3D printers can be intimidating to non-engineers, or less technical — yet curious — makers. Numerous studies have proven 3D printers save the average household serious money by printing household items rather than buying them, yet so few have been adopted into people’s houses.
For a long time I have mused on how 3D printers could bridge this accessibility gap and become so simple to use that they make sense — not just on a financial level, but an approachable one.
I landed on a vision of a hybrid-style, lego-like 3D printer, where you just snap each part, like the nozzle, extruder, hot end, filament spool, axes, and other parts into place; and when you clog a nozzle or wear it down, you click it out of place and click the replacement in. No technical knowledge required — and little patience either.
Note: this article covers the Snapmaker 2.0 3D printer module. Read our Snapmaker 2.0 CNC and laser test.
Having now used the Snapmaker 2.0 for several days, not just as a 3D printer, but as a CNC carver and laser cutter and engraver (aided by the 4-axis rotary module add-on), the Snapmaker 2.0 feels like the closest available machine to my vision of an accessible 3D printer that could find a place in people’s homes worldwide.
Not only does it deliver on a technical level — and read on to find out how it performed in each function — but the entire experience unboxing, assembling, and setting it up was Apple-esque, and you can feel the hundreds of hours that have gone into making it the most pleasant and easy-to-use machine around.
This is a 3-in-1 3D printer that doesn’t just satisfy small businesses and technical hobbyists, but curious beginners, too. The learning curve has been flattened, the level of patience required shattered, and the intuitiveness unrivaled. This is our review of the Snapmaker 2.0.
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Building the Snapmaker 2.0 3D Printer
Online estimations say it takes 60-80 mins to assemble the Snapmaker 2.0, and I was originally suspicious. Surely such a complex machine will take longer than that — that’s around the same time that most low-cost FDM kits can take, and they come mostly pre-assembled.
Snapmaker 2.0 Main Specs (full specs at end of article)
Price: $1,100-$1,700 — Available on Snapmaker Store here
Build volume: A150: 160x160x145mm, A250: 230x250x235mm, A350: 320x350x330mm
Filament compatibility: PLA, PETG, ABS, TPU
Different toolheads: 3D printer, CNC carver, Laser cutter and engraver, 4-axis CNC and laser with rotary axis add-on
I was very pleasantly surprised by how accurate that timeframe was. It took around an hour to build the entire Snapmaker 2.0, using both the paper booklet instructions that come with the machine and Snapmaker’s helpful YouTube video tutorial.
Beyond the time taken, the experience was simply a pleasant one. The parts ship in beautiful boxes with clearly displayed designs showing which parts are in each cardboard container, and are elegantly wrapped with care. Each differently sized screw is clearly labeled so you’ll never get confused or misled, and a lot of care has clearly been put into making the assembly as easy and enjoyable as possible — even the screwdriver tool you use to build the machine feels like a lot of time has gone into designing it. The assembly process is its own experience.
It took around an hour to assemble the Snapmaker from scratch. However, this doesn’t include setting up the enclosure (read on for more about the enclosure add-on), and you’ll need to spend more time fitting the CNC or laser modules if you plan to switch out the 3D printer. If you have the 4-axis rotary attachment module for CNC turning and engraving, expect this to take some extra to set up also.
Snapmaker 2.0 3D Printer Review
Once we built the default naked Snapmaker 2.0, fitting the 3D printer toolhead was simple. The setup changes slightly if you have the Snapmaker 2.0 enclosure (more on this as we go on) as you’ll need to re-attach the filament spool and the touchscreen holder so they fit in the enclosure, but otherwise attaching the 3D printer is just 4 screws, before calibrating it once you’ve turned the Snapmaker 2.0 on.
Unlike some low-cost 3D printers, where there’s the continuous sense of worry using wires and cables that feel flimsy when plugging them in or taking them out, the power cables on the Snapmaker feel strong and high quality, and have designated ports in the power bank for each part to fit in. They don’t get tied up or interfere with each other, though if you have the enclosure you will have to bend them a bit when you drop your partially assembled enclosure onto the Snapmaker 2.0 to attach it.
Once we turned it on, the setup was a pleasure. Again, it feels like Snapmaker have taken a leaf out of Apple’s book with the design of the entire experience. The touchscreen is intuitive, there was zero lag upon touching the screen — which, while not vital to final results, is a nice quality of life boost — and the one-off setup process that triggers automatically once you turn the Snapmaker on is simple and takes a few minutes maximum.
- Connect your Snapmaker 2.0 to your WiFi (or don’t, if you want to use a USB to transfer files instead).
- Wait for the Snapmaker to auto-level across the nine points on the print bed.
- Adjust the Z-axis retraction manually until you feel resistance on a piece of paper.
- Load the filament. This is really easy and you press a button once you’ve inserted the filament for the motor to pull the filament until it starts extruding.
- You’re done! You just need to either connect the Snapmaker 2.0 to your computer via WiFi to send your sliced G-code file, or export it to a USB (a test vase print comes with the Snapmaker) and insert it into the machine.
We used the WiFi features, and did not test the USB option, but for those who intend to 3D print in their work areas without WiFi, this will work fine. We recommend using the WiFi option if you can — it’ll save you time.
We tested the Snapmaker 2.0 A350, the largest model with the largest build area (320 x 350 x 330 mm). This is the best version to buy, and the one that affords you the most options for not only 3D printing, but also the CNC carving (with the 4-axis rotary module) and laser engraving.
However, naturally, this affects how quickly the heated bed heats up, and it took around 5 minutes to heat up from room temperature to the 70°C Snapmaker set for their PLA that comes with the printer (reducing to 50°C after the first few layers). The A350 also reaches lower maximum heated bed temperatures than the smaller models, at 80°C.
Heated bed temperatures on the Snapmaker 2.0:
- A150: up to 110°C
- A250: up to 100°C
- A350: up to 80°C
The first print we tried was the example 3D model set up in Snapmaker Luban software — an attractive vase which we printed with the black PLA filament included in the kit, at almost the exact settings (we made minor adjustments from 12% to 15% infill). We opted for 70% scale to speed printing up, and the model was exported in just a few seconds and transferred almost instantly to the printer.
The model took longer to print than the expected 1 hour 50 minutes that the Snapmaker Luban software predicted — at 2 hours 19 minutes. The first layers printed at lower speeds, and maxed out at 40-50mm/s as the print progressed. The top of the vase is fairly flimsy and wouldn’t be able to hold much weight without toppling over, but if the infill was something like 20% (and the print around 3-3.5 hours) then it’d be an ideal, sturdy vase.
The dynamic print speed settings helped the vase come out so perfectly. With the beginning rafts and first layers the print speed started at just 18mm/s, speeding up as these first layers were done. These dynamic and variable print speeds are a step up from affordable printers with a one-size-fits-all print speed, and help prevent uneven or failed prints.
We then tried printing a character model we downloaded of beloved pokemon Pikachu.
We used the Fast Print settings which roughly cuts the print time in half compared to higher quality settings. The Pikachu model came out fairly fragile, and re-doing this we’d make the walls thicker rather than saving time with the Fast Print settings, as parts did not fully fill in — particularly the very bottom part, as well as Pikachu’s head — and felt brittle and would likely crack if your kids played with it.
There was also a small amount of stringing, but this was mostly down to the non-optimum print settings.
Nevertheless, these imperfect settings aside, the part came out accurately and with a good surface finish for an FDM 3D printer. The print again took around 20 minutes longer than Snapmaker Luban estimated, probably because of the slower first layer print settings, and of course allowing for several minutes to heat up the larger heated bed.
We then printed a standard 3DBenchy 3D printer torture test. Since the Pikachu came out too fragile for our liking, we used Snapmaker Luban’s Normal Quality mode rather than Fast Print this time, with lower layer heights and higher wall thicknesses.
Without any supports, the Snapmaker printed a near-perfect Benchy. There are tiny bits of stringing in one of the corners inside the hull, and the slightest drooping in the overhang on the circular back window, but apart from that the Benchy model printed flawlessly. This was very impressive.
Snapmaker Luban software
As a 3D printing software companion, Snapmaker’s Luban software feels similar to Cura, but beyond just working with the Snapmaker 2.0’s 3D printer toolhead, also manages file preparation for the CNC and laser cutter and engraver modules.
On starting the software up, you simply click which application you want to use, and then you’re ready to either import your G-code or STL file for 3D printing, or any of the various file formats comparable with the laser cutter and CNC parts such as SVG, PNG, JPG, BMP or DXF.
Like Cura, Snapmaker Luban is quick and fluid for quickly re-sizing and performing other simple edits to STL files, to then exporting them to either a USB or sending them directly to your Snapmaker 3D printer via WiFi. We found the slicing time to be super quick, even with fairly large models. Luban comes with Fast Print, Normal Print, and High Quality print setting templates, but you can also tweak each setting based on your particular needs for a project or filament material, and add any supports you want if your project requires them.
You’ll have likely already set up WiFi when you first boot up the printer, and from there you just need to refresh your connections in the software, connect to your Snapmaker, and send the file over. The touchscreen will flash up for you to accept the file, and then it’s up to you whether you want to start the job now, or wait till a more convenient time (the file stores itself on your Snapmaker 3D printer, so you can choose to start the project whenever).
Snapmaker 2.0 Enclosure Kit Add-on Review
For an extra $399-599, you can purchase the specially-designed Snapmaker 2.0 enclosure kit that encompasses the 3D printer and offers a range of benefits.
Snapmaker 2.0 Enclosure prices
- A150: $399 — Available here
- A250: $499 — Available here
- A350: $599 — Available here
Setting up the enclosure took around an hour, and was mostly simple — but make sure you’ve got each of the top and bottom frame pieces the correct way round; if not, you’ll be unable to slide the side doors in and have to disassemble and reassemble the entire enclosure! You will need to change a couple things around on the Snapmaker 2.0: the filament spool changes to face the other way around, and the touchscreen holder is upgraded and moved.
The enclosure’s main benefit for 3D printing is for ABS 3D printing. ABS is notoriously prone to warping, both on early layers and cracking in the midsection, and it’s generally a nightmare for printing in the open air without an enclosure or heated chamber to prevent it from cooling too quickly. The Snapmaker 2.0 enclosure keeps the conditions around ABS hotter and prevents warping, and is integral to successful ABS printing on the Snapmaker.
One thing about the Snapmaker 2.0 is that by default it is fairly noisy, and you’ll be able to hear its mechanical whirrings from the next room if you leave it to print your next project. The enclosure reduces these noises fairly significantly (by around 10dBA), so if you’re planning on keeping your Snapmaker near to your home office or any other room where you prioritize peace and quiet, the enclosure is a great add-on for you.
The side panels are designed to reduce any effects from the laser (though the specialized goggles that come with the Snapmaker 2.0 also protect you) as well as filter out laser fumes through the back. It’s also a great help for keeping in any dust from chips you have cut using the CNC module, as well as adding stability to your Snapmaker 2.0, keeping it anchored to the ground. It’s also bordered with LEDs, making for both a cooler sci-fi-style environment and helping in low-light conditions, for example if you’re working in a less well-lit workshop in the evening.
When using it we found that it detected when the door was opened while the Snapmaker 3D printer was working, and you can modify your settings for whether you want this to pause your project or not, for example to stop if you’re worried your kids will injure themselves by opening it while it works.
Overall, we thought the Snapmaker 2.0 3D printer was a fantastic all-in-one machine. We tested the Snapmaker 2.0 A350 3D printer, though the A250 and A150 are almost identical and offer the same high-quality 3D printing as well as the laser cutting and CNC modules.
We highly recommend the Snapmaker, and praise it especially for its accessibility, intelligent built-in print settings, and versatility. You might be interested in different Snapmaker models. Check out our article on Snapmaker 2.0 vs Snapmaker J1 vs Snapmaker Artisan for more.
This article covers the Snapmaker 2.0 3D printer. Read our review on the Snapmaker 2.0 CNC carver, laser cutter and engraver, and 4-axis rotary module here.