Review: Idea Builder 3D Printer

3D Printing & Imaging Workshop
Review: Idea Builder 3D Printer
Make_Magazine_Dremel_2223 1_2
Idea Builder 3D Printer: Dremel combines simplicity and low cost.
Image by Clint Blowers.
Price as Tested $999
Build Volume 230×150×140mm
Bed Style Unheated acrylic, BuildTak surface provided
Temperature Control? No
Materials Dremel PLA
Print Untethered? SD card
Onboard Controls? Yes
Host Software Dremel 3D
Slicer Dremel 3D
OS Mac, Windows, Linux
Open Software? No
Open Hardware? No

From the exterior packaging and $999 price point, it’s obvious that the Dremel Idea Builder is a product aimed squarely at the mass market. Their design team has clearly thought through the unboxing experience. Inside is a full-color, easy to follow, quick-start guide, two sheets of Dremel-branded BuildTak, and a printed instruction manual. As you would expect from a company like Dremel, their instruction manual is quite comprehensive and it’s especially gratifying to see a glossary of terms to explain 3D printing to a new audience of makers.

Dremel has a long history of working with partners around the world to manufacture their tools and products, so it’s no surprise to learn that the Idea Builder was conceived in partnership with China-based FlashForge, makers of the popular “Creator” Replicator clones. This model is based on the FlashForge Dreamer, whose electronics utilize the ARM Contex-M4 CPU processor, instead of the ATmega chips used in the FlashForge Mightyboards.

Attention to Detail

With their entrance into 3DP, Dremel paid attention to the details. The Idea Builder has a color touch-screen interface that makes leveling the bed, loading filament, and selecting files a joy. This single-extruder machine feels solid, but lightweight. The sleek plastic exterior sports chrome-like plastic trim, a detachable blue lid, two removable ventilation panels on each side, and a hinged, clear plexi front cover with a magnetic closure. The nonstandard interior spool holder reduces the footprint and the large 3-point bed leveling knobs are easy to adjust.

Dremel recommends you use their PLA, but they aren’t embedding microchips that require you to do so. The spool holder is a nonstandard size, so pick up a lazy Susan and feed the filament through the side vent to use your own.
Attractive price point. For those who prior-itize simplicity and ease of use over settings customization and materials choices.

Nice Software, Limited Settings

The Dremel 3D software interface is similar to MakerBot Desktop or Cura. It displays a 3D rendering of the build volume with options to move, rotate and scale parts, highlights model areas that need support, and shows a print preview. The speedy slicer has built-in high (0.1mm), medium (0.2mm) and low (0.3mm) resolution presets, but noticeably absent were options to change print temperatures, infill percentages, add rafts (without support), or use custom G-code profiles. There’s also no heated platform, so this machine is PLA only.


The Idea Builder’s attractive price point and features make it worth considering for a variety of user types. Although the software settings and materials choices are limited, Dremel has created a streamlined, consumer-ready user experience that will include free customer support delivered by “Dremel Experts” via phone, Skype, and email.

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Tom Burtonwood

Tom Burtonwood is an artist, educator and entrepreneur based in Chicago, IL. Burtonwood co-founded Mimesis, LLC a product development company focused on 3D scanning and digital fabrication. He teaches at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College.

Find Tom on Twitter: @tburtonwood and on Instagram: @tomburtonwood

View more articles by Tom Burtonwood


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