Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review

We greet you!

We present to your attention the latest 3D printer from Flashforge – Creator 3.

Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 1

This model has appeared quite recently and we have already had a chance to test and evaluate its capabilities.

Despite the fact that this printer is called Creator 3, it has nothing to do with the Creator Pro and Creator 2 models and is fundamentally different from them, both in size, design, and capabilities.

The printer is equipped with almost all the most modern functions and capabilities: two independent extruders, filament end sensors, semi-automatic table calibration, touch screen, Wi-Fi / Ethernet, print area illumination, webcam, extruder cleaning system, and so on. But first things first.

For a start, some dry numbers …

Characteristic Value
Printing technology FDM / FFF
Manufacturer Flashforge
Thread diameter 1.75 mm
Material type ABS, PLA, PETG, Flex, Nylon, PC, Bronze, Wood, Carbon, etc.
Plot area size 300 * 250 * 200mm
Number of extruders 2
Site heating temperature Max. 120 ° C
XY-axis positioning accuracy 0.011 mm
Z-axis positioning accuracy 0.0025 mm
Nozzle diameter (mm) 0.4
Extruder operating temperature up to 300 ° C
Display touch 4.5 “
Connection interface USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet
Software FlashPrint, Cura, Simplify3D, Slic3r
OS Windows 7 and later, Mac OS X10.9 and later
System requirements OpenGL 2.1, RAM 4 GB or more
Supported file formats STL, OBJ, 3MF, SLC
Power supply 100-240 V AC
Dimensions (without packaging) 627 * 485 * 615mm
Country of Origin China
Warranty 12 months
The cost RUB 175,000

 

External dimensions are 627x485x615mm. The outside of the printer is sheathed with gray and black plastic.

Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 2

A touch screen and a USB flash drive connection port are installed on the top of the front panel.

Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 3

There are transparent plastic doors on the front and top. When printing with materials that tend to shrink, such as ABS or nylon, closed doors keep the chamber warm. And when printing, for example PLA, you can open the doors, then the heat will go away without overheating the printed part.

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There are covers on both sides of the printer, behind them are the filament compartments.

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On the back there is a connector for a power cable, an on / off button, an RJ-45 port for connecting to an Ethernet network, and two exhaust fans with filters.

The body of the printer is very strong and heavy, weighing 40 kg. Let’s take a look inside.

The frame is completely made of steel. The whole structure is very rigid. Most of the moving mechanisms are made of aluminum. A few plastic parts are made by injection, there are no printed parts in the printer. The axles move along 12 mm shafts on high quality linear bearings. No backlash or jamming is observed. The axles are parked without the use of limit switches using stepper motor drivers.

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The main feature of Creator 3 is two independent direct extruders, each of which can move separately from the other along the X axis.This opens up interesting possibilities, such as printing two identical parts at the same time (Duplicate mode), or printing one model and its mirrored copy (Mirror mode).

All-metal extruders with steel nozzles. They can heat up to 300 degrees without any problems, which allows this printer to print with a wide range of plastics.

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Each extruder has special nozzle cleaning brushes on the right and left. Under them are plastic compartments, where the remains of plastic fall, which is brushed off.

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Creator 3’s kinematics are similar to MakerBot, but of course they have some differences due to the independent extruders. The print area is quite large and is 300x250x200mm.

This printer’s table is removable and flexible, making it easy to remove large models from the platform.

Fixed to the frame with a variety of sliding mounts.

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There is a special surface glued to the top of the table, like BuildTak, which provides good adhesion. Although in our experience it is still advisable to use an additional adhesive, such as a glue stick. The table can be heated up to 120 degrees.

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Calibration is performed in a semi-automatic mode, without using a separate sensor. The touch is detected using magnets located in the table. The printer takes measurements at three points and shows on the screen how many degrees and in which direction each lamb should be turned. After basic calibration, it is necessary to calibrate the extruders relative to each other. On the Z axis, this happens automatically. In X and Y, the printer prints longitudinal and transverse stripes, respectively, and, if they do not converge in one line, suggests changing the offset of one extruder from the other. The complete calibration procedure takes about 10 minutes.

The proprietary slicer FlashPrint is used to prepare models for printing.

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It has all the necessary functionality. In addition to the basic features (moving, rotating, centering, resizing models), there is a very useful function that allows you to cut models into parts, and the cuts are automatically closed.

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Also, if you load 3D models with errors into the slicer, Flashprint will see this and offer to fix them automatically.

In the Extruder menu, you can choose which extruder will print the selected model, as well as select the Duplicate or Mirror mode.

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Supports can be placed either automatically with the specified settings, or manually. There are classic line supports as well as arboreal ones.

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 15

There are two modes for slicing settings: simplified (Basic) and fully functional (Expert). In Basic mode, you can select the type of head and the most basic parameters, the rest will be set for you by the slicer itself.

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And in Expert mode, you can change any parameters you need and create your own profiles for the heads.

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FlashPrint saves files in gx format, they already have an embedded picture of the model, which will be displayed on the printer screen during printing and preview. If you like other slicers better (Cura, Simplify3D, Slic3r, etc.), you can also use them. The printer understands ordinary gcode files, but does not display a picture of the object.

Models prepared for printing can be sent to the printer from FlashPrint over Wi-Fi or a wired network. The printer has a built-in 7Gb memory to save the received models. The only significant disadvantage of this slicer is, perhaps, a very slow preview. When printing large models, it is necessary to check the cutting of layers with very strong brakes and delays.

You can control the printer’s operation using the FlashCloud web service. To do this, you need to register on the website https://cloud.sz3dp.com . Connect the printer to the Internet using a Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection. Add the printer to your account and that’s it.

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FlashCloud doesn’t have a lot of features.

  • You can monitor the print, if necessary, pause or stop.
  • View the image from the camera, while it does not transmit streaming video, the picture is updated every few seconds. But this is quite enough to understand whether printing is normal.
  • You can load STL models up to 100 MB and slice them there, although the slicing settings are quite few. It is possible to move, rotate and resize the model.

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There are only basic preset media types for which you can select print quality. There are functions for turning on / off raft, support, brim and walls, as well as the ability to select an extruder and an operating mode for two extruders.

As an alternative to FlashCloud, you can also use PolarCloud, a third-party service from Polar3d, to remotely control your printer.

To test the versatility of this printer, we have printed with a wide variety of materials, applying all the ways to use its capabilities. Let’s move on to our results.

ABS plastic printing

The first thing we tried to print on this printer was the head of the T800 terminator. It was printed without supports, there are only a few auxiliary posts under the jaw already built into the model.

Plastic: Tiger3D ABS Blue
Layer: 0.12mm
Speed: 60mm / s
Temperature: 235/110
Dimensions: 82x89x130mm

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 21

Polycarbonate printing

After that, we loaded the Creator 3 with Polymaker PolyMax PC. It is a high quality construction material with very high strength, toughness and high temperature resistance (softening point – 117˚C). It is great for making functional models, electronics housings and parts that will experience heat.

To begin with, we printed a dremel attachment, which makes it convenient to use it as a compact router.

Plastic: black Polymaker PolyMax PC
Layer: 0.18mm
Speed: 60mm / s
Temperature: 260/110

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 23
Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 24

Then we printed the body of the control unit in a larger size. It has two parts. The lid has curves on all sides and is printed with a lot of supports. The case is not perfect, but pretty good. At the bottom, one corner is slightly bent due to plastic shrinkage.

Plastic: Polymaker PolyMax PC black
Layer: 0.12mm
Speed: 60mm / s
Temperature: 260/110
Dimensions: 155x86x67mm

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 26

Fiberglass nylon printing

To test the printer’s operation at extreme temperatures, we printed a small gear from a Polymaker N600GF25. This is a fiberglass filled nylon, an industrial filament with very decent performance. Its printing temperature is 290-310 degrees. Creator 3 coped with this task without any problems.

Plastic: Polymaker N600GF25 (Glassfiber) natural
Layer: 0.12mm
Speed: 30mm / s
Temperature: 300/120
Dimensions: 36x26x9mm

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 28

FLEX printing

Since the printer has direct extruders, that is, the feed mechanism is located directly above the hot end, you can print on it with flex-plastics without any problems. We printed a pair of Polymaker PolyFlex phone cases for testing. It is a fairly soft flex with a Shore A hardness of 95A.

Plastic: Polymaker PolyFlex white
Layer: 0.12mm
Speed: 30mm / s
Temperature: 220/70
Dimensions: 73x152x12mm

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 30

Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 31

WOOD printing

I also wondered how the Creator 3 would handle printing with wood-added composite filaments. With three different types of such plastic, we printed three Groots at different stages of his maturation. After all, it should be wooden, right?

The smallest Groot printed fine. The print at the bottom was just perfect. In the upper part, the model began to sway a little, because of this, the hair did not turn out very even. There were also quite a few strings, but this happens with almost all wood heads. Changing the retraction and temperature settings doesn’t help much. But the strings are easily removed with a knife.

Plastic: Polymaker PolyWood PLA
Layer: 0.12mm
Speed: 40mm / s
Temperature: 205/70
Dimensions: 47x35x92mm

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 33

Little Groot, but with legs. It turned out well, although there were also quite a lot of strings.

Plastic: ESun Wood PLA natural

Layer: 0.12mm
Speed: 40mm / s
Temperature: 200/70
Dimensions: 74x45x75mm

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 35

And finally, the adult Groot. It turned out worse. Despite the fact that the layer height was 0.12, like the previous ones, the layering is noticeable. In some places, uneven layering is visible. Considering that the printer was not noticed in the instability of the plastic supply, most likely this is a problem of the material itself.

Plastic: ESun eBamboo PLA
Layer: 0.12mm
Speed: 40mm / s
Temperature: 210/7
Dimensions: 80x62x101mm

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 37

Two-color printing

Now it’s time to try two-color printing. For two-color printing, it is necessary to calibrate the extruders well along the X and Y axes. Also, when printing with two plastics, it is advisable to use a wipe wall, so that the nozzle passes through it before printing the main part. During idle time, a little plastic may leak from the nozzle, and after passing along the wall, the plastic will reach the nozzle and will be evenly fed when printing the model itself. A dice was printed for warm-up. PLA plastic, orange and gold.

Plastic: Tiger3D PLA orange / Tiger3D PLA gold
Layer: 0.12mm
Speed: 60mm / s
Temperature: 205/205/70
Dimensions: 20x20x20mm

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 39

And right after the cube, a complex two-color model went to print. Tree frog.

It was printed without support, on a raft and with a rough wall. Printed with the same plastic and the same colors.

Plastic: Tiger3D PLA orange / Tiger3D PLA gold
Layer: 0.12mm
Speed: 60mm / s
Temperature: 205/205/70
Dimensions: 114x101x52mm

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 41

Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 42

Soluble support printing

Besides printing with two colors, a very useful way to use two extruders is to print models with dissolvable supports. There are two main types of materials used as dissolvable supports. PVA is water soluble and is usually used in combination with PLA or a similar temperature plastic. And HIPS – dissolves with d-limonene, printed with ABS plastic or other high-temperature filaments.

One test was printed from PLA + PVA. This is Hilbert Cube, this model cannot be printed at all without using two extruders. And with two extruders, you can simply print it in two colors. And in the case of printing one of the parts with a dissolving material, you can get a cube of a very interesting complex shape.

Plastic: Tiger3D PLA orange / Esun PVA natural

Layer: 0.12mm
Speed: 60mm / s
Temperature: 205/190/70
Dimensions: 30x30x30mm

 

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 44

To dissolve PVA plastic, simply place the model in a container of warm water and wait a few hours. We did not wait for complete dissolution, when PVA softens, it can be easily removed with ordinary tweezers and washed off with water.

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We printed the second test with a combination of ABS + HIPS. Wind-up spring mechanism – this model exists in a printable version in parts. But this option is printed in its entirety using dissolvable supports.

Plastic: Tiger3D ABS blue / Esun HIPS natural
Layer: 0.12mm
Speed: 60mm / s
Temperature: 235/240/120
Dimensions: 90x63x51mm

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 47

To save time, after printing, we broke off some of the supports using wire cutters. Then the mechanism was lowered into d-limonene. It took about a day to dissolve the HIPS.

translated video

 

Ideally, after dissolving the supports, rinse the part again in fresh d-limonene. We did not do this, so a thin film of dissolved HIPS remained on the surfaces.

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 49

Unfortunately, the mechanism did not work. It was made for printing PLA plastic, and ABS was not suitable for it. All gears move, but the spring tension is not enough to move the entire mechanism.

In any case, the printer did its job well. The fact that the mechanism did not work is no longer his fault.

Duplicate Printing

It remains only to check how the modes work that use two extruders at the same time. The first is Duplicate. In this mode, two extruders simultaneously print the same part on different table halves. We loaded ESun eCopper PLA with copper filler in one extruder, and ESun eAlfill with aluminum filler in the other. And they printed two Chinese coins at the same time. One copper, the other aluminum. These filaments take on an interesting sheen like real metal when they are lightly sanded after printing.

Plastic: ESun eCopper PLA / Esun eAlfill PLA
Layer: 0.12mm
Speed: 60mm / s
Temperature
: 205/205 / Dimensions: 40x40x2mm

translated video

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 51

Mirror print

And the second mode of using two extruders at once is mirror printing (Mirror). In this mode, one part is printed on one half of the table, and on the other the same part, but mirrored. For an example of using this mode, we printed the Flexi Dragon model with ESun eSilk plastic, this very beautiful plastic shimmers and shines in the light. Instead of printing the left and right wings one by one, we printed one of them in mirror mode. Thus, we immediately got both wings, spending 2 times less time on it.

Plastic: Esun eSilk
Layer: 0.12mm
Speed: 60mm / s
Temperature: 200/70
Dimensions: 175x143x18mm

translated video

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Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 53

Flashforge Creator 3 3D Printer Review 54

Outcome

Printers with 2 independent extruders are a definite trend in the FDM printer market, mostly related to industrial models.

Flashforge, along with several manufacturers, decided to offer a desktop version of such a printer.

In our experience with the Creator 3, we have seen that 2 independent extruders significantly expand the printing possibilities, especially if the printer accepts all plastics with a melting point of up to 300 degrees.

Yes, in the course of our experiments with different plastics, we periodically had to “negotiate” with the printer, but in fact it coped with all the tasks.

Creator 3 conquered with its reliability, usability and ease of use, however, like all previous Flashforge models.

The manufacturer decided to make the printer as modern as possible and endowed it with a large number of useful and simply pleasant functions, such as a built-in camera, filament sensor, backlight, semi-automatic calibration, nozzle cleaning brushes, etc. Plus a bonus cloud platform, without any unique features, but generally easy to operate the printer.

Creator 3 is suitable for both professional use and for hobbyists who want to have a printer at home that can confidently print with a wide variety of filaments.

It can be used to print prototypes or functional objects for further use, a sufficiently large print area and the omnivorous nature of the printer gives almost unlimited scope for imagination.

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