You know what? Personally and professionally I have a hard time giving it that label because of it's assumed quality that way as well as calling it budget because it's simply outperformed printers in much higher brackets so far. I'll do my best to explain why along the way and include some current final thoughts for you to think about. You'll notice it being difficult for me to contain my enthusiasm at times because well, I don't have problems with printers in general. I have set procedures and after working with hundreds of printers over the years now it takes alot to get me going.
This one actually does.
I did a earlier teaser video, and at the time my studio camera was on duty elsewhere, but in retrospect I'm glad its not embellished with lighting that can mislead print quality. It's just there and no voodoo, the prints are great. I suppose I'll board later with studio shots of prints but prefer to highlight those on the upcoming live stream shows. Stay tuned there.
This won't be a typical review- I hate them anyways. (I like my reputation just the way it is) This is not an affiliate blog or paid Youtube channel of things that will be redone countless times, I want to highlight what sets it apart and give you my conclusions- as you already know I run these through the ringers. I'll spare the common "I opened the box, put these screws in and printed a benchy BS." More of a featurette and a celebration. A printer company gets it.
It's an advantage I suppose because I know how to break printers as fast as I know how to fix them so I don't break them in the first place. I handle both tech support and education in my various endeavors so its important to me to look at them from new eyes as well as seasoned pro. Theres an infinite range of skill levels and perception out there and I cant possibly expect agreement from everyone, and as we all know theres always going to be people that wont be happy with anything. Can't win them all. (laughs)
Artillery and my Bro Mikey already did a assembly video, so check that and see you in a few minutes, otherwise moving on...
Let's get down to it shall we?
(non affiliate, non kudo bearing promotion link) Artillery has/is expanding warehousing in multiple countries and locations. I'm a direct guy when I can be.
It's 2020 (Almost 2021) and let's face it. We are past a point where printers should just look like cobbled together garage sale and hardware store bin closeouts, and printed parts on a commercial printer just don't make sense anymore. It was a novel idea but that stemmed from needing quick custom parts to further the progression of a design without costly mistakes along the way, or as temporary fixes until you figured "it" out. Well, "it" has been figured out for quite sometime and the stuff just looks tacky now. I'm going to throw some salt on the wound and add personally, I feel its a cheap ass cop out now to use printed parts and skeletal minimalist presentation on commercial printers anymore. If the function is solid, theres absolutely no reason now we can't have nice looking things to go with it.
The Hornet, reflects my thoughts with only a few very minor things I'd add, but in short it's a damn sexy looking machine. My son (age 10) lit up with Jason Momoa-like enthusiasm and his first words were "futuristic" and "sweeeet". Before we finished the finals and had units close to release the yellow didn't do it for me but since then its been blessed by the pantone gods and landed on a "construction" or "safety" yellow that has a warmer tint to it instead of a bright sunny yellow. It just looks and feels "industrial" now, like an actual tool in lingerie. (laughs)
I recently showed some images to a couple groups of elementary school kids and they all went 3 ring circus in unison. Later in 2021 when I travel to a few school districts abroad in the States here and in China I'm going to be documenting the roadshow along the way, I'm excited because not only will I be able to present a solid functioning machine, it' will have the chrome, pinstripes and rock music playing to back it up as a polished piece of excitement for them. It's about time and it's just the beginning.
||Printing Technology: FDM
Build Volume: 220*220*250mm
Layer Resolution: 0.1mm-0.32mm
Build Speed: 60-100mm/s
Travel Speed: 200mm/s
Build Plate: Aluminum and Glass Composite With Ultrabase Coating
Interface: Backlit 12864 with Control Knob and Reset
Calibration: Manual (Mesh Bed Leveling for Precision)
Nozzle Type: E3D V6 Compatible
Nozzle Temperature: 180°C-240°C
Nozzle Heating Time: <3min
Bed Heating Time: <3min
Power Voltage: 110/240
Control Board: Custom Artillery 32bit Mainboard
Filament Materials PLA, PETG, WOOD AND EXOTICS, TPU
Extruder Type: Custom Bowden
Part Cooling: Dual Fans
Pretty standard fare Huh? The newest descriptions also include TPU. I'll bring that up later. It's in the details that make this stand out some.
Right off, let's peek at the Hotend
Custom E3D V6 compatible. Yep, and it's the whole hotend unit that makes this bump for me. Assembly to the carriage is 3 easily accessible screws, the dual part cooling fans are positioned well and swapping nozzles is hardly worth a second thought. No cooling guesswork, bridging and overhangs on test prints just did their thing.
Warning, excitement level 10 here- How many of you hate looking up under a hotend, hope you have the heater block secure with a pair of pliers or a wrench, still hoping you didn't snag the thermistor or heater element wires along the way and damage them? I already know the answer...
It takes about 30 seconds to disconnect the feed line and remove the hotend unit from the carriage. While staring in disbelief and sitting in a comfy shop chair in front of the printer you can then reconnect the feed line, preheat to the needed temperature and easily reach the block and the nozzle with little to no chance damaging components or wires. Then its just swapping the nozzle before you can finish saying "It cant be this easy." I'm not kidding.
I've done this a number of times already for historical reference and even though nozzle changes are second nature across all the printers in the lab and farm, and I know the next time I do it on another "from under" machine I'm gonna get grumpy. (laughs)
I'm sparing you the disassembled hotened images because you know, finned cooling section, block, heatbreak and PCB board. Advanced users know these, and new users wont be concerned yet. Later on we will do full breakdowns through official Artillery videos. However...
The cooling fans (dual) are positioned to properly do the job they are meant to do. No guesswork there or mods. The only thing to note is if the circumstance arises where you have to replace them, they are held in position with tension pegs that require you to disconnect the fans from the board, remove the top screws holding the unit inside the shroud, and gently squeeze the ends on the inside (easy) and pop them out. It makes for a quicker swap but again, the keyword is gentle. I popped them in and out about a dozen times so I can say its a well thought out little detail that I appreciate, especially because I didn't have random extruder parts hanging or laying about to concern myself with.
Overall, this will make it even easier on new users and perhaps thwart a few of the hamfisted golfers that seem to break things along the way, unless of course they are on a mission to break something but that would be true for any printer. (laughs) The V6 style nozzles are widely available in many diameters so you can keep faithful to your favorite brand and not think twice.
For the more experienced users that might want to toy with different hotends- After (as of this writing) over 300 printing hours on multiple filament types it leaves me with a genuine question why you would actually want to. Its a well done E3D 6 style and you could swap for your sensational unobtainium blocks and meteorite forged heatbreaks and be done but the electronics and firmware will require you to plan a bit further ahead and think things through. Printer abuse in my eyes. At least the carriage block part won't keep you up at night trying to design a mount. Buy another printer designed for the changes you are contemplating. (shrug)
The heatbreak itself is a common PTFE lined variation which will be good up to about (safely) 235/240C. Its meant to be in that range because its not designed for high temperature filaments and the upcoming hack that will bring people to the support forums or part shills to get sold a plethora of alternative heatbreak variants that allow for them, which is not generally a good idea in the long run. By the time you venture into those higher temperature filaments, save some money and grief and invest in a printer designed to handle those higher temperature filaments because it wont be just swapping that part. Your printer though there bucko.
The Bowden Extruder (Filament Feed System)
The pros and cons of a bowden over direct drive and visa versa are still there but these days they are narrowing in my opinion. Better and "tighter" systems and even better filament formula and tolerance control are part of that reason. Truth is, unless you are expecting the majority of your printing to be in the form of abrasive and/or flexible filaments average (and definitely new users) wont notice a difference. I'll take some already established information and drop it in with some comments:
Direct Drive Extruders:
Easier Extrusion- Since a direct extruder is mounted to the print head, the motor can easily push filament through the nozzle, allowing for better extrusion.
Faster Retractions- Because the extruder is close to the nozzle, the direct extruder can quickly retract filament.
Smaller/Less Powerful Motor Needed- Due to the short distance between the extruder and nozzle, less torque from the motor is required to push filament.
Easier Feed of Some Filaments- A direct drive extruder is compatible with a wider range of filaments. Even with flexible and abrasive materials, direct extrusion allows for easier printing of those materials but doesn't mean you cant with a bowden, it just means you have different things to consider and require different tuning emphasis.
More Likely, More Burdened Movements- With the extruder mounted to the print head, weight is added, and this extra weight adds speed constraints, possibly causing more wobble and possibly a loss of accuracy in the X and Y axes at times.
Alot of Parts In A Tight Space- The design can also create a bit more difficulty or time additions when doing maintenance or repairs since everything is at best, engineered with alot more component parts in a small desired area. Assembly or disassembly can get pretty complex.
Bowden Style Extruders
Cleaner, More Fluid Movements- A Bowden extruder is mounted on the printer’s frame rather than on the print head, which means much less weight is on the carriage. Less weight means faster, quieter, and higher quality prints.
Some Say A Larger Build Volume- A Bowden extruder allows for a smaller print head carriage, which, in turn, allows for increased build volume in some designs.
Smaller Size- Bowden extruders are typically more compact, taking up less space than a normal direct extruder. This also means there is generally no need for additional electronic components wired to the extruder area, less to go wrong and easier to maintain.
More Powerful Motor- Because a Bowden extruder is pushing and pulling filament through a long tube, a certain amount of friction exists between the two. This friction calls for more torque to control filament. This was more of a consideration before prior to the addition of newer, better tube materials and drive component designs.
"Slower" Response Time- More friction in the Bowden tube also translates to slow response time. Bowden extruders require longer and faster retraction to avoid stringing. (Don't see how this is a con as much these days. Know your slicer folks.)
Consideration of Materials- Some flexible and abrasive filaments can easily bind or wear in Bowden tubes, which requires a well thought out design and inspection. This is another con that has bearing (or not) depending on your printing manifest.
I've been pretty vocal over the years about preferring direct drive over bowden systems, and I'm starting to take more of a neutral stand on the debate because all along I kept it in my mind that I wanted the best for my needs. The designs and materials have indeed improved and in truth most of the machines I use for production and everyday printing don't need to take either camp's flag into consideration. The bigger argument(s) out there bring up flexible filaments and abrasives. We ran tests with TPU on the Hornet and it did just fine, one caveat there is I will venture to say you will not be speed boosting the system (as many like to try to do) but that should be said for either system IF you want quality, predictable print cycles.
As for abrasives, we have about a half dozen bowden printers here of various brands, and can, have, and do run abrasives through them semi regularly. Things to watch for are filament intakes and the bowden tubes themselves. In older systems where there are connectors that use clench or "tooth" style connections these can be points where more abrasion is possible. You know what though? Even after periodic use of abrasives in these machines its only become necessary to replace parts a couple times, and in my opinion the innovative design of Artillery's bowden decreases the likelihood of that even more. Even so, good Capricorn (quality) tube is cheap and you wont need to replace any other parts of that chain because of the design. To me it's what's made argument using that as an angle, kind of pointless, or trivial.
Pro Tip: If your needs and environment require abrasives or flexible filaments all the time, then I hope you already know what you need to look for, but for the bulk of average users, you can go in either direction and not consider it a minus at all- its a very easy design that will require much less consideration and effort on your part for the things you SHOULD be doing.
Not much to see here. It's solid and shouldn't require any (please god no) bracing. If you really, really want to have a piece of mind a standard L bracket made for extrusion and t-nut combo will suffice. It just doesn't need it. It's well designed with good marriage of the aluminum extrusions where important and a sturdy ABS case.
Pro Tip: Assemble your printer properly and rule out all the more likely reasons you think you need bracing for. Your deductions will be further minimized by the fact that the filament spool is not on the top (leading cause of issues across all printer brands) and close attention to properly tensioned belts and gantry wheels go a long way from keeping you from turning your spiffy printer into a threaded rod and printed bracket monstrosity.
Ah, the heatbed. Again, sparing boring information that's pretty standard on most machines it's powered accordingly for your country, heats quickly and is an aluminum and glass composite with a textured surface. A few users out there expressed concerns about the composite decision and well, I'm on the fence but for perhaps different reasons. Let me elaborate...
The surface itself is fine, although as with any other printer or brand using this type the same people who manage to damage them there will here too. We have multiple printers with this surface and have hundreds of hours on each of them all with no signs of degradation or breakage. Why?
We understand they require care and cleaning. Some filaments require a release agent (like PETG) and proper cleaning are NOT negotiable. Come at me Bro but as a support agent I can promise most of the breakage or failures out there are user error in the form of impatience (not waiting until the bed has cooled) or a quick 2 minute cycle to reheat the bed or using a release agent when needed. That's it. I'm going to purposely accrue already having thousands of hours on the same surface across multiple printers to substantiate that.
Spend bucks on alternatives if you wish, that's fine. Just do it for the right reasons and know you usually wont have to unless you want to print higher temperature finicky materials or want to follow the flexible rave wave.
|Note: a few users claim they see "lifting" of the glass from the aluminum.
I'm going to go a wee bit Sherlock here (Robert Downey, not Benedict Cumberbatch) and mention the 0.05 gap of light you see around the edges is due to the fact that the glue sheet used in production adds a bit of discernable height because it doesn't come completely to the edges of the bed. This is normal and it isn't lifting, nor will it affect the reliability of the bed. I cant help infusing a bit of sarcasm there because well, I'm me. I want people to think.
Now "The Fence Part" and a Conclusion:
There wont be any shortage of 3rd party modifications coming out for this so drop the money if you want or if you are capable of drilling a few holes, make your own. I need 100 percent reliability and keep printers running for years without any major problems (adhesion, warping, consumable surfaces) so my choices reflect that. If (and I will on the production units) and when I do alter this, it will be a solid aluminum bed with 1MM PEI on it as usual. 6 years of trouble free printing backs that up with teeth. Its a 20 or so dollar solution that will never need replacing and I can run any material on it trouble free. So, take that as you will.
Pro Tip: I'll almost bet some of the first wave of complaints about bed leveling will come from 2 distinct crowds- The ones who do not understand MBL and the ones who go flex plate and do it half ass by just taking off the glass and sticking a plastic, magnetic condom on the bed. RDJ here again. There is a reason over time in design we moved away from thin aluminum plates for beds even on smaller format printers. The +- 1/8" (just to piss you metrics off) material can and does warp if your tension is at the high end. There is a correction for that even but I want to play a bit and see if anyone figures that out. If you are going to do it though, do it right and either have a desk rat subcontract a 3rd party plate or make your own with the right thickness and proper design. You heard it here first, again.
The User Interface
At first glance the trendy peeps out there will scoff at the lack of a touchscreen. Sure, I like them too but they don't create better prints. Touchscreens have their own set of problems too and the choice to go with the backlit and knob is a good one in my opinion. Actually a great one for new users and you would think for the ones that seem to break LCD's all the time or tap themselves into errors faster than Creality comes out with a new Ender version. (laughs) Why?
In this case, when learning it's important to go slow and think your choices through, paying attention along the way. It gives the inquisitive mind a chance to work properly and maintains essential feedback along the way for new learners and hopefully a parking brake for the error golfers I mention. As a seasoned user, it's a breath of fresh air for a change because it already has all the features of the most recent Marlin 2 ready to go on a 32bit board, including mesh bed leveling and all the speed/acceleration parameters. EEPROM writing and saving is also enabled so I wont be needing to write any firmwares. (laughs) So on, and so on.
Performance, Profiles and Prints
Not much to say here that cant be said in a short sentence. The machine is quiet (very quiet) and operations like bed leveling and filament loading are easy. The machine is well calibrated so writing your own profiles will be easy if you wish, just don't hop on the mod train- it's well capable of stellar performance out of the box.
One note though, due to the way the extruder is designed, the connector at the top can be misaligned if you disassemble it and don't pay attention. If you have trouble loading filament or notice some resistance while running filament through, look there as it can be adjusted front to back. It slides forward or backward when loose and can cause a misalignment in the feed system, binding or not letting filament pass through at all if its way off. When assembling/checking the setup I use (as with other similar styles) a wire tool that's filament diameter but you can probably use filament for the same job.
As you can see in the teaser video at the start, we ran multiple filament types and brands, across various models that had different requirements and special needs when it came to bridging, overhangs, and acceleration/moves that were meant to shake the printers off the bench. (laughs) It handled them all well and just like our other machines, only needed slight changes from known profiles. More on that in a minute.
The Hornet has delivered well beyond my initial expectations and even surprised me a bit. They led me to make a decision to swap out some of the other machines we use for production purposes and fine detail printing because the low maintenance and stellar performance and prints. These will also save me alot of time being anxious when introducing new users to 3D printing- I cannot say that about a few other popular printers/brands. That was a hard test for any printer in this domain.
There might be some disappointment from the mod crowd, and I'm going to be coarse here- while I know from experience there will always be those who manage to talk themselves into thinking they need to find something to break or modify, don't take it personal if someone rolls their eyes. The Hornet can be a tinkering machine, just like any other but, ah, why? (If printing is the game, not ah, not printing) I still have a hard time believing there is such a thing as "better-er" and the infamous "better-er-er". That's my opinion though.
I've already had working profiles for Cura, Simplify 3D and Prusa Slicer during the tests over the last few months, and had requests for other slicers as well like Ideamaker, Superslicer, etc. Yes. They will be released soon and more of that has bearing on my workload, probably on one of the upcoming live shows during a party just for fun. Printer stock in various locations will be coming pretty quick, and we already have profiles for Cura on the SD card for those early adopters. Eventually they will all be on it. Just a little patience.
My Only Gripe?
Gotcha. I don't have much which is the surprise part on my end. The only one that has substance? A direction arrow on the SD card slot. (laughs) More than once I caught myself trying to insert it upside down. That and a couple cosmetic alterations I'm not going to mention just yet.
Buying The Artillery 3D Hornet
Enjoy folks, it was a pleasure getting this printer to you and look forward to awesome prints from you.