The Flashforge Finder 3D printer entered the market in September 2015. While it is marketed as an easy-to-use 3D printer, this little machine has some unique features. Therefore, we wouldn’t recommend it for absolute beginners. Read our Flashforge Finder 3D printer review to find out why.
The Flashforger Finder 3D printer is somewhat easy to set up if you are an intermediate or an expert maker. However, if you are a first-time user, building this printer can be somewhat challenging.
Flashforge Finder 3D Printer Review
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What should expect in your package when your order this printer? Here’s what is in the box:
- One Flashforge Finder printer
- A power cable
- USB cable
- Quick Start Guide
- 3 Allen wrenches
- 1 screw driver
- 1 spool of PLA filament to start you off
- A filament guide tube for directing the filament from the spool to the extruder.
This 3D printer is quite affordable (check current price), and a good budget option for people with some theoretical experience in 3D printing.
This printer is made of brightly colored plastic, with a square body that has rounded edges and corners. Its build volume is 140 x 140 x 140 mm. The print bed is a sliding tray that is easy to insert and remove.
While the printer has an open framed body, it feels sturdy and looks very compact.
The Flashforge Finder 3D printer is a fused filament fabrication (FFF) printer. Therefore, it easy to use. The printer only uses one type of filament (1.75mm PLA). Therefore, there is no need of getting a heated print bed, which is normally required for more complex materials like ABS.
However, since the Flashforge Finder only works with PLA, there is a big limit to what you can print with it.
The Flashforge printer has a Wi-Fi connectivity port. Therefore, you can manage the printer even over your local network.
Flashforge Finder Features
The Flashforge Finder is a single extrusion machine. that weighs 20kg and measures 420 x 420 x 420 mm (16.5 x 16.5 x 16.5 in). Both the frame and the body are made of plastic alloy.
This machine uses FlashPrint for both the Software & Firmware and supports multiple operating systems (Mac OS X, Windows 7/ 8 / Vista).
The printer accepts both STL, and OBJ file types, which can be transferred to it through a USB Stick, USB cable, or Wi-Fi.
The printer’s AC input is 115-230 V, 50-60 Hz, 150 W and supported languages are Chinese and English..
- Build Volume :140 x 140 x 140 mm (5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 in)
- Layer Resolution: 100~500 microns (0.0039~0.019 in)
- Positioning Precision: XY: 11 microns (0.0004 in), Z: 2.5 microns (0.0001 in)
- Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm (0.069 in)
- Nozzle Diameter: 0.4 mm (0.015 in)
- Printing Technology: FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication)
The Flashforge Finder is almost an out of the box ready-to-use printer. Very little setup for it is required.
The printer comes with a USB stick that contains a user guide on basic preparation for printing. After unboxing the printer, switch it on.
Now that your printer is on, you need to level the build plate so that your objects will be printed on a perfectly flat surface.
This process is pretty simple.
First, select the ‘leveling’ icon on the printer’s touchscreen interface. The printer will instruct you to tighten down all the three wingnut adjusters on the underside of the print platform. The extruder will then use a retractable sensor to move to one of the corners on top of an adjuster from where it will test the distance between the sensor and the platform.
Next, the interface will instruct you to unwind the corresponding wingnut. This will raise the platform at the particular spot, until you hear a continuous beep. The other two adjusters will follow the same process.
Thirdly, load the filament spool into the closed vertical compartment located at the top back of the printer (capable of sliding). This spool compartment accommodates spools of only a specific height and diameter. Therefore, you are limited to the type of filament material you can use for this printer. The filament guide tube will then direct the filament to the top of the extruder.
After loading the filament, wait for the extruder to heat up to the temperatures as per the Quick Start guide instructions. After this, push down the spring-loaded tab that is on the side of the extruder, and then use moderate force to pull it out. You might find this to be difficult, and the guide limits the amount of force you should use.
As you can probably see, this is a pretty easy setup, especially if you compare it to the steps needed for other printers. In fact, after about one and a half hours you will have your very first print item in front of your eyes.
The slicer software that Flashforge uses to prepare its STL files is called a FlashPrint. The software is bundled in the USB stick that the printer comes with. You can also download it for free here.
During the printing process, you can view your design from any distance or angle, either automatically or manually. FlasPrint also has functions for rotating the object in any direction, scaling the object, moving it, and adding supports. After you are satisfied with the possible outcome, click on the ‘print’ icon.
There are additional options that pop up on one window after you click on ‘print’. The options are for setting the print resolution, rafts, infill, speed and temperature. Click on ‘ok’ and choose a location for saving your model (now in GCode). You can then transfer this model using a USB cable or stick, or via Wi-Fi connection.
The printer produces high quality prints. Here are some samples we got:
Our first test print was the Snake.stl. example design that comes with the FlashPrint slicer.
Compared to other printers we have tested before, the Flashforge Finder is amazingly quiet during operation. However, our very first disappointment came when the first layer separated from the print platform. After this unexpected outcome, we attempted to recalibrate the printer.
We then decided to print our usual 3DBenchy test object. To enhance first layer adhesion, we decided to print this on top of a raft. Unfortunately, this also started out well but the same thing happened when the print was just about halfway through.
So we finally attempted something that other printer reviewers have used before, hairspray! We applied this to the print platform prior to printing, since we were told that it helps the first layer to stick well to the surface. And Voila! This actually worked. Our 3DBenchy print came out almost perfect and the only post-processing that we did was for removing the raft that we had printed on.
According to the manufacturer, this printer is capable of transferring files through a Wi-Fi connection. However, we were unable to create a Wi-Fi connection between Flashforge Finder and our computer. Repeated tries, even with the computer showing ‘limited connection’ and the Finder interface showing ‘receiving file’ were futile.
I tried printing the file from the printer interface. However, when I selected the file, the printer showed that the object had been printed even though this wasn’t the case. According to the user guide, the solution for this was supposed to enter the printer’s IP address into my browser bar, and from then it should allow me to change the Wi-Fi settings.
However, I found out that the menu that was available was not the same as the image on Finder’s user guide. This means that it had since been updated. It, therefore, follows that the settings that I was to change had been scrubbed from the new menu. So, after thoroughly confirming that it was impossible for me to transfer the files using Wi-Fi, I finally decided to use the USB stick.
Flashforge Finder 3D Printer Review: Verdict
The Flashforge Finder 3D printer is an ideal printer for using in the classroom and at home. The printer is not only affordable but also has an intuitive user interface. It is very user friendly and produces high-quality prints. The secret to getting a successful print is to get the first layer to stick, the rest is magic.
In my opinion, the target group for this printer, beginners and kids, is a little overrated. What is described in the Quickstart Guide as a simple set-up is actually more complicated than we imagined.
What we love about the Flashforge Finder is the slide-out print bed and the quiet operation. Also, the moderate ease of build and use, the build volume, and the admirable prints it produces make me rate this 3D printer highly. So yes, I would definitely recommend this printer for any 3D printing enthusiast.
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