Rapid Prototyping and Low Volume Production for Start-Ups on a Budget

The Dobot Mooz. (Image courtesy of Dobot.)

The Dobot Mooz. (Image courtesy of Dobot.)

The hardest part of writing a review for a 3D printer is forcing yourself to stop fiddling with it for long enough to sit down and actually write the review. Even now, I catch myself pausing to check on the latest print as the Dobot Mooz hums along beside me. I already had some experience with 3D printing at home—after finding out about the Monoprice Select Mini, I couldn’t help myself—but the Mooz is more than just a 3D printer.

The Mooz becomes capable of CNC carving or laser engraving simply by swapping out the functional modules that attach to the X-axis linear actuator. It’s an impressive amount of versatility to pack into a sub-$1,000 USD machine, but how well does the Mooz perform these three different functions?

Let’s find out.

Dobot Mooz Specs

Here are the specifications for each of the Mooz’s three modules:

3D Printing

Nozzle Diameter

0.4 mm

Layer Resolution

0.05 – 0.3 mm

Extruder Temperature

190 – 260 C

Heated Bed Temperature

50 – 100 C

Build Volume

130 x 130 x 130 mm



Print Speed

10 – 80 mm/s

In terms of its 3D printing capabilities, the Mooz’s specs are fairly standard.

A layer resolution of 0.05 mm is impressive at this price point—twice as good as the Monoprice Select Mini (0.1 mm). You’ll get better resolutions from an Ultimaker 3 (0.015 mm) or MakerBot Replicator 2X (0.01 mm), but they’re also more than triple the price of the Mooz.

(Dobot Mooz 3D Printing.)

The Mooz has a smaller build volume smaller than the Ultimaker 3 or Replicator 2X, but the flexibility you get from designing for 3D printing can offset that significantly by allowing users to design large models and then slice them into printable sections for assembly.

The range of printable materials available for the Mooz also covers the standard types, though we only had time to test the machine with PLA. The range given for print speed is pretty wide, but discussion of our test prints should help clarify that aspect of the Mooz in the next section.

CNC Carving

Max Spindle Speed

12,000 rpm

Chuck Clamping Range

0 – 4 mm

Standard Bit Size

3.175mm * 0.3mm * 30° flat bottom sharp cutter

Work Area

130mm x 130mm (z-axis depends on cutting tool)


Non-Metallic Materials, e.g., wood, plastics, PCB

It’s difficult to find a comparable desktop CNC router to the Mooz, which suggests that Dobot may have found an overlooked niche in prototyping and low volume manufacturing. As a rough comparison, the Sienci Mill One has a slightly larger working area (235mm x 185mm x 100mm) and a potentially higher max spindle speed of 30,000 rpm, depending on the router. The MillRight CNC M3 kit has a working area of 260mm x 260mm x 50mm and a max spindle speed 27,000 rpm using the included DeWalt DWP611 router.

Both options are about $100 cheaper than the Mooz, but they’re also dedicated routers—and there’s certainly no way to add 3D printing or laser engraving capabilities to those machines for less than the difference in price.

Laser Engraving



Max Speed


Work Area

130mm x 130mm


Wood, Paper, Leather, Some Plastics

As with CNC routing, the laser engraving specifications for the Mooz don’t quite match up to those of dedicated laser engraving machines. The FABOOL Laser Mini, marketed as the “world’s lowest priced desktop laser cutter”, starts at $598 and uses a 1.6W laser. Consequently, the FABOOL machine is able to cut a wider variety of materials than the Mooz, but it’s also not capable of 3D printing or CNC routing—and since it only operates in the XY plane, adding those capabilities isn’t really an option.

All of this implies that the Dobot Mooz is what you might call a Jack of all trades, Master of one.

(Dobot Mooz Laser Engraving.)

While it’s possible to find dedicated machines for CNC routing or laser engraving with better specs at comparable price points, that doesn’t appear to be the case for 3D printing. In any case, what you won’t find at this price point is a machine that’s capable of the trifecta of 3D printing, CNC routing and laser engraving—or even one that offers two out of three.

Flexibility is the primary advantage the Dobot Mooz has over its competition. And if you’re a start-up or a small job shop that’s looking to add 3D printing capabilities, whether for prototyping or low volume production, then flexibility and low cost are likely rank high on your list of priorities. The fact that the Mooz can also be used for CNC routing and laser engraving is icing on the cake.

The Dobot Mooz Hands-On

The Mooz isn’t a plug-and-play machine, but assembly is relatively straightforward.

Mooz Unboxing.

Mooz Unboxing.

Switching between the modules using four hex nuts is easy, though you shouldn’t expect to do quick changes between functions for consecutive operations. That being said, if you wanted to set up a small manufacturing cell using a farm of Mooz machines, you could conceivably have a set for 3D printing, a set for routing and a set for laser engraving, with plenty of back-up modules to go around. Add a cobot for switching parts between operations and you’ve got a low-volume production line going.

Desktop 3D Printing

Our Dobot Mooz completes its first print: #3DBenchy.

Our Dobot Mooz completes its first print: #3DBenchy.

I started with the Mooz configured for the function most familiar to me: 3D printing. Setting the zero point using the A4 method was simple and easy, though the step distance behaved a bit oddly at times—jogging the motor by 1 mm somehow resulted in a 0.06 mm difference, which was finer than the finest setting of 0.1 mm.

Software setup is a breeze for anyone familiar with Cura or other free slicing software. The recommended settings yielded a decent first print (#3DBenchy) though you may not want to have supports enabled by default. Although you can connect the Mooz directly to a PC via USB, our workspace layout necessitated using a microSD card to transfer the Gcode files.

Once it was clear that the machine was working properly, I sent out a general email to the rest of the office asking for 3D printing suggestions. The requests came pouring in, and for the next week the Mooz was running almost continuously throughout the day. The majority of the 3D prints came out well, save for a few cases in which the errors were, admittedly, my own. You can see the results below:

Engineering.com Geodesic V1 (top), V3 (bottom left) and V4 (bottom right).

Engineering.com Geodesic V1 (top), V3 (bottom left) and V4 (bottom right).

Anyone who’s had experience with 3D printing knows how much troubleshooting is involved. There are those days when it seems like you’ve spent more time fixing problems and printing test layers than actually making anything. Fortunately, that was never an issue for the Mooz, which proved to be a robust and reliable 3D printer.

Desktop CNC Routing

I used to think 3D printing would replace all other manufacturing processes, but now that I’m older and wiser, I recognize that there are plenty of cases where you’d be crazy to use 3D printing over a more conventional process, such as CNC machining. That’s why I was excited to try out the CNC routing capabilities on the Mooz. To do that, I needed to download Dobot’s slicer software: MoozStudio.

Since you also need MoozStudio for laser engraving, it’s worth pausing to give the software some consideration. The slicer is designed to take a 2D image and generate a complete Gcode program based on the parameters you input. For the router, these include:

  • Speed
  • Min/Max Carving Depth
  • Contrast (on the image)
  • Tool Diameter
  • Step Depth
  • Safety Height

For me, the routing function was the most intimidating because it’s the process with the greatest potential for catastrophe if something goes wrong. If you screw up setting the zero point for 3D printing or laser engraving, the worst that happens is that your workpiece gets damaged or, more likely, the operation simply doesn’t work at all.

If you mess up with a CNC router, however, you could end up with a broken machine.

The engineering.com geodesic carved into pine.

The engineering.com geodesic carved into pine.

Consequently, using the router was a matter of some very cautious trial and error. It took some time to get a feel for MoozStudio, and I’m still not completely comfortable using the software—due in large part to my inability to read Gcode beyond the superficial coordinate level.

However, there are still some peculiarities to MoozStudio regardless of your skillset. For example, the program displays imported images on a 130 x 130 grid, representing the millimeter dimensions of the Mooz on a 1-1 scale. Where this gets complicated is in translating images from pixels to millimeters.

Importing a 100 x 100 pixel image results in a 19 x 19 mm translation. Importing the same image scaled up to 200 pixels results in a 37 x 37 mm translation, and importing a 2,000 x 2,000 pixel image results in a 71 x 71 mm translation. Fortunately, this sort of software quirk is much easier to fix than a hardware issue, of which the Mooz router module had none.

Desktop Laser Engraving

Working with a laser has an intimidation factor all its own, though the concern is less about damage to the machine than to one’s eyes. Of course, safety glasses are included with the Mooz. The setup for the laser is almost the same as for the router, setting the zero point at the bottom left corner of the workpiece. Doing so is a matter of making incremental stepper motor adjustments while the laser is turned on at the lowest setting.

(Tip: Make sure you use the + button to turn on the laser, rather than just hitting the ON button. Otherwise, the laser will come on at full power and could bore a hole into your workpiece.)

To determine the module’s correct height, you’ll need to watch how the laser spot changes as you move the Z-axis and aim for the focal point. It took a little trial-and-error—which included the inspiration for the tip above—but I was able to get it sorted in short order.

As with the router, the laser engraver gets its Gcode from Dobot’s MoozStudio. Like routing, there are a few settings you can tweak—including Speed, Laser Power, Contrast and Beam Diameter—but speed seemed to make the biggest difference in terms of engraving quality. You can see a sample part that demonstrates this below:

Test workpiece for the Dobot Mooz laser engraver. The pattern on the bottom right was made with default settings and is practically invisible. The top left was engraved at the same speed but with a higher minimum laser power. The top right and bottom left were engraved at 1/8 max speed.

Test workpiece for the Dobot Mooz laser engraver. The pattern on the bottom right was made with default settings and is practically invisible. The top left was engraved at the same speed but with a higher minimum laser power. The top right and bottom left were engraved at 1/8 max speed.

3D Printing for Start-Ups & SMEs

After spending a couple of weeks with the Mooz, I can think of no better endorsement than the fact that I’m already trying to figure out how to convince my wife that we need a second 3D printer. My plan is to emphasize the Mooz’s capabilities for CNC carving and laser engraving.

But the real question is whether this machine makes sense for start-ups and SMEs.

The two biggest things the Mooz has going for it are its low price and its flexibility, both of which are high priorities for small businesses. Where the Mooz is most lacking is in supporting software—though it’s worth noting that Dobot has already released several updates for both the Mooz’s firmware and MoozStudio, and will no doubt continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

(Top) From left to right: articulated slug, filament guide, microphone shock mount. (Bottom) From left to right: I Roll 20’s D20, V29 whistle, SD card holder.

(Top) From left to right: articulated slug, filament guide, microphone shock mount. (Bottom) From left to right: I Roll 20’s D20, V29 whistle, SD card holder.

Moreover, even with my lack of Gcode skills, it’s obvious that a skilled Gcode programmer could do even more with the Mooz. MoozStudio outputs the simplest path, but certainly not the most efficient one—and if you’re a start-up or SME that’s considering 3D printing, odds are you already have at least one person who knows their Gcode on staff.

Overall, if you’re looking for an entry point into additive manufacturing and you also happen to have some light carving and laser engraving work to be done, the Dobot Mooz is a great option.

To learn more, visit Dobot.

Dobot has sponsored this article.  All opinions are mine.  –Ian Wright

Review: da Vinci Jr budget 3D printer

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Testing the da Vinci Jr 3D printer

Adam Turner tests the world’s most affordable 3D printer

The da Vinci Jr makes 3D printing more affordable than ever, but it’s a long way from the replicator-style precision instrument you might be dreaming of.

Not so long ago 3D printers were the stuff of science fiction, so the thought of picking one up at the shops for less than $600 is pretty amazing. Touted as the world’s “most affordable” 3D printer, XYZprinting’s da Vinci Jr is specifically targeted at educators, families and hobbyists – making an effort to simplify the cumbersome 3D printing process for beginners.

Appear out of thin air

XYZprinting's da Vinci Jr makes 3D printing affordable, but it sacrifices a lot in return.

XYZprinting’s da Vinci Jr makes 3D printing affordable, but it sacrifices a lot in return. Photo: Adam Turner

The da Vinci Jr prints objects up to 150 millimetres tall, wide and deep – a little larger than the footprint of a CD case. They don’t need to be solid objects, in fact even when you print a solid object it has a honeycomb structure inside to reduce the amount of plastic you use while ensuring structural integrity.

Unlike some more expensive 3D printers, the da Vinci Jr only lets you print using one material and only in one colour at a time. It relies on XYZprinting’s spools of PLA (Polylactic acid) plastic filament. The printer feeds the plastic string into the print head, called the extruder, where it’s melted and deposited in tiny droplets onto the print bed.

The extruder moves from side to side on an arm, while the print bed moves back and forth. Over time the arm slowly rises as your creation materialises.

The printer uses a honeycomb internal structure to save plastic, which costs $60 per spool.

The printer uses a honeycomb internal structure to save plastic, which costs $60 per spool. Photo: Adam Turner

Unlike the other da Vinci 3D printer models you don’t have the option of using ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic, which can be more difficult to work with but tends to be favoured by people looking to print components rather than just models. ABS allows for more precise prints than PLA and it’s also a bit more sturdy, which can be important if you’re printing parts that will be put to good use.

If you want the choice of printing with PLA or ABS plastic then you’ll need to spend at least another $200 for the next model up, the da Vinci 1.0A.

Spools of PLA for the da Vinci Jr come in a range of 10 colours and they’ll set you back around $60 for 600 grams. As with traditional printers, they screw you on the consumables. XYZprinting uses RFID tags in the spools to detect when they’re empty so you can’t refill them yourself – the printer refuses to print unless it can detect a valid RFID tag.

A Volkswagon Beetle, downloaded from XYZprinting's gallery and printed using the da Vinci Jr.

A Volkswagon Beetle, downloaded from XYZprinting’s gallery and printed using the da Vinci Jr. Photo: Adam Turner

The supplied software also employs DRM when talking to the printer. As with many proprietary systems designed to lock you into expensive consumables, this has turned into a cat and mouse game between the manufacturer and modders.

Keep it simple, supposedly

It takes about an hour to unpack the printer and get it running. Feeding the plastic from the spool into the extruder is pretty straightforward, you just need to wait for it to warm up.

The Volkswagon Beetle design, downloaded from the XYZ gallery and loaded into XZYware.

The Volkswagon Beetle design, downloaded from the XYZ gallery and loaded into XZYware. Photo: Adam Turner

You need to remove the plastic string from the extruder when you’re done to avoid clogging, although I still needed to run the nozzle cleaning process several times. One time it jammed in the middle of printing a model and I returned hours later to find nothing but the legs of the Eiffel Tower.

Unlike most 3D printers the da Vinci Jr supposedly doesn’t require calibration, but that’s simply not true. For starters it’s possible to adjust the Z offset – the height of the nozzle above the print bed. My review unit was set to 1.2 mm when it arrived but I believe the default is lower. If you find the printer’s gears are clicking or the nozzle is scraping against the print bed then you’ll need to adjust the Z offset.

On the level

The outer ring of the planetary gears downloaded from Thingiverse prints slightly too small using the da Vinci Jr.

The outer ring of the planetary gears downloaded from Thingiverse prints slightly too small using the da Vinci Jr. Photo: Adam Turner

While you’re at it you’ll also want to check whether the print bed is level, this unit was off slightly and there are reports of others shipping the same. Manually adjusting the arm which holds the extruder is a nightmare. This all makes a mockery of XYZprinting’s calibration-free claims.

There are no knobs to adjust the printer as with some other da Vinci models. Instead you’re expected to use a T10 torx screwdriver to loosen three screws on the left of the arm so you can manually adjust it make it level with the print bed.

There isn’t a T10 torx screwdriver in the box, you’re not even told it’s a T10 torx screw and it’s impossible to get a close look at it because it’s deep inside the print chamber. Good luck loosening those screws, they seem to be glued and you’ll probably need to swap the screwdriver for a ratchet. Even more frustrating, when you finally loosen those screws on the left the arm still doesn’t want to budge.

A failed attempted to print Tetris cookie cutters – objects in the front left corner broke free from the print bed mid-print after I raised the Z offset to stop the nozzle scrapping at the rear right.

A failed attempted to print Tetris cookie cutters – objects in the front left corner broke free from the print bed mid-print after I raised the Z offset to stop the nozzle scrapping at the rear right. Photo: Adam Turner

This becomes a moot point once you look closely and realise that the arm has some give in it, because it’s not tightly attached to anything on the right side. Press it up from the bottom and it moves a few millimetres – the first sign that this isn’t the 3D printer for people who really care about precision. This video gives you an idea what you’re in for.

To make matters worse I realised that the print bed is on a tilt, with the back right corner slightly raised. It becomes obvious when you print objects with a very large flat base, like cookie cutters, when the nozzle only scrapes in one corner of the print bed. There is no way to adjust this short of unscrewing the print bed and wedging things under it in an effort to get it level. When you’re adjusting the Z axis you need to manually push around the print bed to check that none of the corners are scraping.

XYZprinting boasts about this printer’s ease of use, insisting that it doesn’t require calibration, but this is misleading customers. Omitting the calibration features found in other da Vinci models – presumable to keep down the price – means that even children will soon grow frustrated with its limitations and not understand the cause of the problem.

A second attempt to print Tetris cookie cutters was more successful, using XYZware's raft option to add a base to the print which easily peels away.

A second attempt to print Tetris cookie cutters was more successful, using XYZware’s raft option to add a base to the print which easily peels away. Photo: Adam Turner

Unfortunately you’re unlikely to discover these issues, or figure out the solutions, until you start trawling the forums for answers as to why your 3D prints lack precision. One workaround for the “X-axis sag” issue is to print a small part to wedge under the print arm beam to level it out, which seems far from scientific.

Made by design

When you’ve done your best to calibrate the da Vinci Jr you’ll need something to print. There’s no shortage of designs to download thanks to the vibrant online 3D printing community, whether from XYZprinting’s gallery or sites like Thingiverse (run by rival 3D printer manufacturer MakerBot).

The da Vinci Jr comes with XYZware software for Windows or Mac, which but rather clunky but can print industry standard .stl files along with XYZprinting’s own .3w format. It’s also possible to design your own objects, you’ll even find free online tools like Tinkercad and Google SketchUp.

Alternatively you might invest in a 3D scanner to digitise real-life objects. XYZprinting sells a handheld 3D scanner for US$199 and there are plenty of other options. Otherwise you could look to the more expensive da Vinci 1.0 AiO printer which has a built-in scanner.

Time to materialise

When it comes time to print the XYZware software offers several quality options, with the ability to adjust the density as well as the thickness of the printing layers. Beginners shouldn’t need to change these settings when printing trinkets.

Despite XYZprinting’s promises, the da Vinci Jr is far from a plug and play solution. There’s a lot of trial and error involved and you’ll spend plenty of time trawling the forums in search of answers – learning a lot about the frustrations of 3D printing and the limitations of the da Vinci Jr along the way.

Unlike most 3D printers, the print bed in the da Vinci Jr isn’t heated. A heated print bed keeps the plastic warm so it doesn’t warp. This is the key reason why you’re restricted to printing with PLA plastic and not ABS.

Without a heated print bed in the da Vinci Jr you can run into trouble when printing tall, thin objects – they can distort or, worse yet, break free from the print bed and be dragged around by the extruder.

To be fair I only encountered this once while printing Tetris cookie cutters – a spectacular fail after rasing the Z axis too far, in order to stop the nozzle scrapping against the print bed in the rear right corner.

It’s a common problem and a popular low-tech solution is to spread a little glue or hairspray on the print bed to keep your object in place. Alternatively the XYZware software can add a “raft” to your print, as I did in my second attempt at printing Tetris cookie cutters – a base underneath your model which you can trim away after printing.

I also encountered the opposite problem. The lack of a heated print bed makes it very difficult to pry off large flat objects. It would be very easy to snap delicate objects while trying to remove them.

The printer comes with a few squares of fancy masking tape to cover the print bed, so objects don’t stick to the glass, but it’s not as effective as you might hope. Even after applying ice to flat objects like the Volkswagon Beetle, and working around the edges with a Stanley knife, it still requires so much force to remove some objects with the supplied scraper that I was seriously concerned about slipping and slashing my arm or damaging the printer.

XYZprinting’s tech support suggested recalibrating the Z axis offset to raise the nozzle but it didn’t help with this issue. While the da Vinci Jr claims to be family-friendly, children will need to call on a responsible adult for help – I certainly wouldn’t let my children try to pry objects off the print bed with a sharp knife.

Not a perfect fit

The novelty of printing toys and trinkets soon wears off, especially considering that you’ll often get better results at a fraction of the price using something like Sculpey coloured polymer baking clay.

To me a 3D printer makes more sense for printing components – things like specialised gears, molds, shape cutters, chassis parts or custom Lego blocks which you can’t buy off the shelf or easily make with clay. At this point you’re once again hampered by the inability to print with ABS plastic, which produces more precise results than PLA. You’re also at the mercy of the shonky print bed calibration.

Precision becomes your highest priority once you’re printing parts designed to fit together. There’s little to get excited about in XYZprinting’s gallery, it’s full of trinkets and novelties. Thingiverse is a much better source of technical 3D models, but unfortunately complicated designs downloaded from Thingiverse using the standard .stl file format don’t tend to print as planned.

The planetary gears from Thingiverse don’t fit together even when printed at the da Vinci Jr’s highest quality of 0.1mm resolution. Meanwhile my Lego blocks don’t quite connect to store-bought blocks. Two printed Lego blocks barely fit with each other. The printer also struggles with fine detail on models like the Eiffel tower, with the fine lattice work of the legs coming out rather mangled. Objects which don’t require high precision, like cookie cutters, were much more successful.

Printing cookie cutters I finally started to find some enthusiasm for 3D printing, because I’d finally found something practical to make which the printer could handle. You’ll find lots of cool designs in Thingiverse, plus it’s perhaps a good starting point if you’re looking to design your own models. 

Trawling the forums in search of answers for my precision issues I found that some people tweak Thingiverse files (which are tested for MakerBot printers) before using them with da Vinci printers. I tried running the Thingiverse planetary gears file through Microsoft’s online Netfabb 3D model repair tools, as suggested, but this didn’t fix the problem. This shouldn’t be necessary with industry standard .stl files, so I started looking at calibrating the printer and discovered a bag of hurt.

So what’s the verdict?

It’s mesmerising to watch 3D objects slowly come to life but don’t expect miracles from the budget member of the da Vinci line-up. Claims of zero calibration are misleading and actually make life harder by giving you a false sense of confidence in the printer’s abilities. The closer you look the more you realise that the da Vinci Jr is not a precision instrument straight out of the box.

3D printing technology is still at the hobbyist stage, so don’t expect perfect one-click results from this or any 3D printer. The process is far from foolproof and there can be a steep learning curve, especially when precision is important. Don’t sign up for 3D printing unless you’re prepared to invest time and effort into getting decent results. You’ll also need a practical use for a 3D printer, beyond printing novelty trinkets, in or to get long-term value from your investment.

The da Vinci Jr is great for dipping your toe in the water, but it makes too many sacrifices by forgoing a heated print bed, support for ABS plastic and decent calibration tools. It’s fine for producing trinkets but if you’re dreaming of printing with precision then you’ll need to spend a lot of time fighting with this budget 3D printer.

Best Budget 3D Printers Below $1000: Printrbot Simple Metal vs. Cubify Cube 3 vs. FlashForge …

3D printers are no longer the stuff of science fiction. If you’re curious about 3D printing but somewhat financially restricted, a budget 3D printer is the first step to satisfy that curiosity. Numerous budget 3D printers have similar capabilities and can print quality items the way higher-end 3D printers do.

Several budget 3D printers available are easy to set up, lightweight and great for starters. 3D printers, which cost less than $1,000, such as Printrbot Simple Metal, Cubify Cube 3, FlashForge Creator and UP Mini, are some of the best options.

Printrbot Simple Metal

Printrbot is a pioneer in desktop 3D printing. The new Simple Metal comes with an aluminum extruder and a powder-coated steel frame. It boasts an auto-leveling probe, which simplifies the Z-axis calibration. The maximum build volume is a decent 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches.

Reviewers have highlighted the new metal design and great print quality. The Printrbot Simple Metal is open source and one of the most upgradable and tweakable 3D printers on the market.

For students and newcomers, it is a great platform to learn the different characteristics of 3D printing. For a mere $599, the Simple Metal offers a great pack of features, and reviewers select it as the top 3D printer in terms of pricing.

Cubify Cube 3

The Cube 3 is the first budget 3D printer from Cubify. Being a larger printer, it can print 6 x 6 x 6 inch models. The Cube 3 supports both ABS and PLA filament. With the printer’s dual extruders, users can even print in two different colors and with two different materials.

This 3D printer hosts a touchscreen navigation system and features user-friendly controls. It is also only 17 pounds, making it one of the lighter printers, and is easy to set up and maintain.

Cubify Cube 3’s best feature is its ability to connect to your computer or a compatible smartphone. The Cube 3 supports wireless printing via Wi-Fi and mobile printing. Downloadable proprietary software is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems. The unit sells for $999.

FlashForge Creator

With a build volume of 8.8 x 5.7 x 5.9 inches, the FlashForge Creator comes with a dual extruder, onboard controls and a heated build plate.

The calibrated FlashForge Creator is capable of high-quality prints on the same level as more expensive 3D printers. Print failures reported are very rare, just at 11 percent. Existing owners admire its compatibility with open source software and, if one is comfortable with some lite fiddling, the FlashForge Creator is a cool printer to begin with. The $977 price tag, along with the proven design, makes it a great option for novices and students to experiment and practice the art of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printing.

UP Mini

Made by PP3DP in China, UP Mini features a comparatively lesser build volume of 4.7 x 4.7 x 4.7 inches and provides compatibility with ABS and PLA. One notable feature is the heated platform inside a closed enclosure, which improves an extra layer of safety of this model.

Several users have reported using the printer for more than a year without any issues and minimum maintenance is required. Print failures are rare, with present owners testifying an 89 percent print success.

Its ease of use and functionality make it one of a kind. The price range starts at $599.

Photo: Creative Tools | Flickr

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