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Although James and Luke are both product marketing managers for Autodesk, Inc. their views do not represent those of Autodesk.  

Unprofessional Product Review: Printrbot Plus 3D Printer

Welcome to the first ever Unprofessional Product Review! The lucky recipient of this honor is the Printrbot Plus. To give you an understanding of where I’m coming from, this review is based off of my experience with 3 different Printerbot Plus machines, and comparing that experience to that of other 3D printers I have used such as Makerbots, Ultimakers, formlabs Form 2 and others. So onto the review!

 

Let’s start with the good


The obvious point here is the low cost of entry into the wonderful world of 3D printing. For just $1,199 you can get a fully assembled printer with a heated bed shipped to your door, including a free copy of Cura to setup your prints. Sure, you’ll have to buy some filament and some tools to get started, but considering what you get out of the box, it is a pretty good deal.


Another great feature is the large print bed. 10 in x 10 in x 10 in to be exact. Those are some pretty big parts!! Compare that to the competition and you’ll see that you’re going to potentially be able to print much larger parts with this. Plus, you’re able to use PLA or ABS with the same 3D printer. If you want to know the advantages of each, check out our podcast about 3D printing


The last point here is that the Printrbot Plus is expandable. As already mentioned, you can add a heated bed to help with you materials and part removal, but you can also rig it up to be a duel extrusion machine. I haven’t tried this out yet, but would love to! What’s better than printing in 1 color? Printing in 2 colors! 

 

So, what’s the bad?

 

So this thing is pretty loud. Like, if you have a meeting and you’re printing something in the same room, you’re going to have to leave so the other person don’t hang up on you. Imagine if a cat got its tail stuck in a vacuum cleaner.  That kind of noise. If you’re at a maker space or don’t have to talk to people, this isn’t really a problem.

 

Another issue that you could potentially run into is needing to tighten the belts to avoid shifting in your prints. 2 of the 3 machines I worked with needed this done at least once, though my main machine is still going strong without it. The first time you do this can take some time, but after you get it down, tearing apart the machine and fixing the problem shouldn’t take more than an hour or two. 

 

And then there is the ugly…


Three 3D printers isn’t enough of a sample set for you to take this as gospel, but it is something to consider. The one thing you should know up front is that that the tech support for the product is virtually nonexistent. I’ll walk you through the process:

 
Step 1: Have a problem with your printer or don’t know how to do something
Step 2: Search for any way to contact Printrbot
Step 3: Find the only way is through an email, so write your email
Step 4: Wait for an automated email to come back to you and let you know that your answer is “probably” online somewhere already, so go find it yourself
Step 5: Go find the answer yourself, and if you can’t find it write back and hope for a reply
Step 6: Likely you will fix the problem yourself, or wait 0 to never to get a response back from a human
 
Sadly this is not an exaggeration, and has happened on multiple occasions. I get it, you’re saving money and dealing with tech savvy people, but come on!

The other “ugly” come from one off events. One machine had ball bearings fall out (or just never existed?) causing the machine to be unusable. Replacement parts are on the way, and have been for 2 weeks. 


The last is to understand the wiring of your house, and doesn’t go for just the Printrbot Plus. If you’re running your printer on a circuit with a number of other items or have old wiring in your house, you might burn the place down. More likely you will just melt the receptacle, but this still isn’t ideal. Yes, this also happened.

 

Overall rating

 

So for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! What does the highly sought after Unprofessional Engineering research department rate the Printrbot Plus? We give them a 7/10! Not bad, right? 

Hopefully you have found this review helpful! If you have any comments on the Printrbot Plus, suggestions on other 3D printers to try, or just want to say hi, please feel free to reach out to us at unprofessionalengineering@gmail.com
 

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