The details on the box was a nice touch, including the specifications and a little bit about the printer.
Upon unpacking the printer you’ll notice the quick start guide right on top along with a few sheets for the print bed. Also in the box were some tools and a 4GB USB stick for importing your prints via flash drive using STL files.
I unpacked the box even further and noticed a spool of blue PLA filament that comes with it. There’s a USB cable for connecting it to your printer and also a power cable.
Depending on your location, FlashForge will give you the proper power cord for the country that you’re in. =
And last but not least there was a tube for loading the filament, and everything that you need to know to set it up is in the quick start guide.
Preparing The Printer
When you first get the FlashForge Finder you’ll need to remove some blue tape from just inside the cover, and it will be pretty obvious on the stuff that you need to be remove. Just be sure to be careful as to not damage anything else. You’ll also need to cut the zip ties that are holding the print head in place, and there should only be two of these. From there, raise the build plate. In the diagram it just shows someone putting their hand under it and lifting it, and this is all that you really need to do; just be sure to move it nice and slowly. This will allow you to remove the styrofoam from underneath it that was used to protect the bed during shipping.
The next step is loading the filament. What’s unique about the finder is that it has its own tray for loading filament. You can tell that the spool that they provided was somewhat cheap and was only about a pound of filament, but this is to be expected since it’s only meant to be used for a sample for the first print. Oddly enough, the instructions don’t say much about inserting the tube needed to load filament. When initially preparing the FlashForge I had to assume that the two holes on top were meant for this tube, and it turns out I was right. From there the instructions will guide you on how to prepare the build plate. Turning the printer on will light up the 3.5 inch display on the front. If the printer is working properly, you should hear a welcome source.
The printer is surprisingly quiet when it’s on. First select tools and then level to calibrate the print bed. There’s a maximum build volume of 14 cm on the x-, y- and z-axis. Unfortunately, the printer only prints in PLA and prints at a minimum of 100 microns. The lower the micron size, the more detailed your prints will be. The on-screen instructions will guide you on the next steps which consist of screwing three nuts into the platform in an anti-clockwise fashion until they can’t be tightened anymore. Tap the “OK” button when finished and the printer will automatically calibrate once again by verifying the distance between the head and the plate. Once this is finished you’ll need to unscrew each screw until you hear a beeping sound. When a beeping sound is constantly playing, you can verify this on the screen.
Getting Started On The First Print
Loading the filament into the nozzle will allow you to get started on the first print, and this is where I made my first mistake with the FlashForge Finder 3D Printer. When loading the filament it will draw through the nozzle and it will heat up. As it turns out, the build out was directly against the nozzle since I was leveling it, so a lot of the filament came out in a hot mess, and I had to take it off and clean it. I wasn’t super excited about the examples that came with the printer, so I decided to find a few examples online and make my first print that way. I selected the print button on the display screen and printed directly from the USB flash drive on which I had previously loaded a STL file from my computer.
If you print from an external source like a USB stick, it will need to download the file to the printer’s internal memory. This shouldn’t normally be a problem since there’s an internal memory storage of 4GB. Once the file was properly loaded, it stated that the print would only take 30 minutes on high-quality. The heating up of the extruder and print bed took about 10 minutes in total, which I noticed was much quicker than a lot of printers that take up to 20 minutes.
Results Of My First Print
My first print took 30 minutes just like it said. The Volt Boy that I printed came with some tree-like support structures which were easy enough to break off. Overall I was quite impressed with the results! The details were fine and I didn’t notice any ruggedness like you’d get with other prints. Maybe with incredibly complex designs you would get some roughness and need to sand down the prints, but everything seemed to be clean with this print and I didn’t have any major complaints.
I did have a bit of difficulty peeling off the model from the heat bed, and this is to be expected. From some friends of mine I heard that the best way to prevent this is by using some sort of acetone or glue directly on the bed before you print. Upon further inspection I noticed that I did have to peel away a few strands on the finished product and that it may need a tiny bit of touching up, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed.
Who Is This Printer For?
The FlashForge Finder 3D Printer is mostly rated for home and consumer-type users, which is the perfect category for me. While I do have a bit of experience with 3D printers, I do see how the simplicity of the instructions as well as the fact that it’s mostly plug-and-play make the FlashForge Finder 3D Printer perfect for those just getting started in the industry. You’re not going to get the best of the best when it comes to prints, but you’ll still be able to produce objects that will be of use. Given the large build volume, you’ll also be able to create quite a large cube. In comparison to other printers, it is a bit small, but for the price you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.
What’s really great is that the printer comes with WIFI meaning you don’t have to connect it directly to your computer if you don’t want to. It cost about $600 in total with delivery. This is the perfect amount in my opinion, since it won’t break your bank, and even though you don’t get as good of a quality as you would with higher-end printers, it’s definitely better than the cheaper printers on the market.
Apart from being pretty awesome looking, the model I printed out was basically flawless, and I hope to design my own prints at some point. It’s nice to know that the FlashForge Finder 3D Printer works directly from the box with just a bit of calibration. Removing the build plate is incredibly easy and it slides right into the printer. If you’re looking for a 3D printer that requires complex designs and fine detail, you may want to go with something a bit higher-end. But for those just getting started into the 3D printing world or want to use 3D printing as a hobby or help you complete projects around the house, this would be the perfect choice.