It took a few days to get here and I was really anxious, but the wait couldn’t have been any more worth it when the AIO Robotics Zeus All-In-One 3D Printer arrived at our door.
AIO Robotics really went all out when they released this 3D printer back in October as a Kickstarter.
Unlike other Kickstarter printers, the Zeus is incredibly unique in many ways in both functionality and structure.
Upon opening the box it was quite apparent that this printer was designed with care and thought, but rather a high-grade consumer product that was manufactured by one of the largest 3D printing manufacturers in Taiwan with decades of delivering products from large brands.
Packaging was enough to impress us from the get-go with two accessory boxes holding the smoked glass turntable, glue stick, USB WIFI Adapter and finally a power supply that came in a separate box.
Knowing that everything was laid out neatly gave me the impression that it was also going to be easy to assemble.
I couldn’t wait to get started and immediately took the Zeus 3D printer right out of the box. Noticing the meticulous design showed that a lot of attention to detail went into making this product.
On the bottom of the device there are two ergonomic indentations which serve as handles in order to move the Zeus from one place to another in a safe manner.
I was also impressed from the clean white design that comes with a black, smoked hood that keeps the chamber free of dust and also allows for a fully-enclosed controlled temperature for 3D prints.
While maybe not as pretty as other designs, the Zeus is still slick and neatly designed overall.
Importing the Filament
A while back AIO and Voltivo partnered up in order to create a solution for which type of filament that Zeus would take. When you open up the hood you’ll find a free spool of ExcelFil White PLA with a thickness of 1.75mm. This filament sample won’t last you very long, but is enough to get started on your first few prints. One of the things I noticed right away is that the filament was pretty easy to insert. You will need to carefully put it into the PTFE tube which eventually leads to the build chamber. Once you insert the filament strand on the top of the extruder, be sure to press the release button that’s on the right. This will prepare the extruder so that the the filament can pass through it once the printer is heated up. If you have any questions about setting up, you can also watch the startup video that AIO provides. You can view this tutorial in the video we posted below.
The First Power Up
Once I followed the instructions on the startup video, I went ahead and inserted my WIFI dongle into one of the 2 USB ports, and WIFI is another great feature that the Zeus has that you won’t find on a lot of other printers. You’ll find these ports under the touchscreen on the front panel of the printer. Connect the power cord to the printer on the back, and you’ll also see a panel that has an ethernet port and a master power switch as well. In total it took about 40 seconds to power up with the start screen to appear with four different available options: scan, copy, print and fax. If you’re using wifi, from there you can select your network on the touch screen and enter in your WIFI password. The first thing I did immediately was calibrate the scanner. In order to do this you’ll need to insert the calibration mat that fits on the turntable and press the ‘Calibrate’ button found under settings on the touch screen. The calibration in total only took a few minutes and at this point I knew that I was ready to go to begin my first print.
I decided to access the printer using port 8080 so that I was able to upload STL printing files via the web. This was a quick and easy way to get my designs to my printer, at least for me. There’s also the option of using a USB flash drive and having the Zeus reading the STL files directly off of the stick. I personally loved the web-interface that’s provided as it was incredibly responsive and easy to use on mobile devices. While it’s not as fancy as it could be, there’s no need and it’s usability is excellent. This would be a nice addition when upgrading in the future, but definitely not required. I personally hope that AIO will eventually make some of its software available as Open Source so that others can help contribute and expand on the AIO Robotics Zeus All-In-One 3D Printer. For those of you who are curious to know, I took a quick look under the hood to find out that the software uses a Ubuntu system on an ARM board. When using the touch screen there wasn’t any lag between presses as it was incredibly responsive. For the more resource-intensive activities such as slicing, there was slight lag, but nothing too far-fetched as to where I wouldn’t be able to use the printer.
My First Print
I was excited to see the quality and refinement of my first print with the AIO Robotics Zeus All-In-One 3D Printer. To get started, go to the print section on the screen and find a selection window. Here you can choose the desired model to be print. You can choose from one of the built in sample that AIO has included as a test or one of your own designs from an STL file. I personally recommend doing one of the AIO test prints that’s included just to make sure that the printer is working properly and you can rule out any errors that your STL file might have by doing this. The great thing about this printer is that by having an easy-to-use touch screen and a port for inserting a flash drive, you essentially don’t need a computer at all when controlling your printer.
My first print was a model that I uploaded on my web browser. I started by pressing the “Slice” button and this allowed me to select the type of slicing profile that I wanted. The wizard only has two settings for this, and for some this may actually be a good thing since user won’t get confused about which option to select since this feature usually comes with loads of options. I gave the model a 0.2 mm later height and a 30% infill profile. Once I pressed start, the printer started right away preparing the GCODE and this was an exciting display to be able to witness. The model was sliced, and you’ll eventually find that when you’re preparing more models that the ARM platform should have enough power to do more complex models as well.
It’s great that AIO prepares you by giving you all the necessary materials that you need. You’ll find a UHU glue stick that will be used to apply to the print bed in order to help prevent your model from sticking to the glass. When printing, be sure to refer to our best practices so that you get the best desired print along with optimal functionality of your printer. The printer will only start heating up once you hit the “Print” button. This takes about a minute to heat up all of the way. From there the extruder and the heat bed will begin the calibrating. In order to calibrate properly, there’s a microswitch on the extruder that’s used to calculate the distance to the build plate and adjusts the vertical height accordingly. Once the printer is at the necessary temperature, it will begin a head-cleaning procedure. This is a feature you will definitely not find with other models on the market. This is why the Zeus has a rubber-like contraption on the right-front side. What would have been a nice thing to add is a container that’s just underneath to catch excess filament when cleaning and to help keep the room clean. This is minor, as you can just grab the extra filament from the rubber and throw it away.
On your first print, you may notice that filament tends to bind well to the plate. No matter how you prepare the bed, expect at least some stickiness and adhesion until you do a lot of prints. However, with previous models such as the Ultimaker and the Da Vinci, it was never this bad since their heating beds seem to be a bit smoother when it comes to peeling off finished prints. Yet one advantage the AIO Zeus All-In-One 3D Printer has over these models is that straight form the factory not much calibration is required and that you will never have the need or worry to supervise your prints once they’ve began.
In terms of speed, I would rate the Zeus a 7.5 out of ten. The speed was decent at around 100 mm per second, not bad for an extruder that’s non-bowden. One thing that did surprise me is the noise due to how fast the extruder moved, but by all means it’s not near as loud as other printers have been in the past. Just be sure that if you’re in an area that needs to have a quiet atmosphere, it’s probably best not to use this printer for it.
Our first print was a small tag, and boy did it some out nicely. The model had incredibly smooth surfaces with a well-defined outlined of our logo and company name. Sometimes on finished prints you’ll have to either sand them down or peel away some extra filament, but not with the Zeus. The edges were crisp and very sharp, something you don’t see with many printers that are around the same price. For its price the print quality better be this good, or there wouldn’t be any other advantage to buying it aside from the built-in scanner that comes with it.
The AIO Robotics Zeus All-In-One 3D Printer is not cheap, but not without good reason. While it does come with a hefty price tag of $2,499, you’re definitely getting what you pay for. So far first impressions are really good, and an extra feature that comes with it is the built-in scanner very similar to the MakerBot Digitizer, a device that would normally cost you $800 separately. Taking this into consideration, I would say that the price is quite reasonable. If you want a printer that’s going to give you incredible prints and you’re also looking for a scanner, this is definitely the one to go with.