- Ease of Use
The UP! Mini 3D printer is a small printer designed to produce moderately sized ABS parts and print them well. It has a fully enclosed print volume that maintains a constant environment for consistent prints and an easy to use user interface.
Out of the box, however, there are several issues that a few cheap modifications can solve.
What’s in the Box?
The UP! Mini 3D printer comes fully assembled and ready to print out of the box within 15 minutes. Simply plug it in, install the software on your computer, insert the 1.75mm ABS filament (it comes with .7kg of white ABS), and you are ready to go.
The UP! Mini also comes with a wide variety of useful tools. A scraper for removing parts, hobby knives to help remove support material, tweezers, a wrench for the nozzle, a hex key, pliers, and heat resistant gloves.
User Interface of UP Mini 3D Printer
The UP! Mini uses Smart 3D Print software. It is a closed source program like Makerbot’s Makerware program, but only has the basic print setup functions like part placement and scaling, infill density, support material, and type of plastic. It only uses .STL files to load models for printing.
About the UP Mini 3D Printer
The UP! Mini is a capable printer, but it is far from the top of its class. Its minimum layer height is .2mm (100 microns), which is twice as thick as most printers on the market today. It uses perf board for its bed, which is great for parts to stick to but does not give the smooth finish that glass or metal beds of other printers.
The print bed also maxes out at just 51.4 C, in a world where most printers have minimum bed temperatures of 60 C. While on most printers this would not be enough to prevent ABS from warping, the enclosed design of the UP! Mini retains heat throughout the entire build volume, requiring a lower temperature from the build plate. It would still be nice if the print bed could match other printers’ bed capabilities, though.
Since many users prefer to use PLA, it is important to note that the printer has trouble with PLA plastic out of the box. First off the settings in the printer’s software are set a bit too high for most PLA filaments and cannot be changed within the software: there is a PLA mode and an ABS mode, and their settings are locked. The PLA setting does not use the heated bed, either, so warping can be a real issue with PLA parts. Finally, the extruder motor gets too warm for PLA, so instead of gripping the filament and feeding it into the heated nozzle, it softens the filament and gouges it out, preventing it from feeding. There are solutions to these issues and they will be covered further down.
Overall the print quality of the UP! Mini is actually pretty good. It is reliable and even offers a “Repeat last print job” function to speed up setup between multiple identical parts. The printer is accurate and consistent with its prints.
Modifications on the UP Mini 3D Printer
As talked about above, the UP! Mini does have a few issues out of the box. If you want to print exclusively with ABS there shouldn’t be much to worry about, but there are still a few things you can do to make this pretty good printer that much better.
First of all, the heated bed is not regulated in software by a thermocouple or thermistor like most printers, it uses a thermostat rated to 55 C. Some users report that by unsoldering this part and replacing it with one rated for 100C, the heated bed can safely reach more desirable temperatures for ABS or PLA.
The door and top hatch can easily be removed and replaced, and users report that by removing the door and pointing a small fan at the extruder, the motor will not soften PLA filament and feed it just fine. The door can then be replaced for ABS prints.
Finally there is a product by Octave, a distributer of the UP! Mini, that bypasses the connection between the hot end and the motherboard, limiting the current and thus the hot end’s temperature between 209 and 266 C. This means that by leaving the printer in ABS mode, the hot end can be adjusted on the hardware side to PLA temperatures while still retaining the use of the heated bed. This modification is a bit more invasive and will likely void any warranties, so it is not recommended unless you know exactly what you are doing. Check out the detailed discussion on modifications.
Comparison to a Similar Printer
We did a head-to-head comparison of the UP! Mini to the Da Vinci Jr. Check out the detailed review of the Da Vinci here.
Da Vinci Jr
|Print Envelope||120 x 120 x 120 mm||150 x 150 x 150 mm|
|Layer Height||.2-.4 mm (200 – 400 microns)||.1 -.4 mm (100 – 400 microns)|
|Heated bed||YES (50 C)||NO|
|Materials||ABS, PLA (with some modifications)||PLA (proprietary cartridges only)|
|Weight||5 kg||12 kg|
The UP! Mini is a decent printer, but is behind the times in capabilities; similarly priced printers offer a wider range of capabilities and larger print areas. As far as print quality goes, it is reliable and accurate, even if it can’t handle any layer heights smaller than .2mm. The enclosed design is actually a good feature, and makes up for the lacking heated bed by keeping the entire print volume warm while also providing a cleaner aesthetic and a safer product to use around children, such as in a classroom environment. You can check out other similar printers here.