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PowerSpec 3D pro review: Good printer. Some warts though

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    PowerSpec 3D pro review: Good printer. Some warts though

    Introduction

    This is a review of my recently purchased Powerspec Pro 3D printer. I’m an experienced programmer, electronics geek, and painter but new to 3D printing. As a programmer it’s part of my job to find faults but I’ll try to keep this a balanced review.

    Summary

    I found the actual printer itself to be a good deal for the price. The support of the device was poor and the manufacturer’s fulfillment unprofessional. One of the first issues with the printer was the lack of any printed directions. I did a bit of research online and found the instructions are included on an SD card included with the printer. A printed instructions sheet should have been included. At least a single page directing you to the SD card would have been good.

    After unpacking the unit I immediately noticed many small errors.
    • The sticker on the front of the unit tells you to “open the side panels while printing with PLA.” The printer doesn’t have side panels.
    • The firmware loaded into the printer instructs you to press “M” when finishing setting changes or calibrations. The Makerbot printer has a front panel labeled with their logo (the letter “M”). The front panel button of this printer is labeled “OK”.
    • The instructions for leveling the printer platform are in the “Software installation” section. They instruct you to adjust the four wing nuts under the platform. This printer only has three wing nuts.
    • The bed leveling has been changed significantly from the makerbot instructions that the manufacturer copied. For this printer it places it in the center and no longer moves the print head to each corner of the platform. It’s not obvious that you must manually grab the print head and move it across the platform to level it.
    • There’s no indication of how far the platform should be from the head. I set mine to the thickness of the sheet of plastic kapton tape is shipped on (approximately 0.1mm.) I spent a full day trying to figure out why no plastic was extruding when I started a print. My head was so close to the platform it blocked the flow of plastic out of the extruder.
    • The extruders were not calibrated correctly. Mine only extrude 66% of the filament they should when printing.


    The second big issue was with the SD card. The card provided with the printer does not work with the firmware provided. The firmware version given does not support high capacity SD cards. The two gigabyte SD card provided with the printer is a high capacity card. When I tried to use the card it was mysteriously corrupted. I reformatted it on a Windows 7 machine and was completely unable to make it work. I luckily had an old camera with a 128 megabyte card. It’s worked just fine and without corruption.

    The manufacturer should provide a list of suggested accessories. You’ll need filament since none is provided. You really should also purchase a stock of replacement Kapton tape. You will destroy the one sheet you get with the printer pretty quickly while learning to level the platform.

    Weaknesses:
    • Microcenter, where I purchased the unit, does not know how to support this device. They can only provide you with the result of Google searches.
    • There were many mistakes during production. Inaccurate instructions, incomplete instructions, and an incompatible memory card.
    • Your wife will look at you funny and ask you why you want her to buy you some “Final Net Hairspray (with Extra holding power!)”



    Strengths:
    • Good local supply of parts at Microcenter. The Inland filament isn’t expensive and seems to be of good quality. They have all kinds of filament and standard parts you’ll need.
    • A very good price for the capability of the unit. You get a built unit for the kit price.
    • The printer parts seem to be of good quality.


    Conclusion
    The Powerspec 3D pro is a good capable printer, with good locally supplied parts, at a kit price for a prebuilt unit. If you’re expecting a plug and play device like a laser printer or ink jet you will be very disappointed. You will definitely have to do a lot of trial and error experimenting to get it printing reliably. I recommend the printer but with caveats.

    Happy printing to you!
    Jay

    #2
    Old common knowledge:
    * Side panels may be unscrewed.
    * Only 3 wing nuts because it's an upgraded glass bed.
    * Use the width of a post-it note between the platform and head so that it drags.
    * The printer should have already been ready-to-print out of the box without any adjustments. I bought mine in September 2014 and the distributor had already test-printed on it to verify functionality.
    New:
    * Please expand your reasoning for claiming the extruders only push 66% of the filament needed. Is that the case for the test-files included with the printer? The extrusion rate is set by your software slicer so that could be wrong.
    * The kapton tape on the build platform should stick well to ABS, also PLA if you just clean it.
    * Columbus Ohio MicroCenter has 3 very knowledgeable salespersons and 1 tech who was able to explain over the phone what he would do to firm up my printer when it jammed after 100 hours of printing.
    * Disassembly instructions are nonexistent.
    * PowerSpec 3D Pro Printer is a good workhorse with many of the upgrades already in place.
    * I've bought 2 and they have worked really well for me. A friend bought it and hasn't had to contact me for help in operating it.
    * There is a lack of community documentation for this printer but you can find more info with the Flash Forge Creator 3D Pro.
    * Check out Eric Fisk's review of the Flash Forge Creator Pro on Amazon for better MakerWare miracle file settings.
    * Still not plug-and-play.
    * I've had bad luck with some Inland filament being dusty.
    Last edited by studyknowadmire; 04-13-2015, 10:30 PM.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by studyknowadmire View Post
      Please expand your reasoning for claiming the extruders only push 66% of the filament needed. Is that the case for the test-files included with the printer? The extrusion rate is set by your software slicer so that could be wrong.
      I created a gcode file that heated the extruder to temperature then extrude 100mm of filament. I measured three points (80,100,120mm) from the point the filament enters the extruder. I marked those points then ran the gcode. All three marks were still visible outside the extruder after the script ran. I measured from the extruder top to the 100mm mark and found 34mm remained. 100-34 = 66mm. I concluded from this the printer filament feed rate was not configured correctly.

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