Mis-Adventures of 3D Printing!?

If I have learned anything over the last couple weeks of owning this FlashForge Adventurer 3 it will be to make sure to talk to actual owners and dig further into forums and groups before making a purchase. The marketing hype thrown behind this machine touted it as a great feature rich entry level machine that is easy for anyone to pick up. I watched at least a half-dozen youtuber reviews praising this machine. This is my take away of using the Adventurer 3 for the past 2 weeks.

The Good

Form Factor – For the price the machine quality seems fine but I have seen others complain about the materials but in all honesty it does feel like a polished machine, The plastic and panels are sturdy. The print bed size is decent and all associated hardware is nice to the touch.
Software – The Flash Print software is easy to pick up and learn and can get you printing quickly. By default the software leaves you in Basic mode but an Advanced mode can be enabled to allow you more control over your prints. It’s not full featured as some other printers are but for the average user it gives you enough if you plan on sticking with the FlashForge brand filament.
Materials – The ability to print both PLA and ABS in one machine at this price is nice. The enclosed heated bed and printing space gives you this ability without having to worry so much about direct contact with ABS Filament fumes.

The Meh

Materials – The Adventurer 3 is designed specifically to print Flash Forges brand of filament (PLA and ABS) The built in spool holder was designed to hold only their spools and only at .5KG sizes. While most makers sell in 1KG spools this causes a user to leave the units side cover to remain open and rely on third party solutions to hold the larger spools. The price also is near double for what a 1KG spool costs from other makers. This makes the cost to print much higher. While overall not a deal breaker it still sucks that they decided to go this route when their more expensive options are open to many spool sizes.
Features – While this printer does boast a lot of built in features (heated bed, camera, cloud software, wifi) It leaves a lot to be desired. The Camera requires that you sign up for FlashCloud or PolarCloud which allows you remote control of your jobs/prints along with seeing a remote camera feed of the prints. The site does work but it is very slow loading and the cameras frame rate is extremely low. Only updating an image randomly 10+ seconds at a time.
Touch Screen – The touch screen is a restive touch panel but sadly is not very responsive. I find myself using a Tablet Pen in order to get the commands to trigger without tapping them multiple times. This type of screen is fine as it’s cheaper to put in a budget machine like this but at least a better version should be implemented so it is more sensitive to touch.

Over all the few MEH items can be worked around and I would not really consider them a deal breaker in my case. With the help of the community you can bypass their attempt of using their material and as long as you are not expecting the camera to be high quality and high frame rate. It will get the job done just slowly.

The Bad

Now this “bad” may only apply to me and my machine but after talking with several others on Facebook and forums I have found a fair number of people having similar issues as me. Many returning their machines due to the result.

Heating and Feeding Gear – This ultimately is why I no longer want to use this machine. The constant knocking/slipping of the Feeder Gear and the Extruder not being able to handle the flow are causing these issues. To me it seems like this design and system cannot just keep up with the claims. A quoted 100mm/s print speed is just impossible with this machine. I scoured groups and forums and even reached out to Flash Forges support email for assistance. Their first response was basically only use their filament but the same problems were happening with their filament and profile/settings

It was very aggravating trying to get them to understand the issue and even sending them a video of the problem. The clip above is using their profile and filament. I tried 4 different brands of material and only 1 prints correctly given that you slow the speed down to 20/30 mm/s. A print designed for my FDS cases which takes about 1 hour to print on their Creator Pro will take 5+ hours using their recommended settings to stop the feed gear from slipping on the AD3.

Under Extruded due to the slipping feed gear.

Their support has been nice and responded timely just sadly I don’t think they get it. A mention of a re-designed nozzle was sent over and that they would send me a replacement but they are currently in production in China, With no ETA and with an unknown return time frame listed on their site I opted to request a refund. As of this blog post I have requested this 4-5 times in email and each time the response has told me the new nozzle will fix the issue and they will send one out and I should get it in 5-7 days. They went from no ETA/In Production to shipping one out asap. The fact that a mention of a new nozzle means they shouldn’t be selling this model until more of the bugs are worked out. I am unsure to the actual issue. My guess would be just the feed gear not being strong with no way of adjusting tension and a sub-par heating element. Another huge draw back is the nozzle itself is very easy to clog and is in cased so there is really no way to get it apart to clean it properly as with other machines. Again a propriety design causing you to purchase new ones when they ultimately break. Their youtube video on clearing a jam even references

I understand 3D Printers will require a lot of tweaking and fiddling to get them to work correctly. The Fact that I’m able to print with 1 roll of ABS but nothing else baffles me since it runs at a higher temp and is typically more finicky than PLA. Also the fact that we have another FlashForge machine in this household along with several friends and the online community I am at a loss and don’t feel that it’s all me just not being able to “Get it” I am new to 3D Printing and will quickly admit that but I think this design is just a miss from FlashForge and should be pulled and re-designed. The concept is great but the execution is lacking.

At this point I just want to return this unit and get a refund. It seems like my request is going ignored with what they want to do vs what I as the customer is requesting. I will keep everyone updated on here or twitter with what happens.

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