The Jellybox had an amazing underdog story at the DigiFab Testing Shootout. As we gathered around the testing area on the first night, the sea of machines to test was laid out before us and, in turn, we selected machines. As a senior member of the testing team, I was able to pick early on in the process and for some reason, amid the sea of highly designed and beautiful machines, the neon zip ties of the Jellybox called out to me.
As the testing began, the Jellybox started to be a machine that everyone was coming over to check out. I think the initial interest was due to morbid curiosity, “is this thing with zip ties really going to work?” and then shifted to fandom as the Jellybox printed with amazing speed and reliability.
When I sat down with the machine, the Jellybox impressed me with its ease of use and fast printing. The software install was quick and the auto-level probe meant I was ready to print as soon as I had sliced my first file. The prints weren’t perfect but were consistent and the machine was fast and I didn’t have any prints fail. The speed and reliability are definitely features that should attract any educator looking for a DIY 3D printer.
From the clear acrylic sides to the exposed wires, everything about the Jellybox screams “look at me.” They managed to combine the perceived safety of an enclosure with the benefit of seeing how the printer works.
A Printer for Educators
The Jellybox was designed as an educational machine to teach you how to build a 3D printer, but to also be a solid 3D printer. It is sold as a kit or as part of a one-day class where you build the printer. The unit we received for testing was already assembled, but I could still note some of the details that go into the build process. The acrylic is etched with useful information that aids the assembly process, such as labels for wire connections and distinctly different panels that guide you in orienting them properly.
The Kit Experience
The kit is not something for someone brand new to 3D printing. While there are decent directions for assembling the printer, the process to go from design to print appeared to be missing from the content. I assume this is covered in the workshop, but as a beginner, you might experience some frustration figuring out that part if you just buy the kit.
Another minor point of frustration worth pointing out was the knob on the control panel. The one on my unit kept getting stuck when it was depressed. This is likely a simple fix by adjusting the alignment of the acrylic securing the control panel in place.
A unique feature about this printer is the fact that you can assemble it multiple times. The printer is assembled using zip ties, so it’s easy to imagine a scenario where a class builds the printer in the beginning of a semester and then uses it the rest of the semester. At the end of the semester, it is disassembled for the next class to build again.
The experience with the Jellybox was similar to watching Jon Stewart on CNN’s Crossfire. I went into it thinking the printer was cute and maybe a novelty, I came out thinking this was a printer not to be ignored and a darn fine one at that. The Jellybox stands out as a reliable and fast printer that you can build and rebuild.