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FlashForge Finder – A Hassle-Free 3D Printer for Kids
Last update on 2021-04-04 at 17:23
The first thing to say about the FlashForge Finder is that it looks very cool sat on my desk! The bright red open-sided case of tough but well made chunky plastic is a welcome change from its more industrial and sleek looking competitors and as I press the start button on the reassuringly responsive touch screen for the first build I fully expect an alien life form to be teleported into being in the center of the shiny new platform.
The chunky red plastic frame gives it a satisfyingly sturdy feel, the motors and drivetrain are mostly hidden away and whilst it looks quite futuristic it also just doesn’t look out of place sat on my desk next to the everyday tech of today, if it wasn’t for the noise I wouldn’t mind having this sat in my living room.
On the front of the machine is a nice clear color touchscreen, overall the Flashforge Finder looks decidedly unintimidating which is great for less tech savvy folks.
A user manual is included on the USB stick that comes with the printer; however, when you first switch on the Finder the touch screen handily walks you through the initial setup.
This consists of leveling the print bed by telling you to screw the adjustment nuts fully down by hand and then one by one as it measures each corner it tells you to raise each nut until a beep informs you the correct height is reached. This is a really clever but simple system that turns what could be a frustrating process into a complete doddle.
Loading the filament was a little trickier just because quite a lot of force is required to pull the filament through the extruder and the guide explicitly states not to use too much force! Getting this right on the first go is unlikely but once you know how it should feel it’s not a problem.
The Finder comes with its own FlashPrint software for preparing (slicing) models. I think it’s pretty good, the fully automated slicing and support generator works well and manual options such as temperature and printing speed are available for when you want to move to the next level of 3D printing.
Standard features like material usage estimates are included. Using the manual settings FlashPrint is much more advanced than the XZYware that comes with the DaVinci miniMaker and should give most teenagers enough freedom to create before they decide that 3D printing is their dream career and start begging you to buy a Lulzbot TAZ6…
FlashPrint also has a few gimmicks such as ‘2D to 3D’ which allows you to make an approximate 3D model from a 2D image, for example, you can turn a photo of your face into a lithophane style model, while this isn’t going to work perfectly it’s a fun enough exercise.
This is really a hassle-free 3D Printer. Using default settings my first build completed in a little under an hour. This is the only 3D printer I’ve had to check on to see if it’s working as it’s so quiet! Heat up time is fast, being able to remove the plate to apply blue tape is a dream.
One of the simplest yet most useful features of this printer is the removable build plate! It’s crazy that this isn’t a feature on all consumer-oriented 3D printers. Being able to remove your parts from the build plate whilst it’s sat safely on your desk is so much easier than reaching inside the machine and it just feels like a better way for kids to see their builds removed from the printer with a gentle slide it creates a ‘wow’ moment rather than 15 minutes of frustration as you deal with scraping bits of tape in a confined space.
The failure rate of builds on this printer is also fantastic, very near zero for me after a couple of weeks use which is very impressive.
Although the FlashForge Finder is happy to accept other brands of PLA filament the onboard filament holder is a little smaller than standard and so if you do choose a different brand you will need to keep the spool holder away from the machine for example on a shelf to the side or above it, in fact, there are some cool spool holder designs available on Thingiverse so you can make your own!
The FlashForge Finder is the type of 3D printer that in a few years time you’ll be picking up from Target and Staples without a second thought just like you do now with a paper printer.
It’s pretty much plug and play and combined with excellent support from the manufacturer it’s the ideal choice if you want to give your family a hassle-free entry into the world of 3D printing. It also has enough flexibility that it will be a good few years before your skills grow beyond its abilities.
I also want to add that many owners have reported the customer service at FlashForge to be outstanding. With very prompt and helpful replies to customer queries received usually within just a few hours. This is especially important as you start to experiment with new filaments and more advanced slicing, things can go wrong so it’s comforting to know genuine help is an email away.
- Age Group: 11+
- Filament Type: PLA
- Resolution: 0.08mm – 0.4mm
- Build Size: 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches