If you’re looking to get your first 3D printer, you might be tempted to go big right off the bat. However, we’d recommend starting with a smaller, less expensive model until you get to grips with how they work. So which entry-level 3D printers are actually good for beginners?
Well, how about the 3Drag 3D printer? It has a very reasonable price, plus with a couple of minor modifications, it’s versatile enough to last you quite a while. Below, we’ll cover the good aspects of this printer, the areas it could use some work in, and ultimately, whether or not it’s worthy of your time.
|Supported Materials||PLA and ABS by default|
|Build Volume||7.8 x 7.8 x 7.8”|
Sure, the 3Drag printer isn’t much to look at: it has a standard, girder-style frame, and seems about as simplistic as these products can be. Look closer, however, and you’ll notice a few differences. For instance, the build area is larger than on most comparably priced models, at 7.8” cubed.
As the frame is made of lightweight aluminum, this printer is easy to move around. It’s surprisingly sturdy, though, and barely moves as you print, even at high speeds. There is one minor issue: the feet are fixed into position. This isn’t a huge problem, it just means you’ll have to print on the flattest surface you can find.
It’s a little strange to see a budget 3D printer use 3mm filament instead of the standard 1.75mm. Again, it’s not a major problem, but it does mean that your layers will be slightly more pronounced. Still, all things considered, we’re quite impressed with the construction of this printer. The real question is “how well does it work?”.
Let’s be clear: the 3Drag produces some decent-looking models, but it’s not going to create professional-level prints. Honestly, though, which low-end printer does? It’ll work just fine for prototyping or creating models for around your home or office. There’s one other major selling point of this printer, though.
By using a special extruder, you can build almost anything you want out of chocolate. In fact, while there are several different food printers on the market, the 3Drag has come to be the go-to model thanks to its low-price and exceptional reliability. Just remember – when printing with chocolate, you’ll have to reduce the speed to around 20mm/s.
When using PLA or ABS, this model works fairly well, although we can’t help but think it’d be better with some kind of enclosure to maintain the temperature of the print area. It’s easy enough to create one, though, so we’d recommend doing this early on.
Most 3D printers in this price range include at least an SD card slot, but the 3Drag relies entirely on a USB connection. Instead of adding extra connectivity options, the company has decided to include more advanced features like a heated build plate and an easily modifiable frame.
Even the extruder can be changed fairly easily. Everything is detachable, so if you like to tinker, you could do far worse than this product. On the other hand, if you just want a printer that creates gorgeous models right out of the box, you’ll probably have to increase your budget somewhat.
While the 3Drag 3D printer includes all of the cables you’ll need to get started, it doesn’t come with any printing software. We recommend Cura, if only because it’s free and has a lot of documentation in case you run into any issues.
This printer retails for around $480. Because of the heated plate, you don’t have to shell out for adhesive surfaces, and 3mm filament isn’t that much more expensive than 1.75mm. As such, your running costs will be pretty low, at least once you’ve configured it to minimize material waste.
If you’d like to print with chocolate, you should note that you’ll have to buy a third-party extruder. These vary in terms of price, but we found one available for around $210. You may wish to invest in additional fans, but this really depends upon your printing environment.
The 3Drag printer is very much a hobbyist machine, unsuitable for business use out of the box. Don’t get us wrong – if you’re sculpting fancy chocolate structures, you could absolutely make money with this printer, but for most people, it’ll be better suited to occasional “just for fun” usage.
There really isn’t much in the way of customer support for this printer. The Open Electronics website offers minimal tutorials on configuration, and to be fair, there are generalized 3D printing guides elsewhere, but not much model-specific, highly detailed content.
There’s also no mention of a warranty or returns policy anywhere. Admittedly, this is an open-source printer, so you shouldn’t expect much coverage but the company should still provide some information about this. As it stands, we are forced to assume there is no warranty coverage.
Worse still, the only way to contact Open Electronics is through an email support form or social media. There’s no phone number, no live chat, and no postal address. Usually, even the smallest manufacturers offer this information freely, so we’re left to wonder why exactly it was omitted here.
After spending his youth hanging out at his local hardware shop, it was no wonder Justin decided to become a computer engineer. When he’s not working, he enjoys riding his Honda across the picturesque Montana farmlands.
3Drag 3D Printer Review
- Overall - 8/108/10
The 3Drag is an incredibly versatile printer let down somewhat by its lack of connectivity options and poor customer support.