The Printrbot Simple 3D printer (2013 version) is a great kit that you can assemble yourself. It consists of an open platform, a frame constructed of machined aluminum and laser-cut birch wood.
This 3D printer fabricates objects using PLA thermoplastic filament and has a vertical resolution of 100 microns (0.01mm).
3D Printing PrimerIf you are new to 3D printing, get up to speed before reading my reviews. I have also created a 3D Printer Buyers Guide so you can easily compare all the different models and choose the right one depending on your budget and requirements.
Update! New Version Released!
My Printrbot Simple 3D Printer Kit Review (2013 Version)
This is a 3D printer kit that you need to assemble yourself, which can be a lot of fun if you have a few hours to put it together. If you are not prepared to do that… then you are going to have a bad time!
If you do not like building kits, you purchase the pre-assembled version of this printer instead.
The printer has a build volume of 4 x 4 x 4 inches/102 x 102 x 102 mm (H x W x D), which is quite reasonable for such an inexpensive 3D printer.
The extruder is direct drive with a cooling fan and an Ubis hot end that accepts 1.75mm PLA filament.
The printer is controlled through the provided micro USB cable using G-code numerical control instructions. Alternatively, you can use the SD memory card slot and memory cards for operation without a connection to a computer. It can be used with the popular 3D printer management software packages.
Decent quality parts
A nice touch are the machined aluminum axis rods with linear bearings. The injection molded gears help ensure precise movement. The stepper motors are good quality and the printer comes with 0.5 lb of PLA filament which will allow you to print your first few 3D models.
This is quite an amazing little kit. The entire printer is held together using tiny hex nuts & bolts, zip ties, wood joints and super glue. It's really cool how it all hangs together and what this printer is capable of.
For an extra $99, you can also purchase the Printrbot Simple XL Upgrade Kit (read my review). The upgrade kit will increase the build volume to maximum dimensions of 7.28 x 3.9 x 6.5 inches / 185 / 100 / 165 mm (H x W x D). This upgrade is well worth it since you will be able to print some of the larger objects from Thingiverse like a Dragon Castle.
The XL Upgrade Kit definitely does work with both the 2013 and the new 2014 version of this printer.
After installing this kit I was able to print a number of the objects that I haven't been able to print before.
It took me about an hour to install the kit on my Printrbot Simple and I was also taking my time. Printrbot provides a good video on how to put a kit together. As a bonus you also get a spool which enables you to organize your PLA and make sure that you don't have any PLA tangles.
Build time 2 – 8 hrs
Build time for me was around 8 hours, whilst I watched TV and had to undo / redo several assemblies because I made a few errors. If I had to build another kit, it should take less than 2 hours. The kit does include a few extra pieces, so you will have a few nuts and bolts left over which may come in handy later.
Printrbot Simple 3D Printer Kit Gallery
Printrbot Simple 3D Printer Kit Unboxing
Here's what you get in the kit. As you can see there are quite a few bits and pieces to assemble. Remember, you can also purchase the pre-assembled version of this printer if you do not like building kits.
Build instructions could be better
The Printrbot instructions are thorough, but could be better. You should definitely read through the entire instruction set before even starting so you have a good idea of the build plan. There are also helpful community comments on the Printrbot Forum and some people have added to some of the steps as well. The forum was also very helpful for tips in the assembly and in setting up the software.
The most frustrating part of the whole experience was the software. The latest version of Repetier-Host didn't work too well so I had to revert to an earlier version. This should be sorted out by the time you are reading this review.
The 3D prints that this printer creates look quite good. For the price, it's a bargain and allows someone to experiment with 3D printing at a very low price point.
Overall, this 3D printer deserves 5 stars. My kit came with all required parts (nothing missing) and also had some spare parts left over (screws, nuts etc).
All the main chassis materials are good quality and the laminate wood was laser cut. The hardware and motors are very good quality.
The build was quite easy and everything fit together nicely since all the parts are precision made. Very impressive. Even the screw holes in the wood are pre-tapped and none stripped out when inserting the screws. Once assembled, the printer is held together tightly.
The software was a bit of a hassle and took a while to figure out. But once I calibrated the machine, it worked great.
If you like building kits and have a small budget, you will immensely enjoy the Printrbot Simple 3D printer. If you do not like building kits, tinkering and having the calibrate the machine occasionally, do not buy this printer kit since it will frustrate you.
- Fabricates objects from G-code instructions using PLA thermoplastic filament
- Open platform for ease of access with machined aluminum and laser-cut birch wood frame construction
- Builds objects to maximum dimensions of 4 x 4 x 4 inches/102 x 102 x 102 mm (H x W x D)
- Vertical (Z-axis) resolution of 100 microns (0.10 mm)
- Shipped as a kit that requires assembly
- Printing material: PLA
- Vertical (Z-axis) resolution: 100 microns (0.10 mm)
- Build speed: 80-100mm/min
- Build volume: 4 x 4 x 4 inches/102 x 102 x 102 mm (H x W x D)
- Printer weight: 5.25 lb (2.38 kg)
- Printer size: 7 x 8 x 9 inches (H x W x D)
- Input format: G-code
- Input method: Micro USB cable (included) or SD memory card (sold separately)
- Printrbot Simple 3D Printer Kit (unassembled)
- 12v 6A laptop style power supply
- Power cord
- USB cable
- 0.5 lb. spool of 1.75mm PLA plastic filament