FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro Review
The FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro is also a Makerbot Replicator clone that comes with all of the enhancements right out of the box. As a result, it’s somewhat better than the replicator 2X that comes at half the cost. This makes it perfect. I’ve been a long-time owner of Makerbot Replicators, and I’m definitely satisfied with this type of printer. There’s a lot to like, and the customer support that they give is top-notch. When it comes to printing, it’s been a workhorse wit hate ability to create thousands of prints over many years. The basic design is sleek with a large enough build area to create interesting builds, but not so deep or complex that the printer takes up a large amount of space.
The printer comes with two extruders, making this model both flexible and come with the ability of working with multi-material prints for convenience, such as printing with one extruder when the other one needs maintenance, leaving the other one loaded with ABS while the other with PLA – This way you can switch between different materials with ease. This model also comes with a heated, print bed, making it easy to print with ABS, Nylon, PLA and any other type of material that I want (bronze, wood, etc.). However, the most important thing is that the user community for Makerbot is amazing. Whenever I’ve had problem about design or any other aspects that needed improving, the community was more than kind enough to come in with improved extruders, metal print platform arms, and Sailfish firmware. In short, the community is what really made me confident in leaving such a positive review regarding the FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro.
The printer I had before this one is getting old, and that’s the main reason I wanted to buy a new printer, just to supplement it. After reading many reviews and comparing many different models, I decided that I wasn’t comfortable going with the newest and greatest from Makerbot. Instead, I decided to settle on the FlashForge Creator Pro. This model is based on open replicator designs and includes the majority of community improvements, making it the ideal for everything I was looking for in the printer. Now let’s get into the details.
How The FlashForge Creator Pro Is Similar To The Makerbot Replicator
Both the FlashForge Creator Pro and the Makerbot Replicator come with a metal frame and plastic skin, making the unit be perceived as solid and very professional. It’s not as decent as Makerbot’s other injection molded skins, but perhaps it’s good enough to keep in a public setting such as an office environment. Unlike other models, the metal frame is extremely durable and sturdy, thus yielding very detailed prints. Both printers come with the same fundamental design, with the print bed moving up and down along the z-axis, and the extruders on a different platform that moves on both the x- and y-axis.
The headed print bed is what does it all, as it gives you a wide range of materials to use that you can print with, as mentioned above. The shape of the replicator bed is also very practical, as the width allows printing long objects, but it’s not so square so that the printer can fit normally on a desk without completely taking over. Other similarities include the two extruders, the spring tension with release levers, and the ability to print X3G files from an SD card. These types of similarities are all the same for Makerbot’s older models. This means that they can all use Makerware, Simplify3D, or ReplicatorG software.
The standard firmware for this version is Sailfish. This software makes it easy to control temperature and print speed, meaning that you can slice once, tweak settings for a particular filament, and ditto printing allows you to print with both extruders at once. This is great for cranking out a massive amount of small prints. The build area is enclosed making it easy to retain the heat needed to print, and this is definitely required when printing ABS. It’s a common community upgrade compared to the original Replicator, and it’s built into the Replicator 2x model.
The FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro comes with metal arms along with the print bed, preventing sag after being heated up. This allows prints to be much more consistent without having to revel the printing bed each time. This comes from months of community suggestions, and it’s awesome to get this feature right out of the box. The print bed comes with three mounting points rather than four on the original replication, causing the bed leveling to be much easier. Instead of thumbscrews there are wing nuts which are much easier to turn. This makes leveling the print bed much simpler than on the Replicator.
The CPU comes with much more storage, letting it run firmware with a lot more capabilities than the average CPU would have room for. To take this into perspective, the latest Sailfish software can take advantage of this new CPU power and provide support for automated bed leveling that can’t be done on the standard CPU’s small code space.
Buttons are mechanical rather than that cheap rubber you go with the old model, making feedback just that much better. When pressing a button, you’re going to know that it’s been pressed. The display is inverted with white font being displayed on a black background, making the overall design a little bit nicer with a darker case. The power supply is located inside of the case, which is much better in terms of transport and also being compact. The power supply is a little bit larger, allowing the FlashForge to heat the extruder and print bed simultaneously. The box comes with tons of spare parts, including every screw and nut you can thin of, and even a spare end-stop cable. The only thing that I could find that I didn’t like is that the extruder is not 100% metal, but has some PTFE lining. This doesn’t become an issue when printing ABS or PLA, but it could possibly limit the capability of using materials that use higher temperatures when extruding. However, I fortunately still have the original Replicator for these purposes.
Out of the box, you’ll notice that the FlashForge is very similar to the replicator. Both of them require that you get rid of all of the packing material and attach the extruders onto the gantry using two screws; this part is quite easy. The one major difference is that the FlashForge comes shipped with pre-configured for 220 V Power, and it has to be turned to 110 V Power in order to operate in the US. The box comes with a sticker explaining this difference, but it doesn’t really tell you how to do so. As it turns out, the voltage switch is on one of the sides of the power supply which is additionally covered by the bottom covering of the partner case. In order to access this part, you can use both a flashlight and screwdriver and reach near the bottom of the case. From there, flip the switch extended your fingers through the vent holes directly next to the power supply. It’s extremely critical to set the voltage correctly, which is why I would prefer that the company makes this much more apparent, or at least include it in documentation.
Once you have the power switched over to the correct voltage, setting up the FlashForward Pro is much easier than you’d expect, and much easier than setup with the Replicator. More specifically, bed leveling is more efficient than your normal Makerbot firmware, and this is because you can place the extruders directly over each of the three different control points and set each different one once. In comparison, Makerbot’s firmware controls the movement of the extruders to the middle of the platform and the four edges. This makes it so that all you need to change are the control points in pairs, and you usually only need to end up adjusting 24 of the thumbscrews. You can always upgrade the replicator to the Sailfish software as well, making it much easier to level.
You will need to assemble both the doors and top upon arrival. Even though it sounds problematic, this process was in fact very easy and required no instruction. It was pretty obvious how to construct it using the photo’s on the web site. One minor thing is that the files on the SD card were compressed using RAR format. In order to unzip the files, make sure you have proper RAR software. This wasn’t necessarily an issue for me, but for someone buying their first 3D printer it definitely might be. As for long-term operation, the FlashForge is much more consistent, mostly due to the fact the build platform arms are both metal.
The Replicator’s build also comes with arms that are plastic, so they might sag over time due to heat. This results that the replicator needs some re-leveling of the platform before printing, but this isn’t the case using the FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro. All you need is one calibration on numerous points.
Overall, the Replicator has been an excellent printer, but the FlashForge Pro enhances the original Replicator’s open design, and takes that into account by improving almost every aspect of it, including community enhancements and suggestions that make small, but nice improvements. In the end, it makes it a printer that is enjoyable to use at a low price.