You might be in the market for an affordable or “budget” 3D printer that you don’t have to assemble or fuss with. I know I was a few months ago.
My 3D printing journey started over three years ago when I built an Anet A8. It’s a learning curve, to say the least. I spent time doing what felt like “fixing the 3D printer” rather than “printing parts with a 3D printer.” It was a frustrating process, nonetheless.
Even though building a 3D printer is a great way to learn about the in’s and out’s of 3D printing, I was ready for an upgrade that could print reliably and consistently while I was working on other tasks.
This is where the FlashForge Adventurer 3 Lite comes into play.
Heads up! FlashForge provided me with an Adventurer 3 Lite, free of charge, to review and use in upcoming robotics tutorials. The ideas expressed in this article are completely my own.
The FlashForge Adventurer 3 Lite is a Lite Version
Not to be confused by the Adventurer 3, its predecessor, the Adventurer 3 Lite is the latest version by FlashForge. The main difference between the two models is that the Lite doesn’t have an HD camera.
Even without the camera, I was very intrigued by this model because it’s fully enclosed and doesn’t require bed leveling or adjustments. Wifi printing is available out of the box, which is also great for remote monitoring.
The Adventurer 3 Lite checks a lot of the boxes on my wishlist and is also under $400. Not too bad!
So after a few weeks of playing with the Adventurer 3 Lite and running over 20 hours of prints, I wanted to share my full review of whether or not it’s worth buying.
In this article, I’m going to outline the unboxing and setup as well as provide a thorough review of the Adventurer 3 Lite.
My goal is to provide you my thoughts on this printer and help you decide if it’s a good fit for your scenario.
Ready to get started?
Unboxing the Adventurer 3 Lite
I was impressed with how the Adventurer 3 Lite was packaged and shipped. It was very well padded and 99% assembled out of the box.
Remove all of the internal packaging and place it inside the box. I recommend saving the packaging if you plan on transporting the printer. This will protect the printer in transit without as much risk for damage.
Find a clear table or surface to place the Adventurer 3 Lite. Then, remove all of the tape. Now you’re ready to follow our quick setup guide.
The box should contain an official FlashForge Adventurer 3 manual. But here’s a link to it in case you don’t have it handy.
3 Steps to Setup the Adventurer 3 Lite
Once you remove all of the tape from the 3D printer, it’s time to get it powered up and running for your first print.
1. Connect Power
Find the power cable and connect the female end into the 3D printer and the male end into a wall outlet. Then press the power button on the side.
The LCD should turn on and the printer will boot up with a sound.
2. Load Filament
Once the printer is powered on, it’s time to load the filament. Remove the door and place the spool so that it rotates clockwise. Then follow the load filament prompts on the LCD screen.
The process is similar if you’re changing filament. The printer will automatically preheat the nozzle to make the filament easy to load and change.
3. Start your print
The next step is to prepare your file and start 3D printing! The manual recommends that you start with the calibration cube. After that file finishes, you’ll be well on your way to printing parts.
The setup for your Adventurer 3 Lite shouldn’t take you more than a half-hour. And for some of you, you’ll be up and running in around 10 minutes.
How to use FlashPrint Slicing Software
Before you can begin 3D printing, you’ll need to download FlashPrint, which is the FlashForge Slicing software.
A slicer converts an STL file into GCODE so that the 3D printer can print it out. Think of it as a utility that translates 3D positions into layers and locations on the print bed.
I haven’t tried this printer with other slicers, but I’ve heard that you can play around with settings in Cura to sort of make it work.
According to other users, the quality using Cura wasn’t as good as the print quality using FlashPrint.
Most likely, FlashForge optimized its software to work with its printers. Makes sense, right?
Benefit #1: The Slicer is Easy to Use
Once you have the FlashPrint Slicing software installed, launch the program. Then go to the menu and choose Print. Select Machine Types, Adventurer 3 Lite. Then load your file. You can drag the file onto the print bed or use the load button.
There are a few ways you can navigate around the model.
- Use the mouse scroll wheel to zoom in and out of the print bed.
- Hold the right mouse button to pan around the model.
- Press the left button to move the bed around the screen.
Next, move the part so that it’s fully on the 3D printer bed. You can use the “Move” and Rotate buttons on the left to adjust its position. Then, slice the file by clicking the “Print” button on the top. Select “Preview,” and choose your printer under “Machine Type.”
For Cloud printing, you can create a FlashCloud account and print files directly from that utility. FlashCloud also provides real-time monitoring and HD camera feed (if you have the Adventurer 3).
Prepare the Slicing Options
For most prints, you can disable Supports and Rafts and print with a “Low” resolution. However, if you’re downloading a model from sites like Thingiverse, they often suggest printer settings that I recommend following.
If you need more tuning options, choose the “More Options” button to display the Layer Height, Shells, Infill, Speed, Temperature, and Others.
After you have the settings selected, click the OK. Give the file a name and press Save. The slicer will work its magic and open a preview window. The print time and material are provided in the top right of the window.
If you like what you see, then click the “Send GCode” button to send the file to your printer. You can connect to it using a USB cable or Wireless printing or using the cloud service, FlashCloud.
Benefit #2: Automatic Preheating
The FlashForge Adventurer 3 Lite will automatically preheat the nozzle and start printing when its at temperature.
It’s great that you don’t have to go through the process of manually preheating the nozzle or leveling the bed before sending a print.
Benefit #3: Beautiful Bed Adhesion
Furthermore, the printer includes a removable build plate that has a Build Tak material already applied. I’m a huge fan of how well parts stick to this build plate without the need for traditional bed adhesion methods.
I’ve never had to apply glue, tape, hairspray, or anything to the build plate, and the parts adhere beautifully.
The only thing I’ve noticed is that the build plate may need to be wiped down with Isopropyl Alcohol every 5-10 prints to remove fingerprints.
Benefit #4: Send the Print and Watch it work its Magic
Overall, I was very impressed with how quickly you can get up and running with this 3D printer. If you already have 3D printing experience, this printer is a “set-and-go” option.
No more manual setups and messing with bed leveling and settings before prints, which is super convenient.
If you’re brand-new to 3D printing, unfortunately, there’s a little bit of a learning curve no matter which printer you pick.
This option is great because it eliminates assembly so you can focus on learning about slicing and optimizing your prints. As a result, it might take a few hours to learn the process if this is your first experience with 3D printing.
Finding 3D Printer Files
My favorite way to find STLs is by using STLFinder. STLFinder is a search engine for 3D models. STLFinder aggregates files from various sources and displays them in one place. If you’re looking for something specific, you can search for it using STLFinder and get a whole list of options. I think it’s a nifty tool.
Because the Adventurer 3 Lite isn’t a 3D printer kit, there are fewer reasons to add mods and upgrades. However, I did find a few modifications including a dual fan duct and an arm extender for large filament spools.
The Adventurer 3 Lite works great out the box with stock parts, so you don’t have to worry about printing files for the printer itself. Rather, you can focus on printing parts and working on projects.
If you’re interested in printing designs of your own, you can draw CAD models using Fusion 360 or any other CAD modeling software.
Things to consider before you buy the Adventurer 3 Lite
Nothing is perfect, and for the price point of $369, I truly think the Adventurer 3 Lite is a great value. However, I did want to point out some things you’ll want to consider before you purchase yours.
Smaller Print Bed = Smaller Parts
The FlashForge Adventurer 3 Lite has a small print bed (150 x 150 x 150 mm). This can pose a real problem if you’re planning to build larger parts.
There have been several instances where I couldn’t print a part because the print bed was too small. You can overcome this by buying a printer with a larger print bed, scaling down parts, or choosing models that fit within the 150 mm cube.
If you’re interested in a similar printer to the Adventurer 3 Lite that has a larger build area, then I recommend checking out the FlashForge Guider 2. It is more expensive; however, if you’re using this for engineering projects, it can handle more materials and the print bed is more realistically sized.
Here are a few other printers less than $500 with similar features that have a larger build surface. You may have to sacrifice having an enclosed printer for a larger build plate if you want to stick to the same price-point.
Downgrade to 500g spools or Print a New Spool Holder
Furthermore, the built-in filament spool holder only holds 500 g spools, which is smaller than the standard spool. This isn’t a huge deal because you can 3D print a spool holder to accommodate 1 kg spools.
Here are a few spool holders from Thingiverse that I recommend checking out:
- FlashForge Adventurer 3 Spool Adapter
- FlashForge Adventurer 3 1kg Spool Holder
- The Ultimate Spool Holder
The HD Camera will cost you an extra $80
If you’d rather have all of the features plus a live stream HD camera, then you’ll want to upgrade to the FlashForge Adventurer 3.
While I wish this was included in the Adventurer 3 Lite, having a camera doesn’t affect how the 3D printer performs.
With that said, if you have an extra $80 to spend, I’d recommend upgrading to the Adventurer 3. Then when you use the FlashCloud software, you can watch your prints in any web browser.
Plus, timelapse 3D printing videos are very entertaining!
Plan to add Grease
Even though this printer works well out of the box, you’ll need to buy some grease and apply it to the threaded rods.
This will keep everything running smoothly and prevent slipping during prints. You don’t need to apply this every print; however, if you notice any axles rubbing or screeching noises, it’s time to apply some grease.
How to Fix Jammed or Clogged Filament Stuck in the Extruder Tube
Update May 2020: It’s been about three months of using this printer roughly 1-2x per week, and it’s by far the easiest printer I’ve used so far. I did, however, run into my first issue with filament getting jammed into the Bowden extruder tube.
I ran out of filament and wasn’t able to load a new spool because there was a piece of old filament “stuck” in the tube, preventing it from feeding fully into the nozzle. This causes a lot of clicking noises from the extruder motor. The new spool won’t feed, and filament won’t extrude from the nozzle (even the piece that’s stuck in the tube.)
The fix is pretty straightforward, and I’ve outlined the process in case you run into this problem yourself.
Should You Buy the Adventurer 3 Lite?
The FlashForge Adventurer 3 Lite is a small, fully-contained, 3D printer that works within minutes of taking it out of the box. Experienced 3D printer enthusiasts and those new to 3D printing will have an easy time setting it up and running prints.
If you’re looking for a printer that “just works” without the hassle and frustration that 3D printer kits have, then the Adventurer 3 Lite could be a great option.
However, if you want to be able to print models larger than 150 mm, then you’d be better off looking at the FlashForge Creator Pro or 3D printer kits in the same $300-$400 price range.
Overall, I think this 3D printer is a great value for the money. The color LCD is a nice upgrade. It’s fully enclosed which should make for more consistent prints. And, the Wireless printing and cloud services are nice features that are included by default.
This isn’t a 3D Printer Kit
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a 3D printer kit, and you certainly can find 3D printers for less than $300. However, it wouldn’t be fair to compare the Anet A8 or Creality Ender 3 to this printer. They’re in completely different ballparks.
If you’re more of a tinkerer, I think you’d be better picking up a kit and learning all about how 3D printers work. If you’re running a classroom or public makerspace, this is a much better option for the price.
I plan on using my Adventurer 3 Lite for many more robotics tutorials. I think it’s an awesome addition to my workshop because there’s minimal setup and it just plain works. I can focus less on fixing my 3D printer and spend more time running parts. (You can also request to have parts printed, here.)
Have a question about the FlashForge Adventurer 3 Lite? Do you have an Adventurer 3 Lite or are you considering buying one? Please leave your comments below!
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