The Printrbot Simple Metal – A 3D Printer Review
Kayvon Tabrizi
July 17th, 2015

So. Two weeks ago we got a 3D printer (hopefully you've heard of them, but here's a reputable source in case).


Though this would typically be Cyrus' domain, he's busy doing real work over at QualComm in San Diego, so I'll do my best to replace him.

Our Printrbot Simple Metal

“The new Printerbt Simply MetalTM features a 6" x 6" x 6" build volume, a max speed of 80mph, and a resolution of 100 microns, all at the toasty low price of $599.99!”
Not actual specs. Batteries not included.

Alright. Let's begin by discussing the most important aspects of the printer—build volume, speed, and resolution. The 216cm3 build volume actually allows for surprisingly large prints, such as the 20-centimeter-long part pictured above. The build height is also considerably large, equal to that of the 5th-Gen Makerbot Replicator, which costs a few thousand. Keep in mind, though, that since the Simple Metal can only print PLA (and same-material supports are typically difficult to work with), you may be limited in what you can print!


In terms of vertical resolution, the 0.1 millimeter maximum is a stretch (although again, it's competitive with the Replicator). The true resolution decreases as you increase printing speed. Speaking of speed, the Simple Metal is fast. Although it's rated at 80mm/sec, I've run it successfully at speeds over 160, but I wouldn't recommend it to those new to 3D printing.


I do have some (perhaps unfounded) complaints about the Simple Metal.

First, the z-axis endstop is not hardwired (pun) to prevent the extruder from colliding with the build plate. In other words, a software error can cause your printer to dig into itself. It's not pretty.

Second, it seems that a steeper/sharper extruder tip would stop plastic from accumulating and ruining a print. Though there's probably some downside to a sharper tip of which I'm unaware.

And one last thing: Buy a nice pair of tweezers to use with your printer—you'll be cleaning plastic all the time.


Here are its actual specs, for the record.


Let me just conclude by saying that the Printrbot Simple Metal is made for amateurs who wish to simply meddle with 3D printing (that was a pun). In all seriousness, the Simple Metal is a good bang for your buck, whether you're a pro or just getting started.

From the Printrbot website:

Product Description

Printrbot's first all-metal 3D Printer.  The metal construction combined with a GT2 belt pulley system produces a 3D print that rivals those of other manufacturers which cost thousands more!

 

Technical Specifications:

  • Model: 1403
  • Build Volume: 6" x 6" x 6" / 150mm x 150mm x 150mm / 216 cubic inches
  • Print Resolution: 100 Microns
  • Print Speed: 80mm/sec max recommended
  • Filament: 1.75mm PLA (sample included)
  • Extruder: Alu Extruder (direct drive) with 1.75mm Ubis Hot End with 0.4mm nozzle
  • Auto Leveling: Auto-Leveling Probe works with software to calibrate Z axis height (see video)
  • Print Bed: Not heated
  • Construction: Powder coated steel and aluminum body with 8mm and 12mm diameter linear shaft
  • Belt: GT2
  • Pulleys: 20 tooth, dual flange GT2 aluminum
  • Electronics: Printrbot Rev F Printrboard with micro-USB connection (cable included) and micro SD card slot for untethered printing
  • Software: Printrbot does not provide software, but recommends Cura and/or Repetier.  Both are available for free download.
  • Power Requirements: 12V (6 amp) laptop power supply (included)
  • Motors: NEMA 17 stepper
  • Overall Footprint*: 18" x 17" x 13" (L x W x H)

*Overall Footprint is the space needed to operate the full range of motion for the machine – X, Y, and Z axes travel.

*For more on getting started with your Printrbot Simple, click here

 

Requirements:

  • Assembly Required: No

 

Shipping:

  • Lead Time: Order now.  Ships next business day!
    • If an order contains any items that are not listed as 'next day shipping', the order will not ship until the entire order is ready to be completed.  For more Shipping FAQ info, click here.
  • Weight: 16 lbs
  • Dimensions: 16" x 12" x 16" (L x W x H)