Well this was an interesting 3d printer kit for sure, and you’ll definitely want to stay until the end to see just how interesting it got. So to preface this I did buy this machine with my own money and haven’t been paid to do this review so everything you see here will be based on my own opinion.
So to start things off, everything was well packaged, and the instructions were surprisingly simple. They were so simple in fact that I was concerned, however they were well suited for the machine design, as we’ll soon discover. Opening up the box, the instructions came with a clear warning to remove the hotbed with the XZ module together, and this was for a good reason. In order to simplify the both the assembly and instructions, one of the connection cables was already attached. In the first layer of the packaging, you have the tool components box along with the nozzle head. To prevent damaging the XZ module, they’ve added zip ties to keep these together. You’ll want to remove as much packaging as possible before lifting the base and frame out, as you can see here. In the end I removed the entire packaging so that I could flex it around the parts and this is most likely the easiest method to remove the base from the packaging. In the bottom of the packaging you have the control screen and the power cable, which you’ll need latter. Once everything has been removed from the box, this is what you’ll see. Many components have been pre-installed already, which should make things easier latter on.
As a general rule of thumb, I always like to check the USB to make sure I have all the information that I need to begin. 3 PowerPoint presentations were included which contained the instructions on how to slice with Cura, installation and the quick start guide along with some test prints. I would highly recommend that the company creates PDF documents for their manual in future releases. If you don’t have an application which opens PPTX files, you can open these using Google Docs.
The tools which will be necessary to assemble this machine are very minimalist, so you know that the steps will be minimal which should be good for beginner’s however you’ll see why this is latter. Cutting off the Zip ties, I discovered that the Z limit switch was already attached, so following the instructions, I also connected the Z motor. With that portion installed, I then added the bolts to hold the XZ module in place. I always recommend installing these loosely until you’ve finished installing the bolts on both sides, at which point to can give them a final tighten. And this is where my internal Alarm bells started ringing. You see there’s no protective panel below the power supply and motherboard. We will talk about the implication of this latter on this video.
You can then cut the zip ties that are holding the hot end assembly in place and move it to the centre for easier access. Loosen the 3 pre-installed bolts for the hot end assembly and push them in and down to fit into the backplate. You can then tighten these up again to ensure a tight fit. This portion of the machine was very well-designed, but I will definitely need to test its durability before making a decision. It’s a novel approach, which I do appreciate.
For the front panel monitor screen, you’ll have two cables to attach. One of these will have a label which tells you it must be facing upwards, so make sure to follow those instructions. Since both cables utilize separate connector types, it helps to prevent the cables from being mixed up.
When attaching the front panel, one side went in, however it seems that the mental was bent slightly too short and caused the other side to stick out. This made it difficult to assemble the second side. This isn’t the only issue, however, since circuitry for the board comes really close to the rest of the case. Normally I would expect some distance at least, and I would definitely cover this component to prevent issues. In general, electrical boards and other important connections should be sealed in some form or another, and this is a great example of this not being done.
Plugging in the cables for the extruder motor and hot end assembly were very straightforwards since each cable was a different type, making this easier to put together. While this design is good for the beginner, it does lead into future upgrading issues down the road since these don’t all use standard connector types. All the wiring for this machine is short, there’s absolutely no play involved, which once again makes modification more difficult.
Although the machine came with rollers for the spool holder, it didn’t actually come with a mount to hold these together properly. This will most likely cause issues and is not very functional as it currently states. I will most likely be 3D printing a separate part to help join these together since the components are good quality, just the implementation seems to be a little rushed.
Back to not having that baseplate for the electrical components. As you see, not only aren’t they covered, but they are also extremely close to the surface with only about 1/2 gap in between. This makes the machine a big fire hazard, and unfortunately it also means that I can’t turn it on until I’ve modified it. So testing is out of the window from the get go. This wasn’t the only issue that I found with this machine. The limit switch for the Z axis motor cable will most likely be one of the points of failure to crop up first. The hole which was cut out for this cable along with the Z axis stepper motor is too far into the centre and not far back enough, which means that the cable will most likely be rubbed whenever the heated bed moves. This could cause a short if it comes in contact with the other electrical components, such as the unsupported wiring for the hotbed. Really, the Z stepper motor should have been turned the other way and the cable should have been extended for both so that the wiring for the sensor could have been wrapped around from the outside of the machine rather than going inwards. The Z axis wiring actually seems like it be glued permanently to the Z stop switch cables, which once gain makes modifications or repairs difficult.
So after everything I’ve seen so far, is this worth the money? You can just modify a couple of aspects and be able to get a functional machine, so if you like modding constantly, then, maybe. Personally, I would probably recommend buying a used machine that’s known to work instead at a discounted rate. However, I will be heavily modifying this to see just how far I can go. So this will most likely be a series of videos with component price breakdowns in the future. I will mention two observations that I have made about this machine. It seems like test units may not have been sent out prior to final production, which is something that really shouldn’t have happened. Realistically this is something which should have been recalled, however it’s a pretty good price for raw components, which is how I’m going to suggest this as a possible option for experienced tinkerers. If you just want bare-bones components, the value is actually pretty good. But like I said previously, it’s not for new users, and it’s only for a few people who just want the basic components to work with.