My final users Review of the Duplicator 4

It’s been two years since I purchased my Duplicator 4 with an Alumni grant given to me from my former university. I did a 20 mins presentation which got me the cash.  I then had major hip surgery and after the 2nd week of recovery ordered the 3D printer.  All a bit of a turning point in my life. Now it’s time to retire the Duplicator 4 and write my final review of this machine.

Being a straight out copy of Makebot’s Replicator 2, I consider this machine among the first generation of out of the box accessible desktop 3D printers.  However, it’s become clear over the last number of years why in my opinion the 3D printing revolution did not reach past the early adopter phase.  Unless you are technically minded and prepared to undergo a hard learning curve, this generation of machines are going to be trouble.

My Duplicator 4. Packed away into retirement!

Going back over all my former blog posts you can see that it is possible to make this machine work well and get good prints. After tweaking, upgrading firmware and a number of little tricks you can get some great results. However, the issue has always been reliability. This is such an issue that I ended up spending more time fixing the Duplicator 4 and throwing out failed prints than I was printing. As a product designer that uses this for prototyping, this is not just as a toy for me. Yet much time and money was lost due to this constant need for repairs and adjustments, and this does not even take into consideration the further costs of ordering spare parts when things would wear out or burn up. Frankly it’s just too stressful.  So it’s time to pack it away. Maybe one day I will just replace the whole extruder block and experiment again, but for now, into storage it goes.

I will say, I learned so very much about 3D Printing using the Duplicator 4. From printing techniques, program settings, and electronic wiring. I have lost count of how many times I have disassembled and reassembled the extruder block, and how many times I have had the Duplicator 4 on it side so I can change components on the motherboard, to then celebrate when it suddenly works great again. Still then to become again frustrated a week or two, or even an hour or two later when something goes wrong yet again.  I finally hit the wall this week, when after again changing both the heater block and the thermocouple, and cleaning off 3 sets of burned carbonised ceramic wrap’s still my prints would burn and fail at the same point 2 hours in. I came to realise that I need a new machine. One that works consistently and reliably. I don’t mind an occasional failed print, and a tweak here and there, but this needs to be the exception and not the rule.  As a professional it needs to work. I have deadlines!

Now Wanhao is releasing the Duplicator 6, which seems to be a Wanhao version of a cross between the Ultimaker (a machine I’ve had my eye on for a good time) and the Zortrax M200 (which I know little about) at the lower budget you can expect from Wanhao.

Sam of Wanhao UK stated “My initial impression was good. The whole machine is well designed with lots of neat touches which make the machine look smarter than the D4. We printed 3 long prints and straight away each was nearly perfect, and that was pretty much from taking the machine out of the box. The finish on the prints was very good, very smooth and circles were perfectly circular. I am going to purchase one for myself when we can finally get hold of them.”

Wanhao 6
Let’s hope it lives up to its claims!

Their website also says “This latest Machine has been designed to provide a super quality prints along with being ultra reliable, neat, east to use and very hard working”

So basically just what I need. Okay, it’s a single extruder, but frankly I never got the Duplicator 4 working for long enough to really get experimenting with good dual extrusion anyway. The print bed is a little smaller at 200x200x200mm. However, Wanhao seem to like to release upgrade parts, so maybe we will get some extra along the way?

This blog will now be moving onto the Duplicator 6 for reviews and feedback from myself.   If it works well you will know from me.  And trust me, if it does not you really will know about it!

I shall of course, share with you all my technical findings, tip and tricks, here and on my facebook page!

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Thanks for joining me on this journey. I look forwards to new travels!
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