Full Spectrum Muse review? Isn’t the Glowforge your favourite laser cutter, Chris?
Yes, yes it is! But there are reasons we have a Full Spectrum Muse, and I will get into those in the following review.[Read more…]
3D Printer Reviews, Arduino Reviews, Raspberry Pi Reviews, and product information. What should you buy? How do you decide? Where should you look? All this and more in this section ...
In my Glowforge Review I have been keeping some information up to date but it is time to give our long-term thoughts.
Our first Glowforge laser engraver arrived October 2018. A few months later we bought a second Glowforge Basic. Since then they have been operating pretty much non-stop.
I felt this was sufficient time to allow for a long term Glowforge Basic review!
As well as the Glowforge units, we also have two other laser cutters, use laser cutters at two local makerspaces, and sold our massively upgraded K40 laser cutter too. This gives us something to compare against.[Read more…]
I have previously reviewed the Artillery Sidewinder X1 and since that time they have relased a smaller slightly different version called the Genius. It is meant to be very similar, like a baby brother, to the X1. The X1 eventually produced some nice prints for me after troubleshooting with the manufacturer. The Artillery Genius 3D printer costs $368 USD at the time of writing this article from their AliExpress shop linked from the Artillery website. Let’s see how the Genius does…
Everything appeared to be well packed and undamaged when I received the Artillery Genius 3D printer unlike the two previous X1s I received damaged from shipping. The printer was packaged nicely with typical black foam.
Assembly was meant to be very straight forward. The instructions are clear and the steps are quite easy. After fully assembling the printer I encountered my first issues. The x carriage gantry was loose and no matter how many adjustments were made to the eccentric nut on the bottom wheel, the carriage remained loose. It was very frustrating.
I attempted to loosen every wheel and adjust the screw inside of the hole in the carriage to minimize the distance between the top and bottom wheels but this did not solve the problem. I then put a straight edge on the carriage and noticed it was slightly bowed and therefor no matter what adjustment I made the centre distance of the wheels would never be close enough to allow a tight and stable x carriage. I had the same issue with the bed carriage. I put the review on hold while I waited for a new x-carriage and bed carriage from Artillery.
Once the new carriages arrived I swapped them out. To my surprise, a direct swap did not work. I had to again loosen all the screws, and attempt to minimize the distance between the top and bottom wheels to have enough adjustment with the eccentric nut to tighten the carriage onto the extrusion. There is definitely a tolerance issue that Artillery should address on these X carriages. I haven’t experienced this issue on any other printer I’ve assembled in the past.
With the bed and x carriage finally adjusted perfectly I was able to start printing. The results were poor. There are very inconsistent layers and z banding.
I was directed to support where I tried a variety of things and that’s when I discovered that the z axis does not use eccentric nuts for adjustment at all. Instead, Artillery uses injection molded pins to hold the wheels in place, which flex, instead of what we are typically used to seeing with most printers that use aluminum extrusions and v-wheels for motion. It’s pretty dissapointing to see this design. The screws that hold the injection molded cover on and keep the wheels in place, thread directly into the injection molded plastic pins making a very weak connection that is very easily stripped.
Continuing on with my troubleshooting journey I tried a variety of prints. I confirmed that e-steps were accurate, rebuilt the extruder, rebuilt the z axis, and still cannot get consistently nice prints. The rainbow print was the best, most likely due to the silk filament I used hiding some layer inconsistencies however it still shows some banding in locations.
Support from Artillery has been responsive but slow. You open a ticket on their website and wait for a response. Once you respond to their request, you wait some more, usually a day or two and then if they happen to have some suggestions you try those and respond back. While I credit them for having a ticket system, their support team have been unable to solve the issues with this particular printer.
The Artillery Genius 3D printer does have some nice features. It is very quiet, has a direct drive extruder, and a responsive touchscreen. The build surface usually held my prints down, and the dual z axis setup is meant to provide a nice stable platform. However my results have been poor from the beginning.
The poor QC on the carriages, combined with the ineffective injection molded components, should not exist on what I would consider a premium entry level printer with its price tag. The build volume rivals the likes of other very popular entry level 3D printers, however it costs much more with the features they’ve included.
I have seen some truly nice prints in the Genius Facebook group and because of this I do not think that all of the Genius printers suffer from the same issues that mine currently does.
I will continue to work on this printer and update the review if my results do change.
If you are anything like me you’ve thought about what other materials you can 3D print and one of those materials that comes to mind is chocolate. It can be melted down, and formed into amazing ideas by artists, and since it can be melted, extruded and cooled it makes sense for it to be able to be printed. ChocoL3D out of the Ukraine has taken it upon themselves to make a chocolate extruder. The ChocoL3D chocolate 3D printer extruder can be mounted on your 3D printer of choice. ChocoL3D sent me one extruder to test and review.
The package arrived and the box itself is a work of art, it is wooden with a slide out cover. All the components were nicely organized and packaged inside the wooden box with ribbons to help remove the items from the firm grip of the foam.
Inside the box you have the extruder components, vat, variety of nozzles, stepper motor, heater cartridge, thermistor, and screws. I planned to install this on an Ender 3 and was provide an STL from the company to print a mount.
All the components feels like they’ve been made very well with the fit and feel feeling great. From the manufacturer’s website, it says ” Extruder and tank are made from aluminium and plated with titanium nitride (TiN) to prevent oxidation and ensure food safety. Gears are made in Polyoxymethylene (POM).”. The nozzles are made of stainless steel.
Assembly was fairly straight forward if you’ve ever taken apart your printer, or installed a different hot end or extruder. With the old hot end and extruder assembly removed and unplugged from the control board I installed the adapter that was provided by ChocoL3D onto the X carriage. They provide a variety adapters for different printers on their website support page. I then followed their assembly instructions to complete the hardware installation.
I connected the heater cartridge and thermistor to the Ender-3 control board and moved the existing extruder stepper motor cable over to the new chocolate extruder stepper motor. Mechanically I was ready.
Slicer settings for chocolate as a material will be fairly different and luckily they have a setup tutorial video on their website. I was able to make the adjustments needed in Simplify3D by watching their video as I do not use Cura.
The other complex piece to printing chocolate is the chocolate itself. There is a difference in what ChocoL3D calls natural and unnatural chocolate. There are cacao fats in natural chocolate, and vegetable fats, such as palm oil in glazes or unnatural chocolate as per ChocoL3D. I saw another review on YouTube with the reviewer having more success with unnatural chocolate so I went ahead and found some chocolate chips, based on palm oil, for $7 Kg on Amazon.
I watched the videos, bought the chocolate, and setup the slicer and it was time to start printing. I started with a mustache and while it did print it needed some tuning. The top layer left something to be desired. That being said, failures aren’t always failures when printing with chocolate. This “failed” mustache tasted just fine 🙂 .
Next I tried this hammer. I increased the flow a little bit. and I was really happy with the result. My daughter certainly enjoyed eating it.
I followed up with a variety of prints trying different settings. On simple bulky shapes like the hammer things were pretty good. I did have trouble with more complex prints, generally relating to cooling of the chocolate.
The chocolate bunny ears just didn’t seem to cool enough even with really slow layer times to allow it to cool more. Same applied with the unicorn, and top of the emoji (with edible supports!). I was playing with slowing down the layers on short layers and you can see a big difference on the following vase. The first was my initial settings, and the second was extending the layer length time in S3D.
I did print a blower fan duct and added a fan but I got mixed results. Sometimes the fan itself seemed to cool the nozzle to much and clog it. Since we are printing at a temperature of 37C for this chocolate, it doesn’t take much for a fan to cool the nozzle too much and solidify the chocolate. I ended up turning the fan off again just to complete a print and make sure everything else was working as required for this attempt at a chocolate lightsaber:
A couple more completed prints:
Using my 3D printer to print edible chocolate has been a really cool exercise. It is not as easy as printing with normal filament and with the community for this not being very large, you are in relatively uncharted waters. Luckily, ChocoL3D was really responsive to me on Facebook anytime I had a question. It needs some fine tuning to get there but some of the prints that ChocoL3D showcase on their website really show how capable this extruder is.
I think that this type of extrusion system is well made and worth it for someone who doesn’t mind tinkering and really wants to print in chocolate. At between $250-$350 USD, depending on wait times, for the ChocoL3D chocolate 3d printer extruder kit alone, it’s not a cheap system, however it truly does feel like a quality product made in small batches. I plan to continue to use this extruder and see how far I can take it. The print I’ve given to friends and family have truly been some conversation starters…
Sovol had been on my radar for a little bit with their SV01 3D Printer. I liked some of the unique features they were offering such as a rectangular build volume. I happened to enter one of their contests and won one of the printers! I’ve been using it for a little bit and wanted to share my experience, because I have to say… it’s been one of the better printers I’ve used in 2019! Join me in my Sovol SV01 3D printer review.
Build Volume: 280 x 240 x 300mm
Extruder Style: Direct Drive
Stock Nozzle: 0.4mm
Maximum Extruder Temperature: 250C
Maximum Heated Bed Temperature: 100C
Power Supply: MeanWell 24V
Control Board: Creality V2.2
Thermal Runaway: Enabled
Heated Bed: Yes with Carbon crystal silicone glass surface
The unboxing procedure was uneventful which is what we want when we’re opening up our printer for the first time. Everything was nicely packed and there was no shipping damage. All the parts were accounted for. I removed all the parts and assemblies and we went ahead and started moving onto the assembly process.
If you’ve assembled an i3 style printer such as a Creality CR-10 in recent years this one will not be much different. If it’s your first time assembling a printer, it is a very easy process. The printer top assembly is mounted to the base assembly with 4 long allen screws that go through the base and thread into the z axis aluminum extrusions. Once that is completed, the LCD screen is mounted, as is the filament holder and filament sensor. The Z axis endstop also needs to be installed.
After the printer was assembled it appeared to be a nice rigid printer. The 2040 X axis extrusion provides a nice stable track for the extruder and hot end assembly. The dual z axis lead screws keep the gantry level as it moves up or down. It really felt like an improved lovechild of the Artillery Sidewinder X1 and a Creality printer. The later because there are many branded Creality parts on this printer including the control board. I recently saw that Sovol has started offering Creality’s upgraded V2.2 silent board with TMC2208 drivers for the SV01.
I wasn’t a massive fan of the way the extruder was mounted as I found it to be cumbersome if you wanted to spin the gear to feed the filament however that’s a minor thing. This is where I also noticed the filament wasn’t smoothly moving through the filament sensor. It felt like it was grinding on something sharp inside the filament sensor housing and didn’t pass through easily. I also noticed at times some small marks on the filament from the sensor. The printer powered on with a flick of the switch and we were off to start a print. I like the design with the power plug input on the rear of the printer, however the power switch located on the side where it’s convenient to power on of off the printer.
Having previously used an Artillery Sidewinder X1 which is also direct drive, I modified the profile I was using in Prusaslicer by decreasing the print volume to the SV01 specs and started printing. The print came out fantastic.
The prints that the Sovol SV01 produced were smooth and clean and everything you’d like in a print.
I did notice a touch of underextrusion at times and I checked the e-steps which were surprisingly right. I say surprisingly as many low cost printer’s I’ve tested haven’t had perfect e-steps. I then increased the flow in the slicer and the underextrusion went away.
I still wasn’t happy with the filament sensor so I did end up place a dummy piece of filament in the sensor to bypass it after a couple prints and filament swaps where it just didn’t feel right. Aside from the sensor, I sliced and printed model after model and was really happy.
The print surface was fairly consistent with respect to adhesion. I was able to print the free Enterprise model from Fab365 without issue.
Some larger prints did have some corners lift unfortunately. I recommend playing it safe with a brim on prints you really care about that have very large surface areas or really small. For the most part adhesion was not an issue for me.
The Sovol Facebook group is active with over 1500 members at
the time of writing this article. They’ve had a few giveaways in the group and
the members are friendly.
I’ve been using the SV01 for review purposes and out of the box, it has been one of the best printers I’ve had the privilege of reviewing this year. The print quality has been consistently great with a nicely tuned profile. That irregular print platform size actually comes in handy when you need to print something a bit bigger but don’t have the space for a bigger printer.
The dual independent Z axis leadscrews combined with the 2040 X axis extrusion and 2040 Y axis extrusion make for a nice stable printing platform. The direct drive extruder performs well. I’ve often seen the Sovol SV01 3D Printer on sale for $269 USD which is a phenomenal price for something that prints so well. While there a few minor things that could be improved, I highly recommend this printer based on my experience with it and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next from Sovol!
The Sapphire Pro is one of a few recent 3D printers that have hit the market using a coreXY kinematics. I’ve previously reviewed the Sapphire S and I’m excited to see how well the Two Trees Sapphire Pro handles itself. Let’s dive in and see how it performs in this Two Trees Sapphire Pro review.
Brand Name:Two Trees
Model Number: Sapphire Pro
Build Size: 220mm x 220mm x 220mm
Input rating:110V/220V AC,50/60Hz
Power Supply: 24V – 360W
Operational Extruder Temperature:Max 260C
Operational Print Bed Temperature:Max 100C
Interface Type: Micro SD
Supported Filament:PLA, ABS, PETG, Wood
The Two Trees Sapphire Pro coreXY 3D printer arrived with a package size of 500*430*250 mm. Inside the cardboard box is various levels of black soft foam holding the top assembly, bottom assembly, and middle components. The black foam used is not the sturdiest foam but appeared to retain the components safely during shipping. My particular unit came in great condition.
Everything was in the box, the parts list was complete, and I looked for the instructions to begin assembly.
The build instructions were OK with colour photos. The language barrier is evident as they name some components a little strange. An example of this is when they show how to install the Z axis smooth rods, however they refer to them as “Optical Axis”.
There were a few moments during assembly that I questioned the Two Trees quality control process. The heat bed still had the protective film on, but the edges of the bed were quite sharp and sliced my finger a bit. The z axis bearings were also new in plastic bag which was concerning for me since I would have rather they been opened and tested to make sure they were good.
The top XY assembly bolts down onto four tapped 2020 aluminum extrusions from the top down. The steppers for X and Y are mounted on the top plate now vs the Sapphire S which houses the stepper motors in the base and transfers to movement to the top assembly by way of steel rods, bearing holders, and pulleys. The new way on the Pro uses thick sheet steel plates that appears to be pretty sturdy.
The Y axis rails were not tight to the plate. I had to install screws and they did not feel like they were the right length. They felt like they were bottoming out just as the rail was tightening, but they did work. The XY assembly is a system of linear rails, and a CNC plate making for a really clean looking printer that can be easily enclosed by purchasing the acrylic shell also available from Two Trees.
Flipping the rocker switch at the power input, and then pushing the push button in on the front of the display mount brought the Sapphire Pro to life the same as my previous Sapphire S. I sliced my first print using Simplify3D with the same profile I’ve used for my Sapphire S in the past that I found from the Sapphire Facebook group.
This is where my problems began. Print after print, and layer shift after layer shift. I tried a variety of settings, and no matter what, the print would have massive layer shifts. This was not a pleasant start. I checked for belt slippage, or lifted sections to see if it was a mechanical issue. After a bunch of failed attempts, I noticed the stepper motors themselves were really hot and I proceeded to check the VREF for the XY stepper drivers.
That’s where I found the problem. The VREF for the TMC2208’s were set to 1.6V from the factory which was too high. I lowered the VREF to 1.2V and finally completed a first print. Since lowering the VREF I haven’t experienced any layer shifts. This was another QC issue from the factory.
The first print came out OK. It is Blackcat from the Eastman 3D Patreon that I subscribe to. There is some banding along the Z axis but it’s not an awful print. Printed using Geeetech silk black PLA.
The Sapphire Pro uses an MKS Robin Nano control board with TMC2208 stepper drivers for X and Y axis, and A4988 stepper drivers for Z and E. The results are that its a fairly quiet 3D printer. The touchscreen LCD has a clean interface but it does lack in the settings department that we are most familiar with in traditional Marlin based printers. The printer accepts your G-Code files via micro card with a slot located on the right side of the printer.
The stock build surface on the heatbed works very well and I did not have any poor adhesion issues on any of my prints. It actually adheres prints too well and I struggled every time to remove the print for the surface. It does provide a textured feel to the bottom of your print as well. I would prefer if the heatbed came with a strain relief for the wires as well but the printer does not come with this feature.
The following print was also from the Eastman Patreon group. The base was printed with grey PLA and the bust was printed with Eryone marble PLA.
I’m still a little uneasy with cantilevered beds on an inexpensive printer but it did not appear to be a problem here. I found that over the course of the all the prints, I didn’t have to level the bed after leveling it manually properly the first time. It seemed to find its z home position consistently providing good first layers.
I did notice that the hot end temperature fluctuates +-3 degrees very consistently. I feel a PID tune is in need as my prints did exhibit some occasional uneven layers along the Z axis that could be attributed to fluctuating temps. I also checked the e-steps on the extruder to see if that could be contributing to the small issues but they were correct from factory.
I went ahead and printed a couple Little Big Planet characters from Rober Rollin on MyMiniFactory. They were both printed with Geeetech Rainbow PLA and I was really happy with the results. My kids loved the characters and they were great prints to try for this Two Tree Sapphire Pro review.
A little PTFE oil was added to the linear rails for the X and Y axis to help lubricate them. Changing filament is inconvenient with the spool holder mounted on the rear as well as the extruder. I found the thumbscrew for the BMG clone to be a touch too short and it was difficult to insert the thumbscrew and catch a thread after loading filament into the extruder. That being said, the BMG clone extruder did function well and did its job without any issues during this review.
There is a helpful Facebook group you can turn to for support called Two Trees 3D Printer Group. The Facebook group does showcase some fantastic prints from other Sapphire users as well.
Two Trees provided the Sapphire Pro coreXY 3D printer to me discounted in exchange for an honest review. Most of the printers I have reviewed from overseas have had some sort of QC issues from factory. In this case we had improper set VREFs causing immediate failed prints. The other issues I found were pretty minor.
Once beyond the initial hiccups, the printer certainly can perform well. The aluminum extrusion cube frame fitted with the single piece machined top plate provides a rigid structure. The upgraded MKS Robin Nano board is welcome vs the Lerdge on the Sapphire S and the printer zipped along pretty quietly with the exception of extruder retractions. It’s a quick printer with some nice features and I’m quite happy to have it in my personal farm of 3D printers.
Flux Beamo is a small, enclosed 30w CO2 laser engraver, currently launching on Kickstarter.
I received one to review, and just put it through some early tests. Here’s what I discovered …[Read more…]
Prusa Mk3s reviews are often by popular YouTubers who get 3D printers for free, sometimes sent by Josef Prusa himself. Not so here, I am not popular, and I bought both my Prusa printers (Mk2 and now Mk3s) myself!
Obviously, I wouldn’t buy a second Prusa if I didn’t enjoy the first, but they are far from perfect.
While my reviews are always honest and independent, I know there is a common rumor in the 3d printing community about reviewers having bias toward Prusa.
I can’t speak to the validity of that, I can only say I am not biased in any way, despite running one of the more popular Prusa-based Facebook groups and also supplementing my income with affiliate sales (this means my links earn me a small commission, but don’t change the price you pay).
In fact I often get static for maybe being overly critical about Prusa, as we will discuss in this here review.
The first decision when looking at the Prusa Mk3s is if you want to buy the kit or have them build it for you.
Prusa Mk3s Kit is $749, or you can buy assembled for $999. Assembled has a lead-time of 3 weeks, while the kit is usually in stock.
Remember to add shipping and import duty ($110-$130) to these prices! The final price for the Prusa Mk3s kit to my door was CAD$1,227.94
The kit arrived well-packaged, I would guess the assembled version would too, just in a larger box.
Building the Prusa Mk3S kit is NOT like building an Ender 3, where it is partially assembled.
You have to assemble almost every tiny piece, and it is a chore. Perhaps I was overly vocal about what a pain it was to build, but I would even suggest it is a bit more involved than assembling the Mk2 was, due to the newer extruder assembly.
I have day job and family responsibilities, so It took me weeks (25 weeks to be precise – that is excessive, and you are unlikely to take that long!) due to grabbing 10mins or an hour here and there.
It’s fiddly, and with 3D printed parts with rough overhangs, things don’t always go together well first time. Expect to have tiny nuts falling and rolling under furniture constantly.
Unlike me, some people report enjoying the process. YMMV.
Now, obviously, at the end you will understand your 3D printer intimately, which does have value.
Just don’t go for the kit purely to save you money if you value your time at all, because it is going to take you a long time, which could cause you to resent the printer like I did – especially if your hobby time is limited.
Once assembled, what do you get?
Understandably, given the long and proud history of the Prusa, it has a solid reputation in the community. While the Mk3 had some wobbles on release, with complaints about print quality, beds, filament runout sensor, power supply hum, and so on, the Mk3s seems to have resolved those issues.
By appearances the Prusa is very much a hobbyist, tinkerer machine. It looks home-made, and of course, it usually is.
It’s also quite old-fashioned in some respects, being made of 3D printed parts, no enclosure, an 8-bit main board, and sporting a monochrome LCD.
It’s not exactly the fashion challenger for the 2019/2020 season.
Of the machines in my hobby room, it appears the cheapest, while being the second most expensive after my monster-sized Craftbot XL.
It is, however, built out of top-of-the-line electronic and motion parts.
Sure, there are no linear rails that you might find in similarly priced machines, and there are still zip ties holding some vital parts in. Yes, zip ties. In 2019.
That said, the components, and particularly the machine’s firmware, are amongst the best in this sub-$1,000 segment of the market.
In operation, even in ‘normal’ mode, it is super quiet.
Oddly, while Prusa make a bit marketing buzz around their expensive Prusament 3d printing filament … the filament included with your purchase is some no-brand stuff that many group-members have complained endlessly about.
To an extent, Prusa is a lot like Ultimaker, in that they control the hardware and software design, and even the filament if you are willing to pay a premium on your usual cost, so everything is tuned together.
The slicer, based on a fork of Slic3r, is excellent, but oddly, the built-in profiles for the Mk3s caused me some issues, such as stringing and very difficult to remove supports that caused bad surface quality.
Even the Marvin demo file included on the SD card printed badly, which I put down to the gcode being tuned for Prusa’s own filament rather than the PLA they included.
Fortunately, the community provides. I am now using the Pretty PLA profiles by Chris W.
When you slice a model in Prusaslicer it will post a message in the Gcode to remind you to update firmware. This nag could be annoying on a machine where you are lax in updating (eg. my Mk2), but is a boon on the Mk3s where I will get the benefit of incremental improvements.
As would be expected for a ~$1,000 printer, the print quality is great.
The Prusa mk3s is supposedly capable of 200mm/sec. It does seem capable of good speeds, but someone with more science than me would have to confirm the actual capability in practice.
What makes the Prusa an exception in this price-range, however, is the fact you can get this level of print quality without making any modifications or tuning.
So, really you are buying ease of use and convenience. While you could get multiple Ender 3 printers for the same price, and get close to the same output quality, you are going to have to put more effort and maintenance into the Ender 3.
Don’t get me wrong, you are not going to get resin-quality minis right out of the box, though I did try!
The Prusa Mk3s is in an oddly unique spot in the market. It’s not a budget printer, for that I would recommend the Ender 3.
You could have multiple printers, a makerspace or print-farm starter set for the price of one Prusa, and you would get them faster because you can probably get the Ender 3 either locally or from Amazon.
If you are into 3D printing or electronics as a hobby, and you want to learn and tinker, then again I would go with the Ender 3. Especially if you are in the 3D printed tabletop community and want FDM for terrain etc.
But it is also not a prosumer printer, or a printer ideal for education, either. For those functions you ideally need an enclosure. In those markets I would look at Craftbot and Ultimaker.
Which brings us to another point for makerspaces or other environments where printers get worn-out and abused. Keep in mind, you can only get official Prusa parts from Prusa. Harry Brookes in the Facebook Group recommends a store on Aliexpress called Triangle Lab for 3rd party parts. I have not tried them myself. Joseph Tam has a Tindie store where he has compatible bed leveling probes and heated beds.
For pure print quality, for example small, detailed items like tabletop minis, I wouldn’t even suggest FDM, I would go for the Elegoo Mars, 100%. Note, Prusa does sell a resin printer, but it is over priced versus the Elegoo from what I can see.
The Prusa Mk3S is perfectly capable of printing good looking props and cosplay items, especially if you use something like Meshmixer to split into pieces. For larger cosplay items that you want to print in one go with no glue or seams, such as helmets and full armor pieces, due to the price and the print bed being not quite big enough, I would look to the Creality CR-10 range.
At this point we are left with the home or small office market of people who want to just hit print but don’t want to spend Ultimaker prices. For those people, the Prusa Mk3s excels.
Check out the Prusa Mk3S at Prusa Research
Elegoo Mars is a $250 resin 3D printer – check out this review to see how well it works in practice.[Read more…]