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SIP06-UpMini

Delta Micro Factory / pp3dp.com

Price as tested $899
Print volume 4.7″×4.7″×4.7″
Heated bed? Yes
Print materials ABS, PLA
OS supported Mac, Windows
Print untethered? Yes, after file is sent from computer
Open-source hardware? No
Open-source software? No
Printer control software Up software
Slicing software Up software

Looking like a futuristic kitchen appliance, the $899 Up Mini from Chinese company Delta Micro Factory (PP3DP) is no DIY kit project — it’s designed entirely with the average consumer in mind. It can print compact volumes up to 4.7″×4.7″×4.7″ on a removable perf board, which sits on a heated PCB bed.

Pushbutton-Simple Setup and Software

Setting up this printer is almost as easy as plugging in a microwave and pressing the popcorn button. Just connect the printer and install the Up software from the website; it’s easy to navigate and download the latest version for Mac or PC. Grab the PDF manual while you’re there.
The leveling software does a great job of getting the nozzle and build platform aligned, but be ready to shim the platform as there is a tendency for it to dip at the front left just a touch.

Enclosed for Safety, Cozy for ABS Printing

Up Mini’s enclosed housing helps to reduce the risk of kids (or clumsy people) coming into contact with the heated components during operation. Retaining the heat also helps prevent ABS prints from warping. The enclosure makes the build area a bit smaller, but on the bright side, there’s less worry of software-generated rafts extending off the bed since the nozzle can’t quite travel to the edges of the platform.

Although the printer is enclosed, you can still watch it print. There are two hinged doors, the top one providing a better view during operation. That door also provides filament access — the plastic runs off a spool mounted on an arm in back, then passes over the top of the machine, down through the joint of the top door, and into the print head.

Mostly Quiet Operation

Aside from the obnoxiously loud buzzer that sounds at initialization, print start, and print end, the Up Mini’s housing allows for very quiet operation. The button on the front with blinking indicator light, and the LED work light inside, are well-designed features. The printer operation is similar to its big brother, the Up Plus 2, with the addition of a magnetically removable print head. Although there are no onboard controls, once the print starts you can disconnect the computer.

SIP06-UpMini-Robots

Extruder Jams

Once the file is sent and the print begins, you can let the Up Mini run unsupervised and you’ll rarely see an “air print” — as long as you’re using their filament. However, over the course of our testing weekend, we experienced at least three filament jams that we weren’t able to diagnose conclusively. It’s possible the problem was with our particular spool of filament, how the filament was being fed into the head, or heat building up inside the housing.

We also had some adhesion issues between layers on our smaller prints (the MAKE robot). Experienced Up Mini users informed us that this was unusual. They also advised that the filament guide at the back of the machine should be avoided and that it’s helpful to print with the top door open, to vent excessive heat in the enclosure.

Solid Objects Printed Best

We printed in ABS; PLA is also possible but experienced users advise adding a fan to cool it. On our first print we had some difficulty removing supports around delicate extrusions and keeping parts intact. However, the Up Mini handled detailed and thin-walled structures well. The calibration cube turned out sharp when using the Fine software setting, and other solid objects printed well, but the Spiral Lightbulb torture print was something of an overhang mess on its last section. We tried it a couple times, always with similar results.

On some occasions, not being able to fully turn off the raft caused unnecessary cleanup. However, the rafts come off cleanly, and the precision of supports is very well calculated.

Conclusion

The Up Mini is an easy-to-use, affordable, complete package. Having the ability to print in ABS gives this little guy the upper hand in its price range.

Primo features

  • Magnetically removable print head makes the extruder almost hot-swappable.
  • Enclosed build platform
  • Great accessory kit, with shears for cleaning prints
  • Compact and sturdy — good for demos and road trips

Who’s It For?

  • Makers
  • Makerspaces
  • Beginners on a budget

Pro Tips

  • The enclosed chamber gets quite warm — if your prints are a little soft, open the lid and door.
  • Reposition the fan as needed to direct more or less cool air on the build.
  • When removing a print, secure the perf board to your workbench and use a palette knife to pop the print up. Then clean up the perf board for next time.
  • The filament guide at the back of the Mini is a bit restrictive. Don’t use it.

Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014This review first appeared in MAKE’s Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014, page 74. Check out the full issue for more!

Tom Burtonwood

Tom Burtonwood is an artist and educator at Columbia College and the School of Art Institute of Chicago. He is co-founder of Chicago’s The 3D Printer Experience hybrid makerspace and retail store. Tom also co-founded Improbable Objects and participated in the MakerBot MET#3D Hackathon at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.


James Christianson

James Christianson produces video for MAKE and does 3D modeling and animation on the side. He is working with an eight-person team to build a prototype 3D-printed Iron Man suit.


Related

SIP4_UpMini_Beauty-b
PP3DP

While we were finishing this issue, a new low-cost version of the Up 3D printer, the Mini, was released by Delta Micro Factory Corp (PP3DP). Since this printer is targeted at a wider consumer market, we thought we’d let MAKE editorial director Gareth Branwyn do a true “Christmas morning” test on it, as he had never set up a 3D printer before. Here’s his mini Mini review, with an eventual handoff to a more experienced hand, MAKE Product Development Engineer Eric Weinhoffer.

Gareth: The Up Mini offers a great “out of box experience,” at least the hardware itself. The fully-enclosed printer (with a 4.7″-cubed build area) is obviously designed to look, feel, and act like any consumer desktop printer: plug, play, print. Like the new Replicator 2, the Mini has a slick black metal and plastic case, but unlike the Rep 2, it’s fully enclosed, with a hinged door and a snap-down plastic hood on top. Also like the Rep 2, it has a cold pause feature that allows you to stop mid-print, walk away from the machine, then resume printing when you return.

It’s a cinch to set up the Mini, and it comes with all the tools you need: basically a hobby knife, wire cutters, gloves, and a spatula for removing prints from the heated print bed. I had the hardware up and running in minutes.

But then my troubles began. The PDF manual and software are riddled with typos, mangled English, and errors. One of the settings listed in the manual has two digits reversed. Some of the on-screen error messages are incomprehensible. I spent nearly four hours over two nights trying to generate a print. I ended up with what MAKE contributing editor Brian Jepson dubbed “transporter accidents.” I like to think of them as improvisational 3DP art. I posted them on my Facebook page to many “Likes” and giggles.

Gareth’s first print of the snake.

Gareth’s first print of the snake.

I think the heart of my problem was that I was in an unheated apartment on a cold and rainy weekend. The print bed never got warm enough for the print to stay put. As soon as a few layers cooled, they’d peel up and the piece would start moving around, destroying the print. An enclosure like the one on the Mini is supposed to address these temperature and draft problems, but it wasn’t enough in my case.

Frustrated, I passed the printer on to our product development engineer, Eric Weinhoffer. He had better success.

Eric: I didn’t bother with the manual! Thankfully, I’d already had two days to play with the Up Mini’s bigger brother, the Up/Afinia H-Series, during our 3D Print Shop Weekend. In fact, after a few hours of use, I’d say the Up Mini is just a lower-cost Up/Afinia with a slightly smaller build volume and a fancy black enclosure. The Afinia is a fantastic machine, and the Mini appears to offer most of what the Afinia does for some $600 less: good-quality prints with semi-untethered printing (you can unplug your computer once the print begins).

Eric's final print of the snake.

Eric’s final print of the snake.

Unfortunately, the Afinia and Up Mini also share some shortcomings. Like Gareth, I experienced software crashes. The software is also closed source and somewhat clunky to navigate. And I would surely rip out the loud, annoying piezo buzzer within an hour of unboxing it.

I also ended up having some print bed leveling issues. Still, a mini Up for $899? Not bad.

For $899 the Up Mini is impressive, and if you’re willing to futz you’ll likely find it a solid beginner machine. A true consumer 3D
desktop printer with an uneventful out-of-box experience, it nevertheless still has a ways to go. With better software, a readable manual, and a more reliable print bed, the Mini could prove a real contender. You can pick one up from PP3DP or, if you’re in the US, Inventables.


To read the full review, buy the Make: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing.

2013 MAKE Ultimate Guide To 3D Printing

  • 3D Printers Buyer's Guide — 15 Reviewed
  • Getting Started in 3D
  • Learn the Software Toolchain
  • 3D Design for Beginners
  • 3D Printing without a Printer

Buy now!

Just Released! 2014 MAKE Ultimate Guide To 3D Printing

We want to hear from you! Share your experiences with this machine, what you like, what you don't like, where you think our test team got it wrong. We hope you’ll join in the discussion. We’d also love to see the things that you design and print out.

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


Eric Weinhoffer

Eric is a Manufacturing Engineer at Other Machine Co., where he uses large machines to make smaller machines. When not building things, Eric enjoys skiing, cycling, and climbing.


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