Last year, I bought a 3D printer. Since then, 3d printing has become a bit of an obsession. I’ve owned quite a few printers over the last year and I figured it’s time to do a run-down and some recommendations.
Monoprice Mini Delta
Summary: A great printer if you are lucky (or persistent)
At $180, it’s an affordable printer and by far the cheapest delta printer on the market. With a resolution of 0.05mm and print speed up to 150mm/s, the Mini Delta is capable of amazing prints with quality rivaling printers two or three times the cost. It has a very sturdy metal chassis, linear rail system that moves very smoothly, and accepts a standard E3D style nozzle.
Overall, it’s a great little printer. There are, however, some caveats. I mentioned in the summary that one needs to be lucky with this printer. Many folks I know have no problems with their Mini Delta. Sadly, I have not had that experience. When it works, my Mini Delta is brilliant and it was a fantastic introduction to the hobby. Physically, I’ve had a few problems. First, let’s cover the issues that exist for all Mini Deltas, lucky or not.
In all Mini Deltas, there is a design issue between the firmware and power supply. The default power supply is an itty-bitty thing without much juice. To keep the power usage below the supply’s rating, the firmware prevents the bed heater and the nozzle heater from running at the same time, prefering the nozzle heater. As such, you can’t sensible issue commands to heat the bed and the nozzle at the same time. It will heat the nozzle and then only have a bit of power to warm the bed, while trying to keep the nozzle temperature stable. The bed never, in the span of my patience, gets to the proper temperature. If you instead heat the bed and then heat the nozzle, the temperature of the bed will plummet, typically to 40C or less, while the nozzle is heating. The bed will very slowly come back up to temperature. It’s possible to buy a bigger power supply as the Mini Delta uses a standard barrel plug. The limitation however is locked into the firmware and cannot be removed by the user.
Next up, the bed is documented as being able to reach 60C. I’ve never seen that happen. I’m not sure it’s possible. In practice, I can just barely get the bed to 55C. If the nozzle is hot, the bed stabilizes for me around 50C no matter how hot I requested. This is true of all Mini Deltas, as far as I am aware.
The build plate on the Mini Delta, by default, is a BuildTak-like surface. Unfortunately, the surface also features the logo of the original manufacturer of the printer, IIIP. This logo appears as gaps in the BuildTak, leaving the print bed with an inconsistent surface and variable grip. The gaps also provides a vector for scratching or even ripping off bits of the BuildTak if one uses metal tools to remove the print. This can all be countered by putting blue painters tape over the bed.
Those issues all sound bad but functionally, they’re not a huge problem. The Mini Delta is a PLA-focused printer so a cool bed, or an inconsistent/blue-tape surface aren’t show stoppers. In the day-to-day, as long as one is aware of the issues, they can be worked around with minimal fuss.
These issues are a bit more of a dice roll. Not all Mini Deltas have them but, of course, mine has them all.
The first problem is minor. In many Mini Deltas, the “front” of the build environment is rotated so the print “faces” out the back left. This can be fixed by switching some wires in the chassis, rotating the model in the slicer, or just accepting the issue and moving on with life. It’s purely a cosmetic issue.
The big major all-bad issue involves the control board. After about six months of service, my Mini Delta, for lack of a better phrase, lost its mind. Whenever I requested a movement on any axis, the head would either dive for the bed or shoot off to the side to the maxiumum physical edge and attempt to keep going. The printer was completely unusable. I ended up replacing the control board entirely. I have heard of this behavior occurring momentarily in other Mini Deltas. The theory from those folks is that some data corruption occurred and the board couldn’t handle it. In those cases, the person rebooted their printer and all was well.
Monoprice has, in general, decent support. They are available via text chat, email, or phone. They tend to be good people and I’ve never had a negative interaction with a support agent. That said, the 3d printer support folks are in a tough spot. See, Monoprice doesn’t make any of its products. They are rebranded units from other manufacturers. In the case of the Mini Delta, the source manufacturer is IIIP. Since they don’t build the printers, their support staff receives no special training and has no special knowledge or access. Their department “buys” new printers the same way we do and they sit down and play with them, just like we do. They will try and help you but sometimes it’s clear they’re reading the same Reddit posts you are. So in terms of getting help making your printer work, they’re not a huge force multiplier.
Where Monoprice’s support truly wins out is their ability to authorize an RMA. I stupidly never tried to RMA my first Mini Delta even once it developed serious problems. At one point, I bought a second Mini Delta hoping to receive an un-cursed unit. That didn’t go so well and the Monoprice support issued a refund RMA very quickly and without fuss.
I recognize that I just dumped out a lot of issues with this printer but also said it’s a great printer. I stand by both. When the Mini Delta is working, which is most of the time, it is a brilliant little printer, particularly in its price point. If you want a small, cheap, PLA-focused printer, this is a very compelling device. All the issues I’m aware of can be worked around or fixed with a warranty hardware replacement. My Mini Delta is still humming over a year later. (I’ve done a lot of upgrades but that’s a subject of a different post.)
A lot more information, including possible upgrades and replacement parts, can be found at the unofficial wiki.
Summary: Buy an Ender 5 Plus
This review is going to be different than I originally intended. See, Creality, when I wasn’t looking, launched an Ender 5 variant that covers my complaints, at least on paper. But my complaints are still worth talking about because (a) this is my site and what else am I going to do? (b) they still hold true for almost every other printer that Creality makes.
The Ender 5 is a large format printer from Creality. It uses a bowden tube system with a simple “MK8” type extruder, all of which sits on a large aluminum frame. The printhead sits at the top of the frame, handling X and Y, while Z is handled by the bed which sits on two rods and one screw. The electronics and power supply are all bundled away nice and neat in a box that attached to the bottom of the frame, helping add rigidity.
Like so many printers, when the stars align, the Ender 5 is a nice printer. It’s quiet and the frame allows for all sorts of add-ons and modifications without doing anything that voids your warranty. In my experience, though, the stars are fickle creatures.
First, there is no auto-leveling on this unit and it has no probes. Advertising sometimes says this is an “assisted level” unit because the firmware has the ability to move the print head to the places you should check for level. The actual levelling work is done by you, a piece of paper, and some wheels attached to the corner screws. The default springs are not great and the wheels move during a print. All that nice leveling work you did will likely be undone during the print by the printer itself. I had to relevel after every print and the slow drift of those wheels caused some lost prints too.
Second, the design of the bed is ridiculous. This is a large format printer with 220mm by 220mm bed with a max vertical of 300mm. It is supposed to handle a large volume of plastc which can weigh a decent amount. As I mentioned above, the Z-axis work is handled by the bed itself. The hotend sits at the top of the frame and the bed lowers itself as the print progress. So, we have a growing volume of plastic moving slowly downward. One would expect that volume to be well supported. At least I did. However, the bed rides on two rails in the back and attached to a single drive screw in the back. There is no under-bed support at all. As such, the bed tilts a bit towards the front and it is prone to bounce. If one configures the slicer to z-hop on retraction, one can watch the unsupported end bounce. As if that’s not bad enough, the bounce can cause the leveling wheels to work lose.
Third, the bed material is a pain to deal with. The bed itself is a magnetic flex plate system which is fantastic. However, the default plate is squishy. It has a really nice texture but it’s very easy to damage if one is trying to remove a print by flexing. If the nozzle is too close the bed, the material begins to bunch up and flex which causes damage to the bed and failed prints. The upside is that this is a standard flex plate system so it’s easy to buy replacements that better suit your tastes.
Fourth, the extruder just really doesn’t cut it. As a MK8, it’s a single hobbed gear on an all plastic extruder with a motor on the small side. MK8 extruders typically have an unconstrained filament path around the hobbed gear and the Ender 5 is no exception. This is not an extruder that you want to feed with flexibles. This is also not an extruder that is likely to keep up with high print speeds. The bowden tube is mercifully relatively short, at least. The upside here, like the build plate, is that the extruder and its motor are in a very accessible place and can be swapped out for something more powerful with minimal fuss.
Is There Anything To Like?
The Ender 5 is a large format printer and, when it’s working properly, can produce some very large items. I found, when tuned, that its print quality was pretty good. I still have Ender 5 prints in happy use around the house today. Also, the frame is made of standard 2020 and 2040 aluminum extrusions so modifications are relatively easy. Mounting a camera, for instance, is trivial and there are dozens of prints on the model sites to help. I also really like the electronics box. It’s a very clean build and the wiring is unlikely to get damaged during regular operations. The filament spool is mounted on the bottom near the back which my short legs like a lot. It can be a bit awkward on a table but the spool’s placement is adjustable.
What’s This About A Plus Model?
In the many moons since I owned an Ender 5, Creality launched the Ender 5 Plus. While I’ve not physically possessed a unit, it seems to solve all my complaints about the Ender 5. The bed is now on four rails, with two lead screws, one on each side in the center. It comes with a BL Touch probe for mesh bed compensation. The levelling wheels are still present but with a properly supported bed and a probe, they shouldn’t be needed all that often. The bed’s been upgraded to tempered glass and the extruder now carries a filament runout sensor. Add to it all that the bed size has grown from 220x220 to 350x350 and the Ender 5 Plus is a very compelling printer, particularly as an upgrade from the Ender 5.
If an Ender 5 seems good to you, go buy an Ender 5 Plus instead. It appears to have fixed many of the flaws I encountered with the regular Ender 5.
SeeMeCNC RostockMAX v4
Summary: A great (but proprietary) workhorse printer
The RostockMAX v4 was my upgrade from the Monoprice Mini Delta. (Yes, I’m pretty sure the Rostock can print a full size model of the MPMD.) My criteria at the time were pretty simple: Must be a delta, must come fully assembled. I was still very new to 3D printing and I knew I wasn’t ready for something that required a lot of hand holding. The options, particularly in 2019, were limited. Really, the Rostock was the only choice.
The “Rostock” delta printer was originally prototyped in 2012 by Johann Rocholl, named after the city of their birth in Germany. The RostockMAX is a variant produced by SeeMeCNC, after a successful IndieGogo campaign. Since then there are have been three major revisions, all sold as kits, with open designs. The RostockMAX v4 is the first model from SeeMeCNC that is not an open design. Kits are not available and the printer is only available in “ready to print” form directly from SeeMeCNC.
Hardware-wise, the RostockMAX v4 is a Duet v2 Wifi controller, a custom-built hotend, and SeeMeCNC EZR Struder extruders. If one wants, SeeMeCNC sells a dual extrusion kit which I got with mine. Mesh bed compensation is handled by a custom strain gauge in the hotend, similar to the Duet Smart Effector.
I wanted a workhorse delta printer that I didn’t have to think much about. The RostockMAX v4 is certainly that. Out of the box, you hit the “FIRST PROBE” macro on the built-in LCD display and watch the printer auto-calibrate. Then you print stuff. It’s that easy. And since it’s a delta with an unmoving bed, as long as nothing physical changes, you never need to calibrate again. If you change the nozzle, you can run that original macro again and keep on going.
The Duet control board is brilliant and extremely well supported by the community. I miss some octoprint plugins with it but the software is solid and works right out of the box. All the SeeMeCNC “customizations” are in the form of macros provided on the sd card so you can upgrade to the latest firmware with no unusual problems. The LCD up front is clear and easy to use and has a built-in SD card slot.
The only printing issues I have with the RostockMAX are common to all deltas.
It has a very long bowden tube, nearly a meter long. This leads to big retractions (somewhere between 3mm and 4mm is typical) and stringing problems. Flexibles are almost impossible even though the hotend is more than capable as the filament compresses and rotates in the tube.
The MAX can print fast, on the order of 200 mm/s steady state. Travel speeds can be over 300 mm/s. Thing is, printing that fast is actually a problem. Prints become really inaccurate; corners round out; stiffer filaments must be printed a lot hotter to keep them flowing. If you want high quality prints, you’ve gotta print slower, on the order of 60 mm/s. But if you don’t give a shit, for instance in protoyping, then you can crank out prints very quickly.
These issues are common to every delta and should not be held against the MAX. I mostly mention them for expectation management in case someone lands here who is new to deltas.
Beyond those minor nits, the MAX can handle pretty much anything you can throw at it. I don’t think the hotend is rated high enough for Nylon or PC or any of the fun stuff but it can certainly handle PLA, PETG, and ABS. Out of the box, the MAX comes with a brass nozzle but SeeMeCNC also sells stainless steel nozzles for more abrasive filaments.
Herein lies my major concern with SeeMeCNC’s printers. They are chock full of proprietary hardware. There are three major subsystems to consider.
The Power Supply
The PSU is a 24V 10A unit that lives in the base of the printer. It is of unknown origin. Of all the pieces, this is the one that can probably be swapped out with an alternate vendor with minimum consequences. However, it is important to note that the SeeMeCNC PSU has mounting holes drilled so the unit slots into the Rostock properly. A third-party vendor is unlikely to have those holes which will lead to the possiblity of the PSU sliding around if the printer is moved.
I am not a fan of the SeeMeCNC EZR Struder. It’s an all plastic unit with a single hobbed gear and a quick release lever. It provides minimal access to the gear and has a weirdly unconstrained filament path. It is a very long filament wide filament path up to the gear and it can be really difficult to get not-perfectly-straight filament where it needs to go.
The hobbed gear is probably the largest problem. On any extruder, the gear will gather bits of plastic over time and need cleaned. The EZR doesn’t offer easy access to the gear which makes cleaning a real challenge. It can be difficult to even see the gear well enough to know if it’s dirty. The only way to get full access is to remove the extruder from the printer entirely.
There is good news, though. If you don’t like the EZR, the extruders can be pretty easily removed, as they are mounted externally on standard nema17 motors. I replaced mine with Bondtech BMGs in a few minutes. Just remember to recalibrate your steps.
The MAX v4 features a SeeMeCNC SE300 hotend, a completely custom unit. No part of this can be externally sourced.
The nozzle is technically a standard M6x1 threading so it will take E3D v6 nozzles. However, the heat block itself is about 1mm shorter than a standard E3D style block. Thus, third-party nozzles stick down about 1mm further than a SeeMeCNC nozzle. That doesn’t seem like a big deal at first but that extra distance lets the filament cool a bit before getting squirted out. I’ve had no end of clogging problems with third party nozzles and stopped using them. SeeMeCNC does not, however, offer any hardened nozzles beyond regular stainless steel so working with abrasive filaments is an exercise in nozzle replacement.
As mentioned, the heat block is custom and very short. Standard silicon socks won’t fit at all. This is also something to keep an eye on when printing at high speed. The smaller block means the filament has less time to heat up. As you print faster, you’ll need to up the temperature to compensate.
The heat sink is custom as well with a inner PTFE liner. I’ve seen this advertised as an all-metal hotend but it isn’t. The bowden tube enters the heat sink via a standard connector, which is attached to an inch long piece of additional tubing. This is notable for two reasons. First, that liner means you simply cannot print super high temperature filaments. PC, Nylon, etc need not apply. Second, the connector screws into the heat sink, on top of the PTFE. If the connector is screwed too tightly, it deforms the PTFE which can constrict filament flow or provide an avenue for melted filament to escape. If the connector is too loose, the PTFE is free to move around, providing a path for both melted and pre-melt filament to escape. Getting it just right is extremely difficult.
There are ways to swap out the hotend, if you so choose. Kits exist, notably from 713maker.com, to attach a standard Duet smart effector to the MAX v4 instead of the SE300. This is extremely complicated surgery and only suitable for advanced users who are willing to rewire the controller entirely.
I know I just spent time trashing on the proprietary hardware. But the thing is, I love this printer. Yes, a bunch of the hardware is proprietary, the hotend being the biggest problem. However, SeeMeCNC supports their hardware really well, and spare parts are readily available from their web site. They even have a service where you can mail them your busted hotend and they’ll fix it up. Support doesn’t really want to talk about software and printing issues but support will chat your ear off all day about the hardware itself.
So, my recommendation? I have no problems recommending the RostockMAX v4, as long as one keeps its proprietary nature in mind. I do suggest swapping out the extruder for something higher quality like a Bondtech BMG but I’m a bit of a snob that way.
Tevo Little Monster
_Summary: No. Maybe for free if you’ve got a new printer’s worth of budget_
I like delta printers. It’s a weakness. I really should do a post about all that but for now, we can take it as read that I have a soft spot for delta printers. I was in the market for a new delta and I wanted an open platform, something built on standard parts that I could independently source. The Tevo Little Monster landed in my list and looked great. It’s a huge bed, a huge frame, uses Smoothieware, and E3D compatible parts. I was able to get one via Amazon and away we went.
I should have returned it within 15 minutes of opening the box. The printer doesn’t come fully assembled and I knew that going in. I think they call it at “70% build”. Most of the bits are put together and you just have to put tab A into slot B. When I opened the box, I heard some rattling. I quickly discovered some loose screws, specifically ones from the hotend. Easy enough to put back in place, right? Everything else looked good so I proceeded with the build. The moment I should have boxed it back up was when I assembled the carriages. These are the bits that move the arms up and down. They’re belt-fed and they came preassembled. You just need to attach them to the motors and idler pulley. Shit just wasn’t moving right. After about a half hour, my brain finally agreed to comprehend what it was seeing. The belts were installed wrong. They were twisted, installed completely wrong. That’s the moment I should have boxed it up and sent it back. But I didn’t.
The build progressed, was completed, and… well… I guess it’s still ongoing nearly a year later.
Here’s the thing. The TLM is a huge frame and bed. It’s nearly five feet tall and two feet wide. That’s about all it has going for it. In the spirit of keeping this short(er), let’s just walk my issues.
- The board is a knockoff unauthorized unsupported smoothieware board by MKSBASE.
The smoothieware community will not help you and will yell at you if you tell them what board you’re asking about. (It should be pointed out that the board MKSBASE ships now comes with Marlin)
- The drivers on the board are garbage. These drivers have some weird voltage problems that can only be corrected with smoothers.
- The glass on the bed is fused to the heat spreader. Damage that and you’re kinda fucked. Don’t think I’ve seen a replacement available anywhere.
- The eccentric nut system on the carriages is madness. Keeping them properly tensioned is nearly impossible
- The flying extruder concept is interesting but in a delta that moves this fast,
it leads to ringing and inertia problems. Prints looked better immediately after moving the extruder to the frame
- The LCD on the front is loaded with totally inappropriate macros that can cause
the head to dive into the glass. I don’t know who built the default config and macros but it wasn’t someone who used this printer. Redditors have appropriately called this “the self-destruct panel”
- To access the carriages, one must take the entire top off the printer, including all the belts
- By default, the spool holder is on the top of the printer. Did I mention this thing is five feet tall? Put that on a table and my short ass legs need a ladder to change the spool
- If you want help from the Internet, most of the TLM groups are private Facebook groups that border on talk therapy groups. Very little deep help is available outside those spaces. Hell, most places like Reddit will tell you to join the Facebook groups
sungo Is A Snob
- The extruder is a knock-off inferior Titan clone. Titans are cheap extruders anyway and the stock one is somehow made with even cheaper plastic
- The hotend is a knock-off inferior E3D clone. Looks similar, isn’t. The heatsink is a different size. The heat block is cheap. Using a volcano style hotend is brilliant but not a knock-off
- The motors that I got were discontinued when I got them and the stock config drives them at a weird amperage that makes me suspicious of their long term survivability
When you walk the list of all the sketchy parts in the TLM, you tend to come up with “everything that isn’t the frame”. I think that’s the truth of it. To build a proper Tevo Little Monster, one really needs to swap out every major component. The build of materials costs as much as another printer.
If you know going in (as you now do) that one will likely need to spend the cost of another printer to fix the TLM you’re buying, then groovy. The frame is massive and will likely be the only thing in your home that survives an 8.5 earthquake. At that point, it’s consensual and all good.
For the rest of us, who bought one and didn’t/couldn’t return it, well, we’re right fucked.
So, here’s my thought. Don’t buy a Tevo Little Monster. Don’t accept one as a gift.
But… but if you have one already, watch this space. I’m in the process of rebuilding mine and will eventually post about it.
Summary: Just buy a Prusa. The Pulse is a very expensive and poorly built i3 clone with bad software and clueless support
The Pulse XE is a clone on the Prusa i3 concept, modified heavily by the folks at Matterhackers. The “XE” is for “extreme” as it is intended to handle the most extreme materials, including NylonX. The bed size is average and it features an all-metal hotend and Bondtech extruder.
At the time I got the Pulse, it was the only pre-assembled high-end i3 clone on the market. The parts list was impressive and lined up with my desires at the time, specifically moving into PETG and more interesting filaments than PLA. I ticked almost all the upgrade boxes and almost every single one of them was a mistake. The whole purchase was a mistake. I learned a lot about what I want in a printer and I’v been able to trick the Pulse into putting out decent prints for a long time now. I’m mostly just trying to make myself feel better about this expensive wasteful purchase.
Let’s get this out of the way with. Holy fuck the Pulse XE is expensive. With no upgrades, the Pulse costs, at time of writing, $100 more than the Prusa MK3S with similar hardware, though lacking a magnetic plate. Once you start upgrading, the Pulse XE can run you close to $2k.
The Pulse in the store today differs from mine in three ways. First, the current Pulse offers an upgrade to a Mosquito hotend which was not available when I bought mine. Second, the base extruder has changed from a SeeMeCNC EZR to a Bondtech BMG, and the option to upgrade to a Bondtech QR has been removed. Third, my Pulse has a power brick on a cord while the new Pulse has integrated the power supply into the frame. Also, interestingly, it seems they’ve dropped the filament sensor.
Given the new changes, I’m going to skip talking about some of the upgrades I got and why they were such a bad idea. It seems MH has decided they were a bad idea too so you can’t get them anymore. Some major problems are still outstanding and most can’t be resolved.
A Bowden Tube? Really?
Let’s start with the most simple. The Prusa i3 design is a direct drive system. The motor and extruder are integrated into the hotend and the filament is fed directly into the top. In the standard Prusa designs, the filament spool is mounted on top, allowing a straight path into the extruder, even for flexibles.
The Pulse design moves the extruder to the top right of the frame, converting the system to a Bowden tube. The tube itself forms an upside-down U. The spool is mounted on the side.
This design choice alone makes the Pulse a hard sell over a Prusa. The introduction of the bowden tube introduces stringing issues, backlash problems, retraction concerns, and difficulty with flexibles. The upside-down U design causes the extruder to lose most of its force trying to push the filament around that curve. In previous models, this caused the bowden tube to get forced out with rough or overly stiff filaments. Newer Bondtech BMGs have a much better clip so this might be solved. Regardless, the U design can also allow the bowden tube to come in contact with the frame, rubbing up against it and causing drag and damage to the tube.
What’s interesting here too is that typically a manufacturer will convert to a bowden tube so they can use smaller motors on the hotend axis or move extra fast. MatterHackers has done neither. The Pulse is only rated for 60mm/s and they use standard sized motors. So it’s a bit of a mystery.
The “32-bit” Upgrade
By default, the Pulse comes with an 8-bit RAMBO processor running Marlin. An upgrade to a “32-bit” board is possible though expensive. The board in question is an Azteeg X5 GT running Smoothieware. I’ll put more details on these remarks in the following sections but this expensive upgrade is worthless. Thanks to MatterControl. the Azteeg’s features and those of Smoothieware go completely unused. Matterhackers does almost no configuration of the Azteeg, prefering to pass everything on to MatterControl. Further, MatterHackers support has no idea what to do with the Smoothieware board. Their help docs assume the Marlin board and they can’t answer questions. Again, their assumption is that you’re using MatterControl and will never touch the board.
If you’re buying the Pulse for the hardware alone, the Azteeg board itself is decent. Smoothieware is a competent software package and works fine on its own. If you’re going the supported route, however, it’s a waste of money.
Which brings us to…
MatterControl is a bespoke 3d slicer by Matterhackers. Version 1 was a modified version of Cura but, as of version 2, it has been completely rewritten. (If you care about such things, it was rewritten in c#). Why does their slicer matter? Well, the Pulse is designed to be run using only MatterControl. Everything is built and configured to be software-driven, using none of the features of the control boards, instead passing that up to MatterControl. Even on a board like the Azteeg that supports one-time mesh bed compensation and leveling using the BL Touch probe, leveling and mesh bed is handled by MatterControl in software.
MatterControl is built under the assumption that it will be run on a machine shackled to the printer, one with keyboard/mouse/monitor. There are no remote control features. There is a “cloud” app that lets you see the progress bar for the print and hit stop but no other status.
The app itself is GPU accelerated and struggles on lower-spec machines. I tried running it on an rpi and failed badly. Luckily, I had a windows laptop sitting idle. Less fortunate folks with a single machine are going to find themselves tethered to their printer.
My understanding is that this is how MatterHackers staff use the Pulse. The printer sits on their desk and is tethered to their workstation. Any other use case is lost because this is not how they use their own printers.
The actual slicing software is really strange. Probably the weirdest part is that you can’t save your modifications to disk. Load up an STL, make changes to the print settings, and you can’t save them to a dedicated file. The assumption seems to be that you will set up print profiles that work for general use cases and always print your models with one of those profiles, making no changes. Again, this is how MatterHackers uses their printers internally and they have not considered those of us who prefer to obsess over our prints.
For those of us who really dislike MatterControl, Matterhackers has one suggestion. Slice the models in your favorite software and then load the gcode into MatterControl to do the actual printing. MatterControl will then apply its notion of mesh bed compensation and print the model. To be fair, this does work. However, now I’ve got a real computer shackled to the printer and its sole job is to pretend to be a control board, and do it with a fancy computer and absolutely no remote control options. And then I also have to properly configure a second slicing package.
On top of it all, the help documentation for MatterControl is nearly non-existent and web searches almost always find the docs for version 1.
I’m not going to rant too hard about support but it is important to comment that they aren’t very knowledgable about an upgraded Pulse XE. They have no training or understanding of the Azteeg board, can’t help with most hardware issues, and can only really talk about the “printer on your desk with a desktop computer” method of using the printer. I found them to be less than knowledgable about MatterControl too. They are good folks and I’ve never had a negative interaction with their support people. I was not often actually helped though.
MatterHackers also has support forums but their staff doesn’t seem to come around much. Bizarrely, the forums are full of folks with lots of hate for Pulse printers and most of their suggestions are “this is an awful design; get a different printer” or “replace all those parts with better things”. While I agree with the sentiment, folks aren’t coming to the forums to get ranted at.
It’s been about a year since I got the Pulse and it’s been active most of that time, mostly out of my desire to squeeze utility out of an overly expensive badly chosen purchase. I’ve gotten some good prints out of it but I always feel like I had to trick the printer.
In short, the Pulse is an i3 clone that manages, with every design decision, to be worse and more expensive than the original. Particularly now that the Prusa MK3S can come pre-assembled, folks should just get a Prusa. If you want an upgrade, look into the Bear Prusa kits.
Prusa i3 MK3S
Summary: A great printer that I recommend with no reservations