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Best 3D Printer For Beginners and Tinkerers

Pulse 3D Printer

If your like me, then you are very particular about the things you spend your money on. I am not cheap, but I like to make sure I am getting the best for my money. When it comes to 3D printers, there are hundreds of different ones available. To make it even harder, most of them are from brands that average consumers have never heard of. Before buying a 3D printer, I identified my requirements then decided on the type of materials and objects I would like to print. Once all that was determined, I spent months researching different printers and their features.

I wanted a printer that could print any material currently available. I did not have plans to print toys or figurines, my plans are to print many functional parts that would require something tough like nylon. Being that it was my first 3D printer, I wanted one that came pre-assembled. After more searching, I came across the MatterHackers Pulse 3D printer and the Prusa i3 MK3 printer. Both printers were very similar in features and price, but ultimately I chose to go with the MatterHackers Pulse 3D printer and I was not disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, the Prusa i3 is one of the most highly sought after printers in the community. In fact, almost all other printers of this type are clones of it. It is a great printer, but there are a couple things that made me choose the MatterHackers Pulse 3D printer over the Prusa.

  1. I live in the USA. MatterHackers is based in California, and ships from California. Prusa printers are shipped from the Czech Republic. Whenever possible I like to buy American made or assembled products.
  2. Both printers are not cheap, so I wanted a printer that had support and parts in the USA in case something did go wrong. I didn’t want to have to worry about shipping something back to the Czech Republic if something went wrong or was broken in shipping.
  3. At the time of my purchase, Prusa printers had a order backlog. New printers were not shipping out until possibly months after ordering. The MatterHackers Pulse 3D printer was a much shorter build and ship time. My printer arrived at my door less than two weeks after ordering, even with ordering a customized model, not the base model.
  4. The MatterHackers Pulse 3D printer is fully built to order. This means you can order only the upgrades you absolutely need.

I ordered my Pulse with the following upgrades.

  • Viki 2 LCD
  • BondTech Extruder with E3D V6 Hotend and Hardened Steel Nozzle (recommended for printing nylon)
  • Filament Runout Sensor

My MatterHackers Pulse printer arrived in a well packaged box with nothing broken. MatterHackers took the time to properly pack it to ensure nothing came broken. I unpacked it onto my counter and looked everything over. The only part that did not come assembled was the LCD unit. It was not plugged into or attached the printer itself, which I assume was done to prevent damage during shipping. It took roughly 1 minute to attach it.

After attaching the LCD unit, I was up and ready to go. I uploaded the MatterControl software on my PC, loaded in some ABS filament, connected to the printer via USB and was ready for printing. All in all, I was printing in less than 1 hour.

The MatterHackers Pulse Printer and MatterControl software is OpenSource. Many of the parts for the printer were printed using other Pulse printers, making replacing plastic parts – if ever needed – a breeze. All the source code and printable replacement parts can be found on GitHub here.

5 in Funnel

So how did it print? Fantastic!! I purposely printed something large (5 inch wide funnel) in ABS first since I heard that printers without enclosures sometimes had issues printing ABS caused by the plastic cooling too quickly. My print came out great the very first time. MatterHackers takes the time to fully test and set up the printer before shipping so that thier customers are ready to print when it arrives.

Loading and unloading filament in the printer was easy as pie. Just fire up MatterControl, pre-heat the nozzle, and use the “Load Filament” control button under “Settings and Control”.

The MatterControl software was very easy to use and has options for both beginners and more experienced users. It gives plenty of control and multiple slicer options.

The printer was very quiet and came with nice vibration dampening feet that really help. All the movements on the printer were smooth as butter and the BondTech extruder was a great addition to mine.

The heated build plate was great and had a nice 250 x 220 x 215 mm (10 x 8.5 x 8.5 in) printable area with a very nice BuildTak sheet pre-installed.

Now to the negative side. There are a couple very minor things that MatterHackers can improve upon with the Pulse 3D printer.

  1. The LCD unit did not come attached, which is fine. However, there were no instructions provided in the box to show which way the wire harness attaches. Since the design of the connectors allows them to accidentally be connected the wrong way (upside down), MatterHackers should begin to include a diagram to prevent damage. (See image at the bottom of the post for the correct way)
  2. After many successful prints, I had one that came off the bed because I made the mistake of not cleaning my bed properly before printing with nylon. This was no fault of the printer. When my print came off the bed, it barely snagged the bed level sensor which then broke the mount for the sensor. I was able to reattach the mount with some super-glue, but while gluing it back on I realized that part of the reason it snapped is that the attachment point for the right side of the mount was too thin – making it prone to snapping from even a minor bump. I was able to fix this by printing a thin “L” shaped piece to thicken the attachment point (see image at bottom of post). I will also be modifying the OpenSource STL provided by MatterHackers and send it back to them so they can thicken this up for future models.
  3. After my above incident, I needed to re-level/re-calibrate the bed. Since the sensor has adjustable height, after breaking it off and re-attaching it, I did not know at what height to adjust the sensor. This made re-calibrating it a long trial and error process. MatterHackers support is extremely responsive and helpful; however, this incident happened on a Sunday at 1 a.m. (Incidents always happen at the worst time). Looking online, it was very difficult to find any detailed information, documentation or guides specific to the Pulse. Hopefully MatterHackers will take the time to make some good documentation for the Pulse in the future. Their phone and email support is awesome, but good documentation helps at times when support is not available.

All in all, the MatterHackers Pulse 3D Printer has been a pleasure to own, and I am glad I picked this one. It prints everything I have thrown at it beautifully. I would highly recommend the Pulse to anyone looking to buy a quality 3D Printer. MatterHackers also offers a good selection of filament for 3D printers. There filament is good quality and reasonably priced.

*The3DmaN was not compensated for this review and paid full price for our 3D printer. The links in this review are affiliate links that The3DmaN may be compensated for by a customer navigating to MatterHackers from this site and making a purchase.

Correct wire harness connection for Pulse and Viki 2 LCD:

Viki 2 Wire Harness

Bed Level Sensor Mount:

Bed Level Sensor Mount

One thought on “Best 3D Printer For Beginners and Tinkerers

  1. Awesome – thanks for the in depth review. Very helpful.

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