annual guide to 3d printing

annual guide to 3d printing
Make: Volume 42
ANNUAL GUIDE TO 3D PRINTING
3D PRINTING
DREMEL’S
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BUILDER
REVIEWED
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DIY PICKLING
US $9.99/CAN $9.99
978-1-457-18385-0
I S BISBN:
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50999
781457 183850
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9
Behind the
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makezine.com
ZIUNAS
KA
Y ANNA
ITTEN B
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FRANCE
Jeffrey Braverman
The new printers are much more polished than their predecessors —
but are they as consumer-ready as their finish and packaging suggest?
2014 HAS BEEN A FULL-THROTTLE
YEAR FOR 3D PRINTING SINCE
JANUARY’S CONSUMER ELECTRONICS
SHOW (CES) introduced us to dozens
of new machines. It’s clear that additive fabrication has caught the attention
of major brands in all sectors (Adobe,
Microsoft, Hasbro, Dremel) and the push
for the mainstreaming of this technology
has hit a new plateau.
Although there’s been a lot of hoopla,
most of the changes to actual functionality have been small; with slow and
steady improvements being made to existing (and sometimes cloned) hardware,
software, and documentation. Many
machines are still in the adolescent
stage, but a few have blossomed early,
and their polished appearance has begun to attract wider consumer attention.
When unpacking the machines that
were tested in our third annual Shootout
weekend, I immediately noticed a dramatic, consumer-product-style change
in machine packaging and overall fit and
finish. Printers once arrived in packing
peanuts and were made of laser-cut
plywood, now most are shipped with
custom foam inserts reminiscent of
desktop computer packaging with bodies
made of injection-molded plastic. These
machines are slowly evolving, but does
their performance meet the expectations
set by their consumer-ready facades?
We were keen to find out. The core
group of 3D-printing test-team veterans
(some of whom have been present at
all three Shootouts) began preparing
more than a month before our trip to this
year’s new location at America Makes in
Youngstown, Ohio. With the addition of
3D-printing research scientist Andreas
Bastain, our test methods advanced
from mere visual inspections of Thingiverse objects. We drafted a flexible
makezine.com
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evaluation protocol and created parametric
models that could be quickly adapted to any
unexpected situation. These preparations,
combined with the onsite, real-time, datacrunching diligence of Kacie Hultgren (aka
Pretty Small Things) has yielded quantified
comparison data that we could only dream
of previously.
As you read through our reviews, you will
see two distinctly different, complementary
types of data: the quantified print-quality
scores and the qualitative evaluation of
our team’s personal experience with each
machine. As with last year’s testing, each
machine was run by several different 3DP
experts to ensure that personal preferences did not skew the results, and we
systematically and anonymously contacted
customer support. The materials, host, and
slicing software listed on each review are
manufacturer recommended, but we verified hardware and software openness by
tracking down the source files and
their licenses.
We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished
during this year’s testing, although there’s
always room for improvement. We used
Ultimachine orange PLA as a control variable (the team agreed that it was a solid,
widely available choice, representative of
what would commonly run through desktop
machines), some exceptions had to be
made (noted in our print-quality summary)
for machines that refused to function or
jammed without proprietary filament.
In addition, our fused filament fabrication XY and Z resonance mechanical tests
did not yield the granularity they were
designed to collect and were downgraded
to weighted Pass/Fail scores. Many of our
SLA tests proved to be too far too ambitious and were abandoned. That may sound
bleak, but it was all part of the plan — as
Andreas relates on page 34, these models
were designed to fail.
Why does all this matter? Because — as
Kacie states on page 36 — “consumers
want accurate prints at the push of a button” and consumer adoption of 3DP (with
lower prices and widespread technological
transformations that their adoption could
enable) is directly dependent on how we
answer two key questions: “What is print
quality?” and “What should we expect from
our 3D printers?”
32
An Old-Fashioned
American Shootout
Gunther Kirsch
Special Section
DURING THE 2013 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS, PRESIDENT OBAMA
referenced the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute
(NAMII) in Youngstown, Ohio as a new program to look at for economic
inspiration. A year and a half later, Make: chose to conduct its annual
3D-printer tests at their location as a way to help connect a traditional
manufacturing community with the Maker Movement.
Located inside a once-shuttered furniture factory, the institute, renamed America Makes in October 2013, honors the city’s industrial past
while embracing a technological future. Aiming to become a center point
of research and development for the rapid-moving world of 3D printing,
it teaches its workers to be experts in all areas of additive manufacturing
— from desktop to industrial — while offering knowledge and facilities to
companies and universities who are looking to bolster their capabilities.
As promised, the venue and its collection of top-level machines, able
to turn powdered metal or nylon into anything from rocket nozzles to
windmills, is very inspiring. After our weekend of testing, America Makes’
founding director Ralph Resnick opened the doors to the public. The look
of excitement on the faces of the visitors, many of them hopeful for an
economic resurgence in the Steel Valley, made it clear that the program
is headed in the right direction. —Mike Senese
makershed.com
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Special Section
Buyer’s Guide | Fused Filament Printers | Ultimaker 2
ULTIMAKER 2
Best in Shootout for overall print quality
Available at
bit.ly/ultimaker-2-printer
Price as Tested $2,499
Build Volume 230×225×205mm
Bed Style Heated glass
Temperature Control Yes
Materials PLA, ABS (others encouraged)
Print Untethered? SD card, OctoPrint
compatible
Onboard Controls? Yes
Host Software Cura
Slicer CuraEngine
OS Mac, Linux, Windows
Open Software? Cura/CuraEngine:
AGPLv3
Open Hardware? Auxiliary design files:
CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Brian Kaldorf
WRITTEN BY ELI RICHTER
Ultimaker | ultimaker.com
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makezine.com/3d-evolution
Brian Kaldorf
ALTHOUGH ULTIMAKER’S SECOND
OFFERING RECENTLY CELEBRATED ITS
FIRST BIRTHDAY, its performance in our
Shootout was head and shoulders above
the rest of the FFF machines. This is a
great machine for those who want to load
a model and print without spending hours
setting up and tweaking parameters, but it
still gives the advanced user enough control
to get even more out of the Ultimaker 2.
Ultimaker also maintains its own integrated
3D-printing ecosystem, with an online
model library at YouMagine.com and webbased modeling tool UltiShaper 3D.
was at the head of the pack for most of our
test prints, notably those that tested the
physical stability of the machine. Tests with
lower scores, such as the Overhang and
Bridging prints, were hurt by the aggressive
speeds and could be vastly improved with
some minor tweaking.
FEATURE PACKED, OCTOPRINT
COMPATIBLE
The Ultimaker 2 has all of the features one
should expect of a class-leading printer:
a heated glass build platform, illuminated
build area, onboard controls, two PLA
cooling fans, with a frame that is sturdy and
attractive. It’s also OctoPrint compatible,
GREAT OUT OF THE BOX
so wireless printing (and slicing via Cura) is
The Ultimaker 2 ships almost entirely prepossible with the user addition and setup of
assembled and ready to go. Simply remove
a Raspberry Pi and a wi-fi dongle. Absent
the (awesome) glass build plate from its
from this feature list is an autoleveler and
protective bubble wrap, and secure it with
second extruder, which though
the premounted aluminum clips.
in development, was not yet
Snap on the filament holder,
available as of press time. If
power it on, run the leveling
ONE HAS TO
a dual extruder is on your
procedure, load the filaDIG DEEP TO
immediate must-have
ment, and this bot’s ready
FIND THINGS
list, then you may want to
to go. Bed leveling is perNOT TO LIKE
wait. However, Ultimaker
formed manually using
ABOUT THE
has always included
the familiar “paper thicka spot in their extruder
ness” ritual, and onboard
ULTIMAKER 2.
carriage for the possible
menus on the OLED screen
addition of a second one, so upquickly guide the user through
grades of this machine are feasible.
the process. While auto-bed leveling would be a welcome feature, the 3-point
system (versus a 4-point system where two
NOT QUITE PERFECT, BUT
knobs must be adjusted in tandem) works
DARNED CLOSE
very well and the adjustment knobs turn
One has to dig deep to find things not to
smoothly, making fine-tuning a breeze.
like about the Ultimaker 2. During the
Models are prepared for printing with
Shootout, we had two thirds of the build
Cura, Ultimaker’s open-source software,
area LEDs fail (I told you, we’re digging
and files are written directly to an SD card.
deep). Feeding material into the extruder
Software configuration is simple: Just secan be tricky and the fans on the hot end
lect your printer from a list of preconfigured
assembly are a little loud — unfortunate
options. For those who want to just load a
for this otherwise quiet printer. Ultimaker
model and print, Cura’s default streamlined
was responsive when we anonymously
“Quickpoint” mode displays three basic
contacted their support about the faulty
print quality options: fast, normal, and high
LED strips, offering advice to troubleshoot
quality. More adventurous users can switch
and replacement units.
the software into “Expert Mode,” which
opens up a multitude of tweakable settings.
CONCLUSION
Normal mode works great for most prints,
Makers on a tight budget may want to look
but it can be a bit fast for smaller models.
elsewhere, but few machines can beat the
Prints are run directly from a computer SD
Ultimaker 2’s combination of high-quality,
card using the onboard controls.
hassle-free printing with easy-to-use softUsing the stock settings, this printer
ware and an attractive, compact package.
PRINT SCORES
Accuracy
1 2 3 4 5
Backlash 1 2 3 4 5
Bridging 1 2 3 4 5
Overhangs 1 2 3 4 5
Fine Features 1 2 3 4 5
Surface Curved 1 2 3 4 5
Surface General 1 2 3 4 5
Tolerance
1 2 3 4 5
XY Resonance FA I L PAS S
Z Resonance FA I L PAS S
PRO TIPS
Reduce printing speed for small parts
or tweak settings in Cura to set minimum
layer time.
Use a glue stick to keep large overnight
prints adhered to the platform — brims
and rafts can be difficult to remove.
Back filament from hot end manually
(heat nozzle, move material, remove tube
and trim before executing “change filament procedure”) to avoid melted chunks
jamming filament feed.
WHY TO BUY Best in Shootout print quality. Killer heated glass bed is perfect for PLA prints, also
works well with ABS, Bridge Nylon, PETT
and T-glase. Beginner-friendly software,
but also offers complete setting control.
Onboard controls allow for fine-tuning of
temp and speed settings midprint.
How’d it print?
ELI RICHTER is an engineer by
day and maker by night. He is a
core member of HackPittsburgh
where he manages and maintains their 3D-printer program.
Other projects include running
HackPittsburgh’s PPPRS racing team, Hack to the
Future. elijahrichter.wordpress.com
makezine.com
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Special Section
Buyer’s Guide | Fused Filament Printers | TAZ 4
TAZ 4
Price as Tested $2,195
Build Volume 298×275×250mm
Bed Style Heated glass
Temperature Control? Yes
Materials ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, and
wood filaments
Print Untethered? SD card, OctoPrint
compatible
Onboard controls? Yes
Host Software Printrun
Slicer Slic3r
OS Mac, Linux, Windows
Open Software? Third-party software
Open Hardware? GPLv3 and CC-BY-SA
4.0
Brian Kaldorf
Thoughtful construction, great prints,
libre hardware WRITTEN BY MATT STULTZ
TAZ 4 | lulzbot.com
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makezine.com/3d-evolution
Brian Kaldorf
THE LULZBOT TAZ 4 WAS HIGH ON MY
LIST OF PRINTERS TO TEST THIS YEAR. I
have always been impressed with the
engineering and attention to detail that
LulzBot has put into its machines.
Having spent some time on the original
TAZ during last year’s testing, I wanted to
see what improvements had been made. I
expected a printer that the hackers would
love — capable of producing large prints
that are perfect for demos and parts. I
didn’t expect a machine that would print
high-quality prints on par with any other
machine on the market. I was pleasantly
surprised!
screw holes are either tapped directly into
the plastic or have nuts on the backside
to hold the bolts in place. The TAZ uses
press-fit brass threaded inserts that ensure
all connections stay rock solid. Instead of
using the standard steel roller bearings for
linear motion, the TAZ uses igus polymer
bushings. These bushings run quieter and
without lubrication, resulting in zero maintenance and a longer lifespan.
KEEPING IT OPEN SOURCE
As more printers hit the market as closedsource projects, LulzBot has continued
its commitment to manufacturing a fully
open-source printer. All of the files — their
source files, schematics, and code — are
MINOR ASSEMBLY, FOOLPROOF
available for you to fix, build, and redesign
CONNECTORS
any portion of the machine. They
Unpacking the TAZ 4, you will find
also support a large number
the printer mostly assembled
of the slicing and control
but with a few of the parts
SOMETIMES
software options that
packed separately for easy
are available for the OS
shipment. You will also
IT’S BEST TO
find a quick-setup guide,
SPEND YOUR TIME printers. LulzBot’s site
a larger manual, a spool
ON ENGINEERING includes config files for
the popular open-source
of filament, and an excelRATHER THAN
Slic3r engine tuned for nulent toolkit. Assembly is a
GOOD LOOKS.
merous materials, making
snap — the TAZ 4 uses highit simple to start printing in
quality connectors that make
ABS, PLA, NinjaFlex, and others.
the wiring foolproof. Most of the
Even the printed manual that comes
parts can be assembled by hand, but the
with the TAZ is open source. If you get nothfew that can’t are easily completed with the
ing else out of this review, download (bit.ly/
included toolkit. With the help of the quicktaz-manual) and take a look. Many sections
start guide, you will be up and running with
are nonprinter specific and are perfect for
your first prints in about an hour.
anyone interested in 3D printing. If you use
Slic3r this is a must-read!
BY ENGINEERS, FOR ENGINEERS
In a field of printers that are starting to
spend a serious amount of effort on their
CONCLUSION
design aesthetics, the LulzBot TAZ 4 isn’t
So who is the TAZ 4 a perfect printer for?
going to be winning any beauty pageants —
While I’m hesitant to say this is a printer for
it’s been designed by engineers for
a first-time printer owner, the quick-start
engineers. The creators took time to not
guide and manual make it easy for anyone
only figure out how to do the things they
to get this machine up and running. Makwanted but how to do them the best way.
ers, hackers, engineers, and artists will feel
The spool holder is hinged to hide away
right at home with this machine. The large,
during transportation or storage, but
heated glass build platform, ability to print
swivels down and locks in place for use.
untethered, and ease of modification will
The filament guide snaps onto its holder
give them everything they are looking for.
and can adjust with the movements of the
Sometimes it’s best to spend your time on
machine. In most printers we find that
engineering rather than good looks.
PRINT SCORES
1 2 3 4 5
Accuracy
Backlash 1 2 3 4 5
Bridging 1 2 3 4 5
Overhangs 1 2 3 4 5
Fine Features 1 2 3 4 5
Surface Curved 1 2 3 4 5
Surface General 1 2 3
1 2 3 4 5
Tolerance
XY Resonance FAIL PA SS
Z Resonance FA I L PAS S
PRO TIPS
The quick-fit extruder makes upgrades
a snap. LulzBot already makes a flexible
filament extruder and promises a dual
extruder upgrade soon.
Even if the TAZ isn’t for you, download
the manual at bit.ly/taz-manual, it’s
packed with info on Slic3r and 3DP tips.
Download the Slic3r config files from
LulzBot’s site to get printing in a wide
variety of materials quickly.
WHY TO BUY Large print area with a heated glass bed
makes print removal easy and supports
most materials. It’s totally open source,
extremely well engineered, has a quickexchange extruder system, an amazing
manual, and a top-quality toolkit. It
produces excellent prints in a wide variety
of materials and has an extruder upgrade
made for flexible filaments.
How'd it print?
MATT STULTZ is a community
organizer and founder of both
3D Printing Providence and
HackPittsburgh. He’s a professional software developer, which
helps fuel his passion for being a
maker! 3DPPVD.org
makezine.com
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Special Section
Buyer’s Guide | Fused Filament Printers | Printrbot Simple Metal
PRINTRBOT
SIMPLE METAL
Last year’s portable “best value” returns with
some serious upgrades WRITTEN BY LUIS RODRIGUEZ
bit.ly/printrbot-metal
Price as Tested $599 (plus $39 for
metal handle)
Build Volume 150×150×150mm
Bed Style Unheated steel (heated
upgrade available)
Temperature Control Yes
Materials PLA (ABS if heated bed)
Print Untethered? MicroSD, OctoPrint
compatible
Onboard Controls? No, but LCD add-on
available
Host Software Repetier-Host
Slicer Slic3r
OS Mac, Windows, Linux
Open Software? Third-party software
Open Hardware? Auxiliary design files:
CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Brian Kaldorf
Available at
Printrbot Simple Metal | printrbot.com
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Brian Kaldorf
makezine.com/3d-evolution
community forum (printrbottalk.
THE ALL-METAL CONSTRUCcom), and it’s common to the
TION OF THE PRINTRBOT
the Printrbot’s founder,
SIMPLE METAL feels more
THIS PRINTER see
Brook Drumm, answering
like a professional power
IS PACKED WITH questions directly. That’s
tool than an entry-level
FEATURES AND
a nice customer service
3D printer. The weight of
RIVALS MACHINES touch. There’s also a
this small, portable printCOSTING MUCH
great education section
er gives it a real sense of
MORE.
for teachers and students
quality, and the inclusion of
(learn.printrbot.com).
a now-standard autoleveling bed makes it a real step
up from its wooden predecessors.
A FEW MINOR ISSUES
This printer is packed with features and
The Simple Metal is pretty great, but it’s
rivals machines costing much more.
not perfect. The initial adjustment of the
auto-level probe is a tad cumbersome. It
takes a bit of double-hand holding to adjust
SAME GREAT VALUE, NOW ALL METAL
the probe while fighting the tension on the
Upgrades from the original Simple (still
wiring in the close quarters around the
sold as an upgraded “Maker’s Kit”) include
adjustment nuts. The inclusion of a lasera larger build platform that measures a
cut wrench helps, and is a nice, sentimental
healthy 150×150×150mm, a powder-coated
reminder of Printrbot's beginnings. In
steel frame, thicker polished guide rods,
addition, it can be hard to tell if the printer
large linear bearings that are seated in mais turned on until you notice the glow from
chined aluminum carriage, and an all-aluunderneath the machine. This was not
minum, direct-drive extruder that includes
immediately apparent in a well-lit room. We
a UBIS hot end with interchangeable tips.
also had a serious nozzle clog issue during
Our assembled review unit also came with
an 8-hour overnight print that resulted in
an aluminum handle ($39 upgrade) with an
the filament forcing its way out of the exintegrated printed spool holder (free).
truder in a bizarrely perfect, spring-like coil.
Although it’s a common open-source
MANY OPTIONAL UPGRADES
toolchain
issue not directly related to
AVAILABLE
Printrbot,
it can be a frustrating experience
With the healthy-sized bed you can print
for a first-time user to walk through Slic3r’s
many substantially sized items in PLA and
multiple setup screens and dialog boxes.
nylon on the unheated surface. ABS is supI’d like to see Cura formally recommended
ported if you add the optional heated bed
as another open-source option, as the
upgrade. In fact, the heated bed upgrade
Printrbot community already recommends
($99) and the interchangeable tips (ranging
it. I also was not impressed with the “write
from 0.25 to 0.75mm for $8 each) allow you
to SD” function of Repetier-Host; I took
to experiment with just about any material.
the microSD card out and loaded it into
You can print tethered via Repetier-Host,
the computer to transfer the file manually,
untethered via onboard microSD card, or
although it’s a bit hard to access.
add onboard controls with the Printrbot
LCD control kit accessory ($65). Don’t forget
to print the fan shroud upgrade, it enabled
CONCLUSION
our test unit to attain perfect scores on the
This printer is a joy and doesn’t feel like an
Bridging and Overhang tests.
entry-level machine at all. I recommend
this printer daily to visitors to Science City,
explaining it has many features of higherIMPROVED DOCUMENTATION,
priced printers (plus some they don’t offer).
GREAT SUPPORT
This resonates with educators and budgetThe Simple’s setup documentation is
conscious parents. It’s also perfect for my
professional and thorough. Due to the
friends at the local hackerspace, many
amount of information presented, it can
of whom have spent quite a bit more on
feel a bit overwhelming, but it’s a fantastic
machines that don’t have the print quality
reference when needed. Printrbot also has
or the fit and finish of the Simple Metal.
a robust help site (help.printrbot.com) and
PRINT SCORES
Accuracy
1 2 3 4 5
Backlash 1 2 3 4 5
Bridging 1 2 3 4 5
Overhangs 1 2 3 4 5
Fine Features 1 2 3 4 5
Surface Curved 1 2 3 4 5
Surface General 1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
Tolerance
XY Resonance FAIL PA SS
Z Resonance FA I L PAS S
PRO TIPS
During Slic3r setup, measure your
filament diameter. Add 0.1mm to avoid
a known bug and perfectly adjust your
extrusion.
Print the fan shroud from printrbot.
com/project/simple-metal, it will greatly
improve every print thereafter.
Avoid Repetier-Host’s “write to SD” —
manually transfer files to SD from your
computer’s SD reader.
WHY TO BUY It’s feature-packed, portable, and solidly built. With its high print scores and
many available upgrades, the Simple Metal
is a great value for beginners and experts alike. How’d it print?
LUIS RODRIGUEZ is the lead
organizer for Maker Faire Kansas
City and has been 3D printing
since 2009, when he got his first
MakerBot Cupcake. Luis works at
Science City, where he manages
the Maker Studio and Spark!Lab.
unionstation.org/sciencecity
makezine.com
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Special Section
Buyer’s Guide | Fused Filament Printers | Ditto Pro
DITTO PRO
Easy for beginners. Plus, attractive,
affordable, and tinkerer-friendly.
Price as Tested $1,899
Build Volume 220×165×220mm
Bed Style Unheated glass
Temperature Control Yes
Materials PLA
Print Untethered? SD card, OctoPrint
compatible
Onboard Controls? Yes
Host Software Tinkerine Suite
Slicer Integrated CuraEngine
OS Mac, Windows
Open Software? No
Open Hardware? No
Brian Kaldorf
WRITTEN BY JOHN ABELLA
DITTO PRO | tinkerine.com
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makezine.com/3d-evolution
BACK FOR A SECOND YEAR, VANCOUVER’S TINKERINE STUDIOS HAS ADDED
a shiny new printer to their lineup, the
Ditto Pro. We put the bright white machine
through its paces and found that there’s a
lot to like.
software, but it’s an available option in the
LCD menus.
LACKING DETAILED DOCUMENTATION
One of the biggest improvements across
the field of tested printers this year has
been in the area of documentation; unfortunately this has not been the case for the
UNIQUE OPEN C FRAME
Ditto Pro. The primary machine documenKeeping with the open design of their
tation for this model was a nicely designed,
previous Ditto and Litto models, the new
but extremely brief, quick-start guide
Pro has a very accessible “open C frame”
and an 18-page Tinkerine Suite software
build area. It’s great for demonstrations,
manual. With other companies providing
as onlookers can easily see how it works.
bound 50-100 page guides, supplying so
Fashioned from white Dibond panels, it
little in the way of documentation is
features bright LED lighting and a
a significant shortcoming.
built-in graphical LCD screen
The FAQ section on the
with an SD card slot. The
WE PUT
Tinkerine website covers
extruder hot end is well
THE BRIGHT
some topics such as print
designed, and the filament
MACHINE
WHITE
adhesion, but it doesn’t
loading and changing
THROUGH ITS PACES offer concrete direcwas easy following the
AND FOUND THAT tion, instead suggesting
on-screen prompts.
THERE’S A LOT
only that something may
The Ditto Pro is one of
TO LIKE.
be needed. Similarly, the
the few systems where the
FAQ suggests that in certain
filament spool is kept within
circumstances the stepper driver
the confines of the printer. It’s a
voltage may need to be tuned, but offers
small detail, but a game changer when
no direction about what the process entails
you’re pressed for space.
or how to go about it.
FOURTH HIGHEST IN OVERALL
PRINT QUALITY
This machine scored the fourth highest overall print quality in our tests, with
especially impressive performance in the
Overhang and Surface Finish tests. The
Ditto Pro’s build area of 215×160×205mm
falls just below average size, and it comes
equipped with a removable, unheated,
glass build plate, making this machine PLA
only. Leveling the build plate was easy using
the on-screen direction and the threepoint adjustment knobs, but our testers
had problems with print adhesion until we
began using glue sticks.
Brian Kaldorf
INTUITIVE BESPOKE SOFTWARE
Tinkerine supplies their own bespoke software for their printers, known as Tinkerine
Suite. It provides a user-friendly interface
while tucking away the more technical
details, and uses Ultimaker’s open-source
Cura engine under the hood. Many of our
testers found the software to be intuitive
and easy to use. There’s no provision for
manually controlling the printer from the
PRINT SCORES
Accuracy
1 2 3 4 5
Backlash 1 2 3 4 5
Bridging 1 2 3 4 5
Overhangs 1 2 3 4 5
Fine Features 1 2 3 4 5
Surface Curved 1 2 3 4 5
Surface General 1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
Tolerance
XY Resonance FAIL PA SS
Z Resonance FA I L PAS S
PRO TIPS
To get your prints to stick to the platform,
cover it with blue tape or use a glue stick.
WHY TO BUY Simplified software (but configurable
settings) that produces great prints with
nice Surface Finish and solid Overhangs.
The Ditto Pro takes G-code, so you can
use whatever slicer you like. CONTROL ISSUES
Throughout the course of our testing, the
Ditto Pro performed extremely well, and did
not experience any jams or clogs. However,
testers consistently reported that the LCD
control panel knob was way too sensitive,
often making it hard to select the correct
item from the menu. This ranged from a
nuisance to borderline unusable throughout the weekend and was a source of
frustration for many testers.
How’d it print?
CONCLUSION
The Ditto Pro is a great-looking machine
with print performance to match. It scored
as well as some of the best printers we
tested, while far less expensive than
most of them. If the documentation were
improved significantly, we believe that the
combination of good design and easy to use
software would make it ideal for new users.
As it stands, the Ditto Pro is probably best
for the user willing to get a little more involved in the care and feeding of the system
— a tinkerer, and maybe that’s the point.
JOHN ABELLA is a maker of
things, obsessive hobbyist, 3D
printing and CNC enthusiast.
Maker Faire New York 3D Printer
Village wrangler and lead
instructor at BotBuider.net. John
has written for all three Make:
3D printer guides.
makezine.com
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Special Section
Buyer’s Guide | Fused Filament Printers | BeeTheFirst
BEETHEFIRST
Smartly designed consumer-grade hardware,
with a little something extra
WRITTEN BY CHRIS YOHE & ANNA KAZIUNAS FRANCE
BeeTheFirst | beeverycreative.com
Price as Tested $2,172
Build Volume 190x135x125mm
Bed Style Unheated acrylic
Temperature Control No
Materials BeeTheFirst PLA only
Print Untethered? Unplug USB, wi-fi via
BeeConnect
Onboard Controls? No
Host Software BeeSoft
Slicer Integrated CuraEngine
OS Mac, Windows, Linux
Open Software? BeeSoft GPL v2.0,
BeeTheFirst firmware GPL v3.0
Open Hardware? No
LOOKING FOR A TRULY
CONSUMER-GRADE
PRINTER THAT INTEGRATES LOOKS AND
PORTABILITY WITH
SMART DESIGN? You’ll
find it in BeeTheFirst.
Portugal’s BeeVeryCreative provides a
fantastic out-of-the-box
experience that allows
anyone to painlessly
enter the world of
desktop 3D printing.
Neophytes will be up
and running quickly and
this portable, polished
machine is sure to look
great on any desktop or
coffee table, but even
seasoned veterans will
find some interesting
software Easter eggs
if they peek below the
shiny surface.
46
Brian Kaldorf
BEAUTY AND BRAINS
Upon unboxing, it’s immediately clear that this is
something new. But it’s not
just the hip, modern, minimalist
design, the clever built-in handle, or
magnetically removable build plate
that piqued our interest — we were
impressed by the forward-thinking industrial and user-experience design.
makershed.com
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makezine.com/3d-evolution
OCCAM’S RAZOR
STRAIGHTFORWARD SOFTWARE,
It’s refreshing to see a machine that’s been
NO ADVANCED SETTINGS
designed from the ground up with equal foWhen it comes to printing, they couldn’t
cus on aesthetics, ergonomics, user experihave made it simpler. The custom BeeSoft
ence, and functionality. BeeTheFirst also
host software has all of the standard placedefies the current trend of adding fancy
ment, scaling, and rotation options, but
extruder sensors and auto-levelers to solve
the print dialog deliberately restricts layer
common printer problems, instead applying
height and infill to a few simple choices
the tenet of Occamʼs razor: Good
in order to streamline the experidesign solves problems in the
ence. BeeSoft is in active
simplest way possible,
development and provides
instead of cramming in
both regular and beta
WITH HAND-HOLDING
more tech.
releases frequently.
FOR BEGINNERS AND
The cleverly
Since the Shootout,
A GITHUB REPO FULL
integrated, magthe low (0.3mm)
OF OPEN-SOURCE
netic/kinematically
and high (0.1mm)
SOFTWARE FOR
coupled bed with
slicing options have
large accessible
been expanded to
ADVANCED USERS,
knobs is hands down
include a 0.05mm
BEETHEFIRST HAS
the easiest we have
setting
and additional
SOMETHING FOR
ever leveled. The thick
infill
density
options,
EVERYONE.
acrylic build platform sits
plus the ability to print
upon a sturdy metal arm,
untethered after kicking off a
which unlike the flimsy plastic
print via USB.
parts present on many desktop
Shootout prints run at 0.1mm ranked
machines, will never warp or twist. We
within the top third of printers tested. This
popped it off and on dozens of times
machine also had very little Backlash, but
throughout our testing without the need
had some trouble with Fine Features and
to re-level.
scored poorly on the Tolerance test.
CLEAR BEGINNER DOCUMENTATION
The user guide is well written, brief, and
surprisingly informative. It gives a concise
breakdown of the machine and clearly
sets new-user expectations. There are
also numerous troubleshooting videos on
BeeVeryCreative’s site, including how to
take apart the case (it’s easier than it looks)
to clear a jammed extruder.
Brian Kaldorf
MATERIALS MATTER
Another interesting design feature is the
tiny, magnetically attached internal spool
that holds proprietary (but unchipped) filament. Like Afinia, BeeVeryCreative seeks
to eliminate nozzle jamming by operating
at higher temperatures of about 220ºC.
We fed ours non-OEM orange Ultimachine
which produced part of a very stringy
print before jamming completely. BeeVeryCreative materials have been limited
to eight colors of PLA, but recent software
update options reveal that more are on
the way soon.
EASTER EGGS!
Hardcore enthusiasts don’t despair! While
not advertised, there are plenty of software
hacking opportunities under the hood.
Here’s where it gets interesting: BeeSoft’s
interface is derived from ReplicatorG and
slices with CuraEngine. Both BeeSoft and
the BeeTheFirst firmware are completely
open-source and GPL-licensed: point your
browser to github.com/beeverycreative and
clone away!
They’ve also forked OctoPrint and created their own BeeTF variant of OctoPi that
works with the BeeTF’s speedy R2C2 printer
controller (ARM 32bits running at 100MHz)
over USB native. They plan to offer their own
BeeConnect Raspberry Pi kit, followed by
assembled versions and mobile apps.
CONCLUSION
With hand-holding for beginners and a
GitHub repo full of open-source software
for advanced users, BeeTheFirst has something for everyone.
PRINT SCORES
Accuracy
1 2 3 4 5
Backlash 1 2 3 4 5
Bridging 1 2 3 4 5
Overhangs 1 2 3 4 5
Fine Features 1 2 3 4 5
Surface Curved 1 2 3 4 5
Surface General 1 2 3 4 5
Tolerance
1 2 3 4 5
XY Resonance FAIL PA SS
Z Resonance FA I L PAS S
PRO TIPS
The BeeConnect software is continually
updated and released in two parallel versions, one production, one beta. Check out
the beta for the newest features.
BeeTheFirst can print with Afinia’s new
PLA (green worked well for us)
Want to print wirelessly? Grab a
Raspberry Pi and check out “BeeConnect”: github.com/beeverycreative
WHY TO BUY An easy-to-use, attractive, portable
machine with stripped-down, custom
open-source software. Uses smart
hardware design (instead of sensors)
to make bed leveling easy.
How’d it print?
CHRIS YOHE Software developer
by day, hardware hacker by night,
Chris is a man of many gadgets.
A member of HackPittsburgh, he
is an avid 3D printing enthusiast
and like many others is amassing
a slowly growing army of manufacturing minions.
From rugby, to tailgating, to 3D printing he’s
always looking for an excuse to make the world a
better, or at least more interesting, place.
makezine.com
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Special Section
Buyer’s Guide | Fused Filament Printers | Afinia H480
AFINIA H480
WRITTEN BY JOSH AJIMA
Excellent out-of-the-box experience, great for educators
AFINIA H480 | Afinia.com
Price as Tested $1,299
Build Volume 140×140×135mm
Bed Style Heated perf board
Temperature Control? No
Materials Afinia PLA, ABS
Print Untethered? Unplug USB
Onboard controls? No
Software Afinia 3D
Slicer Afinia 3D
OS Mac, Windows
Open Software? No
Open Hardware? No
Available at
AFINIA CONTINUES TO LIVE UP TO ITS
“EASY TO USE” REPUTATION WITH THEIR
UPDATED H-SERIES PRINTER. The H480
printer may appear identical to the previous
model, but it now includes automatic platform leveling and nozzle height detection.
AUTOMATIC CALIBRATION
Leveling a print bed and setting the extruder height are two of the biggest challenges
for beginners. The Afinia H480 uses a
magnetically attached sensor to perform
automatic platform level calibration. A sensor attached to the extruder probes the bed
at 9 different points and a separate sensor
determines the correct nozzle height. Even
experienced users may be surprised at how
reliable prints are when these important
calibration steps are automated.
Brian Kaldorf
SIMPLE SETUP, GREAT PRINT SURFACES
The Afinia software is easy to use, providing all the essentials for slicing and printer
control in an uncluttered interface. The
software defaults create rafts and supports
which, combined with the heated bed, gives
great print results, although the built-in
slicer didn’t fare well with very small positive Fine Features or Bridging. It excels at
producing high-quality Surface Finish and
did well with the articulated robot Toler-
bit.ly/Alfina-H480
ances. Other printers may have flashier
interfaces or larger build volumes, but the
Afinia’s Surface Finish and ease of use
keeps it in the top 10.
NOW WITH (PROPRIETARY) PLA
The Afinia (and its Up brethren) lack usercontrolled temperature settings and print
ABS at a much higher temp (260°) than other printers. This requires Afinia-produced
high-temperature filament to perform
properly. Afinia has also begun to produce
its own brand of specially formulated PLA,
but color selection is (at press time) limited.
It’s not recommended to use non-Afinia/Up
filaments with this machine.
PRINT SCORES
Accuracy
1 2 3 4 5
Backlash 1 2 3 4 5
Bridging 1 2 3 4 5
Overhangs 1 2 3 4 5
Fine Features 1 2 3 4 5
Surface Curved 1 2 3 4 5
Surface General 1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
Tolerance
XY Resonance FA I L PAS S
Z Resonance FA I L PAS S
PRO TIPS
Load models and configure settings
while preheating to save time.
Use BuildTak to eliminate perforated
print bottoms.
You can’t turn off support completely,
but you can minimize the support angle
to 10° to eliminate most support structures. Use “Print Setup” menu (3D Print
menu > setup)
WHY TO BUY Great surface finish with “fine” print
settings. Automatic platform leveling and
nozzle height detection remove beginner frustration. Good for educators, as
reliable design and easy-to-use software
mean successful prints with less training
and support issues. Includes a 1-year
manufacturer’s warranty, with an optional
1-year extension. Includes accessories kit.
How'd it print?
NOT FOR TINKERERS
The same features that make the H-Series
a top “Just Hit Print” choice will steer
hardware hackers away. The closed design
means that there are limited options to
tweak or tinker with the machine. The Afinia
software only allows limited choices for
layer height, temperature and percent infill.
CONCLUSION
Overall, the updated Afinia H480 offers a
reliable print experience that should appeal
to the growing ranks of new 3D printer
users.
JOSH AJIMA is a high school
technology resource teacher
and a K12 makerspace and 3D
printing advocate. He created the
Makerspace Starter Kit, runs a
STEM camp makerspace, and
sponsors a 3D printing club.
designmaketeach.com
makezine.com
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10/21/14 11:30 AM
Buyer’s Guide | Fused Filament Printers | Zortrax M200
ZORTRAX M200
Unique case and lots of extras
WRITTEN BY NICK PARKS
Special Section
PRINT SCORES
Accuracy
1 2 3 4 5
Backlash 1 2 3 4 5
Bridging 1 2 3 4 5
Overhangs 1 2 3 4 5
Fine Features 1 2 3 4 5
Surface Curved 1 2 3 4 5
Surface General 1 2 3 4 5
ZORTRAX M200 | zortrax.com
Price as Tested $1,990
Build Volume 200×200×185mm
Bed Style Heated perf board
Temperature Control? No
Materials ABS
Print Untethered? SD card
Onboard controls? Yes
Host Software Z-Suite
Slicer Z-Suite
OS Mac, Windows
Open Software? No
Open Hardware? No
THE ZORTRAX M200 COMBINES SUPERB
PRINT QUALITY WITH A LARGE BUILD
volume, a built-in screen and SD card
reader for untethered printing, and requires
almost no maintenance. This machine
comes with a large variety of useful extras
including a complete hot end, two extra
nozzles, and a toolkit that includes everything required for maintaining the machine.
Gunther Kirsch
ALL-ALUMINUM EXTERIOR, UNIQUE
8-ROD GANTRY
The build quality of this machine is absolutely amazing. The M200 is made entirely
of aluminum, which allows the machine to
be both light and rigid. It also has a unique
gantry setup that uses four X-axis and
four Y-axis rods, which also increases the
machine’s rigidity.
The Zortrax doesn’t have auto leveling,
instead the bed is equipped with five conductive squares that the M200 uses to level
the bed and calibrate the nozzle height,
prompting the user to either tighten or
loosen the bed-leveling adjustment knobs.
These features, coupled with the perforated
board, allow the prints to maintain strong
adhesion to the bed while printing.
NO TEMP CONTROL, ABS ONLY
The Zortrax software does not allow for
user temperature control and is built for
printing in ABS only. I’ve always found ABS
to be smelly, warp-prone, and generally
difficult to work with, but the M200 does a
great job of preventing warping by using a
perforated bed and raft system that holds
the prints down tight.
Zortrax makes two lines of filament,
Z-ABS and Z-ULTRAT, both of which are
formulated to work well on the M200.
The Z-ABS is just standard ABS filament
that works well and costs only $20. The
Z-ULTRAT has a high hardness and low
elasticity level of deformation, but costs
$50. We ran the test prints in Ultimachine
ABS, which yielded beautiful prints, but I
found that support material wasn’t as easy
to remove as it was when using the filaments designed for the machine.
CONCLUSION
I recommend the Zortrax M200 to anyone
looking for a machine that can print large,
precise, and durable prints without requiring a lot of time to fiddle with settings or
breaking the bank.
Tolerance
1 2 3 4 5
XY Resonance FAIL PA SS
Z Resonance FAIL PA SS
PRO TIPS
Zortrax owners get reduced prices
on filament, lowering each 1Kg spool of
standard filament to $19.99.
WHY TO BUY Auto calibration, easy-to-use software.
Great for workplaces where quality, reliably, and ease of use are highly important.
An excellent choice for people who need
the durability of ABS without all of the
warping and frustration.
How'd it print?
NICK PARKS is an engineering intern at Make: Labs and is
studying mechanical engineering
at Santa Rosa Junior College.
He likes to build and take apart
things to make products better or
create something new. He enjoys
working at Make: magazine and likes to help other
people build projects of their own.
makezine.com
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10/17/14 4:35 PM
Buyer’s Guide | Fused Filament Printers | Replicator 5th Generation
REPLICATOR
REPLICATOR | makerbot.com
5 GENERATION
TH
“Feature-packed” is putting it mildly
WRITTEN BY JOHN ABELLA
Price as Tested $2,899
Build Volume 252×199×150mm
Bed Style Unheated plastic
Temperature Control? Yes
Materials MakerBot PLA
Print Untethered? USB Stick, wi-fi
/ networked app
Onboard controls? Yes
Host Software MakerBot Desktop
Slicer MakerBot Slicer
OS Mac, Windows, Linux
Open Software? No
Open Hardware? No
Available at
IT’S IMMEDIATELY OBVIOUS UPON UNPACKING THE MAKERBOT REPLICATOR
that substantial engineering resources
went into this fifth-generation machine’s
consumer-focused hardware and software.
It sports a large, bright, color LCD interface,
mobile or PC app-controlled LAN / wi-fi
printing, an internal print-watching camera
and a magnetically attached, sensorpacked Smart Extruder. The onboard LCD
interface was by far the most complex of all
systems we tested. While printing, you can
scroll through system status to see print
progress, slicer settings used, a rendering
of the finished piece, and even snap photos.
INTEGRATED 3DP ECOSYSTEM
The MakerBot Desktop software is easy to
use and certainly the most comprehensive
of all packages tested. In addition to allowing the user to prepare and print files, it
has extensive integration with Thingiverse
and MakerBot Digital Store. After login,
designs the user has “liked” on Thingiverse
or models purchased from the Digital Store
are automatically populated in the software,
allowing (almost) one-click printability.
SURFACE FINISH NEEDS WORK
The new Replicator’s print quality was at
the higher end, especially on the Overhangs, Tolerance, and Backlash. However, it
54
bit.ly/Replicator-5th
was near the bottom of the pack in our Fine
Features testing. Testers also commented
that the Surface Finish was a step down
from the Replicator 2.
NOISY
Within the first few minutes of using the
new Replicator we noticed that it’s not a
quiet machine. As testers came over to
watch it in action, the first thing mentioned
was always the noise; the Z-axis movements sounded particularly pained.
RAZORS VERSUS BLADES
Use of non-OEM filament on the 5th generation Replicator is aggressively discouraged through the inclusion of an internally
mounted, unusually sized filament spool
and will void the 6-month machine warranty. We voided ours with Ultimachine,
and it printed without issue. While we
didn’t experience problems with the Smart
Extruder, it’s worth noting that it’s not userserviceable. When jams occur after the
90-day extruder warranty period expires, a
$175 replacement must be purchased.
CONCLUSION
Out of all the machines tested, the fifthgeneration Replicator is the closest to a
networked appliance. We just wish there
was more for the maker in this ‘bot.
PRINT SCORES
Accuracy
1 2 3 4 5
Backlash 1 2 3 4 5
Bridging 1 2 3 4 5
Overhangs 1 2 3 4 5
Fine Features 1 2 3 4 5
Surface Curved 1 2 3 4 5
Surface General 1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
Tolerance
XY Resonance FAIL PA SS
Z Resonance FA I L PAS S
PRO TIPS
Have piles of non-MakerBot PLA on
standard spools? Use a lazy Susan for
filament management.
The software does not warn or prevent
trying to print something larger than the
build area of the system.
WHY TO BUY Ideal for someone who doesn’t want to
get under the hood but wants a networked, app-integrated machine with all
the bells and whistles and is willing to pay
(and keep paying) a premium for it.
How'd it print?
JOHN ABELLA is a maker of
things, obsessive hobbyist, 3D
printing and CNC enthusiast.
Maker Faire New York 3D Printer
Village wrangler and lead
instructor at BotBuider.net. John
has written for all three Make: 3D
printer guides.
Brian Kaldorf
Special Section
makershed.com
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Special Section
Buyer’s Guide | Fused Filament Delta Printers | DeltaMaker
DELTAMAKER
WRITTEN BY ANNA KAZIUNAS FRANCE
Simplify your workflow with this minimalistic deltabot
DeltaMaker | DeltaMaker.com
Price as Tested $2,399
Build Volume 260mm Z, 240mm wide
hexagonal platform
Bed Style Unheated acrylic
Temperature Control? Yes
Materials PLA
Print Untethered? Preconfigured
OctoPrint
Onboard Controls? No
Host Software OctoPrint
Slicer CuraEngine
OS Mac, Windows, Linux
Open Software? Third-party software
Brian Kaldorf
Open Hardware? No
EVERYTHING ABOUT THE DELTAMAKER
EXPERIENCE IS MINIMALISTIC AND
SEAMLESS. With a Raspberry Pi tucked
out of sight inside the base of its sleek
silver frame, this wirelessly OctoPrintcontrolled ‘bot arrives completely assembled with onboard CuraEngine slicing.
While not a new OctoPrint feature, this is
the first commercial machine I’ve seen
with it enabled (Type A ships without
onboard slicing). I’m flabbergasted that
other vendors haven’t adopted it.
STREAMLINED SETUP
Setup consists of removing the machine
from the securely packed box, placing the
removable, magnetically attached acrylic
build plate on the frame, and plugging it in.
Skim the setup guide for the OctoPrint login info, autolevel, load filament, and start
printing from the browser of any device.
PROPERLY PRECONFIGURED
ONBOARD SLICING The built-in slicing configuration is conservatively configured to ensure success. It’s
super easy and works quite well, as long
as the model has been properly oriented
before uploading. It’s refreshing that,
unlike many other vendors utilizing free
software toolchains, DeltaMaker took the
time to properly preconfigure their slicing
58
settings. The result is that their spartan
approach makes the machine layer almost
invisible, allowing OctoPrint to take center
stage. Like any advanced digital fabrication tool – the hardware just works – and
user energy is spent in software tweaking
parameters, not mechanical fussing.
DOCUMENTATION DEFICIENCY,
XY VIBRATION
One area where DeltaMaker’s minimalist
approach breaks down is the complete lack
of readily available, online documentation.
This austerity stands out in sharp contrast
to the other machines tested. A second
detraction is that the hollow-ball connector
rod ends that join the arms to the extrudermounted effector platform seem to rattle
a bit. It’s not particularly loud, especially
when compared to Cartesian printers, but it
appears to have produced resonance in the
XY plane, failing our XY Resonance test.
PRINT SCORES
Accuracy
1 2 3 4 5
Backlash 1 2 3 4 5
Bridging 1 2 3 4 5
Overhangs 1 2 3 4 5
Fine Features 1 2 3 4 5
Surface Curved 1 2 3 4 5
Surface General 1 2 3 4 5
Tolerance
1 2 3 4 5
XY Resonance FAIL PA SS
Z Resonance FA I L PAS S
PRO TIPS
Although currently without a heatedbed option, the Azteeg X3 controller used
makes future upgrades possible.
The Marlin firmware is slicer agnostic
and both KISSslicer and Slic3r are viable
options, but just use Cura. For more complex slicing needs, switch to the desktop
version and upload your G-code via the
browser.
WHY TO BUY This delta robot-style machine looks
and operates very differently than the
boxy, Cartesian printers. It has a tall Z
build area and ships with preconfigured
OctoPrint with wi-fi enabled CuraEngine
slicing out of the box.
How’d it print?
CONCLUSION
While the DeltaMaker had miserable
ratings for Retraction and Overhang, it
earned top scores for Accuracy, Bridging,
Backlash, Tolerance, and Z mechanical.
It also produced a nicely surfaced, completely articulated robot, tying with the
Zortrax for the fourth highest overall printquality score.
ANNA KAZIUNAS FRANCE is Make:
magazine’s Digital Fabrication
Editor. She’s also Dean of the
global Fab Academy program,
co-author of Getting Started with
MakerBot, compiled Make: 3D
Printing and has organized and
directed the 3D Printer Shootout for the past two
years. kaziunas.com
makershed.com
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Special Section
Buyer’s Guide | Tinkerer Filament Printers | Ultimaker Original+
ULTIMAKER ORIGINAL+
Same great kit, now with a heated glass bed
WRITTEN BY YVES SINNER & NICK PARKS
PRINT SCORES
Accuracy
1 2 3 4 5
Backlash 1 2 3 4 5
Bridging 1 2 3 4 5
Overhangs 1 2 3 4 5
Fine Features 1 2 3 4 5
Price as Tested $1,600 (kit)
Build Volume 210×210×205mm
Bed Style Heated glass
Temperature Control? Yes
Materials PLA, ABS (others encouraged)
Print Untethered? SD card, OctoPrint
compatible
Onboard Controls? Yes
Host Software Cura
Slicer CuraEngine
OS Mac, Windows, Linux
Open Software? Cura/CuraEngine:
AGPLv3
Open Hardware? Auxiliary files: CC
BY-NC 3.0
RELEASED JUST OVER THREE YEARS
AGO, THE ULTIMAKER ORIGINAL KIT
JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER. The
Original+ has a slew of enhancements
that include a heated glass bed (upgrade
kit available), an improved Z-axis, new
electronics, and Ulticontroller onboard
controls with SD card are now included.
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL ...
Another welcomed improvement is the
move to a 3-point bed leveling system,
which is much easier and quicker than
the previous 4-point bed adjustment
system. Additionally, there have also been
changes to the extruder. The polypropylene fan duct has been replaced with a
sturdy metal one and new plastic spacers
and clips are used in the assembly of
the hot end. Our test machine was fully
assembled (and a prototype, which may
have hurt XY, Z scores) but judging from
our personal kit build experiences, this
redesigned extruder will be significantly
easier to build.
PERIODIC MAINTENANCE
The overnight prints on this machine
60
performed extremely well and reliable.
One thing we did notice was that one of the
nuts was a little loose when we came in
the next morning. Experience using other
Ultimaker Originals for the last two years
has shown that it’s important to tighten all
of the nuts every three to six months.
LET THERE BE LEDS?
The only thing that this machine might be
missing is a lighted build platform. That is
one of the many things that the Ultimaker
2 did extremely well, and it seemed to be a
big hit. I imagine that Ultimaker will eventually release a lighting kit or, perhaps,
Make: Projects will come up with a clever
tutorial on how to light up this machine.
CONCLUSION
This printer packs a huge value. It puts a
huge build volume, refined quality, reliability, and incredible speeds into a continually
upgradable, well-supported machine. It
may not be as sleek as the Ultimaker 2, but
at nearly half the price ($1,600) it’s a great
bargain. With its low maintenance and high
performance, this hackable machine is
great for any maker.
Surface Curved 1 2 3 4 5
Surface General 1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
Tolerance
XY Resonance FAIL PA SS
Z Resonance FAIL Pass
PRO TIPS
Regularly retighten nuts on the sliding
blocks and the extruder, they tend to
loosen.
WHY TO BUY Continually upgradable, extremely fast
and reliable printing, excellent hackability,
great surface finish, large build area,
heated glass, low maintenance.
How’d it print?
YVES SINNER is a Luxembourg/
Europe-based blogger, 3Dprinting enthusiast, innovation expert, and start-up
advisor. You can follow him
and his brother Michel on
3Dprintingforbeginners.com.
NICK PARKS is an engineering
intern at Make: Labs and is studying mechanical engineering at
Santa Rosa Junior College.
Brian Kaldorf
Ultimaker Original+ | ultimaker.com
makershed.com
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Special Section
Buyer’s Guide | Summary & Standouts
THE STANDOUTS
We’ve run all the tests and based on our experiences we can confidently say that these
machines are all top performers. Each has things that make it great, but a few have some
restrictions and limitations. Based on our team’s extensive 3DP experience, we know that the
value of a machine is determined by a combination of price, quality, functionality, and cost of
ownership. WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
BADGES
+
Turnkey = Easy, fast outof-the-box experience
Portable = Compact, has
handle, will travel
BEST IN SHOOTOUT PRINT QUALITY
ULTIMAKER 2
With the undisputed best scores in our print-quality tests (by a
whopping 4 points), the Ultimaker 2 is the machine to beat.
+ Open-Source Software
+ Software Agnostic
+ Turnkey
Smart Design =
Simplified, fresh take on
hardware and/or software
Open Source = Company
has released their code,
original file formats, and
placed their designs under
an open license for your
hacking pleasure
Software Agnostic =
Slicer and control software
choices available
Bells & Whistles =
Extra features that most
machines don’t have
-
Hidden Costs =
Proprietary consumables
Limitations = Limited
software settings,
no user temperature
control, or intentionally restrictive warranty
regarding materials
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makezine.com/3d-evolution
THIN WALLET WIN
PRINTRBOT SIMPLE METAL
At $599, the Printrbot Simple Metal
is affordable, auto-leveling, AND
tied for second for print quality.
+ Software Agnostic
+ Bells & Whistles
+ Portable
FEATURE PACKED
REPLICATOR 5TH GENERATION
MakerBot’s updated flagship machine is full
of shiny new tech, but it comes with a hefty
price tag, hidden costs, and warranty-voiding
materials limitations.
+ Bells & Whistles
+ Turnkey
- Hidden Costs
- Limitations
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
BEETHEFIRST
Something new! An easy-to-use,
attractive, portable machine with
stripped-down, custom open-source
software that uses smart hardware
design (instead of sensors) to make
bed leveling easy.
+ Smart Design: Hardware
+ Open-Source Software
+ Portable
+ Turnkey
- Limitations
- Hidden Costs
MOST MAKER MACHINE
LULZBOT TAZ 4
Everything a maker wants. Open-source
underpinnings, big heated-glass build
volume, high-temperature and multimaterial capable with the custom
Flexystruder. Plus, the excellent print
quality and the detailed documentation
needed to level up.
+ Software Agnostic
+ Open-Source Hardware
HAPPY MEDIUMS
Not quite top of the charts, but high-quality
prints, a large build volume, and below-average
price make these machines solid choices.
ZORTRAX
+ Turnkey
- Limitations
DITTO PRO
+ Turnkey
SMART SOFTWARE
INTEGRATION
DELTAMAKER
The seamless integration of OctoPrint with preconfigured onboard
Cura slicing is the first we’ve seen
in a commercial machine out of the
box, and something we’d like to see
other vendors adopt and attribute.
+ Software Agnostic
+ Turnkey
+ Smart Design: Software Workflow
& Integration
RELIABLE PERFORMER
AFINIA
A solid bet for the third year running.
It’s small build area and software and
materials limitations mean that it’s
not for everyone, but it’s ease of
use and continual upgrades make
it shine.
+ Bells & Whistles
+ Turnkey
- Hidden costs
- Limitations
MOST UPGRADABLE
ULTIMAKER ORIGINAL+
With continual support and available
upgrades from Ultimaker, this beloved
classic just keeps getting better.
+ Open-Source (Custom) Software
+ Software Agnostic
makezine.com
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