If you have been reading DIYODE magazine since issue 001, you will know that we enjoy getting our hands dirty with some 3D printing for our projects. When we learnt that Jaycar was about to take delivery of the Adventurer 3 from FlashForge we had to get one to check it out.
FlashForge has been manufacturing 3D printers since 2011, and have built up a well-known reputation for decent 3D printers. We were keen to unbox the printer when it arrived at our office and to put it through its paces to see if it met our high expectations.
The first thing you’ll be pleased about when you open the box is that the printer is well packed. It does take some effort to wrestle the 9kg unit out of the box, and requires plenty of patience to remove the tape and wrapping around the printer. It’s great that the factory goes to these extra lengths though, to ensure your pride and joy looks in pristine condition.
Tucked away in the box was a roll of white 1.75mm PLA filament, power lead, user manual, some small tools and grease, which we assume is for maintenance.
THE MAIN UNIT
Our first impression of the fully enclosed printer is that it is well-made. It has a clear acrylic door on the front, a large clear window on the side and a clear lid on the top, so you can get a good view of your print without having to open the door.
The front panel has an LCD screen and one USB port. The IEC power socket with an on/off switch is on the left side along with a large cover that houses the filament. An air vent and network port can be found on the rear.
A quick peek inside with the front door open reveals the platform base with the detachable build plate in place and a bulky looking extruder with a built-in fan.
Once you have power connected the coloured display lights up and a happy melody will sound.
The extruder is mounted on the X-axis and can be heated up to a max of 220°C. FlashForge claims that the print head can get to 200°C within 50 seconds thanks to the stainless steel nozzle. We like that the print head can be easily removed, without tools, for maintenance.
There is a built-in LED that emits a bright white light, which can be turned on and off by the interface. There is an air guide that blows air towards the nozzle to improve printing results, and a built-in fan helps keep the extruder and its components cool while it’s in operation. As you would expect, the fan can be a little noisy, but once you close the cabinet door it is remarkably quiet.
The extruder is ready-to-use out of the box. It is also great to see that there is a pre-levelling bed to help avoid annoying printing imperfections.
Everything is controlled by the 2.8” touchscreen, which has been designed to work in portrait mode. The icons on the colour display are nice and large for those of us with fat fingers, and the screen is very responsive.
We found the menu very easy to navigate, and wouldn’t be daunting to a new user to 3D printing. Everything can be set from the menu from heating temperatures to WiFi settings.
REMOVABLE PRINT PLATE
The printing plate travels in the Y and Z axis and can be set to heat up to a maximum of 100°C.
What impressed us about the plate was that it can easily slide out with the print attached, then it’s just a matter of gently flexing the plate to dislodge the print from the board. This comes in handy when you have a large or delicate print that would normally be difficult to remove from the plate.
LOADING THE FILAMENT
A roll of 1.75mm PLA comes included. A quick online search states the printer also supports ABS and PETG.
Loading filament on some printers can be fiddly, but the auto-load feature on the Adventurer 3 made loading the filament a breeze. You simply insert the roll, slide the end of the filament into the clearly marked intake until it grabs into the feeding wheel, then select ‘Filament’ and ‘Load’ on the touchscreen. Once the extruder heats up to 220°C the filament will automatically feed through. Don’t walk away from the printer when this process has started though. You need to press the ‘ok’ button to stop the filament flow once it flows from the print nozzle.
Printing can be done from files stored on the internal memory (8GB), a USB stick you simply plug into the front, or via Wi-Fi. The Adventurer 3 also supports cloud printing so you can manage and print your files using an online portal such as FlashCloud.
It’s always exciting to get a print up and running. To get you there faster, you’ll find two files pre-saved onto the internal memory. You can have a small ship or 20mm cube printed in no time to get the satisfaction on how great the printer prints.
When your print is in progress the print interface can indicate the extruder and build plate temps, used time, printing progress as a percentage and the filament needed in metres. You can also suspend and resume the job if required at the touch of a button.
OTHER COOL FEATURES
BUILT-IN CAMERA: A handy feature in any 3D printer is a built-in 2MP camera so you can watch your print remotely, in real-time. You can also use it to create amazing time-lapse videos. The camera in the Adventurer is located on the inner wall of the unit.
FLASHCLOUD: The Adventurer 3 is compatible with FlashCloud, an online platform that manages your print files online, then transfers them to your printer. There’s a host of cool features, which we don’t have room to describe here.
FILAMENT RUN OUT DETECTION: Never end up with an unfinished print. The Adventurer 3 will suspend the job once filament runs out. Once you auto-load more filament you can resume the job.
A WORD ABOUT MAINTENANCE
The printer is easy to maintain. The interface makes it easy to calibrate the distance between the extruder and platform when required, and the print head can be removed easily for cleaning. There’s even an unclogging tool provided to make removing any blockages easy.
Make sure you use the supplied grease at least once a month or more if you use it frequently. If you ever need to give the printer an overhaul, the necessary tools are included to do that. You can do this yourself with a little guidance from the video on the FlashForge website.
Overall, we were happy with the look and performance of the printer. It is easy to use, fast heat up time and has all the features you should expect in a printer at this price range. Considering that the printer is under $900, and from FlashForge, we believe it is great value for money. Sure, there are better printers out there with higher accuracy and performance, but they are well over $1000!
Adventurer 3 Specifications:
|Number of Extruders:
|Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)
|2.8” colour IPS Touch Screen
|Z axis 0.0025mm;
|XY axis 0.011mm
|Mac OS, Linux
|Input: 100V-240VAC, 47-63Hz
|USB stick, WiFi, Ethernet
FlashForge Adventurer 3 available from Jaycar :