Sintermask FabbsterG in Practice Test

The FabbsterG 3D printer is almost a finished product. He passed the test solidly, but caused high follow-up costs.

The 3D printer Fabbster is available in various versions: as a kit for 1129 euros and as a ready-to-use device for 1898 euros – each EIA. The road prices are among them. For this purpose, the German manufacturer Sintermask offers a variant as Fabbster for Makers for 349 euros: In comparison to the classic FabbsterG control plate, power supply, extruder and the printer software Netfabb is missing. The variant is intended for advanced but cost-conscious hobbyists, who bring so much know-how that they can get the missing parts according to taste and incorporate. Sintermask offers a suitable extruder for around 150 euros. However, it differs from the original Fabbster design by processing round consumables. For the printer software Netfabb then again 240 euros are added.

In this test we put the version of the FabbsterG on the sample, the sinter mask as the finished product. However, this is not a fully assembled 3D printer in the classical sense, which you unpack, switch on and then print. You must also assemble this Fabbster before commissioning. However, you do not need any special prior knowledge. But craftsmanship can not hurt.

Assembly of the FabbsterG

The essentials when assembling the fab is the instructions. Our test device has a printed version for the hardware installation. The guide is also available on the Wiki for 3D printers under http://wiki.fabbster.com . Ever is the focal point, because here are also descriptions of software and tutorials to help you learn how to change the print material, make the print settings or operate the FabbsterG without PC. If anything should be found, contact the fabbster support at our site.

In the delivery condition, the FabbsterG is delivered in two parts in the carton. The upper linkage – called in the instructions portal on which the extruder is mounted, we must first erect and fix to the base frame with screws. This works well because the manufacturer shall provide to package all the necessary tools and screws in. Then we mount the E-Box, which contains the electronics, attach the material magazine and populate it with the consumables. Thanks to the good instructions, the hardware installation is not a witchcraft, but after about half an hour mastered.

 

Material of plastic: Stick of plastic 

With the material the FabbsterG goes its own way. Instead of plastic thread, which is wound on rollers, the 3D printer uses LikeSticks – they are stacked on top of each other in a magazine. These like sticks are available in pack sizes of 200 grams. One package costs 16 euros. The rods are not round as usual filament, but angular and with lateral profiling provided. At one end is a hole, at the other a hook. In order to come as a chain to the pressure nozzle, the individual sticks have to be hooked. This is ensured by the material magazine – provided it is filled properly. It is attached to the side of the FabbsterG. The rods must be inserted with the hook downwards and must be gripped by the guide spring.

Now it is also necessary to bring the material to the nozzle. Once again, the wiki helps: Each team is tested for functionality at the factory. Therefore, some plastic also depends on the nozzle. We fill the transparent plastic tube with connected rods so that the stick can be hooked to the extruder. Then we connect the sticks in the hose with the magazine. This means that the FabbsterG is ready for operation.

Software Netfabb Engine for Fabbster

What the 3D printer now need is the right software . Sintermask equips the FabbsterG with Netfabb Engine for Fabbster. On the e-box stand the serial number and a number of letters, with which we release the software. Source is again the fabbster Wiki . The software is extremely versatile for a 3D printer tool: it allows 3D templates not only to be provided with print settings, but also to be optimized. For example, we can check our template before printing for errors and eliminate them. The tool checks the surface texture of our object and closes any holes. This will save you annoying misprints. In addition, a component library is stored, with which we can continue to work in the program. You can choose items from “Design”, “Mathematical” or “Primitive”, ranging from cylinders to screws and vases. To a certain extent, Netfabb for Fabbster assumes tasks that you could otherwise only solve with a CAD program – this is absolutely unusual.

Many settings are also available for 3D printing: For example, several different types can be selected for auxiliary platforms (raft) and support structures. We recommend that you use the wiki workshops to familiarize yourself with the wording and operation of Netfabb. The software uses .fab a proprietary file format computed objects. They can, however, also be stored as BGC (binary G code). After some training to netfabb out to be a full product range for 3D printing – both originals and for printing.

Commissioning of the 3D printer FabbsterG

The connection of computers and 3D printers running over USB . If the cable is plugged in and the fabter is switched on, we click on “connect” in Netfabb under “USB control”. Now the device driver should install itself automatically, but he does not in any case – with us also not. To do this, we have to download extra drivers, which are located in the Wiki, and postpone them in admin mode. If we connect again, the drivers are installed in the background. The drivers are available from Windows XP to Windows 8 and Mac OS.

 

When the connection is established, a window with start-up tests for the fab screen appears in nine steps. They range from firmware check via SD card test to the first print.Step 7 calibrates the platform. The 3D printer drives several locations on the construction platform. The correct height can be adjusted by software. As with other 3D printers, the FabbsterG also uses a folded sheet of paper as an aid to precisely define the distance between the construction platform and the nozzle. In the test, we have to start the procedure several times, because it often breaks because of time overshoot.After so much patience the Fabbster offers us three motifs for the first Probedruck: a vase, a sculpture or a male. We choose the latter object and hold it in the hands after a good 1:18 hours.

Printing process at the FabbsterG

Because Netfabb separates the two areas – template optimization and actual print settings – it is not done with opening a 3D template. For printing, we have to move this from “Component” to “FabbsterG”. Only then can the pressure settings be made. Here the sticks can be defined according to the plastic type (ABS or PLA), the resolution can be set and accessories such as printing with auxiliary constructions (support) can be defined. If everything is set up, the program calculates the “toolpath”, ie it generates the G code, that is, the movement information for the printer, including material expenditure and number of layers. In the test this takes for our small sample 1:05 minutes – this is comparatively slow. The actual printing process can only be solved by clicking on “Print”.

Now Netfabb sends the code to the printer, which stores it on the SD card. The software gives us a prognosis as to how long the pressure will last. In the test, it turns out that the prediction is never right. The printing process has lasted longer than expected. So the software promises us that our small cream in standard resolution after about 35 minutes is to be ready. In truth, we stop 53 minutes. Once the printing process has been initiated, the building platform is heated to about 75 degrees Celsius with ABS and the nozzle is heated to 260 degrees Celsius. The FabbsterG now moves to the starting position. He does this both on the device and on the screen in the software. The movements on the screen are quite exactly the same as those of the printer.

Print quality and speed of the fab

In the test, we use the predefined pressure profiles for ABS plastic. The FabbsterG achieves a comparatively high print quality even in normal mode (standard). Only on the inside of our test object are there some unclean spots that look like scratches. If we choose “Superfine” as resolution, these are gone. The stand of our small object is smooth and adheres well to the construction platform. This makes the FabbsterG also suitable for objects that stand on small feet such as a figure. We can save the final item in the test. The objects are printed cleanly. But if we use aids such as a raft, we will not get around cleaning. The quicker the pressure is, the more easily the excess plastic can be removed.

For the good print quality, we have to invest in the test period, because the FabbsterG is not in a hurry to build objects. If the already mentioned 53 minutes for the Sahnette still correspond to an average time value, passed for thatelbe object in the highest resolution defeated 3:14 hours – an above-average long time. However, the FabbsterG can operate unattended, provided the material magazine is sufficiently filled.

Printing with the FabbsterG – an expensive pleasure

The Like Material Sticks of the FabbsterG are available in pack sizes of 200 grams. Our small test object weighs 10 grams. Thus we come to an object price of 80 cents for the mini-vessel. That is very expensive. At the manufacturer, you pay a preferential price of 300 euros if you purchase 25 packs. Even with this high decrease, we get 60 cents at a high price for the test object. The FabbsterG is therefore extremely expensive in the follow-up costs. Since it consoles quite a bit, if the electricity consumption remains within the framework. After all, the 3D printer is switched off to 0.0 watts and thus separates cleanly from the power supply.

Conclusion – durable 3D printer with high follow-up costs

The Sintermask FabbsterG is not a classic finished product. You must first assemble the 3D printer before it is ready for use. Thanks to a detailed instruction and already pre-assembled units, however, the construction is not a witchcraft and relatively quickly done. Then you get a flexible 3D printer. It provides clean printer results and brings with Netfabb a versatile printer software.

The material supply with interlocked plastic sticks is a very own solution. In the test, we find the loading of the magazine somewhat cumbersome and prone to handling. Because a spring provides the necessary pressure on the rods to hook them into each other at the right moment. If it jumps out, the magazine can no longer be used. This is not exactly solved. At the same time, the sticks are quite fast when you want to create larger objects. This affects the unattended printing, which the 3D printer otherwise easily mastered. And the most important thing is that the stick solution is too expensive for the follow-up costs of the FabbsterG. Even small objects can only be produced with the proprietary material only costly. Sintermask is an interesting alternative to this: The company offers an alternative extruder that can process round and thus conventional roll filaments.

Sintermask FabbsterG

printing process

Melting layer

Minimum thickness (in mm)

0.05

filament

rod

Diameter of the nozzle (in mm)

0.4

Dimensions ready for operation (W x D x H)

630 x 512 x 518 mm

dealer

Fabbster, www.fabbster.de

Print quality

Test object in standard quality

Good

Test object in the highest quality

Very good, smooth surface

Pressure table adjustment

exactly

Print quality with support

Good

speed

Test object in normal quality (in hours)

0:53

Test object in the highest quality (in hours)

3:14

Heating to operating temperature (in minutes)

2:57

equipment

Maximum object size (W x D x H in mm)

230 x 230 x 210

supported printing materials

ABS, PLA, Wood, Flex

Platform heatable

Yes

Display / memory card slot

no Yes

connection

USB 2.0

LED lighting

No

Supported Operating Systems

Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, Mac OS

Community / Address

– / –

Weight printer (ready for use)

9.98 kg

handling

software

Netfabb Engine for Fabbster

evaluation software

A lot of setting options

file formats

STL, G code, FAB, OBJ, PlY, 3DS

Display: language / menu structure

– / –

Construction Printer: Installation / Material Coverage

Somewhat awkward / awkward

Printing: Stability printer

stable

unattended printing

Yes

consumption

Power consumption (operation, rest, off in watts)

184 / 25.8 / 25.5

Printing material (price per kg)

80 euros

Price test object

0.80 euros

extra

Also as a kit

price

1898 euros