If you’re in the market for a reasonably priced 3D printer to handle larger builds, there’s just not that much to choose from: there’s the MakerBot Z18, priced for the extravagant-discretionary-spending set; the more affordable Duplicator 5S; and then there’s Leapfrog’s “bigger, faster, stronger” follow-up to its Creatr HS, the Creatr HS XL.
Bigger it is — the Creatr HS XL’s towering Z-axis range elicits the requisite “ooh’s” and “aah’s” — and it’s sturdily built, by all accounts. Contrary to the “HS” designation in its name, though, “high-speed” it’s not. Already slower than its competitors, The Creatr XL must be slowed down to a crawl to print details accurately, effectively taking the “rapid” out of “rapid prototyping.” In the time it takes the Creatr XL to build that jumbo-sized model in your garage, you could just about have it produced, shipped, and delivered from an industrial prototyper overseas. Oh, and since the XL’s not a standalone unit, you’ll need to tie up a computer the whole time your print job’s running.
In the XL’s defense, it does seem to be more reliable than the infamously twitchy Z18. It (almost) goes without saying that the last thing you need for a weeklong production is a print failure in the final stretch to waste all that time, energy, and filament. Another issue is how loud the Creatr HS XL is. Noise is just part of the bargain for 3D printing, but it’s no exaggeration to say that the Creatr XL’s cooling fans make a hell of an awful racket.
There’s something to be said for size in the miniaturized world of personal 3D printing, and in the purest sense, the Creatr HS XL wins that category hands-down. But you’d be money ahead to shrink your project to fit inside Wanhao’s faster, cheaper, smaller (but still outsized) Duplicator 5S build area. For anything that won’t fit in a more affordable unit, you could opt for the Creatr HS XL — or you could just shop around for a cut-rate industrial prototyping service. You can always choose expedited delivery to save time.
The XL gives me the ability to print about 2 foot vertical and I wasn't able to find anything else that printed that tall or had as big a width and length.
There is no printer that is truly plug and play, as much as we'd like to think so, but Leapfrog really impressed me.
Rather high price, large print height seems great (Z=60 cm!), but with print times for large objects reaching more than a week not really useful.
Great for large but not complicated prints. It does take an experienced user and some time dedicated to calibration. You can't beat the build size for the price.