The Wanhao Duplicator i3 is a low-cost, entry level 3D printer for skilled beginners, workshop prototypers, and all-around makers alike. It is based on the Prusa i3 developed by Josef Prusa, one of the best-selling RepRap models. Its all-steel pre-assembled frame is sturdy and reliable, providing high quality prints right out of the box with minimal setup.
What’s in the box
The Duplicator i3 comes with everything you need to start printing right out of the box. Early models came fully assembled but newer ones have taken apart the z-frame to have more robust packaging. This is easily reassembled with the eight screws and hex wrenches provided.
The Duplicator comes with an SD card (preloaded with a couple models to try the printer out with), a few sheets of tape to use on the print bed, a scraper to help remove stubborn prints from the bed, a computer cable, and a 300 mm length of 1.75mm PLA filament to print with.
The motors have been unplugged to prevent damage in shipping, so you need to plug the wires back into them. The filament spool holder also needs to be assembled; it bolts down to the power supply with two bolts and a retainer nut holds the threaded rod in place.
User interface and software
The Duplicator has bright LCD display mounted on the power supply unit, and is controlled with a dial mounted just below it. The printer can run off of a micro SD card or a computer via USB cable. Programs like Cura or Simplify 3D are compatible with the printer and are easy to use. The UI lets you preheat the printer, home the extruder, run the cooling fans, select your model from the SD card, and more. This interface allows you to get the printer started without ever having to plug it into a computer; Wanhao even emails the user manual with the order confirmation so you know how to work the printer by the time it ships to your door.
What is the Wanhao Duplicator i3 capable of?
For a low-price printer, the Duplicator i3 offers a lot. The build envelope is 200 x 200 x 180 mm, which is a bit on the medium-small side but perfect for desktop printing. It has a footprint of 400 x 410x 400 mm so it shouldn’t take up to much room either.
The print nozzle is .4mm, which is good for fine details in the XY plane. The Z height resolution can go down to a minimum of .1mm (100 microns). Many users have reported great-looking prints straight out of the box. Some retailers claim the machine can print at speeds of 10 – 100 mm/s, however many users have reported that speeds higher than 65 mm/s will cause the new mk10 extruder to clog, so don’t expect a lightning fast printer.
The Duplicator’s single mk10 extruder can reach temperatures up to 260 C, although most will keep it between 190 and 210 C in the usual operating range for PLA and ABS based filaments. Plastics like Nylon should also be printable; however some have expressed concern with using the extruder at the necessary temperatures as it uses a PTFE liner.
The print bed is a pretty standard 200 x 200 mm heated bed. It operates between 60 and 100 C to prevent prints from warping. The bed sits on four spring loaded screws with wing nuts to adjust the height of each corner for leveling.
Check out the detailed specifications below:
|Build size||200 x 200 x 180 mm|
|Connection||USB, SD card|
|Electronics||RepRap MELZI i3|
|Extruder diameter||0.4 mm|
|Extruder quantity||mk10 Single Extruder|
|Heated bed temperature||60-100°C|
|Recommended extruder temperature||190-210°C ( maximum can be set to 260°C)|
|Filament size||1.75 mm diameter|
|Material type||ABS and PLA filaments|
|Power Supply||110V or 220V, 240W, 50Hz, 0.89A|
|Print precision||0.1 mm (100 microns)|
|Printer reading format||Gcode|
|Software||Cura & Simplify 3D|
|Speed||10-100 mm/s adjustable. (recommend staying under 65 mm/s)|
|Unit weight||10 kg|
Modifications of the Wanhao i3
While the Duplicator is already a great printer out of the box for beginners; however more advanced users may want to make their own modifications. Even after being on the market for only a couple of months, several small modifications have already been shared by users.
The control board is a RepRap Melzi, which is open source and easy to upload new firmware to if you know what you are doing. Rotating the extruder motor 90 degrees also prevents the motor’s wires from getting pinched by the frame when the Z-axis is at the extreme top of its range.
Some users have recommended zip-tying the open end of the Y-axis idler to make it sturdier and prevent wobble during printing. Another clever alteration is to add nuts between the head of the bed screws and the springs, anchoring the screws to the heated bed so they act more like rigid posts, further reducing any wobble.
If you are looking for a cheap printer to get started with but don’t want to assemble it yourself, this is certainly a top candidate. Preassembled and ready to go with a short setup, this printer is easy to use. The all-steel frame will ensure that it will stand up to everyday use and you won’t waste time and money replacing plastic parts as they wear out. Don’t expect too much from the extruder, though. Start off printing under 60 mm/s and work your way to faster speeds as you grow more comfortable with the machine.
Hopefully, this review of the Duplicator i3 will be useful. We recommend it for anyone with a tight budget looking for a good printer. You can purchase the Wanhao Duplicator I3 by going here.