Is this the best Cheap 3D Printer: Alfawise U20
The Alfawise U20 is a hidden gem in a sea of 3D printers, even more so as a cheap 3D printer. At least this has been my experience so far. Looking at it, it looks like another CR10 style printer. It is similar to the Creality CR10 and the Tevo Tornado. The Alfawise U20 is a cheap 3d printer that has a couple of other features that puts it ahead of those two though.
Is this the Best Cheap 3D printer?
3D printing has been a very distracting hobby. I like to tinker with them as much as I like to print with them. The Alfawise U20 doesn’t need tinkering though. I did add a filament cooling fan duct from thingiverse.com. It cools the filament from both the left and right side of the nozzle. This is typically the first modification done by hobbyists when they get a new printer. Which makes me wonder why the manufacturers don’t include them. The part cooling from the two sides can improve the prints in a big way on some printers. The Alfawise U20 didn’t seem to need it but I put one on anyway for this cheap 3D printer.
Alfawise U20 3D printer: Specifications
300 x 300 x 400mm
Room temperature to 250 degree
Memory card offline print:
20 - 150mm / s
English & Chinese
XY-axis positioning accuracy:
Z-axis positioning accuracy:
Host computer software:
Windows / Linux / MAC
61.20 x 57.50 x 39.50 cm / 24.09 x 22.64 x 15.55 inches
66.00 x 56.00 x 30.00 cm / 25.98 x 22.05 x 11.81 inches
Unboxing the Alfawise U20
The Alfawise U20 is packed like most cheap 3D printer kits these days. They come in packaging foam in layers. The top layer is the base with the bed. Under that you have the upper frame with the control box and box of tools and parts. Included with the printer is a set of allen keys, cutters, putty knife, a nozzle cleaner and full color manual. Also, with the U20 you get a 250g roll of PLA filament. It’s nice to see companies including more than the useless 10m pieces you see with many printers.
The SD card comes with the typical free models free software and the manual in pdf format. I have been saying for some time now that Cura went downhill after version 15. I think the manufacturers know this too as they all include version 14 or 15 in their SD cards and USB sticks.
Assembling this style printer is quick and easy. The Alfawise U20 comes about 90% complete like the Tevo Tornado and Anet E12. I prefer kits to be 0-20% pre-built, like I said above I love to tinker. I understand why they don’t for customers who are not as good at building things. It would be good if they offered different levels of completion like the Tevo Flash. To assemble the cheap 3d printer, the Alfawise U20 you just need to bolt the upper frame to the base and connect the wiring.
There is one added feature to the Alfawise U20 that all printers mostly assembled should have. There are two bolts keeping the x gantry from moving during shipping. Be sure to remove them before you attempt to run this printer. The reason they need to be secure is that the Z motor get stretched and can break. The wiring is nicely marked with little plastic tags. You have to refer to the manual if you don’t know which is the x, y and z axis. I mixed up the X and Y on my first printer. The bed is the Y axis.
Also important when assembling the printer is that you set the power supply voltage before you turn it on. If it is set to 110 and you put 220 into it it’s going to kill the printer. Although if it is set to 220 and you put 110 into it you would be fine. It will not power on but it will not kill it either.
Here are some pictures of my printer and inside the control box but I would advise you not to open your control box unless there is a problem and you know what you are doing.
This cheap 3D printer comes with these little bed level knobs seen here on the left. The larger ones on the right are from the Ender 3. It would be nice to have the larger ones on all printers that have room for them.
As I mentioned in the SD section the SD has Cura 15 included with it. I would say use that and if you can afford Simplify 3D then it’s worth the investment. You can keep Cura 15 on your PC and install the newest version at the same time. Give the newest version a try and if you get bad prints then try version 15.
Cheap 3D Printer: Does it have Quality?
The print quality of the Alfawise U20 was an awesome surprise with it being a cheap 3D printer. I thought maybe it would print similar to the Tevo Tornado and the JGAurora A5. It was nice to see it prints better than those two. That is my experience anyway. I spoke to a few others who have also said they also had a nice prints from the U20. And with mine it printed awesomely with no modifications.
PLA is my favorite filament and getting a nice 250g roll with the printer is where I started. And to my surprise the included filament printed very well.
Using the included roll, my first print was this little helix and this toolbox to hold the included tools.
This is the bottom of the tool holder. I started the print with the hotend to far from the bed. Well I guess that is inaccurate, as the way the printer works the bed is set to low from the hotend. That is because the hotend starts at the same height every time and the bed is adjusted higher and lower to level the bed. The bottom layer should be smooth and solid.
Being a batman fan and a Lego fan I printed a giant Lego Batman from thingiverse.com, the place to find almost anything you want to print. There are a few lego Batman’s there.
What is a review without a Benchy or two? The Benchy short for benchmark was made to test the printer's ability to print different things like text, overhangs, bridges, circles, etc. and have something to display or give to a child after. Also there is a marvin keychain that does a similar thing. With the cheap 3D printer, the pictures don’t do these prints justice. They are very well printed compared to many other sub $500 printers. You can even see the super tiny 3D Benchy text on the back of the boat.
PETG being an ABS alternative can be a pain to print because of it’s stringing. The two rolls I have, have not been nice to print. I thought it was the filament but after printing these I now know it was the printers. I printed the Benchy and Marvin to compare with the PLA. At first it started off under extruding so I bumped the heat by 10 degrees and it started printing very nice.
So I then reprinted them at the higher temperature and to my surprise they printed very well. I know my past problems with the filament couldn’t have been just settings because I used those same settings here except the temp.
So after that, I printed what I purchased the grey filament for. The Millennium Falcon! And boy did I like the results. I’m not a big fan of the shininess of the grey but it looks better in person then it does on camera.
The one disappointment of this printer is TPU and flexibility. Because they are so flexible they are hard to feed down the long bowden tube to the hotend without it bunching up. Also when there is too much space between the feeding gear and the extruder casing then the filament can get wound up around the gear and jam. But there are prints on thingiverse that lessons the gap for flexible filament. I printed one before I got the printer, but it doesn’t fit the way the extruder is designed. I’m sure if I play with the settings and slow it down even more then the 20mmps I could get it to print. I just didn’t have time.
The part I’m holding is supposed to fit where I put the other green box. But as you can see it will not fit.
Like I said above the only mod I needed was this fan duct.
As you can see the Tool holder was printed without the fan duct and it still printed great.
PRINT QUALITY: 9.5/10
BUILD QUALITY: 7/10
USER INTERFACE & NAVIGATION: 8/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 9/10
Final Judgement: Is this the best cheap 3D printer?
You can't go wrong with this printer. In fact, I would choose the Alfawise U20 over the Tevo Tornado or the JGAurora A5. The touch screen is a nice feature with a ton of settings for both the printer and the print. The flat angle is annoying but a small price for such a good printer. I’m sure someone if not me will design something to put it at a better angle. Learning 3D CAD would be fun. I did have to loosen the eccentric nut on the right side of the X gantry to prevent a bit of z tension. The look is nice with just enough of color and branding. The bed is removable glass with build tack on the top. Being a fan of glass beds I simply turned it over. So at any point on glass with hairspray and I can simply turn it back over to be stock. Also, this bed is the flattest bed I have had to date. This cheap 3D printer has so much going for it, I wish it was around when I purchased my first printer. If you purchase this printer I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. I don’t see many people with issues on the Alfawise U20 Facebook group.
So Happy Printing and Welcome to the Hobby!
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