Alfawise U30 3D Printer Review : Ender-3 killer a 160€
Dear followers of WindowsBlogItalia, hi to all by Adriano Alfaro. Little sister of the excellent Alfawise U20 and direct competitor of the Creality Ender-3, the Alfawise U30 is currently the best 3D printer medium in size under 200 €. This is not a sponsored review: for a series of reasons we’re going to motivate, the Alfawise U30 has an excellent quality/price ratio that makes it a real deal without giving up minimally to the quality and the most modern functions. Before the review, we remind you that in the description you will find all the links to the upgrades, the printed models, etc.
For sale from the end of November 2018, the Alfawise U30 falls into the category Prusa-style 3D printer kits, has an avarage print volume and is built with very good materials. Includes the most recent technologies, except the auto-leveling probe, and is designed to be easily fixed with universal spare parts that can be purchased for little price online. Before starting with the review, here are some technical specifications: Print volume – 23.5 x 23.5 x 25 cm Heated bed – More than 100° C Nozzle – 0.4 mm, max temperature 250° C Materials – PLA, ABS, PET, PETG, ASA, flexible, etc. Color touch display – 2.8″ Power loss resume Restart printing if the filament ends Integrated electronics Why does it cost so little? Alfawise is a brand owned by GearBest, the big Chinese online store.
Alfawise produces a wide range of technological products, including 3D printers, which – as you noted – can not be purchased from others e-commerce (unlike Creality, TEVO and other brands). It follows that GearBest, producing and selling his own products, can offer them for a low price. As manufacturer and reseller of Alfawise 3D printers, GearBest is doing everything to guarantee users the best support, as well as cutting-edge features and superb quality.
GearBest PRs have created an official Facebook group for the Alfawise 3D printers, where anyone can talk directly with the firmware developers and with the engineers who designed the U20 and the U30. These are very open to any community feedback and release almost monthly firmware updates with fix and new features. As blogger and designer, we have received the U30 preview: after a few days, PRs have already sent us a (private) first firmware update with the latest fixes and available already before the start of sales – testifying how the work of devs is constant and very professional – unlike other brands that launch product on the market and then abandon them to themselves. Compared to the older sister U20, who arrives in two preassembled blocks, the Alfawise U30 is 50% assembled.
We find this decision winning for three reasons: New users of the world of 3D printing have the opportunity to learn better how the various components work by participating in the construction of the printer. Experienced users can have the maximum control on the assembly of parts of the 3D printer which, when preassembled in the factory, sometimes are badly mounted. Can also take advantage of it to immediately mount some upgrades (as in our case).
Shipping and related costs are reduced. In the article linked below you find our video unboxing where we show quickly how it is packaged and all the parts and the accessories of the Alfawise U30. The Alfawise U30 introduces a new concept of electronic organization: in fact is the first 3D printer with a control card, power supply and display movable as you prefer on the right or on the left of the frame, in addition to be completely integrated into it.
For example, the U20 has an electronics box separate that occupies a lot of space, while the Ender-3 does not allow you to reverse the arrangement of the components to your liking. All electrical connections are well organized and isolated, for maximum safety of inexperienced users too. Who comes from an Anet A8 will remember the Mosfet, an electronic device that allows you to lighten the current load directed to the heated plate and passing through the motherboard: this is integrated and does not require any modification.
There are many design solutions that make us appreciate this 3D printer so much, but we want to mention some in particular: The printing bed is heatable and made of aluminum, equipped with a nice beveled glass and with on one side a Buildtek style surface. The adhesion of the prints to this material It’s incredible, we never had to print with the bed at temperatures above 35° C. If instead you preferred to print on glass + hair spray (with temperature around 60° C), all you need to do is remove the clips, turn it and spray it.
There is the possibility to restart printing if the current is missing or if the filament ends, that work perfectly and they are worth all 160 € of this printer. The extruder is not aluminum like on the U20, but in plastic; at the beginning we were skeptical, but it turned out just as much good. It also has very tight tolerances and this is why it is also suitable for printing flexible materials without modifications.
The color touch display allows very quick and intuitive interaction: the file manager allows you to browse the folders, there is an assistant to the bed leveling, quick buttons to pre-heat for PLA, ABS, etc., maximum control on the movement and on the advanced settings of the firmware (to calibrate the steps/mm, for example). To someone, the fact that it has only one stepper motor for the Z axis might seem penalizing.
We are sincere, after tightening the eccentric nuts, the X axis is solid like a rock (like every other component of the printer). The cooling fan of the extruded material is very powerful and is all to the advantage of print quality. The fact that it is medium to small in size brings two main advantages: the Bowden tube is very short and the retraction is affected in a positive way; then the print bed is small and light, and the axis of the frame are relatively short, features that reduce noticeably deformations during movements.
These two aspects allow you to print at high speeds without sacrificing quality and without the ghosting defects. Although as sold it is already able to make perfect 3D prints, it’s possible to improve the Alfawise U30 even more with small optional upgrades. First of all you will have to update the firmware to the version with the last fixes; link in the video description.
The knobs will make your life easier when levelling the print bed, you can download the model from Thingiverse; caution, because for the knob at the bottom left you will have to print the smaller version, the big impact on the Y axis stepper motor. The insulating cotton is very recommended both below the print bed that around to the heated extruder block, as it not only allows you to hold more stable temperatures, but also to reach them higher and consume less current, fatiguing minus the control card. The Alfawise U30 suffers from the “salmon skin” effect, so we suggest you install of TL-smoothers to eliminate the problem.
We have published a video tutorial to install them, the link is in the video description. The guide for the filament we have designed is essential not to make it dirty, ruining the prints. The knob to manually extrude the filament is certainly among the upgrades that most facilitate the loading and replacement experience of the filament.
It is applied directly on the axis of the extruder, by pressure-fit. In addition to the various upgrades, we have printed 3D also some models with various characteristics to properly test the capabilities of the Alfawise U30. We used Simplify3D 4.0.0 as a slicer for most models and only for the final test the newest version 4.1.1, as a material we used PLA of various brands.
The bust was our first print (0.14mm layer): the “salmon effect” is very eviden. So we installed TL-smoothers and we printed it again with the same Gcode achieving a perfect result, as expected. We then printed the red 3D Benchy (0.2mm layer) and there was an interruption of current and therefore of the print: it remained a sign, but it is in the norm. The 3D Benchy magenta, on the other hand, is absolute perfection. There is no “salmon skin” effect. This model, printed with layers of 0.14mm, is composed of two parts glued together.
Being very much complex, we made use of supports that we then cleaned up carefully. Inside it will not be perfect, but it’s normal, while the external finish is impeccable and full of details. This other model required four printing sessions: three for the brain and one for the skull. Despite being printed with layers of 0.24mm, layers are practically invisible except that at half height of the skull when we have changed filament roll (since the first was ending). The various parts of the brain, on the other hand, tested the multiple pieces at once printing skills, and then retraction – one of the points of strength of the U30.
As we approach Christmas, we have printed these gifts. They are puzzle reindeer which are printed in just over half an hour, printing at about 100mm/s. She is without a doubt one of the models we prefer and that includes a very difficult detail to print: the arrow shaft on the shoulder. On this occasion we printed it at 200% scale and with 0.14mm layer, and think that on the U20 we printed it successfully at 100% scale, which is half of this model.
Had the supports under the chin/nose and under the troup, removed without problems and without leaving signs. With better slicing tuning, we are sure, we would have obtained better results in the area of the arrows. Finally, with the new Simplify3D 4.1.1, we printed a quality test, passed with success except that for the overhang.
Considering that it was the first time we tried this version of the slicer and with some tweaks to parameters could still be improved, it is necessary to admit that all the details were printed very well. The two are an exception: arcs: the highest broke during printing immediately afterwards having exceeded the 60° inclination, therefore we could not finish printing it because we manually stopped the print. With 0.2mm layers, 60° is already a very good result; by reducing the thickness of the layers or by increasing the diameter of the nozzle we can easily achive 70 or even 75 degrees of overhang.
The Alfawise U30 is located in the same market segment of the Ender-3, both for price and for print volume. From the comparison, the U30 comes out as the winner for a full list of reasons: It has a color touch display, which the Ender-3 has not. It has the filament sensor, which the Ender-3 has not. It has a more powerful cooling fan. It has reversible electronics. Receive frequent firmware updates. The developers of the U30 are in touch with the community.
On the other hand, the Ender-3 has two or three point of strengths: It is on sale for longer and online can be found more upgrades and accessories to print. It does not require TL-smoothers. The project and the firmware are open-source, but this only interests geeks. In the video description there is a video comparison between the print quality of the U30 and the Ender-3. Be it your first 3D printer, the replacement of an Anet A8 or some other old printer which has now made its time, the 3D printer Alfawise U30, for a price lower than 200€, will have no rival for the months to come.
The print quality is superb, requires just a few upgrades, it can print practically all the materials, it has almost all the most recent functions: it really only miss the auto-leveling sensor and we do not exclude that developers can also add the support this accessory. Do you have any questions? Think about buying a U30 soon? Let us know below, in the comments space. Greetings from Adriano Alfaro.