Most FDM 3D printers look the same, and so do 3D printer tests, but sometimes there are machines that stand out, and that’s the case today with the Creality 3DPrintMill, a 3D printer unlike any other, with a rolling platen that allows for mass or very long model 3D printing.
Announced in April 2020 by Creality at the same time as the CR-6SE and the Ender3 v2, I had noticed this new printer initially called CR-30 very intriguing. After contacting several people at Creality, this machine was still a prototype at the time, so I didn’t manage to find out more. But in October 2020, Creality finally revealed more information about this machine, renamed 3DPrintMill in collaboration with Chinese influencer Naomi Wu.
A first pre-order phase took place in November 2020 via Kickstarter, with the expectation that the machine would be received between March and May 2021. The first contributors were able to get the machine for between $588 and $688 (or between €485 and €560), and the announced public price for sale via the classic distribution network is $999 or about €825.
A few lucky youtubers and bloggers have been able to get a 3DPrintMill for testing, and I’m happy to be part of it today!
Presentation of the 3DPrintMill CR-30
The CR-30 is a Core-XY FDM 3D printer, with a 45° tilted print head and a rolling platen allowing infinite Z-axis printing (yes, it’s the Z-axis, even if it looks more like the Y-axis when compared to a classic FDM).
This type of printer is actually not new, the Dutch company Blackbelt has been offering this type of 3D printer for many years, for the modest sum of 9500€ (no, there is no typo with an extra 0). You can also find DIY projects and plans to build this kind of machine yourself..
This type of printer has not been accessible to the average person until now, unless you are a very good DIYer or a company with an adequate budget.
At less than $1000 for the 3DPrintMill, it is finally becoming affordable!
3DPrintMill CR-30 Specifications
– Core-XY FDM printer
– Printing area: 220x170x ∞ mm
– Rolling and heated platen
– End of filament detector
– Resume printing in case of cut
– PLA/TPU/PETG printing
– SD card reader
There is no self-levelling sensor, we will see later how the platen adjustment works.
The printer can print with a layer height between 0.1 and 0.4mm.
Slicer software, Creality Belt, which is a modified version of Cura, is supplied on the SD Card and works on both PC and Mac.
Unpacking and assembling the CR-30
The first thing to note is that the box is large and relatively heavy. This is a big baby! The dimensions of the machine in the data sheet are 535x656x410mm.
I have already received questions from people asking me if it is possible to fit this machine into a box. Technically you can always make a box for this printer, but don’t forget to create a trap door or some kind of “cat flap” to let the long prints through. However, I don’t think it would be wise to put it in a box in anticipation of printing ABS, I’m not sure that the conveyor belt is suitable for printing this type of filament.
The machine is partially assembled, at first sight no more complicated to assemble than a classic 3D printer. Count about 30min the assembly time, Kit-Kat break included!
I can confirm that the machine is quite heavy, which is rather positive because it will ensure a good stability. Overall the components seem to be of good quality, there is even a metal extruder.
As far as assembly is concerned, I had no particular difficulty, the instructions are relatively well illustrated. A beginner should be able to do it.
Once assembled, you can take a few minutes to admire the machine, in any case it looks great! The only small regret is the control screen, we could have hoped for something a little more modern, but it should do the job!
Setting the platter and first impression with the 3DPrintMill
I’ll answer the question “can we install a BL-Touch on the CR-30?” The answer is no, I don’t really see the point.
Unlike a classic platter where you have to make sure that all 4 corners are level, for this CR-30 you only have to check 2 points.
Here are the instructions in the user’s manual to make this adjustment.
Firstly, you must adjust the position of the end stop sensor at the back of the machine. Then you have to check the distance between the nozzle and the plate on the left and right side with the 2 knobs. You should have about 0.10mm of distance between the nozzle and the platen, which is equivalent to the thickness of an A4 sheet of paper (a small metal shim is supplied with the machine).
The procedure is not very complex, for my part it worked from the first print, but I think it would be wise to print a small verification pattern, for example a simple line of 2-3 layers across the width of the machine, repeated several times, in order to be able to adjust the wheels during printing, an idea to be explored!
Here we go for the very first print, as usual it’s best to print one of the sample templates provided on the machine’s SD card first. There are 4 gcode files on the card, difficult to understand what they are, the names being in Chinese, we’ll start with the first one and it will be a surprise!
For this first print, we have a cube/cylinder in series, the rendering is really clean.
I let some cubes print to see if the prints could be linked without any problem, I had no problem with 3 cubes, so we’ll move on to another print! Bonus, a little GIF showing how the pieces come off!
Before leaving on its own STL, we will continue this test with another example file. So we take the 2nd one, it will be a surprise too!
This model seems really huge! Unfortunately not having anticipated and left the 250g spool I would not have enough filament to finish this print, I only have a white spool bottom (from another brand with a silk effect), so we will stop this print and start again with another spool!
And here is the result! A crocodile about 50cm long, the result is really beautiful, it took more than 60 hours of printing for this model. The supports were relatively easy to remove and left almost no marks.
First impressions with the Creality Belt slicer (modified version of Cura)
As I am usually a Prusa Slicer user, there is currently no profile available for the 3DPrintMill CR-30, so I will have to use the slicer made by Creality (at first), provided on the SD card of the machine.
The only problem is that this Creality Belt seems to be relatively resource-hungry, my Macbook pro dating from 2014 (with the latest version of Mac OS) has a bit of trouble keeping up, it must be said that my machine is also saturated in terms of available disk space, I’ll have to try to free up some space or try the Windows version on occasion.
As you can see the length of the tray is really big (you can move around by holding the SHIFT key + left mouse click). If you want to print the same part in series, just fill in the “copies” field, even if you can’t see it in the preview, it will automatically create a gcode printer 5 times the same model.
So for my first impression, no I’m not going to make a Benchy, the temptation to make a sword is too strong!
Not much choice on thingiverse at the moment, you can often find small models that you can enlarge and hope that the model is “HD” with details, or often models cut in several pieces to fit on the tray of more traditional printers. I finally found this STL of Master Sword from the Zelda game, which I was able to enlarge from 22 to 80cm, so we’ll see how it goes 🙂
And here is my Master Sword coming out of the forge !
The result is really good, an 80cm print in one go, something impossible with my other 3D printers. I’m starting to measure the potential of this 3DPrintMill CR-30, it’s really fun!
I had to print this model with supports, otherwise I would have had to cut it and make it in 2 times, I was afraid to see the traces of supports (I hate printing models with supports) but finally the supports are easily removed, and leave almost no trace, I am surprised by this default profile!
Having printed with only 5% fill, this sword doesn’t look very solid, don’t expect to duel with it 😉 It would be better to redo it with a thicker hull, and increase the fill to 15-20%. I’ll do this print again, probably a bit bigger (100cm minimum).
For my second print, we’re going to print some decoration! I was planning to decorate one of the walls of my office with the different logos of the 3D printers I tested, a sort of “Wall Of Partners”. The opportunity to start this project with this CR-30 which will allow to print the whole logo in one go!
I did a quick modelling with Tinkercad, after having vectorised the CREALITY logo in SVG, Tinkercad automatically applied a 10mm extrusion on the text to give it some relief, for the printing 5mm will be more than enough.
The result is really nice, I just need to buy some double sided tape to fix it on the wall, and to print other logos !
For the next print, a wand from the Harry Potter movie, 38cm long, flat, the result is very clean, with a support that you can hardly see any trace, still with the Creality Belt slicer.
3DPrintMill CR-30 printing with Ideamaker
For the next print, we will change slicer, Raise 3D editor of the Ideamaker slicer having released a beta version compatible with the ” Belt Printer ” and in particular a profile specially designed for the CR-30, so it’s the opportunity to test!
The slicer is relatively easy to use, with an interface also available in French. The slicing and generally speaking the whole software seems more fluid than Cura/Creality Belt. This makes you want to try it in the future for other machines.
So let’s (en)chain for the next print with the printing of a chain! First in small size to check the feasibility with this type of head inclined at 45°, then in larger size on a length of 1 meter!
Note that this STL can theoretically be printed without support with a standard 3D printer, but unfortunately with the CR-30 it will be necessary to activate the supports, which is likely to be the case with many STLs initially “no support”, but the reverse can also exist with the possibility of printing certain models that would require supports on a standard printer, and none on the CR-30!
The rendering of this print is also very good, and the chain perfectly functional, after finishing this 1 meter version, I intend to try a 3 meter version!
To conclude, what to think of this 3DPrintMill CR-30?
A machine that is really out of the ordinary, I was really curious to see this CR-30 in operation, and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s true that this kind of printer won’t necessarily be useful for everyone, for example if you print figures that are rarely very large (unless you want to make full-size figures). But if you print a lot of parts in series, or for cosplay for example, this kind of tray is really interesting.
I was afraid that this printer would be much more complicated to use than a standard printer, it is indeed more complicated, but not that much. It’s not necessarily a printer that I would recommend to a total beginner, but if you already have a machine like the Ender 3, and you know how to adjust its platen without tearing your hair out, you should be able to get by with the 3DPrintMill without any worries!
So far I have used the printer for about 150 hours, on very large prints, this printer is not very fast (printing between 30 and 40mm/sec), but I don’t think that speed is a real criterion of choice for this kind of machine, as the printer can run continuously, you save time by not having to restart another print, or by printing in 1 block a file that you would have had to cut with a pause between each print.
If you are interested in this machine and want to buy it, you will unfortunately have to be patient if you missed the pre-sale via kickstarter! It is not yet available, but one thing is sure, it is a working printer and not just a prototype, it is a finished product!
If you are looking for more information on this machine, or want to follow its release, here are some links:
– Creality website: https://www.creality.com/fr
– Creality’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Creality3D.fr
– Creality’s Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/OFFICIALCREALITY3D
– 3DPrintMill Facebook group: https: //www.facebook.com/groups/1138389929912482