The F306 is a thing of beauty and will delight 3D printer enthusiasts. It’s an entrancing machine, with the open frame design, brightly lit build area, mirrored platform, and nylon thread movements. The printing seemed effortless and graceful, and it scored highly over the weekend testing. The hefty price tag reflects the premium performance.
Demand for larger format machines has risen, as designers, engineers, prop builders, artists, and architects often look to fabricate life-size creations or print multiple objects at once in a larger build volume. The F306 by Fusion3 Design is a 3D printer clearly developed to capitalize on this demand for larger output.
The 3D printer is a well-appointed Core XY bot with a spacious 12″×12″×12″ build volume. While it is not an open source machine, it gives Adrian Bowyer’s Darwin RepRap a thorough reimagining. Eschewing the familiar back-and-forth movement on the Y-axis build platform seen on many Cartesian RepRap machines, the F306 is much more like an Ultimaker or Flashforge.
The tool head moves on the X and Y axes while the build platform rises up to meet it and descends as the model is built.
The overall excellent construction of this machine is evident in its exquisite attention to detail.
The XY pulleys are almost frictionless, running smooth, fast, and quiet along Delrin wheels. The build platform is raised up and down on three ACME screws powered by a single stepper in the base and an innovative pulley system linked to each of the lead screws. The F306 benefits significantly from the E3D actively cooled all-metal hot end that comes standard. The extruded filament is cooled by another fan mounted above the gantry with a large 3D printed duct directing the cool air into the build area.
The machine performed very well on the test models. It ran quickly for its size, with good layer adhesion and lamination, minimal echoes on the XY axis, and earning high scores on overhangs. However, it struggled with the bridging and Z wobble tests. Their recommended cinnamon red filament from Atomic Filament printed nicely and looked great under the LEDs, which provide excellent contrast on print details.
The overnight print was a favorite with testers — the 270mm-tall job took around 11 hours to complete. There was a bit of Z wobble on the extremities and some noticeable artifacts where the Z lift occurred in the print, but this is likely a result of their Simplify 3D profile more than a function of the printer itself. At that scale we did see a bit of stringing and if I printed this figure again I might use S3D or Meshmixer to add in some custom supports to avoid this.
The F306 makes large, fast, quality prints. So what’s not to like? I must admit some slight sticker shock when I learned the retail price. The build volume is not that much bigger than the LulzBot Taz5, which retails for $1,700 less. Nor was I a big fan of the leveling process. Fusion3 has stripped the machine-assisted jogging from their onboard controls and suggests that users disable the steppers and manually move the timing belts. I worry that, over time, this may stretch, misalign, or degrade the belts. I found the manual hex screws on each corner of the build area difficult to use for leveling — the extruder frame and bundled wires get in the way.
Auto bed leveling is becoming more and more popular and for the price of the F306, I think it’s something Fusion3 should consider for future iterations.
As an artist working more and more on large prints I would certainly consider adding the F306 to my bot farm. I think this is a good choice for anyone looking to make big prints quickly without compromising quality or reliability.
|Price As Tested:||$3,975 (List price is single extruder; $4,975 dual extruder)|
|Bed Style:||Heated, Mirrored glass|
|Temperature Control?:||Yes, Tool head (300°C max)|
|Print Untethered?:||Yes, SD card|
|Onboard Controls?:||Yes, LCD screen with scroll whee|
|Host/Slicer Software:||Simplify 3D|
|OS:||Linux, Mac, Windows|