For today’s review I will be taking a look at Dremel’s Idea Builder. On first glance, a $1,000 3D printer that can only print in PLA seems a bit disappointing. However, after running the Idea Builder extensively, I can say that it’s reliability and ease-of-use definitely make it an attractive option in its price range.
Yes, there are other 3D printers at $1,000 (like the FlashForge Creator Pro) that have more features (like a heated build platform—and thus the ability to print in ABS—and dual extruders). However, the Idea Builder comes with its own unique features…
For starters, as I’ve already mentioned, the Idea Builder has been very reliable for me and has been very easy to use and setup. That’s a plus right there. Another big plus, in my opinion, is the fact that Dremel is a US-based company that has an established brand as a power tool manufacturer. This allows them to do customer service better than most 3D printer companies.
Ultimately, I have been very surprised by the Idea Builder and didn’t realize how little I would miss a heated build platform and the ability to print in ABS (although, those are still features I’d prefer to have.)
It’s not a perfect 3D printer, but for anyone looking for a reliable machine that is easy to setup and use in the $1,000 range, then the Idea Builder is definitely a worthy option. If you want to learn more about the Idea Builder and my experience with it, keep reading.
|TECHNOLOGY||FDM — Fused Deposition Modeling|
|BUILD SIZE||~9″ x 6″ x 6″|
|LAYER THICKNESS||100 microns|
|SIZE||~16″ x 19″ x 13″|
Dremel Idea Builder Features
The Dremel Idea Builder is not without its flaws. It doesn’t have a heated print bed and therefore cannot print in ABS. Dremel also says that you need to use their own filament and that filament only comes in 0.5 KG spools (the Idea Builder has a built in spool-holder but it will only fit 0.5 KG spools.)
NOTE: I was able to successfully use a spool of 1.75mm Octave filament when my Dremel filament ran out mid print. So, if you want to use 3rd party filament, you can definitely do so. It’s just not recommended by Dremel.
Those flaws may turn away some more hardcore 3D printing enthusiasts, but for anyone who is looking for a reliable machine that they can not only learn about 3D printing on, but that they can also use to produce quality prints, then the Dremel is still a very viable option.
Where the Idea Builder lacks the heated print bed, it makes up for in ease-of-use and reliability. And, with a flood of consumers eager to learn how 3D printing works, the Idea Builder offers a great entry-level machine.
Plug & Play and Ease-Of-Use
After just wrapping up a review of Zortrax’s M200, I was a little surprised to see that the Dremel Idea builder was pretty much just as easy to setup and use as the printer I just praised as one of the easiest 3D printers to use on the market.
All that and the Idea Builder comes in at half the cost of the M200. However, I won’t compare the M200 to the Idea Builder as the two printers are in different price ranges, but it was very pleasing to see the Idea Builder match a printer that I hold in very high regards in terms of ease-of-use.
I had the Idea Builder unboxed and printing my first print within 30 minutes of opening it up. This was in large part due to the fact that the printer comes with an SD card full of objects that can be printed and I didn’t have to wait to install the software, load a model, and then send it to the printer.
The touch screen on the Idea Builder makes the printer incredibly easy to use and it will take you through loading and unloading filament, leveling the build platform (which was a much easier process than some of the other printers I’ve played with), and printing your objects.
Ultimately, I have to say that the Dremel far exceeded my expectations in terms of how easy it was to setup and use. In my opinion, of the 3D printers I’ve played with or used, the Idea Builder ranks up there with the LulzBot Mini, the Zortrax M200, the MakerGear M2, etc. in terms of ease-of-use.
Another great aspect of the Idea Builder is its reliability. In a market where a lot of printers cause more headaches than they do pleasure, reliability is one of the most important factors for newcomers to the technology.
I ran multiple prints in my time reviewing the Idea Builder, including a couple of 10-15 hour prints and one 27 hour print. On my 27-hour print I noticed I was running out of filament about 25-hours into it. I had never ran out of filament before on a print and so I was a little worried that the pause feature would mess the print up and I would have to start over.
To my surprise, though, after loading new filament, the printer went back to work and finished the print with no problems at all.
Overall, if the the ease-of-use of the Idea Builder exceeding my expectations, then so, too, did the reliability of the machine. And, in my opinion, while Dremel’s first 3D printer does lack a few important features, the peace of mind you get with this machine’s reliability and ease-of-use really make it a great option for first timers.
Full List of Features
|Can be up and running within 20-30 minutes|
|Bed-leveling tutorial is almost as good as auto-leveling|
|Very reliable printer|
|Extremely easy to use|
|Dremel’s software is simple and easy to use|
|Good print accuracy|
|Decent build volume|
|Solid design and build quality|
|Backed by an establish company|
Setup, Software, and Configuration
Like I said above, the Idea Builder is very simple to setup and use. The following is a rough step-by-step process of what you need to do to get the printer up and running:
- Take the Idea Builder out of the box and remove styrofoam and packing tape
- Plugin and power on the Idea Builder
- Go through the bed leveling tutorial on the touch screen
- Apply the provided “sticky” print bed cover to the print bed
- Put the filament in the designated area
- Load the filament via instructions on the touch screen
- Insert the provided SD card and choose a model
- Start printing
With the above steps you can see that getting the Idea Builder up and running really isn’t too tall of a task. I fully expected the process to be a little more tedious given my experience with some other 3D printers in this price range. Mostly, I figured the bed-leveling process would be time-consuming, but with the built-in tutorial/prompts, leveling the bed took no more than a few minutes.
All-in-all it took me about 30 minutes or so to get the Idea Builder unboxed, setup, and printing.
I’m starting to notice a trend in software in the last couple of 3D printers I’ve used. The Z-Suite software from Zortrax, and Dremel’s Dremel3D software are incredibly similar.
So, I’m assuming there is a software developer who is selling the same software to all of the big 3D printer companies with minor tweaks and GUI adjustments to make it seem more personalized. (But I could be wrong and all of these 3D printer companies could just be copying each other’s software.)
There is nothing wrong with this, of course, because the software for those printers is incredibly easy to use and makes sending your models to your printer ridiculously simple.
So, with the Dremel3D software, you can expect a very clean interface with the essential options you need to configure your models for printing. You can dive further into some more advanced configurations as the software will allow you to choose your layer height, number of shells, infill, printer speed, extruder temperature, and support structure. These options are pretty standard offerings.
Ultimately, the software does what it is supposed to do in a simple, clean, and easy-to-use manner.
Printing With the Dremel Idea Builder 3D Printer
When you get down to it, one of the biggest determining factors in a 3D printer’s quality is how well it prints. If it can’t print decent-looking objects, then what is the point of paying money for it?
While the Dremel can’t hit insanely low layer heights like the Ultimaker 2 (20 microns) and can’t produce the finish quality of an SLA printer like the Form 2 (no FDM printer can…), the 100 microns resolution that it can achieve is pretty standard for printers in its class.
In this section I’ll go into detail about the following areas: print accuracy, print speed, print area and volume, and build quality and reliability.
As stated above, the Idea Builder can hit resolutions as high as 100 microns. For most users 100 microns should be sufficient and as of right now, 100 microns is the standard for 3D printers. So, while Dremel doesn’t offer any ground-breaking technology that enables the Idea Builder to produce SLA-like prints, it will produce prints on par with other similarly-priced printers.
There’s a section down below that has pictures of some of the prints I have done with the Idea Builder and that should give you a better idea of what you can expect.
Ultimately, I’m satisfied with the print quality for the price of the machine because, like I said, 100 microns is pretty much par for the course for FDM printers in this price range.
The Idea Builder is capable of hitting print speeds up to 150mm/s, which isn’t great, but it isn’t horrible, either.
In comparison, the LulzBot Mini is capable of hitting speeds as high as 275mm/s, the MakerGear M2 can hit up to 200mm/s, and the Ultimaker 2 can hit speeds as high as 300mm/s. The Idea Builder does top the Zortrax M200, though, as the M200 is only capable of reaching speeds up to 100mm/s.
It should be noted though—and I point this out in most reviews where a printer has a slower print speed—that print speed comes with a trade off. Typically, the higher the print speed you set your printer to print at, the more problems you run into and the lower quality of the print you are left with.
So, even though some of those printers can hit those “high” speeds, in most cases, people use lower speeds on those machines in order to achieve better quality prints.
Print Area and Volume
While the Idea Builder’s ~9″ x 6″ x 6″ build volume is nothing to brag about, it is ultimately a decent area of space to print with. And, for the price you pay, it offers more print volume than the more expensive LulzBot Mini (6″ x 6″ x 6″) and UP! Plus 2 (5″ x 6″ x 6″) printers.
It also sits right on par with the similarly priced FlashForge Creator Pro, as the Creator Pro also has a 9″ x 6″ x 6″ build platform.
So, in the end, while the Idea Builder’s print volume is nothing spectacular, it is definitely in line with the price you pay and is plenty big enough for most needs.
Printer Build Quality and Reliability
Dremel has long been known for producing quality power tools, so it is no surprise that they built a good-quality 3D printer. The printer doesn’t have a metal casing like the Zortrax M200 and is instead housed in a plastic casing. However, the printer is very sturdy and the build quality overall is good.
The enclosed casing enables the Idea Builder to operate more quietly and it comes with a top cover to further reduce sound from the printer.
As far as reliability goes, the printer did not fail any of the prints that I ran on it and that included multiple prints over 10-15 hours long and a 24+ hour print as well.
Ultimately, I didn’t expect the Idea Builder to run as well as it did given that I had just finished reviewing one of the best FDM printers on the market (the Zortrax M200). But in terms of reliability, the Idea Builder definitely ranks up there with some of the best printers currently available.
Prints from the Idea Builder
The Dremel Idea Builder is not going to be an ideal fit for everyone. If you want a heated build platform so that you can print in ABS material, then you are going to have to look elsewhere.
On the other hand, if you are looking to get your first 3D printer, you have a moderate budget, you want a machine that’s easy to setup and operate, and that will be reliable (meaning you won’t have to tweak it every other print just to get it to work), and you don’t mind being limited to just using PLA, then it’d be hard to recommend any other machine than the Idea Builder.
Another big selling point for the Idea Builder is that the company is not only US-based, but it is an already established manufacturer of power tools. This means that you can trust that Dremel will be around for awhile and that you will be able to enjoy support for their product as long as you own it.
Ultimately, I was a little surprised at how impressed by the Idea Builder I was. Obviously, I’d love to have a heated build platform on it so that I can print in ABS, but after using the Idea Builder extensively, I’ve come to the conclusion that being limited to PLA isn’t really all that bad if you’re not using your printer to produce showroom-quality prints.
But, the reliability and ease-of-use of the Idea Builder were enough to give me a very positive overall experience with Dremel’s first 3D printer.