Saturday, December 5, 2015

FlashForge Creator Pro first experience

Got a new toy at the workbench. It's a loaner that I only get to keep for a few weeks to set it up for a client, but this is the first time I've had a chance to get some hands on time with the FlashForge Creator Pro. This is one of the printers on my short list to replace my Rep1 when it finally goes up in flames and can't be repaired, so I was excited to try it out. Mostly I was interested in this one because it's similar to what I know and it's affordable. Dual extruders for a little over 1k? That's practically two $500 printers when I run them both at the same time.

When this says "Pro" is means that you'd better know what you're doing. Not a lot of effort was put into the first time user experience. It wasn't so bad for me, only about an hour to assemble and setup, but if this was my first experience with a 3D printer it would be a week before I could have gotten this sorted out, at least. I don't know what it's like for their other printers, but this one could use some serious effort on the PR department to bring it up to speed.

Let's start with some positives. Love the acrylic build plate with replaceable print surfaces. I'm worried about tearing it up, but they have a few replacements, however at $12 each I may just switch to hairspray when that runs out. Also, I love that the power supply is inside the body. So much better than my Rep 1. Here's hoping that's a standard. The motherboard comes preloaded with old familiar sailfish, which is good for me, but for a new user, well I'm still waiting for that interface that's easy enough for a child to use without training (that isn't attached to a lemon). And I'm loving the cooling fan, even if it does make the extruder head a little harder to remove.

But then there's the other side. The manual, which includes information about, among other things, the unboxing process, is hidden on the SD card which it hidden in the filament holder inside a box inside the main box. So by the time you find it you're past needing half of it. Not only that but the manual is incomplete, it doesn't even cover assembly of the fan shroud and acrylic parts. There's an addendum on the SD card about the acrylic assembly, but it's the form of a Real Player file. I think the last time I had Real Player installed I was still getting AOL disks in the mail, the 3.5" variety. Fortunately you can find the video online, but of course I didn't discover that out until I was done assembling it. "Pro".

The included spool holders are pretty proprietary, replacing them should be one of the first things printed. Also on the SD card is the plate leveling script from the Rep 1 that used to come with RepG, which describes 4 point leveling process. The Pro is a 3 point leveling system, so that's a total fail. The acrylic front door swings up, which makes it hard to keep out of the way while working inside the bot and doesn't stay open to improve air flow when printing PLA, the LCD screen is oddly slow, the power switch is even less accessible than my Rep1s, the feed path is PTFE lined, and there's no mention anywhere of needing to shim up the heads to level them, but you still need to.

Glad I got that all off my chest.

That said, the print quality right out of the box is fantastic. I still have trouble doing dual extrusion prints with my Rep1, but with the FlashForge it was one of the first prints and it worked flawlessly. And corner ringing?
What corner ringing? Despite my list of grievances I would be happy if this machine were mine to keep. It's a great machine... if you already know what you're doing.

1 comment:

  1. Nice, It's a lot like my Rep2. Which btw I use a lot more than my Rep1. Trams in easier and just runs smoother and I print on glass so two minutes in the freezer and the parts fall off. (I've got to glass that Rep1). I've also almost stopped using ABS in favor of the new type PLA's out now. No shrinkage issues and it's tough. I'm missing your links on FB


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