EXAM – 3D printing is great fun, but waiting hours or days for a print to be completed can test anyone’s patience. Even worse is when a print fails at the 11th hour. SUNLU has released the T3 which boasts the ability to print at 250mm/s, up to five times faster than conventional printing. Have we entered the era of warp-speed printing at hobbyist prices?
What is that?
SUNLU T3, also known as Terminator 3, is an FDM 3D printer that includes some quality of life features at an attractive price. Most notable is the advertised potential to achieve print speeds of 250mm/s.
SUNLU has been in the 3D printing business since 2013 and currently offers several printers. The T3 is the smallest printer in its range, with the S8 and S9 models being large format printers. SUNLU also produces accessories and supports its products with readily available spare parts.
What’s in the box?
- SUNLU T3 3D Printer
- Assembly tools
- Spare parts – extra screws, 0.4mm nozzle
- SUNLU PLA filaments
- SD card with USB-A adapter
- Power cable
- Filament cutters
- USB-A to USB-B cable
|Type of printing technology||FDM|
|Number of nozzles||A|
|Nozzle specifications||0.4mm (Compatible: 0.4mm-0.8mm)|
|Print maximum temperature||260℃|
|Maximum bed temperature||100℃|
|Printing method support||SD card, PC|
|Power specifications||115V/230V AC, 50/60HZ|
|Printer net weight||2.2 pounds|
Design and features
This is a typical bed sling design immediately reminiscent of the Creality Ender v3.
Additional features include:
- Clogging detection
- 32 bit motherboard
- Automatic leveling
- Filament break detection
- Power failure recovery
- All metal dual gear extruder
- Pulley belt tension adjuster
- Magnetic platform
The SUNLU T3 3D printer arrived well packaged and almost fully assembled. The assembly instructions are clear and easy to follow, and within 15 minutes we were ready to load filament and start printing. Be sure to check the voltage setting on the power supply as mine arrived set to 230v and needed to be switched to 115v to work.
During the build, I noticed threads coming out of the filament detection module and had a hunch that loading the filament would be problematic. Sure enough, the filament was not loading – and when disassembling the module, I discovered a broken piece of filament blocking the channel. There is no other indication that the printer was used and returned, so my best guess here is that this is a holdover from a quality assurance process.
The SD card contains some test prints, documentation and an installer for an older version of Cura. I’m initially disappointed that the test prints are just STL files and not cut. Having pre-sliced files makes it quicker to compose printer settings as they provide a reference point for the manufacturer’s suggested settings. Notably, the version of Cura included on the SD card does not have a profile for the printer. On the SUNLU website, you can get a Cura installer with the SUNLU T3 profile, as well as an updated firmware.
I found the bed to be mostly level, and after a few adjustments we were ready to go!
Out of the box, I immediately ran a print, using rough estimates for slicer settings based on my experience with my other printer. The resulting bench had layer mismatch, excessive stringing, and I suspected we were too hot at the extruder. I changed speeds for some calibration prints to adjust retraction settings and temperature: 35mm (+10 by default) and 190 respectively, and the results speak for themselves.
The auto-leveling feature works pretty well and uses a BLTouch. Before each print, 16 points of the print bed are checked automatically. The Z offset can be set manually, which is recommended to ensure the nozzle is not too close to the print bed. The manual Z offset adjustment used to work fine, but since the firmware update it stopped working. For some reason the BLTouch flashes red every time I try, although it still works fine during the auto-leveling process. Hopefully this will be fixed in a future update as it doesn’t appear to be a mechanical issue. Helpfully, you can change the Z offset while a print is in progress so you can quickly adjust it on the fly if needed.
Regarding the BLTouch, I discovered that the wiring of the BLTouch module was not properly terminated in its connector. Although hot glue is usually annoying to ensure connectors don’t come loose, I found that the BLTouch module connector relied on hot glue to hold the wiring itself in its own connection. In other words, when the hot glue is removed, the wiring itself comes out of the connector.
Although I had no clogging issues, other features worked exactly as advertised. Tampering the filament successfully triggered the limit sensor and pulling power to the wall correctly triggered the power failure to resume once power was restored. I love the magnetic print bed with the included flexible print surface because it makes removing finished prints super simple.
Perhaps the most surprising feature of this printer is the claim to print at 250mm/s, which is about five times faster than usual. This poses all sorts of challenges, and while I think the motors are able to crank the bed and extruder fast enough to do so, the quality is going to be affected. For a test of this I cut a benchy at 200mm/s, increased the temperature to 200 as suggested by SUNLU and switched the printer to fast print mode. I couldn’t resist the urge to channel Picard by announcing “engage” when initiating the warp-speed print. The benchy finally printed successfully, and it was noticeably faster – but at the expected quality cost. These quick prints are good for general draft testing, but I’ll probably stick to less than 100 for regular printing.
What I like
- Common upgrades are built in
- Standard platform for easy customization and later repairs
- price point
- 1 year warranty
What I would change
- Quality control in testing process and firmware version
- Wireless printing capability would be great
- Availability of pre-cut test prints on included SD card for gcode reference
The SUNLU T3 3D printer is a feature-rich 3D printer at a price that makes it a very compelling option. The features are all generally well executed, although some bugs do exist that will take time and patience to resolve. Once dialed in the printer works great, and I recommend it.
Finally, I would like to thank Mike Dixon and Zack Chongulia from Gadgeteer for their willingness to share some of their 3D printing wisdom. Be sure to check out their reviews of other 3D printers!
Or buy: Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided by SUNLU.