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SIP06-TinkerineDittoPlus_pi

Tinkerine Studios / tinkerines.com / Available in the Maker Shed

Price as tested $1,549 assembled ($1,249 kit)
Print volume 8-1/4″×7-1/4″×9″
Heated bed? No
Print materials PLA
OS supported Mac, Windows
Print untethered? Yes, SD card and onboard controls
Open-source hardware? No
Open-source software? Yes
Printer control software Coordia
Slicing software Skeinforge integrated into Coordia

The wood-framed Ditto+ is the flagship printer for Tinkerine Studios of Vancouver, B.C. Their first model was launched through Indiegogo in the spring of 2012, and the Ditto+ marks their second-generation upgrade.

The Ditto+ can accommodate large prints up to 8-1/4″×7-1/4″×9″ at resolution ranging from 100–300 microns. We did most of our test prints with their medium resolution profile.

Hardware Details Could Use Some Attention

The C-shaped frame provides an open design that allows a great view of your print in progress, though it’s somewhat obstructed at the start. The print bed has a three-point leveling system with springs, which works well, but we found the adjustment nuts rough on our fingers — they cry out for a printed thumbwheel upgrade.

The Ditto+ has a built-in spool holder on the back that should fit many spool sizes and includes a feed tube to the extruder. We found the filament needed a little extra encouragement to feed into the extruder. On more than one occasion, the rod fell out of the back slider on the x-axis; we fixed it mid-print without pausing and it didn’t seem to impact print quality. It’s worth noting that the extruder takes longer to heat up than other similar models.

Onboard Controls

We appreciate the inclusion of an integrated SD card slot — with a large build area, it’s nice to be untethered. The functions of the LCD display aren’t documented in the online manuals, but most of the features are straightforward. You can preheat, start a print, monitor the print, jog the motors, and more from the interface alone. We did find the jog mode a little fussy — the z-axis and extruder jogs were easy to activate at the same time by accident, and the y-axis on occasion slowed to a crawl.

The two-part online PDF manual covers assembly and calibration with straightforward line drawings and step-by-step instructions. Though we tested a prebuilt unit, the assembly and calibration guides are complete and well documented. Step-by-step instructions lead you through your first print, and a troubleshooting guide covers most common problems and solutions for rectifying them. There’s also a well-written explanation of slicing software settings and how to change them, to get new users up to speed quickly.

SIP06-TinkerineDitto-robots

Some Software Limitations

Tinkerine Studio’s free, downloadable open-source software Coordia (still in beta) is largely uncomplicated, using Skeinforge for slicing. The addition of PyPy speeds this process and, conveniently, it installs automatically. The software also contains a built-in 3D G-code visualizer.

Coordia has a few limitations, however. It doesn’t have a plating function or placement tools. Clicking on Slice will open, place, and slice your file in one fell swoop. This provides simplicity for a new user, but might be frustrating for a user who wants more control. If you’d rather use more common slicing and control software, Tinkerine Studio recommends Pronterface and Slic3r, but at press time, there are no supplied Slic3r profiles.

We encountered an extrusion problem that was solved with a quickly answered phone call to technical support. They deftly diagnosed a software bug that was stopping the extruder motor mid-print. With a couple of altered slicing settings, we solved our extrusion issue and saw a vast improvement in print quality.

Conclusion

If the prosumer machines are out of your price range, the Ditto+ may be the ticket. The machine can print at accelerated speeds, the build area is big enough for most projects, the documentation and software are simple enough for entry-level users, and the integrated display and SD card interface give it versatility. And although prints weren’t entirely without problems, the Ditto+ print quality was a cut above, performing as well or better than similarly priced printers with out-of-the-box settings.

Primo features

  • Onboard display and controls for printing from SD card without a computer
  • Big print volume, high-quality prints, and the capability for accelerated speeds rival the prosumer-class machines.
  • Custom software and very good documentation for getting started

Who’s It For?

  • Makers
  • Designers
  • Beginners

Pro Tips

  • Make sure your STL model is in the right orientation, scale, and placement before you open it in Coordia.
  • Modify your printer for faster cooling of PLA: Search “fan duct” in the forums at tinkerines.com.

Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014This review first appeared in MAKE’s Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014, page 78. Check out the full issue for more!

Kacie Hultgren

Kacie Hultgren is a Thingiverse superstar and a scenic designer in the theater industry, using her MakerBot to make amazing furniture and details for scale models. She’s also an online instructor in “Design for Desktop 3D Printing” at Maker Training Camp. Find her creations at prettysmallthings.com.


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