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Type A Machines Series 1 3D printer: First impressions and brief review


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Delicious
(NaturalNews) As Natural News readers know, I'm on the verge of releasing a series of freely-shared 3D-printable inventions. These new objects will empower people with breakthrough non-electricity technology to grow their own food and medicine. The downloadable 3D object files will be released on www.FoodRising.org

As part of this project, I have acquired numerous 3D printers and put them to the test to find out what works and what I can recommend to readers. I recently received the Series 1 3D printer from Type A Machines, an innovative company located in what used to be a Ford manufacturing building in an industrial area of California.

What follows is my first impression of the printer based on initial unboxing and a few hours of printing. As I've found that I need at least 100 hours of printing on a 3D printer to really know its pros and cons, please don't consider this a comprehensive review (I'll post that later on Natural News).

If you're new to Natural News, my technical background is that I'm a former software company founder and now the lab director of the Natural News Forensic Food Lab, where I run Agilent ICP-MS instrumentation to conduct parts-per-billion elemental analysis of food contamination. I specialize in finding toxic heavy metals in food, water and environmental samples. I'm also a very vocal opponent of toxic mercury in vaccines, toxic pesticides on food and toxic chemicals in personal care products.

Here's my impression of the Type A Machines Series 1 printer so far:

Build quality
Very rugged build with many metal parts where they're needed most (such as the bed frame). Sleek design overall. Looks like I'm living in the future with this thing on my desk.

Filament feed
Feed mechanism is extremely easy to access. Super easy loading and unloading of filament, by far the easiest I've seen so far. Filament path is all-metal. Extremely rugged extruder.

Filament feeds during the print: When printing t-glase, I have to reduce the feed flow to 90% to avoid feed gear slippage. Next I'll test with ABS and XT filaments. PLA is not on my list to test, but I'm sure it prints extremely well in this setup. ABS usually feeds very reliably, so I don't expect any problems at all with ABS or XT feeds.

Bed leveling
Still a huge pain in the ass, but less of a pain in the ass than other printers I've tried. Leveling the bed requires fiddling with tension springs mounted on screws on all four corners, but the good part is that once you get the bed where you want it, it stays in place better than other beds I've seen.

There's a significant bug I've found where if you cancel a print during the printing, somehow the printer can lose the Z-home and decide its new Z-home is as much as 4mm higher than what it used to be. I had to re-level the bed three times because of this bug.

There's a black knob near the back of the printer that says it raises and lowers the print head. It did at first, actually, but now it doesn't do anything. I watch the nozzle head height through a magnifier, so I'm confident it's no longer moving relative to the bed when I turn this knob. I have named it the "mystery knob" because it makes odd metallic sounds when you turn it but doesn't seem to do anything anymore. Not sure if I broke it or if I just don't understand it yet... more play time awaits.

Heat
Extruder head heats up MUCH faster than other 3D printers, reducing wait times for new prints. This is a really nice feature.

Print bed has NO heat. This is probably not a huge deal unless you print a lot of large objects in ABS. For all other filament materials, I think bed heat is overrated anyway.

Extruder
The extruder rocks. Very light, fast-moving head with amazing accuracy on all three axes. The nozzle that comes with the printer is 0.4mm, and I'm not yet sure how to swap it out with a new nozzle, but I'm sure there's a process for that.

The wiring harnesses are clean and simple. Swapping out components on the extruder looks incredibly easy and fast. I really love the fact that everything on the extruder head looks easily accessible and out in the open. I'm tired of disassembling complex extruder heads, so I look forward to taking this one apart and seeing how easy it is.

The Type A Machines website offers this description of its extruder, which you might typically consider to be just hype and exaggeration. But in this case, it's all actually true:

Our new all-metal extruder is a game changer. The single piece melt path reduces clogging, allows for better temperature and print control, and works with a wider variety of printing materials, including PLA, High Carbon PLA and PET. It's easy to clean and easy to replace, so you're printing more and troubleshooting less.

Control
The printer comes with its own built-in web browser and control system. If you're using Windows, you need to install Apple's Bonjour print server controller, which is easy to do. (Type A Machines seems to be a Mac-centric company, and the Mac look and feel even seems to have influenced the modeling of the machine itself.)

The control system works flawlessly so far. No glitches whatsoever but I do wish I could expand the viewing area of uploaded filenames (to view longer names). I name my test print objects with the slicer specs, such as "Object X 20mm 220C" and this isn't viewable in the limited window. I would also like a simple way to sort the uploaded objects by the most recent upload date. Maybe it has that feature but I haven't found it yet...

One thing I'd really like to see on this machine is an SD card reader on the front so that I can pop an SD card into the machine and print from that. Nearly all other 3D printers have this feature.

Slicer
The Type A Machines Series 1 printer comes with the Cura slicer, customized for the Type A printer. So far Cura has worked flawlessly, but I haven't tried incredibly complex objects yet, so it hasn't really been much of a test.

Cura seems to be a pretty good slicer so far. It doesn't give you the "under the hood" control of something like ReplicatorG, but it's way easier to use, especially for beginners. And it's way faster than ReplicatorG, perhaps by a factor of 50.

Noise level
Very low noise. The quietest 3D printer I've tested so far. The far louder noise in the room is me saying, "Holy crap that printer is quiet!"

Print quality
Superb. This printer has amazing print precision.

Some of the test objects I've designed have very small diameter holes, and they printed flawlessly on this printer. I also have objects with screw threads, and those did really well, too.

Maintenance and parts
The Type A Machines website offers an accessories page but doesn't appear to offer replacement nozzles and heating elements by themselves. I'll have to call or email to find out how to get those spare parts separately. Sooner or later this print nozzle will jam due to some dirty filament, and I'll have to disassemble it.

Overall impression: QUALITY
Overall, my impression of the Type A Machines printer is that it offers remarkable quality which probably translates into durability. It's obvious just from listening to the print operation that special care has been taken in the motor control system to do really cool things like use acceleration curves for X/Y movements. That eliminates a lot of the jerkiness of other printers and probably eliminates most of the vibration resonance patterning you'd find in prints produced by lower quality printers.

Every component in the print drive chain seems to be of amazing quality, from the cable harnesses to the bearings. I also really appreciate the ease of opening the panel and getting into the electronics which are located under the print bed. With most other printers, you have to turn them upside down, inside out, or go through a variety of other odd contortions to reveal the electronics. But with Type A Machines, it's right there where you need it.

Of course, you pay for the quality. I think I paid around $2700 for this printer, which is about double the cost of something like the FlashForge or the new Lulzbot Mini. But if you want really good precision, $2700 is still an amazing bargain as far as I'm concerned, especially considering that similar precision would have cost you $50,000 just three years ago.

My overall impression is that this Series 1 3D printer is going to be a workhorse. Type A Machines is to be congratulated on delivering a really rugged, sleek, quiet and highly accurate machine that will truly help spark the revolution in consumer-level 3D printing. Is it worth $2700? Yeah, every penny.

Next in line for my 3D printer reviews are the Ultimaker 2 (supposed to arrive in another week or two, these are really slow to ship) and the new Lulzbot Mini (also supposed to arrive in another week or so).

In the mean time, our in-house print farm production has already begun on FlashForge printers, and we're producing parts for the upcoming launch of www.FoodRising.org where you can either buy the parts already printed, or download them for free and print them yourself. (Or convince your geek friend with a 3D printer to print it for you!)

Download all my new inventions and print them yourself in the coming weeks when we announce them at www.FoodRising.org

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About the author:Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is the founding editor of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news website, now reaching 7 million unique readers a month.

In late 2013, Adams launched the Natural News Forensic Food Lab, where he conducts atomic spectroscopy research into food contaminants using high-end ICP-MS instrumentation. With this research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products to low levels by July 1, 2015.

In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released ten popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at HealthRanger.com.

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