Assembly and comparison to other 3d printers

I build a Mendelmax from scratch in 2012 and eventually worked on or with other DIY 3d printers, so this is my view of Snapmaker. Briefly put, a well designed and well made appliance.

My snapmaker arrived last week, and without any rush I assembled it in about an hour. My original Mendelmax took a week to build and then another year, off and on, to get it running, partly because nearly everything had to be assembled from basic parts and wiring. Not so with Snapmaker! The three identical linear modules solved most of the complexity of assembly, and they are far more reliable than other designs that use pulleys and belts.

Here’s a set of photos of the assembly, from start to finish. The only downside was the hex wrench driver that came with the printer to install the bolts. The collet would not tighten enough to hold the bit in place and it kept falling out. Eventually I switched to a Home Depot driver which worked much better. Otherwise, the set of instructions was very clear and well done.

After assembly, I tried inserting a PLA filament and found that, like most other 3d printers there’s a bit of a trick getting a curly filament to fit into a nozzle many mm into the extruder. And like other extruders the trick (for me) was to arrange the filament curl in a certain position. Standing in front of the printer, and placing the filament into the top of the extruder, if I arranged the curl of the filament to curl back towards me, then it slipped into the extruder tube deep inside. That’s par for the course.

So from there I went straight for printing something difficult: the Gleamy Ironman. I set the slicer on high quality and fired it up. Incredibly good quality; far better than my Mendelmax, largely because of the tight design in the linear modules. One very nice touch was that at the start of the print, it uses the edge of the bed to clean off the excess PLA on the nozzle. I had to had a raft and support for the two arms, but the print was very impressive.

I’m looking forward to getting the upgrade laser and an expanded bed. I have reservations about how effective the CNC milling will be, mostly because I like to work with maple, cherry, walnut and rosewood in my shop. But we shall see.

Kudos to the makers of Snapmaker! This is a top notch product!