3D Printers

Don't Take Reviews at Face Value – Especially 3D Printing Ones!!

So Top 10 Reviews has done a feature focusing on entry-level 3D printers. And it covers 19 (not 10) of them across two very dense pages of information. I concede I have not analysed these figures clinically, that’s to say, I have not fact checked every one of them — I have neither the time nor the inclination. But what strikes me is that I don’t think the reviewers have either. I think they’re going largely on marketing specs and personal opinion, or, possibly, dare I say it, revenue! The thing is, with a feature utilising this many facts and figures, you would expect and can forgive the odd slip up but this goes well beyond that.

The outcome of this review in terms of the rankings, which, let’s face it, will be the primary focus of current non-users of 3D printers, will, I suspect, make many actual users of these 3D printers raise a brow or two. Maybe followed by a frown. Just like I did.

The vast number of metrics used in this comparison ensures viewers get a perception of comprehensive analysis, but how real is it?

In my opinion, not very.

2013 Best 3D Printer Reviews and Comparisons Screen shot 2013 06 28 at 10.07

I won’t be able to point out everything that’s wrong with this review or I will still be writing this time next week (perhaps some of you can add in the comments section if/when you take a look, for the benefit of other readers) – but I’ll start with some obvious ones:

‘Printing jet material’ (deceptive as a category alone) but referring to the material that the extruder is made from. According to this review, the CubeX and Cube extruders are made out of plastic — I think not.

The price of filament for the top two are up to 5x and 2x more, on average, than the for the other 3D printers. And yet they are still #1 and #2 — it would seem running costs have not rated highly on the metrics.

The MakerBot Replicator is discontinued and no longer available direct from the manufacturer – the shop link takes you to a non-existent page.

The 3D Touch is #10 and yet it is effectively the same machine as #1, which has been tweaked and rebranded!

The CubeX, rated #1 here, got a 100% reliability score — I have it on good authority, from numerous users of different 3D printers that NO CURRENT 3DPRINTER IS 100% RELIABLE! Not even the industrial ones!!

The multi-colour print capability – again this is deceptive, particularly for non-users — but this all depends on the number of extrusion heads and their interchangability! Fairly common practice across entry-level 3D printers. And even with a single extruder, time, patience and experience allows mutli-colour prints. None of these printers print in multi-colour simultaneously.

Safety Testing – I think many of the manufacturers might have something to say about the results here. Afinia has certainly been safety tested.

And here I am going to stop ….. but please feel free to add more, like I said.

In the end, successful 3D printing with this grade of machine, at this point in time, is generally more dependent on the user’s experience and expertise than the 3D printer itself.

My advice – don’t take reviews like this at face value. Particularly if you are looking to buy — nothing beats doing the homework and talking to other users to find the best fit for you and your application(s). And in the interests of fairness, the article with the review does state this too.