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Creality Smart Kit is it Worth It?





Transcript

Hello everybody and welcome to another video review. Today we’ll be taking a look at the Creality Smart Kit which was sent to me for review purposes. No money has exchanged hands, so this will represent my personal opinion on the device and will be followed up with a detailed video discussing what the company could do to improve the follow-up version of this product. I personally like to see companies improve, so I hope they will take the information I present in these two videos to create something that pushes innovation. I will be posting a link in the description below as to where you can actually purchase this device, however I strongly recommend you watch until the end of the video before you even click on that link.

So what is this set of devices supposed to do exactly. Well, the intended goal is to be able to easily control your printer remotely while being able to check on the printing status visually. Now the idea behind this product is good however as we’ll discuss latter on in this video how the implementations just isn’t that great.

So this kit includes the Creality Wi-Fi Box along with a webcam and before starting anything I wanted to so see if any of these devices would work offline. During my tests, and attempts at hacking the devices, I discovered quite a few important details. First off the camera is pretty standard, so you can actually use like a normal webcam and although the video quality is too bright to begin with, once you adjust your settings it’s actually a decent camera. As for the Wi-Fi Box, unfortunately that’s where the issues started to creep up. Now luckily for me, I had two of these on hand, and I was able to sacrifice one in the name of experimental hacking. Now I personally am not skilled at this endeavour, however I did come across some instructions online which seem to be processing, so I decided to give it a shot. And I promptly bricked the device, and it hasn’t really worked since, so that didn’t go as planned. Turning my attention to the backup Wi-Fi Box I began the setup process.

The machine doesn’t come with the power adapter, so you’ll need to use one that’s 5Volts to 2Amps, which most phone adapter’s use. You won’t be able to connect to the device without installing the app, which is a little disappointing since it means that people like me can’t really use if for client work because of security issues. Also, this won’t work with anything but your cell phone, which means you’ll be forced to use the built-in slicer program to get it to work correctly. Once again, we’re going to be a little limited on our use case for this. So once you plug in the Wi-Fi box with an internet cable, the lights should look like this when they are fully functional.

When you first open the app, you’ll be greeted by a welcome screen which has a browse only mode and a term agreement mode. By selecting the browse only mode you’ll only be able to look at the content and won’ t be able to access any of the services which are provided by the cloud which includes the slicing of 3d models. So if you want to use the device, you’re going to need to agree to the terms of service. There are four tabs at the top of the screen which allow you to change between content. The follow tab is where you’ll go to follow your favourite designers and get up to day info about their designs. The “For You” tab is recommendations that will be made to you by Creality Cloud. Groups is where you can join groups that has content you want to stay up to date with. The last tab is the models one, where you can search for models to print.

To be able to slice the downloaded files, you first need to create a creality account. You will be prompted to create the account the moment you attempt a download. There are two options for this, one is you can use your phone number and the other is through e-mail. I choose to use my phone instead, at which point I received a confirmation number to complete the setup. In order to add a printer, you’ll first need to sink up the Wi-Fi box. To do so, you’re going to go to the bottom right corner of the screen to the “Me” button. From here, you’ll select “Add Device” and choose “Scan or Code” since this will be the easiest solution. If you haven’t already, you will be prompted to give access to your devices' camera. From here you can easily scan the QR code which will allow you to select from two options. Depending on how your printer is to be connected to the Wi-Fi Box, you’ll choose the option accordingly. They do a good job of informing the user of what they need to do in order to make sure that the connection is made to the device. At this point, you will be given the password for the Wi-Fi Box, which is a default of 12345678. This is where you’ll be redirected to your network and internet options, where you can enter the password to connect with the device. After entering the password I could clearly see that I was properly connected to the Wi-Fi box but the box itself wasn’t recognizing the Internet connection. From this point, I tried pretty much everything I could think of. I rebooted the Wi-Fi Box, followed by my network router, and tried resetting them to the factory defaults. I then proceeded to troubleshoot my hardware by replacing both the network switch and the cables to ensure that it wasn’t a faulty connection. My unit no matter what I tried just wouldn’t connect to the internet, which means it's pretty much useless. Once you have your device linked up, it seems like you can add multiple printers to that device, however I was not able to test this feature because the device wasn’t working correctly. This brings up a glaring issue with the device. The Wi-Fi box is pretty much useless if it’s not connected to the Creality Cloud.

So was this product even what people were looking for? I’d argue that probably not, although I could easily see how someone who was looking from the outside of the community might think so. If this product was intended to rival Octoprint, it needed to provide a very similar and secure service that was stable. Now to be clear Octoprint does have its own issues however there are ways in which you can actually use it offline. Octoprint also allows the user to slice their models with their own software, rather than relying on someone else's settings to do the job correctly. This product requires Creality Cloud access and transfer the data to the device via Wi-Fi, which inherently make the data more unstable when compared to a wired connection. We’re also limited to a maximum of 2 devices. A great innovation would have been to allow the user to be able to connect at least 3 to 4 printers and control these remotely. This however is not the case either.

Frankly, I’m very disappointed with creality since this is the first product I’ve used from them which didn’t work out of the box. And my final verdict is a 0/10. It couldn’t do its basic function and as such it failed to deliver on its promise to its user base. Having a working camera means nothing if the user didn’t intend to use the camera on its own. If you’ve spent money on this device, I feel very sorry for you and I really hope they send you a working device or refund what you paid for it. As I said before I will be posting a link for the product in the description below, but unless you’re a talented hacker this might not be the best solution at the moment. If Creality is able to release a product which functions offline and is resilient enough to compete with octoprint then I will re-visit this specific review in the future. As I said before, I intend to do a breakdown of what they could do to improve the user experience if they choose to release a new version in the future.

Link to the product: https://bit.ly/34cjAR6

Nozzle Change – CR10 V3 3D Printer





Transcript

Hello everybody and welcome to another video tutorial. Today we’ll be addressing the question that some of you had in the past as to how to change the nozzle on the CR10 V3 since the housing is very tight and difficult to disassemble. Well the good news is that you can do this pretty much as easily as any other machine if you know what to look out for in the process. As always, I am in no way responsible for any damages that may occur so do this at you’re own risk.

Before we even begin removing the existing nozzle we first need to clean out the hot end and there’s a very simply method that I prefer to use for this. The main method I use now days is commonly known as a “Cold pull”. Not only is this great for cleaning out your nozzle if it’s jamming, but it’s also great for clearing out the passageway when doing a nozzle change.

Although I do prefer to use some TPU while doing this, PLA will also work, but you’ll just have to be careful not to snap it in the process. To start things off, if you don’t have any filament already loading into your machine you’ll need to preheat the nozzle by going to “Prepare” + “Preheat PLA” and “Preheat PLA End”. Both PLA and TPU will both use the same temperature settings in this case. Now with TPU you have the option of tying the end into a knot which will make it easier to remove later on, so we’ll cut a piece off that’ll be long enough to feed through and feed it into the hot end. Just make sure that it’s a little longer so that it extrudes slightly. Remove the part that extruded from the hot end and begin cooling down the machine by going to “Prepare” + “Cooldown”. The hot end should be at its normal room temperature before continuing to the next step. Once it’s Cooldown completely you’ll restart the heating process while tugging on the filament at the same time. As the hot end heats up any residue will be dislodged when the filament is pulled out at a low temperature. As you can see I did this process with both TPU and PLA with the same results. Once again just make sure not to snap the filament while doing this step.

For the following steps here’s what I recommend you pick up for the nozzle change. While some of these are optional most are highly recommended. A ratchet with extender and bits, needle nose vice grips, magnetic tray, pipe joint tape and your replacement nozzle.

With the nozzle cleaned up we can now begin swapping the end so to do this will need some needle nose vice grips. Normally for most machines you don’t need this specific tool however because of how close the hot end assembly is to the components and the difficulty which can be experience in removing the outer shell I do highly recommend you pick this up. A small ratcheting socket set is also helpful however there are more specialized tools out there, so this one isn’t as necessary. You’ll want to take a close look underneath to check where the wiring is mainly located since the last thing we want to do is damage the thermistor or heater cartridge. To do this we’ll raise the hot end assembly up the Z axis by going through the menu system. Go to “Prepare” + “Move Axis” + “Move Z” and we’ll set the number high enough to easily access the hot end with our tools. As an extra precaution I would also recommend putting something on the glass bed just in case you drop a tool on the surface.

Anything after this point should be done with a minimum of one glove on your hand to keep from burning yourself. With your vice grips you’ll lock this onto the heater block while making sure to avoid any of the delicate wiring that’s on the inside. Luckily the design of the hot end assembly automatically places these components into an area where they’re less likely to get damaged. Here’s a picture of how this looks under my machine but double check just in case before clamping the vice grips in place. The nice thing about using a ratchet which has an extender on it is that the extender helps to defuse the heat far easier and prevents burning. So you’ll unscrew the nozzle carefully and remove it from the hot end assembly.

Before we begin putting on the replacement, we first want to add some pipe joint tape since this’ll help produce a greater seal within the threads and prevent material from oozing out. I personally prefer using the version which is thicker since it requires less wrapping, but that’ll depend on your preferences. This material can be found at any local hardware store or online depending on what’s more convenient. A very important note is to make sure that the hole isn’t in any way covered or that you get this material inside. This can cause some very bad nozzle jams so take care of this step. If it’s covered, simply use your tweezers to punch a small hole and roll the material around the edge of the thread. Now we simply screw back in the nozzle making sure to have it just tight enough to hold into place. Just as you’re getting close to finish tightening the hot end, you’ll hold onto the vice grips and tighten the hot end followed by slightly turning the vice grips to allow for a greater seal. DO NOT under any circumstances do not overtighten the nozzle since it can snap in the heater block. Simply remove the vice grips, and you’re ready to go.

Also, for those of you who actually want to use this video as guide keep in mind that I will be posting the transcript on my main website to make it easier to follow along. Alternatively please feel free to slow down the video by hitting the gear icon on the bottom right-hand corner of your screen and to change the speed settings.

CR10-V3 – All Metal Upgrade + CR Touch





Transcript

Hello everybody and welcome to another video tutorial. Today we’ll be upgrading the machine to use an all metal hot end thanks to a couple of mods that I designed myself as well as installing the new CR Touch which is crealities BLTouch alternative. Full disclaimer, this is not a paid sponsorship, I was sent the CR Touch free of charge for testing purposes and the opinions that you will see here are my own. Furthermore, undertake this at your own risk, and I’m in no way responsible if damages may occur as a result.

Before starting to design anything, I first needed to see how the hot end was mounted to the machine. So this meant dissembling the unit and seeing which portions could be reused and which one needed to be changed. For the components that I’m building today, I did find it easier to do the test prints with PLA, so long as I monitored the temperatures. I then used my SLA printer to print with engineering materials.

I went with the E3D V6 direct kit since even with the exchange rates it came to almost the same amount as a knockoff and I knew the quality that I was getting. Another benefit was the online resources that they provided to the user. They had diagrams which included important measurements and even had the steps for modifying the firmware. So I knew I was going to have the proper thermistor settings enabled without having to do additional research.

With all of this information, I began designing the adapter for the hot end itself. Now in the stock version, the main cooling fan was attached to an outer case which made nozzle changes more difficult because of the lack of access. So I knew ahead of time that I would need to keep this area as clear as possible. What I ended up modelling was an adapter which fit into the stock gear section of the filament feed and used a Zip tie to help ensure that it remained in place. Although the zip tie wasn’t necessary, it was an additional precaution to make sure that everything held together.

While the finished part was printing on the machine, I began making the changes to the firmware. I changed the thermistor type to number 5 which was the 100k thermistor -ATC Semitec 104GT-2. With that portion changed, it was now time to set the maximum Temperatures for the hot end. Because this was a higher temperature hot end, it was important to take into account how the firmware worked. For safety reason, the firmware automatically reduces the max temperature reading by 15 degrees on the LCD screen. So to fully tighten the nozzle, we’ll first have to increase the max temperature by this amount and lower it back down. With this hot end, the maximum temperature is 285 degrees Celsius. So if you do this, you’ll want to make sure that you turn back down the maximum to 285 degrees after properly tightening the nozzle. I made a previous video showing how to do nozzle changes on this machine, which I’ll include a link in the description below.

By this point I had already decided that I would mount the cooling fan to the same screws as the CR Touch, therefore I modelled and began testing this portion together as soon as possible. With the mount for the CR Touch, there’s a little of play involved, therefore it’s important to keep this in mind when installing your part. In my first design I created only one cooling fan however the parts weren’t cooling properly in overhanging areas, so I redesigned this to a secondary output that ran onto the other side of the nozzle and although the designs don’t necessarily match they do however allow for minimal material use and a more streamlined path for the air to flow.

At this point, I began installing the finalized parts that I had 3d printed and replacing the BLTouch with the CR Touch. One thing I noticed was that in my case, I had to use trial and error to manually set the Z-Offset for the machine. To do this, I’m going to level the bed by going to “Prepare” + “Bed Levelling”. Afterwards, I went to “Prepare” + “Move Axis” and lowered the nozzle to the zero mark. Next, I went to “Control” + “Motion” + “Z-Offset” and began tweaking the value until I got a perfect first layer. Just make sure to save your settings otherwise it won’t be stored, so go back one menu after setting the Z-offset and choose “Store Settings”. This meant quite a few failed test prints, but was the best solution I found given the issues I encountered. For some reason, the nozzle would hit the bed whenever I used the proper method of calibration. The only difference was that I had compiled by own version of the firmware by using the source code which had been provided by Creality. In future, I would like to see them update this source code to reflect the changes which may have occurred as well as updating Marlin to one of it’s more recent releases. Other than that, I didn’t have any problems with the CR Touch, so I’m hoping that they’ve addressed the quality control issues which were present with the aftermarket BLTouch.

Now, to make things easier for any of you who may wish to try it out for yourselves, I’m making both the files and the firmware available for download on my ThingIverse Page. So would I say that the CR Touch and Hot End Upgrade was worth it in the end. I would say that yes, depending on how you intend to use this machine. I’m personally swapping out materials fairly constantly, so not having to worry about the bed levelling because of the temperatures changes makes the CR Touch Worth it in my case. As for the hot end upgrade, well that depends on the materials you intend to use. I do want to use some of my higher temperature materials, and I’ve been unable to utilize because of the limitations of the hot end, so once again in my case this does become relevant.

Also, for those of you who actually want to use this video as a guide, keep in mind that I will be posting the transcript on my main website to make it easier to follow along. Alternatively, please feel free to slow down the video by hitting the gear icon on the bottom right-hand corner of your screen and to changing the speed settings.

If you want to support this channel, please feel free to check out some merch on my website. Thank you for watching, and I hope to see you guys soon. Thank you and take care.

Labist X1 3D Printer – Can it Really Print? – 150$ 3D printer





Transcript

Hello everybody and welcome to another review. Today we’ll be covering a small 3d printer which has a very low price point and is supposed to be easy to use. Now full disclaimer before we begin. I purchased this machine with my own money and was not paid to do this video so everything you see here will be based on my own opinion.

When I first opened the box, I was surprised to see just how few parts were needed for the assembly. Most of the parts were already wired, and it looked like just a couple of components needed to be assembled. Also, the interface system was simplified to use only 3 buttons which is a unique take on a 3D printer. The only component which needed to be assembled was the Z axis in which you put the wiring through the opening before attaching it with some Screws. After that, All you needed to do was to attach the filament spool holder with another two screws. Now this machine is designed to work with smaller spools such as those which are sold by Labist themselves so this will mean the user will have two options when using this machine. Either you can order spools which are the same type or you can order a separate spool holder which can hold a regular size 1 kg roll. For my setup, I used a separate spool holder since this was easier for me to work with however doing so did increase the footprint of the machine.

The instruction manual that came with the machine was well written even if the binding wasn’t the greatest. The good news is that the machine came with an SD card which had the digital version included. If they can replace the binding for future products it would greatly help polish up the user experience. Like most printer’s this one also came with pre-loaded printable files which you can start printing immediately with. Important to note is that since there isn’t a menu system on this machine I would highly recommend just have the file that you intend to print on the SD card at any given point in time. This does make it more difficult to streamline prints however this does simplify the printing experience. This machine is mainly geared towards novices so keeping this in mind I will be giving two separate verdicts as a result. Now although some of their advertising shows children using this machine, I would never recommend a 3d printer to be used unattended by an adult let alone a child since several safety issues could arise. Some of these included the fact that this machine doesn’t actually posses a power button which in itself makes it problematic. The only way to currently turn off the machine is to unplug the power supply either from the control case directly or through the wall socket. In my case I used a power bar to achieve the same results. The thermistor was simply taped to the custom heating portion and also used a connector for easy replacement, so I was able to test thermal runaway protection. Thankfully, this machine does have thermal runaway enabled which is great news considering that the firmware can’t easily be modified, and we’ll go through that in more detail latter on.

This machine does feature a magnetic flexible build plate which is great however it tends to be way too sticky. As a result, you can see what will happen if you don’t take the proper precautions. To prevent this from happening, I would highly recommend covering the build plate with some painter’s tape since the prints will stick just as well to that surface, and you can simply replace the material afterwards. Doing this will help lengthen the longevity of your build plate. Now at the time of shooting this video they were sold out of replacements however you can normally buy a replacement build plate if this one becomes damaged. The build plate also isn’t heated, so you’ll be limited to either PLA or a lower temperature TPU filament which is fine for most people starting off.

Before you actually start printing, you’ll definitely want to level the bed since this is normally something which isn’t perfect when a machine comes out of the factory. To do this, you’ll need to press the home button to move the machine to it’s home position. Make sure to place a piece of paper in the top left-hand corner of the build plate before you do this. Using the Adjustment Nobs, you’ll either tighten or loosen these until you’re just barely able to move the paper. The only way I was able to move the nozzle around the build plate was by turning the belts themselves so if you do this make sure to be very careful since obtaining replacement belts wouldn’t be easy given the initial design of this machine.

If you decide to stick to the software that came with the machine then slicing should be pretty straightforwards however if you’d prefer to use a more mainstream software than getting the machine calibrated can be somewhat difficult. These are just a small portion of the test print that I went through to calibrate mine, but there were some key components that will make your life easier. First off, this machine isn’t designed to go fast and since it’s a direct extruder you’ll want to make sure that retractions are turned off. These were the settings that I ended up using on my machine. These settings will need to be tweaked for your particular device since both each filament and machine tends to have its own nuances. The main website does also feature some recommended settings, so those will also be a good starting point for your printer.

Now one thing that I noticed is that there were some design choices which could be problematic if repairs or upgrades were needed. One user mentioned that the belts were non-standard which could be a very big issue should one of them break. Another issues are with the firmware, since the company hasn’t shared the source files. This makes any upgrades or adjustments an issue in the future. So as such this machine isn’t really gear towards a tinkering mindset. The nozzle itself seems to be attached using a method which I honestly didn’t feel comfortable disassembling since it didn't seem like it was intended to be replaced easily. The thermistor however does appear to be easily replaceable so long as you know what type is compatible which this machine. Once again since we don’t have access to the source files we can’t actually check to see which one we’d need to get as a replacement. The stepper motors are soldered to the board which does make the connections more reliable however replacements would be much more difficult since it would involve desoldering them and finding compatible replacements. To the companies credit, the machine components are fairly easy to open up and access so if the repair is a minor one it may still be possible.

Now how did the prints compare to other machines, well this is where some issues start to creep up. No matter what I tried, I got a messy base on all of my prints. Overhangs clearly suffered from poor cooling and from closer inspection I would say that it’s design of the layer fan which seems to only be cooling the top side of the prints. Also, this machine isn’t the quietest so having it in the same room that you’re sleeping in might not be the greatest idea if you’re running a long print. The noise on this printer was between 52.2 and 59 dB which isn’t the quietest but isn’t the loudest either. Once again, since updating the stepper drivers and firmware aren’t an option we’ll be limited to what comes stock with this machine. As long as you’ve turned off your retraction settings, you should end up with decent quality prints for the price point.

So is this machine really worth the money? If you’re just starting out and don’t know if it’s something that you’ll want to keep using, then this is a pretty low risk option, however if you intend to modify or use this machine for product production than I would spend a little more to get a device which is both repairable and upgradable. Now days, there’s quite a few options out there and for a very affordable price. Here’s my final verdict. For a novice I give a solid 6/10, it works well as long as you know how to take care of it. If you’re a Tinkerer or using it for production then I give it a 3/10 since it will be very limiting in its use cases. So although I see this machine having quite a bit of potential I do find that there are better options out there.

Just a reminder to those of you watching that I will be posting the transcript on my main website and that if you want to go through this video in more detail you can do so by changing the play settings. This can be done by hitting the gear icon on the bottom right-hand corner of your screen and changing the speed settings. I hope you guys enjoyed this video and I hope to see you guys soon. Thank you and take Care.