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. In this post, I’m looking at the 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.