My new old 3d-printer


Year 2024: Core-XY printers took over the world. They are quick, but they are also big and loud. What should a normal dude like me do just get into 3D printing and not suffer so much? Notably, I suffer from poor quality and from the printer being unstable.

For the cheap printers tier, Creality V3 SE or V3 KE seems to be the obvious choice, but they have problems not so many people talk about:

  • The print plate is always bent
  • Aluminium frame may not survive the assembly and it's hard to make it stable again
  • They are supplied with some screwed software and you need to put some effort to get profiles for these printers in the slicer you want

Creality Ender V3 seems to be better, but it's also more expensive. Creality CR-10 has problems with layers in all the reviews.

By the way, Qidi Tech Smart X3 is a small Core-XY printer with a relatively low price, but... there are not so many positive reviews, some questions regarding non-replaceable carbon rods, and... it's not available in the EU. And this can be for a reason: in the EU the law protects the customers, so when the quality of the product is poor, the manufacturers prefer to exit this market.

You can say, that there's Bambu Lab A1 Mini. When I was choosing a printer, it wasn't available without AMS Lite, which I don't need. I also have some questions regarding the construction and the approach of the company in general: closed-source, not friendly for tinkering or customization. Well, it's something different: it's completely hostile to these kind of things. And I'm not going to vote with my money for this approach.

For lots of other manufacturers, the problems are the same as for Creality: print plates are bent and the software support is awful.

The requirements

The print volume is a good question. I printed some models and I needed this print volume only twice. In one case I could buy a laptop on Amazon. I thought even about Voron 0.2, but a 120x cube seems too little. I thought I could live with a 180x cube.

I also wanted the printer to be stable in terms of print quality, quick, and silent. The last two characteristics are contradicting. Well, they start to contradict when the printer pushes speed too much. But you need good engineering, good quality parts, and anti-shaping technology, ideally with sensors on the printer.

I thought about Sovol SV 06, but you need to replace some parts right away. And the print quality I saw on videos by the guys who did it, still sucked. And it just seems irrational to me to pay for the parts that go right into the bin.

Some more bad candidates:

  • I had experience with AnyCubic, which is still alive. It's loud and the engineering is just anti-humane, which results in unstable and often bad print quality.
  • AnkerMake... just take a look at their group on Reddit... it is full of complains
  • FlashForge... again, awful software and lots of questions regarding the electrical safety of these devices
  • Neptune printers have problems with geometry, they are just not square, just as the prints they produce
  • The 100 is a great project, but it requires sourcing and assembly... and some special tools which also cost a few hundred euros


OK, what about Prusa? These printers are expensive, they say. Is it the only drawback? If it is, I can live with that. You can find some negative reviews about Prusa Mini, but the current model is called Prusa Mini+, it also has firmware upgrades, and Prusa Slicer took a long path as well. And the fact is that Prusa Mini was used on lots of print farms. Now many print enthusiasts have replaced it with BambuLab Core-XY printers. Does it make Prusa Mini+ a bad printer? I don't think so. There are lots of advantages of small print volume:

  • It's energy efficient as the heated table is small
  • The construction has worked well for this volume

The approach here's the following: you can fully disassemble, service, and assemble the printer yourself. As it's not new on the market, there are plenty of upgrades available for cheap. For example, it uses a standard v6 nozzle, you can buy 8 of them for 14 EUR and they will be made of hardened steel.

My experience

First, I should put a disclaimer, my printer came with some upgrades and I can't say anything about how the printer works without them:

  • The heat block
  • The Bondtech extruder he he he
  • A printed stabilizer for the Z-axis

The problem was that the previous owner tried to print with nylon, and this material was in the heatsink, on the heatblock, and it clogged my new nozzle. So I ended up changing the heatsink and the nozzle again and warming up and cleaning the heat block. It took 1 evening and after that it was fine. And the previous owner sent lots of spare parts to me, including the upgrades.

But it started with assembly as my printer came partially disassembled. Here's the question for those who say that it costs too much: Do great assembly instructions with photos cost anything? I think they do and I was able to assemble the printer and after that change the nozzle, although I've never done it before. I needed only hex wrenches for that. I also lubed the bearings and checked the belts and all the bolts. And after that I can say, that the engineering of this printer is great, because it's simple.

Is it silent? It is until it gets to full speed, but the noise comes mostly from the print head. The print quality is great and stable. More than that, often I print with 15% infill, so I use less material.

Regarding the print speed, I have another dirty secret for those who don't know: if you want speed, just install a bigger nozzle.

The guys who paid for these great Core-XY machines often write the same thing: it's overkill, I printed all I wanted and I don't know what else to print. That's the power of marketing, folks. These Core-XY machines are nice, but you bought them although you didn't need them. My printer is just good enough for the tasks I have, small enough to fit right on my table, silent enough, and still quick enough.

@Konstantin Ovchinnikov
Tags: #3d-printing