Review of the UP! 3D Printer

Shopping for a 3D printer? Take a look at the UP!.

We mentioned the UP! 3D printer on this blog about a month ago when they were first released, but at that time very little information was available from people who had actually used one. Fortunately for the rest of us, one of our loyal readers, Whystler, was brave enough to order one. He tried it out and has generously shared the story of his experiences. Read it after the jump.

The complete story of Whystler’s adventure with the UP! printer is below (along with more pictures). It’s well worth the read, but I’ve also chosen a few key points.

Summary:

  • It’s a real 3D printer. The company website may look a little sketchy, but the printer exists and it really works. (yay!)
  • It’s basically plug-and-play with setup taking less than an hour.
  • It prints in 0.2-0.4mm layers depending on the desired detail and speed.
  • The detail is at least as good as a well-tuned Makerbot or Reprap, but don’t expect the perfectly smooth surface of a really high-end printer.
  • Read the entire manual before setting up the printer.
  • The PP3DP is selling the UP! for $1500 for the first 100 sold, then the price goes up to $3000. Here’s a pricing guide for some DIY printers. (Edit: Regardless of how many have been sold, the price will go up to $3000 at the end of September.)

And now the story of Whystler’s experience with the UP! printer:

Adventures in UP! Printing…

Flashback:

So there I was, freaking out, because I had read a blog post on Ponoko.com telling me that I could have a pre-assembled, no tinkering around, 3d Printer for $1500 from PP3dP, called the UP! Personal 3d Printer. I whizzed away to the website to have a look!

What I saw on their website was impressive, but what concerned me about the product and the company offering it took me on a roller coaster journey of western-centric bias, self-doubt, and trust-in-universe. It was, in a word, “exhilarating” from the panic filled risk of wiring the money, to the joy and exhilaration of my first, truly perfect, 3D print.

Fade to the Present:

At the moment, I can’t say enough good things about this printer. The fact that it is now sitting on my desk actually printing seems a miracle in itself. So far it’s given me more fun than a trip to Vegas, and folks I know have spent more than twice there than I have on this printer. So really, if it breaks down tomorrow, I suppose I could consider myself having broke even! (someone please do a jinx-ward dance ritual for me, because I would be heartbroken if it broke.)

The prints that this lil gem squirts out are it’s crowning glory. I have seen all kinds of things printed on high end machines from zcorp, objet, and the like. This little UP! printer on my desk prints between .2mm and .4 mm layers (depending on the detail and speed you want), rivaling the work of industrial printers that sometimes cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars even if it doesn’t have the same resolution.

All I had to do was screw in a few screws (maybe 5 or 6?), download the software, and plug in the machine. It’s amazingly simple. I was printing within an hour of it arriving on my doorstep.

It has a great support-structure system which uses the same material it uses to print (ABS filament, 1.73mm diameter). Somehow, the support material is printed thinly enough, with tenacious enough attachments, that it is quite easy, even therapeutic, to crack off your model. Sometimes needle-nose pliers and a baby chisel are useful in this process, but sometimes it’s just a matter of picking with your fingers. You know you like to pick! We all do.

So now you know that the printer is real (not a pipe dream or scam), it’s pretty much plug n play, and the prints are fabuloso! But surely, there is more to the story. Surely there are some deep dark secrets that I’m hiding (cue that weird whiny music you hear when someone on a horror movie is in trouble, but you don’t see it yet)…

Not really… nothing that crazy.

I mean, the manual could be a little better. While the English is good enough to read, some things are out of sequence. As a result, I fully recommend that you read the manual through before even touching the machine. The company does recommend this.

It’s a little noisy. Maybe this is from the fan. I should ask other owners if they also have this noise. I currently have it in a room with high ceilings so the sound is amplified in there. I am right now sitting in the next room, watching it from an open door and it’s barely audible now.

The detail is similar or better than a really well tuned Makerbot or Reprap on it’s best try with no hassle. However, before you think that it prints a smooth flawless surface, please know that it’s not like the kind of detail you can get on an industrial Objet machine. Like any artist, I roll with the punches when it comes to various media. We examine it, look at it’s benefits and limitations and then design specifically for it.

Oh did I mention that I am typing on my laptop – the same laptop I use to power the software that runs the UP! printer. Even though I am no longer connected to the printer, it is printing away happily. All of the information it needs, it sucked up from my laptop, and is now completely independent. So I am free to email, chat, do more 3d design work, or write blogs, anywhere else.

I have only had my printer for a few days. So who knows what could happen. I have no information about how well or easily the company can fix the machine if it breaks down. But so far, they have been wonderful.

If you have $1500 you can spend on something like this, I highly recommend you do it now while the printers are in 50% discount phase. Because after they have sold 100 machines, the price goes up to around $3000. I think they had a slow start because of the shock and too-good-to-not-be-a-scam thinking. But last I heard they had sold their 26th printer, and this was more than a week ago.

Yours Truly,

-Whystler

(P.S. if you like the Voodoo Box shown in the pictures, you can download the file from Thingiverse here and print it out on your Makerbot, Reprap, or UP! printer)

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22 Responses to “Review of the UP! 3D Printer”

  1. duann Says:

    WOW..

    Congrats Whystler!

    I wonder how many are left at half price?

  2. Taylor Gilbert Says:

    I tried to find something on their site about how many were left at the $1500 price point but I didn’t see anything. The only information I saw was that the offer continues until the end of September, but it also says “first 100.” Does anyone have recent information on this offer?

  3. Whystler Says:

    Hey guys,

    I have no idea exactly how many are left, but I did just now leave a message on their forum (www.pp3dp.com/forum telling them about this post. I asked them to come here and give you this information.

    -Whystler

  4. Rea the review on the new Up 3D printer Says:

    [...] The Up! 3D printer is a new member of the ever growing family of small and affordable 3D printers. Not many people have seen one in action but on there is a review on the Ponoko website. Check it out here. [...]

  5. darkhouse Says:

    Hi Taylor,

    The exact number is commercial secret :-( . Don’t worry, the price still is 1500 now.

    Even without 100 units, the price will be back to 3000 at the end of September.

    Darkhouse

  6. Madox Says:

    You’ve convinced me… Grrrr :P

  7. Josh Reuss Says:

    Thanks for sharing Whystler! Happy to hear it worked out so well.

  8. Kristen Turner Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this Whystler!

  9. Kristen Turner Says:

    Oh, and also got another email from the company. They are still offering the 50% off. And here is another review:
    http://www.linkreincarnate.com/2010/08/up-personal-portable-3d-printer-review.html

  10. Personal Portable 3D Printer « Ponoko – Blog Says:

    [...] (6 Sept 2010): According to some reviews, this printer is super awesome. CLICK HERE to read a review from one of our loyal [...]

  11. kongorilla Says:

    I’ve been following all your posts, here and on the PP3DP forum, with great interest, Whystler. It’s taking all my will-power to resist sending the $1500+P&H right now. If I was sure the PP3DP was going to be dependable for at least a few years, and the materials were easy to get and affordable, I probably wouldn’t resist the urge any longer.

    Since most of the PP3DP prints I’ve seen are of designs created with the Makerbot (and its limitations) in mind, I’m wondering what you think the PP3DP, with its unique way of printing a support system, is capable of beyond what’s been shown so far. One of the projects I have in mind involves many 2.5″ tall characters in action poses. (Picture something like traditional army men toys). How well do you think the PP3DP could handle all the overhangs and thin limbs at that scale?

    For mechanical designs, how “true” are the prints, in regards to warping, twisting, etc?

    Thanks for your coverage, Whystler.

    -k

  12. Whystler Says:

    I guess the UP! folks tried to post here, but something got stuc in moderation. At any rate, they have replied on their forum here with regards to how many printers are still available:

    http://www.pp3dp.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=40

    -Whystler

  13. Virtox Says:

    Excellent review!
    You literally took the words out of my mouth!

    Mine arrived today, and I’m really glad I just took the plunge and got one :-)

    Regarding the noise: yes it has quite a hard fan-whine!
    Also some high-pitched metal sqeaks (like something needs lube). But you can hardly hear the motors :-)

    @kongorilla:
    I only tried designs originally made for SLS and such at Shapeways. So far no problems!

    One very convoluted object, which took only 10 minutes to therapeutically peal clean.

    Two functional parts, with two 6 mm holes to house 6mm magnets. I forgot to add clearance, but it turns out this was not necessary, directly post-print the support material popped right out of the hole and the magnets fit very snugly!

  14. Whystler Says:

    Hey Kong,
    .
    I can’t see this printing D&D figures or army figurines at 2.5 inch high with enough detail that would suit your needs if you want it to have the kind of detail these figures have in rotary cast metal and plastic.
    .
    You can, however, quite easily get this kind of detail on the Objet machines that Shapeways uses for their White/Black/Transparent detail materials. You can get a little less detail from the SLS machines that make the WSF/Alumide materials they offer, but still enough to make you happy. If you want metal, they can do it too, probably at the same detail as SLS. Here is a shot of a similar fig printed in white detail there:
    .
    http://www.shapeways.com/forum/index.php?t=msg&th=2966
    .
    But as for this UP! printer, you are looking at the best of and a little bit better than you can print on the best tuned makerbot/reprap machine. You will always see the lines. To help illustrate this, here’s a pic of a little guy I made recently.
    .
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4141/4958683317_416259b728_b.jpg
    .
    He is 6.4 cm tall, which is really close in terms of the size you are after – but he is a lot chunkier than a D&D figure for sure. I don’t *think* I can create something as successfully at this size with more detail on the UP.
    .
    -Whystler

  15. Bo Says:

    kongorilla,

    I have one of the UP printers, the biggest concern for me is the vertical drive-belt, however the actual load on that belt is much less than the similar one driving the X stage on my MakerBot, I honestly have no reason to believe the UP will not be working fine in a couple of years from now (my MakerBot have worked over a year so far with no hickups)

    Comparing to a Makerbot, Whystler said “fine tuned” honestly I have one, the average UP print is way beyond “fine tuned makerbot prints” the number one difference is the vertical linear-bearing which create very smooth layers, unlike the shifting on the makerbot.

    The prints are very true, I do mechanical designs, and rapid prototyping with my printer.

    However -you mentioned toy soldiers, the printer would do fine on outreached arms, but 5mm thick arms would be pushing the limits for small structured, small details is one thing, but currently small long narrow structures challenges the UP printer. that said, they are very responsive and when I asked about a similar problem they said that they are working on several software solutions for this.

    Bo

  16. Taylor Gilbert Says:

    Thanks for all the additional information everyone! It seems like everyone who has used one of these is very happy with it.

  17. kongorilla Says:

    Thanks for the feedback, everybody!

    -k

  18. kyle Says:

    Hi,
    I am wondering about operating costs; is it practical? The pp3Dp says it’s approximately $0.02/cm^3. I think that’s $0.34/in^3. That seems so cheap, is that true? Could you estimate the cost of a solid 5×5x5 inch box, just as an example? Maybe the percent of a roll of ABS or something…any reference you can think of?

  19. Whystler Says:

    I’m just noticing on the pp3dp website that the 100 printers are now sold and their 1/2 price promotion is over. I suppose this means their printers are now around $3000? I think the price is a little less than that.

    They haven’t updated the price on the rest of their wesbite, but the promotion close is spotlighted on their front page.

    -Whystler

  20. Madox Says:

    For Whystler’s record, yes I did end up buying one… :P

    I wonder if you get a commission?!?

  21. pprdp 3D printer | Never Say Cool Says:

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  22. JohnL Says:

    Madox, Whystler and anyone else who has an UP printer, I would be interested in talking with you directly about your experience with your new printers. I’m contacting the company about carrying their product on our web site and I would like to get some first hand customer feedback before we move forward. Drop me an email at johnlivingston@…webtodoor.com and we can exchange phone numbers. I would also be willingto set up a conference call to swap stories is there is enough interest.

    Thanks for the awesome blog post…

    John Livingston

    Founder
    WebToDoor.com