Before every buying any printer, I always go to the worst review that I can find to help provide me with some useful counterpoint information, and it’s no different with the Dremel Idea Builder 3D Printer.
The fact that there were a lot of recommendations as well as warnings urged me to make this purchase. When the printer arrived at my door, I immediately experienced some odd, quirky issues when I ran it from my desktop.
However, after using it from a Dell Venue machine, it seemed to run a lot smoother without the same quirks. I did several experiments on different computers to get to the heart of the matter, which I will discuss later in this article.
Before purchasing this 3D printer, I specifically looked at two other printers:
So what compelled me to actually go through with my final purchase of the Dremel Idea Builder 3D Printer? A couple of reasons, but a big portion of my decision-making process can be contributed to Flashforge user reviews. I noticed that people who had reviewed The Dreamer had no other product reviews except for that product, making me wonder whether their reviews were legitimate or compensated. As for the Solidoodle Press, there were many negative reviews regarding customer support, even though the company is in its 5th generation. As for the Dremel, many Amazon reviewers received the product in advance solely for testing purposes and to test it before it was actually released on the market. I eventually found myself re-reading their positive reviews day after day before it became available for sale.
While it is possible to jury-rig any type of setup that you come across given enough technical background, this was definitely not the case for me. I wanted something that could easily be used by any type of 3D printer hobbyist and wouldn’t be super expensive when it came to materials. The average user of 3D printers most likely not an advanced tech guru, meaning that they are not going to want to pay extraordinary costs for something that they use simply for fun. When it comes to proprietary spools, Dremel is the cheapest. Yes, they are significantly higher than generic spools, but as I said, I don’t want to go through the process of having to jury-rig the machine to be able to figure out how to implement them.
The location of customer support is also another huge factor in determining what printer to buy. The Dremel and the Solidoodle are us-based, while Flashforge is China-based. If I had a problem,, I didn’t want to be on the phone for hours, have to make a long-distance call, or risk not understanding the rep on the other line. When it comes to print speeds, Dremel does a hard set at “Good 120,” Better 100,” and “Best 80.” Both Flashforge and Solidoodle have speeds that range from 60-150 and 40-120 respectively, but they stated that when increasing print speeds, the quality of the product would be greatly reduced. I know that I could’ve emailed customer support to get more specific answers on exactly how much quality would be reduced, but in the end it felt as if they were giving me a “use your best guess” to determine what I was getting. I definitely did not like this.
What Has The Dremel Delivered Thus Far?
To say the least, Dremel’s customer support is excellent. Whether it be chat, email, or phone calls, they are all immediate, thorough, and responded with intelligence. THIS is what can make a printer good or bad. Furthermore, when I mentioned that printing material was being used up a lot quicker than I expected, they offered me a free, small sample package be sent to my door.
As for print quality and speed, it’s best to watch the video displayed below to help determine what it really means to you in terms of quality. In any case, I did my own experiment and pretend the same model 3 different times on three different settings: Good, Better, and Best. Good took 1 hour, Better 90 minutes, and Best 2 hours. The video helps explain what the differences are. Here’s my final verdict: If you want to make a lot of models but don’t care to put too much importance into details, “Good” speed is perfect, whereas “Better” doesn’t make much of a difference. Yet when it comes to models with high attention to detail, the “Best” setting stands out and won’t disappoint.
Between the dates of November 5th, 2014 and January 1st, 2015, I made over 200 different models. After every 15 models or so, I re-level the build, or at least when I notice that models aren’t sticking that well to the tape. What causes the build plate to sometimes become un-level is its removable design. The build plate simply snaps in-and-out. While some may find this aggravating since you have to tighten it every so-often. I personally find it beneficial since it’s easier to replace. By simply removing the build plate to grab your object after it’s finished building is the best method to keep the plate sturdy. After doing this, I’ve seldom had to re-level the plate. From there I just snap it back in.
While I’m accustomed to using Blue Tape for the printer material (also known as PLA), I haven’t done so with the Dremel Idea Builder 3D Printer. So far I’ve used one sheet of the Dremel tape that was included for my first 40 or so builds before replacing it with another sheet that they also supplied. If I find that Dremel PLA does not become available for further purchase, I can simply switch to Blue Tape PLA. Here’s a neat tip: When using tape that’s of Dremel product, try to level with the thickness of a business card, which is much thicker than what you get with Blue Tape. When using Blue Tape instead, make sure to level with their standard by using their leveling paper or standard 20-lb. paper.
When it comes to using the supplied software from Dremel, there’s one compatibility issue that may pop-up causing Network Errors. Unfortunately and for whatever reason, you can’t install their software on a computer that has on-board Intel Graphics, or one that has Windows 8. So far I’ve only printed one Dremel object. Everything else that I’ve printed thus far came from Thingiverse, other brilliant designers, or by using the free Google software called Sketchup. Dremel is partnered with Meshmixer software to help fix any downloading object be done with ease. If you plan on designing your own models using Google Sketch, be sure to use Meshmixer to finish off the fine detail and finalize them.
You can gain more control to your software by going in and selecting “Advanced Settings,” giving you access to much more options, especially INFILL. This is the one setting that I tend to modify most with each build. Infill tells you how dense that a honeycomb pattern is that fills the interior of your build. When building models, I suggest using a low infill. Yet for tools and other practical objects that might be used under stress, you’ll need a standard or higher infill. Models can take the low-infill because you’re using them just for display rather than for use. I did some testing on a squirrel mode on Best quality, reducing they fill from 35% to just 15%. This reduced the time by half-an-hour to a total build time of 1 hour and 56 minutes. Yet the most important thing about this change was that the weight was drastically reduced without an impact on quality (at least no visible difference). With this setting enabled, there’s also no need to use up print material as quickly.
Over the past month I’ve used my Dremel Idea Builder 3D Printer almost daily. The materials that I’ve used are 1 full spool of while, 1/2 roll of white and black, and 1 full spool of translucent. There hasn’t been one day where I’ve encountered a jam, foul, or any other issue. I try not to rush the filament unloading or loading process in order to make certain that the Filament is really 100% loaded. I do this by going to the control panel and shooting through some extra filament to make sure that there’s a constant flow. I also try to make sure that the exterior of the print head is clean each and every time. This should be common sense, but sometimes we tend to forget this. For a $1,000 printer, you’re not only getting yourself that’s easily customizable and great for beginners, but a printer that can also make high-quality products as well.