The Qidi Tech 1 is a low-cost alternative to a Makerbot or even the Flashforge Creator Pro. Like the Creator, Qidi’s printer is a clone of the Makerbot that cuts a few corners to save money. Qidi goes a step further than FlashForge , and you certainly get what you pay for with this printer.
What’s in the box
The Qidi Tech 1 reportedly arrives surprisingly soon after ordering from Amazon in a well packaged box mostly assembled. The assembly instructions are generally reported as good from users, for a manual translated from Chinese. It is included on the SD card already inserted into the printer. The Qidi Tech 1 requires some assembly before use, notably opening up the back panel to access the power supply and switch it over to the US standard, as well as attaching the acrylic panels and dual extruder assembly. The assembly process can take a few hours depending on the user’s skill and any damages that may have occurred in transit. After assembly the printer is ready to go. The printer comes with a spool of PLA and a spool of ABS to help get started.
Qidi recommends using Makerbot’s proprietary printing software, as using other programs like Slicer or Cura on the Tech 1 will shrink the model by a reported 7-8% in the X and Y directions. This is an odd choice, since Makerbot is a direct competitor. It is also recommended to use the SD card as much as possible for printing as USB printing can experience a few hiccups and ruin a print midway through.
Features & Capabilities
The Qidi Tech 1 is a clone of the Makerbot 2 and has many of the same features. The bearings and mechanical parts are reported as superior to the Makerbot’s, however the electronics appear to fall short, especially on older models (newer printers have fixed most of the reported issues with better wiring and a shielded control board)
The build volume is a respectable 230mm x 150mm x 150mm, a little smaller than the Makerbot’s 285 x 155 x 155. The nozzles, whose sizes aren’t listed, can print at layer heights between .1 and .5mm, just like the Makerbot. Both extruders can reach 230C and the bed, which is heated, can reach 120C.
Many users report that the blue build plate that comes with the printer, which appears plastic or a glass plate with a special film, does not work correctly. Many of these same users replaced the bed with glass or aluminum with their preferred printing surface (blue tape, kapton, hairspray, etc.)
Is it a Good Printer?
The reliability is the biggest risk, most users work it hard for months for no problem, however a few negative, yet insightful reviews have pointed out serious electrical flaws that can cause older versions of the printer to malfunction after a couple weeks. Most of those issues have been fixed on newer versions, however some of the poor electrical design still appears to be in these printers as well.
The software is another concern. The Tech 1’s control board cannot be flashed with new firmware, and only Makerbot’s proprietary print software works well with it. Depending on the use this can be a good or a bad thing.
All in all, this printer is exactly what you should expect from a Makerbot clone. Corners were cut in some areas to make it cheaper and every now and then the printer breaks because of it. On the plus side, most units work fine without any trouble; producing quality prints for a fraction of the initial cost of Qidi's competitors. Besides, even if your printer is one that ends up breaking, Qidi’s customer service is always reported as prompt and extremely helpful. This printer would work for just about any beginner or intermediate 3D printer, so long as they are aware of the risks.