SeeMeCNC_Orion_3671cmyk

SeeMeCNC Orion 3D Printer: Affordable delta arrives (mostly) preassembled, but requires some fine-tuning.
Image by Brian Kaldorf.

SeeMeCNC’s second delta printer, the Orion, ships with an assembled frame and a low price that could go a long way to increase delta adoption in the maker community.

M42_TestPrints-P

SeeMeCNC Orion
seemecnc.com
Price as Tested $1,200
Build Volume 230mm Z, round 150mm diameter platform
Bed Style Heated glass
Temperature Control? Yes
Materials PLA, ABS
Print Untethered? SD card, OctoPrint compatible
Onboard controls? Yes
Host Software Repetier-Host
Slicer Slic3r
OS Mac, Windows, Linux
Open Software? Third-party software
Open Hardware? Auxiliary design files, license unknown

Setting up the Orion

The Orion arrives (mostly) preassembled with the Cheapskate carriages, delta arms, and EZStruder bowden extruder already connected to the towers, a tremendous relief for those who have studied the early delta printer kits. The online manual clearly guides you through plugging in electronics, LCD interface, and power supply.

Unlike a few recent deltabots, there’s no autoleveler — you must calibrate the Z-height manually. The correct height for printing the first layers is determined by measuring down from the Z-axis endstop at the top of the machine, so time spent tuning this carefully will be rewarded later.

Wobbles and Eccentricities

One of the Orion’s handiest features is the Cheapskate carriage. The “eccentric cams” on each carriage can be rotated to tighten or loosen their grip on the aluminum extrusion tracks. After a few unusually low-quality prints, we discovered that one of these carriages was loose. After tightening, we reran all of the parts again.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 2.11.16 PM

PRO TIPS
– The cancelation option on the LCD interface isn’t quickly accessible. To halt in a hurry, hit the button under the main control knob.
– Take the time to fine-tune the Z-height by turning the screw head protruding from the top of each carriage. When homing preprint, the screws make contact with the endstops; fine-tuning each of these (to 0.1mm or less!) takes serious time — and the resulting changes in the path of the nozzle across the build area can be difficult to evaluate.
WHY TO BUY
Low cost deltabot, handy onboard LCD interface, unusual design is fun to watch.

Shootout prints were run using the vendor’s recommended host and slicing software, but the Slic3r-prepared test probes proved problematic. It scored poorly on almost all tests, even after the prints were rerun. Exceptions include high marks on the difficult Overhangs probe and a “pass” on both the mechanical XY and Z Resonance tests.

Slow Down and Use Cura

After tallying our test data, we noticed that the Orion’s provided profiles were WAY too fast — over twice the speed of any other machine tested. Experienced Orion users report that their results have been superior using Cura with their own settings rather than the provided Slic3r profiles. Fellow tester Matt Stultz reports that the Orion is his go-to production machine and advises new users to use Cura from the start.

Conclusion

Although this printer did not perform well during our testing, makers who slow down their print speed, use Cura, and spend the time upfront to carefully fine-tune the Cheapskate carriages’ Z-height should be pleasantly surprised with the performance of this affordable delta.