The 3D printer market has exploded in the last couple of years with different kinds of printers and clones available and the FLSUN i3 plus is, as indicated by the name, an i3 clone.
Made bigger using aluminium extrusion for its frame, it’s about the same size as the CR-10 and has a similar look as well.
The kit arrived in a sturdy box without any signs of damage with all the parts nicely packed in. The frame is a T-slot extrusion, glossy black paint affair, with fittings and hardware where appropriate.
While the frame is made of aluminium the other parts are either moulded plastic or laser-cut acrylic pieces. The instruction manual, along with STL files for the printed pieces and parts lists, came on an SD card in the box.
There were only the most trivial of errors in the manual and the hardware screws and such were carefully put into small Ziploc bags with the size of the screw marked on the bag. This is great practice for a kit.
Inside there’s also a 12V/30A power supply included (nice and big to run dual extruders and any mods I can think of). It also includes the MKS Gen_L v1.0 (8bit) control board with MKS TFT touch screen.
The instructions for connecting and routing the wires were very limited but, due to my experience with other 3D printer kits, this was no problem. During the build I have also interacted with the supplier and the FLSUN groups on Facebook.
The mechanical assembly is very easy and with the help of the manual it goes up quickly. The kit that I was building had some more updated/upgraded parts that compared to what the manual was showing and the one Y-axis rod mounting was bent and unusable.
I found the STL for this part on the SD card and quickly printed a replacement part. The printed part fitted perfectly but this can be a problem if it is your first printer. You will need to get a replacement part from the supplier and this can take some time. After assembly the frame was nice and sturdy and the black colour gives it a nice look.
The only suggestion I have for some changes is on the top bar. It slides in between two upright bars and is then affixed with a corner bracket. The Z-axis steppers are then mounted on top of the bar. Due to the weight of the stepper motors there are a possibility for the bar to rotate (due to only one screw on each side) which can result in a mist aligned Z-axis lead screw. By simply increasing the length a bit and installing the bar on top of the two uprights, it would eliminate this potential problem.
Wiring up the electronics was made easy due to nice clean wires and screw terminals. A very good connection diagram was found on Thingiverse that will help people very new to building kits.
From the start up everything was working. All steppers were running in the correct direction and all limits were setup correctly. The only change I had to make was on the Z-axis offset since I wanted to print on glass and needed to use the manual z-limit.
One thing to note: if you are uploading new firmware then be sure to disconnect the LCD as it will interfere with the upload process.
I used my standard printing settings for my direct drive extruder acrylic i3 for the first print. I printed a calibration cube and Z-height was perfect with a very decent first print. The only noticeable problem was stringing. Because the FLSUN i3 uses a Bowden extruder this was expected. As with most DIY kits, expect to tinker with the settings to get your prints just right.
There are a variety of these FLSUN i3 kits available and it seems that the kit from Gearbest is the most complete version out there. I must note that the Facebook and Thingiverse groups have a lot of valuable info for beginners and also help is only a post away.
It also has a few upgrades in the kit, such as extra parts for setting up dual extruder printing. I’m still working on installing that, but it is recommended to get started with a single extruder first and make sure the printer is working and that the settings are properly dialled in before attempting the upgrade.
This is a well-rounded 3D printer kit if you like to tinker and assemble printers. If you are looking for an easy to use plug and play printer straight out of the box, then this isn’t the printer for you.
A big thanks to to Gearbest for sending this to us for review. You can buy it there at a discounted $289.99 (~R3401) when using coupon code “FLSUNi3”.