Orion Delta Desktop 3D Printer Full Review

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My Orion Delta 3D Printer by SeeMeCNC came already pre-built in a nicely packaged box from UPS, and I noticed that the shape was much different from that of other printers. Most tend to be in the form of some sort of box or square, but the Orion had a taller and more slender build that makes it seem like a really unique artifact that you purposely decided to add to your household. Inside the box came a roll of filament, the accessories and an SD card. I really like the SD card that I noticed because it allows me to put the printer in the shop, bring down a 3D print on the SD card and then plug it in and print without having to directly connect the printer to a computer. I’m really going to be interested in looking at the quality of documentation and seeing how easy it is to setup.

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Documentation

All of the SeeMeCNC documentation can be found online. They give full instructions on how to setup your printer along with downloadable manuals and quick start guides, and this is what I started off with. The guide was incredibly easy to flip through with detailed instructions that takes helps you set it up step-by-step. Overall setup took me about 30 minutes, and I had no troubles understanding the manual or configuring the machine. It will have you install the control panel on the front of the machine as well as prepare the spool into the extruder ready for printing along with some minor calibrations. The final step is to take the printer from the transport position into the print position. You need to carefully and cautiously bring up the arms to the top of the railings. orion-5

Turning It On

When I first tried powering it up, I flipped the switch and nothing happened. I found out later that this is because I didn’t plug in the cables to the LCD cable. After fixing this, you should notice that the LCD screen is turned on if you configured it properly. You’ll need to press the knob once and configure initial settings. The dial knob makes it really easy to scroll through this. Within about 5-10 minutes it heats up the platform and the extruder tip to get prepared for its initial test print. Displayed on the control panel will be the temperature settings, the progress of heating up the print bed and the progress of the print. The print bed will need to reach 200 degrees fahrenheit before it will begin printing, so be very careful that you don’t get burnt.

The First Print

When it first tried to print, it seemed as if the extruder tried to print in mid-air. I immediately realized that there was most likely a calibration setting that I needed to change regarding the distance between the extruder and the plate. I tried to configure this myself, but to no avail so I looked in their online manual. I kept getting impressed by how complete and thorough the manual was, and it even comes with pictures for each step. I recommend using the manual over the quick-start for setup just so you don’t miss anything. After browsing through it, I realized that the z-height configuration had been changed during shipment. I changed the calibration and the Orion began its first print. This time it actually dropped down to the plate. Make sure before printing that you use an elmer’s glue stick for better adhesion of the print model on the plate if you’re using ABS tape, especially if you’re printing something really thin.

orion-2It was really fun to watch it print with great precision, and I was really impressed with the print speed. Overall it’s just a really slick and cool-looking machine. One of the things that I noticed is that it printed overhangs without any support material and was still doing a really nice job from all angles. The guys at SeeMeCNC did an incredible job. When my print finished, the elmer’s glue made it easy to pull off the bed. My completed model was incredibly clean with no rough edges that you might see with other printers.

How Easy It Was To Get It Going

I would say that this machine was very easy to get up and going, and I found out that the Orion Delta 3D Printer is all open source. I’m really behind on the entire field of open source and DIY movement, but it’s something great to have as an option. From the time that I opened the box to starting my first 3D print was just over an hour with all of the calibration issues. Setting up the software so that I could go from an STL that I created going from my laptop to the printer took about another hour. Overall, it should take you about 2 – 4 hours depending on how tech savvy to get to your first print. If it’s intimidating to you, try to approach this thing more slowly and learn some 3D graphics modeling before diving in.

How It Prints

In the past I had built a motor by printing different pieces that served as modular components to the entire product. With this particular printer, I can do a lot more. It has a particularly large print bed and the z-axis prints up to 9 inches tall, so I can print a lot more with less prints. Another thing that I like is the round print base. A lot of times I wanted to print a rotor for an engine and on square bases I often found that the product would fall off the bed slightly for larger prints. The Orion has very even heating across the print bed, and with the few prints I’ve done I can already tell it makes a big difference in stopping the warping that happens when you print with ABS tape. ABS has some shrinkage on each layer, and as you come up, if the layers on top are shrinking and the layers below are cooler, you’ll get a lot of warping on the bottom of your ABS part. Overall, I’m very happy with the bed, and I love how the bed is static and the print head moves. This is definitely a great way to go. With my old Afina 3D printer, the bed moves and I believe this played a role in having not some of the products align exactly as planned on the z-axis. Only time will tell at this point.

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The Structure & Features

While I haven’t had the Orion Delta 3D Printer for a particularly long time, just looking at the machine you quickly realize that it was made to last. It’s very nicely constructed and I expect to get a lot out of it before anything goes wrong. I’ve also gotten a lot out of my Afina, but the only part that seems to out more than one occasion is a heating element from the print bed. I’ve actually gone through a total of 3 of them and they’ve been about 60 dollars each. I don’t anticipate this happening with the Orion. These are just some of the basic things.

Another feature that I particularly like about this unit is that has an SD card on the side near the control panel. This means I don’t have to have a laptop next to it at all times while it’s printing. This is something I haven’t been able to do with previous printers. Some printers even require you to leave the laptop connected the entire printing process – my Afina fortunately allows you to disconnect once printing begins. I also really enjoy all of the controls on the machine. I can adjust temperature and calibration really easily, and I can also do this directly from the software. Just make sure to go back to the manual have you any questions or feel as if you missed any details. It has all of the drivers and config files that you might need. Finally, the extruder piece is very well-designed and everything seems to be really tight and really-well polished and finished.

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Experimentation

I wanted to get started right away on a personal project so that I could finally put the Orion Delta to the test. I wanted to recreate another plastic magnet holder that was used for a door stop on a cabinet door. There were two but one of them broke. This will be a very practical use for a 3D printer. I took all of the measurements with the piece that was still working with a digital caliper. I ended up with a part that looks like the one on the image below. This probably took about 30 minutes to model up, and as you get better at modeling it will just get easier and easier. I suggest TinkerCAD or SketchUp to get started on graphic designing with 3D printers.

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I finished printing my magnet holder and the magnets seemed to fit perfectly. And this is what 3D printing is all about. I’m not even sure if I could find that piece for that particular cabinet, and my wife was definitely a lot happier once I got it fixed for a relatively cheap price. If I didn’t have this printer, it could’ve been a real pain. Now that I have the file, if it ever breaks again I can go ahead and just print another one or adjust my current model if need be. What’s also great is the open community that 3D printers have to offer. If you have something in particular that you’re looking for, there’s plenty of resources and files that you can find online from others that could be the project that you’re looking to build. Overall, my piece worked perfectly and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Final Thoughts

The print quality that you get with the Orion Delta 3D Printer is simply incredible. When you want to print smooth, it prints smooth. If you want to print rough textures, it will print rough textures. There may be a little bit of spider-like strings sticking off of the side of completed models, but this can easily be taken off with some tweezers or scissors and isn’t too difficult to pull back. Given this high quality, it’s no wonder that the Orion is a bit more expensive than most printers. I haven’t had any problems using either ABS or PLA tape with this printer. I’m also looking forward to print in 5-glase, the same material that clear, plastic water bottles are made of – very strong. For those just getting started in the 3D printing world and don’t want to spend a lot of time building your printer or with configuration yet also want something that is going to last a long time, this is a great choice. So far it’s been a great experience, and it’s something that anyone can tackle as long as they’re willing to give it some effort.

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