So now that my printer has finally arrived, I want to start the hardware review. Here, I will detail each part of the printer, with photos etc to make sure you are able to make an informed decision if you decide to buy one. These printers currently retail for £500 on Amazon.
One of the important parts of any build is the type of electronics that are installed. Equally important is the type of firmware that is controlling the machine.
Here’s a picture of the insides of the printer.
The above picture is a close up of the board. The printer uses a trigorilla pro board, which is the same one used on the newer versions of the Mega i3. Positives are that its a 32 bit board, so can handle complex delta printer calculation more easily. It also has the ability to resume from power loss thanks to the massive capacitor in the middle of the board. It also comes with a colour touchscreen similar to the MKS TFT’s. That’s pretty much where the positives end with this board. It doesn’t run any form of mainstream firmware, opting to run the manufacturer chitu’s own firmware. http://www.customize-3d.com/chitu-g-code-explained.html is a lift of all the available M codes to use as they don’t follow accepted conventions, so don’t try and use M codes you would typically use with Marlin. It uses A4988 drivers which have been around a very long time to drive the motors, which results in a very noisy printer, although there are guides on the internet to show you how to fit TMC2208’s as they are pin compatible. If you’re expecting to find a board that can be flashed with a different firmware such as Marlin or Repetier, think again. As of yet, no one has managed to change the firmware on these boards.
Surprisingly, the heated bed is driven from a mosfet add on board rather than through the main controller.
The LCD looks like an MKSTFT and I wouldn’t be surprised if it secretly was one.
Almost forgot to mention that it has a filament runout sensor, which from the feel of it when you install the filament, is just a mechanical switch which is either open or closed.
The power supply outputs 24V at 1000W (41 Amps). It is switchable between 110v and 240v inputs. The fan runs all the time so it is quite noisy.
All 4 of the motors used have no markings apart from XY engraved on the back. There is no information about what their step degree is but I would guess they are 1.8 degrees.
On a surprise note, the end stops are optical end stops made by geeetech https://www.geeetech.com/opto-optical-endstop-end-stop-switch-p-682.html rather than the mechanical switches used on the linear and linear plus delta’s.
The hotend is unfortunately an E3D knock off that has the PTFE liner going all the way through the heat break. This is the same as the E3D lite. At some point you may look at moving to an all metal version if you are planning to print more than PLA. On a positive note, they do provide you with a spare hotend, some spare nozzles (0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7 and 0.8mm in diameter) and some cleaning rods to assist in clearing your nozzles if they get blocked.
The extruder is some form of cloned E3D titan extruder. I did try and look for the same one online but I couldn’t find it. Not much more to say really. So far it seems to print ok but it did skip when I was initially loading the filament.
Fully aluminium. This has 3 fans rather than the 2 found on the linear and linear plus. 1 is used to cool the hot end and the other 2 are used for cooling the part. The let down here is the cooling duct has been 3D printed and poorly at that, which is a backwards step when the linear and linear plus had injected moulded ducts.
As per the linear and linear plus, they are carbon fibre rods with ball joints on the end. Not measured them yet so I don’t know how accurately made they are, but I would suggest they are no better/worse than those that were supplied with the linear/linear plus were. You also get 2 spare rods, which is helpful if any drop to bits.
The heated bed seems to be custom made for this printer. I say that because of the 3 wings which have been added to allow it to be secured to the frame. The way it has been secured is a lot better than on the linear delta’s where its held in place by 6 clips (which weren’t the right size). This does mean that it can’t easily be removed, but as all of the electronics are now at the top of the printer, this doesn’t matter. As can be seen from the image above, it can be ran on 12V as well as 24V, but in this instance, 24V is used.
The frame is very sturdy. The top section where the electronics are uses 2020 aluminium profile. They are connected together using custom plates and covered with steel sheet. The bottom section where the bed sits uses 2040 extrusion. Again held together with custom steel sheet.
The uprights use a profile I have not seen before. You can see from the cap on the end what the shape is like. Needless to say that this is one continuous piece. It’s around 40mm thick and 105mm at its widest point. All the runners come assembled, with the motors and belts etc in place. They also have built in belt tensioners. No more springs on the belts to tighten them.
Looking at the above picture, you may well ask where are the linear bearings. This is where I have to say that unfortunately they don’t have linear bearings. They have bearings which run up the inside of the extrusion.
Now I can hear you crying at this point and I was too when I first realised what they had fitted. But at the moment, all I would say is that the jury is out. They have no slack or movement in any direction and feel very rigid. Lets just hope I’m saying that after hundreds of hours of prints. The belts are the typical stuff, with toothless idlers at the bottom (the motors are at the top of the machine).
The frame is very sturdy. No plastic is used except for the top cover, on a couple of bits fitted to the effector and the extruder. We just need to see how it performs print wise. On to part 2.