ability to create 2D designs from 3D models.

Where Microstation does get better than AutoCAD is with 3D models. While AutoCAD does provide that functionality, Microstation offers more in terms of 3D modelling and animation. This includes parametric modeling, 3D printing, photorealistic models, and more.

Customizable Options

Something that we really like to see with any type of CAD software (whether it be for 2D or 3D) is being able to customize the layout. It helps with efficiency, and being able to have your own custom setup with the software is important.

AutoCAD does allow you to have a high degree of flexibility when it comes to customization. You have the ability to change the layout of the program, show and hide different tools, create aliases for command and edit the user interface. It is well documented how good AutoCAD’s customizable options are.

You can also customize toolbars and tasks with Microstation. It allows you to have a decent level of control over how your program is laid out which makes it easier to carry out certain things. This software gives you a personalized experience if you want it.

File compatibility

There are a number of files that are compatible with both AutoCAD and Microstation.

This includes the widely used and default. DWG file.

Other file formats that both AutoCAD and Microstation can use are PDF, DWF, and 3DS.

Microstation and AutoCAD can also open files from other CAD programs such as Sketchup and Revit.

Performance

A lot of CAD software can put some stress on your computer as they often need to run on a device with good performance. This is down to the complex processes that these programs have.

So, how do both AutoCAD and Microstation perform?

AutoCAD requires 8GB of RAM (although it is recommended that you have 16GB), and it is also recommended that you have a 3+ GHz processor. You’ll need a reasonable graphics card as well. That being said, you don’t exactly need a supercomputer to run AutoCAD, just one with a decent spec to ensure the program runs smoothly.

Microstation requires a similar amount of processing power if you want to run it with some good 3D modeling. It is recommended that you have 16GB of RAM, a similar processor that is required for AutoCAD and a good graphics card with a graphics memory of 512 MB – 2GB.

The more that you want to do in each program will depend on how good the computer is that you are running it on. However, the above specifications should work fine for 2D drawing and 3D modelling with some visualization.

Platforms

Being able to run CAD software on different platforms can be important to how you work. This is especially true if you need several licenses but have different devices (Windows or a MAC for example) in different locations.

AutoCAD is flexible in this regard. It can run on both Windows computers and Mac computers and there is a version available for both. You can also run AutoCAD on an iOS, Windows, or Android mobile device as there is a dedicated app. You can also get cloud storage with AutoCAD if you need it.

Microstation is a bit more limited than AutoCAD as it only runs in Windows computers. This is a bit of a drawback because it really does limit what devices you can operate this CAD software on. While you could theoretically run it on a MAC with a virtual Windows installation, it isn’t that straightforward.

There also isn’t a dedicated Microstation app which is another drawback of this CAD software.

Support

The final thing to look at with both Microstation and AutoCAD before we get onto their pricing structure is what support options they offer.

There are several ways in which you can get in contact with Autodesk if you have any problems with AutoCAD. This includes email and phone support, while you can also contact them via the live chat on their website. There is also a dedicated FAQ/help section on their site or you can visit the forum and look through the threads of post something yourself.

Microstation is a bit more limited with their support options. While you can contact them via email, they don’t offer many other contact methods. However, they do have a knowledge base on their website, while there is a forum that you can use as well.

When it comes to product support and contact methods, Autodesk does offer more than Bentley.

Comparing AutoCAD and Microstation – pricing

3d modelling

One thing that stands out with AutoCAD is that it is generally a bit more expensive than most other CAD software.

AutoCAD has several different options for a subscription. You can get it with an annual license, a monthly subscription, or you can even take out a 3-year license if you wish.

If you are a student, you can get a one-year free license, while if you wish to ‘try before you buy, there is the option for a 30-day free trial.

With your AutoCAD subscription, you get a range of different tools included, such as:

  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD Map 3D
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • AutoCAD MEP
  • AutoCAD Plant 3D
  • AutoCAD Raster Design

Microstation is more expensive than AutoCAD to purchase. You can take out Microstation on a one-year subscription. This gives you the benefit of getting ‘3 keys’ so you can use Microstation on 3 different computers. However, only one user can run Microstation at one time.

There are some different options with Microstation alongside the one-year subscription. You do need to contact Bentley System if you want to find out more about their different pricing options. There is also a free trial available with Microstation.

It is a bit surprising that Microstation costs more than AutoCAD. Most CAD software that is compared alongside AutoCAD tends to come out cheaper.

Microstation vs AutoCAD – ease of use

CAD software can be complex, and you won’t be able to download it and simply start creating top-quality designs right away. There is usually a bit of a learning curve, with some being harder to learn than others. For example, TurboCAD is seen as one of the easier software packages to get to grips with. So, how do AutoCAD and Microstation compare with their ease of use?

AutoCAD will take a while to get used to. If you are completely new to AutoCAD, it will take some time to get to grips with all the functions, commands, and how the software works in general. There are many resources on the Autodesk website, which will help you get started and answer any problems you have.

That being said, AutoCAD can be quite intuitive and once you master the basics, it doesn’t take too long to get into the advanced functionality of the program.

Microstation is similar. Microstation is quite hard to use compared to other CAD software and has a similar learning curve to AutoCAD. It could do with being a bit more user-friendly and it will take a while to get to grips with it.

Microstation is a very powerful piece of software but you need to be prepared to put effort into learning commands and how it works to get the most out of it.

Microstation – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Great for 3D modeling and animation
  • It can be customized with a personal layout and commands
  • Compatible with a wide range of files, including .dwg
  • It can be used for 3D printing
  • Suited to designs teams for infrastructure

Cons

  • Limited to use on just Windows computers
  • It is quite expensive and costs more than AutoCAD
  • Lacks many 2D drawing features
  • It doesn’t provide many support options

AutoCAD – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Highly customizable so you can make the layout your own
  • It is available on various devices such as Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
  • Default CAD software for professionals
  • Ideal for both 2D drawings and can make 3D models
  • Variety of support and help options
  • Cloud storage available if you need it

Cons

  • Isn’t the cheapest compared to some other CAD software
  • It Will take a while to learn how to use

Are there any alternatives?

TurboCAD

TurboCAD

TurboCAD is a pretty good alternative to AutoCAD and Microstation. It is a program we have reviewed previously when we compared it to AutoCAD.

The good thing about TurboCAD is that it doesn’t require such a big learning curve as AutoCAD and Microstation. You will still need to put in a bit of work to learn this software but it is generally easier to use.

TurboCAD is also cheaper than both AutoCAD and Microstation and once you buy the software, you get lifetime access to it. There is also a free trial available.

You can install TurboCAD in both Windows and Mac computers and it is also very customizable so you can personalize the layout as you wish.

Solidworks

Solidworks

A really good feature of Solidworks is its intuitive design and layout and this helps with learning how to use this software properly.

Solidworks is ideal to use alongside a 3D printer as it has extensive 3D capabilities including the use of STL files. Even though Solidworks is mainly designed for Windows computers. Like Microstation, this does limit it a bit as it doesn’t have a ton of compatibility with different platforms.

Solidworks itself is a powerful piece of software. It does have some 2D capability however its main focus is on 3D models. Even though it can look and feel a bit outdated, it is a very good CAD program especially if you are using it for 3D printing.

Frequently Asked Questions about AutoCAD and Microstation

Question: What operating systems is AutoCAD available on?

Answer: You can get AutoCAD on Windows and Mac computers while there is also a mobile app for iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

Question: What operating systems is Microstation available on?

Answer: Microstation is limited to Windows computers. There isn’t a mobile app for Microstation either or a native Mac version.

Question: Can I get AutoCAD free as a student?

Answer: Yes. you can get a one-year free license to AutoCAD if you are a student and there is also the option of getting a 30-day free trial as well.

Question: Can I get Microstation free as a student?

Answer: If your place of education has an Academic SELECT subscription with Bentley, you can get access to Microstation in addition to a wide range of other products. There is more information on the Bentley website.

Question: Can I customize these CAD programs?

Answer: Yes. Both AutoCAD and Microstation can be customized to suit your needs. This includes changing the layout, showing/hiding certain features, and creating custom commands.

Question: Are AutoCAD and Microstation easy to use?

Answer: Not really. While you will learn how to use these products over time, both AutoCAD and Microstation do require a decent level of training (either self-taught or through classes) in order to master the functionality.

Question: Can I use AutoCAD and Microstation for 3D Printing?

Answer: Yes. AutoCAD and Microstation can be used with 3D Printers. They can both export STL files which is the default file for the majority of 3D printers on the market.

Question: Can I get a lifetime license with AutoCAD?

Answer: No. AutoCAD doesn’t offer a lifetime or perpetual license. Instead, you can take AutoCAD out on a monthly, annual, or 3-year subscription.

Question: Can I get a lifetim license with Microstation.

Answer: No. There is no lifetime license option with Microstation. You can get Microstation on an annual license or you can contact them for other pricing options.

Conclusion – Choose AutoCAD as the all-round better CAD software

Now that we have explored the different features of these two pieces of CAD software as well as looked at some alternatives – which one should you choose?

We think that you should go with AutoCAD.

It isn’t just because AutoCAD is the go-to piece of software when it comes to CAD. We just think that it is a better all-round program especially if you are working a lot with 2D.

Microstation does have some drawbacks in 2D features. While it perhaps has the edge when it comes to 3D modeling, we prefer AutoCAD overall.

Not only is AutoCAD a bit cheaper but it has other features we prefer. This includes the fact that you can use it on Windows and Mac devices (Microstation is limited to Windows only) while the addition of a highly functional mobile app is great too.

AutoCAD has more support options and better information on their website than Microstation as well. Both of these programs can be customized and AutoCAD is great if you want to create a custom layout, alias commands and much more to boost your efficiency.

Overall there are many reasons why AutoCAD is the default product for many professionals.

There is an argument to go with AutoCAD for 2D and Microstation for 3D but if we have to choose between the two programs overall, we would opt for AutoCAD.

Anycubic Wash and Cure Review: Is It Worth Buying in 2021

anycubic wash and cure review

One of the things that you always do when dealing with resin printing is to wash and cure your models after they are printed. Every expert and enthusiast will recommend both activities for post-processing. Thankfully, devices like the Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0 make post-processing a lot easier and faster.

There are currently two versions of the Wash & Cure Machine. The original is no longer available from the Anycubic online store except if you’re in the United Kingdom. They sell the original Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine for $99.

The Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0 sells for $50 more and is available from the manufacturer’s website.

Affordable and Efficient
Wash and Cure Station | AnyCubic

Don't waste your time with DIY garbage. This machine is inexpensive and makes post processing so much easier. Well worth any "premium" vs DIY.

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Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0: Everything You Need to Know

The most significant draw of the Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0 is that you only need to use one machine to wash and then cure your 3D prints. That makes the whole process less complicated.

In fact, this machine will help you do all your post-processing work by pressing a few buttons. Everything runs automatically.

You can clean your prints and then harden them at the same time. Plus it has all the materials you need. The package includes:

  • Cure platform
  • Power cord
  • Reflector
  • Service card
  • Stainless steel bearing
  • Toolset
  • User manual
  • Washing basket
  • Washing container
  • Washing rack

Washing Your Prints

When you have just finished printing using a resin printer, it’s going to be slimy and sticky. The Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0 gives you an easy way to get rid of that sticky feeling.

The machine has a detachable washing container that you can fill with the cleaning solution. At the bottom of the wash container, you will find a small agitator or rotor, similar to the ones you find on a washing machine. Magnets power this agitator, and like a real washing machine for clothes, it spins forwards and in reverse.

There are two different methods in which you can wash your prints. First, you can use the washing rack that has a holder for your 3D printer’s platform. This method allows you to wash the 3D model without taking it off the platform first and is useful for smaller prints.

If your object is bigger than 4.5 inches (115 millimeters), you can take it out of the platform and put it into the washing rack.

In both scenarios, you will need to make sure that the entire print is submerged before you start washing.

Curing

After washing the model, you will need to take off all the supports before you cure it. The curing process will smoothen the surface further and harden the resin.

Just take the wash container out of the Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0 and replace it with the cure platform. The curing platform rotates, so the 3D model hardens from all sides evenly. You no longer have to place your 3D models out in the sun, which may result in uneven curing and warping of some parts.

The machine has a turntable and an array of lights that can cure your model in no time. Just place the 3D object on the cure platform and select how long you’d like it to cure. The general rule is that if your model has a diameter of 1.2 inches (30 millimeters), you only need to cure it for two minutes.

If your model is bigger than 30 millimeters, or if it has a very complicated shape and surface area, then opt for longer curing times.

Dimensions

You will need a big space on your desk or work table to make room for the Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0. It measures 8.9 by 9.3 by 14.4 inches (225 by 235 by 365 millimeters).

However, that size makes it possible for the machine to accommodate a wash container that measures 4.7 by 2.9 by 6.5 inches (120 by 74 by 165 millimeters). That volume means that you can wash most prints using this machine.

You can also cure 3D models as big as 5.5 inches (140 millimeters) in diameter and 6.5 inches (165 millimeters) tall.

The Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine can be hefty for some people. It weighs 8.2 pounds (3.7 kilograms).

The Bottom Line

If you have done some post-processing work for your resin-based 3D prints, then you’d know how easy it is to screw things up. You can get a model that’s been in alcohol for longer than it needs to be. The resin is unevenly hardened, or some parts of it might warp.

The Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0 makes everything easier. You just put the wash container or the cure platform, add your newly printed model, and press a few buttons, and that’s it. All you have to do is wait.

With this machine, your models are thoroughly washed and evenly cured.

Affordable and Efficient
Wash and Cure Station | AnyCubic

Don't waste your time with DIY garbage. This machine is inexpensive and makes post processing so much easier. Well worth any "premium" vs DIY.

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Pros

  • The Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0 allows you to avoid leaving the print in an alcohol bath longer than necessary
  • No more dealing with alcohol fumes
  • Washing the 3D model takes away the slimy feeling
  • You can use alcohol, detergent solution, and other washing liquids that you have in the house

Cons

  • Spare parts for this machine might be difficult to come by

Comparing the Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0 and the Creality UW-01 Washing and Curing Machine

To make it easier to compare these two machines, check out this comparison table:

Brand Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0 Creality UW-01 Washing and Curing Machine
Pricing $149 $149
Two-in-one wash and cure Yes Yes
Dimensions (LWH, millimeters) 225 by 235 by 365 225 by 225 by 370
Weight (kilograms) 3.7 6.5
Touch screen controls Yes Yes
Washing    
Maximum dimensions of 3d model (millimeters) 120 by 74 by 165 170 by 120 by 160
Enclosed container Yes Yes
Curing    
Number of LED lights 12 18
Maximum dimensions of 3d model (millimeters) 140 by 140 by 165 165 by 165 by 200
Rotating curing platform Yes Yes
UV Top Cover Yes Yes

As you can see, the Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0 has the same price as the Creality UW-01 Washing and Curing Machine. However, the latter is better suited both for washing and curing larger 3D models. It also has more LED lights, which makes the curing process a lot faster.

Form Wash and Form Cure: Another Alternative

If you have a FormLabs 3D printer, you can opt to get the company’s own Form Wash and Form Cure machines. Unlike the Creality UW-01 and the Anycubic Wash & Cure 2.0, you won’t have a single machine to do both processes. Each one does washing and curing your models separately.

Form Wash

After printing, you can put the just finished models directly into the Form Wash. Or you can just rinse it without removing it from the build platform.

This way, you can get a consistent and thorough wash every time. It uses isopropyl alcohol to wash your prints. And if you’re busy, the Form Wash has a mechanism that will raise the wash basket when it’s done. That way, you do not have to fret about over-soaking your prints and warping them.

The Form Wash costs around $500.

Form Cure

The Form Cure helps you get stronger and more durable parts. What’s more, if you’re using FormLabs resins, you can set this machine to use settings that can cure it perfectly, using configurations that are specific to a particular material. This machine costs around $700.

Because you have two machines to work with, the Form Wash and Form Cure is ideal for those bigger jobs. You can cure a washed printed material and start a new batch on the Form Wash. This saves you the time you need to wait for the Anycubic or Creality two-in-one machines to finish both washing and curing your prints before you can start on another batch.

Pros

  • It saves you a lot of post-processing time

Cons

  • Very expensive to get both machines
  • Better suited for those who are using FormLabs 3D printers, specifically the Form 3, 3L, 3B, 3BL, and Form 2

The Benefits of Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0

As you can see, post-processing can be hazardous and tedious. That’s especially true if you’re printing several 3D models. The Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0 can help you do away with all the waiting and minimizes the amount of contact you have with the resin.

You can wash several pieces together instead of manually moving the printed models in alcohol. Post-processing work done on several pieces simultaneously will help you save time.

What’s more, using a machine like Anycubic’s will ensure more thorough washing and even curing.

FAQs

Question: Are there any alternatives to the Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0?

Answer: If you’re considering the Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0, you shuld look at similar products to see if it’s the best for your needs. Check out the Creality UW-01 Washing and Curing Machine.

Like the Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0, the Creality UW-01 washing and Curing Machine is a two-in-one machine. You can wash your 3D Prints and then cure them without the need for two devices taking up at least twice as much space on your desk.

The washing container measures 6.7 by 4.7 by 6.3 inches (170 by 120 by 160 millimeters), which is bigger than the Anycubic machine. This means that if you regularly print larger models, this might not be for you.

On the other hand, the Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0 will require you to store the cleaning solution in another container. You simply cannot leave the cleaning solution inside the wash container.

With the Creality UW-01, you can just leave the solution inside the washing machine container. It will not oxidize or evaporate because it is sealed.

This machine also uses magnets for its curing platform. Your 3D model rotates all the way around, ensuring even curing. There are double-row LED lights that handle the curing process.

You can dry or cure models that are as big as 8.9 by 8.9 by 14.5 inches (225 by 370 millimeters)

Pros

• You can leave the cleaning solution inside the washing container for storage
• Compared to the Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0, this has a larger washing container.
• Less expensive than Anycubic

Considerable Alternative
Creality 3D UW-01 Machine | Creality 3D Official

With three-gear speed mode, it includes washing and curing. The washing and curing time has 2-90min optional. Delicate models come from the curing and washing.

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Question: Why do you need to wash and cure a resin printed object?

Answer: If you want a better looking and longer-lasting 3D Printed part, then you should spend time with post-processing work.

Post-processing will allow you to get better looking 3D Prints. All 3D Printed parts need some kind of post-production work and are an important finishing touch for your prints. It is in print processing that you remove the supports or any extra material. You should also wash and cure your models.

Washing takes care of the extra resins and gives your model less gloss and none of that sticky feel. Curing hardens your prints and makes them more durable.

Washing and curing will allow you to have the best print quality that your SLA printer can give you. If done right, it can improve both the aesthetics and the physical quality of your models.

Question: Can you do the washing and curing without buying a machine?

Answer: Start with washing your newly printed 3D model. You can use an ultrasonic bath, which uses a cleaning fluid that you can wash away the uncured resins off your models. You can also dunk the 3D object in a tub filled with isopropyl alcohol and then move it around

Dunking and rinsing your 3D objects in isopropyl alcohol may need at least two rinses because manually moving around the print will not be as thorough as putting it in a washing machine.

1. Taking the supports off

After washing, you can now proceed to clean your 3D Prints by taking off the supports and cleaning away any excess material. You can simply break them off using nothing but your hands.

However, if your model has intricate details, you will need to use flush cutters to make sure that you get the cleanest break possible.

2. Curing the Print

If you don’t want to buy any type of machine, you can go outside and put your models to cure under the heat of the sun. You will need to guard over your model, though, to ensure that it doesn’t warp and that the curing is even.

There are several options that let you avoid that hassle, however. You can buy a curing station from the same manufacturer who made your printer. Or you can use a nail polish curing lamp, which is more affordable than 3D printer curing lamps

3. Last Reminder: Be Safe

Always wear the right gear when handling resins. You will need safety glasses, a neat work area, and nitrile gloves.

If the resin gets in contact with your skin, wash it off right away. Plus, you should wipe any surface where resin gets spilled before it hardens.

Should You Buy the Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0?

If you want to save time and costs with your post-processing work, you should seriously consider getting the Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine 2.0. You get the best-printed parts without the hassles!

Affordable and Efficient
Wash and Cure Station | AnyCubic

Don't waste your time with DIY garbage. This machine is inexpensive and makes post processing so much easier. Well worth any "premium" vs DIY.

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Anycubic Photon Mono Review: Is It Worth Buying

Anycubic Photon Mono Review

Stereolithography 3D printers are ideal for those people who want a high level of detail and accuracy to their prints. But they have always been a bit pricier than similar printers using fused deposition modeling. Fortunately, the entry of LCD-based SLA printers has made resin printing more accessible to more people.

The Anycubic Photon Mono is one of those printers that can satisfy even the most demanding 3D printer enthusiast. It uses a monochrome LCD to harden the resin, which means that it’s fast, accurate, and gives you high-resolution prints.

Should you buy the Anycubic Photon Mono? Here are the facts about the 3D printer that can help you decide whether or not to get this affordable and fast 3D printer.

Photon Mono 3D Printer | AnyCubic

With the transparent cover, you can watch your prints while still blocking 99.95% of the UV light.

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Anycubic Photon Mono Resin 3D Printer: What You Need to Know

The Anycubic Photon Mono Resin 3D Printer is among a new line of printers that have made SLA printing more accessible even to the casual enthusiasts who’d like better details on their 3D prints. Reading the specifications, however, you’d instantly know that while print quality and speed are worth noting, there is really no groundbreaking features to expect here.

Features of the Anycubic Photon Mono

Six-inch 2k Monochrome LCD

This Anycubic Printer uses a high-resolution monochrome LCD. Monochrome LCDs are better than colored LCDs because these screens don’t have tints or filters.

These filters are what creates the red, green, or blue colors in regular colored LCDs. Without anything blocking the light, monochrome LCDs have a more intense light and are able to cure the resin a lot faster.

What’s more, monochrome LCDs use less electricity as well. So you not only save on time, but also on costs of printing. Monochrome screens are also more durable than colored LCDs. The LCD panel you see on the Photon Mono is a six-inch (152.4 millimeters) panel.

Easy to Replace FEP Film

The FEP is a transparent film that is placed between the ultraviolet screen and the build pate. It’s very useful to ensure that the light cures the resin properly. Over time, the FEP film will get deformed, perforated, or bent. When this happens, your prints have a higher chance of failing.

The Anycubic Photon Mono gives you an easy and quick way to replace the FEP film.

Simple and Functional Design

This printer is elegant and clean-looking, and it catches the eye with its transparent yellow blocking lid. All in all, it measures 9.0 by 8.7 by 15.1 inches (227 by 222 by 383 millimeters), which makes it ideal for the average work desk. That size allows the Photon Mono to have a build volume of 5.1 by 3.1 by 6.5 inches (130 by 80 by 165 millimeters).

You can get the lid off so the resin is fully accessible. Upfront, you gave the 2.8-inch (71 millimeters) touch screen display that allows you to operate the machine. A USB slot is found at the side of the 3D printer.

Anycubic Photon Workshop

When you use the Photon Mono printer, you should know that the company recommends its own slicer, the Anycubic Photon Workshop.

If this is your first Anycubic machine, then you should take the time to familiarize yourself with the program. The good news is that one can download the software free on both macOS and Windows, and it’s relatively easy to figure out.

If you don’t understand something, the manual is written in English, so you would probably have no problems with the instructions. What’s more, the slicer has a lot of nifty features, including being able to add supports automatically.

Print Quality

The Anycubic Photon Mono has a rated 51 microns of XY resolution, which translates to 2,560 by 1,620 pixels. If you are no idea or are not familiar with what those numbers mean, you should know that the prints come out highly detailed with excellent surface quality.

Plus, you don’t waste a lot of the resin with supports. The Anycubic Photon Mono requires very minimal support when you are printing complex models.

What You’d Like About the Anycubic Photon Mono

The Photon Mono does not have a massive build volume, but it’s a lot more spacious than other resin 3D printers at its price. You will also like how this printer can finish printing fast because of the monochrome LCD. You can expect curing times for this printer at around 1.5 seconds for every layer.

Moreover, the Anycubic Photon Mono delivers print resolutions of 2,560 by 1,620 pixels. That’s about 51 microns for the XY resolution. People who have tried or seen resin printing before will probably like how the Photon Mono does not smell that much when it’s printing. It’s also quieter than other similar printers.

Anycubic Photon Mono: What Can Be Better

The USB slot at the side is a bit inaccessible. If you use a USB drive for your designs, you will need to give the Photon Mono more space on the right side to insert it into the port. It would have made a lot of sense if the USB port was out front.

You may also have problems with the touch display used to operate the 3D printer. Because of its small size, it may be an issue with those who have bigger fingers to tap on the choices they want. The user interface will also take quite some time to get used to and there are more intuitive UIs out there.

The Bottom Line

The Anycubic Photon Mono was not made to impress us with groundbreaking features, huge build volumes, or being packed with functionality. But that does not really mean that you should just snob this 3D printer.

For its price, it has a good print resolution, a decent build volume, and fast printing speeds. But it’s nothing to write home about. If you are looking for a reliable 3D printer that can do the job, then the Anycubic Photon Mono is for you.

Photon Mono 3D Printer | AnyCubic

With the transparent cover, you can watch your prints while still blocking 99.95% of the UV light.

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Pros

  • Excellent level of details and print quality
  • Very fast printing, especially when compared to other printers
  • The resin does not emit that bad odor that other SLA printers have

Cons

  • The touchscreen is small and has a limited viewing angle
  • The build volume can be restricting

Quick Specifications

  • LCD 3D printer for resin printing
  • No assembly required
  • Build volume (millimeters): 130 by 80 by 165
  • XY resolution (microns) : 510
  • XY resolution (pixels): 2,560 by 1,680
  • Z-axis positioning accuracy: 0.01 mm
  • Printing speed: 50 millimeters per hour
  • Compatible with third-party materials: Yes
  • Materials: 405 nm UV resin
  • Recommended Slicer: Anycubic Photon Workshop
  • Connectivity: USB
  • Dimensions (millimeters): 227 by 222 by 383
  • Weight: 4.5 kilograms

Other Anycubic Photon Versions

Aside from the Photon Mono X, Anycubic offers several other printers under the Photon line:

  • Photon S
  • Photon Mono SE
  • Photon Mono X

Photon S

The Photon S is an affordable resin printer that does not disappoint when it comes to print quality. It is also a sensical option for beginners because it is relatively straightforward to operate, and you can buy and try out 3D printing without having to shell out oodles of money.

This 3D printer uses a 2K LCD screen and delivers an XY resolution of 47 microns. It has a print volume of 4.5 by 2.6 by 6.5 (115 by 65 by 165 millimeters), which makes it ideal for small models.

Printing with the Photon S allows you to get more details on your prints.

Photon S 3D Printer | AnyCubic

Adopt matrix UV lighting and 2k high resolution screen, uniform distribution of energy, both contribute to enhance prototype precision.

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Pros

  • The quality of the prints is more than what you’d expect for the price
  • No assembly is needed, and operation is easy
  • Excellent level of details for a budget printer

Cons

  • Quality control might be an issue
  • Flimsy build
  • Bed leveling might be a problem

Photon Mono SE

The Photon Mono, Mono SE, and Mono X were unveiled at the same time to celebrate Anycubic’s fifth anniversary. This budget 3D printer features a 2K monochrome LCD to harden the resin and an XY resolution of 51 microns.

Because the Mono SE has a monochrome LCD, it can print your models very fast: the LCD can quickly cure your resins in two to three seconds.

Photon Mono SE 3D Printer | AnyCubic

The exposure time is reduced to 1 second. The printing speed is 2-3 times faster than the speed of an RGB screen.

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Pros

  • Fine details are possible with this printer
  • Speedy prints

Cons

  • Not exactly accurate

Photon Mono X

Two things set the Mono X from all other flavors of Photon Mono: a bigger build volume and the use of a 4K monochrome LCD. You can print objects measuring 7.6 by 4.7 by 9.6 inches (192 by 120 by 245 millimeters) with this printer.

Like Mono and Mono SE, the monochrome LCD gives rise to faster print speed.

Photon Mono X 3D Printer | AnyCubic

Cooling device for stable printing performance and longer service life.

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Pros

  • Huge build volume
  • 4K monochrome LCD
  • Fast very detailed prints

Cons

  • It might be too hefty for your desk

Which Anycubic Photon Product Is Right for You?

If you like the affordable price of Anycubic’s Photon line, here is what you should know.

The Photon S uses a colored LCD, which helps bring the price down. Meanwhile, as the name implies, the three Photon Mono variants use a monochrome LCD to cure the resin. As such, they can print a lot faster than the Photon S.

How much faster? The Photon Sprints at a maximum of 0.8 inches per hour (20 millimeters per hour). That’s less than half the 2.0 inches per hour (50 millimeters per hour) print speed provided by the Photon Mono.

Meanwhile, the Photon Mono X has a print speed of 2.4 inches per hour (60 millimeters per hour), while the speediest of them is the SE, which prints at 3.1 inches per hour (80 millimeters per hour).

If you are looking for the Photon model with the biggest build volume, then get the Photon Mono X. You can print 3D models measuring 7.6 by 4.7 by 9.6 inches (192 by 120 by 245 millimeters).

Side-by-Side Comparison of Currently Available Photon Mono Products

To make it easier for you to really compare the four Photon models that are available right now, check out this table.

System Photon Mono SE Photon S Photon Mono X Photon Mono
Price $380 to $420 $250 to $420 $690 to $760 $220 to $270
Dimensions (millimeters) 220 by 200 by 400 230 by 200 by 400 270 by 290 by 475 227 by 222 by 383
Weight (kilograms) 8.2 9.5 10.8 4.5
Resin Yes Yes Yes Yes
405-Nanometer Light Source Yes Yes Yes Yes
LCD-Based SLA Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rated Power 55W 50W​ 120W 45W
Build Volume (millimeters) 130 by 78 by 160 115 by 65 by 165 192 by 120 by 245 130 by 80 by 165
Layer Resolution (microns) 10 to 150 25 to 100 10 to 150 10 to 150
Top Printing Speed (millimeters per hour) 80 20 60 50
Touch Screen (inches) 3.5 2.8 3.5 3.5
USB Connectivity Yes Yes Yes Yes
XY Resolution (microns) 51 47 50 51
XY Resolution (pixels 2,560 by 1,620 2,560 by 1,440 3,840 by 2,400 3,840 by 2,400
Z-Axis Resolution (microns) 10 1.25 10 10
Fused Deposition Modeling Stereolithography
Excellent Print Resolution No Yes
Highly Accurate Yes Yes
Good Surface Finish No Yes
Easy to Use Yes Yes
Main Selling Point Fast and affordable Very accurate with smooth surface finish
Cons Prints have lower accuracy and level of details Resins should be kept out of UV light
Materials Thermoplastics Resins

SLA: Lasers vs Projectors vs LCD

If an SLA printer is a better choice for you, you will need to narrow it down further to the type of light source used to harden the resin.

Lasers in 3D printers have been around the longest. These devices use a laser, and the resin cures where the light hits them. When an entire layer is cured, the build platform rises, and the next layer is printed.

Meanwhile, in digital light processing printers, projectors are used to harden the resin. Conversely, LCD panels are used in LCD-based 3D printers.

Which resin curing printer is the best? It depends on what you are after.

Cost

Laser and DLP printers are often more expensive than LCD. The reason for this is because LCDs are readily available as they are used in other devices such as smartphones, TVs, and tablets.

Build Area

DLP printers often have a smaller build area because one component, the digital micromirror device, typically has resolutions of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. You can find DLP printers with build volumes larger than that, but these often have print quality problems.

Printing Speed

Because of the way they work, laser 3D printers are often slow compared to both LCD and DLP printers, which can expose and harden an entire layer. Between colored LCDs and projectors, DLP printers used to have an edge when it comes to fast printing times. That is no longer true with the introduction of monochrome LCD printers.

Alternatives to the Anycubic Photon Mono

When we said that there’s a lot of choices when it comes to LCD printers and resin printers, we weren’t kidding. If you are not sold on Anycubic’s products, here are the top options that you have.

Elegoo Saturn

Elegoo Saturn is perfect if you need a 3D printer with a larger build volume. The Saturn gives you the chance to print objects as large as 7.6 by 4.7 by 7.9 inches (192 by 120 by 200 millimeters).

This printer sells for more than double the price of the Photon Mono, but it does come with a 4K monochrome LCD. It delivers print resolutions of 3,840 by 2,400 pixels.

It also has cooling fans that help keep the temperatures down and prolonging the life of the LCD screen. You can also enjoy the Ethernet connectivity, which allows you to print remotely.

ELEGOO Saturn MSLA 3D Printer | Amazon

Saturn 3D Printer comes with 8.9-inch 4K monochrome LCD screen with 3840 x 2400 HD resolution, reducing layer printing time to 1.5s-2s, which is a 60% faster than Mars Pro but still delivers excellent print results.

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Pros

  • Bigger build volume means that you can now print bigger models
  • Ready to print even if you’ve just taken it right out of the box
  • Compatible with third-party resins
  • Excellent print quality

Cons

  • More expensive than the Photon Mono

Quick Specs

  • Light Source: 8.9-inch (226.1 millimeters) 4K mono-LCD
  • Build Volume: 7.6 by 4.7 by 7.9 inches (192 by 120 by 200 millimeters)
  • XY Resolutions: 50 microns
  • Z Resolutions: 10 microns
  • Pricing: Around $500

Phrozen Sonic Mini

If you are searching for a 3D printer that is more affordable than the Photon Mono, you should consider the Phrozen Sonic Mini. This 3D printer is one of the first to enter the market with a monochrome LCD.

There are some trade-offs for its lower price, such as having a 1,920 by 1,080 pixels LCD panel and you are working with an older printer, but print quality is excellent, and printing times are very short.

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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Pros

  • Fast printing times
  • Affordable
  • Very easy to use

Cons

  • Build volume is smaller than that of the Photon Mono
  • A full HD LCD panel is not 2K

Quick Specs

  • Light source: 5.5-inch (140 millimeters) full high definition monochrome LCD
  • Build volume: 4.7 by 2.7 by 5.1 inches (120 by 68 by 130 millimeters)
  • XY resolution: 62 microns
  • Z resolution: 10 microns
  • Price: Around $200

Creality LD-002H

Another entry in the budget LCD printer space, the Creality LD-002H, also boasts a 2K monochrome LCD. This 3D printer has roughly the same build volume and print resolution and as the Photon Mono.

The Creality LD-002H includes an air filtration system that uses activated carbon, which helps some of the smell produced by the machine.

LD-002H 3D Printer | Creality 3D Official

The Creality LD-002H resin printer is supported by CHITU BOX software for slicing. CHITU BOX is easy to use, with one-key functions to add a model, adjust supports, model size, etc.

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Pros

  • Very similar to the Photon Mono in print quality, print size, build volume, and even printing speed

Cons

  • Bed leveling is done manually

Quick Specs

  • Light Source: 6.08-inch (154.4 millimeters) 2K mono-LCD
  • Build Volume: 5.1 by 3.2 by 6.3 inches (130 by 82 by 160 millimeters)
  • XY Resolution: 51 microns
  • Z Resolution: 30 microns
  • Market Price: Around $240

FAQs

Question: Is Anycubic a good company?

Answer: Anycubic is a Chinese company that is known for its affordable yet very capable printers. If you are looking for a 3D printer that does not break the bank, yet delivers outstanding print quality, a high level of detail, and fast printing times, then you should give their printers a try.

What’s more, the company has been innovating with its 3D printers. You will find that they have all the latest technologies that are used for 3D printers, and they also have their proprietary technologies.

Question: What is resin printing?

Answer: When it comes to 3D printing, the first thing that most people encounter is fused deposition modeling printers. These are printers where filaments are pushed out of the print heads to make a layer. Resin 3D printing, or stereolithography, uses resin instead of filaments. The resin is hardened layer by layer to create your models.

There are different types of light sources that are used for resin printing, including laser, projectors, and LCD. The Anycubic Photon Mono uses an LCD to harden the resin and create your models.

Question: Are LCD 3D printers better than other types of printers?

Answer: As mentioned above, there are two popular technologies used in 3D printing, FDM and resin curing, and each one brings with it its own set of benefits and downsides.

Both SLA and FDM printers are easy to use. Still, with all things equal, an FDM printer will pale compared to an SLA printer when it comes to print accuracy and resolution, surface finish, and the ability to create intricate designs.

As such, SLA printers deliver better models but are more expensive than FDM printers. SLA 3D printers are more ideal for functional prototypes, dental uses, and molds. It’s also better to use an SLA printer if you are making models, patterns, and jewelry. FDM printers, on the other hand, allows you to create affordable prototypes and proof-of-concept models.

Another advantage when using FDM printers is that you can be very creative because it allows you to use a wide range of materials in an assortment of colors.

Should You Buy the Anycubic Photon Mono?

The Anycubic Photon Mono enters the market at a time when there are a lot of monochrome LCD printers. The Photon Mono does not really have any groundbreaking features. In fact, it has middle of the road functionalities that you can find in other similar printers.

But that is not to say that you shouldn’t buy the Photon Mono. It works fast, and it has excellent print quality. You can get 3D models that look good because of the Photon Mono’s high resolutions and level of detail.

Photon Mono 3D Printer | AnyCubic

With the transparent cover, you can watch your prints while still blocking 99.95% of the UV light.

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Before deciding, however, there are some options for you to consider. For instance, three printers from the same company use LCD to create your 3D objects, and two of them are worthy alternatives to the Photon Mono. If you like a bigger build volume, you should certainly buy the Anycubic Photon Mono X.

Speaking of which, you can buy the Elegoo Saturn and also get a 3D printer that has a bigger build quality. However, if you are looking to save money, the Phrozen Sonic Mini is worth a look. It has comparable components and technologies with the Photon Mono, but with a more wallet-friendly price tag.

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?

CoreXY vs HBot 3D Printers: Which is Right For You?

CoreXY vs HBot

A 3D printer’s motion system is essential to its operations. It brings the print head to that point where it needs to extrude material to create your models. For fused filament fabrication devices, two of the most popular motion systems are the CoreXY vs HBot 3D Printers.

The Main Differences Between CoreXY vs HBot 3D Printers

Here are the main differences between CoreXY and HBot 3D Printers:

  • The CoreXY typically uses longer or more belts, whereas the H-Bot design is much simpler.
  • The CoreXY is much more stable, and the motors are stationary, whereas the H-Bot design can be very unstable, so accuracy is a rather sticky issue with these printers.
  • CoreXY mechanisms are compact, accurate, linear, and repeatable, whereas the H-Bot needs to have tight tolerances to make it more stable.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of using CoreXY and H-Bot for your 3D printer? Read on as we get into detail between these two systems to help you discover more about these motion mechanisms and decide for yourself which one you should use when you’re building out your own 3D printer.

What Is CoreXY?

CoreXY refers to a printer’s motion mechanism, or quite simply how the machine was designed to move along these three axes: X, Y, and Z.

CoreXY needs two, not three, stepper motors to do its work, and these motors can move simultaneously and independently of each other. In older Cartesian printers, each axis had its own motor.

The printer bed moves on the Z-axis, where you get the depth for your 3D object, while the Y and X-axis were earmarked for the nozzle.

The CoreXY improved on the Cartesian system. For one, CoreXY has several planes so that the belts move freely, and there is less twisting that happens when the motors go the same way.

What’s more, the motors for both the X and Y axis are kept stationary. That results in the fact that you have less moving parts to worry about. And because these motors do not move in their place, there is less inertia, which allows for faster acceleration.

CoreXY is also a straightforward concept. You can implement it with only three structural plates. All of these three plates may nest during operation.

The design is also very flexible when it comes to the types of materials used, as well as the size of the printer. CoreXY is very easy to implement, that you can use different materials to construct it.

Before You Buy: The Weaknesses of CoreXY Printers

As a movement system for your 3D printers, CoreXY relies heavily on belts to do its job. The problem is that you will need to align these belts, so they are perfectly parallel to each other.

There’s also the headache of having too much or too little tension, leading to printing issues. The belt itself can also wear down your 3D printer quickly or make it less precise and accurate.

When assembling a CoreXY printer, you will need to make sure that the frame is a perfect cube. If not, your prints will be a bit skewed.

Most of the more affordable options for this type of printer come as kits, so you will need to assemble it. And for some 3D printers, it’s not even that easy!

Pros and Cons of CoreXY Printers

As with any device, there are benefits to owning a 3D printer that uses CoreXY mechanisms. These are:

  • Fast and high-quality printing, especially when compared to other fused filament fabrication printers.
  • You get a bigger build volume than the printer’s size, meaning you can print larger objects on a CoreXY printer without needing to get an overly big device.
  • Very stable because of the stationery motors and the lightweight gantry

However, this isn’t a perfect concept. There are downsides as well:

  • You will spend more time maintaining a CoreXY printer because of the variety of planes, and each belt would need to be correctly tightened.
  • This printer requires more energy. With two motors, the printer will suck up electricity and may also need a lot of tuning.
  • It might have more printing failures than comparable 3D printers.

The Best Examples of CoreXY Printers

With its speed, simplicity, and flexibility, there are a lot of 3D printer manufacturers that have used this motion mechanism for their printers. And here are the best ones:

Two trees Sapphire-PRO 3D Printer

The Two Trees Sapphire-PRO 3D Printer is an aluminum CoreXY printer with a smooth print surface and subdivided motor drive. This printer is quieter than similar printers that don’t have a CoreXY movement mechanism.

This printer is also very stable and speedy. It also comes with extra features such as the ability to resume printing when the material runs out or if you power off the printer.

To make it easier for you to operate this printer, it has a 3.5-inch (8.89 centimeters) touch display. It also comes with an automatic leveling technology that uses sensors to help you calibrate the printer faster without tinkering with it too much.

It’s very durable too, with an all-metal body. With a hotbed that measures 92.5 inches (235 millimeters) on all sides, you can get prints of up to 86.6 by 86.6 by 92.5 inches (220 by 220 by 235 millimeters) with this printer.

Two Trees Sapphire-PRO 3D Printer | 3dPrintersBay

This 3D Printer is mostly assembled, no soldering required. You will just need to connect the upper and lower frame together and plug in some connections. A notable feature is its Strong Double turbo cooling fan which helps achieve a cleaner, more appealing final product.

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Pros

  • Very affordable, especially if you consider the features
  • Excellent user community and round-the-clock user support
  • Dual drive extruder
  • Very precise

Cons

  • It may be a bit challenging to assemble, which can take hours to finish even with the included manual.
  • Some complaints about how the electronics inside this machine can be a lot better

Tronxy X5SA PRO 3D Printer

The Tronxy X5SA PRO 3D Printer is a very stable printer that gives you precise prints. It features the Titan extruder that allows you to use a wider variety of consumables and filament materials.

This printer employs a very tidy looking and simple cabling system, as well as a 24-volt power supply that heats the hotbed quickly. You can print objects of up to 13 by 13 by 15.8 inches (330 by 330 by 400 millimeters) with this CoreXY device.

Pros

  • Excellent customer service
  • It does get better and better the more you use it.
  • Very stable and ideal for tall prints
  • Great printing results

Cons

  • This printer is not ideal for beginners because it needs to be assembled.
  • Not a direct drive extruder
  • Encrypted mainboard means that it’s not as DIY friendly as other printers.

Creativity CoreXY Structure Remote Range Elf 3D Printer

The Creativity CoreXY Structure Remote Range Elf 3D Printer gives you a pair of rods where the z-axis is mounted so that it can print fast and with higher precision than other printers.

This machine measures 18.9 by 18.9 by 23.2 (480 by 480 by 590 millimeters), and you can print objects of up to 11.8 by 11.8 by 13.8 inches (300 by 300 by 350 millimeters)

It also has sensors to detect when filaments run out, and it can even resume printing when it’s interrupted by a power failure. It starts printing again from where it was interrupted, so you don’t waste any filaments by having to start all over.

This printer utilizes a C-magnet build surface plat that is very durable while ensuring uniform temperature throughout the bed. There’s also a built-in power supply.

Are you worried about customer service? You get lifetime technical support 24 hours a day with this printer.

Pros

  • Easier to assemble than other CoreXY printers
  • Fast and precise 3D printer

Cons

  • Product may arrive with scratches and dents
  • No auto-leveling feature

CoreXY 3D Printers: The Bottom Line

It’s hard to dismiss CoreXY printers because of their potential to make FDM printers faster. It also allows you to get a 3D printer that can print large objects without the device occupying a lot of space.

But is that enough reason to ignore that it’s going to cost you more money to buy a CoreXY printer than other printers using a different motion mechanism? Or the potential issues of an improper assembly and wrongly tensioned belts?

Yes. If you look at professional FDM printers, most of them implement a CoreXY design. The reason for this is because of the advantages you get from it. When it’s assembled correctly, and the belts have the right amount of tension, you can use your CoreXY printer without too many hitches.

But Wait, There Are H-Bot 3D Printers, Too!

The H-Bot design gets its name because the setup looks like the letter H. This setup has a six-axis design that can be used for different applications such as inspection systems, pick and place, and e3D printing.

The H-Bot 3D printer uses two motors, rails mounted perpendicularly to each other, and a timing belt. At first look, you will see that the H-Bot is much simpler than the CoreXY.

The H-Bot Design Flaw

Hurrah! A more straight forward design with a more straightforward movement mechanism is a good thing, right? Well, not really in this case.

The H-Bot design is flawed right from the start. It can be unstable, especially when the axes are moving. Without going into the technical details outlined by Joshua Vasquez, the design will flex a bit when it moves.

The reason for this is because one end of the X-axis will lag behind the other, resulting in lousy print quality and may even bind the mechanisms.

However, H-Bot systems are still popular with the maker community, with enthusiasts pointing out that the motion system is found in some high-performance industrial systems. It’s also easier to implement and understand because you don’t have to worry about arms and plotters.

But then CoreXY is still more affordable and more lightweight, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best. This motion system requires a lot more inside idlers, anchors, and tension along the belt path.

That movement will take its toll on the preciseness of your printer. Further, this design flaw will be costly to correct. You will need high-end and expensive tight tolerance hardware to minimize the rocking. And these parts are Japanese or German made, and certainly not cheap.

H-Bot: The Bottom Line

The H-Bot is definitely worth a look if you’re into building 3D printers. It’s much simpler than the CoreXY motion system and doesn’t require a lot of parts. However, you will need to build it right. The design has an inherent flaw that lends itself prone to racking.

A badly-built and lightweight H-Bot 3D printer will have print quality issues.

Pros

  • Simple, using only one belt
  • It can be very precise if built right.

Cons

  • It needs to be perfectly aligned.
  • Minimal torques can result in low print quality.

Differences Between CoreXY vs HBot

While both CoreXY and H-Bot are based on the Cartesian coordinate system, there are some distinct differences between these two motion mechanisms. First, CoreXY has longer belts and pulleys. As such, there is not too much torque.

Without too much rotating force, the belts and pulleys are subjected to less wear and tear, so it’s more durable. What’s more, with its stepper motors firmly fixed, CoreXY printers can give you more speed while maintaining a high level of print quality.

CoreXY printers move horizontally across both the X and Y-axis. H-Bot printers have two motors that drive the timing belt along one axis.

On the other hand, CoreXY printers are more complicated than an H-Bot printer. Further, you will need the frame to be perfectly square, or your prints will lack dimensional accuracy. H-Bot printers are not free from this complication, as they need to be perfectly aligned, or print quality will be bad.

Frequently Asked Questions

We know that such a technical topic can be very daunting for beginners, so we try to answer our readers’ questions.

Question: What are Cartesian FDM 3D Printers?

Answer: Cartesian FDM 3D Printer uses the Cartesian coordinate system that you may be familiar with from your math class. The technology uses X, Y, and Z axes to locate a point so that it can find the correct positions as well as the directions where the print head should go.

Question: Which should you use to make your own 3D Printer? CoreXY or H-Bot?

Answer: It depends on your skills. While the H-Bot design is more straightforward than CoreXY, you will need to have very tight tolerances. Because of the high level of specifics needed for H-Bot setups, it’s rarely recommended for beginners.

What’s more, while both CoreXY and H-Bot needs perfectly aligned frames for the best print quality, Core XY can be more forgiving, and it’s easier to correct. With CoreXY, you only need to assemble the frame with a fixed square, and corner brackets can keep it perfectly square.

There’s no such thing as a fast and easy fix for H-Bot systems. Not only will it be close to impossible to achieve perfect alignment, but you will also need to work hard and know what you’re doing to get the alignment right and minimize the effects of excessive torque.

Question: Why is momentum bad when printing?

Answer: One of the touted advantages of both CoreXY and H-Bot systems is that it decreases the momentum you have with the hot end. Older Cartesian systems have more acceleration on the Y-Axis than CoreXY and H-Bot and the same level of momentum on the Y-Axis.

More momentum on the hot end results in two negative things:

• More oscillation for the print head, which creates more shadows when you’re printing objects with sharp corners
• Your prints may have more skipped steps because faster printing will cause the motors to move the gantry.

Speaking of advantage, both the H-Bot and CoreCY makes not only faster and more accurate printers, but they also weight less and have fewer moving parts.

CoreXY vs HBot: The Final Word

If you are just a newcomer in the world of 3D printers and you’re looking for a device that you can use to bring your creation to life, then most probably, you’d do better with a CoreXY system. For one, it’s much easier to create or assemble, and if there are mechanical issues affecting the print quality, CoreXY systems are more easily corrected than H-Bot systems. Plus the task is cheaper too.

Further, there are CoreXY systems that are commercially available. Some of the best FDM 3D printers available now use CoreXY for its motion system.

However, H-Bot can technically give you a more accurate and better quality print. However, it may need a high level of expertise and understanding of how H-Bot works before you can achieve unassailable print quality. Plus, H-Bot has an inherent design flaw that may need expensive materials to correct.

Two Trees Sapphire-PRO 3D Printer | 3dPrintersBay

This 3D Printer is mostly assembled, no soldering required. You will just need to connect the upper and lower frame together and plug in some connections. A notable feature is its Strong Double turbo cooling fan which helps achieve a cleaner, more appealing final product.

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Elegoo Saturn Review: Is This the Best 3D Printer For You?

Elegoo Saturn Review

It’s incredible how 3D printers have come a long way from as recently as five years ago. Back then, when you say 3D printer, people would think of a costly machine that would take too long to print something. And they wouldn’t be right.

But things have changed. You now have 3D printers that are speedy and can be within budget. But even when they’re affordable, there are no apparent tradeoffs. You still get a quality machine that can deliver eye-catching prints in high resolution.

The Elegoo Saturn is one of these devices. Using masked stereolithography technology, the Elegoo Saturn can deliver speedy print times with decent resolutions. It’s also a printer that offers a big build volume at a price that you would love.

What are the features of the Elegoo Saturn that you should know? And should you buy it? Read on and discover more about this 3D printer.

ELEGOO Saturn MSLA 3D Printer | Amazon

Saturn 3D Printer comes with 8.9-inch 4K monochrome LCD screen with 3840 x 2400 HD resolution, reducing layer printing time to 1.5s-2s, which is a 60% faster than Mars Pro but still delivers excellent print results.

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Monochrome LCD

If you only need to read one section, then this should be it. Elegoo Saturn is a masked stereolithography 3D printer.

Stereolithography traces its meaning to two Greek words:

  • Stereo, which means solid
  • Lithography, which means writing

Your stereolithography printers are creating objects using light. Probably the best-known types of stereolithography use laser and digital light processing.

  • Laser-based stereolithography uses an ultraviolet laser to create your prints. These lasers are reflected onto the print area, and the light solidifies the resin on a layer per layer basis.
  • DLP stereolithography, on the other hand, projects light onto the resin.
  • Masked stereolithography replaces the laser and projector with an LCD screen.

Benefits of Masked Stereolithography

Masked stereolithography prints your objects faster than a laser SLA printer, especially when you’re printing denser and larger items. What’s more, because these LCD panels are the same ones used for smartphones, availability is not an issue.

They are mass-produced, so LCD panels in these 3D printers cost less too.

Elegoo Saturn Is Faster than Most Other MSLA Printers

If MSLA printers, in general, are faster than laser stereolithography printers. That is because of the technology that allows the printer to print an entire layer of your object as opposed to the piece by piece printing done by lasers.

But because the typical MSLA uses the same LCDs as your smartphones, these colored LCDs have filters to deliver red, green, and blue to your screen. These filters are blocking some of the light that would typically go straight to the resin and cure it.

So when it comes to MSLA printers, monochrome LCDs are not a bad thing. It just means a printer can print your objects a lot faster than most MSLA printers.

And true enough, the Elegoo Saturn has a printing speed of 1.2 inches (30 millimeters) per hour. The monochrome LCD significantly reduces the curing times of the resin because it has a more intense light.

High-Resolution LCD

Not only is the Elegoo Saturn fast, but prints are impressive as well. The 4K screen measures 8.9 inches (226.06 millimeters) with a 3,840 by 2,400 pixels resolution. That is four times the number of pixels compared to 2K screens.

However, because of the huge build size of Elegoo Saturn, its overall X/Y pixel size rests at 50 microns, which is slightly less detailed than the X/Y pixel size of both Mars Pro and Mars.

Design

The Elegoo Saturn’s design draws comparison to the company’s own Mars and Mars Pro printer: Saturn looks the same as Mars and Mars Pro, only bigger.

Saturn’s base measures 11 by 9.4 inches (280 by 240 millimeters) with an all-metal build. It puts the control panel at the front. This touch display measures 3.5 inches (88.9 millimeters), and it is how you interact with the printer.

The USB slot of this printer is located on the right side, fortunately making it more accessible than the USB slot on the Mars that Elegoo put at the back of the machine.

The vat where you put the resin is also larger than the one on Mars and Mars Pro, measuring 7.6 by 4.7 inches (192 by 120 millimeters). Putting in or changing the resin is now easier and less messy because of the pouring aid.

Z-Axis

You will surely be impressed with the Elegoo Saturn’s Z-axis. The lead screw is sandwiched between two linear rails, making it very stable and sturdy.

Notable Features

So what are the features that you should know about the Elegoo Saturn?

  • The 4K monochrome LCD delivers a more intense light source for faster curing times. This LCD panel is much bigger and more durable than the ones you find on Mars and Mars Pro.
  • Dual linear rails provide more stability to the printer.
  • A print resolution of 50 microns means that this printer can deliver bigger prints with the same level of detail as the Elegoo Mars.
  • Two cooling fans help to keep the temperatures low while also helping to make the LCD last longer.
  • The touch display is big enough at 3.5 inches (88.9 millimeters), allowing you to operate the device efficiently.
  • Ethernet connectivity is a technology that allows you to print from your computer and even remotely.
  • The prints will adhere better to the bed because of the sandblasted surface. That means that you’d have less printing errors.

Resin

Elegoo Saturn works with a wide variety of resins. What’s more, the company manufactures and sells its own resins, but you can use third-party products with this printer.

Pricing

With all the nifty features, a sizable print volume, fast printing times, and other attractive benefits, you’d expect to pay a lot for the chance to own an Elegoo Saturn.

However, this printer retails anywhere from $300 to $600, depending on where you look. It is sold on Amazon, as well as other online retailers. But it is always out of stock.

ELEGOO Saturn MSLA 3D Printer | Amazon

Saturn 3D Printer comes with 8.9-inch 4K monochrome LCD screen with 3840 x 2400 HD resolution, reducing layer printing time to 1.5s-2s, which is a 60% faster than Mars Pro but still delivers excellent print results.

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

Huge Build Volume

We’ve saved the best for last. What can make an affordable and fast 3D printer even better? A significant build volume, of course.

In this regard, the Elegoo Saturn doesn’t disappoint. It has a build volume of 7.6 by 4.7 by 7.9 inches (192 by 120 by 200 millimeters). These dimensions significantly beat out the Elegoo Mars: Saturn has 3.5 times the print volume of the Elegoo Mars.

Bottom Line

We certainly wish that all companies, no matter what their product is, would be like Elegoo. They have taken an excellent product in the Elegoo Mars and made it better, faster, and bigger.

The company has not disappointed its users with the release of both Elegoo Mars and Mars Pro, and they didn’t start disappointing with the Saturn. With a massive build volume and faster printing times, while keeping the price down and the print resolutions the same, Elegoo has made Saturn the go-to 3D printer for people who like the have professional quality prints without spending too much.

Pros

  • Works really fast and efficiently
  • Breezy and headache-free operations right out of the box
  • Compatible with 405 nm UV-sensitive resins

Cons

  • No resin included

Comparison to other Elegoo 3D the printers

We’ve compared the Saturn with Elegoo’s earlier printers: Mars and Mars Pro. It is easy to see just how the company has improved its offerings over time. The Saturn is bigger and faster than both of its older siblings and yet delivers the same print resolutions as the smaller printers.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of these three printers to make it easier for you to see how the Saturn compares to earlier devices from the same company.

Model Elegoo Saturn Elegoo Mars Pro Elegoo Mars
3.5-inch touchscreen operation Yes Yes Yes
Slicer software Chitu Box Chitu Box ChiTu DLP Slicer
Connectivity USB USB off-line printing USB
Technology LCD UV Photocuring LCD UV Photocuring LED Display Photocuring
UV integrated LED lights Yes Yes Yes
Wavelength 405 nm 405 nm 405 nm
XY Resolution, millimeters 0.05 0.047 0.047
XY pixel resolution 3,840 by 2,400 2,560 by 1,440 2,560 by 1,440
Z-axis accuracy, millimeters 0.00125 0.00125 0.00125
Layer thickness, millimeter 0.01 – 0.15 0.01 – 0.2 0.01 – 0.2
Printing speed, millimeters per hour 30 22.5 22.5
Printer dimensions LWH, inches 11 by 9.4 by 17.6 7.9 by 7.9 by 16.1 7.9 by 7.9 by 16.1
Printer dimensions, centimeters 28 by 24 by 45 20 by 20 by 41 20 by 20 by 41
Build volume, LWH, inches 7.6 by 4.7 by 7.9 4.5 by 2.6 by 5.9 4.7 by 2.7 by 6.1
Build volume, centimeters 19.2 by 12 by 20 4.5 by 2.6 by 5.9 12 by 6.8 by 15.5
Weight, pounds 29.8 16.5 13.7
Weight, kilograms 13.5 7.5 6.2

Alternatives to the Elegoo Saturn?

If you’re not impressed with the Elegoo Saturn, there are other Elegoo printers such as the Mars and Mars Pro that you can look at.

But if you’re looking for a printer from other manufacturers, here are similar 3D printers that we can recommend:

Peopoly Phenom

The Peopoly Phenom stands out because of the build volume that it offers, something that you cannot find in other resin-based 3D printers. You can easily create tall 3D models that can reach up to 1.6 inches (40 centimeters) high. This printer is one of our recommended alternatives for the Phrozen Transform.

The Peopoly Phenom is an MSLA printer, much like the Elegoo Mars and Saturn. As such, it is also faster than a laser SLA printer because it prints one whole layer at a time.

This printer has a bigger LCD screen, measuring 12.5 inches (317.5 millimeters) with a 4K resolution. It also features an array of fans and a heat sink, which helps keep the 3D printer cool while it is hard at work.

And if you’re opting to buy the Peopoly Phenom, you will want to clear out a lot of space on your desk. This 3D printer is huge, measuring 17.8 by 14.3 by 30.7 inches (452 by 364 by 780 millimeters). It weighs 92.5 pounds (42 kilograms).

The color touchscreen, which is the 3D printer’s user interface, measures 4.3 inches (109.2 millimeters). It is big enough to operate the printer efficiently, and it comes with all the information you need. You can know the printing time, a live visualization of the layers being printed, and the total number of layers.

Features of the Peopoly Phenom

Other interesting things that you should know about this huge 3D printer include:

  • USB and Ethernet connectivity
  • Quick setup
  • A resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, or 72 microns
  • Uses the ChiTuBox slicer

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 17.8 by 14.3 by 30.7 inches (452 by 364 by 780 millimeters)
  • Weight: 92.5 pounds (42 kilograms)
  • Build Size: 10.9 by 6.1 by 15.7 inches (276 by 155 by 400 millimeters)
  • LCD: 12.5 inches (317.5 millimeters) 4K color LCD
  • Pixel Resolution: 3,840 by 2,160 pixels
  • XY Resolution: 72 microns
  • Manual bed leveling
  • Vat can hold 1.8 kilograms of resin
  • Touchscreen: 4.3 inches (109.2 millimeters)
  • Connectivity: USB, Ethernet
  • No resin sensor or camera

Pros

  • Big build volume
  • Bed leveling is a breeze
  • Very responsive user interface

Cons

  • Prints sometimes do not adhere to the bed, which results in printing errors
  • Can be very loud
  • There are no fill indicators

Phrozen Sonic Mini

The Phrozen Sonic Mini features a monochrome LCD like the Elegoo Saturn, which means that it prints faster than other SLA printers out there. The Sonic Mini is one of our choices for the best 3D SLA printer for 2020.

The thing with the Sonic Mini is that it is very affordable. This printer was introduced and sold for less than $200. But because of its performance and printing speed, prices increased over time.

Some of the features you should know include:

  • Monochrome LCD: Gives you fast printing times because the resin is exposed to more intense light, and you get an entire layer being printed.
  • XY resolution of 62 microns
  • Uses ChiTu board and ChiTuBox software, which is a breeze to use when you’re preparing your model
  • Affordable price, at around $200 to $300

Before You Buy

With the super-fast printing speed at a very low price, the Phrozen Sonic Mini does have a few tradeoffs. For one, the printer’s outer shell is made of molded plastic, not metal.

The resin vat is also plastic. What is more, this printer may use the same monochrome LCD as the Elegoo Saturn, but it has a much smaller build volume at only 4.7 by 2.7 by 5.1 inches (120 by 68 by 130 millimeters).

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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Specifications

  • Dimensions: 9.8 by 9.8 by 13 inches (250 by 250 by 330 millimeters)
  • Weight: 9.9 pounds (4.5 kilograms)
  • Technology: LCD-based masked stereolithography
  • Monochrome LCD: Measures 5.5 inches (139.7 millimeters) with resolutions of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels
  • Light source: ParaLED 2.0 Lite, 405 nm
  • Build volume: only 4.7 by 2.7 by 5.1 inches (120 by 68 by 130 millimeters)
  • Z-layer resolution: 10 microns
  • XY resolution: 62 microns
  • Touchscreen display: IPS measuring 2.8 inches (71.12 millimeters)
  • Connectivity: USB

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Straightforward operation
  • Faster than most 3D printers

Cons

  • The USB port is difficult to reach
  • Small print volume

Photon Mono SE

The Photon Mono SE comes from Anycubic, another reputable manufacturer of 3D printers. The Photon Mono SE uses a monochrome LCD to cure the resins for your 3D objects. And like the Elegoo Saturn, you can expect fast printing times with this 3D printer.

The monochrome LCD screen measures six inches with resolutions of 2,560 by 1,620 pixels with an XY-resolution of 51 microns. It is not the most precise 3D printer available today, but the print quality is still good.

The Photon Mono SE has a build volume of 5.1 by 3.1 by 6.3 inches (130 by 78 by 160 millimeters). That is more than the Phrozen Sonic Mini, and the Elegoo Mars Pro can give you.

This 3D printer has an upward opening door, which might present a problem when you’re refilling the resin. It uses two linear rails for its Z-axis, while its shell is made with metal. These materials make the printer more stable. Check out our full Photon Mono Review.

Features You Should Know

The Anycubic Photon Mono SE has several features that can help you decide whether to buy it or not.

  • You can use the Anycubic App to see how far along your printing job is going, as well as tweak the print settings even without going close to the printer.
  • The printing platform is made with brushed aluminum
  • Responsive and intuitive user interface
  • Affordable, selling for anywhere from $320 to $420
Photon Mono SE 3D Printer | AnyCubic

The exposure time is reduced to 1 second. The printing speed is 2-3 times faster than the speed of an RGB screen.

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Specifications

  • Dimensions: 7.9 by 7.9 by 15.7 inches (220 by 200 by 400 millimeters)
  • Build volume: 5.1 by 3.1 by 6.3 inches (130 by 78 by 160 millimeters)
  • Weight: 18.1 pounds (8.2 kilograms)
  • Touch display: 3.5 inches (88.9 millimeters)
  • Connectivity : USB
  • Light source: high-quality filament
  • Light source wavelength: 405nm
  • XY resolutions: 0.05 millimeters
  • Pixel resolution: 2,560 by 1,620 pixels
  • Printing speed: 3.1 inches (80 millimeters) per hour

FAQs

Question: What is the big deal with bigger build volumes anyway?

Answer: A lot of 3D printing enthusiasts will tell you to get a printer with a significant build volume. There are many benefits of owning one.

• Print Bigger Pieces:
You get to print the 3D model in its entirety. A big build volume allows you to print your models in one piece, rather than printing it in parts and then assembling them afterward.

Not only does printing and assembling more parts take time, but it also costs more. What’s more, if you have to work with a smaller printer, you will lose details in the 3D model because you are forced to scale everything down.

• Batch Printing
When you have a bigger build volume, you can have more pieces when you print in batches. For instance, you can easily print ten small 3D models with a printer that has a massive build volume as opposed to only three to five in smaller printers.

In effect, you save a lot of time and resources with a bigger build volume because you no longer have to do a lot of batches.

Question: What are the benefits of MSLA printers?

Answer: We have touched on how MSLA printers cost less and print faster than other types of stereolithography printers.

But there are more benefits to owning an MSLA printer like the Elgoo Saturn:

• It can produce more accurate parts, as well as include more details than other types of 3D printers.
• It has a smooth finish, so you can create stunning prototypes without spending a plot of time post-processing.
• There are many specialty resins available not just for MSLA printers but also for other types of SLA printers. You can get castable and flexible resins if you need them.
• There are some interesting things that you should know about SLA printers, as well.

These are what you might call the downsides of owning one:

• SLA Printer parts are less durable than those printed with other types of 3D Printers, such as those that use fused deposition modeling technology. As such, if you ar printing functional parts, it is best to avoid doing so with an SLA printer.
• SLA prints are vulnerable to sunlight. As such, these parts will change, deteriorate, and degrade over time.
• When printing with an SLA printer, you typically need strong supports. This process might add to post-processing time and work.

Should You Buy the Elegoo Saturn?

When it comes to affordable 3D printers, the Elegoo Saturn ticks a lot of boxes. Aside from the attractive price, you also get a printer that has a massive build volume, allowing you to get prints that measure 282 cubic inches (4,624 cubic centimeters).

It uses one of the newest technologies, MSLA, with a monochrome LCD that allows it to cure resins in two seconds and print up to slightly more than an inch (30 millimeters) per hour.

So while the Elegoo Saturn can be hefty and heavy, it’s really a difficult printer to pass up. However, it’s not always available and can be out of stock at several retailers, including the company’s own online store. Fortunately, there are alternatives that you can find.

If you want something with a bigger build volume, you can go for the Peopoly Phenom. This printer can give you a build volume of 1,043.9 cubic inches (17,106.3 cubic centimeters) and almost twice the maximum height. But you might be turned off by the price, which is more than six times that of Elegoo Saturn at $2,000.

If you’re working within a smaller budget, both the Phrozen Sonic Mini and the Photon Mono SE are closer to the Elegoo Saturn when it comes to pricing. Both of these printers use monochrome LCD and can deliver fast printing times. But both have smaller build volumes than what’s offered by Elegoo Saturn.

ELEGOO Saturn MSLA 3D Printer | Amazon

Saturn 3D Printer comes with 8.9-inch 4K monochrome LCD screen with 3840 x 2400 HD resolution, reducing layer printing time to 1.5s-2s, which is a 60% faster than Mars Pro but still delivers excellent print results.

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The Final Word on the Elegoo Saturn

The Elegoo Saturn is one of those 3D printers that gives you what you want: fast printing times, huge build volumes, and 4K clear printing resolutions. It also helps that the manufacturer doesn’t scrimp on the materials, giving you a sturdy, durable, and stable printer. Plus, it will not cost the buyer an arm and a leg to own this device.

It’s hard to go wrong with such a 3D printer, and we don’t have problems recommending it at all, if only Elegoo manufactured more of them, as it’s almost always out of stock.

How to Find the Best 3D Printer Build Plate

Best 3D Printer Build Plate

With all of the features of 3D printers, you may overlook the bed as one of the most important. However, you might want to think again. It can be the most noteworthy feature on your print quality, and it can define how easy it is to remove your print when it’s done.

While print beds come in many different materials, with various thermal characteristics, and at other price points, the whole point of the built plate is to offer a flat surface where the bottom layer of your print can rest.

It also provides an adhesive surface to which your print can adhere. The plastic extruded from the print head should form a temporary bond with the build plate without sliding around. This ensures that the print is built precisely.

If the build plate itself does not have an adhesive layer, it should provide a surface to which an adhesive layer can be applied.

Luckily, there are a lot of different options for build plates. Each has its own unique properties. Some 3D printers come with really fantastic build plates, and sometimes you need to buy your own and install it on top of your stock build plate.

Why a Build Plate is Important

The first layer of your print is the most important. As your first layer goes down on the build plate, it needs to adhere correctly. If the first layer moves, the additional layers won’t line up correctly, and your final project won’t look the way it’s supposed to look.

You’ll find plenty of resources online to tell you why the first layer is the most important and why your build plate is the most critical feature of your 3D printer. If your first layer fails, the rest of your print will fail as well. Your first layer is a good indicator of the quality of the rest of your print. So, you can probably tell that the build plate is essential.

You simply can’t build without a build plate and how well the first layer gets created depends entirely on the build plate’s characteristics.

These characteristics include thermal variations, flexible materials, and many different price points. But it’s also important to remember that there are other factors to successful printing, like printing temperature and extruder height, just to name a couple.

To get the best accuracy, you have to tweak multiple settings until you get it just right, and it will be different for every job.

It also doesn’t mean you need to buy the 3D printer that comes with the best build plate. While some 3D printers come with really fantastic build plates, you can also purchase aftermarket build plates or use other adhesive solutions that will make your build plate function better.

Best Build Plate Surfaces

There are a lot of really great choices for build plate surfaces. What you choose will depend on what you need. As 3D printing has evolved, there’s been a lot of research into the area of build plates and adhesion.

Here are some of the most popular choices and why they’re great.

Glass

Glass is one of the most popular building surfaces because it’s simple. A glass sheet is an easy solution for most printers. It’s stiff and flat, so it won’t warp over time, meaning it’s a great long term solution that will only cost you a one-time fee upfront.

It’s a great solid surface that’s dense with low thermal conductivity. It takes longer to heat up than other materials, but it will spread the heat more evenly across the entire surface. Varieties include borosilicate glass sheets and mirror tiles.

Most people pair their glass sheets with the painter’s tape, hairspray, or a glue stick to get the adhesion they need for the bottom layer and avoid delamination during printing. If you use hairspray or a glue stick, your print will likely have an incredibly smooth finish on the bottom.

You can also use adhesive stickers like PEI sheets or BuildTak with glass, which we’ll get to in a minute.

The main downfall of using glass is that it’s incredibly fragile, which means you have to use care when removing your print from the bed. It’s not flexible, so manually separating your print from the bed must be done very carefully to avoid breaking either.

Glass Printer Bed | Amazon
$9.99

This is a universal print surface for 3D Printing. Almost all types of filament will print to glass in one way or another. Just place the Glass Print bed on your print board and clip it in place!

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06/19/2021 05:09 pm GMT

Anycubic Ultrabase

The Anycubic Ultrabase is also made of glass, but it contains nanoparticles on its surface that give it a few extra features, making it easier to use. The print will cling to the build plate while it’s hot, but the plate will release the object once it cools.

Because the Ultrabase is made of glass, it retains all of the same great properties like conductivity, flatness, and stiffness. Unfortunately, the bottom of your prints won’t have the same smooth finish. They’ll be slightly porous, which is what helps them release so easily.

You also can’t use any additional adhesive solutions like hairspray, glue, or Buildtak because it could damage the nanoparticles. However, you wouldn’t want or need to use these solutions because the Ultrabase is already adhesive enough.

Damaging the nanoparticles would result in a typical piece of glass that could still be used as a build plate, but you’ve just paid a premium for a regular piece of glass.

One downside to the Ultrabase is that this built-in adhesive does wear out over time and can be damaged from improper use. You will eventually have to replace it, which becomes costly for those who print a lot.

For those who want the ease of adhesion without the need for additional tools like hairspray as well as easy removal without damage to the glass, this is definitely worth the investment.

Anycubic Ultrabase 3D Printer Platform | AnyCubic

Super Flatness, Fast and uniform heating. It has been inspected to ensure flatness better than 0.2mm (normally within the 0.1mm). And the printed models will have a very smooth and wonderful bottom surface.

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BuildTak FlexPlate

This build plate system originally came with the Prusa i3 MK3, but now you can add it to almost any 3D printer. The BuildTak FlexPlate is a unique system that allows you to snap your prints off the bed just by flexing the bed.

It’s made of magnets along with a removable spring plate that’s made of steel. All you do is remove the build plate surface, which is interchangeable, and flex the steel to pop your print off of the surface.

This allows for faster printing, assuming you have multiple print plates that you can put in its place. It’s common in production environments where many prints need to be made in succession.

The FlexPlate is made to be used with BuildTak adhesive stickers or with PEI, but you can also use other brands of adhesive stickers as well as painter’s tape. However, you probably shouldn’t risk using hairspray or a glue stick directly on the spring steel.

It’s also not recommended to print directly on the build plate surface, which may inconvenience some who just want to put the build plate in place and go.

The FlexPlate does need to be installed on a perfectly flat surface, like glass. If it’s not, your printer needs to have a mesh leveling system, and the surface needs to be flat. Without a flat surface, likely, your prints won’t stick well to the bed, which will cause warping.

BuildTak Printing Build Surface | Amazon
$60.10

The Buildtak 3D-printing build surface is a 12" x 12" square sheet that adheres to a print bed of a fused-filament 3D printer (sold separately) to help the filament stick during printing, while also enabling clean removal of the printed part afterward.

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06/19/2021 01:19 pm GMT

Easy-Peelzy

The Easy-Peelzy is another solution for those who want a removable, flexible build plate. It’s similar to the FlexPlate. It has a flexible magnetic sheet that you can peel off of the magnetic base. Once that’s done, you can peel it off of the bottom of your prints.

This system is very kid-friendly, so it’s a popular system among schools and 3D printers meant for kids. There are no tools involved with removing prints, and there are no sharp edges, spring steel, fragile build plates, or heavy objects.

The built-in surface is similar to BuildTak in that it doesn’t require any additional adhesive help like hairspray or a glue stick. It’s also not advised that you use painter’s tape or anything else to avoid damage to the surface. It’s meant to be adhesive but easy to peel.

However, it’s also similar in that it must be installed on a completely flat surface, like a glass build plate, or it will cause warping. It also shares the same problem as the Anycubic Ultrabase in that it will wear out over time and can be damaged if it’s used incorrectly.

This can be costly over time, but it’s still the best solution by far for those who are just starting in the world of 3D printing or who want a safe and effective solution for children who will be using the 3D printer.

Easy-Peelzy Build Plate | Amazon
$14.99

Easy-Peelzy, the easy removal 3D printing platform for PLA and PLA-based materials. You can cut it into any smaller size or shapes to fit your printer!

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06/19/2021 04:49 pm GMT

Polypropylene

You can use polypropylene sheets, and it’s another common solution because they offer good adhesion for an affordable price. You don’t need to use additional adhesive solutions on top of these sheets either.

These sheets are durable with proper care, and they won’t wear out as quickly as things like the BuildTak or other stickers. They’re almost as smooth as glass, and you’ll get a very smooth finish on the bottom of your print.

It acts much like the Ultrabase, and your prints will stick well when it’s hot but release easily after it’s cool. You can also clean the surface quickly with water or alcohol, which means maintenance of polypropylene is a breeze.

You can use build surface stickers with polypropylene, and they’ll work reasonably well, but they’re not necessary. It almost seems as if there are no downsides to using this solution at all.

Unfortunately, there’s always something. Many people report that these sheets scratch very easily if they’re not cared for properly, and they warp over time, so they don’t stay as flat as glass for as long. They’ll need to be replaced. Luckily, you can afford to do so.

Mamorubot Polypropylene Build Plates | Amazon
$19.99

Made from a durable, rigid material with a long service life. Offer free replacement within 1 year warranty. Strong adhesion properties firmly hold your parts to the bed while printing. When your print is complete and the build plate has cooled, parts can be removed by hand.

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06/19/2021 05:44 pm GMT

Aluminum

This is the most common 3D printing surface after glass. It’s a conductive metal, which means your print bed will reach the appropriate level of heat and distribute it uniformly throughout.

However, it’s also susceptible to expansion under higher temperatures, which can cause warping or poor adhesion in your first layer.

Even still, aluminum is used so widely because it can withstand the rough removal of prints from the bed. It’s an affordable option and can take a lot of wear and tear before needing to be replaced.

It’s one of the best and most affordable options for distributing heat evenly, especially when it comes to uniform adhesion at the first layer, as long as it doesn’t get too hot.

Gulfcoast Robotics Aluminum Build Plate | Amazon

This kit is evolution of popular aluminum heated build plate kit for 3D Printer.

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Heated vs Non-Heated Beds

Now that you have a better idea of which materials may be right for you, it’s time to look at whether or not you should be using a heated bed or a non-heated bed for all of your 3D printing.

Most 3D printers on the market today come with a heated bed. While a heated bed definitely gives you some distinct advantages, it’s not always necessary. And there’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all solution.

Whether or not you need a heated bed depends on how you’re using the machine.

Advantages of a heated bed

The primary advantage of a heated bed is to prevent warping at the first layer. We all know that even adhesion at the first layer is critical to establishing a firm foundation for the rest of the print’s quality.

Without this first layer, the rest of the print would fail. It helps to maintain uniform heating of the material and eliminate uneven cooling problems when the job is finished.

The print bed’s temperature is based on the melting point of the material you are using, so it will vary from one filament to the next. This factor will help you determine what kind of bed you need.

Some beds can be heated to higher temperatures than others, so be aware of the filaments you’re using before you determine what kind of build plate to buy.

Disadvantages of a heated bed

The one drawback to a 3D printer with a heated bed is that it consumes a lot of power. If you don’t need a heated bed, you may reconsider getting one. It can cost a lot of money to power this machine.

You’ll pay extra in your monthly bills, plus you may have to install an enclosure to keep your components hot. It’s not worth the extra hassle if you don’t need it.

Filaments like PLA don’t need a heated bed at all, so if that’s all you plan to print with, you don’t need to worry about it. However, more complex materials like ABS do. If you plan to print with multiple materials in the long run, get the heated bed now, so you don’t end up spending more money later.

If you don’t get a heated bed, your creation will be limited, which may be acceptable in the near term, but you’ll regret it once you start expanding your horizons, and you’ll wish you would have gotten a 3D printer to grow with you.

Bed Additives

Not only do you need to decide on a build plate and whether you want to heat it or not, but you also need to consider whether or not you want to use any bed additives. You don’t always have to enhance your adhesion, but you can, and sometimes you may need to.

Glue sticks

Hearkening back to the days of elementary school supply shopping, you may remember the cheap, washable glue sticks your mom bought. They didn’t exactly work well on paper, and your third-grade art project fell apart by the time you turned it in, but they work great here.

They’re a simple favorite when it comes to attaching the first layer of a print job to your build plate. They’re washable, so you can apply them directly to the print surface and then wipe them off later with water.

They’re affordable, so you will have to go through a lot of glue sticks before you ever pay for a fancy Anycubic Ultrabase.

Spread the glue evenly over a glass or aluminum build plate, and you’ll experience perfect adhesion at the first layer with little to no effort. Your finish will be just as smooth as glass.

FYSETC 3D Printer Glue Sticks | Amazon
$9.99

Easy application, Easy release, Easy clean, Non-toxic, Acid-free, washes off 3D Printer build plate easily with water.

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06/19/2021 05:29 pm GMT

Hairspray

Hairspray is virtually the same as a glue stick. It works with most of your standard materials and filaments. Spray it on in an even layer, and you’ll get great adhesion and a smooth finish. Aquanet isn’t just for your grandma anymore.

Unfortunately, it can get smelly, and it can also be a little bit harder to clean than a glue stick. It also doesn’t work well with polycarbonate or ABS. It makes those materials more susceptible to warping.

Aqua Net Hair Spray (Unscented) | Amazon

All weather, all day, all over hold . Professional hairspray. No CFCs.

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Painter’s tape

Applying painter’s tape to a glass or aluminum build plate offers a rough surface for your first layer to grab onto. It’s like the tread on your tires providing traction. Your first layer will hold firmly to the bed, and it can help prevent warping.

One problem with painter’s tape is that you may find small amounts of curing at the corners, but you won’t be able to see them unless you look closely. The surface finish also won’t be as smooth as it will with a glue stick or hairspray.

Gizmo Dorks Blue Painters Tape | Amazon

Gizmo Dorks blue painter's tape is the go-to and cost effective way of covering your 3D printer bed plate.

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PEI

PEI has a rougher surface than painter’s tape so that it can offer even more traction for your materials. There are more bumps for your filaments to hold onto. You can use it with materials that require a heated bed, the prints are easy to remove, and you’ll notice little to no warping.

Of course, as you can probably imagine, your surface finish will be very rough.

Gizmo Dorks PEI Sheet | Amazon
$21.95

High strength and heat resistance (up to 340° F) allows the polymer to perform consistently in high temperature environments.

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06/19/2021 04:54 pm GMT

FAQs

Question: What is the best surface to 3D Print on?

Answer: The most popular 3D Print bed material by far is glass. It’s simply the easiest solution for most people. Because it’s stiff, it won’t warp. It’s solid and flat, so your prints will always have a smooth surface.

It may be fragile, but as long as you treat your glass bed with care, you’ll get great life out of this solution and likely never have to replace it. For the best adhesion, use glue sticks or hairspray.

Question: Why is my 3D Print not sticking to the bed?

Answer: There could be a lot of reasons why your print isn’t sticking to the bed. Don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that you’re not using the right type of bed or the right type of adhesive.

Instead, make sure you have it set at the ideal temperature for your print material. If it’s not too cold, the material won’t adhere. If it’s too hot, the material will soften too much and peel right off.

You can also try switching up your adhesive technique. If you’re using hairspray, switch to a glue stick, or vice versa. Coat your build surface with a thin, even layer and try again.

If neither of those things works, try a thorough cleaning of your print bed surface. Water or rubbing alcohol can go a long way to ensuring that you have removed any dust you can’t see that could be interfering with your adhesion.

Question: What kind of tape is used for 3D Printing?

Answer: If you’ve decided to go the painter’s tape route for adhesion on your print bed, most users go with Gizmo Dorks blue painter’s tape. It’s affordable, and it works the best. Both PLA and ABS stick well to this type of tape. It offers strong adhesion and it’s easy to remove later on.

Gizmo Dorks Blue Painters Tape | Amazon

Gizmo Dorks blue painter's tape is the go-to and cost effective way of covering your 3D printer bed plate.

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Final Thoughts

Because the first layer is so important for successful printing overall, your build plate is one of the most essential features of your 3D printer. Ensuring you have a great print bed will set you up for achieving your 3D printing goals from the start.

It will ensure reliable adhesion, prevent warping, and can go farther in guaranteeing that your entire print will not have any deformities.

A heated print bed increases the number of filament types with which you can print, and a glass print bed will give you the most versatile and long-lasting solution. Although you may need to be prepared to use additional adhesives, it’s one of the most popular choices.

There are many other options out there for specific needs, so make sure you do your research before making your decision. You’ll get the best, most accurate results if you know your options and know what you need before you buy!

Hatchbox Filament Review: Does Hatchbox Filament Last?

If you need filament for your 3D printer, then our Hatchbox Filament review will give you everything you need to know. Hatchbox is a Californian based company however the filament itself is manufactured in China.

They have been around since 2013 so they aren’t exactly new to the market and have built up a loyal following. This includes 3D printer enthusiasts and businesses who need filament for 3D printers in various price ranges.

By the end of this review you’ll know all about Hatchbox filament including its different features, how it performs when printing, its pros and cons and also what alternatives are out there.

Great Pick
HATCHBOX PLA 3D Printer Filament | Amazon
$24.99

Hatchbox is one of the better known brands for 3D printer filament, while still being very affordable. We noticed a high level of quality and a very well designed spool in our tests, which mitigated any noticeable print quality issues.

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06/19/2021 07:04 pm GMT

Key specifications of Hatchbox PLA Filament

Find the specifications for the Hatchbox PLA filament below.

Filament size 1.75mm and 3mm
Material Polylactic Acid
Recommended Extrusion (Extruder) / Nozzle Temperature 180°C – 220°C
Spool Diameter 7.88 inches
Spool Width 2.69 inches
Spool Hub Hole Diameter 2.20 inches
Warranty 30-Day Satisfaction guarantee
Latest price Click here find the latest price

Core features of Hatchbox PLA Filament

hatchox pla filament

There are a number of different Hatchbox filaments that you can buy for your 3D printer and we are going to focus on one of the most common – PLA.

Whether you need filament for plastic prints, wood filament, or even other materials, you should be able to find a Hatchbox filament brand offering to do the job. There are many different features of Hatchbox filament so let’s dive into the specific features for the PLA filament.

3D Filament Types 

Affordable Printing Filament

One of the biggest selling points with Hatchbox PLA filament is that it is very affordable when compared to many other filaments on the market.

You won’t need to splash out a ton of money to get a hold of PLA filament from Hatchbox. This is especially good for 3D printing home users who perhaps don’t have a ton of money to spend on the filament. 3D printers can be very affordable however for some people it can still represent a fairly large cost.

By being able to get good quality PLA filament for a low price, it cuts down on the overall price of using your 3D printer. It also means you can print off more objects and use more filament without incurring large costs.

Smooth Finish Filament Type

A testament to the good quality of Hatchbox PLA filament is that it gives smooth finishes to your 3D prints.

It is clog-free which means that there won’t be any air bubble or clogs in the final print. This gives off a nice and professional finish. This filament also gives off a glossy color to your objects. Overall the quality of the filament when in use and also when it is crafted in different 3D objects is very high.

Variety of different colors

Another feature of using Hatchbox PLA filament is that it comes in a wide variety of different colors. This is especially useful if you need to print different objects with several color schemes.

Multi-color 3D printers are becoming more popular as their affordability is rising and the quality for the everyday user is getting better as well. Hatchbox PLA filament comes in a variety of different colors from black to green, white to yellow and you’ll find some great shades in there too such as copper.

If you need a certain color for your 3D printing ventures, you’ll find a Hatchbox PLA filament to do the job.

Works with most 3D printers

Hatchbox PLA filament is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm this means that it will work with the vast majority of 3D printers.

Most 3D printers that are aimed at enthusiasts and small businesses as well as some larger units will use either 1.75mm or 3mm filament which means Hatchbox PLA will be compatible with your 3D printer.

You won’t need to worry about this filament not working with your 3D printer. While some 3D printer manufacturers require you to use their own filament, this isn’t the case with most models.

Moisture-proof

If you live in a humid climate then you will know that moisture can be very troublesome when using and storing filament. It is also a problem in certain workspaces.

Hatchbox PLA is fairly moisture-proof (not completely) and it won’t absorb a lot of moisture. It comes vacuum sealed for added protection as well. One thing to mention with this filament is that the bag that the filament comes in isn’t resealable.

You’ll need to get a dry box or something else that is properly sealed to store it once you open the pack for the first time. That being said, compared to some other filaments it has very good moisture-proof qualities, and when you consider the price it is a great feature that you often find in high-end models.

Hatchbox Spools are Well Designed

A well documented flaw with Hatchbox spools was that the center hole used to be too small. It only measured 1.25 inches which wasn’t big enough. This meant that you had to 3D print a spool holder or buy one if you wanted to use Hatchbox filament in many 3D printers.

However, this has been updated so the hole now measures around 2.2 inches which means you don’t need to print off a special holder. This is a big upgrade and one that will make your life a lot easier when using Hatchbox PLA.

The spool overall is well designed and it is sturdy as well. It doesn’t have a lot of tightness so the filament can run evenly and smoothly and you shouldn’t come across any filament tangles when using it.

How does Hatchbox PLA Filament perform?

pla filament

When you consider that Hatchbox PLA filament is pretty compared to many other filaments on the market, you might be tempted to think that it is below average. Some cheap filaments don’t perform well at all.

So, what about PLA from Hatchbox?

We have found that it performs really well. When we put it to the famous 3D Benchy test, our models came out really well. There wasn’t any warping and the overall printing process was pretty seamless.

Even with more intricate and differently shaped models, we didn’t come across any noticeable or major issues when using this filament. It offers high quality and a smooth finish and the absence of blemishes or warping is a big bonus. In fact, we’d say it compares to some of the more expensive filaments out there.

All in all, the Hatchbox PLA filament performs very well indeed.

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Pros of Hatchbox PLA filament

There is a lot to like about Hatchbox filament, here are the best bits.

New spool design

The previous issues with the spools from Hatchbox didn’t completely put us off using it – it was just a hassle having to print off or buy a special spool holder.

The new design with a bigger center hole is a major plus. The overall design also allows the filament to flow smoothly and evenly without encountering any tangling or problems.

Variety of colors

If you need a specific color for your 3D printers or you need several colors to use on a multi-color 3D printer, you’ll find what you need with Hatchbox PLA.

There are a wide variety of different colors with this filament and it is easy to find what you are looking for. Rather than just printing off 3D models in boring monotone colors, with this PLA you can really make some bright and colorful prints.

Very affordable

Some filament brands can be pretty expensive and the higher price does not also represent a jump in quality.

With Hatchbox PLA filament you are not only getting filament that does offer high-quality finishes but the actual cost is low as well. This benefits everyone but especially home users who may be on a tight budget.

Compatible with most 3D printers

As this filament comes in both 1.75mm and 3mm varieties you will be able to use it on the vast majority of FDM 3D printers. If you have an inexpensive 3D printer that you use at home or if you have a more expensive model that you operate for business purposes, Hatchbox PLA filament should work on your printer.

Fairly moisture proof

While the filament won’t completely moisture-proof, it doesn’t absorb a great deal either. This is handy if you live in a humid environment and it can spoil the filament fairly easily if you don’t store it properly. The fact that it has a low moisture absorption constructed is an advantage.

Cons of Hatchbox PLA filament

Before we have a look at some alternative filaments, there are a few cons of using Hatchbox PLA.

The bag isn’t resealable

The bag that the filament comes in isn’t resealable. It is reasonably moisture-proof however you still need to store it properly. This means you’ll need a dry box or something else which is sealed.

It isn’t a massive drawback but we would have liked a resealable bag. It is a fairly simple thing that would make a big difference in how we view this filament.

Support isn’t the best

There aren’t a ton of different ways in which you can contact Hatchbox if you have any issues. They do have a short contact form on their website.

We found that contacting them to be a bit difficult in terms of getting a response and it is something that could definitely be improved upon. They aren’t the worst to get in contact with but it could certainly be a lot better.

Good Hatchbox Filament Alternatives

Makerbot PLA Filament

If you don’t want to use Hatchbox PLA filament, an alternative is to use Makerbot PLA filament.

makerbot pla filament

This is another high quality filament that is going to get you really good printed jobs with little to no blemishes.

It is slightly higher priced than the PLA from Hatchbox however it is still very affordable.

You’ll also find this filament in a number of colors as well which is ideal if you want to use it for multicolor printing.

The Makerbot PLA filament is great for printing off objects especially if you have a Makerbot printer and it represents a good alternative to Hatchbox PLA.

OVERTURE PLA Filament

Another filament to consider which also isn’t going to break the bank is the OVERTURE PLA Filament.

OVERTURE PLA Filament

It comes in a wide variety of different colors from black to red to green and many more too. You’ll find a shade that will suit what you need with this filament.

It comes in 1.75mm as well and will fit the vast majority of FDM 3D printers which is handy as well.

Its clog and bubble-free construction mean that you will be able to get high-quality prints with this filament and it isn’t expensive either.

It is in and around the same price as the Hatchbox PLA filament so it’s definitely in the affordable category.

All in all the OVERTURE PLA Filament is pretty decent, offers good quality and reliable prints, and isn’t going to cost a lot of money either.

FAQs

Question: What filament sizes for Hatchbox PLA filament come in?

Answer: Hatchbox PLA filament comes in both 1.75mm and 3mm filament sizes. This means that it will fit and can be used in the vast majority of FDM 3D printers especially those used by home users and small businesses. Some 3D printers may only be able to use filament from the same manufacturer, so make sure that you check this out first.

Question: What is the recommended printer temperature when using Hatchbox PLA filament?

Answer: The recommended printing temperature with Hatchbox PLA filament is 180°C – 220°C. The heated print bed temperature should be around 60°C as well (printing temp vs bed temp).

Question: Is Hatchbox PLA filament good quality?

Answer: Yes. Even though this is very much an affordable filament it still prints off objects in high quality with little to no blemishes or imperfections. When we tested the Hatchbox PLA filament we found that our objects came out very well indeed and it represents good value for money.

Question: Can I get Hatchbox PLA filament in different colors?

Answer: Yes. Hatchbox PLA filament comes in a variety of different colors including black, green, white and yellow right through to more unique color schemes such as copper. You should be able to find the shape you are looking for when printing in different colors or using a multi-color printer.

Question: Can I paint over objects after being printed with Hatchbox PLA filament?

Answer: Yes. When your 3D object has been printed using Hatchbox PLA filament, you can paint it if you wish. We would recommend using acrylic paint rather than oil based paints. If you are using a paint that is oil based, test it out on a scrap piece of PLA first to see how it responds.

Question: Do I need to print off a spool holder to use with Hatchbox PLA filament?

Answer: No. The spool has been upgraded recently with a bigger centre hole. Previously you would need to print off a spool holder in order to use Hatchbox filament effectively however the new design means you don’t need to do this anymore.

Final Thoughts on Hatchbox 3D Printing Filament

When it comes to using filament on your 3D printer, there are a lot of options out there. While some 3D printers will only use filament from that manufacturer, the majority will be compatible for 3rd party filament.

Hatchbox PLA filament works in most FDM 3D printers.

There is a lot to like about this filament and to be honest there isn’t much we didn’t like about it. That being said, there are a few things to remind you about.

The fact it doesn’t come with a resealable bag is one downside that we think would be a fairly easy thing to fix and would make this filament even better.

Storing it isn’t hard but having a resealable bag is a small thing that would make a big improvement. OK, their support could do with being a bit better as well but these are small niggles with an otherwise great filament.

This PLA filament from Hatchbox is cheap and affordable but that doesn’t mean it isn’t of good quality. Any of the prints that we put this PLA filament to the test with came out really well. There were no clogs or bubbles and it is easy to use.

The upgraded spool is a nice addition and it means you don’t need to print off a spool holder which is a big bonus. This is definitely somewhere they have improved upon in recent years. We also really liked the different colors that you can buy with this filament and it works well in humid climates too.

Overall the Hatchbox PLA filament is a very good filament indeed. It comes in 1.75mm and 3mm varieties, works with most 3D printers and for the price it offers great value for money as well.

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6 Best Sketchup Alternatives in 2021 You’ll Love

The thing with 3D modeling programs is that there’s one or two that’s perfect for you. You can have a lot of options when you’re looking for the best one.

A lot of people will suggest Sketchup, but what if you’re not entirely sold on this program just yet?

The good news is that you have fairly competitive alternatives in:

  1. Art of Illusion: Best for Professionals as well as Beginners
  2. Fusion 360: Very Powerful Alternative
  3. Autodesk Inventor: Best for Complex Projects
  4. Rhino 3D: Best for turning Sketch into a 3D Model
  5. Tinkercad: Best Easy to Use Software
  6. Blender: Best for Creating Professional-Quality 3D Models

What should you know about all of these Sketchup competitors? And should you stick with Sketchup, or are they better?

What Is Sketchup?

Sketchup is one of the most intuitive computer-aided design software that can help you create two- and three-dimensional sketches with ease. This software was once known as Google Sketchup.

It comes with a variety of features and tools that you can use to create your models. Plus there are no steep learning curves when using Sketchup. Using the program is very much like using a pen and paper to draw your designs. What features should you know?

  • Push and Pull, helps you convert flat surfaces into 3D objects just by clicking and then pulling on it to make it look how you want it to appear
  • Access to a vast database of pre-made models that you can down and use, eliminating the need to create from scratch
  • If there are functionalities that you are missing, then you can use a third-party plugin that can serve the purpose
  • You also have customizable palettes that allow you to rearrange, remove, or add palettes to make it easier for you to find things
  • Sketchup also uses icons rather than feature lists that most other CAD software have
  • A free version is available, while the paid versions can cost you $119 annually for personal projects and $299 for the Pro version
  • Overall, Sketchup is known for how easy it is to use, from having a very intuitive user interface to user-friendly features and tools. It’s also known for its rendering capabilities that are native to the program, the plugins that make it more useful and powerful, and the free option.

So if you’re not sold with Sketchup, what are the alternatives that you should be looking at?

1. Art of Illusion

Art of Illusion is a 3D rendering and modeling program that has capabilities that are on par with other software. The biggest difference is that Art of Illusion is free to use.

The open-source program is very powerful and can be used even by serious illustrators, designers, and other professionals for their work. Beginners, on the other hand, will like the surface-based modeling features. These tools are very easy to use and understand.

As you advance in your skills, you will like the advanced tools, such as those for creating textures and animation. This program can also give you easy 3D renderings as well as an extensive range of lighting options. You can do primitive modeling and 3D sculpting to create your objects.

What’s more, the user interface is fully customizable. This feature is a big plus for beginners, as well as the help files they offer. the tools have contextual help as well as detailed explanations of what each tool does.

If you’re ready to dip your hands into 3D modeling, you can start with the software’s tutorial on how to create an hourglass. Plus it works on just about any operating system, including macOS, Windows, Linux, Unix, and others. The source code is also available.

Art of Illusion also has its Plug-in Manager feature that allows you to download and use plug-ins and scripts that allows you to extend the program’s functionality.

Art of Illusion: Bottom Line

Overall, Art of Illusion can help you come up with some high-end animations and 3D models. You can customize the user interface, expand its features and functionality, and not only is it easy to use, but it also offers a lot of help. And you get to enjoy all that for free.

2. Fusion 360

If you’re looking for an alternative to Sketchup because you need something more powerful, then look at Fusion 360. This software has more capabilities such as animation, simulation, and 3D rendering features that are not found in Sketchup.

You can even use Fusion 360 for computer-aided manufacturing. It comes from Autodesk and uses parametric modeling techniques.

You can also use Fusion 360 for slicing your 3D models for printing. The software is free for hobbyists, students, and educators. Startups can also use this program for free, provided that they don’t earn more than $100,000 a year. If you don’t fall into these categories of users, you will need to pay $60 per month to use Fusion 360.

Read our full Fusion 360 vs Sketchup comparison.

Fusion 360: The Skinny

You will love how Fusion 360 allows you to design 3D objects and slice them without using another program. This software is an excellent choice for those that need precise 3D models and even the free version is fully-featured.

However, Fusion 360 is only available on Mac and Windows machines. Plus the interface is not that user friendly. What’s more, Fusion 360 might be powerful for those who like to do technical or mechanical designs, but it’s not the best when it comes to 3D rendering.

Fusion 360 can also get very slow if you have a bad Internet connection. It can also drain your device’s memory.

3. Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk Inventor is very much like Fusion 360, but this program is made for professionals and those people who may have complex projects that they need to handle efficiently. Inventor is largely for industry users.

Needless to say, this program suffers from a steep learning curve, often requiring users to have some knowledge in engineering. But if you’re looking for a powerful CAD program that can adequately handle both 2D and 3D designs, then this is probably your best choice.

With Autodesk Inventor, you can do computer-aided design and engineering. You can also perform manufacturing and simulation, as well as other tasks. Inventor is best known for its tools that allow you to design parts and assembly.

With the current version of Inventor, you now have a cleaner and mobile-friendly user interface, a good number of modeling tools that you can see on Fusion 360, and more.

What You Should Know About Autodesk Inventor

With Inventor, you can do a whole lot more than just 3D modeling. You will be able to come up with computer-aided manufacturing and engineering. But it comes at a cost: a single license will cost you $260 per month, less if you opt for a longer contract.

On that note, you might be better off getting Autodesk’s Product Design & Manufacturing Collection where you pay $2,720 a year and you get access to Inventor, AutoCAD, Fusion 360, and Navisworks Manage.

Back to Inventor, you should know that it is not for everyone. For one, it is not easy to learn, which delegates Autodesk Inventory to professional users rather than for the 3D printing enthusiast.

Read our full Autocad vs Sketchup comparison here.

4. Rhino 3D

Perhaps, Rhino 3D’s strongest point is the ability to allow you to easily visualize a 2D drawing in 3D. It has some free-from 3D tools that you can find in more expensive software.

You can use this software to create prototypes or tinker with the designs of whatever it is you want to create. It will help you engineer, manufacture, or analyze everything.

It also allows you to work with files from other software, and can even repair meshes and IGES files. And the thing is that it has all of these advanced features yet remains very intuitive, easy to learn, and accessible.

Further, the Rhino is pretty lightweight. It doesn’t hog too much of your resources, nor would you need stellar computer specifications to use it. And yes, it’s easily extensible with plugins that can help you do your tasks with more ease.

Rhino 3D: The Bottom Line

If you’re into turning a sketch into a 3D model, then Rhino will be for you. You can have an easy to use and intuitive 3D modeling program and still get quality renderings that even professionals can use. It’s great for creating complex and complicated geometry.

However, it might not be as precise as other CAD software. You will also be hardpressed to get support from the company itself. The good news is that there are user communities online that can help you if you do get into a bind while using Rhino.

5. Tinkercad

For beginners who are looking for easy to use CAD software, Tinkercad will be a good choice. It uses primitive modeling that makes it easier to piece together your 3D model even if you’re not a technical person.

Tinkercad’s biggest draw is the tutorials that can help novices come up with their 3D models with ease. The interface itself is all drag and drop. Once you’re done, you can upload your work to the Gallery of Things, where you can find other user-generated models that you can also use for your own projects.

You can create 3D models for printing using Tinkercad and it’s easy to learn that you will probably not have any problems figuring it out even if you’re using it for the first time.

See how Tinkercad compares to Fusion 360.

What You Can and Cannot Get from Tinkercad

Tinkercad is an excellent introduction to 3D modeling. You can use geometric shapes and reshape them to create your 3D models and you have access to a library of drawings that other people made. It’s free and you don’t even have to install it on your computer. You only need a browser to use Tinkercad.

However, Tinkercad does have some limitations. It’s not as powerful as other programs on this list and there are only a few rendering features. There are no lighting options, either. And when your Internet suddenly goes off, you will not be able to use Tinkercad.

6. Blender

Blender is one of those 3D design software that proves that you don’t have to compromise on features just because it’s free. You can create professional-quality 3D models and animation and you have a well-thought-out user interface to work in.

Blender is feature-rich with tools for 3D unwrapping, physics, real-time creation, and shading. You can render edges with ease, simulate collisions, or use procedural brushes for both 2D and 3D designs.

This software is also compatible with a wide variety of file formats, allowing you to work with other software and with a wide range of filetypes. Plus with all those features, you have a large work area and drop-down windows to keep everything easily accessible.

Blender is not easy to learn, which is probably what most beginners complain about. But there are a lot of help options that you can take advantage of and these materials are comprehensive and extensive.

The Bottom Line on Blender

If you only have to work on 3D models or animation, then Blender should be a good choice for you. It has an extensive array of tools that you get to use for free.

However, if you’re in a hurry to create your 3D masterpieces and you’re new to Blender, then you might be turned off by how difficult it is. But don’t worry, help is always available.

Other Software You Can Consider Alongside Sketchup

While these six programs are the ones that you should consider first, here are four more that you can check out if our top recommendations are not what you’re looking for.

1. Shapr3D is an excellent tool if you are an Apple user and would like to create 3D drawings on the go. You will need the Apple Pencil to create your 3D renders. This app is only free for two of your designs or with an educational license. You will need to pay $240 for using the Pro version.

2. Maya is one of the software that you may want to check out if you can splurge on a 3D modeling software. This software has everything you need for your 3D models, including texturing, rendering, and lighting tools. You can easily add cloth textures, hair, particles, and even character animation and fluid simulations. But it costs $1,620 per year and you may not even need some of its features.

3. Lightwave 3D is an excellent 3D modeling software that used to be the darling of science fiction shows on TV. If it’s good enough for TV production, then you should check out the features it offers, especially the physically-based rendering engine that’s quite speedy and fully interactive. You will need to pay $995 for Lightwave 3D, but you might want to consider other alternatives because most of the features they offer are quite outdated.

4. ZBrush is the go-to software if you want to do some sculpting for your 3D models. There are so many features that it’s easy to become overwhelmed, and it shows in their user interface. Nevertheless, they do have the ZBrush Classroom where you can find video tutorials.

You will positively love Dynamesh, which allows you to stretch the mesh when you’re sculpting, as well as PaintStop for those who like 2D drawings. ZBrush charges $40 per month for a subscription or $895 for a perpetual license.

FAQs

Question: What is primitive modeling?

Answer: Primitive modeling is a modeling technique that uses a base object such as a sphere or cube. you use geometric forms as your starting point and you modify these by making them bigger or smoother.

This video will explain what primitives are and how you can use these geometric shapes to create your 3D model:

Contrast this with digital 3D sculpting, which allows you to use brushes to work on details, shapes, and edges.

It’s similar to shaping a piece of clay, as this video explains:

Further, you also have parametric modeling where you can change your 3D models easily just by inputting the dimensions.

You only need to enter one dimension and the CAD software will make adjustments to the entire object.

Question: What should you look for in a 3D modeling software anyway?

Answer: There are several 3D modeling programs that you can choose from and sometimes too many options may not be a good thing. If you’re confused, here’s how you should narrow down your choices:
a. What do you need the program for? Sometimes, 3D modeling software is packaged as different things, and it comes with functionalities and features that you might not even need. If you’re looking to use the software to come up with 3D models for printing, and that’s all you plan to do, then you can save more by not getting a more expensive software because of features you will not use. Then check if your chosen software has all the tools that you need.
b. Choose software that’s compatible with your operating system. This might sound basic, but it’s worth repeating. You may find a 3D modeling software that’s free and full-featured, but if you’re using a Mac and it’s only for PC machines, then you should be looking at something else.
c. Consider industry-based software. There are 3D modeling programs that are geared towards a certain industry. For example, RhinoGold is made for jewelry designers, while ArchiCAD is best suited for architects and interior designers.
d. Stay within budget. There are free, yet very powerful, 3D modeling software out there. You should have a budget and try to see if you can afford your preferred software. Some programs are accessible via a one-time purchase price, while others are available by subscription.
e. Look at the user community. You will want to know how helpful the user community is, or how much education and training material is available for your chosen software. Having excellent support and an active online community will help you if you’re stuck on something while using the software, or if you’re a beginner and still learning.

Question: What are the things that you should remember when you’re creating a 3D model for printing?

Answer: The best 3D software like Sketchup and any one of its alternatives are not guaranteed that you will have a successful print if you don’t consider the following:
a. Material physics. When you’re creating a 3D model, you don’t have to worry about such things as physics. The 3D model will float and you can rotate or flip it without problems. It doesn’t work that way with real-life objects. So be sure to consider this when you’re still working on your 3D model.
b. Weight distribution. Ensuring that your 3D prints will not be unstable and keep falling over is also one of the things that you need to remember when you’re designing your 3D prints.
c. What printer do you have? You should create 3D models that are too big for your 3D printer. Also, you might want to ease off on the elaborate details if your 3D printer cannot handle accuracy and precision to flesh out the intricate designs you have created.

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The Best Alternatives to Sketchup

While Sketchup might be one of the best 3D modeling software right now, it’s not for everybody. If you’re looking for a suitable alternative, then the programs we mentioned here are your best bets. To make it easier, you can think of it this way:

For those who are just beginning their journey in making 3D drawings, Art of Illusion is the ideal choice: it’s free and it serves the purpose. If you want something quick and easy, there’s Tinkercad. This program is perfect for those simple 3D models, or perhaps to introduce kids to 3D modeling.

Further, if you’re working on a technical design, you will love the parametric modeling used by Fusion 360, but it may not be the best 3D rendering program out there. Then for turning 2D sketches and ideas into 3D models, you have Rhino 3D. And if you like a powerful suite of tools, there’s always Blender.