3D printing was invented in the 1980s and has come a long way in a short time. That is since the Stratasys patents expired in 2009. In 2005 Dr Adrian Bowyer started the Rep Rap project which basically means printers which can create the parts to make other printers.
Joseph Prusa came up with the simplistic i3 design in 2012 which started the Chinese clone frenzy which, in turn, brought cheap sub-$500 printers to the mainstream. Since then, there has been little advancements in the cheaper printers. Creality came out with the CR-10 , a large volume printer under $500, using an extruded aluminum frame. Now the main Chinese printer companies have been copying one another, and pushing prices lower and lower. Reviewing basically the same printers with different volumes is OK, but I have been craving some advancements.
In comes the Jgaurora A3S. This is a standard i3 design with some new features which come mainly on the higher end printers. A3S comes with a full metal powder-coated frame that looks great. I prefer this look over the cheap acrylicli frames and the basic-looking extruded aluminum. With the exception of the awesome looking Tevo Black Widow , which I reviewed back in September.
The A3S also comes with a filament run out sensor that pauses the printer and lets you insert a new roll to continue the print. That should be on EVERY printer regardless. I don’t know how many times I had filament snap and come to find a partial print on the bed. We did review a printer called AnyCubic i3 Mega which has that feature and is in similar price-range as the Jgaurora A3S.
Another awesome feature which I’m not sure how much it would cost to include, is the touchscreen display. The display is colored and uses a 4X2 square block menu which works great. But after all that, they added my favorite feature which blows me away. As I’m living in the countryside, where power outages are frequent, with the A3S I no longer need to worry. When the power fails, or if someone trips the plug, the printer will ask if I’d like to continue the next time it powers up.
On top of all that, the printer comes with what they call the Black Diamond Bed. It is a glass bed with a special coating similar to the BuildTak surface. So far it has been very durable. Hopefully, it stays that way, because it doesn’t look removable.
All these features on a sub-$500 printer gives me hope that the community isn’t sitting still. Joseph Prusa even added those features to his newest printer, along with many other things for around US$800.
- Printer model
- Printing size
- Printer Dimensions
- Printer Weight
- Print speed
- Layer resolution
- Material diameter
- Nozzle temperature:
- Printer Frame Material
- Platform board material
- Extruder type
- Heated Bed
- Filament sensor
- Resume from outage
- Recommended Material
- Power Input
- Retail price
- Jgaurora A3S
43.10 x 37.00 x 42.30
- 10 - 150mm/s ( Suggested 80mm/s )
- 0.05mm - 0.3mm
- 180 - 240
- Color Touch Screen.
- PLA,TPU,Wood , PETG PLA+
- AC 110 - 230V
Unboxing this printer is pretty straightforward. It comes in two main parts, plus accessories that include power supply, spool holder, filament, and all the tools to put the printer together.
Most 3D printers use micro SD or standard SD cards. These are okay, but are typically harder to access as these are in the motherboard, or behind the LCD screen. The A3S uses standard USB stick which is cheap and easier to deal with; as not all computers have SD slots – and very few have micro SD slots. The USB comes with the Jgaurora-branded Cura. Also on the stick is the User Guide and a 4-second assembly video.
Assembling this printer is so easy that anyone can do it. It consists of placing the two pieces together and fixing 4 screws into the bottom. After that, simply screw in the filament holder to the side, and plug in four wires on the side. The entire thing was ready for operation in less than 5 minutes. There is an assembly video on the USB Stick, but it is only 4 seconds long. Why they made it so short is beyond me.
The print quality with this printer is OK. Not the best I’ve seen, but the other features make up for it. With some slicer setting tweaks, it can improve. I have a few different types of filaments I’d like to test, starting with PLA as it comes with a 250g roll. Many don’t come with more than 10 meters of material.
The included PLA is definitely not high-end quality material, but it’s nice to have it. It reduces the cost to get printing right away. The first print I tried was a fan shroud that is an STL model on the USB stick. This failed miserably, but that was my fault because I forgot to add the supports into the slicing software.
I don’t know why I print those little cubes. People say they measure accuracy to 20mm cubed but I don’t think it should be done at such a small size. There are better means of calibrating the axis. I print it to see how smooth it prints walls. With this one I didn’t put infill and not enough top layers, so it has holes in the top. Holes could also result from insufficient part cooling and too much heat.
It’s always good to know the tolerances of your printer. It means how far apart your pieces and walls need to be in order to print without fusing together. This print has gaps from .05 to .5. Typically printers have a .2 tolerance with a .4 nozzle. This printer struggled at .2 which isn’t the greatest but not too bad either.
ABS shrinks while cooling, so the bed needs to be minimum 100 C° but 110 is recommended. The power supply included is very underpowered. My one-and-only attempt fried the power supply. After popping it open, I discovered a very bad burn on the PCB.
After my incident with the power supply, I reported the issue to the manufacturer. For the reasons which I will explain a bit later, my replacement part delivery was quite delayed. Luckily, at work, they had a 24V power supply, so I borrowed it to finish the review. At the time of writing, my replacement part is traveling from China to my location.
So with PSU replaced, I continued my print quality tests on the Jgaurora A3S.
PETG is the go-to for parts that need to withstand higher temperatures like ABS, but without the warping that comes with printing ABS. Very common for parts people print for their 3D printers. Since it withstands the heat required to print ABS, it also does not require the bed to be over 80°C. It’s my only blue filament, so I printed the TARDIS from Doctor Who. It didn’t turn out that great. I also printed a corner bracket I’ve designed in Fusion 360 for my life-size TARDIS chicken coop.
Flexible Filament (TPU)
Flexible filaments are one of the coolest filaments out there. I purchased a roll not knowing what I wanted to do with it. I did print a set of tires for the Open RC Formula 1 project. But now that I have 4 of them, I’m going to print squishy Pokemon. I first printed a small one from the Jgaurora download page. It had an issue with the mouth of the model. After fixing it with Microsoft 3D Builder, I scaled it up and reprinted. Hard to see in pictures, but it looks awesome in person. The pictures don’t do it justice because it’s so glittery.
For this review, I opened 2 rolls of PLA+ that I haven’t used until now. What a surprise! PLA+ (also known as PLA Plus) is PLA that uses higher temperatures like ABS without all the headaches of ABS. This is going to be my new go-to filament because it prints much better than ABS, and even PETG. For my first print, I printed this cool optical illusion on Thingiverse. This was created by a guy with the YouTube channel called Make Anything. I encourage you to look him up.
Cheap printers always come with free open-source software. Jguarora had re-branded their own version of Cura 2.5 which is open source and comes on the USB stick. I, for one, do not like Cura 2 and 3 at all, but Cura 14 and 15 seem OK. But there are others you can download – such as Slic3r and Craftware.
If you want the best it will cost you $150 USD. That is called Simplify3D. It is great because you can customize your support structure, and it prints well: www.Simplify3d.com
Upgrades and Modifications
The A3S is new on the market and there are no updates and Mods for it, yet. There is also A5 model which is the same as the A3S, but with a bigger build volume, so modifications for them should be interchangeable.
This is a new section of the review; a process I have yet to write about. I thought it important because of how things went with the power supply. Not because it stopped, but because of the process of getting tech support from Jgaurora. Their website has an email address, and they have a Facebook group. I emailed them and joined the group. I got a bit worried when I read a post saying they would give a full refund for positive reviews.
That’s just wrong. Knowing their target audience is people spending under $500 for their printer, they would likely be happy to oblige. Full disclosure, my printer was sent to me from Gearbest for a review. They don’t expect me to be biased. So after contacting the company and days wasted by them telling me to go through Gearbest for a warranty replacement part, they finally gave me a tracking number for the power supply.
I would like to talk about the Facebook group, though. After a few days there I was, having a discussion with another member about the problems he was having. I simply didn’t think the issues were as bad as he was saying. So they removed the entire conversation and said they don’t allow comments that are negative toward their products. Imagine people going there for help, and not being able to say what is on their minds – from fear of getting removed from the group!
We formed a Non-biased group for Jgaurora owners to get help. You can find it here if you buy one of their printers.
Pros, cons, and evaluation
- The A3S is the quietest printer I have had yet. With the printer sitting on the desk beside me I found myself looking to see if it stopped because it was so quiet at times.
- Black Diamond Bed. This is new to me so I don’t know the longevity of it but it is a positive so far. Prints stick very well while printing and are not to hard to remove when cooled.
- Full-metal construction makes this printer solid. On top of that, it is powder-coated and won’t scratch easily.
- The A3S does have a heated built plate. Heated build plate is not necessary, but is recommended.
- Full-color touch screen. The touch screen is a nice feature and makes the printer look more high-end. After using this touch screen for a while, dealing with buttons and knobs is annoying .
- The A3S is the easiest kit printer I have built to date. No assembly knowledge is needed for this printer.
- This printer looks great with the white powder coating and blue side panels.
- Filament run out sensor! This is an awesome feature. I love how it pauses and uses a filament load and unload feature to change the filament. No more worrying whether there is enough filament to finish the job.
- Power Off recovery. I love this because I have had to use it already. Living out of the city, you are prone to accept frequent power cuts.
- USB stick instead of the SD card. Using USB is great. USB is faster than the SD cards when writing the Gcode to the drive. These are easy to get and harder to lose than the tiny cards.
- Hard to work on. The nice metal frame and enclosed bottom half make this printer difficult to work on. For instance, when I tighten the belts I will have to carefully disassemble quite a bit to gain access.
- Side panels look good but they are not screwed or glued to the printer. I will print something to make them more secure, or glue them in myself.
- The biggest con for this printer is the under-powered Power Supply. If they didn’t advertise that it can run at 110° then it wouldn’t be such a problem. That is, it would still be a problem, just not a big one. ABS is not an option for this printer, so if that is what you need, then pass on it.
- Not an open source. The company doesn’t have a link to download the firmware, so there is no way to update it with an auto level sensor. I emailed and asked for it, but no reply at all.
- Hard to level the bed. The previous point brings me to this one. The bed level nuts are hard to turn because they are stiff and very close to the bed. Typically you could print bigger knobs for them but there is no room for bigger nuts.
- Loose belts. The belts are loose, and I’m sure if I can tighten them the prints may look even better.
I really like this printer. The under-powered Power Supply and poor customer support is a big minus. The new power supply is on the way. They finally got it sorted, but I shouldn’t have had that much trouble dealing with them. Beyond that, it’s a good printer and I’m pleased with the prints. My scoring probably would have been higher if it weren’t for said issues. Although, those issues are dwarfed by the power failure, filament run out, and all the other positives of this machine.
The quality is good and will likely be better with the tightened belts. So far no one has mentioned loose belts in the Facebook groups, so it could be a one-off with my machine.
The quality of this printer is good. Could be better – with a proper power supply and the side panels being properly installed.
USER INTERFACE AND NAVIGATION:
I can’t say enough about the touch screen. Easy to navigate and understand.
VALUE FOR THE MONEY:
The printer is more than enough for the money. Having higher-end features and a solidly built frame makes this printer a great buy.
While I love this printer, it is hard to look past the customer service issues. That said, it is ahead of the curve and I hope those features become more mainstream with the printers under $500. Even with the customer support, you can’t go wrong with this printer because there are plenty of friendly people willing to help on the internet.
Where to buy