Archive for July, 2017

TronXY X3 Review from GearBest.com

I can’t stop 3D printing. I print so much, in fact, that I’ve needed to buy 2 new machines recently to meet demand- an Anet A2 and a TronXY X3.

Why 2 different brands? While as I do favor the Anet brand as workhorses, I also have that urge to play the field and see what the other offerings look like. After browsing Gearbest.com for popular printers, I came across the TronXY X3:

The TronXY X3 from GearBest.com was $211.82 + $5.90 shipping when using the coupon code “GBTE”, which was 12% off the normal price of $240.00. It was inexpensive enough to justify, and with a 220x220x300 build volume, I was really curious.

I’ve had prior experience with TronXY in the past, with an XY-100 sitting next to me on my desk, also known as the Startt. It’s been a fantastic little prototyping printer with very high-quality output, so i figured one of it’s bigger brothers should be just as good.

Initially, I was wrong. Just to get this out of the way– this review will seem like I am complaining and that I hate this printer. I DON’T HATE IT. IT HAS POTENTIAL with some work! This is NOT a printer you want to buy as your first, but as a supplemental that you mod to your liking with another printer that can make parts for it. 

This printer redeemed itself. Here’s proof from some of the prints it’s produced just playing around:

My goal for this review is to show what it can become- not what it is. If you want a good review/build video from the eyes of a beginner, I suggest watching TopHATTWaffle’s review:

Without further apologies…

Let The Complaining Begin!

So, out of the box, is it as good as the TronXY XY-100/Startt? No. Not at all. Faaaaarrrr from it.

It’s all from a few issues that put me off and delayed me from even wanting to use it. As soon as you begin, this printer is an undertaking.

Assembly was a mixed bag. The supplied instructions are counterintuitive, and I had to backtrack a few times to undo a few stupid mistakes I made. Mind that this is around my 10th printer that I’ve assembled, but I had to shelf it for a few days from frustration caused by trying to follow along between the paper instructions and the video instructions.

I skipped doing a build video because it would have been chock full of footage featuring me yelling, throwing tantrums as well as objects, and being overall miserable with trying to get everything together. I would frequently start down a path and realize I was doing it wrong, only to backtrack and lose some time.

My advice is to watch the video first, and read the paper instructions second, and to really familiarize yourself with how the printer looks from all angles. With those in mind, you should be able to avoid the landmines I stupidly stepped on.

 

My first issue that popped up was that the supplied screws to mount the end-stop switches are too short and make it impossible.I thought it was just me, but I confirmed this with a friend’s brother who has the same printer and same story. I zip-tied mine on through the holes, but the slight offset this introduced caused the arm to sheer off after a few runs from the carriage glancing it, so I ended up just zip-tying to the X-axis with double-sided tape for now.

I was initially delighted to see that the printer came with metal Z-axis motor holders, but realized something terrible as soon as I went to mount them. It absolutely sucks trying to get them to line up properly and not cause binding when the screw rods engage. It would make sense if you could set the rods in and then adjust the mount position to relieve any pressure, but the motors cover the screws and make it impossible to get to them.

It would make sense if you could set the rods in and then adjust the mount position to relieve any pressure, but the motors cover the screws and make it impossible to get to them.

I ditched them and went with some printed ones from Thingiverse that featured a locating tab (will get to that). These worked perfectly, and I highly recommend them (and is why I say you need a functioning printer!).

Spelling error aside, it works pretty well!

The defining flaw of this printer is the poor design of the bed carriage. It uses wheeled bearings that have grown in popularity over linear rods due to their simplicity and cost. I want to love them- like I said in my Anet A2 review, However, the X3’s bed carriage is really badly designed– the holes for the wheels are spaced too far apart, and there is considerable slop between the wheels. I noticed this as I was building it, and tried my best to correct it with a few mods I found, to no avail. All prints were a mess, and the carriage wobbles more than a bed at a 5 dollar motel.

I decided to ditch this design and go with the tried-and-true linear rod and bearing setup, which cost me around 24 dollars. Another problem fixed!

Another issue I have is with the electronics. The end-stop switches use microscopically small wires and are quite easy to snap. I had to resolder them multiple times throughout the build as I accidentally snagged a wire and OOPS, ripped it right out. I really wish they would have used a thicker gauge just to reduce this headache.

A bizarre occurrence is that 2 of the motors in my kit would spaz out when trying to home. I thought it was the control board at first but I switched in some spares that I had and they worked fine. Really weird, but oh well. Always test your electronics beforehand before getting deep into a build and disappointing yourself.

My last whining point is… TronXY- seriously, you use 2020 extrusions but M4 screws and hammerhead nuts? WHY? These things are a PITA to locate properly and are TOO SMALL. They never feel like they’re wanting to bite down and often just turn and tighten, slipping out of the channel. I scrapped a lot of them on printed parts and went with the more-proper M5, and those parts are held on quite solid.

So, What Can It Do? What Should I Do?

When everything is corrected, The X3 can be a decent printer. has a solid frame and a decent setup. Most of the parts supplied are pretty strong and have no issues. It fits the bill as a workhorse printer that will churn out parts reliably and without question.

The initial thing to address is the wobbly bed, as it has the biggest impact on your print quality. There are a few methods available like converting to a linear rod and bearing system like I did, or a double rail system to lock the wheels down.

Here’s the Y-carriage mod I used: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2395455

Beyond that, the Z-axis motor holders are the next thing. The stock ones aren’t bad if you can get them centered on the rail, but any slight deviation and you WILL have binding as the carriage travels upwards.

Here’s the holders I used with the locating tab: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2222104

Venturing into the realm of nice but not necessary, another popular mod is auto-leveling. Luckily, Marlin has support for the Melzi board and has recently included the “Anet 2004 LCD” pinouts so configuring the firmware to fit the printer is easy.

One more missing element is the lack of a print cooler. This is essential for high quality prints when using materials like PLA or PETG as the plastic needs to be cooled to prevent smearing and sagging. Compare these two prints below:

Left is without, Right is with, printed with the exact same settings. Here’s a look at how I have my autoleveling / cooling fan setup. There’s 2 holes conveniently placed on the side of the stock extruder fan that can be utilized using M3 bolts, whch you should have left over from building.

Another popular mod that i’ve done on mine is adding some legs to lift the printer up and allow the control box to sit underneath.

 

Overall, the TronXY X3 is not a bad printer. It has a lot of potential and is good value if you are looking for a supplemental printer to add to your workshop. Overlooking all of it’s problems, it’s a solid little printer that holds it’s own even alongside the more popular Anet / Tevo offerings. I am impressed by how solid the frame is, and save for the initial annoyance of building and ironing out the bugs, it’s just as good as all of the other printers in my workshop.

A lot of people hate on GearBest for having horrible support, but it seems a lot of these complaints are from countries that have import laws. Having just shipped something to Germany and hearing that my buyer was hit with a customs levy, I realize that it is outside of their control.

After bringing up these problems that I had with this printer, GearBest was apologetic and sent me replacements- albeit, it took a solid month for them to arrive, so if you’re in a hurry, be prepared to shell out some money to make it work and use the replacements as spares just in case.

 

 

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Tuesday, July 18th, 2017 Reviews Comments Off on TronXY X3 Review from GearBest.com