SnapMaker is killing this product, by overpricing parts and upgrades

I bought my snapmaker A350 last year. I was impressed with the quality but quickly saw a few weaknesses. For one the laser is too weak. A typical CD player has a 5W laser, so the factory unit has very limited ability. I was excited to hear rumors of a more powerful laser coming, until i saw the price. I can actually buy a complete (stronger) laser machine, for less than what snapmaker is willing to sell the 10W module. Just like the rotary module, its way over-priced. By charging such ridiculous prices, you guys are encouraging makers to purchase equipment from other companies while their snapmaker 2.0 gets put in storage, for this new, more powerful and more economical machine. If snapmaker continues this practice of “raping” their customer base… you will in fact kill your product and any future business. I will not ever purchase your over-priced rotary module and I am purchasing a complete laser machine from another company. I am also looking at a more powerful CNC machine from yet another company. If you would offer quality components to your customer base, you would not only keep us inside your brand, but you would encourage newbies to purchase new snapmaker machines, since the network of available upgrades were competitively priced and of good quality. In my several hours of online search, looking for best value in lasers and CNC equipment, not a SINGLE source has rated snapmaker components / machines as a top 10 best buy. If you continue on your current business model, you will completely alienate your customer base and kill any demand for your product line. We were here to back you guys in the beginning, its time you take care of your loyal customers, while we still exist.

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I especially like the “raping” comment…

As a machinist I consider this machine a toy (and a very expensive BetaMax one at that)

Where it does excel for me is the small footprint and 3 in 1 capability (culpability?)

As a development machine it allows me to get my suite of tools and parameters dialled in but it is not a production machine in any sense of the word.

I would not recommend this machine to anyone really, but strangely it does suit my personal purposes…

I’ll be either getting a Delta printer for fast jobs or farm them out… As it stands my bum is the size of a bucket after Snapmaker has had their way with me… and the filter unit & laser upgrade can get stuffed… I will probably go for the dual head extruder tho :sob: ( how much is that going to be?)

Pugs

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Heh, my interest in the rotary module vanished when I saw the price as well. Ditto for the linear rails - I’ll soundproof the entire room it’s in before I’ll pay that gdmn price. I’m sure the soundproofed room would be more useful two years down the line than those linear rails will be.

If they ever produce a sort of developer’s kit to make your own modules, I’ll probably buy one, Everything else just feels like throwing good money after bad.

As for the A350 itself … for what it cost me, I could have bought a nice DRO for the Bridgeport or a CNC upgrade for the Taig. It is totally a toy, just turning out to be less fun of a toy than I expected it to be.

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That would probably be mW and not W.

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I now understand why all my music CDs are playing satanic heavy rock.

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A CD player typically has a power of only 250mW. That’s for a burner. A portable CD player is only about 5mW.

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I hacked my cd player and it works great. Only problem is it only engraves in circles.

-S

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I have been thinking about this myself a lot. In principle I think that Snapmaker prices are kindof consistent - the base machine is overpriced in my opinion too - I would not have bought it for the list price. The Kickstarter price was just OK for me, and I until today never regretted paying that price - I like my Snapmaker despite its flaws. For me as a pure hobbyist the 3-in-1 is appealing and has brought me a lot of happiness at all three workloads, and I consider it a well working 3-in-1, which of course will not match dedicated machines for each workoad in performance. And I would have loved to have the rotary module, seeing it’s potential, but as a hobbyist the price is way too high indeed. I cannot justify such an expense. Same with 10W laser - not justifyable, even if I include the irrational must-have-factor. But do I blame Snapmaker? Not really, they decided to be high priced like Apple, and I seem to understand that they see themselves as the Apple of 3D-machines. But for the same reason I do not own an iPhone, I’ll not follow Snapmaker further down that road, and in that sense you’re right, they may lose their Kickstarter Fan base.

If I ever would really need a rotary module or a more powerful laser, I’m maker enough to build such a thing myself - some here in the forum have proven that the firmware can be modified, so creating your own module is doable.

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To be clear, The 5W spec I read, was from a CD burner not just a CD player.

@tbanks I don’t know of a single burner that is 5W, the 250mW I mentioned was from a burner.

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Interesting thread. I had no problem justifying the price for the 10W laser upgrade as well as the rotary tool because I’m also used to the prices for commercial (CO2) laser cutters, industrial 3D printers from companies like formlabs (you can’t even get started for less than $4K with one), and even entry-level 4 axis CNC machines like those from Tormach (in our shop, we also used the Tormach 770 for training so people wouldn’t mess up our HAAS CM-1 or HAAS VF-2 longbed machines!) are into 5 digit numbers.

Any or all of the above, even at entry level, would set you back $10,000 each before you even open the box and start looking at add-ons like nitrogen for the laser cutter or a tool changer for the CNC, so an all-in-one hobby solution for under $3K just really isn’t all that bad and can’t even be set against the other semi-professional options which would set you back $30K, easily, once you added them all up.

I think if we’re going to ding Snapmaker for what it deserves to be dinged for, we should be talking about the software. The wifi constantly times out, the Luban all-in-one web application looks like a BETA that escaped into production, and the slicer software is so poor that you want to use something else like Cura and/or Octoprint just to get the kind of remote control capabilities most people would expect as entry-level.

The Android software running on the controller also makes me long for Marlin on a monochrome display, which is really saying something (bad). The build quality of the HW is actually pretty good for the price. Again, you get what you pay for, and $3K with all of the upgrades is a pretty reasonable price for a “fair” FDM printer, a moderately capable 10W laser cutter, and a 4 axis CNC once you add the rotary module.

Sure, you could also build all of these maker toys separately and probably more cheaply (I think my Ender 5+ set me back about $1000 with all of the upgrades and components that needed to be swapped before it could even create a reproducible print) or you could put your money far more effectively into a nice Formlabs entry-level printer for $4K (the non-entry level ones will set you back $11K easy!), a Redsail CO2 laser for about $8K, and a Tormach entry-level CNC for another $11K, but now we’re having a completely different discussion, right?

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We are all being a bit mean to SM… we all should have known the specs etc before parting ways with our coin.

Those profits however would go a long way with re investment in refinement of the user experience.

Partnering for more support in the wider community if Luban is to stay as a noob tool etc.

I’d like to be leveraging some $ out of my lab but have a good way to go correcting issues and hacking the thing let alone the finer points of rapid prototyping lol

Silicone plugs for the Lazer bed and some rudimentary CNC clamps are a bit lacking for what is otherwise a quite well engineered product, quick change bed and machine heads all should be part of the along with better tooling IMO

Keep cheerful folks! :grin:

Pugs

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Hi @jkh,
I’m not sure if your comparison is valid. The machines you mention are addressing professional demands. The SM2 is claerly a consumer machine. And if you stay in that regime, SM2 is certainly on the high priced side of things. I’m pretty sure that with a Tormach or HAAS machine you get pro support, and a mature product which basically just works. The SM2 support is patchy, you have to cope with a lot of minor issues like the not too level printing bed, the mediocre Luban software etc. Also, performance-wise Tormach, HAAS, Redsail et al. are in a different regime. The SM2 can do a lot, but most things rather slow. That’s because the power of the toolheads is more in the consumer regime. Even with the 10W laser you’re not even near the power of a CO2 laser, with the Tormach CNC you are an order of magnitude above the SM2 spindle power, and also in terms of mechanical rigidity the SM2 is not even close to a pro machine. Don’t get me wrong: As said before, the SM2 brings a lot of joy and versatility to your workshop. You just need to be patient, because each job takes much longer than on a pro machine.

An argument I can somewhat follow is that if Snapmaker wants to stay innovative, they need money to invest. I’ve no idea how much units they sell, how healthy they are as a company, and I’ve no business background, so I cannot judge which margin they need to stay afloat. Naively judging by what other (successful) companies charge for comparable individual machines for 3D printing, milling and laser, my feeling is that Snapmaker is charging quite a premium.

And yes, I admit I feel a bit disappointed that the new modules are that expensive and I’m kindof excluded from them by rationality (I mean, I could afford them, but I’d feel bad about it :slight_smile: ). Still, I backed the SM2 as it was, not based on the hope that I’d get more later. So I’m content. And disappointed at the same time :slight_smile: Not sure if that makes sense…

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Hehe - if you’d have a 5W laser in your CD burner, CD burning would be indeed real burning - including smoke and flames I suppose :slight_smile: Still, here’s an interesting website that shows that even 250 mW are enough to cause damage: Laser diodes from CD-RW drives can cut and burn!

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In the EU shop the laser is at 399 €, a nice discount from the 459 € official price. As there are not customs involved for EU countries, I think it is costly, but not that bad. I would not have thought twice before buying it.

Even if you do not use it with the snapmaker you can build a nice CD burner with it.

cd-fire-27254124

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It’s adequate for the price, but not in the “pretty good” category. There are a number of zero- and low-cost things SM could have done that would have made the machine far more competent. Here’s a few, just on the motion control system:

  • Used a single lead screw and two linear bearing rails in the Y axis. This is easily the worst part of the hardware design. Removing one active part (stepper and screw) and replacing it with two passive parts would likely come in at a small net price increase.

  • Machined the end caps of the linear module with a facing cut to reduce angular noise when used on the Z-axis. This item indicates to me they’ve got no one on their team who knows much about machine accuracy.

  • Put flanges on the bottom faces of the extrusions in the linear modules so that they could be bolted down from the top. This would have been a very small extra cost for materials. It would greatly easy assembly and allow the modules to be used in more configurations (their promise, after all) without the limitation of needing to bolt from behind through a thin section.

  • Used different linear modules for X, Y, and Z axes. The forces on each are different, which means that no single internal bearing configuration can be optimal. They’re already started doing this a bit with lead changes between X, Y vs. Z. This is a zero manufacturing cost increase. This change would have allowed another change:

    • Used a better bearing configuration in the linear modules. The one they’ve picked is guaranteed to deflect some in response to force from the top, either direct loads or torques. (It’s got an 1/cosine deflection response.)

    The legacy of the SM 1 really shows up in the SM 2. The SM 1 was quite small, meaning torque arms were much shorter. They appear to have kept the same internal designs for the linear modules without considering that they wouldn’t be appropriate for a physically larger machine. This speaks loads about their (deficiencies in) engineering competence, since this is something any ME would learn in their first undergraduate year.

  • Used optical sensors for limit switches instead of mechanical ones. Optical sensors are far more repeatable and reliable than mechanical ones. Zero to minimal net cost change.

  • Built the base (the “spiderweb”) out of extrusion pieces rather than a thin-section casting. Thin-section castings are kind of notorious for the possibility of inconsistent cooling and changing shape in the process. (Several reports on the forum here have been about this.) You need a good foundry to make them consistent, and that makes them more expensive. This kind of casting has a tendency to change shape (such as flatness) with temperature as well, making it a lesser choice for a support to a heated bed. I’m counting this as a zero-cost change. There would be more assembly cost on the user’s end, to be fair, but that’s not a manufacturing cost.

There are number of add-ons that can’t readily be made available now for legacy machines:

  • Add-on: a spring-loaded anti-backlash nut. Many people don’t need this, but the ones who do could really use it.

  • Add-on: A larger bolster between the base and the Y axis to resist shear in the Y-Z plane. There’s no good way to affix on the existing baseplate and the Z-axis module. A few pre-drilled holes and single machined reference surface would have been all; tools to do each are already used in existing operations.

  • Add-on: A shear plate bolted between the Z-axis modules to resist shear in the X-Z plane. This one could still be sold. Without flanges on the modules, though, you’re limited in hold-down force to what 4 mm bolt holes tapped into aluminum can provide.

  • Add-on: drag chain on the Y axis. There are plenty of reports about heated bed cables fraying. A drag chain system would best go where they’ve got splitters mounted. (You’d also want a connector on the heated bed so you could leave the cable in place when not in use.

  • Add-on: drag chain on the X and Z axes. These could still be sold, with some compromises. The big problem is that the cables on the linear modules aren’t really long enough to do this well, and there’s no easy way of swapping them out for longer ones.

I’ve got a similarly sized lists for the electronics/controller and each of the work heads. The only one I want to state here is the bone-headed decision to use custom connectors on a machine with a promise of hackability. That’s not even counting the brain-dead decision to make those custom connectors with a symmetrical profile with only a little mechanical key for protection.

So, no, not “pretty good”. There’s a lot of things that could have been far better without significantly impacting the price point.

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I agree. I bought this unit as an investment and mainly for the laser engraver. I have not had the best time with it and on top of that, the astronomical prices they place on the upgrades are like a slap to the face for current owners. You would think a company that is only where it is because of people willing to back them would be mindful of keeping them happy.

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I think many people think these 400 dollar machines are going to magically work better than your SM. They’re not. If you go read the forums/reddit/etc on these devices, you’ll see that even the famed Prusa/Ender printers are chock full of people who can’t bed level or have trouble with this material or that material.

@jkh has it right; they have a solid product for the price point. I’ll tell you with actual printing the new rails make a huge difference. I’ve never had first layers like I do without any tinkering. I’ve increased my print speeds to 100mm/s (you need to keep some of the first layer stuff slower; but you can increase speeds around 50% on the ‘other’ Cura stats. Downside to a kickstarter; we’re having to upgrade. On the flip side, I got a year of working on projects while waiting for the final project.

@jkh also hits the nail on the real limitation; software. Luban just isn’t a good program. Especially if you want to do 4 axis work. It needs to support multiple bits and bit change. Documentation would be nice. I’d really like them to produce technical ‘how to’s’ for every project they do so you can attempt to replicate the process.

5W laser in a CD burner… lol.

You’ve come up with a number of really good mechanical engineering enhancements here, and I hope the Snapmaker folks are reading this forum!

I have never had this experience, I wonder if by contrasting and comparing wifi systems we might be able to center in on what the issue is on some wifi systems…?

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