The printer market is booming. On the one hand, more and more materials can be used (from titanium to food), on the other hand, the offers available to individuals are more and more numerous and easy to handle.
Most SRT DIY projects require a 3D printer. Owning a 3D printer gives you the possibility to upgrade your equipment when an update is released, or according to your own needs.
As everywhere, budget is an important criteria. As everywhere there are all the prices. Like everywhere, you get nothing for nothing. As far as 3D printing is concerned, more expensive means: more reliable (less failed prints), more accurate, faster, less adjustments needed. I propose you here 3 popular printers :
- Ender 3, from Creality : the entry-level, which I’ve been using since my beginnings. Needs a little adjustment, but gives full satisfaction for the price.
- Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4 : for not much more, a printer that offers technologies and usally fitted on high-end printers.
- Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ : the queen of all categories… obviously more expensive than the others.
Generally speaking, it is quite easy to improve all these printers. You will find in this article a light on the type of improvements that can be made to a 3D printer.
Ender 3, Ender 3 Pro, Ender 3 V2
The Ender 3 (basic) allows you to obtain high quality prints when properly tuned. There are many improvements for this printer, as well as a large community, which is a great help.
The main qualities :
- A rather reliable machine. Once properly set up, you’re good for a hundred hours of printing without any further adjustment.
- Very good print quality.
- Very affordable price.
- A considerable printing area: 22cm x 22cm x 25cm
And as flaws:
- Noisy machine (problem fixed with v2 or motherboard change).
- Necessary adjustments (especially for the heated bed).
- Nozzles tend to get clogged (problem fixed by changing the hotend)
Ender 3 Pro
The Ender 3 Pro provides minimal improvements, especially in the chassis and platform. If you are taking advantage of a promotion that puts it at the same price as a basic Ender 3, why not. Otherwise…no.
Around 250$ sur Amazon.
Ender 3 V2
The Ender 3 V2 also integrates new improvements. The most notable is the replacement of the motherboard by a much quieter card. This replacement is also possible on an Ender 3 and Ender 3 Pro.
So this is the version to be preferred if you are looking for a silent printer, but you don’t want to change the motherboard yourself.
The heated bed has been changed again, but this is the kind of evolution you have to do yourself on an Ender 3 anyway.
The V2 comes with a new screen. It’s nice, but it doesn’t change the printing quality…
The Artillery Sidewinder X1 V4 presents very well: all the electronics are integrated in a box under the heating bed. The heating bed is the fastest on the market to heat up. There is a direct drive: the filament is driven just before the heating head. This makes it possible, for example, to print flexible plastics.
The printer is also completely silent. In addition, its Volcano print head allows fast print speeds.
It is equipped with a 30cm x 30cm plate, and prints on 40cm high. It is a surface that will allow you for example to print a steering wheel.
There are mainly two flaws:
- cables are fragile
- The spool holder is not practical.
These two defects can be corrected using 3D printed upgrades.
It is thus an excellent mid-range printer which will ensure you a certain printing comfort.
When all existing technologies are concentrated in one printer, the result is the Prusa i3 MK3S+. It offers, for example, automatic heat bed levelling.
The frame is very consistent and ensures very accurate prints.
Prusa develops its own slicer, the software that allows to prepare the .stl files for printing. Considering the important community that also surrounds this model, it is therefore a whole eco-system dedicated to the performance that this printer offers.