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I wrote this review in 2014. Since the beginning of 2016, I’ve been getting emails from multiple people claiming they ordered a Cyrus and haven’t heard from the manufacturer. I’m not sure if they got a reply at the moment you read this, but I advice you to contact the company before ordering.
It has been almost a month since I posted Part 1 of this Review, so I’ve had plenty of time to test the Cyrus 3D printer. The experience wasn’t completely flawless, but after getting used to the printer, it has been running steadily almost daily without any mayor issues.
Did this printer keep it’s promises: is it really that silent? what are the benefits of Bluetooth connectivity? Does the Bowden-setup perform well? And what about that granite heated build plate? Read on to find out! I’ve even made a video for this Review, so you can see the Cyrus in action!
As you might expect if you’ve read any of my other 3D Printer Reviews I will cover my experience with this printer in 3 steps: Pre-Print Preparation, Printing and Post-Printing.
Loading and Unloading Filament
As I’ve written in part 1, filament spools can be loaded onto the spool holder on the back of the machine. It’s designed to hold spools with a 5 cm center hole, like the ones Cyrus sells on 20 cm spools with 750 grams of of PLA or ABS. I also have some 1 kg spools with a diameter of 16 cm and a center hole of 3 cm, which didn’t fit onto the holder. Because of this I found out that it actually works easier to put the spool next to the machine and feed it into the extruder that is located at left-back side. As long as you feed it so it rolls towards the machine, this works fine and you don’t have to turn the machine every time you want to change filament. I found this handy, because I put the printer against a wall.
The extruder tension has to be set manually by rotating a screw. I had to get used to this, because at first I wasn’t sure if I had turned it too tight or too loose. I did both a few times. Too loose can lead to the extruder losing grip of the filament and grinding it instead of feeding it into the Bowden tube, leading to failed prints. Too tight puts so much pressure on the filament and can lead to breaking it, especially with PLA which can be fairly brittle. But after these fails, I got the hang of it and found out how much pressure was right to prevent filament issues. That said, I think that a spring-loaded mechanism might easier to use for most users and also faster.
Unloading filament works well, but there are a few things to note about this. Because of the Bowden-setup, which puts the extruder gears on the back of the machine and the hot end on the other end of a guide tube, there’s always about 30 cm of filament inside the tube that has already gone through the motor and has to be rewinded again. This makes that part hard to re-use gain, because it’s already gripped two times and will also seriously bend when coming out. Rolling that part back onto the spool is possible, but messy and risky because it can lead to grip problems while printing the first layer.
Another thing that can lead to issues is filament junk being pulled out of the hot end when unloading. Most of the times this is a thin thread of filament, but sometimes the end of the filament thread contains a bead that is slightly thicker than the filament diameter. This can happen with every 3D printer, but with a Bowden-setup it’s harder to notice, especially when using white of neutral filament which are hard to see in the semi-transparant tube. The problem is that this bead sometimes hangs from a very thin thread of filament which can break, leaving the bead inside of the tube without you knowing. When loading new filament, the bead is pushed towards the hot end again, but it can be too big to push through the hole. I’ve experienced this once and had to find out how to remove the Bowden tube. After contacting Cyrus Support I got a quick reply explaining that the ring around the end of the tube has to be pushed with the tip of a knife or something similar to unlock the Bowden system and remove the tube. I could see a small bead of filament in the hot end, but couldn’t push it through with filament and there isn’t a pressure plug supplied. So I ended up heating a piece of filament with a lighter, pushing that into the hot end, waiting for it to cool and pull it out together with the bead. After that I watched the filament unloading carefully every time to check for beads. If there where any, I removed and cleared the Bowden tube before reloading new filament. This takes a bit of time, but far less than having to remove stuck filament.
Loading Files with the MicroSD Card
I was surprised that the printer used MicroSD and that the Card Slot is on the back of the machine. After using it for a few weeks, I can confidently say that this is my biggest critique. It’s simply counterintuitive. I discovered that there’s actually an covered, unused section on the front panel under the control dial. I guess the Card Slot was designed to be located there. I would personally be a bit happier with either a regular-sized SD Card Slot. MicroSD Cards are just too fragile and easily get lost. And I had to use an adapter every time to load files, while my Macbook Pro has a build in SD Card slot.
Using the Bluetooth Connectivity
I was very curious about what Bluetooth could bring to a 3D printer. My Macbook Pro detected the printer and could pair with it after entering the supplied pairing code. But unfortunately, the Bluetooth module isn’t configured with the standard Bluetooth File Transfer Profile used by laptops and smart phones, so you can’t natively send .gcode files to be stored onto the microSD Card.
Using the Android App
The Bluetooth module does work with the Cyrus Remote App for Android. I think it’s designed for tablets, but it also installed and loaded perfectly on my Nexus 5 Smartphone. After pairing it, entering the supplied license code into the app and setting the connection setting to Bluetooth (it can also connect through USB), the printer was discovered instantly.
Aside from the Settings menu, the app has two main screens: The first screen can be used to load .gcode files from anything you can acces from an Android device, including cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive. The interface can preview the .gcode by showing a front, top and side view. This is fun to see, but doesn’t seem very functional to me personally. The second screen, however, did. Here you can control almost everything on the printer, including moving the extruder and manually extruding filament. You can also set temperature presets for both the bed and extruder.
The app let you send files to the microSD card, but you can also print files in real time. This is actually nice, because the app gives more information than the display on the machine and a touch screen is easier to operate than a clickwheel-based menu. I had my old Nexus 4 phone lying around, doing nothing, so I 3D printed a stand for it so I could put it on top of the machine. The app didn’t work as well on the Nexus 4’s 720p screen though, so I would advise using it on either a tablet or a phone with a 1080p screen. Printing through the app works as advertised, without any problems, so it’s a nice option to recycle an unused Android device. You do want to keep it connected to a charger though, because an intensive app like this obviously drains the battery very quickly.
Preparing the Build Plate
The printer comes with a standard Staples office glue stick. It’s quick and easy to apply to the build plate, because it’s homed at the bottom of the printer. When the plate is hot, it will dry fast, although I found that filament also sticks to undried glue without problems.
3D Printing with the Cyrus
Many readers asked if I could make timelapse videos of the 3D Printers I review, so I set up a Youtube Channel and made one! It’s not only a timelapse, but a one minute walkthrough of the complete printing process on the Cyrus 3D Printer:
Starting a Print
Regardless of printing directly over USB, Bluetooth or from the microSD Card, the printer will pre-heat the build plate and extruder to the right temperature automatically before printing. This goes pretty fast, but you can walk away or focus on other things because you’ll notice the sound of the build plate going up when it’s heated, so you can check if the first layer is printed correctly. Doing so is not problem with bigger prints, because you can watch from the open top. But with objects smaller than the side of the print head, it’s naturally impossible to see from the top but also hard to see from the front, because the active filament cooling fan sits very low and blocks the view. That said, checking the first layer might not be necessary at all on a well-calibrated Cyrus, because I had no problems with first-layer adhesion with any of the prints I made with either PLA, ABS or ColorFabb XT. I also experienced no warping problems on ABS prints.
Although I thought that Bowden Printers can print a little faster than Direct Drive printers with heavier extruder assemblies, I was surprised to see that the Simplify3D profiles for the Cyrus are set at a quite conservative 35 mm/s. To see if it can go a faster I doubled the speed to 70 mm/s and made test prints with both the profile that was included with Simplify3D 2.1.2 and a newer profile send to me by the manufacturer. It was interesting to see that the original profile didn’t contain retraction (quickly rewinding a bit of filament before moving between print locations) settings and the newer profile did (4 mm @ 40 mm/s). While retraction leads to less stringing on prints, it can be tricky to get right with Bowden extruders.
As you can see, the lack of retraction leads to stringing between different parts of the left print. This is solved by the retraction in the right print, but the small details like the rods in the neck of the skull aren’t clean towers. I’m confident that the result can be improved by tuning the retraction settings or the “extra restart distance” in Simplify3D, but I didn’t test this, because this was the only print that caused this kind of problem. It isn’t my stress test for nothing: the rods on the Terminator skull at 8cm height are just very small.
I printed a few Terminator skulls and Yoda heads at different speeds and found that you can go a little faster than the 35 mm/s an still get great prints on the Cyrus. The optimal speeds greatly depends on the model you want to print and also the quality of the material. I had some low quality PLA laying around and really saw improved results when switching to higher quality filament. The spool I got from Cyrus (Magenta PLA) was actually very good, as you can see in the next section.
Want to know more about 3D Printing Filament?
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Anyway, with good filament the Cyrus can print nicely up to 50-60 mm/s and depending on the complexity of your model you can even experiment with going to 70-80 mm/s.
Filament quality is also an important factor when you wan’t to make prints at very small layer heights. The Cyrus specifications state that it can print up to 20 micron (0,02 mm) layer height, but that would lead to very long print times, so I only tested 200, 100 and 50 micron. I was surprised to how good prints looked at all 3 resolutions! Layers are consistently printed on the perfect spot. I honestly think that 50 micron is great enough for FDM 3D printing if the layering is precise and it is on the Cyrus.
It must be said that I’m really impressed with the print quality of the Cyrus in every way. The active cooling cools PLA prints perfectly, which makes each print layer very straight and is make it possible to print quite severe overhangs. To test it’s limits I printed the Torture Test designed by Make Magazine with Cyrus’ Magenta PLA with the standard preset in Simplify3D. It came a long way with the arch, but unfortunately that one fell over. This might be fixed by adding a little brim to make the left part stand sturdier. Other than that the results are perfect. The single-walled cube and cylinders are all perfectly straight and consistent. It also did the single-layer part in the front perfectly, but I broke that one off by accident while removing the print from the bed.
Printing with Different Materials
I printed mostly with PLA with the Cyrus, but I also did test prints with ABS and ColorFabb XT. Both materials require a heated print bed, which the Cyrus had and both had very good adhesion at 100 and 60 degrees Celsius bed temperatures respectively on a layer of glue stick. I didn’t test the actual power consumption of the printer, but I did notice the granite build plate holds longer than most glass build plates do after a print, which is surely energy efficient. I only printed small things with ABS, but I can imagine that when printing larger objects, you might want to cover the front and top of the printer to keep the build chamber consistently warm and save energy, especially when printing overnight in an unheated room.
Yes, the Cyrus is generally more silent than most 3D printers I’ve used so far. I did some measurements with the Sound Meter Android App, which has been calibrated to my Nexus 5, but my opinion is that sound levels are irrelevant. Sure, you don’t want a 3D printer to be very loud, which the Cyrus isn’t, but even sounds with low decibel levels can be irritating. The general problem with 3D printer noises is that they constantly change depending on what is being printed: you can hear the printer switching from organic outline shapes to zig-zagging infills. So instead of measuring how loud the Cyrus is or isn’t, I tested how the sounds it makes affect living and working near it.
To put it in completely unscientific terms: while most printers make a high-pitched “beeeep-beeep-beeeps” sound, the Cyrus makes more of a “bzzzzt-bzzzzt-bzzzzt” sound. That might sound silly, but the sound it makes is a lower and while you can hear most printers through a door when you put them in another room, you won’t hear the Cyrus at all that way, which I think is a very positive thing if you plan to use it in a creative company. I also put the Cyrus on my desk for a day, but the constantly changing sounds and vibrations make that too uncomfortable. At home I could print all day in the room next to our living room with the door closed without complaints from my girlfriend, which was a first in my 3D printing history!
The greatest contributors to the overall noise are the 3 fans: there’s a small one that constantly blows onto the hot end to prevent filament clogs and a larger, programmable, one that cools the filament after printing to increase print quality. The third one cools the electronics and power supply which are hidden in the bottom of the printer. This one makes the most noise, but fortunately it only turns on once in a while, especially when the bed is heated and homed at the bottom.
Like most stand-alone 3D printers, the Cyrus shows all kinds of useful information on it’s backlit display, like temperatures and the speed multiplier. These and other settings can be changed at any time during printing. One small but great feature is the ability to switch of the blue decorative LED lighting manually. This way my neighbors won’t think I sleep on a sun tanning bed every night. Of course the print can also be paused or stopped. The print progress is shown in percentages, but unfortunately the printer doesn’t display how much time is remaining. I also missed the display of the print time after a print is done. I find this handy to know because actual times always differ a little from Simplify3D’s estimation.
Build Volume & Price
The Cyrus – priced at €1449,99 plus VAT – has a very small foot print an fit everywhere you would like to put it. It’s also light and easy to carry around. This does affect the build volume of the printer, which at 19.5 x 19.5 x 20 cm is smaller than some of it’s competitors. It’s build plate is smaller than an Ultimaker 2 (23 x 22.5 x 20.5 cm), but the Cyrus is €450 cheaper. And it’s just €100 more expensive than a MakerBot Replicator Mini (10 x 10 x 12.5 cm), and that’s a small extra to pay for a bigger – heated – build plate that isn’t limited to just PLA. While I think that the build plate of the Cyrus is sufficient for printing most objects, it’s generally worth thinking about what kind of objects you want to be able to print – or if you need to be able to print many small objects at once – before buying a 3D printer.
Depending on material, print settings and the dimensions of an object, some prints are easier to remove than others. The great thing about a heated bed is that it is also helpful when removing prints. Just heating the bed for a few minutes makes the first layer a little softer, of is easier to get a x-acto or putty knife under the surface. It also makes the glue stick layer soft, so it would come off with the prints most of the times. It’s easy to wash of with a bit of water and unlike painter’s tape or print stickers, it easy to just put a little bit of new glue where it came of.
As with most 3D printers with heated beds, the bed on the Cyrus isn’t removable. However, unlike most 3D printers that have the build plate fixed to the z-axis assembly, the square granite build plate on the Cyrus can easily be lifted from the frame and rotated 90 degrees either clockwise and counter clockwise. This makes it easier to remove larger prints that require a putty knife to put under each side.
You do want to be careful not to put too much force onto the build plate and supporting the frame while removing prints, because even minimal bending of the aluminum frame could mess up your careful calibration.
The Cyrus requires little maintenance other than lubricating the bearings once in a while with the supplied grease to keep things moving smoothly. I also discovered that it’s necessary to remove excess pieces of filament from the build chamber to prevent them from falling into the fan of the electronics in the bottom of the printer.
While the Cyrus has a few practical issues – like the microSD Card Slot in the back, relatively complex calibration procedure and manually setting the extruder tension – those are easily forgotten after getting used to it after a few days of printing. Then it becomes a very capable little 3D printer that can produce extremely high quality 3D prints. Because of the heated bed, it can do this in virtually every kind of material you can think of (and as you might have read in my Filament Guide, there are many!). The only exception to this is flexible filament, because of the Bowden-setup. I found the first-layer adhesion is consistently good and haven’t got any problems with warping or layer-to-layer adhesion while printing with both PLA and ABS. If you’re looking for a 3D printer to print small to medium objects with lots of small details, you the disappointed by the Cyrus. And if you’re looking for a 3D printer that doesn’t make the irritating high-pitched sounds most others make, the Cyrus is a good choice.
In my opinion the Cyrus’ print quality, small foot print and low noise level will all appeal to the Creative Professional that likes to experiment with the ever-growing list of 3D printing materials.
If you have any question about the Cyrus or this review, please feel free to leave a comment below! And if you want to receive updates on my future 3D printing activities, follow me on Twitter or Instagram.