Hello everybody and welcome to another video. In today’s review, we’ll be taking a closer look at the CR10 Smart by Creality and see what these machines have to offer. Full disclaimer, I purchased this machine with my own money in order to do this review, so everything you see here is based on my own opinion.
While I originally intended to release this review several months ago, I was surprised to discover quite a few hurdles in getting this machine ready for testing, as you’ll see shortly. So to start things off, I opened up the box to double-check all the components and put this machine together. The main change in the design is the incorporation of the electronics within the base of the machine. When I opened up the box, the spool holder was already broken where the ball bearings were located. This area should have been designed with a metal insert, however it simply had a screw which was supported by a thin plastic. In my case, I was able to substitute this, a similar attachment that I had left over from my Ender 3 V2. One great feature on this machine is that all the tools required to maintain it are located in a convenient shelf. This make it much easier when performing maintenance since everything is located and organized nearby.
After putting together the machine, I opened up the bottom panel to begin testing all the safety features. In order to properly test the thermal runaway, I had to actually create connection adapters. The company has created custom pin connections for all the components in the hot end assembly. This means that those portions are not so easily swapped out via the motherboard connection and instead have to be done via the connection hub that’s on the X gantry. After testing everything out, I was happy to discover that there was indeed proper thermal runaway protection enabled in both the stock version of the firmware and the updated version. Now this machine comes with a low quality Bowden tube and is one of the first recommendations I have for an upgrade since it can make a huge difference in prevent issues down the road. I have unfortunately found that on most of Creality’s machines, the stock hot end is prone to heat creep and therefore this is a good preventative measure.
Updating the firmware is not intuitive at all and has specific requirements in order to be successful. I personally believed I had bricked my machine until I discovered the usual requirements that it had. In order to do a proper update, you need to fulfill 3 main factors. You have to use the proper sized SD cards which has been formatted correctly, you must hold the power button on during the full update and the .bin file must use a different name every time an update is done. These were just some requirements, and once again I had to pause the review in order to make a video showing the proper procedure so that others would have an easier time doing this for themselves.
But why did I need to update the firmware, you ask? Well, everything time I attempted to print in vase mode, I ended up with something like this. As you can see, it didn’t quite print correctly and ended up taking 10x times the amount of time it was supposed to. To be clear, the company doesn’t recommend that you use anything but their skinned version of the Cura slicer, and I was using the most up-to-date version of Cura at the time, but this is the first machine that’s ever given me this results. While printing, I noticed that the machine was pausing continuously, which was leading to longer print times and this bubbled look. After quite a bit of troubleshooting which did include disabling the Creality Wifi Box that’s been integrated into the machine, I was finally able to solve the issue by updating the firmware. If you are using Cura I will include two Start Gcode options that I’ve tested and can confirm work correctly. The first will be the one provided by David Hart and the second one will the one that I’m currently using. Both of these will be in the download package on my website along with my custom Cura Profile.
One great feature of this machine is its ability to shut down vial the screen or after a 3d print has completed. This is a great feature to have and is something that I would like to see other companies implement in the future, however it does come with some tradeoffs that would need to be addressed in future versions. I suspect that the implementation of this feature is what makes updating the firmware less intuitive, since it requires that the user keep pressing the power button in order for it to fully complete.
This machine does indeed have tinned connections, and I would recommend replacing those for ferrule one’s. Once again, I have already created a specific video for this machine which can refer to. While opening up the machine to check for tinned wires, I also came across the device which was supposed to enable wifi connectivity. If any of you have seen my video on the Creality smart kit, you’ll be aware of my experiences regarding that device, and it’s implementation. Since that device has already been featured in another video, I will not be revisiting that portion in this review. I will say however that during my troubleshooting steps, I did have to disable the wifi box and re-enable the USB connection to the motherboard. I’ll include a link to that in the description below if you also want to do the same.
The build plate auto levelling is poorly implemented and has caused several issues for both me and others online. I personally had to add manual bed levelling in order to properly test the machine’s capabilities. As it turns out, I can say that there’s a small amount of levelling, however it is very inaccurate. I did follow Creality’s bed levelling guidelines prior to running my tests, with mixed results. It is very important to note that the print bed and hot end must be stable and not wobble in order to work correctly. There are tensioner nuts for ensuring this, and if you have any issues with your machine this should be the first thing that you check. In this case it’s far less critical that the pulley wheels have even tension, instead the stability is far more essential. After adding tensioner knobs to my printer, I was able to test whether bed levelling was fully functional, and unfortunately it seems like the machine has issues with accuracy. Even after using the start Gcode by David Hart there were still issues with bed levelling which made it unpredictable. Upon doing further research, I did come across an article by Sebastiaan Dammann which suggests that it could be electrical interference that’s causing the issue and that it could be fixed with a firmware update. Unfortunately the screen that comes with the CR10 Smart makes creating a community firmware difficult and since Creality has not yet released the source code for the machine this is likely to continue being an issue. I have already released the video for adding manual bed levelling to your printer, so if nothing else has worked, and you’ve already updated the firmware, you could try that as well.
The extruder on this machine is quite unique in itself in that I have a locking mechanism for the filament, which does indeed make it easier to feed the filament through. Now, although the machine does come with a transparent plastic that can fit into the gap that’s between the sensor and extruder, I would not recommend using it at all. If there’s a jam, you’ll find it difficult to remove the broken filament if you have this installed. The easiest way to tell if the extruder is in it’s locked state is to give the filament a simple tug and see if it moves back and forth. I personally drew a little padlock so that I would have more visual reference, so that may be something you wish to do as well.
This machine does come with quite a few quality life improvements such as belt tensioners, filament run out, silent stepper motors, dual Z axis motors, built in mosfets and thermal runaway. However, with all these elements, there’s still the glaring issues which a user will most likely have to address. This is unfortunate to say the least, since I really do like this machine now that those issues have been fixed. The out-of-the-box experience is quite bad and isn’t something I can not recommend to a new user at all. For someone who’s a tinkerer and is willing to put in the hours that’s needed to get a functional machine, I give it a 4/10 since the likelihood of the machine working correctly out of the box is very low. This machine is specifically marketed towards new users, and therefore I’m rating it as such. I’ve found this machine to be a missed opportunity and with the potential release of the CR10 Smart Pro I have serious concerns about that machine as well. If a company isn’t able to release a regular version which is fully functional, I have reservations regarding the pro version. It suggests to me that the company was using its user base as beta testers, which in today’s age is unacceptable. Perhaps once the company has release the source code or started providing upgrade kits which fix the current issues, this rating could potentially be revisited.