Creality Ender-3 (V2) 3D printer
I just purchased the above-named 3D printer:
After getting burned by a crappy MakerBot 3D printer years ago that I paid way too much for, I've been soured on the technology ever since -- until I've noticed people in this forum and elsewhere talking about the Ender-3. For substantially less than $300, I was able to get the printer and two full reels of PLA, including shipping from Los Angeles.
I was impressed as soon as I opened the triple-wall shipping carton. Everything was nested in custom-molded closed-cell foam. One could have dropped the carton from ten feet, and the contents would not have been damaged.
"Some assembly is required." The parts were kitted superbly, and the instructions -- albeit terse -- were clear enough to get the job done. All tools needed for assembly were included. And one extra each of a few screws were included, in case one got lost. A nice touch.
Once assembled, I was impressed again by the design and quality of construction. I relies on aluminum extrusions for rigidity, and the result is solid -- no flexing anywhere.
The only thing that was a bit trying was leveling the bed. This is something you need supreme patience to perform, but it's worth getting right.
Next was a trial print. The included micro-SD card comes with two sample files: a cat and a dog. So I decided to print both. Each came out with superb detail and a smooth finish. The print quality exceeded anything I've ever seen from a 3D printer. And the printing was whisper quiet: zero stepper noise!
The next thing was to get a "slicer" program, so I could print my own 3D designs from STL files. (I use RhinoCAD for 3D design.) A web search indicated that I should steer my attention toward Ultimaker's free Cura program, which has presets for the Ender-3:
This program is very simple to use. To test it, I tried printing the lens snorkel that I designed for the Parallax ColorPAL. This is where things went a little south: it wouldn't stay stuck to the build platform, due to its minuscule Z=0 surface area. A web search suggested adding a "brim" to the slice, which adds more surface area to stay stuck. That worked, and the brim was easily removed post-build.
Here's a photo of the three objects I've printed so far that illustrates the print quality:
In short, I can't say enough good things about this purchase. In fact I'm astonished that such a quality piece of equipment can be had so inexpensively. If you're looking to buy a 3D printer, this one is definitely worth a look -- at even twice the price!