The Flashforge Dreamer, although not the most striking visually, is nothing short of exceptional as a reliable and affordable printer that churns out quality prints every time.
|Printing Area||230mm x 150mm x 140mm|
|Layer Resolution||100 to 500 Microns|
|Supported Filament||PLA, ABS, limonene-dissolvable support material, nylon, HIPS, Flex, T-glass, woodFill, copperFill, brassFill|
|Extruder Diameter||0.4 mm|
Flashforge has hustled to establish itself as one of the leading consumer brands in today’s saturated 3D printing market. With no less than ten models for sale concurrently, the Chinese giant continues to make waves with a nifty balance of quality and competitive pricing.
Today, we take our magnifying glass to the Flashforge Dreamer, an easy to use printer producing quality prints fit for the home, office, or educational context if we are to go by the marketing pitch. Does it live up to these claims? Let’s find out.
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Design and Features
With a look more akin to an MRI machine than one set to energize a workshop with stirring creative juices, the Flashforge Dreamer continues the unfortunate trend of drab, dare we say, ugly 3D printers.
The main culprit is the uninspired three-tone color scheme (white, gray, and black) that although clean and clinical, places this model at odds with rival manufacturers who’ve put in a little more time to conjure up alternatives that illicit attraction, and by extension a desire for usage on the part of the owner. Luckily, the look is somewhat bolstered by LED strips that light up the print chamber for a bit more design flair.
The enclosed outer casing is made of high-quality plastic-alloy, which invariably makes things look cheap (not to mention the constant fear that it will melt with the heat of the printing process), while the rest of the components are made of high-quality aluminum and acrylic. Combined, the Dreamer weighs in at a respectable 33.1 lbs, placing it on the lower end of the spectrum and as such easily transportable.
Both side panels have removable ventilated hatches for maintenance and replacing filament, while the top cover can be lifted off for materials that need cooler temperatures. The acrylic front door also swivels open to access the print bed and is secured by magnetized latches. The enclosed chamber is ideal for stabilizing the inner temperature but also works to limit foreign bodies from tarnishing the layers during the printing process.
As we all know – and this no more true than in the sphere of 3D printing – looks aren’t everything, and the Dreamer conceals quite the assemblage of excellent features hidden under a banal exterior.
Using FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) technology, the Dreamer is an XYZ Cartesian style printer that uses a standard dual rod and Moons-manufactured stepper motor setup for both the X and Y axes, with the Z axes running along a threaded rod as well as two classic flush rods.
The print area measures in at a comparatively small 230mm x 150mm x 140mm, but sufficient for the majority of hobbyist projects and ample room to print multiple parts in the same session.
The Dreamer sports a dual direct drive extruder setup with a nozzle diameter of 0.4 mm capable of layer resolutions ranging from 100 to 500 microns. The heated build plate is a chunky 6.3 mm slab of aerospace-grade aluminum for uniform heat distribution that can reach temperatures up to 120 degrees centigrade.
The Flashforge Dreamer is versatile when it comes to materials with support for PLA, ABS, limonene-dissolvable support material, nylon, HIPS, Flex, T-glass, woodFill, copperFill, and brassFill. Filament diameter sticks to the standard 1.75 mm with support for third-party filament spools.
Filament sits inside purpose-designed spool berths (or holders) inside the chamber, which Flashforge argues keeps the filament at a higher temperature thus prolonging the lifespan of the material by removing moisture but is primarily a space saving characteristic.
However, the size of the berths means cartridges are limited to the 0.6 kg variety. Fortunately, the side hatches mean you can also use 1 kg or larger spools by seating them to the sides of the printer.
It’s worth noting that the Dreamer is equally geared towards PLA as it is ABS, unlike countless other models that tend to focus on one with only a handful of cursory arrangements made for the other to be listed as compatible with both materials.
A dual fan setup is fitted to the back panel that works in unison with the triple extruder fans to cool PLA by extracting the warm air. Equally, the Dreamer is equipped with a meter that monitors the ambient temperature to make sure the enclosed chamber is consistently warm enough to avoid ABS warping and cool enough to avoid PLA stringing.
A 3.5-inch full-color HD IPS touchscreen is integrated into the front panel of the Dreamer. We found it particularly responsive and easy to navigate. It features the ability to trigger prints, monitor and preheat extruder and platform temperatures, load/unload filament, activate the bed-leveling wizard, axes homing, update the firmware, and an array of other settings. The touchscreen has support for English, German, Dutch, Polish, French, Korean, and Japanese languages.
The Dreamer has both an SD card reader slot and a USB-to-PC port, in addition to Wi-Fi connectivity for untethered use. The USB feature is uncommon in that the Dreamer itself has 4GB of onboard memory to store prints of the device itself. If the PC crashes or shuts down unexpectedly, the printer still has access to model details to continue a job uninterrupted.
Flashforge recommends using the Dreamer with its proprietary FlashPrint slicing software, but the printer remains open-sourced so you can use all manner of third-party slicers such as Cura, Simplify3D, and the like.
Flashprint supports Mac, Linux, and PC. Overall, it is incredibly easy to use and walks the user through loading in a model file (STL, OBJ), converting it to Gcode, tweaking a few temperature/slicing/build quality options or using one of the many presets, then triggering the print. When printing, FlashPrint provides a visible progress model, material usage, and finish time estimates.
Advanced opinions allow for support integration, print speed adjustments, first layer thickness tinkering, scheduled pause options, splitting models into several parts, and a feature to convert 2D pictures into 3D models.
The packaging is the usual mix of styrofoam cut outs, zip ties, and plastic bubble wrap, which is more than adequate and the printer arrived in perfect condition. The only real issue is that the extruders are housed in a cardboard box that sits inside the printer yet are attached to the printer, so some care needs to be taken when removing the box not to yank out the extruders while doing so.
The package includes official documentation, quick start guide, the printer itself, power cord, USB cable, a tool kit (2GB SD card, tweezers, graver, scraper, two wrenches, grease, Allen key, Phillips screwdriver, unclogging pin tool, PTFE tube, screws, and leveling knob), two spools of filament (PLA and ABS), spool holders, leveling card, extruders, top cover, either a roll of blue painter’s tape or a handful of print bed sheets, a set of screws, and side hatches.
The Flashforge Dreamer arrives pre-assembled and full setup was a matter of minutes. The extruder casing needs installing via a set of three screws. The process is detailed concisely in the quick start guide and involves placing the extruder in the extruder seat, aligning the extruder to the bolt holes, securing the bolts, and finally attaching the turbofan baffle in the same manner.
Although the Dreamer has no auto-calibration feature, the assisted build plate leveling process is easy enough thanks to instructions from the touchscreen. The manual movement of the build plate is assured by a rotating knob that moves the plate up and down. The process is the usual process of establishing the right gap between the plate and the nozzle using the leveling card.
Next, we installed the filament cartridges by feeding the spool holder through the center and snapping them into place. Finally, feeding the filament into the tubing was simple enough before we had to trigger the gearing to grip the material via the touchscreen. Once the extruder was heated, we fed the filament into the extruder by pressing down on the gear button simultaneously. From here onwards, we encountered no issues feeding filament, and it worked beautifully every time.
What can we say? Its questionable exterior belies a versatile beast capable of systematic quality prints. Contours were smooth, layers were almost unnoticeable, and imperfections so rare they aren’t even worth mentioning.
For the price of the Dreamer, there isn’t an equivalent that offers both out of the box functionality and such a high quality of prints regardless of whether you go for rapid, low-resolution prototyping or high-resolution detail-oriented ornaments.
The dual extruders work well, especially when it comes to supports that quelled any fears we had of botched jobs due to insufficient support. Additionally, the Dreamer is a pretty nifty little printer as well, finishing up jobs in entirely respectable times even at higher resolutions.
The cherry on top is that the Dreamer is a relatively silent printer even with the top cover and hatches off.
Flashforge offers a standard 180-Day manufacturer’s warranty for the Dreamer, although extensions of up to 12 months are available by buying the ProCare Extended Warranty.
The Flashforge website is packed with instructional videos, walkthroughs, troubleshooting articles and more. The customer support from the company is of the highest quality with a team intent of finding solutions to the rare problems you may face.
Although we weren’t enamored with the aesthetic design of the Flashforge Dreamer, we were incredibly impressed by what it hides under the hood as well as the high quality of the prints. It’s a reliable printer that will suit first-timers and daily users alike. You can trust it to complete prints, and it isn’t a model you need to babysit or tinker with merely to get it working. If you haven’t already guessed, we love the Dreamer.