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442 of 455 people found the following review helpful
Definitely comparable to a Makerbot
on April 4, 2013
I've got 6 Makerbot Replicators (5 Dual, and 1 Single extruder). I needed another (I run a small business) and wanted to look into the Flash Forge as a possible alternative. My primary goal was to make sure I got a 3D printer that would still be compatible with the files I've already got exported for the other bots to use. I didn't want to have to re-export all of my models, just for one bot to use.
I'll start out by saying that the Creator IS compatible with Makerbot's 7.2 firmware, Makerware, and .X3G files. Totally and completely. Plugged it in through USB with Makerware up, and it registered it as a Makerbot. No hiccups or problems flashing the firmware. It all just worked.
The machines are not identical, but they're very close. The Creator is obviously based on The Replicator, and a lot of parts are the same, or very very similar. The Creator's screen in the front is bigger, and brighter (it's blue with white text) and if you're lower than it, it's very easy to read, even from half a room away. However if you're above eye-level from the screen the viewing angle is crap and you have to bend down to read it. The refresh rate is also a lot lower, so you have to scroll slower to actually be able to read it.
The buttons on the Creator are really nice. I love that they're separate instead of one continued squishy square. I also love how the Creator's buttons are very 'clicky'. The Replicator's buttons are very soft and mushy, and sometimes I can't tell if I've pushed them or not, or accidentally let my finger slip to the side and then end up going back in the menu.
The build platform seems nice and consistently flat so far. At first I was worried that it wouldn't be very leveled, but I haven't had any problems with it. I've actually had more problems with one of my makerbot's that has a slightly warped platform in one corner. The Creator does NOT come with a roll of Kapton tape, however. So you'll definitely need to make sure you buy yourself a roll from somewhere. The build platform comes with tape already applied to it, but you'll need to change that out after a while, so get yourself some tape.
--- editing this bit -- My Creator came with MK7 nozzles instead of MK8 nozzles and I actually ended up replacing it with an MK8 that I ordered from Makerbot. However my friend got two Creator's about two months ago, and his came with MK8 nozzles, and they work beautifully, so I'm assuming they've upgrades since I originally bought my bot.
Overall, I'm happy. It's definitely a decent alternative, but I'd say it's slightly more finicky than the Replicators in some areas. Might need a bit more love and attention, so it might not be quite as user-friendly.
Also, there are enough differences around the Extruder area that the mods out there (like the baring and spring replacement for the craptacular Delrin Plunger feed mechanism) won't work as they are, and you'll have to make modifications to get them to fit and attach properly. --edit-- It actually appears that they redesigned the plunger area so it actually mimics the barrings mod that I prefer to use on my replicators, so... good on them! This is a definite improvement --/edit--
Oh - one other difference is that the Creator doesn't have all the fancy LED lights all over the place, like the Replicator does, but this is honestly a feature more than anything else. The LED arrays in the Makerbots are notorious for causing electrical shorts, which cause the fuse capacitor on the Mightboard to blow, requiring a replacement of the whole darn board. Creator got rid of the LEDs all together, and I think this is good because it reduces the risk fo shorts and static zaps.
Anyway, I've only had it a few days, but so far I'm satisfied.
The spool holder is interestingly different - gives greater room for different spool sizes, but it doesn't hold them on very well, so you've got to keep your eye on it for the first few prints since it'll want to unravel and get tangled around the holder.
OKay, so now that I've had the thing about 5 months, I figured I'd update this.
I still like the Creator as a viable alternative. Although mine is actually down at the moment because of a blown x-stop cable.
I wanted to add in this because I know more and more people with no experience with 3D printers are looking into them. They are not end-user-friendly devices. This isn't like your average consumer-level machine where the thing just works without much tinkering. They break down regularly and you will have to replace parts. Over the last year, on all of my bots, I've gone through xstop cables, thermocouples, nozzles, replaced plungers with barring mods, replaced ALL of their heated build platform cables, replaced fans, and even had to replace one of the stepper motors. This is normal. It's true for Replicators and it's true for the Creator. (In fact, one reason to stick with an actual Replicator, over a Creator, is that they cover their machines under warranty, so when something breaks, they'll send you replacement parts for free.)
If you're the sort that's afraid to mess with a machine when something goes wrong, a 3D printer probably isn't for you. There's a reason that it was the DIY community that started this home 3d printer movement. The founders of this movement, and the people who drive it, are all tinkerers. Building the 3D Printers is just as much part of the fun as actually using them. If you think that sentence is totally mental, then 3D printers aren't ready for you yet. Wait a few more years until they get more end-user friendly.
However, if you're willing to try and learn, it's not really that hard. I was never much of a tinkerer, and definitely never could have imagined myself replacing a heated nozzle, or trouble-shooting the latest inexplicable problem, a year ago, and now I do it all the time. The learning curve isn't *that* high.