Robo was created in 2012, from a simple means to an end, when Coby Kabili, a bioengineering senior at San Diego State University, tired of having to pay a fee to use his school’s 3D printer for his project, decided to create his own. It has been quite a journey but he has seen his vision become a reality with the Robo R1 3D printer.
He created a prototype, which was to become Robo’s R1 3D printer. Mike Pilkington, another SDSU student, who took charge of the marketing and production aspect for the young company, eventually joined him. After a very successful Kickstarter campaign, the Robo R1 entered the mainstream of the 3D printing market.
Robo 3D’s goal is to produce an affordable 3D printer, allowing every household to discover and enjoy the benefits of the relatively new technology. Robo 3D is a very young company and as of yet, they still have only one model of printer to offer (although they have more models in the works). Robo’s printer may be affordable but it does not look cheap and it offers a wide range of printing capability and excellent functionality for user of all experience levels.
Although there are other models making their way into the market recently, until the R1 most of the 3D printers were out of the price range most consumers could handle. Additionally, the operation and details involved trying to put the printer to work were more complicated than the average consumer could handle. The R1 falls in a price range that makes it affordable on a wide scale and the ease of use fits nicely with users who are not technical wizards.
The R1 model handles large print size and many different types of material including experimental filaments. The printer has a unique design, which is easily recognizable and different from everything that is on the market right now. The trademark of this printer is being user friendly, affordable pricing and ease of use not seen with most other 3D printers on the market. While the R1 is not perfect, it does offer many great features and overall Robo did a nice job in the design and production of this 3D printer.
Materials and Size of Print
As we already mentioned, the Robo R1 3D printer can print with a large variety of materials, including ABS and PLA plastics, even specialty materials like HIPS (high-impact polystyrene) and laywood. The printer can print objects up to a size of 10 x 9 x 8″ or 720 cubic inches. This level of versatility is not often seen with such an affordable printer.
Features and Resolution
The R1 is equipped with a 10 x 10” heatbed for ABS prints. This helps keep the base of the prints warm while the top is being printed, also preventing the base from warping or cracking. The printer has great resolution for such a low price as it can print layers up to a stunning resolution of 100 microns. If you want to print faster, you can always change the settings and print at a lower resolution. The versatility and easy to learn functions of this printer set it apart from the competition in this price range.
Price, Assembly and Calibration
The R1 retails for only $799 USD (see here for latest pricing). The R1 comes fully assembled and with an automatic calibration function. This is ideal for those who are not well versed in 3D printing and would not be able to put together a new printer or calibrate it normally. There is no room for human error with the R1. The printer weighs only 25 pounds, which means it does not take a lot of space and is highly portable, compared to most of the high-priced printers. The R1 is open in the front and in the back: it almost reminds of a sewing machine! 3D printers have come a long way from the huge, bulky printers of the 1980.
Compatibility and Accessories
It is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux and will read from almost all open-source CAD software. Although the R1 does sell PLA and ABS filaments on their website, the R1 is compatible with universal cartridges which means you can print with any kind of 1.75 mm filaments. The ability to purchase filaments wherever you want is a nice feature, as it does not tie you into the pricing and service of one vendor for your 3D printing supplies.
Robo has an extensive Q&A section on its website. If you cannot find the answer to your problem there, feel free to give them a call. They also have an active and helpful user forum on their website. Robo has a good customer service reputation and from several reviews appears to be responsive to customer requests and handling problems. Additionally, the staff seems to be knowledgeable not only about the R1, but also the 3D printing industry overall. This type of balanced service is not something you find with every company and it is worth mentioning here. Solid customer service is something that can make your experience with a product great or terrible regardless of the product itself.
Pros and Cons of the Robo 3D Printer
Pro: The printer is incredibly affordable for those who always wanted to try 3D printing but could never afford a printer. The Robo R1 is a dream come true for bargain hunters and customers who look to maximize value. You get good quality printing for a fraction of the price of high-end printers. A really good value and excellent customer service tops it off.
Pro: The printer offers excellent versatility. Whether it is materials, operating system or CAD software, the R1 is compatible with pretty much every piece of relevant software and every material on the market right now. This means you will have a full range of choices when it comes to the actual projects you take on and the hands on use of the printer.
Pro: Seamless setup and calibration out of the box. The printer is ready to go, straight out of the box. The R1 offers an automatic calibration process upon the initial set up and then is ready to begin printing. This makes it a very user-friendly printer with excellent ease of use ratings.
Pro: The printer is very easy to use. Most users report it took them less than a day to learn to use the printer. Robo, although a small company, offers professional and comprehensive support for its product. As mentioned above, the staff seems to have a broad understanding of the 3D printing market and will be very capable of supporting you, even if you are a beginner user or a user with limited 3D printing experience.
Con: Although the printer works fine at first, some users have reported various problems after a month or two of use. This could be due to many factors, as with any other piece of technology, but be aware that for all its great quality printing, the R1 is still not as robust as high-end printers are and may require some manual corrections from time to time. It is not a “set it and forget it” printer, although few products are anyway.
Con: The quality of the printing is exceptional for the price range, but if you are looking for professional grade printing (prototypes or finished goods) this may not be the printer for you. An $800 printer, no matter how good, cannot as of now, deliver marketable quality. It is still a printer that would be great to get started with and then upgrade once you are able.
Key Features: At A Glance
|Build Area||8″ x 9″ x 10″|
|Filament Types||PLA, ABS, T-glase, laywood, HIPS, and other Flex Materials|
|Layer Resolution||100 microns|
|Open/Closed System||Closed Architecture (but open source software)|
|Price||Around $800 (see here for latest)|
Overall: Is the Robo R1 Worth It?
Overall, I feel the R1 is an excellent value for the money. The printer has a long list of features and is very versatile with the ability to handle most projects. Robo as a company offers solid customer service and has an innovative team with amazing creativity. We have no problem recommending this printer as an excellent option if you are looking to get involved with 3D printing. While the printer may not be “commercial grade”, the value it offers puts it significantly ahead of many competitors. You can check out this listing here for the best pricing, if you are looking to make a purchase (or see below for real time prices).