There are three factors that usually hamper people who have an interest in 3D printing to take the plunge and buy their first model – accessibility, price and size. In that sense, the ideal beginner’s printer would be a machine that you can start having fun with in as little time as possible, which isn’t prohibitively expensive and that doesn’t hog most of your desk space. iNSTONE’s mini 3D printer scores well in all three areas, and might be just the printer you need to start bringing your creations to life.
Features of the iNSTONE Easier Mini 3D Printer Kit
The printer’s small form factor has proven to be one of its biggest advantages for home use. While it does have a small print bed, the rest of the printer isn’t much bigger, meaning that the footprint it creates is very small and appealing.
You can keep it on your office, or on your child’s studying desk without having to make much room for it. Even better, its surprisingly light frame (5.3 lbs.) is perfect for transportation, so you can take the printer with you to a job site or a friend’s house and also use it there.
Since the printer is geared towards first-timers and people who want minimal fuss in setting everything up, it’s no wonder that installing and controlling it afterwards are very intuitive.
Getting iNSTONE’s RD printer to run for the first time involves plugging it into an outlet (and a computer via USB if you want to access prints that way), turning it on and then navigating through a basic set of settings and operations with the help of a single knob dial.
The print bed has an area of 4.3 inches squared while the height of the prints can reach up to 4.7 inches. This should be enough for any kind of small and most medium prints of various knickknacks.
The speed at which these are created varies from 40 to 250mm/s depending on the print’s complexity. The layer thickness can be adjusted from 400 to 100nm, which is about the average for 3D printers in this price bracket.
PLA filament is supported since the bed isn’t heated, and you can work with PETG as well. The bed can be removed though for easier access to newly finished prints. After a print job is done, the hot end can be heated up to get rid of any excess filament buildup in the nozzle, and any leftover filament that remained fed into it can also be ejected automatically. Since it is noticeably smaller than other printers, it also makes less noise while printing.
Support accessories come in the form of iNSTONE’s own slicing software that’s best described as basic, but will get the job done well enough. Other programs like Cura are also supported, so more advanced users can continue working with them.
The program as well as a couple of pre-installed prints and the printer’s manual arrive on a 1GB SD card, allowing you to create some fun prints like a whistle, soap box or spiral vase straight away.
The only concern with this printer has to do with the stability of its prints. Before you start extruding, you have to coat the bed with a generous amount of glue which can get messy.
Other than that, you can’t pause the prints. Well, you can, but the printer has to stay on all the time, meaning that if you ever experience a power outage in the middle of a 5-hour print job, you’re out of luck. Even when pausing correctly, excess filament that was in the nozzle before the pause can drip onto the print when resuming.
- Great ratio of the print bed to the rest of the printer so there’s no unnecessary bulkiness and associated increase in volume
- Looks fun and sleek without visible wires or exposed delicate parts
- Isn’t limited to proprietary filament options
- Operation is intuitive, easy to understand and doesn’t have a steep learning curve
- The printer is ready to go almost as soon as it is unpacked
- Prints need to be secured to the bed with a lot of glue so they don’t deform or tip over
- A print job can only be paused and resumed if the printer is continuously plugged in and powered on
In spite of the shortcomings outlined above, and some were bound to be expected with a 3D printer kit with an asking price that’s south of $200, this small printer by iNSTONE manages to check all the right boxes not just as an introductory printer for unassuming hobbyists, but its size, user-friendliness and the room it offers for learning make it a welcome present for children that are showing interest in 3D modeling and would like to experience it firsthand.