There’s a new 3D printer that comes in the cube shape and has a direct extruder. This is the Flashforge Finder 3. The printer is not fully enclosed but is still fascinating. Read our Flashforge Finder 3.0 review to see how it fares.
3D printers that in a cubed shape have many advantages over the bed pushers. However, there are just a handful of the printers on the market. Today, we’ll be looking at the Flashforge Finder 3, which seems interesting for beginners. Moreover, I like Flashforge printers in general.
We’ll be looking to see how it compares to the equally expensive, smaller, fully-enclosed Creality Sermoon V1, and the slightly larger but more expensive Flashforge Adventurer 4. We’ll also touch on how it performs compared to the Voxelab Aries, as the two look quite similar.
Flashforge Finder 3.0 Review
Flashforge Finder 3.0 Specs
|Technology||Fused deposition modeling (FDM)|
3D Printer Properties
|Build volume||190 x 195 x 200 mm|
|Print head||Single nozzle|
|Nozzle size||0.4 mm|
|Max. hot end temperature||260 ℃|
|Max. heated bed temperature||110 ℃|
|Print bed material||Glass, PEI|
|Filament diameter||1.75 mm|
|Filament materials||Consumer materials (PLA, ABS, PETG, Flexibles)|
|Recommended slicer||Cura, Simplify3D, FlashPrint|
|Operating system||Windows, Mac OSX, Linux|
|File types||STL, OBJ, AM|
Dimensions & Weight
|Frame dimensions||469 x 406 x 416 mm|
The Flashforge Finder Cube 3.0 has various improvements over its predecessor, the Flashforge Finder 2.0. These include:
- 20°C higher nozzle temperature
- Heated bed
- Can use ABS and HIPS
- Compatible with Cura and Simplify3D
- Large print volume (The Finder 2.0 has only 140 x 140 x 140 mm^3 installation space, while the Finder 3 has almost three times as much)
What’s in the Box?
Below is an overview of what is available in the box:
|A few cleverly shaped, sturdy “egg cartons” hold the printer in place. These are excellent for ensuring the safety of the device during shipping.
The printer has a fixed glass bed.
|All axes are well secured against slipping.
The three cable ties on the X and Y straps are hard to miss, thanks to the yellow flags.
|Lots of useful accessories are included in the package. There are even a few spare Teflon tubes for the hotend and a spare nozzle.
There is also a comprehensive manual.
Unfortunately, there is only 50g PLA filament for test prints/
|The Flashforge Finder 3.0 has a simple design but a stable construction.
Unfortunately, the printer does not have a complete enclosure. Still, it is nearly 50% cheaper than the Adventurer 4.
|Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the filament roll is attached behind the printer. After all, rolls up to 80 mm wide fit on it.
And here is a look at the print head from below. The head includes a silicone sock and LED lighting.
|Here is the front view of the pressure room.
And the view from below on the bed with the two leveling screws and on the Z-axis.
|An Ultrabase (coated glass plate) is factory-installed as the bed surface.
A PEI-coated flexplate is also included.
|The printer has a self-adhesive magnetic mat.
The glass plate is only clamped. Therefore, it can be easily removed after opening the two latches.
|The magnetic mat should be glued to the heating bed centered in the Y-direction.
After that, just put the flexplate on top. It’s best to leave the latches open since the mat is magnetic.
|And here is how the Flashforge Finder 3.0 looks like in full.
I love the clear main menu.
There is also a socket for the USB stick,On if you don’t want to print via WLAN.
|On the display, everything is clearly structured and intuitive to use.
The menu is even available in multiple languages.
|And here is some system information.
And this shows how much of the 8 GB of internal memory is still free, among other things.
|The printer has steps on simple and effective steps on how to level it manually.|
|The English manual is comprehensive.
Everything relevant to the printer is available on the 8 GB USB stick. There are also instructions fo macOS users.
|My first test object, a 30x30x1.2 mm^3 square.
The model was sliced in Flash Print and the details showed on the printer display.
|The PLA temperatures are reached after approx. 2.5 minutes.
There are a few functions hidden behind the gear wheel. These include filament change, light switch, etc.)
|…and here are the setting options available during the printing process.|
|Thanks to the LED lighting on the print head, you can already see during the first layer what is currently being printed.
Thefirst print we made with Flashforge PLA, my 30mm square. The print came out well, apart from some under-extrusion.
|Then we had Uwe’s 20mm test cube. It came out perfectly.
Even these small vases are flawless. There are no waves. Everything is smooth.
|Then we had the mean ooze retraction test. All overhangs were clean. There was no stringing.
Excuse the dropout in the brim; the bed was leveled a little too far away.
|We also printed the 3DBenchy. It came out nicely with settings of 0.20 mm layer thickness, 0.40 mm line width and 60 mm/s basic speed. Of course, these settings not specially optimized for beauty.
The print was clean. There are no overshoots on the portholes.
|With 102% flow, the surfaces are perfectly closed.
A short shot of the printer in action. The LED lighting is practical and the printer is surprisingly quiet.
|Next, we printed red Overture PETG filament. Some Bowden printers struggle with it, e.g. the Adventurer 3 and 4 from Flashforge.
At 60 mm/s and 102% flow, the surfaces perfectly closed. Also, there was no stringing.
|After one and a half hours, the PETG bench was finished.|
|Next, we did an endurance test with the TPU Shore 30D from Fiberlogy. This filament is as soft as a rubber band.
At 30 mm/s and 104% flow, we had good results with this material.
The material is not printable at all with a Bowden extruder.
|Pausing the printing process works perfectly. The head and bed move to their home positions, the nozzle heating is switched off and the bed remains on.
When you turn off pausing, printingt goes on as normal.
|After removing the base plate, a nice and tidy picture emerges.
Instead of the NoName 350W 24V power supply, the Flashforger Finder 3.0 had one from Meanwell.
|The left board with the firmly soldered but quiet stepper drivers is not the mainboard. The board is controlled by the right board on which the touch display is mounted. The WLAN antenna is also attached there.
Since this isn’t a DWIN display, it works so well.
|There is also a simple plastic Mk8 feeder. Unfortunately, there is no contemporary dual gear.
But Qidi, for example, also uses an MK8 feeder and it works well. So, there’s no reason to complain.
The hotend isn’t standard Mk10 fare. Still, I won’t disassemble it any further.
|We disassembled the hotend.
There is a short PTFE hose in the heatsink, but only up to the heatbreak and not up to the nozzle.
I think that’s a good solution as the hose can cooler for PLA, but still go up to 260°C.
Flashforge Finder 3.0 vs. Voxelab Aries
The Flashforge Finder 3 looks quite similar to the Voxelab Aries and very different from its predecessor, the Finder 2.0. Well, Voxelab is Flashforge’s budget brand and since the Aries is really not bad, it may be nice to be included under the main brand.
With the Flashforge Finder 3.0, the higher costs of the more pleasing housing of the old Finder were avoided. This meant the savings could be diverted elsewhere without making the new model significantly more expensive.
As it stands, the Flashforge 3.0 is really a 1:1 of the Voxelab Aries under a different name. The only difference is that it has been upgraded with a flexplate and a direct extruder. Without the latter, which is definitely a significant improvement, I would definitely not have bought it.
I would have liked a complete enclosure (i.e. side panels, door and hood) to have been part of these improvements of the Flashforge 3.0. However, maybe the company was afraid of competing with the Adventurer 4, which is neither a real cube (the bed moves in the Y direction) nor does it have a direct extruder. By the way, the Adventurer 4 costs twice as much.
The Finder 3 fits well into the Flashforge product range as a cheap, entry-level cube with a medium-sized installation space. The enclosure makes it a good printer for high schools or anyone who wants to get started immediately without DIY assembly and configuring the settings. Keep in mind that this machine cannot print technical filaments such as ABS, ASA or PA, which absolutely need a completely closed housing.
The Flashfore 3 prints PLA almost as nicely as its big brothers Guider II(s), which cost a lot more. Only the only one-sided cooling component can be overwhelmed with some overhangs on the back of the printed object. However, none of this can be seen in the Ooze Retraction Test. Therefore, I prefer when one side is cooled with full force, like is the case with this printer, than just a gentle breeze blowing all around because of lack of a strong fan.
Temperatures used: nozzle 200°C, bed 50°C and 100% component cooling.
Any halfway up-to-date printer should be able to process PETG without any problems. However, some printers with a weak Bowden extruder, such as the Flashforge Adventurer 3 and 4, regularly skip steps because the filament is not gripped tightly enough. Moreover, the long retractions cannot be carried out cleanly .
With the Flashforge 3.0, there were no such problems. With a nozzle temperature of 230°C, bed temperature of 70°C as well as 100% component cooling, everything worked without any problems.
TPU only works on printers with Bowden extruders in the hardest variants, from Shore 90A upwards. And even then, problems are common. Direct extruders hardly have any problems with TPU. It only becomes interesting from about Shore 80A down to see how good the mechanics really are.
The Fiberflex 30D TPU used here from Fiberlogy is a bit softer than the well-known Filaflex TPU 82A. However, it is significantly cheaper and easier to print. The results below show impressively what this printer can do. You just can’t guide such a soft filament through the Bowden; it has to be able to run completely freely and unbraked.
Temperatures used: nozzle 230°C, bed 50°C, and 50% component cooling.
All filaments I have tested so far have held onto the PEI coated flexplate very well. Moreover, all of them were easily removable by slightly bending the flexplate, except TPU.
The factory-installed Ultrabase glass plate is also a good print bed surface. However, it has long been overtaken by the flex plates with PEI. Everything adheres even better to the latter type and can be removed more easily. And with the glass plate, it is not possible to continue printing after a power failure because when the print bed cools down during the forced break, the print object is completely detached from it.
So I would advise everyone, but perhaps more after initial tests with the Ultrabase, to convert it to the flexplate. The steps are outlined in the manual and are easy to carry out. You cannot dismantle the bed since the magnetic mat sticks very firmly to the aluminum print bed, and both could be damaged when detaching.
During the whole test, I didn’t experience any problem with the printer. I just unpacked and started printing. This is a classic Flashforge printer after all.
The filament end detection works perfectly after activation and is switched off after prints are complete. After a print is complete, it goes on pause (see above), displays a corresponding message and allows you to access the filament change menu.
I think the Finder 3 beats the Adventurer 4 by far in terms of print quality. The latter is twice as more expensive but also from the same company. But that’s the difference between real cubes (Makerbot principle) and bed pushers in the housing and between direct and Bowden extruders.
Flashforge 3.0 vs Creality Sermoon V1
Comparing the Flashforge 3.0 to the Creality Sermoon V1 isn’t easy since the Sermoon V1 is fully housed and is available at the same price as the Finder 3. The two enclosed printers do not sacrifice print quality. However, the Flashforge has a larger installation space and is more stable. So, I would see the Creality more as a device suitable for families and children and the Flashforge as an entry into the world of hassle-free, more ambitious 3D printing.
The bed of the Finder 3 can be leveled easily and quickly, although manually. On the other hand, the beds of the Sermoon V1 and Adventurer 4 cannot be leveled at all. There, the bumps are only calculated using “ABL”. This means that the bottom of the print object may not really be vertical walls. This is one of the areas where the Finder 3 beats both the Sermoon V1 as well as the Adventurer 4.
The menu system is a bit different than the “big” Flashforge brothers. Still, it is just as intuitive to use and far better than all the UIs based on DWIN touch screens, e.g, Anycubic and many newer Creality printers, including the Sermoon V1. Thanks to the white background, it is also easy to read under any type of ambient light.
Flashforge’s own slicer, Flashprint, and its print function via WLAN is also good. It works without the cloud or tinkering in between. At the same time, it is easy to use and still offers many setting options. You can download the current version, which is guaranteed to be newer than the one included on the USB stick here.
The firmware s by Flashforge updates whenever necessary. When the printer is connected via WLAN, the updates are detected automatically. This is another advantage over, for example, Creality and Anycubic, which don’t detect automatic updates. The Finder 3 immediately found an update, and I installed it right away.
The significantly lower weight compared to such large devices as the Guider II(s) or the Qidi i-mate(s) is also pleasant. The same also applies for the smaller space requirement, if you are not a fan of installation space and size.
The Flashforge 3.0 is another cubed 3D printer which I highly recommend for beginners and intermediates looking to get started with printing right away.
This is an excellent entry-level printer that confidently outperforms all the competition in the price range. However, keep in mind that it is not really suitable for technical filaments that require a closed housing.
But other than that, it’s certainly a reliable workhorse that can handle even softer TPU with ease. And with “normal” filament, it delivers really nice prints, much better than the Adventurer 4 did for me.
The unit is also larger and seems more stable. Therefore, it is more suitable for longer use than the Sermoon V1.
Finally, this is definitely a meaningfully improved version of the Voxelab Aries. I’m thinking that the Voxelab Aries will eventually be phased out as the company pushes the Finder 3.0. This would be welcome as long as it does not become more expensive.