Hello everybody and welcome to another video. Today we’ll be at taking a closer look at the CR30 by Creality and find out how this machine performs or who this might be designed for. 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. I bought this machine during the initial Kickstarter and received it a couple of months ago, however in order to properly test its performance I created a large scale project just for this machine. You will seem more about that project in a latter video.
Now, this machine is amongst the heaviest I’ve owned yet, so you’ll need to make sure that it’s on a solid surface when you set it up. This printer does require some additional setup because of the design, however, this process is made easier thanks to the included video tutorial. I did find that the tutorial was well-made and covered the assembly quite thoroughly, and this does seem to be a positive trend amongst more and more companies.
In order to use this machine, you’re going to need to use at least 1 of two options. The first is the “Creality Belt” software that comes with the printer. The second option is to use the Blackbelt printing software, which can be customized to fit this machine. All testing was done using the provided software in this case, since it has been custom designed with additional features. The biggest issue that I encountered was the performance of the software itself. In this case I had to disable some extra plugins to increase the performance, however, there were still significant delays when loading up files. In this particular case, I had created a large project which was designed to test the printing for an extended period of time. However, in order to load just one piece, it would take up to 30 mins and took even longer to properly slice the file. The same files loading in Cura took a fraction of the amount of time to load. The workaround I found was to slice the files individually and then recombined the G code to better leverage the printer’s ability to continuously print files. To do this, you open up the sliced files that you want to combine and copy and paste all the code above the end G-code text. You’ll repeat this process until you’ve combined all your files together. Once this is completed, you can then delete the extra End G-code that you don’t need. When printing identical pieces, I didn’t run into any issues using the integrated copy function.
Now, this machine does have a couple of important things you need to do prior to actually printing with the device. The first thing we’ll do is condition the belt. I didn’t know this was an issue until I was getting continuously failed prints when fully utilizing the build plate. To do this, you’ll turn on the machine, and raise the hot end up so that you have full access to the belt. You’ll then take a rag and rub some isopropyl alcohol into the surface while moving the Z-height forwards. This helps to remove the coating which is on the belt when it first comes with the printer. The second thing we’ll do is replace bowden tube with a Capricorn one, since heat creep is a very serious issue with this particular device. To do this, you’ll remove the spacer holding the pneumatic connectors in a locked position and press down on the locking mechanism to release the tubing. This can sometimes be difficult to remove, so be careful not to damage the teeth inside. Now I did test the thermal runaway protection on this machine, so I can confirm that it’s functioning properly, however I did find out that the terminals have tinned connections which will need to be replaced. I will go through that process in more detail in a follow-up video.
I did find that this machine required the filament be heated above 210 degrees, otherwise I would often have adhesion issues. For my machine I set the fan speeds to 100 % making sure to set the second one to the same value. The initial fan speed was set to 0 to ensure a better, successful first layer. Now, although my very first prints looked promising, I soon began running into issues once I reached around 2 weeks of continuous operation. My prints started going from a nice, clean print to a very rough surface. In my case, this was due to the bowden tube experiencing heat creep, which in turn caused the opening to shrink and prevented a consistent flow of filament. It was at this stage that I had to switch to a Capricorn tubing. It was also during this time that I began experiencing issues with prints not sticking to the bed, which is when I decided to a thorough cleaning to remove any residue that might be on the belt.
This printer came with a steel feeler gauge, which I highly recommend you use when levelling the print bed. This provided me which a much higher accuracy and is what I’ve since switched to for all my printers. When you do this, however, you need to make sure to raise the print head the same value as the thickness of the measuring tool, otherwise it will create an excess distance which can cause print failures. When levelling the bed I would bring the front build plate all the way down first followed by levelling the back of the build plate which was right underneath the hot end. Afterwards, I would raise the front up slightly, ensuring that I had even tension across the build plate. I would finish this up with a last calibration of the back potion to make sure that everything was still levelled closer to the hot end.
Something to keep in mind is that I had to play around with the filament run out detector to get it so that it was aligned more to the extruder. I ended up tilting it slightly upwards, which relived quite a bit of the pressure on the filament when travelling through the extruder. Likewise, I had to adjust the bowden tube since it was getting caught onto the machine. For this, I used a simple zip tie to help hold it in a better location.
With the test prints completed, these were my results. Now it has been mentioned by other users and other 3d printing channels that the stepper motors on the top have very little support, and I’ve since ordered a replacement kit from Repcord to address this issue. When I first assembled this printer, I can say that it was a large concern to me and when doing some research, my concerns did seem warranted. For the testing of this machine, however, I did not use this modification as yet but will be following this up with another video tutorial.
So what is my verdict in the end? Well, it’s going to depend on what you are doing. If you are producing large parts on a consistent basis then this is a great machine to add to your collection of tools, however it does require more work and experience to become familiar with it. I will definitely say that this isn’t a beginner machine. Levelling in itself is far more complicated than your standard machine, and there are quite a few upgrades which I would consider mandatory out of the box. So for a beginner I would rate this machine as a 4/10 since they are less likely to want to do any of the necessary changes. From a production standpoint this is a great asset to have, and the rating is quite different with an 8/10 rating. The main thing that hurts this machine most is the lack of support for the stepper motors and the bowden tube, which really should have come with a Capricorn one instead. The software is currently quite limiting, and I highly recommend that Cura actually begins supporting this style of printer, since I do expect this type of machine to become more common in small manufacturing scenarios. So although I still think that this machine does require some well needed improvements, I do believe that they’re on the right track, and I’m looking forwards to a future alteration of this design.