The title could certainly generate some perplexity, but considering that it represents the core of what we will talk about shortly, we wanted to underline it right away. We put the Alfawise U30 to the test, a really cheap 3D printer, but it is not possible to judge it, without making a deeper and more complex speech, which concerns 3D printing as a whole. Here's how we think about the printer, and what about 3D printing.
Alfawise 3D, first of all, arrives at home in a cardboard package of however small dimensions. Do not think, therefore, that you need an elevator to bring it up to your work surface. And in fact, the printer arrives disassembled, although in some parts pre-assembled. The first issue to be addressed, therefore, is that relating to the assembly of the printer. It is not difficult, it is certainly within everyone's reach, but it still requires precision and attention.
This is how the printer looks when you open the package
Although from many parts an extreme ease of assembly is reported, which can be completed in just half an hour of work, we sincerely feel we disagree. If it's not your first 3D printer, you will certainly be able to set it up in minutes. Conversely, if it is the first time that you find yourself in front of a machine like this, consider working on it for a few hours, even two. Certainly it is not possible to say with certainty how long it takes to mount it, because this depends on the degree of dexterity and experience that the user has. In any case, we want to reassure everyone: even if you have never screwed a light bulb at home, you will be able to assemble this 3D printer, certainly using the manual, and even some video tutorials scattered on the net.
The pieces to be assembled are certainly not few, and although almost all of the operations require inserting and screwing, some steps require more attention and shrewdness, such as the assembly of the belt, which will then be used to move the nozzle on the printing plate. . If I were to rate it for ease of assembly, it would still be high. In one way or another, by losing a few tens of minutes more, or less, you will be able to complete the editing.
Although it comes home piece by piece, and although the price is really low, overall, once assembled, the printer still gave us the impression of being quite solid and sturdy. During the longer prints we noticed that it had imperceptible movements, which certainly are not good for the print, and for this reason the advice is to fix it to the desk, or on a very stable work table, so as not to allow the minimum movement.
As a guideline, the printer, once mounted, will occupy an area of 50 × 50, with a height of about 75 cm. It is not one of the largest printers, and the printing surface is also limited to 220 x 220 x 250 mm. For the avoidance of doubt, this is a large enough area to let your imagination run wild and print just about anything you can think of. Of course, for much larger jobs you will need a very different printer.
Before even saying if the Alfawise U30 is a valid 3D printer, it is necessary to talk about 3D printing in general. If you are thinking of starting a 3D print, as you do with any sheet print, you are far from reality, and you will be absolutely disappointed. It's true, you can insert the supplied MicroSD into the printer and immediately start one of the samples, but in general it doesn't work like that.
In fact, if you want to create the print models yourself, know that you will have to equip yourself with special software, and therefore it will be necessary to have at least basic technical and graphic knowledge. This is not the right place to talk about how to model in 3D, but know that to create objects from scratch, you will need to be able to use some graphic software, certainly not immediate.
Easier speech, however, if you rely on the many sites such as Thingiverse that offer infinite objects already modeled: a search will suffice on Google to have immediate access to the multiple search engines, where you can certainly find the object to print, whether it is the iPhone cover, rather than your favorite action figure.
The second print test not too refined
Even in this case, however, it will not be sufficient to download the file and feed it to the printer. The “raw” file, to use a non-technical term, but which nevertheless gives an idea, must be “cut”, that is “refined” in order to be read by the printer in the correct way. Among the many software on the web, we recommend Ultimaker Cura, also available for Mac, with a rather simple graphic interface.
By feeding the raw file to the software, you can decide on a myriad of settings, i.e. the directives of how the printer will operate.
It's true, the software allows you to select the Alfawise U30 printer and, therefore, set all the printing parameters automatically, but in our case it didn't work. Initially, with these settings, there were many printing errors and failed attempts. And then, it is good to look at the 'inside of the MicroSD supplied, where there is a U30.ini file. The latter can be loaded into Ultimaker Cura, or other printing software, and will provide a better calibration of all printing parameters.
This is not to mention that, even with the parameters set in this way automatically, it is not certain that it is not necessary to manually adjust some settings to get a better result. These further directives are among the most varied: the speed to be maintained by the fan, the temperature that the nozzle or plate must reach, the structure to be printed even before starting the creation of the object, and many, many other factors.
Why did we want to tell you all this? Because 3D printing is probably not yet within everyone's reach. It is not enough to choose the file and give the print input. It is not enough to start printing to be sure that everything is going right.
You need to be patient, be ready to accept some mistakes before reaching an optimal result. And again, it takes several hours of printing, even for small to medium-sized objects. You need to purchase the correct filament, clean and properly calibrate the print platen. Many small operations that, I play, do not make the printer immediately usable. 3D printing is not, at least at the moment, for everyone.
How does Alfawise U30 work?
Having made the above premise, we come to the printer in question. He surprised us positively. We did not think that from a printer costing around 180 euros, you could have a similar print quality.
However, we were disappointed by the amount of filament included in the package, which was not enough even to print the smallest of the samples included in the memory. And in fact, the first print, as you can see from the photos we propose, was interrupted right at the most beautiful.
In any case, already from this first print we realized the potential of the machine. In particular, we noticed how the back of our little fox was particularly smooth to the touch, impeccably printed. Again, we were surprised by the cleanliness of the print, considering that there was no smudging, if not some tiny filament to be filed, right in correspondence of the front legs.
As already mentioned, however, this result represents only the potential of the printer, which therefore turns out to be of excellent quality, but it is not certain that any printed object reaches this quality. And this is because a good print necessarily passes from the print settings that are entered when the “raw” file is “cut”.
Subsequently, we tried to print an Apple Watch dock, with much poorer results, so much so that we decided to stop printing, once again, in the middle. The negative result, however, is certainly not attributable to the printer, which instead proved to be able to achieve excellent print quality, with a file cut in the correct way. Almost certainly, for this second print, we made a mistake in the print settings, and the filament we purchased could also have negatively affected the final result.
The third print, on the other hand, finally returned a complete object, and also of particular usefulness, considering that it does not exist on the market. And indeed, we have printed a remote control wall holder for the Yeelight lights. This is the meaning of 3D printing: getting something you could hardly get on the market.
Also in this case the printing was of good quality, not only in consideration of the low cost price of the printer, but in general. We did not expect this result from a 3D printer for just over 180 euros.
Given that Alfawise U30 is a good 3D printer, the advice before buying it is to understand how 3D printing works and what it is for. If you are thinking of printing your favorite smartphone cover, then it is not for you: it would take many hours to achieve a result, which certainly would not be close to that obtainable with the outlay of a few euros for any Chinese cover, certainly better.
3D printing is for those who want to print prototypes, objects that would hardly be found on the market, or for those who want to create something unique, as long as they have a lot of patience and waste time with the preliminary print settings. Put the costs into it: half a kilo of filament is just over 10 euros, and the printer requires many hours of electricity.
Very good printing potential
Price and availability
The Alfawise U30 printer can be purchased directly at this address at the price of 187.63.