I have been prototyping a new product over the last few weeks. A good 3D printer is essential to the process so shopping I went. A local dealer kindly provided a couple of demo units (a LulzBot and a Makerbot) for me to test out for a week. I found no joy with either of these $3,000 units. After days of extended effort and software tweaking I failed to get quality prints or even reliable performance from either unit.
Then I ran across an ad for the Hatchbox Alpha which promised faster print speeds, a larger build volume, a heated build plate and a far lower price than the before mentioned products; $900 from Amazon Prime. Could such a low-cost unit deliver on these high promises? Thanks to free shipping and two-day delivery, I would soon find out.
The Alpha arrived fully assembled and ready to run. We were set up and printing within a half-hour of opening the box. The results were astounding. Beautiful detailed prints emerged from the spider-like device with a modicum of effort.
We had the Alpha running day and night for several days without a hitch, clog or spoiled print. Around day six I was bragging to someone about its reliability and, of course, that’s when it clogged up for the first time. No big deal. It had to happen eventually. It took about 15 minutes of unscrewing this and paper-clipping that to clear the head and we were back up and running for several more days.
An associate of mine owns a $40,000+ refrigerator-sized 3D printer for his business. It makes gorgeous prints, is super easy to use and almost never fails. How does the Hatchbox Alpha compare? The Alpha is a bit trickier to use until you get the hang of a few things. It clogs on occasion like most lower-cost units and requires a bit more upkeep. But it runs just as fast and the print quality is quite comparable to the $40,000 unit.
So how did I double my print speed? Easy. The Hatchbox Alpha is so affordable I bought a second one. Both are running now as shown in the Nest-cam image below.