Read our Creality CR30 review to find out the performance, specs, and quality of print of the printer. Does the Creality 3DPrintMill 3D printer deliver? This article has the answer.
We have been reviewing 3D printing equipment for years now. During this time, a huge variety of different 3D printers managed to fall into our hands. But recently we have on sale an extremely interesting specimen.
The Creality CR-30, also known as 3DPrintMill is a peculiar 3D printer by the Chinese 3D printer manufacturer, Creality3D. With conventional FDM printers, the model is built in a vertical plane. However, on the Creality 3DPrintMill, the model is printed at an angle of 45°.
The unit’s printbed is a conveyor belt. As a result, you can print parts of any length or small models one after another, without having to worry about the space running out on the printbed.
Of course, this solution has some issues. Before we look into the issues, let’s get an overview of the printer.
Creality 3DPrintMill 3D Printer Review: History
The idea of continuous 3D printing is not new. Back in 2010, Makerbot made public models for assembling a small Automated Build Platform conveyor printbed that could be used with their printers.
With this printbed, printed models could be automatically removed. The topic died down for some time.
However, manufacturers of industrial equipment tried to produce 3D printers for continuous printing but with a slightly different implementation.
In 2017, the idea got a new development. Polar3D showed a modification for the Makerbot Replicator with a 45° tilted conveyor table.
And this is when the process started. A compact printer, PrintrBot PrintrBelt, was presented. Unfortunately, the printer is no longer available for sale.
Today, perhaps the most famous conveyor 3D printer is BlackBelt, which is large and quite expensive.
A little later, Karl Brown from NAK3D Designs project presented and made publicly available a project of a huge White Knight conveyor printer.
If you wish, you can assemble it yourself.
In 2020, Naomi Wu together with developers of Creality, and with support of BlackBelt3D, presented the Creality CR-30 or 3DPrintMill 3D printer on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform.
It took some more time for fundraising and refinement. And as a result, this printer finally went on the free sale.
Creality CR30 Review
Now that we know how Creality CR-30 3D printer came to be, let’s review it.
The CR-30 is shipped in large box, which has the image of Noami Wu, the mastermind of the project.
The package bundle is quite standard. In the box, you will find:
- A small paper manual
- A separate bag contains several zip ties
- A nozzle cleaning needle
- Side cutters
- A0.1mm calibrator
- Hex keys and wrenches
- A spare limit switch
- A 250g white PLA reel
- An 8GB SD card with a card reader
- Spare fittings
- A pair of spare nozzles
Assembling the CR-30
The printer comes disassembled into several parts.
However, the assembly is not difficult at all. The lower section with control unit and conveyor table is already fully assembled. On one side, you need to screw the diagonal struts to it.
On the other side, you have to install and fasten the assembled portal with several screws.
After that, install the filament spool holder and screw the screen.
Finally, connect all remaining wires and insert the Teflon tube from the hotend into the feeder.
The Creality 3DPrintMill has a print area of200 mm in width, 170 in height and infinity in length.
The XY axis portal is tilted at an angle of 45°. Yes, exactly Y, this is not a mistake.
The Z-axis on the CR-30 is a conveyor table. If you turn the printer 45° forward, you will notice that it works on the CoreXY kinematics, with a table tilted at 45°.
OpenBuilds is used to move the XY axes.
All carriages have eccentrics on one side, which can be rotated to adjust the pressure of the rollers to the profiles.
The printer has 10 mm belts. This is good because an extruder with an X-axis profile must not only be moved in the horizontal plane, but also raised up.
The Creality CR-30 has a bowden extruder with a rather long Teflon tube.
The CR-10 hotend, which is used as standard in nearly all Creality printers, is also used here.
The maximum heating temperature is 240°C. Therefore, the printer cannot handle high-temperature materials such as ABS.
The radiator is cooled by a 3010 axial fan.
Two 4010 turbine fans with good air ducts made of molded plastic are used to cool the turbine.
The feeder looks like a hybrid between MK8 and BMG.
There is no gearbox, but there are two feed gears. The distance to the outlet is rather small.
It may b possible to print normally with flex-plastics. However, with such a long Teflon tube, the printing will still be difficult.
On the electronic side, everything is pretty standard. The power supply is a low-profile 24V 350W power supply from HuntKey company.
All wires are crimped into terminals. Most of them even have ferrite rings to reduce interference. Everything is arranged neatly enough.
The Creality CR-30 3D printer uses the proprietary control board; Creality V4.2.10; on a 32-bit STM32F103 microcontroller and with unsoldered quiet TMC2208 drivers.
By the way, the printer and the fans are generally quite.
The printer has a simple screen. It is a regular 12864 with the same encoder as the first Ender-3 and many other Creality printers.
The most interesting thing is the conveyor table. Its design looks impressive.
There are no plastic parts. Everything is made of aluminum and steel.
The drive shafts are located at the front and rear, along which an annular belt made of heat-resistant nylon passes. The total circumference of the conveyor table is 1100 mm.
When taut, the length is about half a meter. There are screws on the front on both sides to adjust its tension. There are also two metal plates in the upper part under the belt.
The part on the side of the extruder is heated. It should warm up the belt when laying the plastic to improve adhesion. The maximum temperature is 100°C. The second plate does not heat up.
In the corners, there are four screws for adjusting the height of these plates; two for each.
The screws have convenient lock nuts.
The belt is driven through a gearbox by a motor hidden underneath.
The Creality 3DPrintMill is manually calibrated.
To begin calibration, loosen the top plate by adjusting the screw retaining nuts. Next, unscrew the screws so that the plates are completely lowered.
Further in the lower part of the portal, there are mechanical movement restraints. This is done to prevent the nozzle from damaging the table belt.
The limiters can be moved in height. The right one needs to be weakened.
On the left there, is an optical limit switch that can also be moved in height.
To do this, loosen 4 screws at the front and turn the screw from below to raise or lower it.
The limit switch must be set so that during operation, the distance to the mechanical stop is no more than 0.2-0.3 mm.
In this case, in height, the entire limiter must be screwed so that the height to the table surface is about a millimeter.
After adjusting the height of the left limiter with the limit switch, fix the right one at the same height and with the same offset.
After that, use the 0.1mm probe from the kit to twist the height of the first heated plate so that the probe passes over the entire width between the nozzle and the table belt with little effort.
If possible, set the second plate in the same way as the first so that long models do not come off prematurely.
Quality of Print
With the printer assembled and calibrated, let’s move on to the printing tests.
We loaded Tiger3D gray PLA plastic and printed a randomly selected test model from the flash drive. The printing of some kind of geometric figure began.
The first layers lay down normally. Then, the part began to be built at an angle of 45°.
After a while, the model was printed.
Immediately after it, another copy of the same model began to be printed,
and this continued…
When the place on the table ran out, the parts at the front fell down by themselves.
The test print turned out 10 models.
This test print lasted for 15 hours.
First, we realized that the Creality CR-30 printed slowly. Also, it was apparent that it was not completely calibrated. On most models, the first layers lay unevenly. However, after them, everything printed normally.
Since the models were printed with a low percentage of infill and only two outer walls, there were some visible infill on the surface.
The rest of the models turned out well. The layers are laid fairly evenly although there are small gaps on top of some models.
The gaps are most likely also caused by low filling and lack of walls.
The Creality 3DPrintFill comes with a proprietary slicer called CrealityBelt.
This is essentially a modified version of Cura 3.6.0.
In addition, there is also a BlackBelt slicer.
There is practically no difference between them, since Creality made their slicer based on BlackBelt. However, they are now updated independently of each other. For example, BlackBelt is currently based on the later version of Cura 3.6.2.
Recently, the IdeaMaker slicer has beed made to be able to cut models at 45°. However, it still does not have some useful settings for conveyor belt printers.
We used a Creality slicer.
After installation, we imported a print profile located on the USB flash drive into CrealityBelt. The first thing that catches your eye when you import the model is an infinite table. Of course, its length is limited in the settings. The Y-axis is set at 99999 mm, i.e., 100 meters.
By the way, in the slicer, the table is the Y axis and not the Z as on a printer. Still, everything is cut correctly.
Another difference from the usual Cura is that on the top right, you can choose the angle at which you want to cut.
And there is a whole block of additional settings for the conveyor printer. Let’s briefly go through what the settings do.
Here, you can set how many copies of the cut model or models you need. When set to more than 1, the distance between copies parameter will appear. You can also add raft and set the settings (speed and flow) for the wall, which is printed with adherence to the belt.
You can set the distance from the belt and control additional cooling fans.
The rest of the settings are about the same as usual. In fact, many settings you may be used to are simply not there. For example, the “Stick to Table Type” block with a border, skirt and regular raft is completely removed. However, algorithms to improve the adhesion of the first layers would definitely not hurt.
The print speed in the finished profile is set to very low as recommended by the manufacturer.
New Year’s Bull. PLA
We used bright red ESun PLA to print a figurine of a New Year’s bull.
This model is quite indicative for printing at 45°. If you put the bull backwards, it would seem that the minimum tilt at the tail is already a little difficult.
And for the fairly strong slope on the numbers in front, for which support would be useful on a regular printer, the CR-30 will be able to print on weight without any problems.
The bull printed normally. However, there are a few shortcomings. There is a slight under-extrusion on the muzzle, similar to the tops of the first models.
In addition, there are thin strings from retracts on the model.
We decided to print some large model. One of the obvious uses for this printer is to print long, one-piece models for cosplay, such as a sword. An ordinary sword is somehow boring. Therefore, we took the chainsword model from the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
We increased it to 1200 percent, so that in length it turned out to be 955 mm. This is almost a meter.
The model will have to be printed in full length from two halves so that there are no traces of supports on the front sides. To do this, we lowered exactly half of the model under the table surface.
We then sent the sword to the seal. In the process, it became clear that we had rushed and some points were not thought out well. However, we did not stop printing.
First, several places appeared right away where support would be useful.
Secondly, the teeth that are turned forward begin to print literally from a drop of plastic. Because of this, the very tips on half of the teeth were crooked.
But we continued printing.
First day…second day…third day.
From time to time, there were minor problems, such as slight under-extrusion and filling evidently showed through on flat surfaces.
There were also small strings in places.
After 3 days 10 hours and about 600 grams of PLA filament, a half meter chain sword was ready.
It is difficult to call this seal ideal. But the dimensions are so impressive that I don’t even want to pay attention to the shortcomings.
In any case, these models are usually heavily post-processed. The only thing that really confused me was the print time. Obviously, the second half should be printed after the tests at an increased speed.
3DBenchy and XYZ Cube
We sent the XYZ cube and Benchy boat for printing. One file was set to be printed after another.
We placed the Benchy boat nose first. In this part, the Benchy has the strongest slope, which is generally impossible for this printer. Therefore, a block of custom supports was added in the front part. They will also help with adhesion at the beginning of the print of the boat’s nose.
We increased the speed to 80mm/s and 40mm/s for the outer walls. The wall adjacent to the belt was still the slowest at 10mm/s.
Both the boat and the cube were printed well.
In the front part of the cube, the slope was too big from above. Therefore, several lines sagged.
Also, in some places, there is a slight under-extrusion. Otherwise, everything looks good enough and neat in appearance.
When printing the boat, the nozzle moving along the model slightly swayed it from side to side.
Unfortunately, the dimensions of the cube are far from ideal. They are approximately 19.77 mm in height, 20.21 mm in width and 19.97 mm in length.
Of course, you can programmatically compensate for such problems. However, in the stock, the accuracy of the printer leaves much to be desired. Technical models can be printed, but only if there is no need for exact dimensions.
The print speed slightly increased, but not significantly. Since the accelerations in the firmware are set very low, (300mm/s2), it is impossible to increase them through the printer menu. 300 is the maximum.
Second Half of the Chainsword
We cut the other half of the sword. This time, a small block of supports was added to each tooth turned forward, as was done with the “benches”. In addition, we added support in some more places that sagged last time.
We increased the number of walls to 3. The print speed for outer walls was set to 80mm/s and 40mm/s.
The printing was still not fast and the accelerations remained the same. However, at such distances, the maximum speed will have time to gain. We sent the model to print. This time, the printing time decreased, but not significantly. It decreased by just 10 hours.
For some reason, the supports in a couple of places did not hold and several teeth turned out to be distorted. And there were simply not enough supports on the handle, and some places sagged there.
By the way, both halves turned out to be slightly bent in an arc, as they were reprinted while hanging from the printer.
There is a special block with rollers for this printer, allowing better printing of long models.
You can print a similar design yourself. The models are on Thingiverse.
To properly glue the two halves of the sword, you need a few clamps and good glue, or a solvent such as dichloromethane. There were no clamps at hand. So, we temporarily pulled the halves with ties in some places. This made it clear what the sword would ultimately look like.
There are some flaws in the model. Most of the flaws are damaged teeth. The rest can be considered quite insignificant. After all, as we have already said, such models imply post-processing. If the sword is well glued, processed, primed and painted, it will look very epic.
We then increased the speed to 600mm/s2 with the gcode command by connecting the printer to the computer. We took PETG from Bestfilament and tried to print the low poly fox model.
As it turned out, this is also a fairly indicative model, demonstrating the advantages and disadvantages of a conveyor printer. Again, the slight slope at the tail proved to be quite challenging. But the muzzle, which is usually the most difficult area, was not a problem at all for the printer.
In addition, the ears are not printed at the same time, but one after the other. Therefore, there simply cannot be strings between them.
Overall, the fox turned out very well. The layers are laid evenly and there is no underextrusion. We slightly increased the flow in the print settings. The corners do not protrude and there is no echo.
3D Geometric Wall Art
Next, we chose something more abstract. This is a rectangular frame with various patterns; with an eye in the center.
We increased the size of the model to approximately 187mm in width and 450 mm in length.
In a couple of places where the circles start to be printed, we added small sheets of layer thickness to improve adhesion.
All settings were left as in the previous test and the model was sent to print.
Quite quickly, we noticed that with long transfers, the retracts did not cope well and small droplets remained on the surfaces. However, the rest of the print quality was very decent.
After about a day, the model was removed from the printer. We also cleared the sagging retracts. And the model turned out great. There is almost nothing to find fault with. It looks very beautiful.
Finally, we tried to see if the CR-30 can print with flex-plastics. We took ESun eTPU 95A. The material is of medium hardness and not very difficult to print. A simple model of a prism and a cylinder was whipped up.
Let’s say this is some kind of sealing tape. In a slicer, we increased it to one meter in length.
The speed was set as in the original profile, and the acceleration was left at 600mm/s2.
The tape printed to the very end without any problems. In a couple of places, there were black dots. Apparently, sometimes the plastic stuck to the nozzle, burned out and got into the model itself. But otherwise, everything was fine. Nothing jammed in the feeder. For a bowden extruder with such a long Teflon tube, the result was excellent.
By the way, Thingiverse already has models for converting this printer to a direct extruder.
Obviously, the Creality CR-30 3DPrintmill is not a printer for beginners. Moreover, even for an experienced user, there are many issues to deal with.
The design of the printer is reasonably well thought out. The conveyor table looks very impressive and reliable. The adhesion to the belt is decent, considering that the plastic is stacked at an angle. To improve adhesion in difficult places, you need to use additional auxiliary models or custom supports.
The belt can get damaged. However, if you initially calibrate the printer correctly, the chances of this are reduced to almost zero. Some traces of printed models remain on the belt, but they do not cause problems.
The coreXY kinematics is very successful in this case. The X-axis beam with extruder is lightweight.
And, as it turned out, the printer can print quite fine at decent speeds and accelerations. Unless the walls adjacent to the belt should always be printed slowly, 10-20mm/s.
The slicer works, but I would like to update it or fully add such printers to Cura. There is a plugin, but it never worked for us.
There are certain specifics when printing. For example, many models that usually do not require support are extremely difficult to print on the CR-30. Conversely, a seemingly strong tilt towards the portal becomes quite easy to print.
What can you use the Creality 3DPrintMill 3D printer for? The first thing that comes to mind is cosplay.
The ability to print long art models or multiple models one after the other can be a huge time saver in post-processing and model changes.
In addition, such a printer can be convenient for printing some interior items or designer furniture.
For exact technical models, the printer in the stock state is not very suitable. But if the error of +/- 0.2 – 0.3 mm is not very important, the printer may well come in handy.
In general, we liked the printer, at least for its originality. It is definitely not universal, but in some situations it can be very useful.