Evolution of a Blog

This blog has evolved as I have as a maker. It starts at the beginning of my journey where I began to re-tread my tires in the useful lore of micro electronics and the open-source software that can drive them. While building solutions around micro-electronics are still an occasional topic my more recent focus has been on the 3D Printing side of making.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Would I Recommend the Wanhao D7?

The price point of the Wanhao D7 has a lot of people wondering if they should buy one.  Some of these folks, a lot really, already have an FDM printer and want additional capability.  Some have no printing experience but want to start somewhere.

The first thing that a new buyer should understand is the process that printing using resin will entail.  I had described my workflow in an earlier post located here.  If you already knew all about resin, or you are ok with the process that I described, then we can talk about the D7

What do you want to do with a Wanhao D7?

So the first question that I would ask before making any recommendation would be to explore what they want to do with the Wanhao D7.   If they already have an FDM printer they can probably skip to the next question!

The D7 is a small printer.  It's build area is 120 x 70 x 200mm.  By comparison my Ultimaker 2+, an FDM printer, has a build area of 223 x 223 x 205mm.  On the other hand the best resolution that the Ultimaker can deliver is 20 microns (though I have never actually printed at anything lower than 60 microns) on the z-axis and 250 microns on the x/y axis.  Meanwhile the D7 can routinely print at 30 microns on the z-axis and it has an x/y resolution of 40 microns.

These two printers obviously satisfy different requirements.  The Ultimaker, an FDM printer, melts and extrudes plastic and prints large functional items in a variety of materials.  Its level of detail, however, is going to be a limiter.

The Wanhao D7 is a Direct UV Printer and uses UV light to harden a liquid resin into small detailed parts.  While they can be functional it is more likely that they will be ornamental, game pieces, or used to mold a functional part.  In general this process won't produce a particularly strong part though there are resins that will be stronger than the ones I am currently using.

So, if you are ok workflow associated with resin based printing, and you know that what you want to print are smallish but highly detailed parts, then you need to answer one last question!

Are you prepared for the adventure that a Wanhao D7 can entail?

You need to consider the results of a poll that I conducted recently in the Facebook Group devoted to folks that are have or are interested in the D7.  First I have to acknowledge that my construction of the questions was a bit flawed and the sample size of 32 is not large enough to bet your life on. That said I would also say that the results correlate with the posts we see here.

Slightly over half of the people responding like their printer and only one person (3%) hates it. That leaves 44% of you in between liking it and hating it.

My question about the build plate was badly flawed in construction and so I feel needs to be discarded. The (flawed?) results would indicate that over 70% of owners had to take corrective action on their V1/3 or V1..4 build plate. Based on the comments below, and on a daily basis in this group, I would still suggest that most users getting a new machine will indeed have issues with their build plate often requiring that it be sanded (or even sand blasted)! Maybe the survey question is not so flawed? Leaving build plate issues aside, I was surprised that nearly a third of owners had a problem other than with their build plate.

Finally, a little less than a third of owners printed straight out of the box. More alarming, almost 1 in 5 can still not print after more than a month.

If I were Wanhao I would want to understand these results in much more detail. I would do a more scientific poll drawing on the FB community but using something like SurveyGizmo or SurveyMonkey. I would try to understand numerically what problems are being experienced by new owners. I would then ask myself what my targets are for out of the box printing and ultimate customer satisfaction. Finally, I would wonder if I have tried to cut too much cost out of the printer and if there are areas where a little higher component quality might be justified. Like on the build plate!

If you are still interested in the D7 after reading the above, and you are patient enough to work through any initial problems that you might have, then you will end up with a printer that is capable of amazing quality.  You do, however, need to be prepared for the adventure that getting to that quality might entail!