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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.

While CraftBot's second Eiffel Tower print job came out better than the first, I still found a gossamer film of spider web filament between latticework, which made for a bit of a sloppy appearance. It just wasn't as accurate as the LulzBot Mini.

Admittedly, the LulzBot Mini retails for $1,350, which is $251 more than the CraftBot. Additionally, the LulzBot Mini has a smaller build area at 6 x 6. x 6.2 in., compared with the CraftBot's 10 x 8 x 8 in. build area.

Whisper-quiet

When I started my first print job, I was struck by how whisper-quiet this machine is, a fact made even more evident by the last 3D printer I reviewed; it was so loud my co-workers complained about the noise.

Simply put, the CraftBot Plus is a pleasure to sit next to as it prints -- no loud squeaks or churning noises as the extruder head navigates the print bed. As the number of my print jobs increased, the printer began to squeak and churn a bit more, but the noise was nowhere near as loud as I've experienced with other machines. I'm guessing with a bit of oil in the right places, the machine would have returned to its former silent self.

Printer bed issues

One deficiency CraftUnique said it corrected with the second iteration of its 3D printer was print bed heating problems (the print bed heats up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit), which led to warping when using ABS plastic in the original printer.

After printing four models, however, I found I had issues with the print bed -- the filament began peeling away mid-print. I re-leveled the print platform several times to ensure the proper distance from the nozzle (the print bed is easily removable by loosening just two thumb screws), but the filament continued to detach.

CraftBox
Printing multiple 3D objects is quiet and efficient, but there are problems with print bed adhesion.

Taking a page from 3D printers I've reviewed in the past that didn't have heated beds, such as the MakerBot Replicator, I covered the CraftBot's bed with a thin coating from a glue stick. That worked on a couple of prints, but began to fail as time went on.

CraftUnique also suggested wiping off the surface of the bed with acetone to remove the "fat." The PLA (polylactic acid) plastic filament with which I was printing is biodegradable polyester derived from renewable resources, which can include cornstarch, tapioca roots or sugarcane. Where the fat comes from I do not know.

I'd never heard of this remedy before, but I tried both acetone and a soapy water scrub of the print plate, and both seemed to work equally well.

 

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