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Review: The CraftBot Plus is a 3D printer worth having

Lucas Mearian | April 5, 2016
This printer is simple to use, well thought out and fairly accurate.

One function that did not impress me was CraftWare's method of manipulating the virtual models prior to printing. Rotating objects and then setting them down on the virtual platform was often an arduous experience that left me with inaccurate placements.

CraftBot
Rotating objects and then setting them down on the virtual platform often resulted in inaccurate placements.

In addition, the CraftWare software hung up quite often. Once a model was loaded, the software would freeze up and it could take from several seconds to more than a minute before I was able to save an item or rename a file. There were also several times when I had to use the Force Quit command on my laptop to get out of CraftWare. It wasn't an insurmountable problem, but it was annoying at times.

The heart of CraftBot lies in its electronics, with a dual ARM Cortex M3 MCU that allows a user to interact with the printer quickly. Unfortunately, I was unable to upload models from my laptop to the 3D printer because my computer uses the latest version of OS X Yosemite (10.10.5), which is not yet supported by the CraftBot. CraftUnique said it is working on updates.

Print tests

My first print job was of a 4-in. tall giraffe -- an .STL file provided by CraftUnique on a thumb drive. It printed in under an hour, but it didn't have a great deal of detail, so I moved to more challenging print jobs.

My next print job was my standard: The 5-in. tall Eiffel Tower, a challenge for any fused filament fabrication 3D printer with all of its intricate latticework.

On my first print of the tower, I used .1mm-thick layers to see how fine a detail the machine could produce. While it successfully completed the print, it was unable to replicate some of the finer details of the tower, such as the inner crisscross supports.

Next, I attempted the tower using a .2mm layer thickness. The thicker the layers, the faster the print -- and this machine is fast. It was able to print the tower in one hour and 40 minutes. It basically matched the time of the LulzBot Mini, which previously had been the fastest 3D printer I'd tested.

The CraftBot, however, was not able to match the LulzBot in accurately reproducing the Eiffel Tower intricate latticework.

But although nowhere near perfect, the CraftBot was able to reproduce the Eiffel Tower with decent accuracy the second time around, getting much of the crisscross lattice patterns correct.

CraftBot
Although nowhere near perfect, the CraftBot was able to reproduce the Eiffel Tower with decent accuracy, getting much of the crisscross lattice patterns correct.

 

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