For a long time, no 3D printer was as convincing during review as the Elegoo Neptune 3 Plus. The Elegoo brand, better known for its solid SLA 3D printers, is setting a new standard in terms of FDM print quality with its new Neptune series.
For this review of the Neptune 3 Plus, we used filaments such as PLA, PETG, ABS and TPU. Keep reading for our thoughts of this 3D printer.
Anycubic recently made positive news among 3D printing hobbysists with their Vyper and the Kobra Max 3D printers. These two machines stand out for their quick and easy assembly, great user comfort and the high print quality.
But can the Elegoo Neptune 3 Plus match what the two Anycubic printers brought on the market? Let’s find out.
Specs & features
|Levelling||49-point Automatic Mesh leveling|
|Build Volume||320x 320 x 400mm|
|Printer Dimensions||533 x 517 x 638mm|
|Nozzle Temperature||260°C / 500F|
|Hot Bed Temperature||100°C / 212F|
|Control panel||4.3-inch color touchscreen LCD|
|Platform||Magnetic Flexible PEI sheet|
|Supported filaments||PLA, ABS, TPU, PETG, WOOD, etc|
|Net weight||31.3 lbs / 14.2KG|
Elegoo Neptune 3 Plus Review
The Elegoo Neptune 3 Plus is an above-average 3D printer that is ready for operation in just 15 minutes. The printer looks very high quality right from the start and comes with its own slicer software. To provide the highest possible print quality, Elegoo revised and stabilized the entire printer structure. The company also came out with its proprietary slicer that is based on Cura.
At first glance, the Neptune 3 Plus is constructed like almost all Cartesian 3D printers. However, it’s build volume is above average at 320 x 320 x 400 mm. Also, looking closely at the machine, there are other details that are not so obvious. For example, the printer has reinforced the aluminum profiles, its print head is on four durable nylon rollers, the cold end is larger and the print head has double component cooling. The PEI printing plate is also coated for improved adhesion of your prints.
The Neptune 3 Plus consists of several anodized aluminum profile frames, which is standard so far. However, the aluminum profiles for the Z-axis and those of the Y-print carriage are quite large. Moreover, there is a connecting element between the two Y-print bed rails, which further increases stability.
Conventional print bed carriages have three to four leveling screws. However, the carriage of the Neptune 3 Plus has six adjusting screws. This means that the print bed can be leveled even more precisely.
The now usual two coupled z-axis spindles, filament sensor and resume printing feature after a power failure are of course also on board the Neptune 3 Plus.
However, the carriage of the print head runs on four instead of the usual three rollers. These rollers are made of durable nylon. The print head has a very large and wide cold end. This means that the melting point of the filament is far down in the heat break, which is gentler on the Teflon inlay.
The two component coolers, which are important for fast printing speeds, are well aligned with the print point.
With all these details, it’s obvious that this printer has been carefully designed.
The vibration and movement behavior of the print head has been optimized. Overall, this ensures a more reliable printing process and a more even filament flow. As a result, the Neptune 3 Plus achieves clean prints that don’t have fan vibration patterns. The print layer is regular and there are no overhangs and low spinning (filament threads between the components). The prints come out of the printer in good quality, without the need for additional tuning.
The image below shows how big the Neptune 3 Plus is compared to the standard model of the series. The difference to the significantly larger Neptune 3 Max also quickly becomes clear.
We assembled the Neptune 3 Plus after just a handful of simple steps. The assembly process took less than 15 minutes. Even inexperienced users should be able to do this in less than 20 minutes thanks to good instructions.
Below is an overview of the assembly process:
First, connect the lower chassis and the upper frame with four large screws. Next, attach the print head to the x-axis slide using four screws provided (refer to the instruction manual). Continue by connecting the printhead wiring harness to the lower chassis. These parts are clearly labeled for easy identification.
Last but not least, fix the filament roll holder and the holder for the touchscreen with three screws. Now connect the two z-motors, the filament sensor and the screen and you’re good to go.
When assembled, the Neptune 3 Plus measures a whopping 58 x 53 x 64 cm and weighs around 14 kg.
Preparing for Prints
Before you begin printing, you have to install the in-house slicer software that Elegoo supplies on a microSD card. Other files in the microSD include the user manual, a guide for network control, USB drivers, two templates for test prints and an assembly video. The documentation is well detailed.
The print slicer has an easy-to-use interface and you can clearly see it’s borrowed a lot from Cura, for example, with its range of setting options. The functions available are more than sufficient, especially for beginners. But even as experienced users, we were satisfied. Everything that is necessary for our test was there.
Operating the printer is simple. Thanks to the flexible spiral cable, the detachable touchscreen can be held comfortably like a mobile phone and then put back in its holder. This is something similar like we saw with the Snapmaker A 350T and some laser engravers.
The color, touch-sensitive display has a high resolution and brightness. Moreover, it reacts quickly and reliably. The user interface is clear, intuitive and offers many setting options and queries. For example, you can display the exact measurement data of the auto bed leveling, start the leveling, load the filament and even preheat the heating bed.
The print models stored on the memory card can also be found quickly. You can start the first test prints start after leveling and inserting the filament.
The print quality is impressive. With all the filaments we used, we achieved clean layers with an even and great print image. We printed the black models and the white dragon with PLA. The results speak for themselves: no stringing and sharp, clear layers on the columns and tips.
We also printed the white dragon and the model of the Burj Kalifa at a fast speed of 180 mm/s. At this speed, we still achieved good results. Even the filigree tip, which has a height of 40 cm, printed properly for this high speed.
The top layer of the bottom of the green PETG box is so even and flat that it was really shiny after printing. Also, with the PETG from Material4Print, we have no real misprints, except for a few small blobs on the back wall.The clear cylinder is also made of PETG, but the cheapest we found on Ebay. It was printed in vase mode at a speed of 180 mm/s, which was actually too fast. And there were no errors here either – and up to a print height of 40 cm. To put this into perspective, most FDM printers specify maximum values of around 100 mm/s. The recommended speeds are usually around 60 mm/s.
The three benchys, the classic stress test for every printer, consist of PLA, ABS and TPU. They look great too. They have subtle even layers, chic overhangs and no stringing. And this is where TPU tends to form threads and ABS has difficulty adhering.
Up to that point, everything had stuck to the PEI printing plate. Therefore, we were so convinced that we dared to print a green box made of sophisticated ABS over a large area. The material contracts when it cools down, so this stable filament is usually only suitable for printers with a closed housing, especially for large models.
The first warping started at a print height of around 2.5 cm and we finally stopped the print. However, if the room temperature is high or if a closed housing is retrofitted, even ABS should still be printable in larger dimensions. Small models like the Benchy also work with the Neptune 3 Plus with ABS filament.
The nozzles of the print head heat up to 260 degrees, while the heated bed goes up to 100 degrees. At these temperatures, even nylon/PA should still work with it. The same also applies to wood and stone filament. However, the maximum temperature is too low for PC.
Price & Variants
The Elegoo Neptune 3 Plus is the middle model of the Neptune printer series. The printer is affordable and from the excellent results we got, it’s one of our favorite FDM printers at the moment.
The smaller Neptune 3 Pro costs less than $300, while the the XXL variant , i.e., Neptune 3 Max costs less than $500.
The Elegoo Neptune 3 Plus stands out with its good print quality out of the box. The printer’s build volume is above-average and at a price of less than $400, this is definitely a good machine to add to your workshop.
The model is well built and performs excellently. Even demanding filaments, such as ABS and TPU, work up to a certain size with the printer. The print quality is evenly distributed in all types of material we tested, which is actually quite unusual.
If you are looking for comparable FDM 3D printers, check out the Anycubic Vyper, the Anycubic Kobra or the Artillery Sidewinder X2. These three offer a comparably high print quality and good value for money.
If you have less space and want to expand your 3D printer with your own tuning, you should take a closer look at the Creality Ender 3 S1.