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Last week I published my Shortlist of 3D printers for Creative Professionals, including the ones I will review soon. One of them is the Builder Dual-Feed 3D printer, which I look forward to testing because of it’s unique single-nozzle-dual-feed system and PLA color mixing capabilities. Yesterday though, the Dutch manufacturer of this printer, 3Dprinter4U, contacted me to ask if I would like to test the Big Builder Dual-Feed instead. Of course I do! Not only is it still the same printer, only taller, but it also made me thinking about the (creative) possibilities of printing tall objects. I never considered a tall printer, but that might just be because I never thought about it. And I noticed that many readers that responded to my MakerBot 5th Generation Review own – or owned, because they sent it back – a Replicator Z18, the big brother of the printer I reviewed. And there’s also a tall version of the Leapfrog Creatr I reviewed recently.
There are probably more, but let’s take a look at those 3 printers:
It can print PLA only with a minimum layer height of 100 micron. The printer is stand-alone with a USB, Ethernet and Wifi interface.
€7.258,79 (ex. VAT)
It can be ordered with an optional heated bed and can print many materials like PLA, ABS, Woodfill, XT and rubber at 50 micron.
It has a unique Dual Feed system that can print – and mix – two materials using just one nozzle. The printer is stand-alone with a SD Card interface.
€2495 (ex VAT)
It has a heated bed as standard and can print many materials like PLA, ABS, Nylon and Woodfill at 50 micron.
It has a dual extruder to print with to materials at once. The Creatr XL is not a stand-alone printer: a computer needs to be connected to it through USB while printing.
€3999 (ex VAT)
Looking at these 3 big brothers, the first thing I noticed is that the MakerBot is ridiculously expensive: you can buy 3 Big Builders (they also over a slightly cheaper single feed version) for that price. On top of that – literally – the Creatr XL offers around a 35% taller build volume of 60 cm and the Big Builder offers a whopping 50% taller build volume of 66.5 cm, compared to the 45.7 cm z-height of the Z18. Both the Creatr XL and Big Builder can print multiple materials and offer a heated bed for materials that require that to prevent warping, such as ABS.
Speed-wise the Creatr XL is the slowest with a maximum speed of 60 mm/s, followed by the Z18 with 90 mm/s (according to the software). The Big Builder is twice as fast as the Creatr XL with a maximum speed of 120 mm/s. Speed is important in every 3D printer if you want to use it professionally, but with printers this big it’s crucial because tall 3D prints can easily take days to finish – yes: days!
More important than speed, however, is reliability: when you’re going to do a print job this long, there’s usually no room for failures and re-printing. A failed print at 90% would have cost a lot of time and money because of wasted filament and electricity. Smooth operation and perfect calibration are essential: you don’t want filament jams or a skewed print at this size!
Since I obviously lost faith in MakerBot’s Smart extruder when it comes to reliability and this has been confirmed by multiple Z18 users in the comments of my 5th Gen Review I wouldn’t dare to buy it, especially at that price. And while I got the Leapfrog Creatr printing eventually I found out in my review that it needed to be tuned down to half of it’s already slow speed to print details reliably, so a 60cm tall print would take way too long for me. Plus the fact that it’s not stand-alone requires a dedicated computer next to it, which would add costs for me because I don’t have one to spare and can’t miss my Macbook Pro for days.
That makes me extra excited about testing the Big Builder Dual Feed: It has the tallest build volume, it’s the fastest, it’s the cheapest and it offers the unique dual-feed system which I was already looking forward too. I plan to pick it up next week so I can start to test it for you in the coming weeks!
Whats your opinion?
What do you think about tall 3D Printers like these? Do you own or want one? And why? What kind of tall projects are you printing or planning to print?
Let me know by posting a comment below or through Twitter!