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The Stacker S4’s Superior USA Engineering Makes 3D Printing on an Industrial Scale Affordable
Last update on 2021-02-03 at 20:16
Stacker’s latest USA designed and built, industrial 3D Printer features a four print-head design that gives you the ability to print four parts at once or use multiple materials in one part.
Every aspect of the Stacker S4 gears towards performance and reliability in a commercial setting. With industrial standard components and the ability to print large objects, quickly in almost any material you wish, it’s an excellent choice for commercial, industrial, and school use.
Its high spec hotends and nozzles allow you to print using almost any filament that’s currently available. Including industrial grade filaments like colorFabb_HT copolyester and steel blends.
- Print up to four parts at once
- Print up to four different material types or colors at once
- Remotely mounted filament drives for faster and more precise prints
- Hi-Temp hot end (300°C) for fast and reliable printing over wide range of materials
- Heated aluminum print bed with Flex-Plate and BuildTak
- Dual power supplies for increased reliability
- Build area up to 345mm x 520mm x 650mm (13.5″ x 20.5″ x 25.5″)
- Includes Simplify3D®, professional 3D printing software and Stacker Run (custom version of Repetier Host)
- Industrial quality components
- Made in the USA
The Stacker S4 looks unlike most other 3D printers. Where its rivals cover up their workings with vanity panels, the S4 proudly displays all its high-quality engineering.
And it’s no wonder Stacker wants to show off their work.
Every part of the S4 is a superb piece of engineering that leaves you in no doubt that this is a 3D printer that means business.
The four nozzles and their feed tubes sit on top of the printer, while the vast majority of the chassis is taken up by its enormous build volume. At 13.5″ x 20.5″ x 25.5″ you’ll struggle to reach the limits of the S4.
The main chassis is made of sturdy powder-coated steel that is precisely formed on a CNC press brake. It sits on four casters that allow you to move it from room to room quickly, so you can keep it out of the way in storage or move it between offices.
The Stacker S4 includes a number of design features that set it apart from its rivals. It’s clearly designed to maintain quality and reliability in an industrial environment. And it also has a number of unique features that make it a very flexible 3D printer that’s suitable for many different applications.
Four Print Heads
The multiple print heads function in an entirely flexible arrangement. Each head can be removed entirely from the printer if it’s not needed, to maximize your build volume. With all four print heads fitted your maximum X travel is 390mm, but by removing three print heads, you can increase this to 510mm.
Multiple print heads allow you to print up to four objects simultaneously.
Each print head is fed by its own reel of filament, and its hot end temperature is controlled independently, so you can print using up to four different materials or colors at the same time.
This gives you the benefit of saving time, as you effectively have the print capacity of four printers.
You can also use between one and four of your print heads combined to print one object in multiple materials. You can use this capability to produce some very intricate designs that can feature different materials and colors all in one object.
The Stacker S4 uses industrial grade stepper motors, the highest quality linear motion bearings, maintenance free dry bearings.
All the components other than the linear motion and power supply are made in the USA.
The print bed is ground aluminum. Grinding is the most accurate way to machine a flat sheet, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a successful first layer.
The printer frame is assembled in the USA on a production line that uses a custom CNC machined jig to ensure each printer chassis is straight and true.
All of which makes the S4 extremely accurate and repeatable. This makes it perfect for a commercial environment when you need to produce identical objects.
It also means it hardly ever needs re-calibrating. Stacker calls their technology ‘Level-Once’ because that’s all you need to do. This leaves you free to concentrate on your business or products rather than worrying about reliability.
Quick Change Nozzles
Each nozzle can be changed easily in less than a minute. This allows you to choose the best nozzle for your application. There are six sizes available from 0.25mm up to 1.00mm so you can pick the best balance between speed and level of detail.
The nozzles are also made of hard wearing stainless steel rather than the usual brass. This significantly increases nozzle life and allows you to print using filament like Carbon Fiber that would wear a brass nozzle.
The Stacker S4 is completely calibrated at the factory and shouldn’t need any further adjustment after you have installed it.
Your first task once you have unboxed the S4 is to print the included test model. You are given very comprehensive instructions on how to do this first print, which serves as a useful walkthrough of all the tasks you need to do to get your printer up and running, such as installing the filaments and loading a geometry file to the printer.
Once you have printed your test piece, its quality and accuracy will tell you if your printer has remained correctly calibrated during shipping.
The instruction booklet that comes with the Stacker S4 is one of the most precise and well-written guides I’ve ever seen for a 3D printer.
It not only shows you every aspect of setting up, using, maintaining and troubleshooting. It also includes many tips that will make these tasks so much easier to complete.
These are the sort of tricks that you usually have to learn through experience with your 3D printer, but Stacker has thoughtfully shared all their extensive knowledge of their product with you so you can benefit from the best possible user experience.
Using the Stacker S4
You’ll find printing on the S4 is a straightforward process. The included premium software helps further to make it a painless experience.
A license for Simplify3D comes with the S4. This is one of the best premium Slicers available and is highly regarded. It has unbeatable support structure generation that will save you a lot of hassle by making structures that are easy to remove without leaving blemishes on your print. You can also accurately simulate your print in advance to spot any problems before you press go.
Once you’ve run through the test print, you will be familiar with the procedure for printing any other objects. Every command can be controlled by the included software or through the control panel on the front of the machine.
If you have already primed your hotends with your filament, then printing is just a matter of setting the bed and hotends to the required temperature for your material, and then pressing start when they are up to temp.
The LCD screen is a basic single color display, but it shows all the information you could need while your print is in progress, it also includes a menu system that gives you access to every single setting available.
From the LCD menu, you can change everything from basic settings like nozzle temps through to more advanced settings such as feed rates and acceleration.
Once the print is complete, part removal is straightforward thanks to the masses of space you have in the S4, and the included BuildFlex print bed that makes print removal easy.
The S4 can print using any 1.75mm filament material that extrudes below 300°C. It has a heated print bed with a max temp of 110°C. And stainless steel nozzles that can cope with the most abrasive of filaments like brass, steel, copper and carbon fiber.
So you are free to use PLA, ABS, HIPS, PVA (soluble), Nylon, Exotic blended filaments, Moldlay (lost wax casting), nGen Flex, copolyester, and conductive.
Having the ability to print with materials such as nGen Flex and Moldlay opens up a whole world of possibilities with this printer. Making it a one-stop shop for bespoke gaskets and ‘o’ rings. Or complex lost wax molds for ceramics and metals.
The filament spools fit on a rail on the back of the printer. It accepts most popular sizes of spool from the smallest to the largest. For long print runs, you can even fit four 2.2kg spools.
The S4 was designed to be precise, and it shows in its specs. You can achieve a layer resolution of 0.1mm (1oo microns) with positional accuracy of an incredible 6 microns in XY and 4 microns in Z.
There are a couple of other FFM 3D printers on the market that can achieve similar resolutions. But what sets the S4 apart is its ability to print at this level of accuracy out of the box and repeatedly. Because the component parts of the S4 are so well engineered, it won’t go out of calibration or wear so your 400th part will be identical to your first. In a commercial environment this is vital and ultimately save your time and money.
Reliability & Maintenance
The Stacker S4 comes with a 2 Year warranty.
It’s designed and built with industrial, educational, and commercial use in mind. It’s made of high-quality materials and components that will not wear or distort even after the hundreds of hours of heat-cycles it will experience during use.
Periodical maintenance is kept to a minimum, with only basic cleaning away of debris and some lubrication of the linear guides required.
Any 3D printer that you use daily will need you to replace a few parts that are prone to wear periodically. On the Stacker S4, this is limited to the nozzles and the filament guides.
Fortunately, the Stacker S4 includes very detailed instructions, including clear pictures to show you how to carry out these tasks.
The instructions also include useful tips that can allow you to prolong the life of these wearable items, such as trimming the filament guide tube.
Stacker (and myself!) strongly recommend you use an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) with your 3D printer. Any good quality UPS will protect you from a power loss that could otherwise waste hours of printing.
As an engineer, I love the quality and attention to detail that’s gone into making the Stacker S4. If you gave me an unlimited budget to design a 3D printer, it would look like this. It’s amazing that it costs half the price of equivalent industrial printers that seem flimsy in comparison.
In some respects, you could say it’s over-engineered. But although it has a few rivals that can match it for print quality, it’s hard to imagine any of them lasting longer than a few months on a factory floor. However, you can easily see the S4 being parked next to a CNC mill, printing away for the next decade without a problem.
Whether you need quick functional prototypes or ready to market production parts, the Stacker S4 can be relied upon to print high-quality parts again and again.
Whatever application you have in mind the S4 can cover it. From print jigs, fixtures, movie props, architectural models, artwork, investment casting molds, and much more. It will print them all with accuracy and repeatability.
If you need a 3D printer for your business or school that can reliably churn out prints with no hassle month after month, then the S4 should be top of your shopping list.