Sep 25, 2017
Fusion3 F400 3D Printer Review – Ep 41
This week I will do a review of one of my 3D printers. The printer is the F400 from Fusion3. Fusion3 is a relatively new and small company based out of NC. The F400 was my 2nd 3D printer I purchased.
My first printer was a Cube3 from 3D systems. That machine was so bad that 3D Systems does not even sell it anymore, but it did teach me the basic of FDM printing. I consider the F400 my first “real” 3D printer.
Before I get into what I like and don’t like about it, I will first explain a little about this machine and why I decided to purchase.
I purchased this machine is August 2016, price was approximately $5000, I think just a little under. The machine is a FDM type printer and has a build volume of 14” by 14” by 12.6” tall. At the time of purchase, I really needed a machine that could make big parts and this seemed to be the best one I could find under $10,000.
So, what do a like? Here is my list
1. It is a big machine, and that’s crucial for my business. I get inventors who come to me all the time with product ideas in the 8-12” range and most FDM printers are not quite big enough.
2. It is FAST. I run this machine all the time at 6000mm/min, and never really have issues. Of course, that is material dependent (tip: don’t try running flexible filament that fast)
3. It can run any material up to 300C glass transition temperature (i.e. melting temp). This means I can run basically any common or exotic material.
4. It has an enclosed build chamber. This is extremely important if you use ABS filament. One of my other FDM machines is an Ulitmaker2+ extended (let’s call it the UM2). While I like that machine and use it often, I have found that I can only run very small parts in ABS on it. Why is that? Well ABS plastic tends to warp a lot. The reason is because it shrinks a lot as it cools. Therefore, you need an very hot (100C) environment the entire time it is printing, or some areas of the part will cool before other areas. If that happens, the parts will often crack. So I can get away with small parts on the UM2 because it is near the bed, but a tall part will not be near the bed, which is kept hot at a constant 100C. On the F400, since it is fully enclosed, the heat is maintained throughout the entire part.
5. Lastly, the customer service is awesome. I heard it was good before I ever bought from the, and I knew I needed that because if you buy a 3D printer, you have a lot to learn to get it right.
What don’t I like? Not much but I had one MAJOR issue at the start that I can’t leave out.
This story goes way back to August 2016. The first 3 months I had the machine, I didn’t have a lot of issues. But then things changed.
A lot of the issues had to do with clogged nozzles and jams. One thing that is important with 3D printing is that the bed is very level and the gap between the nozzle and the bed (called the Z gap) is just right. I just kept having problems, no matter how many times I went through both the level and Z gap process. It was really confusing and both me and the support guys couldn’t really figure it out.
I even went as far as renting a van, packing the machine into it, and driving 2 hours north to Greensboro for them to troubleshoot it right there. That took basically an entire day and cost me a few hundred dollars to rent the van.
Not a week after I got back home, it started acting up again. A month later, they agreed to completely swap out the machine for me. I just paid the shipping on the new one. I want to say this was around December 2016.
For the new few months, I would still have intermittent issues with the new machine. I was extremely frustrated and I estimate I spent 200+ hours of my time in total troubleshooting it.
I did ultimately get everything to work, and the machine has been nearly flawless the last 5 months. What I think did it was the light sensor. The light sensor is on the moving hot end and it basically live calibrates the level of the bed as it prints. I think this part was the culprit the entire time I was having problems, possibly with both machines. It is ironic that I basically tried everything else that support and I could think of before finally replacing this part. Ever since I replaced the light sensor, I really haven’t had any issues.
That wraps up my review of the Fusion F400. In summary, I think it is a great machine, albeit a little pricey compared to other FDM printers. I think also a lesson learned here, is that 3D printing is tricky and sometimes you will just get unlucky and have an issue like this and try all the wrong things before you finally try the right thing.