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With the DeeGreen, the notion that 3D printers are a lot of work -- a lesson I recently learned from reviewing the Monoprice Dual Extrusion -- is not true. Not only does the DeeGreen works right out of the box, it also prints fast (for a 3D printer), performs reliably and can build objects with high details.
Before you get too excited, though, as a single-extruder 3D printer, the DeeGreen is very expensive at €1,500, and shipping internationally that's about $1,900, £1,200 or AU$2,200. It's almost twice the price of the Monoprice, which is a more advanced printer with a dual-extruder print-head and a slightly larger print platform.
But if you're into 3D printing, just the time saved from having to set the printer up and calibrate it already makes the DeeGree totally worth the extra cost. And the low rate of failed prints (I produced none during testing) is an extra bonus, considering it can take hours to finish printing a large object.
That said if you're looking to enter the world of 3D printing, the DeeGreen is an excellent entry. It's just a question of whether or not you can afford it.
The DeeGreen comes with a removable print plate. Dong Ngo/CNET
Measuring 19.4 by 15.5 by 15.3 inches (495x395x390mm), the DeeGreen is about the same physical size as the Monoprice. However, it takes just a fraction of the time to get set up and running. In fact, it was easier to use than some regular printers in my trial.
Out of the box, the printer is fully assembled with all of its important parts tied in place. There are just two parts you need to install.
First is the included 1.7-pound (0.75kg) spool of PLA filament of which the string needs to be loaded in to the print-head, which is an easy job since the filament loading tube has already been assembled. As the DeeGreen is a single extruder printer, it can only work with one filament spool at a time, so if you want to print objects of more than one color, swapping out the filaments, even during a single print, can be a frequent task.
Filaments are the print materials for 3D printing, as ink cartridges in inkjet printers. They come in different colors and are basically easy-to-melt, quickly congealing plastic strings that are fed through the print head nozzles during a print job. Be3D sells extra filaments at about $30 (£20, AU$35) per spool of 1.7-pound. The DeeGreen also works with other standard 1.75mm filaments, such as those sold by Monoprice or MakerBot. The DeeGreen can work with both PLA and ABS filaments, and even though be3D sells both, it recommends only PLA. On top of that, it also uniquely works with be3D's wood-based filament.
The second part to install is the 5.9-inch (150mm) square glass print plate that needs to be placed on its holder, the print platform, underneath the print-head. This plate comes with three magnetic metal feet designed to make it fit snugly and stay put on top of the platform while at the same time allowing users to remove it easily.
The machine comes with all of its parts already assembled and ready to use right out of the box. Dong Ngo/CNET
As for how 3D printers work, during a print job, the print head pulls the filament string from the spool, melts the plastic, and extrudes it onto the platform. The platform lowers gradually depending on the height, and the print head moves around depending on the width and shape of the object being built. As the extruded plastic piles on top layer by layer, it congeals very fast to slowly form the object. This process is called fused-deposition modeling (FDM), which is the 3D printing technology used in all consumer-grade 3D printers.
As you can imagine, the max size of an object a printer can print depends on the size of the print platform. In the case of the DeeGreen, this size tops at 5.9 cubic-inch, which is quite large. In reality you'll print much smaller objects.
Nonetheless, the DeeGreen's removable print plate is a nice design touch that helps with both preparation and post-print process. For preparation, you can easily put supporting materials or just lace the surface of the plate with glue to keep the to-be-built 3D object from being moved around during a print. And once you're done with a print, it's also much easier to remove the object from the plate itself, as well as cleaning the plate's surface from residual materials. The DeeGreen comes included with a glue stick and a palette knife, making it very convenient for anybody print multiple objects right away.
On the front the printer has a large 6-line resolution touchscreen and a SD card slot and on the back it has a power switch and a USB port to connect to a computer via an included USB cable. There's no need to use the USB cable since the printer prints from an SD card (a blank 4GB card is included) but you can use the cable to transfer a file to the SD card prior to a print. More on this below.
I was able to get the printer ready to print from out of the box in just about 10 minutes, partly thanks to a clearly illustrated "Make Your Printer Ready in Five Steps" poster. But mostly because the printer is just so easy to use.Extruder 0.015-inch Nozzle Single Extruder Build volume 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 in. (150x150x150mm) Layer thickness 0.003 / 0.005 / 0.007 in. (0.1mm / 0.15mm / 0.2mm) Printable materials 0.068-in (1.75 mm) PLA, ABS, WOOD External dimensions 19.4 x 15.5 x 15.3 in. (495x395x390mm)
With the DeeGreen, the biggest timesaver is the fact that the printer requires no calibration on the user's part. Calibration is an important part of 3D printing that makes sure the print platform's entire surface is at a consistent and perfect distance from the print-head's nozzle. Proper calibration determines the success and the quality of each print. The DeeGreen has a built-in sensor for this job and the machine is so well put together that this self-calibration process, which takes place before each print, takes just a few seconds to finish.