Review of 3d Touch 3d Printer

A high quality build, but for the price, the system takes too much tweaking to get great prints.

Priced in the high prosumer range at $3,930 to $4,370, this printer started with from a RepRap model before switching over to more commercial, closed system. The build quality is great – steel connectors inside the acrylic build cage. The size is large, both for the footprint of the machine and possible final print volume – 7.3″ x 10.75″ x 7.9″. It prints in ABS, PLA, and soluble PLA, but with all materials our testers found it printed very slowly.

It doesn’t use a heated build platform, instead the surface is a plastic it melts the extruded build material onto, which sometimes makes prints difficult to remove. Some users have complained the platform gets pitted with normal use, which Bits from Bytes claims is normal.

The printer is named the 3d Touch because of its touchscreen panel for controlling the printing. For beginner users, the touchscreen is nice, but experts can find it a gimmick. Loading models onto the USB stick for printing when it’s much faster to keep it connected up.

The software it interfaces with – Axon 3 – is windows only at the moment, and older users may have to update their firmware before using it. It can automatically generate support material with the second extruder, a great feature that allows you to use a different color or material to make removal easier.

The company that manufactures the 3d Touch, Bits from Bytes, was bought by the huge 3d Systems in 2010. The support forums seem a bit barren, and the website seems a bit neglected for a large company. But support documentation is thorough, so setup is clear.

Build quality is ok, but it sometimes muddles fine details, even though it claims a resolution of 0.125mm. Our testers might have needed to calibrate the machine a bit more, but they tested it as a normal beginner user would, and they commented that it seemed like it was using too much plastic. They also noticed some fine strings between print segments, indicating the printing wasn’t controlling the extruder flow perfectly. A pro user might be able to fix these issues by testing out tweaks to the Skeinforge settings, but beginner users may be frustrated trying to get great prints out of the box.

Overall, we were disappointed by the 3d Touch. Its slow, slightly mussed prints don’t live up to the promise of the beautiful, well built machine.

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December 17, 2012
Categories: 3d Printers, News