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Dremel 3D40 Flex: Dremel’s Popular 3D Printer is Now Faster and Easier to Use
Dremel Digilab 3D40 Flex
The Dremel 3D40 Flex should be your first choice 3D Printer if you’re buying a 3D printer for your children or a school. It’s also a great choice if you want a plug and play 3D printer. Dremel’s reputation for quality and great customer service is evident and the new flexible print bed makes it just that bit easier to use.
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Dremel’s 3D40 has been the go-to 3D printer for schools and families across the country since its launch. Its safe design and easy to use interface make it a perfect fit in the classroom.
Now it’s had an upgrade and has been renamed as the 3D40 Flex; the feature that gives it its name is the new removable and flexible build plate that makes removing your prints even easier.
There are a few other upgrades too, including a draft mode that lets you print 30% quicker than on the 3D40.
And at the other end of the scale, a new 50-micron ‘ultra high quality’ resolution lets you print detailed parts and fine features.
Elsewhere the 3D40 Flex carries over all the features that made its predecessor so popular like Wi-Fi cloud printing, a fully enclosed chassis and assisted bed leveling.
- Quick and easy to set up after unboxing
- Printing can be paused if you need to take a break or for changing the filament to another color
- Cloud printing takes ease of use to another level
- Print quality is excellent
- The interface is very user-friendly
- The semi-automatic bed leveling works very well
- Can only print PLA
- Fewer options for upgrading or modifying
Your Flexible Friend
One of the main features of the new 3D40 Flex is the new flexible print bed. This is designed to make print removal really easy, without you having to scrape the print bed, which can be frustrating.
The removable part of the bed is a sheet of spring steel with a BuildTak like stick on coating attached to it. This attaches to the fixed part of the bed by a magnetic sheet which is surprisingly strong.
The grippy coating means you don’t need to prep the bed at all before printing. No glue or tape is required.
When your print is finished, you pull the magnetic print bed out of the printer and simply bend it to make your print snap off.
In practice and depending on your prints geometry it may take a little more than a quick bend, but it does indeed make print removal a lot easier than scraping on a glass sheet.
I found smaller prints may still need a helping hand with the scraper, but the flexible bed does make it much easier to create a gap to get the scraper under.
Larger prints that cover more than a third of the print bed do indeed just snap off when you flex the bed.
Prints stick to the bed with ease and form a very strong bond, so I can’t imagine bed adhesion being a problem at all. This is very welcome on a non-heated bed 3D printer as it’s a very common problem.
For children, this is a much safer option than having to resort to the scraper, which really is a job for a parent or teacher.
A spare bed surface is included in the box, so if you should ever wear the surface away from excessive scraping, you can replace it.
The bed leveling is an effortless and quick task thanks to Dremel’s ‘Quik Level’ system.
The large, full-color LCD touch screen walks you through the process. It tells you how many notches to turn each of the two adjusters and gives you a green check when you’ve set each one correctly. It really is just a matter of seconds to get set up for your first print.
Here’s a quick video to demonstrate just how easy bed leveling is on the 3D40 Flex.
The all-important extruder is entirely clog-resistant. Thereby preventing the leading cause of print failures seen on many other 3D printers.
It also monitors the filament usage and automatically pauses the printer when you run out of filament part way through a build. This allows you to refill and restart the print without you having to scrap the partially finished print.
For anyone who’s experienced this frustration on other printers, you’ll understand how useful this feature is!
WiFi makes connecting to your 3D printer as easy as possible. It works hand in hand with the included Dremel software to allow you to send your models straight to the printer through the cloud.
You can still also use USB, Ethernet, or if you don’t have your 3D printer in the same room as your PC, you can use an SD-card to transfer your files.
The 3D40 Flex comes in two packages. The 3D40 standard and the 3D40-EDU educational version. The educational package adds three spools of filament to the standard one, at a lower price than if bought separately.
The EDU package also includes a spare build plate, so students are not queued up waiting for finished prints to be removed from a single platform. And an extra flash drive full of 3D models and ready formed lesson plans to help students get the most from the 3D printer.
One of the key selling points of the Dremel 3D40 is that it’s as easy for you to setup and use as any other Dremel power tool.
Unboxing is a pleasant experience. The packaging is very sturdy to protect the printer in transit but is well designed, making easy work of decanting the large printer.
Dremel is quite generous with the included goodies. As well as a spool of filament to get you started, you’ll also find a USB flash drive with software and example files.
A removal tool is included to help you unstick your finished print from the build plate, and a nozzle unclog tool for pushing out the old filament.
Unboxing and Setup
Dremel’s packaging skills are quite impressive. Most of the accessories are cleverly stowed within the 3D printer during transit. With the print bed itself locking the packaging into position as well as being protected by it.
You get all the things you need in the package to start 3D printing, including a spool of PLA filament, a print bed scraper, USB cable, USB thumb drive, and a nozzle unclog device.
The benefit of Dremel’s experience of consumer DIY tools is apparent when you see the included quick start documentation. It is head and shoulders above the quality seen with most other 3D printers. It quickly and clearly takes you through the unboxing and setup to get you printing in no time.
Detailed instructions are included in an extensive multi-lingual manual. However, I found it not to be necessary as the setup is so straightforward.
In fact, as the quick-start guide shows, other than plugging the power cable in, the only setup you have to do before your first print is installing the build platform and the filament.
Loading the filament is easy. You just remove the filament cover and feed in the end of the filament. From inside the printer you pull the filament through its guide tube and push it into the extruder. The extruder will grip the filament and pull it. When you see the new filament being extruded you’re ready to print.
Dremel suggests checking for firmware updates, so I opted to connect the 3D40 Flex to my home Wi-Fi network. This worked without any problems, and a few minutes later, the printer was up to date.
The build platform simply snaps into place and can then be leveled using the automated ‘Quik Level’ process that makes the process a doddle.
A sensor drops down from the extruder, and it makes its way around the print bed, measuring the height at each corner and the center, a total of nine points. If it finds the print bed to be unlevel, then the LCD screen tells you to turn each level adjustor by a certain number of clicks. When you’ve done this a comforting beep sounds, and a green check appears, and you’re done, easy!
The Dremel CloudPrint software that talks to your 3D printer is browser-based, so no install is necessary. And you don’t have to worry so much about the system requirements of your computer. So long as you have internet access and an email address, then all you have to do is go to the Dremel3D website and create an account.
You also get a Dremel customized version of CURA. This has three different levels of assistance, from fully automated for beginners up to full G-code editing abilities.
There are also a couple of neat features in CloudPrint; like the way it sends you an email every time a print has finished to notify you. It includes a link to a time lapse video of the print, and when you start a print from CloudPrint, it automatically starts recording a video so you can keep an eye on progress.
After logging into the Dremel Print Studio software, you can load in any of the included 3D model files or upload your own designs. All the essential settings you’re likely to need are there for you to change. Such as layer height, extrusion speeds, and infill types.
For complete beginners, the process can be almost entirely automated. But as you get more experience, there are plenty of manual controls available to help you learn the process of preparing 3D models for printing. You can create build supports completely manually if you choose. And slicing options are available from automatic to fully feature manual operation.
The flexibility in levels of control given to you should keep you happy as you progress in skill level and feel comfortable taking on more manual adjustments to get the best print results possible.
I opted to do my first test with the models that are supplied on the printer. There’s plenty of variety to interest most kids, with a frog, a bear, a complete chess set, and various other trinkets.
In operation, the 3D40 Flex is pleasantly quiet. The chirping of the stepper motors that move the extruder is much quieter than you hear on many 3D printers like the Ender3.
Unless you’re very easily distracted, this is definitely a printer that you could comfortably keep running in your office or classroom while you work.
Once your print is complete, you’re notified by a ringtone style sound. And then you’re ready to remove your print from the enclosure.
The removable build plate combined with the easy access of the large front door makes this a cinch.
The 3D40 Flex defaults to 200-micron (0.2mm) layer height, but it can go as fine as 50 microns (0.05mm) which is impressive. It also features a new draft mode which allows you to print 30% quicker at the expense of some resolution and therefore print quality. For many parts, this will be an adequate and welcome addition.
In classroom use, the speedy draft mode will be especially useful so that students can see the results of their work before class ends.
100 microns gives you an excellent smooth finish with very acceptable layer definition. So you won’t be reaching for the sandpaper and filler very often for most projects. While 50 microns is indeed impressive and makes layer lines virtually unnoticeable.
I’ve put the 3D40 Flex through its paces with the All in One 3D Printer Test piece using the default 0.2mm resolution. This test print is very useful as it tests most of the areas that 3D printers can fail including bridging, stringing, scale, diameter, tolerance, sharp corners, and overhang.
As you can see, the test printed successfully with no major issues. None of the common faults such as bridging, distortion, or over-extrusion are seen, which shows the 3D40 Flex is well-optimized out of the box with correct temperature, extrusion, and belt tensions from the factory.
Accuracy is also good with the diameter test measuring just 0.02mm out of tolerance on the 14mm diameter test.
Other commonly seen print issues like blobs due to over extrusion and spidering of the filament as the nozzle moves across the print are noticeably absent.
Overall the prints from the 3D40 Flex are satisfyingly clean. This saves you lots of time not having to make tweaks in the slicer software or spend too much effort post processing your prints to clean them up. Thumbs up to Dremel!
Dremel has aimed the 3D40 Flex squarely at 3D printer beginners. Specifically, families, schools, and teens, who can start off using it as a basic ‘press the button and go’ printer before gradually improving their skills as they learn and have more manual input into the printer’s settings.
You are limited to using PLA filament material as this is a cold bed printer. For the vast majority of 3D printing projects, this is all you will want. But it’s worth keeping in mind that more exotic materials like flexible TPU and strong ABS are not compatible.
Another limitation is that you have to use Dremel3D software to carry out the final slicing operation on your 3D models. This is because the 3D40 Flex doesn’t recognize standard g-code files, only Dremel’s own g3drem files.
For most users and especially newbies, this is of no consequence. For more experienced users who really want to use their own slicing software, you will need to use a slicer that is compatible with the 3D40 Flex such as S3D.
I have to make a special mention of the excellent customer service that comes with this 3D printer and all Dremel products. This is what really makes Dremel stand out above other 3D printer manufacturers.
Say your extruder stops working. Your first stop is the number of videos, tutorials, and manuals available. Next, you can call, email, or IM Dremel. They have several experts who can talk you through how to go about diagnosing and solving the issue, and they’re available on the phone 8 hours a day five days a week.
If you’re not happy tinkering inside your printer or you can’t solve the problem, Dremel are very happy for you to unhook the extruder and ship it to them for a free repair which they will do within a matter of a few days.
Where other manufacturers may say they have a 1-year warranty but then don’t deliver, the Dremel warranty is actually worth the paper it’s written on. If you have a problem with your printer, it will get fixed, free of charge, with as little hassle as possible to you.
When your warranty does run out, you still get lifetime access to Dremel’s support.
Dremel 3D40 Flex – Verdict
The 3D40 has been a big hit in classrooms and homes across the world. Thankfully the updated 3D40 Flex keeps everything that made the previous model so popular and has added a few nice features that make it even easier and more convenient to use.
The 3D40 Flex is not a project 3D printer that will require hours of your time to get working. Like all of Dremel’s products, it’s a tool for doing a job, and it does that job very well.
There are alternative 3D printers available for a similar price. Some can offer you more flexibility, such as more material options but there are few like the 3D40 Flex that will give you the confidence that when you press print, everything will work.
When you have twenty kids, who are waiting to see their finished 3D prints, reliability is more important than anything!
In a classroom setting, or as a STEM learning tool for your kids at home, the 3D40 Flex is the perfect choice of 3D printer.
- Build Volume: 10″ x 6″ x 6.7” (255mm x 155mm x 170mm)
- Nozzle diameter: 0.4 mm
- Full-color touch screen: 5 inches
- Nozzle temperature up to 230°C (397°F)
- Removable BuildTak style magnetic bed
- Wi-Fi connectivity and included remote printing software
- Dremel DigiLab 3D Slicer software included for Windows or Mac
- Minimum layer height: 50 microns (0.05mm)
- Build plate leveling: Semi-automated nine-point leveling
- Removable Carbon Filter
- UL certified and safety tested
- 1 Year warranty and Lifetime customer support